Hitting: Easy as 1-2-3

Posted by Mike Conry on Jul 08 2009 at 11:19AM PDT in 2009 Summer

Your best chance to hit the ball hard will come when you:

1. See the ball.
2. Swing at a good pitch to hit.
3. Put a good swing on the ball.

These are your goals in most every at-bat.

First off, when you’re ‘in the hole’ and then ‘on deck’, you should be understanding the game situation, studying the pitcher, timing him, and then visualizing your successful AB (e.g., getting on base, moving a runner, driving in a run); try literally closing your eyes and seeing and feeling yourself drive the ball. Now RELAX.

Let’s break down the goals for when you step into the box.

1. See the ball

This seems like it would be the easiest of all the goals. The problem is that many players don’t really see the ball well.

(Really, the first thing, before coming to the field, is to make sure your vision is all it can be. Nowadays, there are even special sports eye doctors. If you require some sort of corrective lenses to improve your vision and focus you need to be wearing them while hitting)

The only thought you should have in the box is "see the ball." Do not allow your mind to be cluttered by other thoughts. Don’t be thinking about mechanics, don’t be thinking "I gotta get a hit," simply think "see the ball." When this is the only thought at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be amazed at how much better your focus is at the plate.

There is a process for seeing a pitched ball well enough to drive it. It requires two types of focus: broad and fine. An example of broad focus is when I look at your face; an example of fine focus is when I look at your left pupil.

You start with broad focus on the pitcher’s upper body. You shouldn’t be seeing anything else (no other fielders, baserunners, fans, clouds, birds). When you see the pitcher ‘breaking his hands’, you ‘load’ (weight goes to back foot, front hip closed, front shoulder closed, hands go slightly back toward catcher). Now your vision zooms to fine focus on the place where the pitcher’s hand will release the ball. As the pitcher’s hand comes to his release point you ‘stride’ (a soft 0-3 inches on the inside of the ball of your front foot without moving your head), keep your hands back, and your fine-focused vision is tracking the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s fingers. When you’re focused and ‘seeing the ball well’ you’ll see the pitcher’s hand position and the rotation of the ball coming out of it. You track the ball through 3 zones: zone 1 is from release to half-way to the plate and is all about starting at the release; zone 2 is from half-way to 6 feet in front of you where spin and movement become obvious; zone 3 is the last 6 feet where you’ll track to your head down on the ball at contact or into the catcher’s mitt.

Again, even when you are taking a pitch, you must see the ball leave the pitcher’s hand and track it all the way into the catcher’s mitt while maintaining proper balance in the box. Most of you quit on pitches that are halfway to the plate because you see it’s going to be a ball. This is a bad habit! Track every single pitch all the way in. This will help to sharpen your vision and your timing, two immensly important parts of hitting!

2. Swing at a good pitch to hit

As previously discussed, you need to know ‘your pitch’, the strike zone, and your situational ‘hitting zone’. If you swing at pitches that you can get the good part of the bat on, your chances of hitting the ball hard increase dramatically.

Review the "Yes, yes… Hitting" Video and the ‘Have a Plan’ "Past Announcement". You are always ready to hit (Yes, yes, yes…). If it’s there, crush it (Yes, yes, yes… yes!). If it’s not a strike or not in your ‘hitting zone’ for the situation, take it (Yes, yes, yes… no), tracking the pitch with your fine focus right into the catcher’s mitt.

3. Put a good swing on the ball

This is why you spend all those hours in BP, soft-toss, tee work, the cage, etc. Learn the proper mechanics of a solid swing and work at it. It’s very important that you work with your coaches or instructors or dads, moms, etc, who understand and can guide you to proper swing mechanics. Then, over time, take hundreds and thousands of well-executed cuts (BP, soft-toss, tee work, the cage, or even just shadow-swinging’) and your ‘muscle-memory’ will lock-in that good swing. Concentrate on firing your back hip, your hands taking a perfectly straight path to the ball from their loaded position, getting good extension of your hands toward the mound after contact, and completing your trunk rotation with your back shoulder pointing to the mound.

When you’re in the box, you can’t be thinking about these things. That’s what practice and the muscle memory is for. At bat, just clear your mind, get your signs, get in there, measure yourself, relax, don’t squeeze the bat (keep your grip out in your fingers and relatively loose), and think "see the ball". When you see the pitch to hit, time it to make contact ahead of your front foot, and take that well-rehearsed, fast and compact swing.

When you visualize your success, relax, see the ball right out of the pitcher’s hand, confirm it’s in your ‘hitting zone’, and execute a good swing, you’ll hit the ball hard and good things will happen.


There are no comments for this announcement.