Breaking the Hitters Slump Mentally

curveballWe’ve all been there.  You’re having a fantastic season and then suddenly you come to a tournament and suddenly can’t hit water if you fell straight out of a boat. Next tournament, same thing happens. At practice, you start struggling hitting a ball off the tee.  And so the hitters slump waterfalls. The good news about a hitting slump is that it literally takes one good hit to get you back on track.  The bad news is that the hitting slump is really a MENTAL BLOCK, which takes a certain degree of mental toughness and tenacity and determination to break. No matter how many times you tell a player, and no matter how many times a player hears, “Oh shake it off, everyone strikes out a time or too,” the player doing the striking out becomes ultimately focused on NOT STRIKING OUT.

And therein lies the problem! 

When you are focusing on NOT STRIKING OUT, you aren’t focusing on hitting.  In fact, going up to the plate and thinking, “Oh please God don’t let me strike out again, just let me hit the ball just once, please oh please,” you are focusing on WHAT YOU DONT WANT.

Good hitters know they are going to hit. They go up to the plate excited, and even curious about how hard they are going to hit, where the ball will go, and thinking about landing safely on first, second, third or even home plate.  What they DON’T do is approach the plate intimidated by the pitcher, constantly tap dancing with their feet, backing out of the box and giving off the most obvious impression that they are nervous, scared, or worried about striking out. They get two strikes on them and become protected, but not anxious or stressed.  In fact, for a good hitter two strikes makes the challenge of hitting even MORE FUN!

For the most part, the Universe is an extremely accurate presence in our lives  It is always trying to give us what we ask for, what we want.  When we put our imaginary antenna up, and it is one of worry, hesitation, insecurity, anxiety – no matter how well we SEE the ball, chances are we aren’t going to hit.  Obviously, you aren’t tuning your antenna to strike out on purpose.  It is only natural, especially when you are in somewhat of a slump, to be apprehensive – to lose your typical assuredness at the plate.

So what can you do?  What should you do, when extra hours in the batting cage, and staying after practice and hitting balls off a tee doesn’t seem to be helping you breakthrough your hitting slump?

Change stations, just like you would change stations on a radio, or switch songs on your I-POD. If you don’t like what is playing, you change it, right? Same thing goes here.

Re-tune your mental antenna so the Universe can respond. As you are standing in the on deck circle, pay attention to what you are thinking about.  Are you thinking, “Wow this pitcher looks hard to hit, ” or “Gawd, I hope I don’t strike out again,” or “I hope I don’t make the last out of the inning with two of my teammates on base,” or even “Please let this at bat end my slump!”  While being nervous is normal, are you overly nervous because you are psyching yourself out?  Are you over thinking the pitches, or hoping that you will get walked?  (NOTE TO BATTERS – GIRLS IN HITTING SLUMPS RARELY GET WALKED).

If you are thinking along these lines, you need to make some mental changes.  Hitting slumps exist in your MIND!

never stop swinging

First, take a few deep breaths before you even leave the dugout. Close your eyes for a few minutes, and VISUALIZE yourself hitting.  Seriously, see yourself HITTING THE POO OUT OF THE BALL (who cares if the others in the dugout think you are meditating), and literally SEE yourself running to first as fast as your feet can take you.  Another great idea, which will totally freak out your teammates and the opposing team is to actually say aloud, “I am going to hit the ball!”  Imagine a pitcher trying to pitch to you while you are standing there bitten lip saying, “Oh little yellowish ball, I am COMING FOR YA!”  Talk about the ultimate freak out.

Doesn’t that feel good?  In fact, you should do this at night before you go to bed, during the day when you have a few minutes, and anytime you find yourself feeling worried or anxious about hitting.  This way, you are tuning your antenna back to HITTING WELL.  And the big universe will hear you and help you get what you want, what you are asking for!  IT. Really. IS. That. Simple!

At SIFG, we believe that you HAVE TO BELIEVE TO ACHIEVE.  This is true not only in life, but in softball as well.  You have to believe you are going to hit.  Rather than allow a hitting slump to get the best of you, and to scramble the signals from your mental antenna, use it to make yourself better.  All it takes to recover is one solid hit, and you WILL be back.

It’s also important to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!  The worst thing you can say as a coach, parent, fan or player is “She’s in a slump,” or “I am in a slump!”  All this does is CONFIRM IT.  And your words are very, very powerful.  The more YOU or OTHERS SPEAK about it, the more REAL it becomes.  The more life you give this mental block.  So just shut up already! And swing away, with the confident belief that YOU ARE GOING TO CONNECT!