Updated: Apr 12, 2022
It is no secret that baseball has been notoriously branded "the game of failure." Every time we step up to the plate we have about a 70% chance of letting down those around us and walking back to the dugout with our head down.
I won't lie. There have been times throughout my career where I have gone up to the plate, feeling as if the chances of me getting on base were slim to none. I would look out on the field and feel like I was hitting against a pitcher throwing 120 mph, backed by five infielders and 7 outfielders. The holes just weren't there.
As much as we hate to admit it, this horrific feeling of helplessness that comes and goes is just as much a part of the game as stepping in the batter's box feeling nearly invincible. We fail. It happens. It only becomes a problem if we let it grow into to something more than it really is.
1. When In Doubt, Simplify
Oftentimes the bad at bats tend to multiply when we have too many thoughts running through our head at one time. When this happens, it helps to just go back to the basics. Thinking of too many things at once just slows us down, so we need to think about only the essentials when we’re up at the plate.
2. Find Your Cues
An empty mind is just looking for things to grasp onto. A full mind slows us down. Therefore, the easiest way to shape our mentality is to have ONE thought running through our minds at a time. These are called mental cues - little phrases that we say to ourselves that help us accomplish what we set out to do at the plate. For example, we may get too pull-happy, and we are rolling over too many balls to shortstop and third base. A way to combat this problem would be to tell yourself something like, “Hit the ball to right field.“ That way, this will help you let the ball get deeper while allowing you to stay inside the ball better.
3. Understand The Law Of Averages
Sometimes, being in a slump can feel like you’ll never get a hit again. However, think about the game of baseball. If you are going to succeed 3 out of every ten times, and you just got out 7 times, that just means you have 3 hits coming your way pretty soon. Hence, the law of averages. In reality, the longer you're in a slump, the closer you are to your next hot streak. Baseball is an up-and-down game. No one starts the season at .300 and maintains that average the entire time. Your average will go up, then it will go down, then it will go up again. That’s baseball. Rough patches are just as important to the game as hot streaks.
4. Stop Caring So Much
Eventually, after you’ve tried everything you can to get out of your slump and nothing works, your efforts become futile. So stop trying. Baseball is funny. The harder we “try” to get a hit, the harder getting a hit becomes. The best hitters make it look easy for a reason. They have trained themselves to not try so hard, because they know that maximum effort is wasted effort. Sometimes it pays off to chill for a second, relax, and understand that your next at bat will not determine whether you live or die that day. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that important.
5. Learn How A Slump Becomes A Slump
Spoiler alert: SLUMPS DON'T EXIST. Slumps are created out of our own minds in order to put into words the frustration we feel when we can't seem to find a way to succeed. Deciding we are in a slump is our minds raising the white flag in surrender, unable to find any answers. A slump is spoken into existence when we fail to view an at bat as just that - an at bat. Instead, an at bat becomes two at bats... and three at bats... and four...
One at bat doesn't ruin a player, but when he brings the weight of many at bats into his next at bat, the pressure becomes insurmountable. Putting needless pressure on yourself by trying to “make up for” having a bad at bat in the past is what causes future struggles. With that being said, you’re only in a slump if you tell yourself you’re in a slump.
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