Five Strategies To Help A Hitter’s Mindset
A quality mental approach is what separates a good hitter from a great hitter, and it all starts with maintaining one's self-confidence.
Softball is a game of failure, which makes it a tough sport mentally, so it’s crucial as a hitter to try to master the mental game. The mental aspects of hitting revolve around how a hitter carries herself in the dugout, spends her time on-deck and approaches each at-bat. Hitters must learn how to control their thoughts before they can control an at-bat successfully.
Below are five mental strategies to help a hitter’s mindset this softball season and beyond.
It’s crucial for hitters to visualize themselves succeeding in their at-bats. Visualization helps you relax and focus in the moment when it truly matters. Before a game, while on-deck or even during practice are great times to tune out the outside noise, understand your situation and visualize yourself hitting a certain pitch to build your confidence. Visualization helps you anticipate something before it even happens so that when it does happen, you’ve already pictured yourself being successful in your own head. Break down every step of your at-bat before stepping up to the plate and feel those emotions as you visualize yourself having a quality at-bat.
Trust Your Fundamentals
The countless number of tee drills that softball players do in their careers all have specific purposes. As hitters, you put in so much time to create a fundamentally-sound swing that evolves throughout your career as you start playing at higher levels. Because you've put so much time into your swing, it’s easy to get discouraged and start thinking about making a drastic change when you’re in a slump.
Instead of hitting the panic button, learn how to break down your swing into pieces and really understand the “why” behind the movements of your swing and not just the “what.” Come game time, don’t try to drastically change what you’re doing, just have trust in the basics and simply have fun. Don’t think about the outside factors and instead trust the time you've put into your fundamentals at practice and on your own.
Have Situational Awareness
A hitter’s approach should change from every at-bat and every pitch. And there are a ton of factors that should go into your approach every single pitch. A productive at-bat doesn’t always mean getting a hit. Sometimes it means setting your team up to succeed in that moment. Know your count, how many runners are on base and what their speeds are, what the score is, what inning it is and how the defense is setting up. Most importantly, though, listen to what your coaches are expecting you to do and have trust in them to see the situation from a different angle.
Understand Your Strike Zone
As a hitter, the strike zone is the area you’re in charge of protecting. Depending on your count, you should have a different approach and zone for each pitch. Early in your count, you want to know which zone is your favorite and only attack pitches within your desired zone. That also goes for when the pitcher is behind and you’re ahead in the count.
On the other hand, as you get behind in your count and the pitcher gets ahead of you, expand your zone a bit. All of this also varies from game to game, depending on the umpire’s strike zone. Every umpire has their own strike zone, and some are bigger or smaller than others, so take those mental notes throughout your at-bats. It’s also very important to lean on your teammates to give you feedback about what they saw because everyone’s perspective is different.
Flush Your Past Mistakes
Mistakes are going to happen, and as a softball player, you’ll fail on the field more than you will succeed. As a hitter, it’s important to “flush” your past mistakes so that you can go into your next at-bat with a fresh mindset. Don’t let one mistake turn into multiple mistakes just because you can’t get past the first one. Take a deep breath, think about what went wrong and focus on how to fix it. Hitters who can make quick adjustments will be the most successful ones in the game.