When a player steps up to the plate they should always have some sort of swing thought(s). It MUST be decided before the at bat begins. What I found most effective in my career, was to have two simple swing thoughts.
Here's what worked for me...
1-A Mental Approach
As we discussed here, all players should have a mental game plan before they step into the batter's box. I knew exactly how I was going to attack each at bat before I ever left the batter's circle.
2-A Physical or Mechanical Trigger
I always had some sort of physical action that I would try to repeat in my head to help accomplish the mental approach that was decided on before my at bat.
Here's an example:
I am a right handed batter facing a right handed pitcher that has a lot of movement on his fastball. He likes to challenge hitters early in the count with inside fastballs that are going to run in on their hands. There is a runner on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. I believe that the pitcher is going to try and make me hit a ground ball by throwing that early fastball in on my hands. So with this being concluded my swing thoughts are as follows:
MY APPROACH- Look for a fastball inside to drive to the outfield.
MY MECHANICAL THOUGHT- make sure to pull my hands inside the baseball to prevent my swing from being long.
Now this sounds like a WHOLE LOT to be thinking at the plate, but it's really not. I would break all this down into one repeatable phrase to accomplish both tasks at once. It would sound something like this...
“See it inside, pull em' inside...see it inside, pull em' inside...see it inside, pull em' inside. BOOM!”
This concept can be difficult for young players to learn. Some players may be able to, but most will have to commit to one thought. That's fine. Start small.
For more advanced players, this task is more doable. The one thing I would stress is that all brains do not work the same. We all learn differently, perceive things differently, and process things differently. Your swing thoughts may be way different than mine. The point is-have some sort of plan up there or you will likely fail.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Have your hitters practice these different mental and physical swing thought combos in BP by presenting them with different game situations during each round and have them call out to you what there two thoughts are. This creates accountability for our player so that no BP time is wasted.
What swing thoughts work for you? Leave a comment and tell us about it.