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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Helping Hitters With a Positive Mental Outlook

Helping Hitters With a Positive Mental Outlook
By Guest Author Jack Perconte

Having worked with thousands of baseball hitters over the years, I have noticed that many of them become upset when they hit foul balls, especially in batting practice. I try to have hitters feel good about fouling balls off. In that way they keep a confident, positive outlook for the rest of the at-bat. Once negativity enters a hitters mind, they may lose the confidence and the edge they may have had. Additionally, I do not believe it is good to show the pitcher that you are upset or ever give the opposition the feeling that you are less confident.

When I notice a hitter become upset over fouling off some pitches, I say, "Wait a minute, that was a good thing. It is better than a swing and a miss. Hitting is not that easy so just making contact is a positive thing." I follow that up with "Hey, that foul ball kept you alive for another pitch, and your pitch is coming." I strive to convince hitters that fouling a ball off on a tough pitch is a total victory because, "Even if you put that one in play, it would have probably been for an easy out." I follow that up with, "The chances of the pitcher throwing the next pitch in the same tough spot are very slim."

Of course, fouling a pitch off that was very hittable (right down the middle) can be demoralizing but I never want my hitters to feel negatively at home plate and, as mentioned, I never want them to give the pitcher the mental edge.

From a coaching stand point, good coaches should never give batters the impression that they do not believe in the hitters or that they (batters) may have missed an opportunity. Coaches often do this by looking disgusted or showing disappointment when a player fouls a good, hittable pitch off. Any negative feelings in sport generally lead to failure. Additionally, there are many words that coaches can use so hitters stay positive, optimistic and confident. Here are some of those that will help hitters keep a positive mental outlook:

1. "That wasn't your pitch anyway" - this is good to say when a hitter takes a borderline pitch that was called a strike or when the umpire makes a questionable call.
2. "Be ready, your pitch is coming" - always good advice and better than saying "Protect the plate," which puts the hitter in a defensive, negative mode.
3. "I know you can do this," which is always good advice, especially for less confident players.
4. "It only takes one," which is good to say to get hitters to stay positive and not dwell on past missed opportunities.
5. "Now you're ready" - good to say after a hitter did not swing at a pitch that maybe they should have swung at.
6. "Way to hang in there" - good advice after they foul off a pitch on a 2-strike count.
7. "Good at-bat" - good to say after the batter made an out but either hit the ball hard, had some good swings or battled the pitcher for many pitches.
8. "Nothing you can do about that at-bat, it's over and you will get him the next time" - always important advice suggesting hitters have short memories and a positive mental outlook in the future.

Of course, there are hundreds of positive words coaches can use, with the above being examples. The key is that athletes and coaches remember, "Negativity rarely brings out the best in a ball player."

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice can be found at Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his positive parenting advice and books can be found at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
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Have a great day, Nick