What is a Slump and How to Get Out of It
Ever heard the term “I can’t even buy a hit”? Well, if you were trying to describe what a slump is in the game of baseball, that phrase pretty much sums it up. So, what is a slump? It’s exactly what it sounds like – no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get a hit. As awful a thing this is, guess what: all ball players, no matter what skill level they play, are going to experience it or have already experienced this in their career. It’s part of the game. Now, as this can be one of the most frustrating parts of being a hitter, there are ways to break out of it before it gets too deep, or ways that you can slowly bust out of these weird phases. So, if you’re currently in a slump or want to know what to do when it comes, we have some tips on how to break out of it!
Tip #1: Don’t Overthink.
The worst thing you can do in baseball in any situation is to start getting in your head and overthinking. Problem is, when a slump comes, all you do is start to think. People begin to question their mechanics, their pitch selection, the way their feet are, how they hold the bat, etc. This not only slows you down, but it takes you away from doing the one thing you’re there to do: Play baseball. The thing about baseball is it is a game of failure. So, if you go 0-4 in a game, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re in a slump. Don’t let your mind wander into that dark area. A good hitter can accept failure, wipe it, and move on to the next at bat. Point is, take it one bat at a time and don’t dwell on the previous pitch. If you have confidence at the plate, odds are you are going to get on base. Stay positive!
Tip #2: Cage Work.
There is no substitute for hard work and if you are struggling at the plate, the best way to make adjustments and see what’s going wrong is during BP. Now, when I say BP, I don’t mean just go in the cage and start taking MAMO-hacks at everything that is tossed your way. Make it an evolution. Start with tee work to hammer down your fundamentals, then move into soft toss, then graduate to full batting practice. The best way to take batting practice is to take EFFECTIVE batting practice. Practice with a purpose, not just to swing the bat. If you can identify bad habits, kinks in your swing and then practice the good habits, odds are those fixes will translate to the field.
Tip #3 Visualize Success:
We stated this before a little bit in the first tip but figured we would elaborate a little bit on the power of visualization in the game of baseball. Having a positive outlook on the game is crucial in baseball considering how high the fail rate is. Check this out: if you get on base 4 times out of 10 at bats, that doesn’t seem very good, right? Well, that’s a .400 batting average, and that’s good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. Again, baseball is a game of failure. People who fail more times than they succeed have been considered some of the greatest to ever play. Kind of weird, but it’s the game we all love. So, at times when all we feel like we do is fail and get out, it can be very hard to find the positives in those situations. It is crucial that you stop and tell yourself whether you’re in the dugout or on the on-deck circle that you ARE going to get a hit, or you ARE going to get on base. And as you are practicing your swings on deck, see yourself getting that hit. Even if you can’t do that, a better way to start small is to tell yourself “Just the ball HARD” OR “Make solid contact here”. Seeing is believing.
Tip #4: Check Your Eyes.
Okay, story time: I had a friend that I played with throughout my travel ball days and into high school. Throughout those years, he was a great hitter. He was extremely consistent, had a high OPS, dropped bombs, everything. When we got to my junior year of high school, he hit one of the biggest slumps I had ever seen. Some pitchers were making him looks absolutely silly at the plate. For a while, we thought “There is no way he has lost THAT much confidence, right?” So, he kept grinding, but the hits became more and more scarce. One day we were having an intersquad scrimmage and I telegraphed a pitch as best I could to him, and he still whiffed. Then I asked him this after the inning:
“Dude, how did you not see that curveball?” I asked.
“Man, I don’t know. I didn’t see anything. I couldn’t even see a dot or the way the laces were spinning.” He replied.
Then it clicked.
This dude couldn’t see the ball! Moral of the story, be sure to get your eyes checked because our eyes are constantly changing, and most times, not for the better. If you are having trouble picking up pitches out of the pitcher’s hands or seeing the laces, odds are you need some corrective lenses.
Tip #5: Use the Right Bat.
Believe it or not, using the right bat can be a deciding factor in whether or not you are successful at the plate. Making sure you are using a bat that is the proper length and weight is crucial because if it is too heavy or too long, it can affect your bat speed and swing path through the strike zone. If you’re using one that is too short or too light, you could be moving through the zone too quickly or not covering the length of the plate, causing your timing and plate coverage to suffer. I have seen it more often than not. I coach 12-14 year old’s and you wouldn’t believe how many kids don’t swing the right bat for their body size. I even have 13-year-old kids that think they can swing a 33/30 BBCOR bat! No wonder they can’t bring the bat around in time. Anyway, be sure to test out and swing the bat before you buy it to make sure that it is comfortable and feels good in your hands. If you are having trouble deciding, check out our bat buying guide here.