As a baseball shortstop and center-fielder from little league to my mid-teens, I was taught many useful techniques. Always, always keep my eyes on the ball was ingrained as second nature. Keep my body in front of, or under the ball on defense; foot position and placement, hand positioning and bat control and waiting for ‘my pitch’ on offense were all never ending instructions. But near the end of my career I stumbled, by chance, onto two tricks that catapulted me to the brink of stardom at the end of my final year of baseball.
The first and most critical thing I learned was to grip the bat as if trying to strangle the life out of it. The tighter my grip, I soon discovered, accomplished two extremely useful things. It kept me in much better control of my swing and it transferred a lot more of my power to the bat. I began immediately to hit much, much farther than I ever had in my previous six years. My batting average also began to increase and went from 125 in the first six weeks of the season to 342 in the last six weeks of the season. I also obtained my only career home-runs in the last six weeks.
The second thing was to study every pitcher’s every pitch. I started taking mental notes at first, and then began writing down key points. I watched their foot placement, body alignment, grip on the ball, follow-through and counted strikes and balls thrown. I studied their facial expressions and how they behaved when returning to the mound. I intently watched their interactions with the catcher. I learned over time that anticipation of pitches is an extremely useful tool.
For all underdogs, or runts I offer these words of encouragement. I was a very late bloomer and considered a runt most of my grade-school years through my junior year of high school. During my little league years I was the smallest on my team, never weighing over 85lbs and was less than 5 feet. I remained below average height and weight until a junior in high school and continued to grow until nineteen. Perseverance and hard work can accomplish much. Be dedicated to any sport you choose. Constantly look for ways to improve your abilities and go beyond what others ask of you. Practice an extra hour every day.