As a softball hitter or softball coach, one of the most important aspects being successful at the plate is something that you have complete control over… your mindset! See below for three of our top six questions you should be asking your softball hitters to help them succeed at the plate.
1. How Confident Are You at the Plate?
Mechanics are not everything. While they do play an important part in being successful, if a hitter does not have confidence that they can get the job done, they’ve already been beaten before they leave the on-deck circle. Good coaches realize this and also realize that every player is different in HOW they have confidence from day to day. For some, it’s gaining tools by reading (my personal favorite for the mental side is the book Mind Gym by Gary Mack.) Other hitters like getting in 8 solid swings in pre-game. Personally, I like getting 30+ solid cuts before a game. Some like listening to pump up music before the game while visualizing themselves executing on offense. You have to believe in yourself in order to give yourself a chance regardless of how good or not good you think your mechanics are.
2. Do you Look Confident?
That might sound silly, but softball is a mental game. Every advantage you can create makes a difference. A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists revealed that it takes 1/10th of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. How you present yourself in the on-deck circle, walking up to the plate, and in between pitches is forming an impression of your level of confidence to the pitcher. It doesn’t matter if you’re the shortest girl on the team, you can still intimidate a pitcher. And just because you’re 5’8”, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be intimidating. It’s all in how you walk, hold your shoulders, and carry your bat. It also is shown by how you react to a swing and miss, a bad called strike, or watching your homerun pitch whiz by. With that, the funny thing is the more you ACT confident the more you can trick yourself into FEELING confident. So next time you feel like you’re questioning your ability or losing confidence, start acting big and confident. Something we did at the University of Oregon chose a hitter (baseball or softball) we wanted to be like and started pretending we were them.
Although this video might not be a good example of “looking” confident (he probably got more laughs out of pitchers) it’s definitely a good example of doing something that makes you “feel” confident.
3. Do You Have a Routine?
There are only a few things you have control of in the game of softball or baseball. By having a routine, players can help make every at-bat consistent, rather than changing everything once the game is on the line or just try harder to not strike out again. Have a routine for how you walk up the plate, how you step into the box, and what you do between pitches. While many hitters are taught to have a general routine, what separates many of the amateurs from the elite is how they cope with watching their pitch go by, a swing and miss, or when a bad strike is called. When I mess up and feel myself get upset by it, I step completely out of the box (where I normally keep a foot in) take a big deep breath and readjust my batting gloves. This is a form of releasing my anger or disappointment. Once that is over, I mentally am ready to get back in the box with a clear mind. Some hitters take a look at the foul pole and take a deep breath. Some wipe clean the entire batter’s box. Find what helps you “reset” or “release” frustration from pitch to pitch.
Check out the video below for more information on the batter’s box routine.
In part two of this blog post, I’ll reveal to you the last 3 questions to ask your hitter. In the meantime, start asking yourself those three questions above and see how you can improve your mindset and routine at the plate.