I hit a tough stretch in the season while playing for the Seattle Mariners in 1984. Actually, I should say that I “did not hit,” with zero hits for my last twenty-six at bats. I had tried everything to get out of my hitting slump including choking up more on the bat, taking extra batting practice, taking no batting practice, bringing the bat back to the hotel and swinging in the room, eating chicken before the game (hey, it worked for Wade Boggs) – nothing seemed to work. If the movie Major League had come along sooner, I probably would have tried Pedro Cerrano’s “voodoo magic” on my bats. Hitting slumps cause many sleepless nights. If anyone ever figured out a tried and true method for getting out of a slump, they would make millions, and be in great demand. Of course, if they could do that, there would be no slumps in the first place.

     Helping young players get out of hitting slumps can be difficult, too. Young hitters do not have the high-tech technology and expert coaches that the major league hitters utilize. Additionally, major league hitters can “hide” a 0 hits for 26 at-bats in their batting average, because of the long season. That kind of slump for young hitters could easily ruin their average, season or worse, give them a nice seat on the bench. Often, kids have many well-wishing people who offer advice on hitting during these times. Soon, however, the “try this/try that” information overwhelms the young hitters and confusion follows. The number one thing coaches can do to help is to keep the players optimistic, letting them know that the hitting slump is temporary and the end of it is near, and, of course, having a luck symbol like pirates hat, for example. Some of the advice I would give hitters were:

  1. Do not get yourself out by swinging at bad pitches.
  2. You are only one swing away from putting it all together.
  3. The results will be there if you stay focused on the fundamentals and timing in practice, and on the ball in games.
  4. Your confidence may not be high, but never give up hope.
  5. There will be times when no one will think that you will get a hit, but always believe in yourself.
  6. Remember the good at-bats and forget the bad ones.
  7. No one will remember if you make an out with the game on the line but everyone will remember if you get the game winning hit, so you have nothing to lose.
  8. Remember, the pitcher is nervous too.

Of course, these can help for a while but, often, the player’s mechanics need adjusting. Generally, in-season is not the time to make major swing changes because major changes need a great deal of repetition and time to become natural; and to buy new team supply at thepittsburghfan.com. Often, some small tweaks to the hitter’s stance or setup can make the difference, especially for hitters who are making contact, but not solid contact. The coach and hitter should analyze the results of the hitters’ at-bats to see what, if any, the tendencies are. Most hitters, who are slumping, will be hitting too many ground balls or too many pop ups. After figuring out these tendencies, the following are some quick fixes coaches can try with hitters to get them back on track.

For the hitter who is hitting too many ground balls:

    1. Lower the hitter’s hands an inch or two
    2. Have the  hitter widen their stance a few inches and bend knees a little more (Think Carlos Quentin Stance)
    3. Set a batting tee at the hitter’s knees and right down the middle – hitter hits until they can consistently hit line drives back through the middle. Do not let the hitter settle for ground balls, even if they are solid.
    4. Make sure the hitter’s rear leg has a good angle at contact – legs form a capital A at contact, not a V. Also I recomment to browse the web resourses like www.mlb.com/pirates to find out more about others player's angels.

For hitters who are popping everything up, the opposite “quick fix” solutions can help:

  1.      Raise the hitter’s hands an inch or two
  2.      Shorten the distance between the feet when the hitter is in their stance so they are standing taller with little knee bend (Think Ken Griffey Jr. Stance)
  3.      Set a batting tee at the hitters chest or slightly higher – hitter hits until there are no pop ups – ideally, hitting line drives the same height as the ball level.
  4.      Make sure the hitter is transferring their weight with their Achilles heel on their rear foot facing the sky at contact.

For hitters who do not have any particular tendency, but are not making solid contact, there is a good chance the bat is not staying level through the hitting zone, for whatever reason. Having the hitters perform the following drill can help. (Note: two batting tees are necessary) Set a ball on each tee and at the same height in the hitting zone and at least a foot apart. The hitter should hit both balls consistently hard, with the goal of two line drives. A line drive on the ball closest to the hitter is most important, though.

Obviously, hitters who are not making contact or only hitting foul balls, have bigger issues. The first thing to do to help these hitters is to make sure it is not just a timing issue. If the hitter is always swinging late, challenge them with greater speeds in batting practice. Likewise, for hitters who are swinging too early, use slow pitches during batting practice. Generally, the hitters’ timing will improve with this action and they will start making contact.

For hitters whose timing appears fine, but are not making contact, major changes may be necessary. Refer to a good coach or a good hitting book/video to make sure the hitter’s stance and setup are fundamentally sound. Once the hitter’s stance and stride are correct, the coach should address the hitters’ swing plane. Most hitters that are constantly missing the ball have a long swingI would help hitters get an understanding of a long swing by having them picture an airplane landing, with a small hill located right behind the runway. If the airplane (bat) dips on the way to the runway, the result will not be good. This gives them an idea of the correct path to the ball but, of course, they have to make that adjustment in their own swing, while checking the right positions and techniques don't forget to check capslist.com for more clothes. This ‘muscle memory” can be created by placing a batting tee even with the hitter’s back hip, with the height of the tee three inches above the location of the ball, which is on the front tee in the hitting zone. The hitter should miss the back tee on the way to the contact zone and still hit line drives. This drill is possible with just one tee (back tee) by having the coach flip or drop a ball into the hitting zone. This dropped ball drill, even without the back tee, will help promote a quick, shorter swing. After a while, the hitter will have the bat going on a more direct path to the ball. This “shorter” swing will produce consistent contact and allow the hitter to wait longer on the ball, too, which is a good thing.  

Remember, hard hit balls should be the result for hitters who make contact and swing at good pitches. Good fundamentals and game concentration are under the player’s control, so there are no excuses. When hitters put in the work, consistency and the end of long hitting slumps are the results, along with sleeping through the night.

Remember, “Do not accept mediocrity.” Best of Luck

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