I have been playing ball for over 13 years, but somehow I cannot get over the fear of the ball being so close to me, sometimes I jump back when in the box when really, i could have swung and it would have been a good hit. Do you guys have any tips for me to get rid of this fear? 

Original Post

That can be a tough one.  

 

First, make sure that you're turning away from truly inside pitch, and not just lurching backwards.  

 

Second, get acclimated. Ask your coach if you can stand in the box while the pitchers throw their pens.  

I'm going to be completely honest with you.  If you've been playing 13 years, you must be at least 16.  If you are still afraid of getting hit at this point, you are going to have to take a fairly drastic step to get over that or find another sport (and nothing wrong with that). 

 

You will need to take a full-on "embrace getting hit" approach.  Have someone throw inside pitches at you as you stand behind a square screen.  Practice turning in and taking the hit on your large muscles for pitches that would hit you (if the screen weren't there) and taking a good hack and pulling balls that would not hit you.  Then, progress to same with tennis balls or safety baseballs and no screen.  Then, over time, progress to same with baseballs not thrown too hard.  Once you learn how to turn in on inside pitches and learn that a temporary bruise (which chicks dig, by the way) is usually the worst that can occur, you should be able to overcome the fear.  But you must embrace it fully.  Now or never if you wish to play competitively going forward.

 

HS ball and beyond, you must be able to step in the box and have a specific aggressive approach where you want to hurt the ball.  You cannot be thinking so much of the ball hurting you.  A little fear is common nature but, attack, attack, attack.

Good stuff in the posts above.  Along with standing in during pens, which some pitchers actually like having (others don't of course)... Try standing in with a pitching machine dialed up to mid to upper 90s. Depending on the machine, you might dial up a curve/slider type pitch shape along with FBs... Random mix if possible. Just grab a bat and work on striding while tracking each pitch... No swinging. Get comfortable with the speed and natural ball movement... And work your way in toward the plate... Exaggerate the distance by crowding plate, "feeling" each pitch go by. Repeating this process at very high reps can help condition and control your mental aversion to the ball... And can also slow down the process of taking pitches, giving you more confidence in your ability to read pitches accurately and move/turn in rationally.

The first thing to avoiding a HBP relates to vision. As a hitter are you seeing the ball well? Do you wear glasses? Have you had your vision checked. The key to hitting is seeing the ball well and the same with avoiding being hit by a ball. If you pick up the ball as early as possible you have more reaction time and this is the whole key to confident at bats. If you are sure vision is not an issue then you MUST practice getting out of the way of the ball to become empowered with the knowledge you possess the skill to get out of the way. You MUST remove this fear or you will never have effective at bats. The best way to practice this skill is to stand in the box and have a friend pitch to you throwing tennis balls as if he is pitching for real and you are hitting for real. Where a helmet, wear eye protection. Have him throw at closer range, to match reaction time from normal distance and then occasionally, throw a ball at you. There is actually proper technique and it involves turning AWAY from the ball, (not into it!) while pointing the bat towards the backstop and tracking the ball while you avoid it. One of the important things is to not lose sight of the ball until you know it's trajectory, then avoid getting hit by it. Occasionally practice taking a slow breaking pitch off the body safely, avoiding bone contact and this helps you realize a HBP may sting but you'll be OK. Always maintain your normal approach expecting strikes and swing at tennis balls that are strikes. Remember- Good hitters avoid HBP and are good at hitting because they are skilled at seeing the ball well. 

Originally Posted by Dadcoach:

There is actually proper technique and it involves turning AWAY from the ball, (not into it!) 

 

Remember- Good hitters avoid HBP and are good at hitting because they are skilled at seeing the ball well. 

You mean turn into the pitch right?

 

Also a hitter will take a HBP to get on base (except the head) it shows lack of fear of the ball. 

Turn into the pitch? Must be a confusion of terms. 

 

Faced with a pitch off the plate inside, a right handed batter will tuck his left shoulder toward the catcher. Correct?

 

I would call that turning away from the pitch.

 

Reminds me of a kid I had in LL Minors. Big kid, bad attitude; had some potential, but was only there because his parents made him.  I was showing him how to turn away from a pitch and wear it on his back so he wouldn't get hurt.   He wouldn't hear of it. He said that if he was going to get hit he wanted to get hit in front, not back.  Needless to say he never made it past Minors.

Originally Posted by JCG:

Turn into the pitch? Must be a confusion of terms. 

 

Faced with a pitch off the plate inside, a right handed batter will tuck his left shoulder toward the catcher. Correct?

 

I would call that turning away from the pitch.

 

Reminds me of a kid I had in LL Minors. Big kid, bad attitude; had some potential, but was only there because his parents made him.  I was showing him how to turn away from a pitch and wear it on his back so he wouldn't get hurt.   He wouldn't hear of it. He said that if he was going to get hit he wanted to get hit in front, not back.  Needless to say he never made it past Minors.

maybe a term thing, I always called what you described as turning into the pitch since your turn is into the plate side versus turning out which too me is away from the plate. We both agree that the left shoulder a righty is turned towards the plate side.  

Yup, I'm used to same terminology as Standball but just semantics. 

 

Dadcoach, everyone from at least HS JV up (if not younger) teaches and encourages players NOT to avoid HBP (unless at the head) but instead, how to get hit properly.  Sorry, good hitters do not avoid HBP. OP is a teen and struggling with fear of HBP.  The last thing he wants to be thinking about is to move to avoid being hit.  You must be dad of a pitcher   

Cabbagepatch, My son is actually a hitter, a sophomore who is leading his HS Varsity team in average and slugging so far this season. Scouts are fairly impressed with his approach and the training he has received. One of the keys to coaching is listening very careful to a player who is asking for help. You are right about HBP to the head. But this player has admitted he has true fear of the ball which is a special issue different than a regular hitter.It sounds like you have not coached a player like this before. My guess is he has been injured by a HBP or witnessed a serious injury and has an issue with his MENTAL approach as a result, is that correct?. It seems to me that RyyMann who posted this is not past this issue and not ready to confidently take a HBP to get on base and would like to see another reply. I know some weaker hitters choose to take a HBP as a result of not getting on base by hitting well enough.I know some coaches encourage this because they want a hitter to get on base at all costs. But a player who jumps out of the way of a ball he could have hit has a mental block to deal with first. He MUST get mentally past the issue somehow or he will never be a hitter at the next level.
 
Originally Posted by cabbagedad:

Yup, I'm used to same terminology as Standball but just semantics. 

 

Dadcoach, everyone from at least HS JV up (if not younger) teaches and encourages players NOT to avoid HBP (unless at the head) but instead, how to get hit properly.  Sorry, good hitters do not avoid HBP. OP is a teen and struggling with fear of HBP.  The last thing he wants to be thinking about is to move to avoid being hit.  You must be dad of a pitcher   

 

Originally Posted by cabbagedad:
Originally Posted by Dadcoach:
Cabbagepatch, My son is actually a hitter, a sophomore who is leading his HS Varsity team in average and slugging so far this season. Scouts are fairly impressed with his approach and the training he has received. One of the keys to coaching is listening very careful to a player who is asking for help. You are right about HBP to the head. But this player has admitted he has true fear of the ball which is a special issue different than a regular hitter.It sounds like you have not coached a player like this before. My guess is he has been injured by a HBP or witnessed a serious injury and has an issue with his MENTAL approach as a result, is that correct?. It seems to me that RyyMann who posted this is not past this issue and not ready to confidently take a HBP to get on base and would like to see another reply. I know some weaker hitters choose to take a HBP as a result of not getting on base by hitting well enough.I know some coaches encourage this because they want a hitter to get on base at all costs. But a player who jumps out of the way of a ball he could have hit has a mental block to deal with first. He MUST get mentally past the issue somehow or he will never be a hitter at the next level.
 
Originally Posted by cabbagedad:

Yup, I'm used to same terminology as Standball but just semantics. 

 

Dadcoach, everyone from at least HS JV up (if not younger) teaches and encourages players NOT to avoid HBP (unless at the head) but instead, how to get hit properly.  Sorry, good hitters do not avoid HBP. OP is a teen and struggling with fear of HBP.  The last thing he wants to be thinking about is to move to avoid being hit.  You must be dad of a pitcher   

 

Dadcoach,

Congrats on son's good start! 

Sorry, the "you must be dad of a pitcher" was somewhat tongue-in-cheek... and based on the fact that your bio says you are a "dad of a pitcher".

 

I will admit this is a tricky situation with a player who has fear of getting hit at this stage of the game (assuming I am doing the age math correctly? - see my initial post).  And I don't claim to know, definitively, the best answer to his problem.  But I do know that the large majority of HS and college coaches will require a player to wear a pitch as opposed to "practice getting out of the way of the ball" and this is not limited to weaker hitters. 

 

I have coached HS V (still do) and travel ball, study my craft and network with coaches at all levels.  We currently have six kids from our HS program playing college ball and I follow them and their games closely as well.  I've been in organized baseball for well over 40 years (ouch, I'm old).  I have never seen or heard of a HS or college coach teaching a player to get out of the way of a ball or avoid getting hit by it, as you state.  The standard is to teach how to wear it properly and take the base they are giving you.  I don't see how Ryymann can benefit from working on "getting out of the way" as his solution and still expect to become a successful hitter.  I'm always open to learning new thoughts, though, so please expand.

 

Ryymann, please tell us your age and current playing level so we can fine-tune our advice.

 

PS - Sorry, I hate the fact that I just stated credentials.  Just trying to give some point-of-reference background to keep the discussion progressing so that the OP may benefit.

 

Yes- we need to hear from RyyMann for his age and level of play- I am guessing around 16. There is a fascinating chapter in the book "Three Nights In August" by Buzz Bissinger where Tony LaRussa's view on the HBP and beanbballs are a factor. The chapter highlights how this can have a huge and permanent impact on the mental approach of a hitter. Until I read this book I never understood the "Self-Police" approach to paybacks and what it was about from a managers perspective. The book is a great read and I heard they are making a movie soon. There are a few books on hitting that address this issue and one called "Youth Baseball Coaching" that goes into details on how to maintain mental confidence by knowing how to properly avoid HBP injury with particular drills. Also relating to my first reply-In the Ken Burns documentary the episode on Ted Williams they mention his eyes were so good as a hitter that rarely could a pitcher hit him because he could always get out of the way. And this is a guy who while avoiding the HBP has the greatest on base percentage in baseball history. 
Originally Posted by cabbagedad:
Originally Posted by Dadcoach:
Cabbagepatch, My son is actually a hitter, a sophomore who is leading his HS Varsity team in average and slugging so far this season. Scouts are fairly impressed with his approach and the training he has received. One of the keys to coaching is listening very careful to a player who is asking for help. You are right about HBP to the head. But this player has admitted he has true fear of the ball which is a special issue different than a regular hitter.It sounds like you have not coached a player like this before. My guess is he has been injured by a HBP or witnessed a serious injury and has an issue with his MENTAL approach as a result, is that correct?. It seems to me that RyyMann who posted this is not past this issue and not ready to confidently take a HBP to get on base and would like to see another reply. I know some weaker hitters choose to take a HBP as a result of not getting on base by hitting well enough.I know some coaches encourage this because they want a hitter to get on base at all costs. But a player who jumps out of the way of a ball he could have hit has a mental block to deal with first. He MUST get mentally past the issue somehow or he will never be a hitter at the next level.
 
Originally Posted by cabbagedad:

Yup, I'm used to same terminology as Standball but just semantics. 

 

Dadcoach, everyone from at least HS JV up (if not younger) teaches and encourages players NOT to avoid HBP (unless at the head) but instead, how to get hit properly.  Sorry, good hitters do not avoid HBP. OP is a teen and struggling with fear of HBP.  The last thing he wants to be thinking about is to move to avoid being hit.  You must be dad of a pitcher   

 

Dadcoach,

Congrats on son's good start! 

I will admit this is a tricky situation with a player who has fear of getting hit at this stage of the game (assuming I am doing the age math correctly? - see my initial post).  And I don't claim to know, definitively, the best answer to his problem.  But I do know that the large majority of HS and college coaches will require a player to wear a pitch as opposed to "practice getting out of the way of the ball" and this is not limited to weaker hitters. 

 

I have coached V (still do) and travel ball, study my craft and network with coaches at all levels.  I have never seen or heard of a HS or college coach teaching a player to get out of the way of a ball or avoid getting hit by it, as you state.  The standard is to teach how to wear it properly and take the base they are giving you.  I don't see how Ryymann can benefit from working on "getting out of the way" as his solution and still expect to become a successful hitter.  I'm open to learning new thoughts, though, so please expand.

 

Ryymann, please tell us your age and current playing level so we can fine-tune our advice.

 

One of the things we did when I played was actually practicing getting hit by pitches. We would start out with a Juggs Lite Flight machine, just to get techniques down. Then we would then move on to an actual pitching machine set at about 65 with real balls. It helps you realize that it doesn't really hurt that much and it gets you over the fear.

Wow, cabbagedad has posted an impressive resume and his experience is still questioned and from movies.  Ted Williams was HBP 39 times in his career.  While that isn't a lot, he was dinged a few times.  "Getting out of the way" means so many things to good hitters.  For example, with my child, one drill we do is called "The Progression Drill."  In that drill, I throw at her front hip, throw one down the middle and then throw one away.  She protects herself or "gets out of the way" on the one to her hip by destroying that pitch.  Two weekends ago, a team tried to throw in at her in consecutive at bats.  Both balls cleared the fence and cost the owner of cars some hefty money. 

 

Cabbagedad is correct that a normal part of what is practiced in HS ball is getting hit by the pitch.  We start with teaching how to "turn into the ball" as some have said but meaning that we turn the left shoulder in toward that plate and rotate toward the catcher at contact.  That alleviates some of the pain in getting hit and is the only way to ensure that a player can safely be hit by pitch.  As most know, if a pitcher wants to really hurt a hitter, they throw just behind the earhole of the helmet.  Why?  Because if a hitter leans back from that or "away from the pitch" as I call it, they will get hit in the face.  We typically start by throwing tennis balls and then real balls in where we don't hit them but let them practice rotating.  My guess is that every high school practices this.  OP, imo, the best way to conquer your fear is to face it and get hit in a manner I have presented here so you can practice knowing what to do.

 

Dadcoach, you didn't help your case here by starting a post with, "Cabbagepatch, My son is actually a hitter, a sophomore who is leading his HS Varsity team in average and slugging so far this season. Scouts are fairly impressed with his approach and the training he has received. One of the keys to coaching is listening very careful to a player who is asking for help."  I don't know if the "Cabbagepatch" was a mistake or one to attack cabbagedad.  Cabbagedad, has a lengthy history here and so, before you attack him with comments such as your son is actually a hitter, you might want to go read some of his posts.  They are very good.

 

Per myself, I have a resume too long to mention in this game.  MNMom thinks it worthy enough to allow me to help moderate this site. If you want to read some of my posts, please do so to determine if you think I know anything about the game.  I have a child too who might just qualify as a hitter. 

 

Take care,

 

Darrell

 

Example:

Originally Posted by Dadcoach:
Yes- we need to hear from RyyMann for his age and level of play- I am guessing around 16. There is a fascinating chapter in the book "Three Nights In August" by Buzz Bissinger where Tony LaRussa's view on the HBP and beanbballs are a factor. The chapter highlights how this can have a huge and permanent impact on the mental approach of a hitter. Until I read this book I never understood the "Self-Police" approach to paybacks and what it was about from a managers perspective. The book is a great read and I heard they are making a movie soon. There are a few books on hitting that address this issue and one called "Youth Baseball Coaching" that goes into details on how to maintain mental confidence by knowing how to properly avoid HBP injury with particular drills. Also relating to my first reply-In the Ken Burns documentary the episode on Ted Williams they mention his eyes were so good as a hitter that rarely could a pitcher hit him because he could always get out of the way. And this is a guy who while avoiding the HBP has the greatest on base percentage in baseball history. 
Originally Posted by cabbagedad:
 

 

 

Seriously?  You're going to substantiate your advice and knowledge of baseball based upon some books that you read and movies that you saw?

 

I read a book about the moon once, but it doesn't make me an astronaut.

 

 

 

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