There are numerous hitting methods and styles that exist for baseball. They all claim the same thing: that they are the best; who’s right and who’s wrong? They all “can” work depending on the ability of the individual.
Individual style from how you lace your cleats to the position of your hat and the 400 or so moving parts in between all add up to one result – smacking a round ball with a round bat in the sweet spot of both while getting down the baseline as fast as possible.
Different approaches, stances and swing, wrist speed etc. See what works and doesn’t work for you. The consensus is that there are 7 common traits shared among great hitters, no matter what hitting method is used.
1. Comfort – What is there or worry about?
Relax, the guy 45 or more feet away is gonna throw a ball at you. You have seen it before, you will see it again. So what if you take one for the team, stay in there and drive it right back at the person who threw it at you. The batter is really in control of the outcome. How many times have you seen players hit the ball when its over their head, way inside or even bouncing off the plate. Calm down, you can put the bat on the ball whenever YOU decide.
2. Confidence – Don’t let your mind strike you out before you begin.
If you are convinced you can hit the ball, what’s to stop you? Believe in yourself and let it happen. Be mindful of the count, when you are ahead, look for the good ones, when behind, smack it! If you leave it up to the Umpire to see it the way you do, chances are you’ll be walking back to the dug out. You have tons of time at the batting cages and practice, you can HIT IT!
3. See the Ball
Watch the pitcher, does he release the ball from over his head, off to the side, under hand? The key is the ball is in his hand and the release point will be within fractions of an each on each pitch. So, if it always starts in the same place, how does it get all over? Simple, its variation in the motions it takes to get to the release point. But get over all that, when you see where it starts, you can determine where its going and your bat will follow your eyes instructions.
4. The Twitch
Your reaction to the ball being released is the twitch, the quicker your twitch, the longer you can watch the ball. If your twitch is slower, start it sooner. I have seen batters wait for half the distance before they start their swing, I have seen others begin their step as soon as the pitcher leaves their balance point.
5. Core Power
It really begins with the feet, then torso then hands. But you need to have all three work in rhythm. Power is transferred form the feet to the torso which multiplies the power by expanding the circle and creating speed, which is then transferred into the hands. If any part over-powers the following, you loose the build up of momentum. Work on getting all three to work together.
Keep it short and sweet! You are closer to the plate than you think, so keep the hands inside and let the bat do the work. Step, turn the hips while keeping your hands back, power is loaded and transferred through the core, whamo.. let it all out at once! DO NOT BE TIMID ABOUT SWINGING AT THE BALL! Swing, Swing, Swing! Remember #2, believe in yourself, you can hit anything! And it does not matter how well it is driven each time, the point of the matter is putting the bat on the ball ::: PERIOD::::
7. Balance – You can’t hit well from the ground
There cannot be enough said about balance. It allows you to see the ball, transfer power to the ball and get out of the box. The quickest way to learn is hitting soft toss from a teeter board, if you can do it there, there is no question you can do it from the dirt. Learn to swing through the ball with the bat, not your whole body. If your body follows your arms you are taking away from the power sent up from your legs. Bring the bat around and keep your feet.
So what does it all add up to?
You will hit the ball the way your body, skill and ability sees best for you to assemble your 400 or so moving parts. Work on the elements of hitting on their own. And remember, batting practice is just that, batting practice! Plan your practice accordingly, some time on each of the pieces, then more time putting it all together. Don’t try to do both at the same time, it’s a sure recipe for frustration. To commit good habits to muscle memory, do your conditioning first, get the muscles nice and tired; this is the moment you must make every effort to do motions correctly. If your lazy about the particulars when you are tired, it will come out at the game. You want to train yourself and your body to react quickly and correctly. Only perfect practice can make perfect (to quote from Cal Ripken Sr.)