The Ole Ball Game

Son can hit all day in practice all kinds of pitches but strikes out almost every time in a game situation.

Anonymous asked: Son can hit all day in practice, all kinds of pitches, but strikes out almost every time in a game situation.

Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

There can be a number of factors at work in situations such as this.

Much depends on your son's age and the level he is currently playing at.

If he is making the transition from coach pitch to player pitch, this is the stage where this happens the most. They are moving from a secure environment where the speed is controlled by the coach, and there is little danger of being hit with a pitch.

In practice I would assume that all their reps are off a coach throwing to them, thus he continues to hit well. Move to the actual game and a player is throwing, speed is not controlled and generally the accuracy at that point in time is not consistent. Enter the fear of being hit.

If that is a possibility with your son, a good starting point would be to teach him how to prepare for the possibility of getting hit, so that he limits the amount of damage that might occur.

Often times a hitter is unable to get out of the way, if not, a plan on how to minimize the hit will provide them with confidence.

The link below is to a page on my site fear of being hit.

The techniques, once learned, will provide additional confidence that they have a way of protecting themselves, so that they are able to just concentrate on seeing the ball out of the pitcher's hand, and putting a good swing on it.

It is as teachable, and valuable a skill for young players, as hitting mechanics, throwing and all others.

If the fear of being hit isn't a possible cause, then the next place to look, is he seeing the ball in the game situation.

It is not unusual for young hitters to lose track of picking up the ball early, at the pitcher's release point. Even if they have spent the time to look where that release is before they step in the box, often times their head fills with any number of thoughts outside of "ball".

Another possiblity is feeling undue pressure, real or imagined. Generally they go to the plate with a "have to, or got to" thought process. Best remedy here is to teach them a sound approah to each and every pitch in an at bat.

First step is, in the on deck circle, determine the pitcher's release point. That is the spot they will fine focus on, as the pitcher starts to bring his arm forward. Prior to that, the focus is general, where they are seeing the mound, pitcher, everything soft.

Before they step in the box, take a deep breath, let it out, it loosens all the muscles, so that everything works smoothly, not tight and stiff.

As the pitcher loads to throw, they sould load and stride themselves, front foot down slow and early, as little motion as possible. More motion leads to not seeing the ball as well.

See the ball out of pitcher's hand, track it all the way to the plate, if it's a pitch they want to hit, put a good swing on it, hit it hard somewhere, the definition of a good at bat.

What happens from there is now out of their control, but attention to the process for getting to that point, allows for the results to take care of themselves.

Yogi Berra said,"You can't think and hit at the same time." It is very true.

The simpler, the better. Deep breath and exhale to release the pressure and loosen the muscles, fine focus on the release point as the pitcher starts forward with his arm, get your front foot down early and slow, track the ball all the way to and through the hitting zone, put a good swing on it, hit it hard somewhere.

Sounds simple enough; but is is truly one of the harder skills to accomplish in all of sports. Takes a lot of correct repetitions, so that in a game, they don't need to think about mechanics, only seeing the ball. The correct repetitions provide them with the confidence they can be successful.

Those are a few places to look at. There may be other things at work, would need to know additional information on your son's situation such age, experience and a little more about what you are seeing in his game at bats.

Let me know if any of the above thoughts look like where he is at. If not, send some additional thoughts and we can move forward from there.

I would be interested in hearing from you as to how things are going. Good luck to you both as you go forward!

Yours in baseball,


Comments for Son can hit all day in practice all kinds of pitches but strikes out almost every time in a game situation.

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Apr 01, 2018
Wearing Prescription Sports Glasses
by: Don

Greetings Rick:

Terrific advice. I have a 12 year old grandson who has been playing 7 years now, and can't seem to not strike out at the plate all the time. He has been taking private lessons, and doing well, but game time he strikes out. This may seem like a "dumb" question, but he refuses to wear his prescription sports glasses. Have you ever heard of not wearing your eye wear when you should affecting seeing the ball? Especially, at the pitchers release point as you recommend. During practice and private lesson, the coach is throwing the ball from a much shorter distance, and not as fast. Thank you so much!

May 30, 2016
Please repost
by: Rick

Anonymous: Please re-post your question through the right column on the Home page of the site.

With that, I am able to create a much better answer as I have access to images and links.

Yours in baseball,


May 29, 2016
My son Cant hit in a game but smashes balls in practice
by: Anonymous

My son has the same problem. He works with a private trainer once or twice a week an bats great there and at home. He is playing machine pitch and moving to little league this year. he is 8 years old. He has come a long way in his skillset but something about batting during a game throws him off. He can hit every ball to the fence during practice or training but get him into a game situation and he will strike out or barely hit the ball. I know he can do it and he does to. He even sometimes gets to the box and lunges forward instead of keeping his feet still except for his step before the pitch. I don't know what is causing all of this only during a game. Its actually kept him out of the A team in all-stars this year although he did make the b team. Any suggestions? Thanks

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