We talk in our clinics and instruction at Woodall Baseball Academy about the goal of changing bad habits to good. Some of the best coaches in the world in any sport feel that their primary job responsibility is that of ‘Behavior Modification”. More specifically, if you can modify your practice behavior to make changes (in mechanics, in strength and speed training, in mental approach), you are on the way to ongoing improvement. Here is the formula.
Step 1…Identify the Bad Habit– Our first job is to identify the bad habit. In working with your coach, or studying your swing on video, you may identify that you are casting your hands during your swing. This is not a good habit to have. Now we have to figure out how to get out of that habit into the good habit of keeping your hands inside the ball and making that good habit a normal part of your swing. Merely thinking about it will not do the trick. We have to change our practice strategy to fix it.
Step 2…Daily Drills– Find a drill or two that helps you find the correct movement pattern. The fence drill, close tee drill, or taking inside pitches to the opposite field in BP will work toward that goal. Your purpose is to perform the correct movement of keeping hands inside the ball until it feels comfortable and natural in the swing. Daily consistency is the key. Remember, you are trying to change something that is a bad habit, something that you have probably done thousands of times. It takes a consistent change of behavior, or approach to practice, that changes this habit. Therefore, you must make these drills a part of a daily practice routine to change this bad habit to the correct movement pattern.
Step 3….Mental Queues Every Pitch– So many players will identify the bad habit, do some drill work, then getting into BP and hope that it is fixed. Hope is not going to cut it. In our baseball instruction, we talk about having that little guy on your shoulder giving you reminders or mental queues every pitch. Usually these are very short and repeatable, like “hands in”. We do not have to remind ourselves to hit the ball, but we often need to remind ourselves one or 2 things to hit the ball better. Our mental queues or reminders before our swing, EVERY SWING, will help develop the good habit and get out of bad habits.
If a player takes this approach and works to change his practice behavior, he can turn bad habits into good habits and more success on the field.
PS: By the way, this formula works for just about every area of improvement in your life. To instill change, we have to change our behavior by identifying the bad habits, then substituting those bad habits for good habits. Examples of habit substitution: Watching TV for daily exercise, fast food burger for grilled chicken, fruits and veggies, or Facebook time to study time.
For more information on creating good habits, go to this article: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/power-good-habits.htm