Football Mentality and Hitting a Baseball
One of my most common statements to my young hitting students is, “Look mean up there,” when it comes to preparation for hitting a baseball. Of course, the minute I say that, most young ballplayers break out into the biggest smile – oh well.
First, let me say that I am against violence in sport, which makes me a leery of the sport of football, at least as our number one sport in the U.S. A. I recognize it is an exciting game to watch, but it’s the mentality of the sport, namely, beat up the opposition that I have an issue with. Of course, I also recognize that fierce, aggressive, mentality may be necessary to out slug the opposition, but many young players and coaches have trouble separating that football mentality from life off the field, wherein lies the problem, and a story for another day.
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All of that has nothing to do with what I am writing about except for one thing. In baseball, my clear number one sport, violence has no part. However, when it comes to hitting a baseball, that same fierce, aggressive, football mentality is necessary to be an effective hitter. The violent attitude against the baseball helps muster every bit of energy necessary to “smoke” the ball, and to have the heightened awareness needed for hitting a baseball squarely.
Even though it is often difficult to notice that fierce mentality in the best hitters in the game, it is there. in the hitters mind, they want to hurt the ball and pound it as hard and far as they are physically capable of doing. Unfortunately and as mentioned, many young ballplayers do not have that aggressive football mentality, which is great for living, but not great for hitting a baseball and for becoming a good hitter down the line.
Hitting a Baseball with a Football Mentality
As a baseball hitting coach, I try to help hitters with developing an aggressive mental approach, so their energy level is high for hitting a baseball. There is no simple way to do that, especially for youth who have very passive personalities, but the following helps that.
- Help them develop good hitting fundamentals so they make contact more often than not – failure does not motivate many.
- Show genuine delight when they crush a ball – another often used statement to my hitting students is, “No one ever walked their way to the big leagues.” The point being that they are up to bat to swing the bat and not look for walks, so being an aggressive hitter is best at the youth level of baseball.
- Help them learn to focus intently on the ball – intense focus helps develop adrenaline and the heightened awareness necessary for hitting a baseball hard.
- Hit often – the more batting practice players, the more success, and determination to get that hard and far hit develops.
- Help players listen for that great sound of ball meeting the bat, especially on solid hits – I often say to batters, “Did you hear that,” when they really get into one.
Hitting a baseball consistently well is not easy, but having that fierce determination is crucial for batting success.