Everyone has struggles. For baseball players, a slow start or drop-off in plate performance can leave them feeling down. As a coach, it’s your responsibility to guide them back to confident thinking in order to find success in the batter’s box.
However, instilling baseball confidence isn’t the same as teaching them a new skill set. Find out how you can guide your athletes toward positive thinking with these tips from professional hitting coaches.
One of the best things to do when looking to build hitting confidence in players is to start a conversation. Having a down-to-earth discussion with your athletes can take the pressure out of the situation. As a coach, taking the role of a counselor – rather than a teacher – can help get to the root of the issue.
To begin the conversation, professional hitting coach Kevin Riggs suggests changing the environment. “What I try to find is a quiet place for him and I. Usually in the cage, but with no bat, no hitting and we talk,” he says.
Creating an atmosphere where players can focus on themselves instead of their plate performance can allow for a better understanding of what’s wrong. From here, you can get them out of their head and begin to start focusing on the process.
“Forget about who’s in the stands,” professional hitting coach Jimmy Johnson says. “When you walk onto the field, all your problems are back in the locker room. You come out here, now you’ve got this coat of armor on. You’re ready to do battle.”
One potential factor in a player who lacks baseball confidence is the belief that they cannot succeed in hitting. To solve this issue, Riggs suggests creating a personal highlight reel for the athlete to observe and watch. “One of the best things that I’ve used over the last several years is really relying on my video guy to create a, ‘Dig Me,’ tape, is what I call it. And I want about two and a half, three minutes of watching this guy have absolute success, dominate the game,” he says.
Creating a highlight film can provide a visual example of a player’s success, proving to them that it’s possible. Once they’ve watched it with you, Riggs suggests challenging them to watch routinely. Before bed, after waking up, before a game or practice. Instilling that notion of success and providing proof of their capabilities can do wonders for a player’s psyche.
A final baseball coaching tip to help instill confidence is to reinforce success with positive thinking. Give players the opportunity to succeed in practice and build up morale with achievable tasks. “Having good BP, giving him good balls to hit, you know,” Johnson says. “Turning the machine on at a level that he can master and just getting [him] feeling good about himself.”
Being a coach isn’t just about teaching athletes the game. It’s about giving them the confidence to perform at their best. Help your players find the right mentality so they can swing away with an all-star mindset with these Pro Tips.