A Solid Mental Approach

by Dave Vaccaro
(Holland, PA)

A good hitter is one who is multi-dimensional. This means he can change his approach as the situation changes. If you've been around the game enough, then you will know the game situation can change every pitch. Therefore, each pitch may require a hitter to make an adjustment. The mental part comes from knowing when to make adjustments and what adjustments to make. The

physical part is actually being able to make these adjustments and still have a productive at-bat.

A Productive At-Bat

To many, this would be an at-bat that resulted in a hit and boosted the hitter's average. Unfortunately, this mentality is indicative of a
one-dimensional attitude. Ask yourself the following question, " Which team wins the ball game?" Answer: The team who scores the most runs. Without getting too much into team philosophy, just keep in mind that in order to score a run, a hitter needs to get on base. There's more than one way to get on base.

Anyways, I like to define a productive at-bat as one that results in your team being in a better situation than they were when you stepped to the plate. This can mean a lot of things:

  1. You struck out, but the pitcher had to throw seven or more pitches to strike you out. These pitches add up and eventually take their toll on the opposing arm.

  2. You drew a walk. Even better, it wasn't on four straight pitches. Once again, pitches add up.

  3. You got on base. Doesn't matter how you did it.

  4. You moved a runner over. Doesn't matter how.

  5. You brought a run in. Doesn't matter how.

  6. You hit the ball square on the nose but got out. (This can make a pitcher question his location and the stuff he has that day.)

Developing a Mental Approach

A good mental approach starts in the on-deck circle. As the count changes to the hitter in front of you, the closer you should be to determining what your situation may be. Therefore, when you finally step up to the plate,
you are aware of the current game situation.

Let's say that the hitter in front of you walked. You want to somehow move him into scoring position. The first pitch to you is a passed ball and the runner advances to second. You should now be looking to drive in a run.

However, if you get behind in the count, at the very least, you want move do something to move him to third base. This is an example of making
adjustments during a single at-bat. What are the Needed Tools?

This is where the physical element comes into play. It's one thing to understand the game mentally, but being able to execute is another thing.

Below you will find some tools that will help you become a multi-dimensional hitter:

  • Knowing the strike zone.

  • Being able to hit the ball on the ground.

  • Knowing how to bunt.

  • Hitting the ball the other way.

  • Hitting with two-strikes.

All of these skills are obtainable through practice and drills.

Swing Smarter Response:
Very good points Mr. Vaccaro, situational hitting is a huge part of the mental swing game. It's something you don't see going on if you're passively watching a College or Professional game, but if you dig a little deeper, the game is a little more complex than what's on the surface.

I like the way you think, and getting a coaches perspective on situational hitting is fantastic! Thanks for the info Dave, and I'm sure our other Swing Smarter-ians will appreciate it too=-)

Joey Myers

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