Hit a Dinger, Break the Fear of the Stinger!
“My son was the best hitter last year as a 6- or a 7-year-old and now all of a sudden … he can’t hit!”
HHMMM! That’s interesting! You don’t just stop be able to hit. Well, you might, if you are moving from the 7’s to 8’s from the coach pitch or machine pitch to the dreadful PLAYER PITCH!
I remember getting numerous calls from parents saying that their sons or daughters were good hitters, but suddenly they can’t hit. It’s not that the players can’t hit. Here’s what happens. Envision the following scenario.
Johnny is at the plate and he crushes the ball time and time again. Without a worry in the world, he crushes the strike that dad or the coach is throwing directly over the plate … Whack! Whack! When a coach or machine pitches, the player doesn’t think about getting hit. They confidently remain focused, dig their cleats into the dirt, grit their teeth and swing away!
*****NEWS FLASH******NEWS FLASH*****NEWS FLASH*****NEWS FLASH*****NEWS FLASH*****
Johnny is now facing another 7- or 8-year-old pitcher … Ughhhh! He gets hit by a ball and “OUCH” it hurts! Next game … ”OUCH!” He gets hit again. It still hurts.
Suddenly Johnny went from digging in his cleats to playing dodgeball with a 5-ounce piece of leather that can sting like a bee. And, if it hits muscle or bone, it can sting for some days!
Result: Johnny, moving his feet in the box, can’t dig in … refuses to dig in, refuses to even swing. WHY? Because Johnny no longer care about hitting line drives. He cares about not getting hit and staying “OUCHY FREE!” This happens so often at this level.
Answer: Practice! There are some drills to help you overcome this fear and I will attach them later in the week to this post. These drills will teach the mental awareness they need. We will teach him how to get out of the way, properly restoring his confidence and enabling him to get back into the batter’s box. In no time at all, he’ll be back to digging his cleats into the dirt, gritting his teeth and whacking that ball like never before!