An Aggressive Mental Set
An Aggressive Mental Set

Baseball: A Change in Mental Focus Improves Batters' Reaction Time

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

A simple change in mental approach can improve the reaction time and decision-making abilities of your batters.

This small change in “mental set” is especially useful with players who appear tentative and defensive when they step up to the plate.

An Aggressive Mental Set
Defensive batters often tell themselves to “swing if the pitch is a strike.” Such batters have a longer delay between decision and swing because their first reaction to every pitch is to do nothing—they only swing once they've determined that the pitch is a good one. It's  similar to waiting for a stop light to change with the engine off…and having to start the engine before pressing the accelerator.

A better mental approach is for your batters to tell themselves to “swing unless it's a bad pitch.”

Advantages of This Approach
The difference is subtle but significant. Batters who take this approach take less time to react to good pitches because they are ready to swing at every pitch—the nervous system and mental prerequisites needed to start a swing are already in place and activated.

Using the car and stoplight analogy, in this approach the engine is kept running while waiting for the traffic light to turn green—it eliminates the time-consuming step of having to start the engine once it has been determined that the light has changed.

1. Drew Coolidge, Coaching Youth Baseball: Coach Like a Champion, Kindle Edition, 2014.
2. Tony Vessakosol (Somerville High School), “Hitting with the mind.” Texas Coach, February 1993.

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© 2014, Physical Education,

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