Batter Box Fitting as a footwear innovation stems from the idea that cleated hitters are not going to be crossing a sales floor the majority of the time, and those surroundings do not mimic the environment or conditions that players will encounter during a game.
The time to measure feet is right after they’ve been used in the way that the shoes they’re trying on are going to be worn. Your goal as a hitter should be to get as close to the surface that you’re going to playing on as possible, so I’m proposing that people try cleats at the cage or diamond before they buy them to see how they’re going to work in real life.
When I fit people, I explain that each of us has a job. My job is fit, and their job is feel. When we agree that a pair of shoes fits, and feels good, our respective jobs are done. Fitting can be fun for both parties, it can also be frustrating for people who are being fitted as many think too hard when it comes to shoes.
As an athlete, you can listen to your own body better than anyone else can. Trust that skill, and take advantage of the information that is out there. Beware of meaningless marketing terms, and tantalizing custom color schemes. Are the cleats that Andrew McCutcheon wears really going to make you a better hitter if you have a Juan Uribe shaped foot?
Have you ever been so excited about a product that you wanted to pick up your phone and tell the world about it? That impulse should be driving your footwear quest. Every pair of shoes you own should feel that good beneath your feet. They should simultaneously energize and relax you.
If that sounds like a paradox consider that shoes either fit or they don’t, and footwear that doesn’t fit will be causing you to store tension. After that tension is released, your body will start to relax, and the energy that was previously bound can now be utilized to help you accomplish the tasks that are leading you towards eventual goal achievement.
To return to Batter Box Fitting, this is the only way to fit hitters for cleats in my opinion. I can hear objections about shoe companies not wanting to take back cleats that someone has worn, the reality is that this happens every day, and it only serves to emphasize how important a good fitter is because your fitter will save you time and money by recognizing which cleats are likely to fit straight out of the box.
Fitting individuals in a store isolates them from the rest of the team. Ideal cleat fitting is a team ritual because teammates will be able to see changes that a hitter may not be able to, and people who have a stake in how you perform are going to be invested in another player, and see them as contingent on future success rather than a short term shoe sale.
Team strength hinges on the performance of the weakest player. Sooner or later that person is going to be in a clutch situation, and the team as a whole needs that player to perform when it’s required. The more information players have about how cleats should fit, the sharper their mental game will be because the ability to analyze footwear is batting power that never slumps.
This increase works for them on two levels. First it improves their team, however they aren’t going to forget how to read cleats in a game situation. Baseball is a mental game, and the ability to read an opponent’s footwear is a critically under rated skill as everything a player does is contingent on the foundation that rests beneath them.
Shoes are static and reactive. Feet and players are dynamic, and proactive. What kind of a mentally strong team would you have if every member knew that they were wearing cleats that fit, and they could immediately analyze an opposing pitcher’s cleats and footwork?
As a parent, I use smile power to let my children know that I’ve noticed their undesirable behavior, but I’m waiting to bring them to battle on my terms. Isn’t that analogous to what a batter needs to do when they step into that magical box? Don’t they need to be so calm, relaxed, and deceptively sleepy that pitchers are fooled into thinking that they’re an easy out?
You can’t manufacture a genuine smile. It must come from deep within you, well up, and radiate out. A smile tells people that they can do whatever they want, but your inner peace is untouchable. Let that concept guide you through the shoe fitting process as well. When you can stand in a pair of cleats, look around, and smile, those are the cleats for you.
Baseball is a game. Games should be fun. People play to win, and winning is fun. Relaxed people are fun to be around. Hitting coaches talk about tension in a player’s grip when the bat is in their hands. Cleats that fit relax a hitter’s feet. Your body will automatically tense up if it senses that you are unbalanced.
There are players who are so mentally strong that they override the signals of discomfort that their body is sending them. I can write this with a smile on my face because I know that I’ve got this. A genuine smile is evidence of relaxed confidence, that’s what you need from a fitter, someone who will work with you until they’re confident that you are.
I shouldn’t tell you this, but I actually know very little about hitting a baseball. So why should you listen to me? Intelligent people realize that there are millions of footwear choices out there, and few experts who are willing to take the time to guide them through the Nike, Under Armour, Adidas jungle.
If you can’t look at a player and make an educated guess about whether their footwear fits or not, hone your observation skills because the greatest pitcher is only as good as the foundation their feet are resting upon, and that will give you a competitive advantage before you ever step into the batter’s box.
Batter Box Fitting; because hitters aren’t striking out on the sales floor, and no one hits the game winning walk-off there either.