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How to earn playing time when sitting on the bench – part 3

This is a five part series about how I was able to play at the Division one level after sitting on the bench in Junior College for three years.

Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

This is the third installment of a five part series depicting my experiences of going from a bench player to an everyday player at the D1 level.

I spoke about my ability to focus on the image that I had for myself as a player as well as the process of being humble as the first two qualities that allowed me to stay persistent.

If you don’t know already, sitting on the bench is no fun. When every part of you wants nothing more than to play your heart out in every inning and yet all you can do is voice your support, giving up on yourself is a hard thing to avoid at times.

This is something that every single bench player needs to underhand. If you sit on the bench long enough, and your not paying attention, a part of you will die. I truly feel that every competitor has a fighting spirit and if you are not given an opportunity to exercise this gift, the flame burns out. Sitting the bench can take away that fire.

What I mean is if your not careful, sitting on the bench can cause you to become complacent. Do not let this happen.

You have to be ready. Even if you never play an inning, you are preparing yourself for next year. You have to condition yourself to never take a moment for granted.

There were definitely times when I was subject to feeling sorry for myself, and this may have lead to me possibly losing my competitive edge. Trust me, I had to work extra hard the next year when I earned a starting position after transferring to get back my baseball instincts and competitive edge.

I had to re-train myself to develope my baseball instincts because my ability to do so essentially atrophied like an unused muscle.

Dealing with sitting the bench is a challenge in itself. Don’t make it harder by taking yourself or the game for granted.

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A great hitter’s approach: Think gap to gap

 

Want to be a great hitter?

One that is infamous for hitting for power, average,in key situations, and is constantly locked in with a high slugging %?

Take a hitting approach that focuses on gap to gap. A good pitcher will have atleast two really good pitches that he can consistently throw for strikes.

Your job as a hitter is to know what he has, and be ready for it when it comes.

The problem is, making the adjustment from a good fast-ball to a good off- speed during the same pitch is extremely difficult.

Thinking gap to gap will ease things up a bit. If your hitting approach is to hit line to line, you are leaving alot of room for error.

If you have the timing of pulling a fastball to the short stops “6” hole (throwing arm side) you will be vulnerable to any off speed or breaking ball pitches. If you have started late enough to hit a fastball to the second basemen’s glove hand than you will be vulnerable on pitches on the inner half.

A hitter that can truly hit to all fields and do it with power is one that is thinking gap to gap. Not trying to be to “fine” with how and where he hits it.

Think gap to gap and never worry about getting jammed because you’re trying to guide the ball to the opposite side or rolling over because you’re trying to hit the ball out in front.

This is how you get locked in as a hitter and build enough confidence to have a great season offensively.

 

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Baseball Hitters Mentality

Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a ground-ball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.

— Crash Davis

 

Playing great baseball is about doing the little things right. Taking advantage of every opportunity to become successful. As a baseball player, if you want to become a better hitter, someone who is consistent and able to stand out among other players there are plenty of things you can do.

Fortunately, if you are a baseball parent and you’re not quit sure what advice you can give him, there are plenty of resources to use. Including here;)

Apart from having sound physical mechanics, being a good hitter has a lot to do with the value you bring to the line-up. Do you get on base? Can you drive runners in? Or do you strike-out a lot while leaving runners on base. Do you find yourself ending the inning with the last out more than others?

All it takes is a few simple minor adjustments to turn things around.

Have a” get on base” mentality

A lot of players think that what truly matters offensively is there ability to get a “base it”. To an extent this is true but is only one half of the coin.Being young and not truly understanding the true value of each at-bat may force a player to take simply getting on base for granted. You have to have the mentality that, “No matter what, I’m going to get on base”! This comes down to knowing the situation, what your capabilities are as well as your opponents.

Getting a base hit is great, but a walk, hit by pitch or even an error is just as valuable. It may not help you batting average wise but it will help your team win.

Have a “Put the ball in play” mentality

No doubt about it, a strike-out has absolutely no value what so ever. Unless you battled and had a 10 pitch at-bat, saw all his pitches, and made him work hard to get you out, strike outs have no value.

You could have done the best hitting drills and have developed the quickest bat speed, but if you don’t put the ball in play. It’s worthless.

When I was in high-school I would call this the “Bull Dog Mentality”. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a hit but by god, I wasn’t going to let the guy strike me out. And they rarely did.

Having a “refuse to strike out mentality” opens the door to a lot of good  things for the offensive team because it forces the pitcher to throw more pitches, puts pressure on the defense, and allows for your team to get to the bull pen. The pitchers in the bull-pen are there for a reason. They’re not as good as the starter.

Have a “Its about the process” mentality

Its very easy to get attached to results in this game. As a baseball player gets older, he may become more aware of stats and tangible results that show his value compared to others. Nothing will ever be more important to understand than the truth that this game doesn’t need to be played  in order to show us we are successful. If you can show up every game, give it your all and leave everything on the field, then you are already a success. No statistic, coach, or fan can ever tell you other wise.

Baseball is not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Think of each at-bat as an adventure and you can’t go wrong.

You are your own hero. When you come up to the plate, remind yourself of this. Forget about succeeding. Focus on being the best ball player you can be from moment to moment, and leave everything else up to the universe!

Good luck!!!!

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Play Better Baseball in 5 Seconds

You’re probably wondering what could possibly allow a baseball player to play better baseball in the next 5 seconds right?

Maybe your saying, “it’s not true”!!!! Getting better takes hard work! It takes blood, sweat, and tears!

Though this may be true, sometime the best results come from the simplest things. Playing better baseball isn’t necessarily about developing quicker bat speed or developing arm strength and increasing velocity. It’s about knowing what steps to take now, in the present moment, that will allow you to hit, field, and throw the ball more consistently.

Playing better baseball in 5 seconds is about taking immediate action.

This is how you play better baseball in 5 seconds.

Breathe…..

Breathing can transform your life.

If you are worried about your slump, breathe. It will bring you back to the present. The present is the only place where you can make an adjustment. Not yesterday’s game and not tomorrow’s.

If you are feeling stressed about an injury you just had, breathe! Breathing promotes blood circulation, and blood circulation promotes healing!

If you feel discouraged about not getting enough playing time or worried that your’e not good enough, breathe. It will remind you of how fortunate you are to simply have the ability to pick up a baseball and throw it. To run across the grass and dirt freely. Breathing will change your perspective, and show you how lucky you are. Feeling gratitude will give you confidence. With confidence, you can accomplish almost anything in baseball.

If you desire to play better baseball, remind yourself to breath. Enjoy each moment as a baseball player. For most of us, there are to few to waste.