A buddy of mine forwarded me this picture of a golfer in mid swing, and all of the swing thoughts that has been known to pass through their coconut while they’re trying to put their best swing on the ball. The drawing is called “1.5 Seconds of Thought.” (Click on the picture to enlarge.)
Wow! That’s a lot of stuff going on… in 1.5 seconds… and just in the head alone!
I’m not one for comparing what goes into a golf swing and that of a baseball swing. While there are similarities, there are major differences. One of those being the fact that a golf swing is addressing a ball that sits still, while a baseball swing (even while you’re in the middle of a volcanic hot streak where the ball looks like it’s sitting on a tee) attacks a ball that moves in at least one direction.
But, I’ve come across more than my fair share of hitters with just as many “Swing Thoughts,” as this particular illustration… and maybe more.
These swings thoughts are the death of a great swing, an at bat, and if you let it go on for too long, a season, or even career.
I once asked a player who was in a slump at the time, what was going through his head when in stepped into the batter’s box. Like the picture above, he listed a plethora of swing thoughts. I then asked him to think back to his most recent hot streak, and asked what went through his head then. He thought about it for a minute, and said, “I really don’t know. Nothing actually.”
Whether you like it or not, when you step up to home plate, your swing is what it is. Sure, there will be times when it feels a little too long, or even very quick. There might be times when your reaction to pitches (or lack thereof) will cause your swing to suffer. But for the most part, your swing is exactly what you’ve trained it to become. (Note: Training happens in the off season, where you have the time to develop a consistent swing… not during the season. That time is maintenance mode.)
So why waste time with thoughts that ultimately get in the way of the swing you’ve developed?
Let’s forget the fact that there just isn’t enough time to finish a complete thought, much less several swing thoughts in the time a baseball leaves the pitcher’s hand and enters the hitting zone.
None of these thoughts will change the swing you’ve programmed your body to execute… especially in the heat of an At Bat.
If you want to have swing thoughts, save them for the tee, the cage, or even visualization exercises. But don’t bring that stuff up to home plate for an actual AB.
Sure, you need to be aware of the game’s situation. It’s important to understand the game plan you hope to accomplish. But once you step in the box, it’s all about reacting to the pitch (hopefully the one you’re looking for) with the swing you’ve developed. Because at the end of the day, your best swings are the ones where you as Yogi Berra put it, “leave you brain on the bench.”