So you want to become a better hitter, do you? Do you dream of being the next major leaguer to hit .400 in a season, hit 70 home runs or do you just want to improve your numbers at the dish? Well, to do any of this its time to start learning your craft. That means practice. Practice, practice, practice! Hitting is an art form that can take a lifetime to master but don’t worry to help get you started along your journey The Hardball Network has listed below 3 easy ways to become a better hitter.
Learn Your Hitting Zone
If you want to become a better hitter you need to start learning from your at-bats. You need to learn your hitting zone. In his book The Science of Hitting, Ted Williams wrote that the number one rule to hitting was “to get a good ball to hit.” This rule goes deeper though than just taking balls and swinging at strikes. Williams had spent a lifetime breaking down his hitting. Replaying at-bats in his head. What pitch was thrown? Where did it cross the plate? How well did he hit it? Should he have taken the pitch? Williams broke his strike zone down into a chart that was seven baseballs wide by eleven baseballs in height marking his batting average in each baseball noting to himself where he hit .400 and where he was a below average hitter. From this chart, he quickly learned his hitting zone, that is, which pitches were the good balls to hit. If you really want to become a better hitter you should be doing the same. It’s time to start eating, drinking, and dreaming about your hitting zone. Study your at-bats, How did you do? Where were the pitches thrown? Did you get a hit, walk or make an out? Where are you hammering the baseball and where are the pitches you should lay off of? Keep track of this data because learning your hitting zone is one of the easiest ways to be more productive at the plate. It does take time though, but with practice, patience and dedication you will begin to see your numbers at the plate rise as your knowledge of your hitting zone does.
Hit Off a Tee
Hitting is all about repetition and one of the best places to practice your craft is at the tee. Yep, that’s right the tee. Don’t go retiring that thing to the baseball graveyard once you’ve graduated from tee ball. The tee is an instrument ball players use throughout their career, whether in high school, college or at the major league level. And, don’t just step up to the tee and start taking hacks, you need to understand why you are there. What are you working on in today’s session? Do you need to practice getting in the right position in the batter’s box? Keeping your weight back? Situational hitting? Or hitting the pitches you are having trouble making solid contact with during games? The tee is great because you can slow the game down and work on any area of hitting you are struggling with. To help you here are a few tips to get you started. First, take your time. Make sure the tee is set up in the correct position on the plate and the ball is at the right height. Second, get in your stance. Stay balanced, nice and relaxed. Make sure you have plate coverage and are able to reach the middle of the plate and away. Third, practice hitting the ball gap to gap and to all fields keeping your hands inside the baseball. If you want to hit the ball to the opposite field, move the tee back and further away from you. If you want to hit the ball to centerfield place the tee in the middle of the plate and a bit forward from center, and if you want to pull the ball place the tee forward and inside. Finally, work on your weak points, first. If you are having trouble hitting the low and away pitch then that is where you should start, keeping an eye on the baseball after it is hit. The ball will give you all the feedback you need to know as to how well you are hitting. You are looking for line drives, no ground balls or long fly balls.
Here is a sample routine:
First 10 balls: Set-up off the outside corner, hitting to right-centerfield.
Second 10 balls: Set up in the middle of the plate, hitting to centerfield.
Last 10 balls: Set up in your hitting zone, hitting to centerfield.
Soft toss is great because it is an excellent drill for increasing hand-eye coordination while getting a lot of pitches to hit at the same time. There are several different approaches you can take to the soft toss drill. The first mimics live pitching from the mound where you will take your full swing at the ball. The other way to perform the soft toss drill is a little tougher. In this version, you want to take the lower body out of the equation. Load your weight on your back foot, keep your hands back in the correct position, take your step but then stay firmly planted in that position. Do not move your lower body at all. Now, just focus on increasing your hand and wrist speed through the zone. You will need discipline with this version of soft toss but it is a terrific way to simplify the hitting process while increasing your bat speed. It doesn’t matter which version you use as long as you are focusing on proper mechanics and improving your bat speed. Again, we are looking for line drives as our outcome with each swing. Try to incorporate soft toss at every practice and you will find proper repetition will make you a better hitter.
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