For some young players one of the largest troubles to overcome in baseball is the fear of being hit by a pitch while hitting. This fear is the reason for various technical flaws while batting, the biggest being “stepping in the bucket” where you step away from the plate as you swing.
It is pretty much impossible to be a good hitter when you’re scared of the ball. As former Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski said, “If you’re afraid of being hit, you might as well not bother going up to the plate at all. You can’t hit the ball if you’re afraid it will hit you.” While this is usually a big fear to conquer, with some persistence it is definitely possible.
The first thing you ought to do for you to cure your fear of being hit by a pitch should be to know why you’re afraid of it. You’re likely afraid of being hit by a pitch because you don’t want to be wounded or in pain. Well, if you find out how to avoid being injured if a pitch is coming at you, you’ll likely be less frightened of the baseball hitting you.
If you’re going to get hit with a pitch, the best possible spot to get hit is on the back or side of your body. So instead of stepping out and exposing the front of your body you want to turn towards the backstop in a clockwise direction (if you happen to be right handed) so your back is what gets hit. If you get hit in the back or side you won’t be in as much pain as you would be if you got hit somewhere else.
Now that you fully understand what to do if the pitch is coming towards you, you need to repair your confidence in realizing that if the baseball does hit you, it’s not going to hurt a great deal given that it will hit your back or side.
A terrific drill to perform will be to have someone kneel ten feet from the hitter and throw rolled up socks for the hitter to swing at (only if they’re strikes). Occasionally throw a balled up sock at the hitter and have him turn away from the pitch the correct way rather than step away from the pitch. When the batter has got the hang of it using socks, progress to tennis balls, and after that soft tee-balls.
When the player feels safe knowing it does not hurt much if the baseball hits his back or side and he isn’t stepping in the bucket even with soft tee-balls, start using regular baseballs.
Setup a batting cage (this help you don’t waste a lot of times during practice) and Pitch some batting practice as you would normally, but throw one or two pitches at him. If he uses the correct approach to turning away from the pitch, he’ll quickly realize that it does not really hurt much to get hit in the back or side even with a typical baseball.
His overall confidence while at bat will improve and he’ll be able to hit the ball better than ever as he will be striding towards the pitch rather than away from it.
It’s really depressing that a lot of young baseball players with a lot of potential never flourish and sometimes stop playing all because they are afraid of being hit by a pitch.
All of us have fears and it’s necessary, regardless of whether we’re referring to baseball or life in general, to conquer those fears. By working hard and digging deep, it will be possible to get over this fear with no issues and get back to your baseball workouts and doing your best at the game.