The Ole Ball Game

Derek Jeter On Deck ~ The Ultimate Preparation!

focusing on an upcoming at bat

Derek Jeter on deck, an example of doing all the little things right to put yourself in a position to be successful.

During one of the Yankees' numerous ALCS playoff series games in Jeter's career as the New York shortstop and Captain, I had the good fortune to be watching one of those moments in time which become unforgettable.

Sitting at home, through the miracle of instant replay, one of the most phenominal examples of mental preparation and focus I had ever seen came to life on the broadcast.

The year, at this point in time, escapes my recollection; but the game was being played in New York.

The event that occured is as clear as if it was yesterday.

The situation all begins with the responsibilities hitters assume, once they step out into that area, off to the side of home plate.

From that position, they are the next hitter to bat in that inning, should the third out not be made during the current hitter's at bat.

What Happens In The On Deck Circle?

  • Warm ups and stretches.

  • Knowing the current situation on the field so that the hitter goes to the plate with a plan for this at bat.

  • Making sure they get up to the home plate dirt area, in the event there is a play at the plate, to direct the runner coming in to slide or stand up.
  • one job of the on deck hitter, tell the runner whether to slide or not

  • Going over in their mind any information they know on this pitcher, that might help them in their upcoming at bat.

  • Getting some idea of what the timing might need to look like.
  • Getting your timing in sync with the pitcher

  • Collecting their thoughts and putting their mind into the moment, "right here ~ right now!"

So It Was On This Day, For Derek Jeter On Deck.

Yes, he has athletic talent ~ but there is a whole lot more to his successThe game was being played in New York, so the home team dugout was on the first base side.

The count moved ahead on the hitter in the box while Derek Jeter on deck, was going through that common timing ritual in baseball, getting set and striding, then swinging at the pitches being delivered on the field.

As I watched the at bat, the pitcher came up and in to the batter, causing him to fall backwards and down to the ground.

One of the announcers almost immediately yelled out, "I can't believe I just saw that!" He quickly asked for the camera crew to run a replay from the camera at the end of the third base dugout.

From that camera angle, the shot went straight through home plate to the Yankees dugout and Derek Jeter on deck.

The replay showed that pitch coming up and in to the hitter. As Jeter timed it, he actually dropped to the ground with the hitter.

It was the most phenominal example of mental focus and control I have ever witnessed. It just doesn't get any better than that! No wonder he is able to play at such a high level, day in and day out.

I have told this story to every team I have had since I saw this happen. Not so much for them to emulate that focus; Derek Jeter is one of a kind.

The value in the story is all about controlling the "little things" inside the game. Those seemingly insignificant situations are the seperators between players and teams, at all levels of baseball.

An Impressive Single Event, Or A Small Part Of A Bigger Plan?

Count Average
0-0 .448
1-0 .389
2-0 .321
3-0 .500
0-1 .354
1-1 .474
2-1 .306
3-1 .400
0-2 .182
1-2 .253
2-2 .274
3-2 .314

  • The chart at right records Jeter's 2009 hitting splits, a season where he finished 3rd in the American League and 4th in MLB at .334.

  • Trailing only Joe Mauer at .365, Ichiro Suzuki at .352, Hanley Ramirez at .342, a very impressive season indeed!

  • When you look inside the numbers on the chart, there are a number of statistics which indicate there is much more than pure athletic talent at work here.

  • Indications would point to a comprehensive approach at the plate for each at bat, part of which is demonstrated by the amount of focus exhibited in the on deck circle.

  • The incident described is just one at bat over a tremendous career. If you look closely at the photo on the top of the page, Jeter is locked into the moment, fully preparing so as not to waste or give away an at bat.

  • In 16 MLB seasons, his average is .316. He has had 7 seasons, where he has gotten 200 plus hits.

  • Jeter's lowest hit total in those 16 years was 12, which was 1995 when he was first called up. He got those 12 hits in 15 games.

  • With those levels of success, pitchers bear down harder and are more cautious each at bat.

  • Without his mental game preparation, pitchers would soon find ways to get Derek Jeter out. It happens to players with tremendous athletic ability every day. The difference? His ability to focus "in the moment"!

  • His batting average in 2009, in at bats that went to 2 strikes, was .255. That is 68 points above the MLB average of .187.

  • MLB hitters spent 49% of their at bats in 2 strike counts in 2009. Jeter was at 45%.

  • 87 or (41%) of his 212 hits were on first pitches, a count in which he hit .448. That says Derek Jeter comes from the on deck circle with a mindset to hit, if he gets a good pitch, or the pitch he wants.

  • He struck out 90 times in 634 AB's, or 14% of the time, putting the ball in play 86% of the time. MLB struck out 20% of the time.

What Can Youth Baseball Players Take And Use From Derek Jeter's Approach To Baseball?

Yogi Berra and Derek Jeter in a casual moment

  • Respect for all those that came before you. There are over 170 years of history that made what is available today possible.

  • Have you ever seen how he interacts with Yogi Berra? It is special to watch. You can't miss the love and respect he has for the former Yankee great. It is only one example, his entire presence on and off the field are a part of that love and respect.

  • Love and respect for the game.

  • Play the game the "right way"!

  • Seek out, learn and master all the little parts of the game, as you continually build who you are as a player. It has been said, baseball is an easy game to play; but a hard game to master.

  • Jeter on hard work

  • There is always another at bat, another pitch to be made, another ground ball or fly ball to catch, or a base to steal. No mistake is terminal in the game. The only thing terminal is an inability to bounce back, to pick yourself up and go again.

  • Baseball is a game and needs to be fun.

You Gotta Have Fun.

Regardless Of How You Look At It, We're Playing A Game.

It's A Business, It's Our Job; But I Don't Think You Can Do Well Unless You're Having Fun!

( Derek Jeter )

Additional Mental Game Topics

Mental Game

~ The one thing over which you have absolut control is your own thoughts. ~

Coaching Confidence

~ In baseball, coaching confidence can produce results that go beyond the drills and strategies and into the hearts and minds of the people they teach. ~

Mental Power

~ You are searching for the magic key that will unlock the door to the source of power. ~

Focus Grid

~ This is a fun mental focus exercise designed to find out how well you can initially concentrate with no distractions, then how well you concentrate with distractions. ~

Mental Control

~ Mental control lies in our ability to direct our attention on what we can control. ~

Self Talk

~ The dialogue we carry on with ourselves each day of our lives. ~

Slump Busting

~ Slump busting can provide you and your players with a plan to decrease the impact of those inevitable slumps. ~

Mental Framing

~ Put your mind in a position to be successful. ~


~ It's crucial but; players don't always know what teamwork means. ~

Control Your Attitude

~ Controlling your attitude is nothing more than choosing to use and focus on productive self talk. ~

Identifying Unproductive Behaviors

~ Make your opponent beat you instead of losing to yourself. ~

Harvey Dorfman

~ Tributes to a very special man! ~

return from Derek Jeter on deck to the ole

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