Paul Rappoli, Owner/President, RBI Baseball Academy
Alright so as I just spent a few hours of my life last night watching the Clay Buchholz and Phil Coke dominate good hitters for seven innings in less than desirable hitting conditions (this is sugar coating it, Fenway was miserable last night). I thought this would be a perfect item to blog on, considering that as a Massachusetts baseball player we deal with conditions like what we’ve seen in the last week more often than the comfortable sunny days. It’s so easy for us to make excuses as hitters, “the weather was bad”, “It was so cold I couldn’t feel my hands”, “the batter’s box was slick”, I’ve said and heard it all. Here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter, the best hitter’s overcome bad conditions for two reasons.
- They are mentally focused on the task at hand- “Hitting the baseball as hard as they can”
- Their routine stay’s the same
Mental Focus– Regardless of the temperature and conditions your job and focus must always be on squaring the ball up, and hitting it as hard as you can on a line. If you’re in the dugout, on deck circle, or even worse in the batter’s box and you’re thinking about how cold or uncomfortable you are (we’ve all done it) then you’re already beat. The best players at every level are able to motivate themselves regardless of the weather conditions and are able to focus on the pitcher and their job at the plate. I can remember countless times as a professional that we would play in cold weather cities in April and early May and my teammates from Latin American, Cali, Florida, Texas (or any other warm-weather climate) wanted no part of the game at hand. But the best players regardless of where they grew up were successful because they believed they could hit and wouldn’t let outside distractions especially the weather affect their at-bats. Manny, Nomar, Trot, Jeter, those guys always hit, 35 degrees and rainy or 90 degrees and sunny the best hitters believe they can hit they don’t let bad conditions distract them from the job at hand.
In Season hitting routine– Good weather or bad, hitter’s must develop an in-season hitting routine. 10-15 swings of batting practice with your team just won’t cut it. In order to consistently repeat your swing in games (and to avoid a prolonged slump), hitter’s must continue to break down their swing with consistent drill work. What a waste it is to work so hard in the off-season and then once your season begins you change it up.
My game day routine was this:
- (before BP)Soft-Toss with a team mate or hitting coach to get loose (8-15 swings depending on how I felt)
- (before BP)No-Stride soft toss- really focus on staying back, seeing the ball first, firing my back side, and staying through the ball (8-15 swings depending on how I felt)
- (before BP)Short – toss in front- (10-20 swings) all up the middle and opposite field
- Batting practice with my team usually 3 or 4 rounds of 8 swings
- (After BP)- tee work- 5-10 swings top hand up the middle, 5-10 swings bottom hand up the middle, 5-10 swings both opposite field, and then 5-10 swings up the middle.
This routine happened at home or on the road, good weather or bad. I understand that an amateur player has time restrictions that a professional player doesn’t. Modify your routine to fit into your schedule, the key is that you have a routine and you stick to it. Just by doing my routine every day I felt prepared and confident to play that night. Think about how hard you train in the off-season to get ready for April and then once the season starts, you cut back on your reps, the bad habits and bad at-bats happen and it’s tougher to fix because you haven’t been breaking down your swings in between games and practices. Mentally and physically be ready to hit, if you believe you’ll succeed and prepare to succeed your quality at-bats increase dramatically.