- Get hit - I think that early in a season it's important for hitters to move up on the plate in a two strike count, dig their feet in and wear a pitch. They realize early in the year that they will get hit, they will get a free base, and they will survive. This is important for your players to get out of the way early so they can move on with being aggressive without fear. A secondary, but equally as important, outcome to asking each of your hitters to wear a pitch is the fact that they will tend to buy in quicker to a team game. This approach will get them in the mindset where they will be looking to take their 90 feet when it's given to them and pass the plate on to the next hitter in the lineup to drive them in.
- Swing as hard as possible - hitters need to let it fly early in one of their at-bats. I encourage hitters to get their bat speed up to a "10 out of 10" in one of their first hitters counts. When they first get to a 2-0 or 3-1 count I want them to look to drive the ball through the fence. Early in a season many players temper their swings back in order to improve their chances of making contact and they give up some bat speed in favor of consistency. I find, however, that often times players are scaling their swings back without knowing where their max bat speed really is. Getting into a game and trying to drive the ball through the fence with their best bat speed will give them an end point from which they can adjust their bat speed for different situations such as two strike counts or hit & run situations
Defensively it is really simple:
- I want to encourage absolute aggressiveness from the first inning of the season regardless of the type of game. Whether it's an exhibition game or straight into a game that means something in the standings, I want players to be looking for opportunities to make plays and set an expectation that no ball told through the infield without an infielder diving. Defenders seem to settle in quicker when they have more opportunities to handle the baseball. Coming from a cold weather climate where we train indoors all winter, it is vitally important that players get outside and be aggressive from the first pitch.
- Be ready for the baseball on every pitch. Get your feet moving and your mind ready...enough said.