5 Simple Steps to Improve Her Hitting...and They're Not What You Think!

It has often been said that hitting a round ball with a round bat is, perhaps, the single hardest thing to do well in sports. In addition to that challenge a hitter in fastpitch softball has all of about 1/3 of a second to determine ball velocity, movement and location; no problem! Is it any wonder then that even the very best fastpitch hitters fail 60%  or more of the time?

Being a travel softball coach I understand the mechanical part of hitting as well as most, but it is the element between the ears that determines a player's success or failure in the batter's box. So here are 5 simple steps your athlete can take to improve her batting average and her joy for playing the game:

1. Focus -  Most hitters cannot focus their energy on the task at hand because they are either over analyzing things, consumed by past failures, or have a bout with ADD. Being able to exert laser focus for each pitch is paramount to her success. Just a 50% increase in her mental focus will greatly increase her success. Once your athlete can recognize her focus level it will be easier for her to flip the focus switch on whenever she needs to.

2. Relax -  Players today are so burdened with excessive expectations that each at bat can feel as if their whole future depends on it's outcome! These expectations can lead to excessive anxiety and adrenalin which in turn diminishes performance due to physiological responses like reduced motor reflexes, reduced vision, reduced focus, sweaty palms, increased pulse rate, etc. If your athlete can practice some simple breathing techniques and positive "can do" trigger statements in the on deck circle she can keep herself relaxed and focused.

3. Have a Plan - For your athlete to improve her batting success she needs to take a "proactive" stance and adequately prepare herself for each at bat. This can include studying the pitcher, knowing the umpire's strike zone, looking for a certain pitch or location, knowing the game situation. Having a plan can also include well rehearsed "pre-game," "in-game," and "post game" plans to prepare mentally for the inevitable adversity the game will throw at her.

4. Expect Success - Self-confidence is supremely important in order for any hitter to be successful, but it's more than that. Your athlete needs to cultivate an expectancy for success. Her thoughts will tell her she "can" or she "cannot" before and during her at bats. With all the time and effort she puts into her game during the week she deserves success on the weekends! Expectancy for success will give her a little extra pep in her step on her way to the box. It will also serve to calm her mind down and increase her ability to focus. Can you say .400?

5. Proper Perspective - Because the game of fastpitch is so hard perfection is not an option. Your athlete needs to recognize that she will fail more often than she will succeed and keep the perspective that each at bat can be a learning opportunity for her to improve her next at bat. If she (and you) can focus more on her effort than the results she will get better faster and see a more rapid improvement in her success.

Your athlete can approach her at bats by design or by default. Having strong physical preparation coupled with strong mental preparation will allow her success to be more predictable as well as more enjoyable for her and you!

 Watch John Kelly explain how to skyrocket your athlete's game day performance HERE.

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