When a player is in a slump, most coaches instantly point to a mechanical issue of a swing. Not Philadelphia native Kevin Wilson, who believes what’s between the eyes makes the difference when at the plate. Kevin is a professional hitting consultant and I spoke with him last week about the intricacies of hitting, his new book and what #1 draft pick Mickey Moniak should expect as a professional.
Kevin has been a hitting coach since 2001 and has molded into a consultant over the last 6 years with 20 clients in professional baseball, and eleven of which are in the big leagues. It was a long road for Kevin as he played pro ball himself and upon the end of his career knew he wanted to stay in baseball. After not landing a dream job for Major League Baseall, it forced Kevin to be on his own, but he was better for it, thus founding Kevin Wilson Baseball into what it is today.
Kevin’s not your average hitting coach, in fact he’s much more than that. Kevin’s philosophy is getting to know the person first as he calls it, “relationship based teaching.” Knowing the person first allows Kevin to better relate to the player, therefore getting the most out of them, on and off the field which transitions to the mental aspect of hitting. In Kevin’s new book called The #GoodBatting Book, he delves deep into what your plan should be at the dish, not necessarily the mechanics.
What was the process of writing your book?
I’ve been sitting on this book for about three years and it’s not a typical book where I’m going tell you where your elbow should be or what your launch angle is. It’s a relationship based book, it’s something when once you read the book you’ll be like, okay, I think I understand myself a little better…what I’m doing well and what I need to learn. A lot of this stuff I’ve done for years but I finally put it down in writing and basically I’m telling ten short stories that you’re going to run into in a game, in a season from high school all the way to the big leagues. These are the things you wish you would’ve known back when you started. It’s a book that makes you think.
What inspired you to write the book?
For me, I see so much bad information out there and I hate to see the kids revert. I talk with a lot of coaches and players across the country and I’m very fortunate to have a reach that can get a really good idea of the landscape and I’ve seen a lot in my day too, coaching USA Baseball and things I’ve been blessed to have been able to be apart of and I’ve seen it for so many years. There is an abundance of hitting coaches out there…so we have all these hitting coaches and all this information but at the very same time, we have so few hitters. I knew that, but when I heard it, that hit me right in the face. This is getting out of hand, for me and this my opinion, but that’s why I did it, kids are not seeing their full potential.
Words such as purpose focus/approach/mindset/faith/trust are mentioned several times throughout the book, not so much what position your elbow should be. Why is the mental side of hitting so important?
It’s feeling, it’s not only a mindset, it’s a way of life. Hopefully I give guys that feeling when they come work with me and they walk away having a certain feeling, confidence, and extreme ownership that no one can tell you different. So, the book is more a feeling. When you go out on a date, you have a purpose for everything you put on, purpose for where you go to eat, purpose for what time you’re going, a purpose for everything. So why can’t we do that with hitting?
Kevin has several clients in the minors, I thought he might have advice for Phillies number one draft pick Mickey Moniak. The Eighteen-year-old just signed his $6.1 million signing bonus and that all looks good on paper but Kevin addressed what it’s like for someone that’s touted as high as Moniak to get his pro career started at such a young age.
For us Phillie fans, Mickey Moniak seems to be on top of the world, and that might be the case financially, but what should Moniak expect in his first pro experience?
It’s not all lollipops and rainbows, I’ll tell you that. It’s going to be 150 degrees everyday, there’s going to be no fans to watch him, it’s not going to feel like pro ball. He’s going to get up early in the morning to get his work in and playing at noon everyday Monday through Saturday. Most organizations don’t mess with a young phenom adopting a ‘hands off’ approach for 45 days where they don’t tell him anything. It’s getting him acclimated to being in pro ball, every single day. It’s quite different than high school or anything else he’s been apart of.
How does an 18-year-old kid adjust to pro ball?
You’re trying to feel it out at 18, so there’s a lot of challenges from being away from home, being in a clubhouse that’s different from a high school locker room, and now he has a target on his back. His goal shouldn’t be to get drafted, it should be to play in the big leagues. As he grows and matures, he’ll find out who he is.
Do you have a certain philosophy when it comes to drafting a high school or college hitter? Does it matter to you?
It does, you have to be ready mentally. If you’re not mature enough to handle the adversity…because you’re going to get knocked down like you’ve never been knocked down before. It’s just a matter of when that’s going to happen. When you draft a kid out of high school…is he mature enough? That’s why they do the in-home visits and the psychological tests to get all this information because there is so much money invested in these guys. I have to know for certain, almost for certain that this guy is going to be emotionally stable to handle the adversity he’s going to face.
Aspiring hitters can purchase Kevin’s book on Amazon. It comes in Kindle form but can be used on any device through the Kindle app.
Kevin also travels around the country to college and high school teams to provide the “KWB Experience” – a two-day session where Kevin uses a detailed approach on the mental side of hitting in a team atmosphere along with one-on-one with players. For inquiries, contact Kevin Wilson Baseball at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @KWBaseball.