Getting a quality at-bat

America is a country that tends to be very results-oriented. We like winners, and we like to define success based on the outcome of whatever we’re doing.

For a hitter, focusing on results can be a problem — especially when she’s in a bit of a down period.

Hitting is all about the process –what your plan is going to the plate and whether you’re executing it. Even a strikeout can be a success if you’ve approched the at bat correctly.

Sound crazy? Not really. Let’s say the hitter has been getting out ahead of the pitch, causing her bat to slow down at contact. As a result, she has been grounding out a lot to the shortstop, and not hitting the ball very hard when she does. So she goes to the plate with the intention of maintaining bat speed, and accelerating through the hittings zone.

On the first pitch she’s ahead again, but instead of slowing down to make contact she accelerates. It’s a swing and a miss, but a good one. On the next pitch she adjusts somewhat and pulls the ball foul down the third base line. On the last pitch she again takes an aggressive swing, but gets fooled on a changeup. It’s a strikeout in the book, but her general approach to her at-bat has improved. She’s on her way to success, assuming she maintains that approach.

The key is focusing on the process rather than the outcome. The outcome is temporary, and depends on a lot of factors outside your control. But the process is long-term, and entirely within your control. Manage the process and the outcomes will take care of themselves.

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