Does your player have great swing mechanics but hesitates to pull the trigger when at the plate? Here are a few things that you can coach him to do that might cure this tentativeness.
1. Stop deciding. A hitter who is deciding whether to hit the pitch is a tentative hitter. Instead coach your player that he will be more effective if he has already decided to hit the pitch before it is thrown. There is no decision to be made. He is hitting every pitch.
2. Trust your mind and body’s ability to decide for you. A player has less than a quarter of a second to see the pitch, determine the location and speed, and decide whether to swing. Such a decision cannot be made consciously; the conscious mind is incapable of performing such a feat. A player that fails to accept this fact and is unwilling to trust his (unconscious) mind to make these calculations and determine whether to swing is destined to be hesitant at the plate.
3. Forget the strike zone. Even in the major leagues the strike zone is unreliable and in lower and youth leagues it is (let’s be honest here) a joke. This unpredictability leads to doubt and doubt always leads to hesitation. Remove this doubt entirely by coaching your player to forget the strike zone, ignore the count, and instead think only one thought while at the plate (see below).
4. Think “See the ball and hit it hard.” The only thought that should be in a player’s mind at the plate is to “see the ball and hit it hard.” Any other thought will lead to indecision and hesitation. As Josh Hamilton once answered when asked how he hits so well, “By not thinking and not trying.”
5. Hit the First Pitch Hard. For the most stubborn cases of tentativeness, try this: Instruct your player that he is to hit the first pitch of every at bat, no matter where it is, as hard as he can. Practice this at home before leaving for the game. Have him imagine that he is at bat and tell him to hit the first pitch that you throw to him no matter where it is.
This coaching removes any need to decide and eliminates the strike zone or any other circumstances from his consideration. The worst that can happen if he follows this coaching is that he takes a mean cut and misses the ball. But by having done so he is now loose, knows what it feels like to take a wicked cut, and is more likely to be aggressive during subsequent pitches.
TRPD’s experience is that hitters who put this coaching into practice see a dramatic breakthrough in their performance. In fact, we have had many tentative hitters hit their first home run in response to this coaching. Give it a try and let us know about the results you and your player see on the TRPD Facebook Page.