Hitters in the game of baseball are always looking for an advantage or an edge to leverage their efforts to find success at the plate. The number of ways to improve results with the bat are plentiful.
While beginning with a fundamentally sound swing is a good starting point, other avenues may require more subtle tactics. Preparation cannot be overlooked and the way a hitter performs the preparation can be just as vital as the details of that preparation.
Additionally, as with any contest that provides an opposition, hitters knowing tendencies and traits of the pitcher or defense can supply …
The Dirtbags coaches for this week’s edition of Instructional Friday …
- Tyler Drew … 15u
- Jeff Sneed …
- Brad Alberts … 17u
What is a hot tip for hitters who are on deck and preparing for an at-bat?
TYLER DREW – Really watch the pitcher and focus on the sequence of pitches he throws, or what pitches he throws in certain counts. One of the best quotes I’ve heard about hitting is “Don’t look for the pitch you want, Look for the pitch you’re going to get” Everyone wants a belt-high fastball middle in, but if the count is 0-2 or 1-2 not a good chance you’re going to get that pitch. If you’re looking for that all the time you will struggle with other pitches. Know what pitches to look for in certain counts, and what each pitcher likes to throw in certain situations. If a pitcher told you what he was going to throw, I would say your chances of hitting the ball hard go up. Making an educated guess on what pitch you will get will help you in those situations.
JEFF SNEED – The key to being on deck is timing up the pitcher to hit the ball when it reaches the hitting zone. Too many young hitters will swing when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand and be too early, lacking pitch recognition. Get the timing on deck of when your foot should land (making sure it is landing when the pitcher is at release point) and then getting the timing of when your swing should start to be on time for a good contact point. Watching the pitcher in the dugout is for the purpose of getting his tendencies. Watching the pitcher on deck is for the purpose of TIMING.
BRAD ALBERTS – Focus on pitchers arm angle and release point. Know the pitchers velocity. Clear your mind and be confident at the plate.
How can hitters maximize their cage work to get the most quality in working on their swing?
TYLER DREW – Focus on quality over quantity. It is better to take 10 focused/good swings than to take 100 swings with no purpose. Always have a goal/objective when working in the cage. Whether it is hitting a certain pitch location, trying to hit the ball to a certain point in the cage, or working on something mechanically always have a purpose to what you are doing. If you take 30 minutes of cage work with no purpose and just take poor quality swings, you have just wasted 30 minutes of your time to get better.
JEFF SNEED – Cage work is maximized by remembering that the game will naturally increase the effort of your swing. 85% cage swings will result in 100% game swings, with correct timing and effort. 100% effort in the cage will lead to too much effort in the game, leading to head and shoulders flying open and tightness/slowness in the game. Looseness in the cage = bat speed in the game.
BRAD ALBERTS – In the cage spend 70% of your time on pitches you don’t like: fastballs low and outside. Work on those low and away fastballs as well as off speed pitches.
Do you have suggestions for hitters who are trying to match their approach at the plate with their swing?
TYLER DREW – I would say learn what type of hitter you are and embrace that. Not everyone can be a power hitter, just like not everyone can be a contact guy. Learn what you are good at, and maximize that potential. The hot topic today is “Launch Angle” well focusing on launch angle does you no good if you only hit 250 foot fly balls (those become outs). If you can routinely hit homeruns in a BP session then yes hit the ball in the air and hit bombs. But if you have never hit a homerun or if outfielders don’t back up during BP, hitting the ball in the air probably isn’t a good strategy for you. If you’re a smaller guy say with some speed focus on hitting the ball on a straight line, or learn how to bunt for a hit, and focus on moving runners over. Not everyone has to hit the same way to be a successful hitter.
JEFF SNEAD – You have to know what kind of hitter you are and remind yourself of the approach before each at bat. This approach will depend on the situation, but the biggest factor in being able to execute an approach is PITCH SELECTION. Go up to bat knowing what kind of job you need to do. If it’s move a runner, then look for a pitch you can easily do that with. If your job is to hit a double, then look for a pitch that you can drive. Having a plan on each at bat to help your team is the key to continued success.
BRAD ALBERTS – Hitting is 80% mental. Know the count and always swing with confidence.
A huge thanks to the Dirtbags coaches for sharing their insights on helping hitters with a few tips. Next week the series will get back to some questions on pitching.