Hitting is a skill that contains many small and large actions that create the one desired fluid motion of nailing a line drive up the middle or into the gap. The best thing to do first is to videotape the batter so that you can play it in slow motion and then prioritize the motions to work on. It is easiest to work on the big things first such as what happens to the core or the hips. Here are 6 easy batting improvements for you.
6 Easy Batting Improvements
Learn the Mechanics of Hitting
We usually think that coaches and instructors are the only ones that need to know the mechanics of hitting and how to teach them. Become a student of the skill and learn what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you have been hitting for a long time, you may need to simply tweak some of your mechanics. It is not recommended to completely change your swing if you have been hitting for a long time because it may do more harm than good. Find the aspects of the mechanics that might improve your weaknesses and add them to your strengths.
If you are a new hitter learning the basic hitting mechanics will be very helpful to giving you a foundation to build on. You can find a hitting checklist here that you can print off and use either on your own or with someone else. tape it to the wall and use the mirror to see yourself executing it in slow motion then in full speed. You can use a small foam bat or even cut a swimming “noodle” in half to be your bat if you want to swing with something. Do not use a real bat inside unless you are at a facility for hitting.
Watch Other Hitters
You likely attend at least 25 games per season. If you are not playing the game you are often watching another team. Watch the batters when you are watching a game and look at their mechanics of hitting. Visualize it in comparison to your own swing and see if you can pick anything up from it. You would be amazed at what you can learn by watching someone do something that you want to do well. It will also give you skills when observing your own swing.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Sometimes as athletes you can know your strengths and weaknesses with your skills. Hitting is so analyzed that it should not be too difficult to get good information from your coach or an instructor. There is even a free application that can be used on any smartphone called coaches eye. With this app you can get a video of yourself and see it in slow motion to see where you might be having trouble. Work with your coach or an instructor on improving the weaknesses and using your strengths for hitting.
When you know what you need to work on, you know how to improve. Prioritize what you want to work on and then set the path to hitting success. You need to make sure you see your strengths as well as weaknesses because your strengths are what are going to give you confidence during games.
Sometimes the hitting signals can be confusing and complicated. If you are having trouble understanding them it is a good idea to spend time with the coach at practices or before a game to make it easier for you during games. If the signals are hard to remember for the team then you may be able to talk to your coach about making them easier for everyone to remember.
If you are not totally confident in your ability to remember and know the signals then it will affect your confidence at the plate because you have to redirect your energy to finding out what the coach wants you to do. This will take away from your enjoyment of hitting when you are not really sure you know what to do.
Calm the Mind
Hitting is one of the hardest skills when you have two teams, and the spectators watching you. If you are in a tournament you might have opponents watching and scouting as well. The pressure that it can cause can make any batter nervous at the plate. The best thing to do is to take care of this before you even get to the plate during games by working on it at practices and at home.
Visualization is a great tool to calm the mind. While you are at home, before you go to sleep the night before or when you wake up on the day of the game, imagine yourself having a good at bat. If you are not a strong hitter, visualize yourself having a base hit or putting down a bunt perfectly to advance a runner. Imagine what you are good at or what you are capable of rather than something that you rarely do at the plate. See it in slow motion and at regular speed. Try to see every aspect of the task.
- the pitcher
- the color of the ball
- the color of the gras
- your team mates uniforms
- your coaches at first and third
- the uniforms of the opponents if you have played them before
This will give you confidence and familiarity at the plate. If you are visualizing before practice see the surroundings and see yourself being calm and being able to take instructions from your coach. While in the ondeck circle use breathing and relaxation to remind yourself that this is a fun game and you are capable.
Hitting should be fun. So often there is a specific job that needs to be done when you go up to the plate. It is common then to be only concentrating on what the task at hand is, and forgetting that you enjoy hitting. Every chance you get, try to hit the ball. During hitting practices, practice getting contact on the ball, practice enjoying hitting the ball and it will transfer to the plate. If you are not having fun, you are doing something else and that can have a negative effect on the process which can have a negative effect on the outcome.