By Chuck R Stewart
While attending the National Sporting Goods Manufacturing show in Las Vegas, I had the chance to sit down with some heavyweight baseball people. These were people who worked for and represented some of the best names in the game of baseball. They were people who had been around the game their whole life. The conversation started out being about the qualities in a good hitter. We talked about stance, mechanics, quick hands, great eyes, terrific hand-eye coordination, and follow through techniques. This was all great to listen to and participate in the conversation but then one man who had been around the game for more than 20 years said straight out that while all of the prior conversation was correct, the thing that made a great hitter stand out from the rest was confidence.
Confidence is a funny thing among most ballplayers. Most players are subject to ups and downs as they go through a season or even a game. He said that the players who hit the best in clutch situations want to be up in those situations and also have the level of confidence that they can perform. They have practiced their craft enough so that in any situation they are the player who knows they can come through. Confidence is born from repetition and repetition comes from practicing the proper mechanics until it is second nature. Players need to repeat the process of hitting until they are confident that when they swing, they will make solid contact with the ball.
I think this level of desire and confidence is what separates the club players from the recreational players once they get into high school. My son is going through this right now in each of the three sports he plays (football, basketball and baseball). He is watching fellow teammates elect to not play other sports so they can focus on their sport of choice in order to excel. The players who are electing to focus on a given sport are the ones who are spending time, getting the repetitions they need to develop their confidence and become better players. The time to spend on repetition is the key to becoming a clutch hitter.
The conversation then turned to what the right amount of repetition is in order become a great clutch hitter. One coach said it was 200 swings a day. That is was former hitting champ Pete Rose used to take every day so it should work for everyone. The issue that most players face with getting that level of repetition is the reality of who will throw that much batting practice to them during the course of a day, 5-6 times per week. My shoulder aches just thinking about it!
The answer to that question is a pitching machine and a batting cage. Both are needed to become a great clutch hitter. The reason both are needed is that they are the perfect combination. The pitching machine can save the arm of any coaching assistant and the batting cage will keep the balls in a close enough proximity that they can be picked up and reloaded quickly enough to get the workout completed within 30-40 minutes.
Any player who has the desire to be successful can afford to spend 30-40 minutes working on their craft on a daily basis.
Coach Chuck Stewart operates a baseball web site called offering baseball pitching machines, batting cages, training aids and coaching/instructional videos along with lots of free coaching content. Coach Chuck offers a pitching machine for every skill level and budget. He has coached baseball teams for 8 years and enjoys sharing the love of the game of baseball with his players.
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