Warning to Good Hitters!!!

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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

When I am asked why I help kids, my answer is very simple... I will not let any player be as ill prepared for achieving his dreams as I was. I was a very talented athlete coming from the NorthEast which is by no means a hot bed for producing professional baseball players. I hit more home runs than any other kid in my state, hit well over 0.500, and struck out only once my Senior year of High School. My skills were good enough to get drafted in a respectable round with an even more respectable signing bonus, yet, I had no chance from the beginning of making it to the Big Leagues. After grinding it out in the Minors for 5 years, I had accumulated a batting average of 0.242, hit only a few HR’s, and my strike out to walk ratio was around a 3.0.

Now I had some injuries... I had some family emergencies which made playing baseball very difficult... but none of them are the reason why I couldn’t succeed at the professional level. You see my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t hit at the professional level, I had stretches throughout every season I played where I was the 3 hole hitter and was putting up numbers better than anyone else in the league. The problem was I also had stretches where I struggled miserably... And even worse, I had no idea how to snap out of it. I had never failed before, and though I didn’t have a problem with handling failure, I did have a problem with never being taught anything that would help me when I wasn’t hitting. Since I was around 12 years old I was never not hitting well. I had never struggled, so I never had anyone giving me their two cents as to why I wasn’t hitting, and let me make this very clear, the minute you start struggling you will have no shortage of coaches, teammates, fans, or even your parents who will be chiming in and telling you everything that you are doing wrong. The worst part about this is that the vast majority of these people have no friggen clue how to help you and they are making the problem infinitely worse.

You see every time you tell a hitter there is something wrong with their swing, it stays with them... Depending on how much clout the person giving the information has divided by how well the hitter is doing at that particular moment will determine how long that blow will last with the hitter. If some drunk fan spouts off to a player going 4 for 4 it won’t even last long enough for the hitter to process what he just heard, but for a hitter who may be 1 for 5 hearing Ken Griffey Jr. saying there is something wrong with their swing on TV, you better believe in the back of his head, that hitter will start to question if his swing really is in trouble.

The only thing a hitter has to combat this assault on their confidence is knowledge. A hitter who understands all the little nuances about the mechanics of hitting and even more importantly why they do them will be able to nullify what he feels is garbage information no matter who the source is.

This is why I try to arm my hitters with as much knowledge as possible. Almost every time a hitter is struggling it is something very simple and not a huge mechanical issue. I have seen hitters with mechanical problems succeed in the big leagues, and I have seen perfect swings fail in College. As hitting instructors we are cursed with the need to try to correct any “non-perfect” swings, and it isn’t until that hitter starts to struggle that we decide to tell them about it. The truth of the matter is making mechanical changes to your swing takes a very long time and they aren’t going to take in only one or two sessions of hitting. More than likely you are simply
off balance, not focusing on seeing the ball clearly, are not letting the ball travel, or simply pressing. These are issues that can be corrected even within At Bats simply by understanding why they are so important and what are their consequences.

I am very good at getting players to hit. I may have had struggles getting myself to hit, but without those struggles I would not be here teaching you the lessons I have learned. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about hitting, so it took me many trial and tribulations in order to sort through all the garbage information that was being bombarded down on me before I learned what was important and what wasn’t. So if you dream of competing at higher levels, unless you can guarantee your athleticism is always going to win out, do yourself a favor and become a student of hitting and learn as much as you can.

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Get comfortable NOT watching the ball.

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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

If I were to ask you we were going to have a 40yard sprint between Usain Bolt and... well, quite frankly, anyone else in the world... who would you think would win that race? Now... let me tell you the rules... Usain Bolt has to look at the sky over his left shoulder while he is running, and his competitor can look directly at where he is going. Are you still sure Mr. Bolt would win? The truth of the matter is, we are only capable of running at top speed when we can see where we are going. I bring this up because it comes in handy when trying to run down that 360 foot fly ball in the gap your pitcher is praying you will be able to catch.

I was an Outfielder... and I wasn’t particularly a good one... so I had to work very hard to learn everything that there was out there to help me. One of the most challenging initially was to simply get comfortable taking my eye off the ball and run toward the direction where I felt the ball was going. It is completely an unnatural feeling, and until I understood why “running to a spot” made such a difference, I was reluctant to even try it. You see... (in case you haven’t figured it out already) while you are staring up at the sky, you are not moving fast. You may feel like you are motoring, but the entire stadium of screaming fans are yelling for you to get that lead out of your tukhus.

As easy as it may seem to tell a player to “run to a spot,” it isn’t that easy to just start doing... It does become easy... but it takes work. I have found that the easiest way to get players to get comfortable to take their eyes off the ball is to hit (or throw) them easy pop flies and ask them to simply get comfortable knowing that they are already pretty good at judging how long the ball will be in the air.

Continually serve up easy fly balls, where the player may have to move a step or two, and ask him to watch it off the bat (or out of the hand) and then look down to the ground. Tell him to try to move the few steps that he may need to in order to get to the ball and then when he things the ball is going to be on it’s way down, pick the ball up again and catch it.

The first couple of times that he tries this he will look down and then immediately snap his head back to where he thinks the ball is. He will do this out of fear... as if the ball is going to just disappear if he stops looking at it. After a few repetitions, he will get better at trusting that the rules of physics still apply if he isn’t watching them happen, and he will start to get comfortable with taking his eye off the ball and moving toward where the ball is going to be.

After that, start to move the destination farther and farther away from where he is standing until he is flat out running for several steps without looking at the ball and then catching it. Remember even one or two steps your fielder takes without looking toward the sky will cover more distance than if he were looking, so encourage every one of them.

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