My son thinks he can't hit anymore, what can we do to get him going again?
My 14 year old son, on a high school feeder team, got hit in the left eye about a month ago during a game fracturing his orbital bones around the eye. He has made amazing progress and the eye doctor says his eye is 20-20 now. He has a helmet cage and protective glasses at all times now. Problem: He pounds the ball in practice and in cages(75 - 85 mph) but can't even get the bat on the ball anymore during games(He's played in about 5 games since returning). He does not shy away physically at all while in the batter's box. Any suggestions? He is getting pretty frustrated.
Marc, thank you for the question. I am sorry to hear that happened to your son. Every individual that has played this game over the 170 years since it began, has in some manner, at some time, worried that it would happen to them.
For the majority, that fear never becomes the overwhelming reality that it did for your son.
I think it is tremendous that he is back and playing in a month, and that he is able to stand in and hit in practice and the cages. Even more wonderful that his eyesight is still 20/20.
Hitting live, game speed pitching, from players his age, is going to take some time. That trust factor that is there when a coach pitches, or the ball comes out of a machine, at this time is not there for him in a game situation.
It isn't that he can no longer hit. He has to regain the confidence that he will be ok, so that he is able to concentrate on seeing the ball, and hitting the ball.
While he may show no outward signs of physically shying away in the batter's box, his mind is undoubtedly locked in a battle with his concerns that it might happen again. Very understandable, and very real.
Hitting, at best, is a hard enough skill to accomplish, even if the player is able to concentrate mentally on just picking up the ball early, tracking it and putting a good swing on the pitch. It doesn't take much to create distractions in a hitters mind, at all levels. Yogi Berra said, "you can't think and hit at the same time."
I have received quite a number of questions on this subject, most dealing with younger players who are moving from tee ball or coach pitch, and having trouble hitting pitching from their peers.
There is a page on the site, fear of being hit
that deals with a process for teaching players the techniques that will help them protect themselves in the batter's box.
While nothing short of having the ball miss them will eliminate the pain, these techniques will let them position themselves to where they can protect the most vulnerable areas. The knowledge that they have a way to minimize the hit helps to provide the confidence that they can stand in and concentrate on the pitch, and that their reactions will get them into the proper position to minimize the hit, should the ball be headed for them.
It takes time and patience in players who have as yet experienced that hit, and are just concerned that it will happen.
It may take longer in your son's situation; but he will get there.
You are on the right track with the helmet and the cage, as well as the protective glasses. Those will boost his confidence. Teaching him to turn his front shoulder back towards the catcher will get his face, arms,hands and ribs out of the way, letting his back take the hit.
Ultimately, with time and a plan for defending himself, he will be able to step in the box, concentrate on seeing the ball at the pitcher's release point, track it to the hitting zone and put a good swing on it. He will be hitting again!
I hope the information on the page will help you get him through this. Please let me know how he is progressing.
It takes a special young man to step back into the batter's box, live, so soon after getting hit as he was. That courage he has shown, combined with some added skills, time and patience will get him back to hitting.
Good luck as you go forward. I look forwrd to hearing how things are going.
Yours in baseball,