When our baseball players were not hitting well, I would ask the question, “How do you feel at the plate?” And often, they would say, “Coach, I’m not seeing the ball.”
So in teaching our kids on hitting the baseball, how do we help our players to see the ball better? Because if a player is not “seeing the ball”, he is usually not hitting well.
The ability to read the pitch and make proper judgment is as important as anything in becoming an efficient hitter. This also decreases rushing and increases confidence.
Let’s imagine that the ball is a target. If we want to hit the bullseye on a target, then it is necessary to aim for the bullseye. If the outer ring will give us 10 points, and the bullseye will give us 100 points, what part do we focus on? The bullseye, of course. It gives us the highest reward.
With this in mind, let’s do a few hitting the baseball drills, using either regular batting practice or a pitching machine.
Drill #1. Loose Body, Full Take: Stand in the batter’s box. Take a deep breath. Stand tall with a soft body, soft in the hinge joints. As the ball is pitched, keep eyes horizontal, and place a quarter size imaginary red dot in the center of the ball. Read the pitch all the way to the catcher, using just the swivel of the head. Move nothing else. Repeat several times.
Drill #2. Stride-Take: Begin as in Drill #1. This time when the ball is pitched, load and stride, and read the pitch back to the catcher. Continue to see the bullseye. Important: DO NOT move hands from the starting position. The front heel remains up in the stride with 30-40% weight now on the front side. Hips remain closed. Repeat several times for optimal baseball hitting success.
Drill #3. Drive-Take: Add the pivot. Begin as in the first two drills. This time, add the pivot of the hips at the completion of the stride. Important: The hands rotate with the body, but they DO NOT commit to the pitch. The hitter is now taking the pitch in what we term the “Drive” position. He will now visualize where his “cut” or cutline on the ball would be. He reads the ball to the “contact zone” in front of the plate.
Drill #4. Take and Stroke. Batter reads the pitch in loose body. He visualizes the proper cutline and takes the pitch. He then takes several full swings, using the same cutline. Each time he visualizes a positive hit.
Consistently doing these read drills, will be a great help for increasing the batter’s ability to see the pitch and apply the proper stroke.