Successful game day hitters practice hitting all types of pitches in all locations, not just a belt-high batting practice fastball
What is the best hitting drills to practice?
The best prepare you for the realities of “game day hitting,” train mechanics for all locations. No just the easy ones.
Low and extended, contact away from your body
When you’re hitting in a game, the low and extended mechanics prepare you for a change-up, curveball, sinking fastball or slider. The key is to “stay in your legs,” in simple terms, “keeping your head in the center of your body;” and time the release your top hand.
The time that you release your top hand will depend on how far away from your body you make contact. Our Multi-Swing Method explains this time as, feeling pressure on your rear shoulder.
If you keep two hands on the bat for too long, you’ll “swing and miss,” or “roll over and hit a groundball;” as your top hand fights your bottom. Additionally, your rear shoulder “knocks your head off the ball” during your following through; triggering “over-rotation” on your back foot, and leading to “falling off balance.”
The following video drill is designed to improve hitting the “low and away pitch.” Critical points for Extension Side Toss drill include; tossing the ball just below knee height, and in front of home plate, staying in your legs (don’t lunge at the ball), and releasing your top hand when you feel pressure on your rear shoulder.
HITTING THE UP AND INSIDE FASTBALL
Your subconscious mind has a strong influence on your swing. Doubt turns into hitting mistakes
Next, you need to prepare for the “up and inside fastball,” training mechanics for contact closer to your body; giving confidence to “stay back” on gameday.
- Don’t try to pull the ball for a home run; this will cause you to “pull off the ball.”
- Hit the ball up the middle.
- Advanced hitters visualize driving the ball over center field fence.
- Keep two hands on the bat on your follow through.
Practicing to hit difficult locations, transfers the message to your brain that you can handle any pitch. In short, “you need to see it to believe it!” The belief you can hit any pitch results in game day confidence. Lacking confidence triggers mistakes such as; “pulling off the ball,” and “jumping out,” “over-striding/lunging,” and “stepping in the bucket.”
Simple Youth Hitting Tips
- Focus on keeping your head down at the point of contact and hit the baseball with backspin up the middle, naturally training you to keep your, “hands inside the baseball.”
- Balance the strength and power of your swing, with top and bottom hand isolation drills.
- Focus on the end goal, as opposed to complicated hitting mechanics.
Examples of simple hitting instruction for youth players
Provide players with the solution; for example:
- “I’m going to toss the ball on the inside part of the plate, and I want you to hit it back up the middle.” Coaching, hands inside the ball; as opposed to only telling your players; “keep your hands inside the ball;” which is useless.
- “I want you to hit the ball over the second baseman’s head.” Designed to improve the hitting approach of a right-handed hitter and help to stay back.
- “I want you to make sure your head and eyes are looking down in front of home plate after you hit the baseball.” Designed to stop pulling off the baseball.
“3 keys” to successful game day power hitting
- Be aggressive, “close your mind and open your eyes.”
- Aim to make solid contact as opposed to getting a base hit.
- Work on your hitting approach, avoid thinking to “pull the ball for a home run.”
The “Big 3” Hitting Mistakes
- NOT KEEPING YOUR HEAD DOWN: Pulling your head off the baseball is arguably the most common hitting mistake. You can’t hit what you can’t see! Track the ball as soon as it releases from the pitcher’s hand, and minimize head movement all throughout your swing.
- TRYING TO PULL THE OUTSIDE PITCH: “Pulling off” the outside pitch results in a “weak groundball” or “swing and miss.” A pull-only hitting approach may work for a small segment of hitters; however, the best strategy is to hit to all fields. For example, the pitch on the outside of the plate, a right-handed hitter’s aiming for the center/right field gap while a left-handed hitter’s aiming for the center/left field gap.
- JUMPING OR LUNGING AT THE BASEBALL: “Jumping” or “lunging” at the ball increases the, “perceived velocity” of a fastball, by up to 5 miles per hour. Triggering you to collapse on your front leg, as the excessive movement of your head; and more critically, your eyes hinders your ability to “see and track the ball.” Relax in the batter’s box and “stay back,” and you’ll decrease the “perceived velocity” of a fastball, by up to 5 miles.
I hit excellent during batting practice, but don’t perform on gameday, what am I doing wrong?
You can’t afford to get fooled by hitting coaches who promise they’ve discovered the “secret home run hitting recipe.” Home run mechanics are designed to hit a slow-moving belt-high pitch. The problem’s when facing a quality pitcher; chances are he’s not going throw a “mistake pitch.” The best pitchers’ in your league will pitch “down and away,” and “up and inside” and change speeds to keep you off-balance.