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Friday, November 13, 2009

Baseball & Softball Swing - Confidence Vs Mechanics

By Todd Thomas

I was at a high school level ball game recently. Of the two teams playing, one was filled with a group of very cocky players. They were cocky and CONFIDENT. What's interesting is that the players on this team had some of the worst baseball swings I have ever seen in my life. But they were confident as all get out.

It's an interesting phenomenon to observe that a player can have horrible mechanics but have supreme confidence(cockiness is a good word to describe here) and still be able to hit the baseball successfully. Alex Rodriquez successfully? NO! No, as I watched the game none of these players really scorched the baseball but they did swing confidently at it and put the ball in play often finding holes and blooping hits all the way to a 14 to 2 win.

These players' potential to play at higher levels is limited with bad mechanics. Ultimately, they will reach an end to their success(and subsequently their confidence) as they move to higher and higher levels of baseball. These were high school players. Obviously, they are going to have some success at the high school level. Reaching the collegiate level is probably out for most of them because of their technique, but one or two of them may reach that level. Then that's probably it. I once had a collegiate player over for some training and his mechanics were awful, but he was playing Division I baseball. Why? More than likely he was extremely confident up until this point but now was crashing and burning at the collegiate level. He also had a load of natural ability that had carried him this far too. However, he had reached his peak and I remember telling him that if he has sights on playing professionally he needed to change what he was doing mechanically. And he did have the desire to play pro ball.

However, even if a player works on and gets mechanically sound, I believe that any player(no matter what age) will struggle if they don't learn how to be confident. If they are not confident and their new mechanics aren't "working" for them, then they will blame the mechanics or the teacher or both and will keep searching for that "perfect" way to swing to insure success. When what they really need is confidence training in order to raise the game and to be successful.

So is learning the proper mechanics the "answer" to being a good hitter? I teach the mechanics of the best players in the game and I am supremely confident in what I teach. Let's say however that I took a player from the team of confident hitters with bad mechanics and we started working on fixing his mechanics. IF he is able to sustain his confidence, look out. He should excel in a big way.

What if though(and this probably goes higher the younger the player is) the player starts "thinking too much" about executing the proper swing mechanics? What if he starts over-analyzing his swing and trying to hard to make things happen with his new swing? Questions and doubt may start building within him after a bad(weak) hit or a strike out. He then starts asking himself, "Am I doing it right?" "Am I performing my mechanics correctly?" If the results are not there, then the player will assume that he is not swinging "correctly" and there begins the process of over-thinking, over-analyzing, and confidence shrinking. And I believe the downward spiral of his hitting results and confidence will continue to fall.

What's interesting as I think about the team of cocky confident hitters is that I don't think they realize that they suck. Their mechanics that is. They seem to have no idea how "bad" they are and they play as if not to care. They are just confident. On the contrary, they are pretty good because they THINK they are in spite of what they don't know.

So which is more important? Confidence or mechanics? It seems from my observations that confidence with bad mechanics can still have a degree (albeit limited) of success. YET, good mechanics with zero confidence and playing scared seems to have no chance to succeed.


Todd Thomas is a Baseball Coach and Professional Hitting Instructor for Mike Epstein Hitting. Coach Todd's personal hitting website is http://www.HitItHere.net. Coach Todd also enthusiastically endorses http://PlayMyBestBaseball.com as a place where baseball and softball hitters can master the Confidence, Composure, Focus and Consistency of their game so they can reach their full potential.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick