You and Mr. MLB have one thing in common: slumps. They’re inevitable, frustrating and inexplicable. So, to keep your mind sound to pound the ball consistently, here is some compiled advice from three MLB stars on how to deal with failure in the batter’s box:
1. It’s not you, it’s everyone. According to Wieters, “You just have to realize that everyone’s going to go through [a slump] at different times.” Wieters’ advice is to keep the slump short. “Don’t let it go on six, seven or eight games,” he says. “Try to make it two or three games.” Easier said than done, but it’s important to treat every at-bat as a fresh start.
2. Don’t over-think. Try not to turn every at-bat into a complicated chess match, since the pitcher isn’t Bobby Fischer (though it’s rumored he had a wicked slider). Sizemore feels your slump pain. He says, “It’s tough because it seems when you’re slumping, nothing you do is right. Every time you think ‘inside,’ [the pitch] is away. Or every time you think ‘get the ball out in front,’ you’re [way] out in front.” Sizemore recommends reverting back to the mindset you had when you were successful at the plate—how did it feel?
3. Take one for the team. If you’re having trouble making contact, do whatever else you can to get on base and help your squad. Be more patient at the plate: take ball four or man up and get hit by a pitch. “I just go up there and try to get on base…that’s my job,” Pedroia says.
4. More BP. Wieters advises, “Mentally, sometimes you might need to get in the cage and swing until you feel comfortable.” Then, if your bat continues to feel like Swiss cheese, take a breather. Wieters continues, “Sometimes you might need to step away from baseball for just a little bit. Relax, and wait for that one hit, because once it comes, you’re out of the slump and it’s gravy from there.”
5. Don’t tinker with your swing. Getting in the cage doesn’t mean you have to drastically alter your swing. Sizemore says, “Nine times out of ten, it’s not really your swing. More times than not, when you’re struggling with your swing, it’s timing and not mechanics.”
6. Don’t obsess with personal goals. Pedroia warns, “In our game, there’s a lot that can go wrong with setting goals, because a lot of little things can happen that could prevent [you from achieving them].” Baseball is unique in that it’s a team sport that relies on individual accomplishments. But keep in mind it’s all about winning. “The only goal that I set [was] trying to help the team win the World Series, and [that happened],” Pedroia says.