Baseball Techniques and Building Blocks for Hitting Success
There is nothing like it in sports – hitting a baseball that is. For proof, look at all the books that speak of baseball techniques for hitting a baseball. No two books are alike, and none of them offer the definitive way to do it. What may work for teaching one player, doesn’t for the next one. Why is that – it’s such a complicated thing, and some players can grasp an idea and technique and implement it, while others cannot understand the concept, or the implementation proves difficult. The words and ideas one guide use may resonate with one player, but not the next. That’s the nature of hitting and coaching the game – it’s hard stuff.
Hitting a baseball is extremely difficult because batters have only fractions of seconds to combine their physical and mental actions to hit variable speeds, locations, and movements. Try catching a fly in the room, a real one not a fly ball, and you only have one second to do it. It is a constant battle of balancing the physical and mental sides into each pitch and at bat. If someone guarantees their baseball techniques can teach your son or daughter how to hit, they can’t. They may give them a great swing, but much more is necessary and that will be up the player’s physical and mental makeup. Below are some valuable hitting tips that I use, have seen work, and address both the physical and mental side of teaching the art of hitting that can help get your ballplayer on the path to batting success.
One of the First Baseball Techniques for Hitting – Visualization
We often overlook the importance of giving kids an image of a good swing. Young people don’t watch the game as kids form years ago, so they do not get the visual repetition that feeds the mind. Without an excellent visual of the correct swing, it can be difficult for them to not only know the proper sequence of the swing but also how to develop the rhythm and preparation to swing. Here are some tips to help a player’s mental game and visualization:
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- Have players watch a major league player’s swing on TV or YouTube over and over again. It is crucial to see the right swing actions.
- Have players review in their mind themselves doing the same actions as the big leaguers and performing the proper sequence of a good swing in their mind – stride and preparation, hips opening, knob, barrel, and extension.
- Have players study the pitcher’s delivery to get the rhythm, timing and release point ingrained in their mind before getting in the batter’s box, so there are no surprises.
- Have players review the best hit they ever had before every at-bat.
- Have players mentally review the strike zone along with visualizing themselves taking bad pitches and swinging at good ones.
- Have players set their goals on having quality at-bats and not hits. They can control the quality but not always the results.
Baseball Techniques – Batting tee tips to develop the perfect swing
For most major league hitters, their practice day begins with the batting tee. If it is good enough for the top players, it should be used by the up-and-coming crowd, which means all youth and high school ballplayers. When I look back at my major league and professional playing days, I wish I would have known the following . I could make a good argument that the batting tee results are a sign of a better fundamental swing than what regular batting practice produces. That is a story for another day but at the least, trust me when I say that solid batting tee practice can help a great deal. I’ve said it here before, and it bears repeating, if one cannot produce solid backspin, line drive results on the tee, achieving them in games will be tough to never.
- Set the batting tee up the farthest distance possible to see the complete flight of ball away from the net. If only hitting the ball a few feet into a net, set up a small target that designates middle and about chest high of hitter.
- Make sure players stand the correct and same distance away from the tee and home plate as they do in a game. Use a home plate first before setting the tee down.
- Batter’s eyes should begin at pitcher, and they should mentally track the ball from the pitcher, with eyes not going to the ball on tee until their stride foot lands. Remember, “hitting is tee ball with timing!”
- Vary locations of the tee, and relatively often – low, high, inside corner, outside corner.
- Understand the ideal hit rises slightly, no matter the tee height, and in the direction of where the tee location is. Hitting the top part of the tee somewhat is OK, if the swing is not “cutting” the ball to get it up.
- When hitters get accomplished at one spot, switch tee location for a few swings and then return to the previous place and see if the same results, and hopefully on the very first swing.
- Work 75% on pitch players struggle with most in games – if can’t get the ball in air work on the low pitch until they can get it in the air. If hitting too many lazy fly balls and pop-upsin games, work more on high tee location until they stop hitting the top net or chopping the ball down.
- Do not allow players to be satisfied until they consistently get the right results off the tee.
Baseball Techniques – Tips to Rock Batting Practice
Once players have a good visual of a fluid swing and can perform it somewhat consistently on the tee, they should proceed to batting practice with the following plan.
- Recall their recent in-game- at-bats before batting practice to get an idea of what to work on. Think opposites at first, if too many ground balls in games, work on lifting the ball and vice versa.
- Instead of hitting the ball as far as one can, work on waiting for the ball, timing, rhythm, balance, and bat control.
Ask the coach throwing batting practice to give you as many pitches as possible in the area you are the weakest.
- Give extra attention to the batting-practice pitcher’s release point, along with tracking the ball the whole way to contact.
- Only swing at strikes as if it is a game. Yell out “ball” to self the second you realize it’s not a strike.
- Feel a sense of accomplishment even when not hitting the ball that well, because you adhered to all the above points.
Baseball Techniques – Tips to maintain the batting mechanics
Ok, players have worked diligently on the mental and physical aspects of hitting, now the hard part begins – maintaining them. Following are baseball techniques for hitting to stay sharp throughout the season or at the least to keep the slumps away for as long as possible.
- Never neglect the small focus drills like hitting off the tee and hitting short flipped balls. Contact happens in the immediate zone in front of home plate. I often see players slump after about two weeks into the season because of just playing games because they lose the contact area focus.
- Take a few swings at the beginning of batting practice without a stride. A significant key to hitting is staying back and not lunging at the pitched ball. This technique helps avoid jumping at the ball, and it steadies the head, another critical component to batting mechanics.
- Begin and end batting practice by hitting balls up the middle and to the opposite field. To do that, players let the ball get a little deeper in the zone, and it prevents “rolling over” on balls, a common problem when the timing is out front too much. Coaches should change speeds in batting practice to keep the batter’s timing.
- Do not expand the strike zone in batting practice. Becoming lazy with that in practice will lead to the same in games. Nothing leads to batting slumps more than chasing bad pitches. Coaches should inform the player when they start chasing out of the zone pitches.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. It is best to learn to practice on one’s weaknesses but play to their strengths in games. Every hitter is the same with two strikes as they protect on anything close. Choosing the right pitches to attack before two strikes are what makes a hitter. Coaches should help players discover the ball locations and pitches they hit best and which ones they struggle with the most.
- Careful analysis of in-game at-bats helps identify hitting issues. After doing that and when not too tired, players should work on hitting after games, especially when they are upset over game results. Being proactive helps one sleep at night and helps gain confidence for the next day. Maintaining confidence is crucial for hitting consistency.
Baseball Techniques – Confidence Boosters
Having done all the above, it is inevitable that tough times come. Adults should keep players optimistic with encouraging statements like these:
- “I have seen how hard you have worked and believe you deserve success. Expect it, see it and it will come, sooner or later.”
- “Even the best in the world struggle at times. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”
- “You do not have to prove anything to anyone, just improve and good things will come.”
- “You are never that far away from putting it all together. Believe it will be your next at-bat.”
- “Have a routine and work ethic that you are comfortable with, and you will not have any regrets.”
- “The cream will rise to the top.”