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Monday, November 2, 2009

Game Time Hitting Struggles Solved!


By Todd Thomas

As a hitter, your goal should be to have practiced your mechanics so repetitively that they eventually become second nature. I was reading in a book on muscle memory this week and it said it takes about 400 hours of repetition for a skill to become FULLY automatic. That's a lot. So if you are looking for a shortcut, you might want to consider an easier athletic endeavor.

The more a player works on their skill the more second nature it becomes. You want to (and should, beginning right now no matter what level you are at) step into the batter's box and think only of hitting the ball and where you want to hit it. NOT HOW in terms of mechanics you should hit it. If a player is thinking about their mechanics during live game swings, then their chances for success are being severely diminished. The odds are already not in the hitter's favor, why decrease them further?

Think about the animal kingdom. If a lion had the cognitive ability of man, it's hunting effectiveness would be greatly reduced as it would be thinking about HOW to attack it's prey rather than working from conditioned reflexes. A lion doesn't think about how far or high it needs to jump or fast it needs to run in order to catch it's prey. They don't think about what is exactly the proper technique or take lessons on it or question what it did wrong when the prey gets away.

Contrast that with a human with our left side brain power and think about the professional golfer. Cognitively (with the left side of his brain), he contemplates pin placement, prevailing wind conditions, uphill lie, downhill lie, and strategy when preparing for a shot. Then they execute their shot (from the right brain) without thinking about the mechanics of their swing by letting it come naturally. The weekend golfer, on the other hand, uses his cognitive abilities not to think about playing strategies so much but rather about the fundamentals of his swing and how he should execute them correctly. The weekend golfer reduces the swing to it's component parts by thinking about the back swing, hip action, wrist break, arms, legs, and so on. This results in stress and tension in the muscles causing the player to become a victim of "paralysis by analysis". He is trying to perform using the left brain instead of the right.

Such is the same with the baseball and softball player. Even if a player has reached a point from practice and repetition that the required muscle memory is built in for their best swing, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN (certainly not at it's fluid best) between the white lines when the pressure is on IF the player is not confident, relaxed, focused, calm(not nervous), or is afraid (fear ridden). Nervousness and fear manifest themselves from thinking too much or over-analyzing. Worrying (or having fear or nervousness) about what might happen or what has happened is devastating to the ability to relax and to perform at ones peak.

Read the last few sentences again.

The only time an athlete performs their best in an athletic move like a swing is when they are totally and completely confident and RELAXED. If any measure of nervousness is present, the muscles will not be as completely oxygenated as they need to be for smooth performance. As the degree of tenseness increases, performance plummets.

Ever wonder why a player performs like a animal in practice, but looks lost when they step into the batter's box during games? Who hasn't seen the player who crushes the ball at practice but can't hit during games? We all have. At practice, there's nothing to be afraid of. They step into the box relaxed and hit great. Come game time however, fear, nervousness, and worry about results rear their ugly heads and the results speak for themselves. If you've ever wondered why this is true about a player, then now you know.

Players that learn how to be confident, focused and RELAXED are your peak performers.


Todd Thomas is a Baseball Coach and Professional Hitting Instructor for Mike Epstein Hitting. Coach Todd's personal hitting website is http://www.HitItHere.net. Coach Todd also enthusiastically endorses http://PlayMyBestBaseball.com as a place where baseball and softball hitters can master the Confidence, Composure, Focus and Consistency of their game so they can reach their full potential.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Todd_Thomas

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick