This article was written by Nick Millspaugh. Nick played D-1 Baseball at IPFW in Fort Wayne, IN. He finished his collegiate career at Indiana Wesleyan University alongside Atlanta Braves’ starting RHP Brandon Beachy.
It is often stressed to many players and parents the importance of hitting mechanics.
Although I strongly believe in this critical facet of the game of baseball, a hitter’s mentality is too quickly ignored.
When a hitter is in the batter’s box preparing for the pitch, he has 0.458 seconds to react to a 90 mph fastball and 0.516 seconds to react to an 80 mph fastball.
This is an extremely quick reaction and one that will be flawed if your mind is not in the right state.
I can remember hitting approximately 100 home runs throughout my career, but I can honestly say I may have only hit 1 home run when actually trying.
This is because my focus was narrow and non-disciplined.
This is the fundamental reason why big leaguers are hesitant to participate in the home run derby each year since it creates bad habits.
If you are locked into one option with less the one half of a second to react, you have very little chance to succeed let alone adapt.
I can remember when I was hitting my best and trying to hold onto that streak for the rest of my life.
The key difference during this streak was that I was able to have a more broad focus and stay disciplined.
In baseball, less is more and more is less.
By broad focus, I mean that I am not locked into one option. By broad focus, I am committing that wherever this ball is pitched, that I am going to take a smooth swing only attempting to hit a line drive.
It is amazing how successful you can be at the plate when you have mentally prepared for it.
I strongly believe in situation hitting.
During practice and in the batting cages I will typically take my players through situations to get used to game like situations.
If in a game there was a runner on 2nd with 2 outs and all I needed to do was get a base hit to tie the ball game, I had two choices.
Choice #1 was: Narrow-focus and try to be the hero and hit a home run. The chances here were very low. I would likely try too hard and hit a pop fly.
Choice #2 was: Broad-focus and try to stay level through the ball hitting the ball wherever it is pitched. Chances of success are much greater because my ego is out of the way and I am much more disciplined.
I often over achieved my expectations and this is where many of my home runs came in my career.
This brings me to my final point.
Ego in baseball is extremely difficult to get around.
You are unfortunately measured by those around you by how hard and far you can hit the baseball and how often. This only makes it extremely easy to want to over do it and be the hero when in the batters box.
With 0.458 seconds to identify the pitch, decide whether or not to swing, load your hands, transfer your weight, and take the bat to the objective, you can see why I believe that having your mind in a correct broad –focus is completely vital to your success.
Get your ego out of the way because you have no time to squeeze it in and consistently be successful at the plate.