Ted Williams once said that hitting a baseball is the most difficult thing to do in sports.
Pete Rose made it look effortless.
Rose’s 4,256 career hits are the most in MLB history. He was a 17-time All-Star who totaled at least 200 hits in 10 different seasons. One secret behind his incredible hitting abilities? Simplicity.
In an unaired clip from the 2016 MLB Playoffs coverage on Fox, Rose discussed hitting with Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas. The topic turns to slumps, and Rose shares some sage advice:
“Because when you get into a lull—you never admit you’re in a slump, don’t ever let a pitcher tell you that you’re in a slump—I would tell people that you do one of six things when you get into a lull. You know what they are? (Stand) closer to the plate. (Stand) further away from the plate. (Move) up in the box. (Move) back in the box. Choke up on the bat more, or choke down on the bat more (to) make it heavier or make it lighter. Never change your swing. Your swing got you into the big leagues. You change your positioning in the batter’s box. Curveballs getting to you? Move up on it. You’re not getting to it? Move back on it. They’re jamming you, move away from the plate,” Rose says.
The beauty of this is advice is in its simplicity. Even Thomas, a two-time AL MVP and a .301 career hitter, admits he’d never heard thought to approach a lull like that. But you don’t have to be in the big leagues to follow Rose’s advice.
Now, if you’ve got some major holes in your swing and your production has been poor for a long time, it’s time to make some changes to your mechanics. But if you’re confident in your swing and have experienced sustained success with it, don’t be in a rush to make major changes when you go through a rough patch at the plate. Baseball is a game of failure. Succeeding in the sport takes tremendous mental toughness, and overthinking things can make that really difficult.
The next time you’re in a lull, think about your recent at-bats. Are you having a tough time catching up to fastballs? Move back in the box. Are you whiffing on pitches on the outside corner? Crowd the plate a bit more. Just having a tough time putting the bat on the ball? Choke up. Keep things simple, stay positive, and remember what Rose said—you’re not in a slump, you’re just in a lull. And a lull means better times are just around the corner.