7 Key Baseball Hitting Lessons for Hacking Slumps
This baseball hitting lessons article is about what the essence of slump busting really is, originating from key Yoga principals...
I recently had a Yoga training workshop where the class taught the 7 Essences of Yogafit training, and they include:
- Listening to the body
- Letting go of EXPECTATIONS
- Letting go of COMPETITION
- Letting go of JUDGMENT
- Staying in the present moment
What does this have to do with baseball hitting lessons?? Everything. Before you think I'm going nuts, hear me out, because it has a lot to do with creating a fertile hitting environment to repel slumps and flourish all season long.
Let's begin with,
Slump Buster #1 - Breathing
What are the benefits of breathing (the right way)? First, let's address the right way to take a deep breath...inhaling through the nose making the belly expand, and exhaling out keeping the mouth closed out through the nose, simple.
The key here is make the belly expand, and NOT to have the chest heave or the shoulders rise when you're inhaling. Also, count your inhales and exhales as seconds, strive for 4 seconds at first, then 5, then 6 seconds...this keep us in the present moment, and keeps us away from thinking about future obligations or dwelling on past experiences.
The dangers, as they relate to baseball hitting lessons performance is...
When you inhale with your chest or shoulders you're using secondary breathing muscles, and when used too much cause anxiety, muscle tension (held in the lower neck area), and can lead to migraine headaches.
By taking a "belly breath" we exercise muscles in the diaphragm, which is one of the body's primary muscles for dynamic breathing, stress management, and the release of endorphins.
The benefits of breathing are:
- Increased energy,
- Decreased anxiety,
- Staying in the present moment
- A slowing of the heart rate,
- Potential for greater flexibility,
- Cure aching postural distortions, and
- Summoning a calm during the storm.
This should be a major part of all baseball hitting lessons and slump busting.
Slump Buster #2: Feeling
This translates into baseball terminology as muscle memory. Developing the correct mechanics early and often is the key to baseball career longevity and consistency in play.
We can't get stuck in drills where we're looking at our reflection because a feel for a good swing cannot happen if we're only using sight as a sense. Looking at our swing in the mirror is okay, but should NOT be a big component to our practices because of this feeling element.
We may need a coaches feedback at first before we can be our own swing feedback hall monitor, but this is a big element to slump busting because sometimes a trusted outside source is needed to evaluate our mechanics or mental approach.
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Slump Buster #3: Listening to the body
This kind of goes along with #2 above, but more along the lines of...if we're hitting till our hands bleed, then we need a few days break to heal, or else you'll develop bad over-compensating habits. The blisters will heal, you'll develop callouses, and you can hit longer next time.
We definitely need good work ethic, but our bodies also need rest time. So, listen to what your body is telling you with the frequency of practices. Not to mention, what taking a mental break will do to recharge your batteries in case of slump panic!
Slump Buster #4: Letting go of EXPECTATIONS
Translating into baseball hitting lessons slump speak, this is forgetting all the high anxiety and stress your parents, friends, coaches, etc. put on you outside the lines. Some kids are doomed by parents who push them too hard and unfortunately, unless something is done, there will be burn out.
Also, set goals of what you want to accomplish, but don't think you're going to master the Down & Through method to hitting in one day...it takes at least 21 days to kick old habits, and up to 10 years to virtually master a craft (i.e. a baseball swing).
The bottom line?
Work on taking it one pitch at a time, have a short attention span, and learn from your mistakes, and move on. You'll get more of this in Slump Buster #7 below.
Slump Buster #5: Letting go of COMPETITION
This is hard to do with a sport who's main focus is the battle between hitter and pitcher. BUT, when you're working on swing mechanics during baseball hitting lessons, then you need to focus on what YOU can control, and nothing else.
The best times I clawed my way out of slumps was when I hit rock bottom. I stopped worrying about the guy starting in my position, and started working on what I could control...my own swing mechanics. There's a time and a place for competition, but we have to remember what we can and can't control. My favorite saying is, "It is what it is."
Another good one...
Slump Buster #6: Letting go of JUDGMENTS
Judging other players especially those vying for your position is a baseball Karma NO, NO. Do you want to hear one of the biggest reasons I didn't go further than Division 1 college ball? I couldn't let go of judgments.
Negative thoughts buzzed like a swarm of bees between my ears, about how "I should be playing and not him," "he went 0 for 4 today, I could've done that." Thoughts like these will bring you down faster than, as Biff said in the movie Back to the Future, "like a screen door on a battleship" [the joke was suppose to be a submarine, not a battleship].
Try this in your baseball hitting lessons...have your players wear "21 Day NO Complaining" rubber bands. That means NO complaining, gossiping, or cursing (spoken or mental words). If a player slips, back to 0. If they can create a solution to the complaint, then that's the goal.
Slump Buster #7: Staying in the present moment
This means being able to let go of what we did yesterday, forget about tomorrow, and just live for today. Take it one pitch at a time. Baseball (hitters especially) need to have a short-term memory...you make a mistake, learn from it, and move on.
Ghandi said this, and I try to abide by it everyday...
"Live as if you were going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever."
Also, like Slump Buster #1 above...
Breathing really helps to stay in the present moment, so remind your students during baseball hitting lessons when they get frustrated, to slow everything down and take a deep breath.
Young hitters need to create a relaxation routine between pitches early on in their careers, make a good habit now of dumping the extra baggage that accumulates from pitch to pitch.
Tell them to be a good ol' dirty dump truck!
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