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.
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!
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!
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