Lots of baseball players, particularly young players, can get pretty anxious
when they get up to the plate. Some kids are nervous because they are afraid of
being hit by a pitch. Other are anxious about performing well with others are
watching them. Some players can feel themselves getting nervous
when they sit in the dugout or when they get into the on deck circle.
You really can’t hit effectively if you are tense or anxious. In order to
swing the bat well and generate a significant amount of centrifugal force,
you need to hold the bat with the right amount of tension. Lots of players
grip the bat too tightly when they are nervous or anxious. I sometimes
encourage baseball players to hold the bat like they would hold a bird.
That is, firmly enough to protect it, but not tight enough to hurt the bird in
any way. This analogy seems to register with a lot of baseball players.
In addition, I remind the hitters who I coach that there is some research
to prove that their vision gets worse if they are tense or anxious. Conversely,
if they are relaxed, their vision can improve. They will pick up the ball sooner
and see it more clearly. This is why baseball players tell you they see the ball
better when they are in the zone. The zone includes a relaxed state for the body
and the mind.
When hitters are tense, their bodies look rigid as they stand in the box.
In order to relax when they face a pitcher, I encourage player to step out of
the box, breathe deeply in through their nose and out their mouth and take three practice
swings before they get back into the batter’s box. These simple techniques help them
to remain loose and calm as they wait for the pitch.
In addition, stepping out of the box can help to disrupt the pitcher’s rhythm a
For more information on these techniques, go to
www.stayinthezone.com or to get a mental toughness program go to
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is a Psychotherapist and The Founder Of StayInTheZone.com