Players of all ages go through many ups and downs during their playing careers. Baseball is a tough game and slumps are part of it whether you like it or not!
To understand how to BUST a slump, we must first understand how we get into a slump in the first place. I believe a slump is caused by a breakdown in a player’s approach on the mound or at the plate. I will focus on hitting slumps since those are what I am most familiar with as a player. A hitter will lose focus and get away from his approach at the plate creating a mechanical breakdown. I believe it starts with lack of focus and not seeing the ball. Once you stop picking up the ball early, it becomes very tough to identify the pitch and to put a good swing on it. After a few bad at bats the hitter will begin pressing and changing his mechanics further hindering his chances to succeed at the plate. Pitch selection begins to deteriorate, causing the player to start chasing bad pitches out of the strike zone. Swinging at the pitchers pitch while having a Hitters count! It seems like you are always falling behind in the count and every pitch is on the outside black. Most hitters I talk to that are in a slump comment that the ball looks smaller or the pitches seem faster. Panic, over swinging, tenseness all set in and a slump is in full bloom! Hitters in a slump have abandoned their approaches at the plate.
Ways out of a slump! TV and Professional players have all documented some famous attempts to pull hitters out of slumps: A friend of mine, Mark Grace, said the Cubbies would break out a “slump buster” on a player while on the road. Gracey said it always worked but unfortunately I cannot elaborate on the details! I have heard of players jumping in washing machines, burning bats, submersing themselves in ice cold lakes, wearing women’s lingerie under their uniforms…(Bull Durham). etc. TRY IT IF YOU WANT….But hey lets go back to the basics and first try a more conventional way out of a SLUMP.
Going back to the approach that worked in the past. Understanding what your favorite pitch is to hit. Reminding yourself what a hitters count is vs. a pitchers count. This takes MENTAL DISCIPLINE and re-focusing your thoughts. Throwing out all the negative energy that has fueled your slump. I know it is easier said then done so I have put a list together of swing thoughts to take to the plate below: Pick one out and focus solely on that!
1. Concentrate on seeing the ball, challenge yourself to read seams and spin.
2. Drive the ball up the middle or to the opposite field.
3. Stay within yourself: swing easy, just meeting the ball as opposed to over-swinging.
4. Be aggressive on hitters’ counts. Swing at fastballs up or fastballs down…pick one and stick to it.
5. Take a deep breath, blow it out and think hit, hit, hit,hit….
6. Only swing at strikes in batting practice.
1. Concentrate on seeing the target. Pick out a certain part of the catcher’s mitt.
2. Pitch to contact. Try to make the hitters hit it, rely on your defense to get outs.
3. Have a purpose with every pitch.
4. Control the emotional and tension level with a regular breathing pattern. Blow it out before winding up.
5. Warm up properly and strive to always throw strikes in between innings.
Good Luck and BUST THOSE SLUMPS!
owner of SBA