Improving Batting Practice

Improving Batting Practice

When my own children first began to play baseball/softball, I wanted them to swing the bat. Teaching them to be aggressive was very important. It seemed as though many kids were just waiting for walks, and many parents thought a walk would be as good as a hit.

I continued this aggressive approach all the way up until they were done with 8th grade. But, I should have made an adjustment in my teaching around the 5th or 6th grade level. Why? By teaching the kids to be aggressive (which is what should be done when they are just learning) I actually had them try to cover both sides of the plate on the same pitch. When a hitter does this, he is really hitting with 2 strikes. The best hitters in the world hit less than .200 with 2 strikes.

Let me explain. Good hitters in baseball cover only 1 side of the plate on any given pitch. When the ball is released from the pitcher’s hand (55 feet from hitter) the hitter must judge in the next 40 feet, if the pitch is what he is expecting. Then the hitter will commit to swinging at the pitch. If the pitch is not what/where he is expecting, then the hitter must take the pitch.  Often, many of us wonder why a hitter does not swing at a pitch when he is up in the count and runners are on base. But, if the hitter is expecting a certain pitch in a given situation and the pitcher does not throw that pitch, the hitter must take the pitch.

By teaching my kids to be aggressive, and not pulling them back in the 5th or 6th grade, I was basically teaching them to hit with 2 strikes – all the time. When hitters try to cover both sides of the plate on any given pitch, they are doing what hitters do with 2 strikes. When hitters are up in the count they should hit the pitch they are anticipating.

How can we teach this? It starts in batting practice. When throwing live arm, have your hitters call out where they are looking for the pitch. If the ball is there, hit it. If not take it.

The hitters must practice pitches on the outer part of the plate as well. They need to let the ball get deep, rotate slightly less and hit it hard to right. The swing is exactly the same, just the position of the ball and rotation of body is slightly different. The ball will be hit just inside the back knee and the hitter’s upper body will rotate slightly less (belly button just to the right of the pitcher angling at right field).

Then after this round of hitting is over, the hitter must take a 2 strike round where he needs to protect the plate (both sides of the plate).

Teaching players what to look for in the at bat and then practicing making a decision about swinging is something that we need to improve upon if we are going to give the kids the best chance to succeed hitting a baseball. I teach hitters to look at the inner half or the outer half, either one but not both.  Show them a picture of the plate divided in thirds. If the hitter is looking inner half he should be able to hit the inner 2/3 of the plate. If the hitter is looking outer half, he should be able to hit the outer 2/3 of the plate.

Let’s not keep encouraging the kids to get their hacks in during batting practice. Rather, teach the hitter to look for a pitch in a certain spot. If the pitch is there, jump on it. If the pitch is not there, have the discipline to take the pitch. Then have the players take another round of batting practice, but this is a 2 strike round where they just try to put the bat on the ball. This requires a different mindset than the previous round.

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  1. Edris Asbell
    8 years ago

    This post is beyond awesome. I am always wondering what to do and what not to do so I will follow some of these tips.