When I measure the bat speed of a hitter, I ask them to take a few swings in front of my Swing Speed Radar. Without exception, the highest reading occurs within the first five swings. After the first few swings, human nature takes over and hitters “try” to increase their bat speed. Their muscles tense up, they squeeze the bat harder, and they stop breathing. The harder they try, the lower the reading on the display of the radar. One of my favorite mental techniques from Tim Gallwey’s “Inner Game” theories is how to increase power without trying.
When I work with hitters who do everything technically correct, but have difficulty reaching their full power potential, I use what Gallwey refers to as “abandoning caution”. Instead of urging these hitters to “Hit the ball harder!”, I will ask them “How much power is your body actually generating?” The first time I ask this question, hitters are not sure how to answer. I let them know that I merely want them to observe how much power they are generating or “letting out”. In keeping with “Inner Game” theory, learning and improving through observation is much more effective than improvement through instruction.
Here’s how it works. After each swing off a tee or in batting practice, I ask hitters to “measure and report” the percentage of full power they are letting out. Most hitters start at some percentage between 60% and 70% of maximum power. As they call out the percentages after each swing, something interesting always happens. The percentages begin to increase after only a few swings—fifty–fifty–sixty–fifty–seventy–seventy–sixty–seventy–seventy–eighty–eighty–seventy–eighty–eighty-five–eighty–ninety!. The best part of this exercise is I never have to say a word. I just listen for the rating after each swing and watch for the inevitable light bulb to go off in the mind of the hitter.
It typically takes less than twenty swings for hitters to observe real improvement in their power. Swings become smoother, more aggressive, more powerful, and noticeably faster, as hitters relax and let the body do what it was trained to do. This quick and surprising improvement also leads to increased confidence. When hitters observe and feel this new power, it is easy for me to convince them that trying too hard is the worst thing they could do during batting practice or in games.
Here is how Tim Galley describes this almost instant improvement:
“Often our power is inhibited by our attempt to gain power. We try hard to gain power when we doubt that we have enough already within us, and the effort itself in fact prevents us from achieving our aim. Our bodies know the power that is there and how to release it, if we let it. The way to release power is not to try to add it, but to cut the strings that are keeping it locked inside. Power comes from letting go, not tightening up, from the awareness of what power IS there.”
Here is a link to the first post I wrote about Tim Gallwey and his “Inner Game” theories. https://torque-hitting.com/2013/08/10/the-mental-side-of-hitting-a-must-read/.
I could write much more about this improtant topic, but that would be trying too hard…