My son has great mechanics, but can't hit! - Cornerstone Coaching AcademyCornerstone Coaching Academy

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My son has great mechanics, but can’t hit!

I hear this a lot when I work with young players in individual lessons, and I see it a lot in high school baseball.


There is no doubt that having a proper mechanical foundation will help hitters be successful, but it is far from the ONLY ingredient for success.  I would challenge that the mental side of hitting is just as important, if not more important than the physical side.


Over the past decade, I have seen a lot of high school hitters who have quick hands, picture perfect swings, and absolutely crush the ball off a tee and in the cage.  Then the success doesn't translate into games and they can't figure out why.


They get frustrated after every unsuccessful at bat.  After each game they go back to the cage, work on their swing more, tinker with mechanics, change their stance, and continue to see no results.


The next step is to either go to their hitting coach for a tune up.  They crush the ball in their tune up lesson, but that doesn't translate into games either.   This player remains frustrated and confused.


I have also seen the flip side of this.  The player with very average mechanics who doesn't "Wow" anyone in the cage.  This player has good, but not great bat speed, and for some reason just seems to be productive when they get in the game.  When they have an unsuccessful at bat, they move on from it and don't let it affect their future at bats.


This player also works hard to improve in practice, but doesn't assume that taking an 0-4 means something must be terribly wrong.  They are unlikely to try a total mechanical overhaul during the season.





So what's happening with these two players?


1.) The player with great mechanics is likely not getting good pitches to hit.  They are pressing so much, that they swing at everything.


When I was much younger, I used to be able to pitch to my players.  We had a sophomore who was very promising (ended up having a great high school career), but he would strike out against me every time.  After his at bats, he asked what he was doing wrong.  I asked what he thought was going on and he gave me a bunch of mechanical jargon.


My response was simply "I know I don't need to throw you any good pitches to hit, because you will swing at my pitches, and get yourself out."


During his next two at bats, he walked, then worked a 3-1 count and ripped a double on a center cut fastball.  He made no mechanical changes, and got better results.  Why?  Pitch selection.


2.) The first player probably only measures success based on batting average.  Walks are not seen as valuable since they don't affect batting average.  Also, a hard hit ball right at someone is seen as a failure since their batting average drops.


Any time a player begins an analysis of their season with batting average, that player is probably not reaching their potential.





What can be done to help?

When players struggle, don't automatically turn to mechanics as the answer.  The mental side of hitting is easier to address during competitive seasons (mechanical changes during competitive seasons are very difficult), and it is likely where the problem lies.


It is entirely possible that their approach at the plate needs to be overhauled.  No matter how good the swing, it won't work if they're swinging at bad pitches.


This Power Point presentation that I give to our players a few times each year, helps reinforce playing in the moment and how to only worry about the things that are in your control.


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