Source: The Journal News
As a baseball writer/blogger, I subscribe to a number of Twitter feeds and read a lot of articles about baseball. Besides articles on players, managers, and teams, I read about hitting and pitching, skills and leadership, and player development and recruiting. This latest read really got me thinking about a recent article we posted on BYB: CAN ELLSBURY BRING 'BOSTON' BACK TO HIS GAME? The point of the article was to elevate something that could pay off dividends for Jacoby Ellsbury and the Yankees if the centerfielder is able to execute his hitting coach's prescribed changes to his form. But for Ellsbury and other hitters, it could be even simpler than just shifts in hitting form.
According to highly respected MLB manager and coach Jim Riggleman, “A hitter needs to realize what not to swing at.” Not to minimize the complexity and difficulty of consistently hitting the ball well, Riggleman, 40-year baseball veteran and current Cincinnati Reds bench coach says in his feature on GameChanger, when it comes to hitting, less may be more. He suggests that players spend time in the cage laying off pitches noting that “Pitchers in the big leagues don’t get hitters out in the strike zone. Hitters make their outs on pitches out of the strike zone.” Hitters need to learn the will power of how to lay off the bad pitches, no matter how tempting they appear. This requires practice in the cage, setting the pitching machine to throw fastballs out of the strike zone.
A hitter could improve his at bats significantly by also including the practice of visualization into his hitting routines and warm ups. "Visualize the release point, visualize the spin on the ball, mimic the swing. In bad weather, we took dry swings all the time (in high school and college in suburban Washington, D.C.). You visualized taking pitches. It’s an effective tool.”
Source: The Art of Baseball
So besides learning how to lay off the bad ones, a hitter could use visualization tactics to ramp up his mental and muscle memory, much like athletes, entrepreneurs and psychologists prescribe for goal attainment. According to former NFL linebacker Matt Mayberry through his article in Entrepreneur Magazine last fall, "Seeing your future with the mind's eye is an important step in determining how you will achieve your goals."
Source: The Next Level Ball Player
With spring training comes spring cleaning and an openness to new ways to addressing goals. This article could not have come at a better time as the Yankees take the field once again with their eyes fixated on success. Hitting is an art that not only requires skill but mental toughness and a good eye.
BYB Managing Editor