I want to speak a little bit today on – what on the screen right now: If you come to the plate not knowing what the situation is, you don’t have the focus needed to compete at a high level.
Baseball is an individual game – when you are batting its all on you when you are in the field it all on you. When you develop skill sets, every position is different and everyone has different strength and weakness so it’s an individual game, but you play on a team. And the name of the game is to do whatever you have to do to get on base and score runs.
A lot of guys at all level do not have an idea of what they want to do at the plate prior to going up to the plate, and most of the time, it’s not their fault. They haven’t been taught and if they have been taught but doesn’t plan to use any of it then that’s on them – it’s their career. At my academy, I throw stuff out all the time and some guys listen to everything and some guys don’t. That’s on them, I will repeat myself and maybe one day they will get it but it’s up to them. When you are in a game, you need to be spending your time watching the pitcher and get a good understanding of what he is like as a pitcher. Example of things to watch for might include:
- How fast is his fastball
- What secondary pitches does he have
- What his out pitch
- Can he throw all his pitches for a strike, if not which one do you need to lay off of
- Does he start everyone off with the same pitch
- What does he do when he falls behind in the count
- What does he do when he is ahead of the count
- When he picks guys off, does he fall into a pattern as what pitches he throws next,
- What does he do with runners on second
- Does he tip pitches
- and much more…
Stuff like this.
Then when you are getting ready is in the hole – you need to observe the situation and figure out what you need to do and what pitch you can handle that will let you execute that approach.
You got a runner on first and you need to get him to third, you need to drive the ball hard to right field – as a righty maybe this means you back off the plate, if you are a lefty you get on top of the plate – get the ball down in the strike zone. So that’s an example of thinking about where you want to set up so you can get a certain pitch location and looking for the ball down in the zone.
These are things you need to be thinking about, and I understand that coaches are failing and getting players to do this. But you need to take it upon your self and watch more major league games and observe how hitters are trying to do a job and observe what they pitcher is trying to do to get him out.
Guys at the highest level are mentally spent watching the game and trying to gain a competitive advantage. If you leave a game and you are not mental spent you likely wasted valuable time getting better. I understand that this can be an information overload. Some has said its hard to memorize things – and my answer to that is: if something is important to you, you remember. So how important is it for you to want to play well and get better? Your choice and your development and your career. Start small – start with observing what he is throwing everyone first pitch – start with noticing a difference in his mechanics when he warms up and you know what’s coming – find one other guys on the team that you can sit with and just talk the game and planning what you are going to do out there.
This takes discipline and focus and if you cannot require this type of focus then you don’t have the focus to compete at a high level.
So once again, If you come to the plate not knowing what the situation is, you don’t have the focus needed to compete at a high level.