Baseball is a very fickle game. And throughout your career, you will have highlights and slumps. That’s the game, but don’t get nuts when games and outings don’t go your way. You are good! You know this game and play it well! Sure, some days you don’t have it, but don’t get off track and go in some drastic direction to change everything because you suddenly “lost your mojo.” Try to relax! I know there will be a million people telling you what to do and what not to do in the batter’s box and on the mound. Through all of that, there will be frustrations and successes and more frustrations. But here’s the simple truth; if you love this game, you need to understand to importance of adjustments. When you do… life on the diamond will get back to normal pretty quick. Just don’t panic.
“Baseball is all about adjustments.” Those words resonate from the mouth of my son’s pitching coach. His name is Jack Winters. Jack is not only a former Little Leaguer and high school player. But he also played college ball and played in independent leagues as well. These days, he not only teaches kids the correct way to play the game on the youth level, but is currently the pitching coach at Centenary University. But the reason I bring him up is because, through it all… through all of the conversations he would have with my son about his technique and attitude on the mound, he would always offer a simple piece of advice. “Baseball is all about adjustments.” And he is right.
Jack keeps it simple, because as tough and complicated as baseball can be for a player, the truth is, sometimes it’s the simple tweaks and adjustments that are needed for a player to find himself again. Especially if he’s in a slump. Especially if there’s advice coming from every direction filling your little head with confusion.
Whatever it is, getting crazy and “re-doing” a kid’s stance because he’s slumping is serious stuff and could bring that kid in a direction for the worst! Many, many times getting out of a slump is NOT that complicated. Sometimes slumping just needs a tune up.
Think about the great Pete Rose. Now we can debate if the guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame all you want. To me, that’s another conversation for another time. I will say this; the guy was incredible to me growing up. Watching him hit was inspiring and to this day he still has incredible advice.
I was taken by this video in which he, Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas were talking about adjustments and slumps. Watch this video. You can’t help but understand Winter’s theory about the simplicity of the game sometimes.
Sometimes over thinking can screw up a kid even worse. Sometimes you need to stay the course and tweak a little here and a little there… just enough to get them back on track, but not undoing and re-inventing anything drastic.
“Never change your swing. Your swing got you into the big leagues.” That’s from Pete, and it makes a ton of sense. Before you have some coach come into the cage to undo everything you’ve learned over the years… take a deep breath! Think about what’s happening. If you are late on that pitcher’s throw, move back in the box… maybe choke up.
If that guy’s throwing beach balls… move up in the box. But never “re-do” the swing. If the swing has been successful for the last few years, maybe you just need to adjust. Trust me… baseball is always about adjustments.
Sometimes the simplest thing can make a light bulb turn on for a kid. Don’t think so hard, just play the game. It’s not a job after all… it’s about having fun. If you are constantly thinking gathering all the advice around you… and by the way, some of it will be bad advice, you’ll be cluttered, over thinking and losing yourself in the slump. Be in control! It’s about adjustments!
Most importantly, never get discouraged. No matter what stay on track. Even pro ballplayers slump once in a while. Believe me, sooner or later that confidence comes back because you’re not re-learning how to hit with a new swing. Instead, it’s the same swing, but with tweaks, with adjustments so you don’t lose the player you are out there.
When you tweak, confidence comes back, it was like you never slumped! So remember, the worst thing you can do is panic. Believe me, I get the frustration, but you’re the only one that can swing that bat. You’re the only one that can pitch that ball. Sure, a trusted coach is there to help, but a truly great one will remind you that you still have it in you even during that slump.
You may just need to do one important thing… make an adjustment. When you do, you will find that ballplayer in you again.
That, my friend, is the truth.
–Rob Monaco, Father, Coach & Baseball Commissioner
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