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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.

Coach Joe Brockhoff

Top Five Baseball Hitting Tips from Hall of Fame Coach Joe Brockoff

What makes a great baseball hitter?  Power, speed, stance, coil, stride, drive, and more.  Here Coach Joe Brockoff, retired Tulane University baseball head coach and Hall of Fame inductee, shares some of the same batting tips he’s used to send 45 players to the pros using his Super 8 System.

  1. Set goals and objectives. To succeed, all good hitters must achieve three basic but important goals.  These include:
  • Club head accuracy—to gain maximum contact with the baseball. This means hitting the ball with the percussion area of the bat squarely on the nose of the baseball, such as a sword would cut into an apple producing two equal parts.
  • Club head timing—to gain super contract by meeting the ball at the proper time in the contact zone. This involves good body control with rhythm and proper estimation of when the various types of pitches will arrive in the contact zone.

Club head velocity—Many times hitters are told to just ‘meet the ball.’ This mindset will make him or her slow down his stroke in an effort to hit the ball in the contact area.  Club head velocity will vary for different types of pitches but should always drive the ball.

2. Eliminate unnecessary action. Most hitters complicate the baseball hitting process, which adversely affects their ability to make contact with power and speed. Yet the process is simple: activity performed consistently and repeatedly, with only necessary steps will dramatically improve hitting proficiency. Coach Brock off’s simple, easily related, and precise system of eight hitting steps, or actions, tracks your hitting from the beginning of the process to the conclusion, eliminating unnecessary techniques, such as showmanship and bravado—styles that are more of a hindrance than a help. 

  1. Hit through the ball, not to the ball. The good hitter maximizes his or hitting ability by driving the ball, not by slapping at it. This involves hitting with a controlled explosion, using full body action and generating maximum club head velocity with a good follow through.  This will ensure the bat hitting the ball, not the ball hitting the bat.
  2. Commit to being a hitting machine. The body is a hitting machine, one where all parts work together to ensure maximum output or, in this case, power and contact. Identifying and solidifying the proper position and action for each of the seven body parts in the hitting process will significantly improve your batting average.
  • Shoulders are the platform, providing support for the hands, and the launching pad for going directly to the ball.
  • The head serves as the control tower. It must remain in control of every pitch.  The head ‘hits’ every pitch.  It controls the action of the rest of the body.
  • Arms serve as our springs as the body turns toward the pitch. They must remain in place on the platform until they actually spring out to hit the baseball.
  • Legs provide support and stability. They support the hips and the upper body, standing tall outside of a small crack in the knees.
  • Feet are the foundation of a good hitting stance—the base of all operations. Our feet push against the ground to gain the force necessary to hit the ball.
  • Hips are the drivers—the engine that runs and controls the body by creating a rotary action which turns the shoulders and takes the body as whole to the ball.
  • Lastly, the dynamite action of the hands. The body turns the hands into the direction of the ball and they explode!

 

  1. Know your assignment. The head should be vertical, eyes on a horizontal plane, independent of body action. It must not tilt. Keep your chin over the front shoulder. Backside is the power side, responsible for delivering power to the ball. The backside’s first action is directed toward the ball, with the top hand delivering the knockout punch. Front side (the side closest to the pitched ball), takes us directly to the ball. It includes the bottom hand on the bat. The front side does not power the ball.  Its responsibility is to take us directly to the ball, in a smooth gliding action, maintaining alignment. Center mass is where the head lives.  If we place an imaginary line between both legs, the belly button and the head should be in alignment with it throughout the stroke.  The upper body should not tilt forward or backward but should remain stacked.

 

Want to learn more about how to improve your baseball swing? Coach Brockoff outlines his eight steps in the Super 8 System—a series of videos, guides, and even a bestselling book—that has sent 45 players to the major leagues.  Many of coach’s instructional videos—seen and used by thousands of baseball players, parents and coaches—are being offered at free to the public.  Visit the Super 8 System today at http://www.learnbaseballhitting.com

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