Most people will tell you that batting is the hardest thing to do in sports. This may be true. Making contact is hard by itself, and seeing people smack it over the fences puts us in awe.
Here are some tips on how to bat:
- Hand-Eye Coordination: You may not have wanted to listen to your father when he told you to keep your eye on the ball but he wasn't lying. Before you get to hitting home runs, you have to learn to make contact. Hand-eye coordination includes using your eyes! Keeping your eye on the ball is key to being a good hitter. Jason Giambi, the Yankees' designated hitter, once said that you can see things better when your eyes dart to it quickly. For example, you see the ball better when you look at something else until the pitch is coming, then dart your eyes to the ball. You can get a better read on the ball. Using your eyes to watch the ball is most important to making contact with the baseball.
- Timing, Power, Stance and Swing: Getting your swing, stance and your timing down is a very big part of your batting. While hand-eye coordination is a huge factor, your timing can play into where you want to hit the ball, how hard you hit it and whether you foul it off or swing and miss. Some batters like to tap their front foot to get a beat on the pitch. You have to look at the pitcher's motion and time your tapping with it. When the pitch is released, keep your eye on the ball and pull your leg back slightly and get the bat off your shoulders. To get that power that you want, put your leg and your body into the swing.
Stance is a big part of power, too. Your knees need to be bent. When we play with buddies, there's always someone who is standing with his legs straight, and he tends to hit ground balls. You never want your feet together; you need to have your feet spread. This gives you more leverage to drive that ball as deep as you want. To really get the power-hitting you seek, you often need to pull the ball. "Pulling the ball" is following through on your swing, strongly.
Some hitters use a short swing and don't tend to drive the ball. (A short swing is what made Derek Jeter the great batting-average hitter that he is.) A short swing will give you a choice of where you want to put the ball on your hit. If there is a large gap between shortstop and the 2nd baseman, a short swing will help you select where you want to put the ball.
- Having the Batter's Eye: The batter's eye is having an eye that is able to select a pitch that is good to hit. The strike zone is actually made up from the shoulder down to the knees, and from the left side of home plate to the right. If the ball is in that area, it will be called a strike. But I didn't need to tell you that. The part you may have needed to know is this: Batting has a lot to do with knowing your hit zones and your hit chart; knowing which pitches you can hit well, and which ones you just seem to not get enough of.
Typically, right down the middle is a good pitch for anyone. But, notice when you practice where the ball is when you're hitting it well and far. The other ones you are not so good at hitting, practice on. And fouling off pitches that are strikes but you don't hit well is key. This way you can tire the pitcher and wait for the pitch you want. Remember the strike zone and watch the spin of the ball. Is that going to curve outside the zone or will it stay in? Also, keep in mind the count. In almost any situation where the count is 3 balls and any amount of strikes, expect a fat pitch down the middle but make sure to also look for the walk. Using your eyes is the most important thing to hitting a baseball.
Now, you must keep in mind, baseball is a game of failure. You won't hit it every time. Sometimes you'll hit slumps and sometimes you'll be snake-bitten. Stepping to the plate positive-minded will make batting so much easier. After reading this article, you may still think batting is the hardest thing to do. "Practice makes perfect" is another truth. Continue to work on your timing and eye, your swing and your motion. Batting may always be the hardest thing to do in sports, but now it may be just that much easier.