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How To Help Hitters Plan For Failure

Jan 12, 2023



Hitters need to plan for failure. 

This past weekend I attended the ABCA in Nashville, Tennessee.

I listened to the Mariners Assistant GM Andy Mckay speak, and I wanted to share some of the things he talked about in today's post.


Today's post will be on helping hitters prepare for failure. It will happen, so why wouldn't you spend time preparing for it?


Every hitter is going to struggle. How long they struggle will be determined by how quickly they can return to a neutral mindset.


So instead of being in a slump for three weeks, they're in a slump for one week.


Unfortunately, most players won't spend any time thinking about what they're going to do when they struggle, leading them on a roller coaster ride the second they start to scuffle.


Players will think their swing is the issue.


  • Always working to 'perfect their swing.'

  • Think more drills are the cure

  • Never have a plan

  • Don't stick with their plan.


This won't be your players if you follow the advice below.


Here's how, step by step:

Step 1: Less talking about the swing

What you emphasize as a coach is what the players will think about. From a young age, it's all about mechanics.

For example, a player didn't get a hit after one AB. 

  • "Your back shoulder must have dropped early."
  • "We're going to go to the cage to work on our swing."
Everything is about the swing.

So when players struggle, what are they programmed to think about?

The swing.

Because that's what we've programmed them to think about.

So before your hitter gets in the cage the next time, ask them their plan for that round.


Step 2: "Coach the response, not the mistake"

We tend to work in extremes as coaches and need more patience.

Something I heard from Andy Mckay this past weekend is this.

"Coach the response, not the mistake."

Here is an example:

A player is late on a FB right over the middle of the plate.

What is your response as a coach?

Tell them to "start earlier?"

"You're late!"

It's always the extreme.

They were late one AB, and now we're telling them to change?

This is where we have to do a better job as coaches; we wonder why players think they did something wrong after they got out because we're always telling them what they did wrong.

  • "You are out in front."
  • "Under it there."
  • "Pulling your front shoulder."

We want them to stick to their plan that AB.

If they did, well done.

That's it.


Step 3: The 'Anti List'

Before the season starts, have the players list things they're 'not going to do' when they struggle.

  • Hit on the tee for hours after the game

  • Call Dad to see what he thinks

  • Post a video on social media for help

  • Have parents take a video of every AB


You have them build a system for what 'not to do.'


As James Clear says, "You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."


The last thing I'll say is this, as an industry, we make hitting way more complicated than it needs to be. It's about swinging at pitches over the heart of the plate and taking pitches off of it.


If you follow the three steps above, your players will increase their chances of doing that.


1. Less talking about the swing 
2. Coach the response, not the mistake 
3. The 'Anti-List'