Today, we'll talk about Ted Williams and some of his absolutes to becoming a great hitter.
Ted is one of the greatest hitters ever to live. Nobody studied their craft and was as obsessed with hitting as he.
It's important to learn from your own experience as a coach and from the best players to ever played the game.
You get insight from listening to the best players that you can't get from any spreadsheet or graph.
Advice from Ted Williams.
Let's dive in:
Step 1: Know Thyself
"What I have to say about hitting is self-education thinking it out, learning the situations, knowing your opponent, and most importantly knowing yourself"
I often say I want hitters to become their hitting coach, and this is why it's a 1-1 battle with the pitcher. No coach, just you, can help you when you're in the batter's box.
Knowing who you are will decrease the time you're in a slump because if you know yourself, you won't start changing anything and everything immediately.
One of the ways Ted recommends young players get to know themselves as a hitter is this: "Experiment. Try what you see that looks good on somebody else. Try different bats, bigger handle, bigger barrel, anything."
This is one of the reasons I am anti-system when it comes to hitting. Every hitter is unique. To find out how unique you are, you must experiment.
Step 2: Two pieces of advice Ted received
Out of all of the years Ted played, the two most impactful pieces of advice he received were when he was a young player.
The first came from Roger Hornsby: "The most important thing in hitting is to get a good ball to hit."
It's funny because clearly, Ted took that lesson to heart, with how disciplined of a hitter he was over the next twenty years of his career.
The second came from Lefty O'Doul: "Son, whatever you do, don't let anybody change you. Your style is your own"
I love that.
Both of those were given to Ted BEFORE he played a single MLB game. It shows the impact you can have on a player for years to come.
Step 3: Pay Attention
Ted was a hitter who guessed at the plate throughout his career. However, he doesn't describe it as guessing but as "observing."
"It's a matter of being observant, of learning through trial and error, of picking up things, You watch a pitcher warm up, and you see everything's high, or his breaking ball is in the dirt. You can think about waiting for the fastball if he isn't getting the breaking ball over. Or if he's making you hit the breaking ball, you can lay for it."
This is my favorite quote from Ted about being observant and why most players fail.
"Now, you can sit on the bench, pick your nose, scratch your bottom, and it all goes, by, you're the loser. The observant guy will get the edge."
Step 4: Don't argue with umpires
"Don't waste time arguing with umpires; you can't do anything about it. Talk to a teammate, somebody you know pays attention to the game as well as you do."
This piece of advice might be one of the most impactful pieces out of this whole article for players. I have seen many ABs get thrown away because a player lets an umpire get in their head.
Step 5: Challenge yourself in practice
If you're on social media now, you see everyone talking about "random practice, mixed BP, pitching machine, make it a game like"
Ted was doing all of this stuff 70 years ago.
When he was coaching, Ted had a player who would put on a clinic in BP and then not be able to hit anything during the game (sound familiar?)
"He practiced as much as and as hard as anybody in our club, but he wasn't practicing the right way. He was having the pitcher in ordinary batting practice tell him what was coming rather than make a game of it and try to hit anything he saw."
One day he finally confronted the player: "You know, Mike, I could go out there right now as old as I am and do the same thing you did if I know what's coming. What you did was worthless, and it gets you into bad habits. Don't tell the pitcher what to throw. Learn to hit anything you see."
1. Know Thyself
2. Get a good pitch to hit
3. Pay Attention
4. Don't argue with umpires
5. Challenge yourself