Head Control – It’s not What is in the Head
Baseball coaches and baseball parents often blame players’ head control – what they are thinking – as the reason they do not perform well. Often mentioned statements as “It’s in the head” or “It’s a mental thing,” attest to that. Often, nothing is further from the truth, as to why players struggle with the difficult skills of baseball. However, those adults have the correct body part, just the wrong reason why players do not perform well. Head control, the physical nature, rather than what players think, is often the key to baseball skill success.
Body balance begins with the head and a failure to control it leads to mistakes and errors. Baseball coaches can notice mistakes by simply observing players’ heads and help players immensely by teaching head control.
The most common mistakes players make when hitting, pitching, and fielding go back to incorrect head position and the fix begins by simply kneeling down.
Hitting Head Control
The most common hitting complaint of coaches and parents, especially every time players swing and miss at a ball, is keep your eye on the ball. I have never known a player yet that intentionally took their eye off the ball, but excess head movement leads to the eyes roving some. The best coaching fix for keeping the eyes on the ball is to help players with better hitting mechanics, which use the hands and hips correctly, leading to head control and eyes on the pitched ball.
A great way to do this is by first having batters hit some balls on the tee and with short flips, while kneeling on their back knee. This prevents head movement and gives players the idea of keeping the head under control.
Pitching Head Control
Of course, the biggest complaint of pitchers comes from the inability to throw the ball over the plate. Adults often believe pitchers are scared to throw strikes or believe they have some mental blocks for that result. The head is often the problem because many pitchers throw with their head, meaning the head moves too much left or right when pitching, instead of staying level and over the from leg on delivery, leading to control issues. Similar to above for hitting, the baseball fix begins with pitchers on their back knee and front leg outstretched as they work on throwing. This drill helps head control and the beginning of pitch control.
Fielding Head Control
Players often miss balls because their head and does not get low enough when fielding ground balls, causing their glove to be above the ball. Once again, coaches assume players are scared of the ball so they do not get down on it. A good way to begin fixing this common baseball fielding mistake is to have players get down on both knees, as players roll balls to them from a short distance. Players will be able to get their glove out front and low in this manner, and begin to understand the importance of head control.
Over time, coaches will realize players problems were not what’s in their heads but their physical control of their heads.