One of my friends and fellow coaches asked me this the other day, "Jack, what's the five o'clock hitter?" He was making a point to his student and wanted me to explain the player who knocks the cover off the ball in batting practice but rarely does in games. I added that there were a lot of the five o'clock hitter sorts around. Perhaps nowhere in sports is the difference between practice and game play so pronounced as with hitting a baseball. It is tough to simulate game action when it comes to hitting a baseball. Good coaching can minimize that difference.
One of my goals while playing in the major leagues was one that I am not proud of admitting to my baseball students. My goal was to, one day, be able to say that I hit a home run in every major league park. Before I sound crazy, because I hit only two major league home runs in my major league career, let me explain. During batting practice, I would try to "Jack" one out of the park, which is terrible advice for batting practice, especially for young hitters who should be working on hitting mechanics.
Having become a hitting instructor after my playing days, I always preach to young players to work on their fundamentals at this time and not just try to hit home runs. The practice of hitting the ball as far as you can leads to over-swinging and to a lack of focus on timing, which is crucial for game hitting. Both over-swinging and bad timing lead to hitting fundamental breakdowns and prolonged hitting slumps.
Concentrating on other things like rhythm, seeing the ball, bat control, balance and hitting the ball where pitched leads to the best use of batting practice. I tell my hitting students that maybe, on their last few swings, they can try to blast a couple out of the park. After all, confidence grows after hitting a home run. In case you were wondering, I never did reach that ill-advised goal. Parks were much bigger back then at least, that is my story and I am sticking to it.
In all seriousness, though, one of the most repeated comments I hear from parents of ball players is that "My son/daughter kills the ball in practice, but never in games." Obviously, that is one of the most perplexing situations in baseball for parents, players, and coaches. The phenomenon creates much frustration and many sleepless nights for all.
The two major reasons hitters hit in practice but not in games.
Of course, another reason for good hitting in practice is the absence of fear and nervousness, which exists in games. The five o'clock hitter tenses up in games, which throws their focus off and leads to poor game hitting. The added game pressure lessens with supportive coaches, who teach their players to "expect success," and not just hope for it. Building confidence in players is a gradual thing that comes from consistent positive coaching. Teaching visualization skills is another helpful thing for successful game hitting.
Adhering to the above batting practice tips will lead to better game hitting, which ultimately leads to real confidence and not just false hope. Of course, hitting is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports. No guarantees exist from doing anything different. There is a reason the best in the world at hitting at seven o'clock and not at five, pays well.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years.His playing, coaching and parenting storiescreate betterexperiences forathletes andparents.Jack has writtenover a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports.Jack is the author of "The Making of a Hitter" and "Raising an Athlete." His third book "Creating a Season to Remember" is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also findJack Perconte at YouTube withover 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
There are 0 comments on "The Five O'clock Hitter "