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Stop the Slump! Help You Player Rebuild Confidence!
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"Every kid that plays this great game deserves to experience the excitement and joy of hitting success! Good youth coaching, supportive parents, and the "POWER of PRACTICE" can help every kid succeed!"
Nick Dixon, President/CEO Nedco Sports/Hit2win.com

"Stop the Slump! Help You Player Rebuild Confidence!"                   by Nick Dixon, Hit2win.com

At Nedco Sports/Hit2win.com we are in the business of helping players and teams improve hitting performance. We take great pride in producing the world's most efficient and productive practice trainers. However, we realize that a training aid or coaching tool is only as good as the teacher using it. We provide easy and efficient swing repititions, but the coach provides the instruction to make sure those practice swings are helping instead of hurting the players game! We firmly believe it is better to take 10 correct swings than 100 bad or sloppy swings. . The job of the coach is to teach the game and to monitor every practice swing to see that the player takes the time and effort to do it correct. Kids should not practice bad habits. We want every kid that plays the game to achieve to the highest level with the "God Given Talent" he or she has. Every player deserves to experence success! I receive letters almost every day asking my help and assistance in helping a young hitter get "back on track". What do you do when you player hits a "slump"? What actions should you take?

Actual question received in a letter from a parent: 

"My player is striking out against pitchers that are not overpowering or difficult to hit. Everybody else seems to hit the ball, but my player is striking out!  What can I do? Please respond as soon possible!"

Coach Nick's Response:

Do not panic! You and you player must realize that this is a temporary problem that we can correct very quickly. He has hit a slump and he can come out of it as quick as he went into it. The key words here are Patience, Confidence, and Simplicity.

SHOW PATIENCE

You must have patience. Do not press the "PANIC BUTTON". You can have a "SENSE of URGENCY" without letting it show! You must reduce the level of pressure and stress that the player is experencing. He is frustrated. He puts enough pressure on himself without you adding it! Relax. Assure him that slumps occur. Slumps can be broken. He is not the only one is a slump right now and he will come out of it. You might want to print the poem titled, that I wrote in the late 1980's for one of my son's when he made a game costing error at short and nearly cost his team the league championship. His team recovered and the error was soon forgotten. He went on to have a great high school and collegiate career.

REBUILD CONFIDENCE

Practice is the absolute best way to build confidence. It is best to take some positive action as soon as possible. Go to a batting cage or practice facility. Hopefully you have made an investment in some type of home batting practice equipment. The player will start rebuilding confidence with his first practice swing. I can not count the times during my three sons career that we would be would be out in the yard at 9:00 pm taking batting practice. When a player goes 1 for 4 in a game, gets home at 7:30 in the evening and has a double-header the next day at 10:00 am, it is important to have some type of home hitting station or a backyard batting cage. I think this type situation is one of the reasons the BatAction Hitting Machine is so popular with the seriuus player or baseball family. It is an extremely handy piece of equipment when it comes to those late night solitary practice sessions that many serious players learn to depend on. It so The BatAction Machine is a must for the baseball future prospect. It a professional grade high performance machine that players love to use!

STAY SIMPLE

Take a simple approach to solving the problem. Find the little flaw or bad habit that is causing the problem and eliminate it! Study your players swing carefully. Do not try to make to many drastic corrections at once. Trying to change too much or "overcoaching" him will only create more probelms and frustration. I would check the following:

  • Is the player keeping the eyes on the ball aad tracking the ball properly from the pitchers hand to the bat or to the catcher's mitt if there is no swing? I recommend that when you start batting practice, you let the batter track the first three throws to the net or catcher's mitt.
  • Is the hitter guessing pitches? The secret to hitting is NOT TO GUESS! Contrary to one new company's slogan, HITTING IS NOT GUESSING! Hitting is simply SEEING and REACTING! The hitter's BRAIN is the EYES! The hitter expects eery picth to be a strike. The "BRAINEYES" decide if the pitch is hittable and where it should be hit!
  • Is the player expecting to hit! He or she must visualize success before stepping up to the plate. Have your hitter visualize "driving" the ball off the right-ceter-field gap fence for a stand-up double. The must expect to hit the ball. The hitter must not expect to strike or want to walk!

Make sure that the correct fundamental are being performed during the swing.

The Quick-6 Bad Habits I would look for are:

  1. Overstriding is causing the head to drop and the batter is swinging under the ball. Leading elbow straightens out too soon before contact. The bat sweeps through the zone instead of the bat being thrown through the zone.
  2. The back toes are not turned up freely as the bat makes contact and the hips are not turning quick enough or horizontally.
  3. Lifting the front shoulder and dropping the back shoulder during the swing. The bat never gets on level plane with the ball.
  4. The stride knee opens to soon or too far. Both knees need to be kept facing or slightly facing the plate during the swing and contact. Keepiing the front knee closed tends to help the hitter keep the weight and hands back and to allow the hands and hips to work in rthymn during the swing.
  5. Is the hitter lunging forward. Young hitters need to learn to "trust their hand speed" and to set back and wait! Do not jump out at the ball but rather sit back and turn on it! The hips should turn rather that the whole body lunging forward. This hip movement should occur at the exact same moment the elbows and wrist extend.
  6. Make sure that your hitter understand the concept of "using the whole field". Hitters have to learn early that they can not "pull everything". They learn to hit the ball where it is pitched. Strikes on the inside third of the plate are pulled. Strikes on the middle third are hit straight back at the pitcher. Strikes on the outside third of the plate are hit to the opposite field.

The last thing I recommend you talk to your player about is "count awareness". The count determines you "battitude" at the plate. When you are ahead be choosy at which pitches you attack. When you have two strikes on you, you must swing at anything close or around the plate. I always tell my players, "If is is close enough for the umpire to call a strike, it is close enough for you to put the bat on it!". Do not take a called third strike. Put the ball in play!

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this article. You are a concerned and dedicated coach or parent. You want to do your part in helping a youngster experience the excitement and joy of hitting success! I applaud you for your dedication and commitment. As the President/CEO of Nedco Sports/Hit2win.com and a still active high school coach I know the future of our game lies in the hands of adults not children. Kids learn from what they see. All young eyes are on you! If your kids see your dedication, commitment, and sportmanship, they will follow your example. Remember you are an improtant role model and you are improtant to this game! Happy Hitting til Next Time! Coach Nick

Baseball Poem: Another Swing!
One swing does not make an at-bat.
One at-bat does not make an inning.
One inning does not make a game.
One game does not make a week.
One week does not make a season.
One season does not make a career.
One career does not make a life.
This is baseball, there is always going to be another
day.
The sun will come up, the dogs will bark, and the
birds will sing.
Cheer up son, this is baseball, and you will always get
another swing!
Nick Dixon '88

This poem was written by Coach Nick Dixon when one of his sons failed to get a hit in a crucial situation against an arch rival opponent. The game was lost and his son felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. The team recovered by overcoming the loss and went on to eventually win the league championship. Coach Dixon wrote the poem and placed it on his son's bedside table for him to find the next morning. The son went on to have an outstanding high school and collegiate baseball career.

Players are going to make mistakes, errors, and miscues. That is all a part of the game. Baseball is a game played one pitch at a time. We should not carry "old baggage" but rather look to and focus only on the next pitch!

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