Baseball Magazine

Hitting and Making Adjustments

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
Yesterday (Feb. 18) in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was interviewed and asked a number of questions about last season as well as the one that’s approaching.  A few things he said can be very informative to hitters.  In my opinion, what he said especially applies to those who work with private instructors.  In the article, Utley says the following:
“Every year is a game of adjustments.  You try to figure out what works best for you at that time.”  He went on to add “I think everyone handles themselves differently.  You do whatever makes you feel comfortable.”
So, in what way are these words instructive and why would they apply to some kids with private instructors? 

Hitting and making adjustments

Chase Utley

I would answer that by saying that some hitters make the mistake of completely buying into a particular way of hitting and reject or ignore others who wish to pass on a different style or set of suggestions that might help them.  I see this every now and then with kids who have gone to the same private instructor for long periods of time.  I certainly don't mean to imply that private instruction is a bad thing.  It's one of the better things the game has created in the past 15 years.  However, here is a problem that can develop in some kids. The player is batting barely over .200 but refuses to make adjustments because he has been sold on one style of hitting and thinks that way is the only way.  In the words from Chase Utley above, it is clear he is not locked into one way of hitting.  He is open to all adjustments and pulls various ones out as needed and gives them a try.  That’s what major league hitters do all the time.  He also makes the point of saying that what works today might not work tomorrow or the next.  You have to continually make adjustments until you find something that works.  Buying completely into one way of doing something prevents a player from going through this much needed process over the course of a long season.  Chase Utley’s focus or key is on being “comfortable.”  The mechanics that put him into his comfort zone are less important than him getting to this comfort zone.  Of course, if he is not succeeding at the plate, he won’t be comfortable anymore and will then search for something different.  It doesn't mean completely reconstructing his swing.  It could mean holding his hands an inch higher, opening his stance a little, taking a little shorter of a stride, or just focusing on hitting the ball up the middle more.  Players who do this well usually avoid lengthy slumps.  As soon as they feel something is not working, they make adjustments until they get back on track.  Many players who are locked into one way of doing something have to hit rock bottom before they realize they better try something different.  Often it's the end of the bench that usually gets them to wake up.So my advice to hitters is this.  Listen to everyone but know yourself.  Store everything they say in your adjustment “bank,” take away what feels right and works for you, and go back to your bank when adjustments are necessary.  A former coach of mine who was a long time major league player and coach named Jim Lemon once told me that a hitter might learn just as much about hitting from a cab driver than from any hitting coach they ever work with.  You never know so be open minded. Listen to everyone and take bits and pieces from each to create a style that works for you.  If you’re not succeeding, be willing to go back and make some adjustments.

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