Article

Hitters – Can You Handle the Red?

While the swing is physical, being a good hitter over the course of a season is mental. The greatest question you can ask your hitters is – can they handle the Red?

Most of us would be thrilled if our hitters hit .352 for the season, but are you preparing your hitters to handle the Red?

During our recent Hitting Summit, Matt Meuchel, Assistant Coach for University of Arkansas Softball presented his favorite hitting chart – and to me, it was eye-opening. Matt’s a super-smart guy and lives in the Sybermetrics world of numbers.

Matt started his presentation asking one simple question…”How many consecutive at-bat’s would you have to make an out in before you’re in a slump?”

Seems like a simple question, but your players (and you as well) will have lots of different answers. So, to visually show how mentally difficult hitting is, Matt created a spread sheet that replicated a typical college softball season. It had 11 weeks going across and 15 at-bats per week going top to bottom.

A hitter will typically have 165 at-bats in the course of a normal college season – some of those at-bats will result in hits (they’ll show up as WHITE on the chart in Picture 1) and most of those at-bats will result in outs (they’ll show up as RED on the chart in Picture 1).

Matt plugged in a batting average that all of us would agree is pretty high (.352), and visually showed how a .352 hitter goes through lots of ups and downs in their weekly batting average, and how many red zones they go through.

Hitters Handle Red Matt Meuchel Arkansas Slumps Batting Average

By looking at the spreadsheet in Picture 1 you can see along the bottom how this .352 hitter goes through weeks hitting lower than .352 and higher than .352. Until I saw this up on the screen, I had NEVER thought of a batting average in these terms! What amounts to an extremely high batting average for the year (.352 would put this hitter in the top % of college hitters), takes its dips and dives throughout the season.

When you look closer at this chart (Picture 2) you can see 2 spots in particular where both the player and the coach need to be patient:

  • The purple circle to the far left shows the hitter started off the .352 season hitting only .200. That’s having her first 8 at-bats of what ends up being an All-American season being OUTS! If the player panics, or the coach panics and pulls her out of the lineup, then she doesn’t get to week 2, where she hits .467.
  • If you look at the green circles toward the end of her .352 season, she has 4 consecutive weeks hitting only in the .200’s. There’s a LOT of RED in those weeks. But again, if anybody panics, then she doesn’t stay in the lineup to be able to hit .400 her last week and .352 for the season!
Hitters Handle Red .352 Average Season Slump Bunches

The last thing to look at from Picture 2 is the Big Blue arrow showing week 3. In this week she hit .600 – which seems incredible! And yet, that high of a batting average still includes 5 consecutive at-bats that resulted in outs!

Base hits and outs don’t just alternate themselves, they happen in bunches, and those bunches usually involve lots of Red – or outs! We can tell our players this, but actually showing them what that looks like can help them stay calm. That way the next time think they’re in a slump they can remember, that as long as they keep taking good swings at good pitches – they’re simply going through the Red. Teach your hitters to handle the Red!

I learned a TON of other things from the Hitting Summit, and I can’t share all of those with you in this newsletter. But, you’re in luck – we recorded every single session and will dump these videos into the Hitting Summit Vault soon. When we do, if you’re a Hitting Summit Vault member you’ll get this year’s Summit videos as part of your membership – no extra charge!

                                                                                                                                       
2017 Hitting Summit Speakers:2018 Hitting Summit Speakers:
Mike Candrea (Arizona) Natasha Watley (USA Softball)
Carol Hutchins (Michigan) Matt Meuchel (Arkansas)
Tim Walton (Florida)Matt Lisle (Missouri)
Karen Weekly (Tennessee) Tripp MacKay (Kennesaw State)
Diane Miller (Nebraska) Sam Ricketts (Mississippi State)
Lizzy Ristano (Notre Dame) Cat Heifner (New Mexico State)
Cat Heifner (New Mexico State) Corrie Hill (formerly Texas)
Dr. Tom Hanson (Big Play Academy)

Become a member of our Hitting Summit Vault and see everything I learned from the 2017 Hitting Summit. If you want to know what these great hitting coaches teach about hitting, then become a Hitting Vault member today!

If you’re an over-achiever – then get BOTH the Hitting and the Pitching Summit Vault by becoming a Combo Summit Vault member!

6 comments on “Hitters – Can You Handle the Red?

  1. Liz Beaton

    Cindy Bristow, you are A.MA.ZING! Thank God for you assembling all this important information, accessible to all of us—coaches and lay people alike!

  2. Cindy Bristow

    Thanks Liz! I have the incredible opportunity to learn from some amazing people, and feel the info is too good not to share it. Information should be shared.

  3. Gary Blake

    Hi Cindy,
    What are the 1-3 digit numbers in each of the at-bat cells in the chart? Interesting article and a good visual representation of the old adage that great hitters fail 60-70% of the time!

  4. Cindy Bristow

    Lots of questions about the numbers in the Red and White boxes. This entire chart is randomly generated, since hits and outs throughout the course of a season are random. Based on Matt’s calculations for the average D1 college hitter of 15 at-bats per week and 11 seasons, that equals 165 at bats per season…and that’s what the columns and rows represent. In order to make the “Projected Batting Average” actually random, he uses from 1 to 1,000 as the numbers for the program to randomly pick from to create the total. They just show up in either the HITS (WHITE) or the OUTS (RED) blocks. Basically, those numbers aren’t important to his message, so ignore them. Hope that makes sense. This chart was taken from an excel spreadhseet which allows you to actually plug in any Batting Average and the program randomly generates what happens within those 165 at-bats to arrive at that average for the season. Hope that helps!

  5. Cindy Bristow

    Hey Gary – gave that answer previously about the numbers within the white and red cells…so here it is again: Lots of questions about the numbers in the Red and White boxes. This entire chart is randomly generated, since hits and outs throughout the course of a season are random. Based on Matt’s calculations for the average D1 college hitter of 15 at-bats per week and 11 seasons, that equals 165 at bats per season…and that’s what the columns and rows represent. In order to make the “Projected Batting Average” actually random, he uses from 1 to 1,000 as the numbers for the program to randomly pick from to create the total. They just show up in either the HITS (WHITE) or the OUTS (RED) blocks. Basically, those numbers aren’t important to his message, so ignore them. Hope that makes sense. This chart was taken from an excel spreadhseet which allows you to actually plug in any Batting Average and the program randomly generates what happens within those 165 at-bats to arrive at that average for the season. Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply