Do some guys really make you mad because you work and work and work, yet they seem to out hit you?
Have you ever thought about what they do differently that allows them to succeed?
I remember receiving an email from a pro scout during my junior year of high school. The email described everything I did well and what I needed to continue to develop into a pro level player.
The scout told me how my arm was already strong enough. I needed to continue to get faster and stronger.
But then he said something I had never heard before.
“You will have to continue outworking everyone at the plate because you will never be a natural hitter.”
I thought to myself, so are there people that just “wake up” and are able to hit?
After years of studying hitting and being around great hitters, I have found there are guys who have “natural” swings.
Don’t get me wrong….I have never met a hitter at the college or pro level who has not worked tirelessly on becoming a great hitter.
Even the “natural” hitters work hard to continue to develop strength, repeatability, and to continuously make their swing better.
What separates the “natural” hitters from the “forced” hitters
The guys that can really hit consistently know how to use their body to swing the bat.
Their body works in perfect sequence throughout the swing to get the swing started easily and maximize bat speed.
What do most people teach
If you listen to most coaches and instructors talk about hitting, what do you hear?
- Take the knob to the ball
- Lead with the hands
- Get the foot down early
While these sayings are not fundamental to a swing and are neither good nor bad, if taught the wrong way or if done WITHOUT other proper mechanics and sequence, they will most likely lead to flaws.
I truly believe there are very FEW people who understand swing mechanics and what actually makes a great swing.
Most hitting instructors and coaches only repeat what they hear…then when players become coaches, they repeat the same things.
Very few of these people actually experiment, study, and truly make the batting cage their lab to understand how to really develop a hitter.
Here is what I see
If you watch a little kid pick up a bat, what does he do? He rotates his body and delivers his bat head….it’s very simple.
If you watch a 13-year-old with 4 years of hitting “instruction,” what does he do? He typically has a standard set-up based on who he’s worked with, he will get to his toe early, he will throw his hands to the ball, and he will hit a lot of ground balls or opposite field flares.
Does that sound about right?
Almost EVERY hitter that I work with for the first time starts out beating balls into the ground or flaring out to the opposite field.
Because he has been taught to swing down and lead with the knob because “that’s the quickest route to the ball.” He has also been taught to get the foot down early so he doesn’t get “fooled” by off-speed.
“Swing down” and “lead with the knob” CAN be great mental cues for your swing…IF your swing sequence works. If you have ever listened to Tony Gwynn talk about hitting, he talks a lot about hitting with his hands, and it seemed to work for him!
However, if “swing down” and “lead with the knob” are talked about WITHOUT having the proper sequence, which is the case with a lot of hitting coaches, it can lead to bad results…especially as the player gets older and begins to face a higher level of competition.
Here is a question: If the pitcher has downward angle on his pitches and you have a downward angle on your swing, how are you supposed to consistently hit balls squarely?
Doesn’t seem possible, does it?
Why not get the foot down early?
Your swing has to generate power, right? What would happen if you told a pitcher or position player to stride out and stop when he got to heel plant….and THEN throw?
He would lose all of his momentum and ability to generate velocity.
So why do people think the same thing doesn’t happen with hitters?
Think about it like this: Your back foot and hip are the accelerator. Your front foot acts like the brake. You accelerate and then when your front heel hits the ground, the brakes are slammed and your body stops accelerating and works around the front leg, generating bat head speed.
That is why guys who get their foot down early have forced swing and usually have NO bat speed.
There are players who know how to use their body’s well enough that they get up on their toe, slide their hips forward and then slam their heel down when they start their swing.
That is a VERY hard way to hit and most guys simply can’t do it.
Watch most MLB hitters
If you do, you will see some sort of step, leg kick, or some other mechanism to get their momentum and weight shift going.
If you want to be a great hitter, you have to have great timing in your swing….and great timing doesn’t mean get your foot down early and wait. You WILL get eaten up as pitchers begin to gain velocity and control over off-speed.
What about pushing the hands forward?
As the brakes are being slammed down (the front heel plant), simultaneously the back elbow/forearm/hand should “trigger” or begin its initial movement to the ball (note: not elbow INTO your side). As this happens, the bat head will begin to go backwards towards the catcher.
Then, as the back side begins to rotate, the barrel will be delivered to the baseball.
What about keep my hands inside the ball and hitting it the other way?
Where you hit a ball is 100% based upon where the ball is on contact. If the pitch is outside, you will hit it deeper then you would if the pitch was inside.
Unless there is a hit and run, or some other situational hitting, you should NEVER “inside-out” a pitch. People that talk a lot about hitting the opposite way, want you to have an “inside-out” swing and FORCE the ball the other way.
Very rarely will that type of swing work and when it does, there won’t be much power to the opposite field.
As a hitter, you need to be able to DRIVE the ball.
When I say drive, it doesn’t necessarily mean over the fence.
Driving the baseball means hitting it with AUTHORITY. The harder the ball comes off of your bat, the less reaction time the fielders will have and the more likely you are to reach base.
You can drive a single or drive a ball over the fence….just HIT IT HARD!
What do you need to do?
Most people ask how they can improve their swing.
The #1 thing you can do is swing hard and swing often. Until your exit velocity is high enough to play college baseball, I recommend swinging as hard as you can on every swing in practice. You should set a goal to swing about 200 times/session, 5-6 days per week.
Yes, it may seem out of control and you may not be consistent at first, but after a few weeks of doing this, your body will begin to adapt and your large muscles will take over the swing.
Next, I recommend swinging a HEAVY bat. This will force your swing to use your entire body to hit as your hands aren’t strong enough to swing a big bat. (If you would like information on how to purchase a heavy bat, email me at email@example.com).
If you would like the detailed workout I use with my high school, college and pro players, it is included in my “Player Development” handbook.