One baseball batting tip at a time is enough for any young hitter to try to absorb and implement, because the sheer volume of hitting tips will overwhelm the most experienced hitter. Besides, hitting is such a delicate art, which at times requires minute adjustments, to literally dump volumes of information on the player is quite counter-productive. With this in mind we’re going to learn one Batting Tip at a time in order to build a strong foundation of strategic physical and mental preparation to increase our hitting skills.
It’s safe to say your normal goal as a hitter is to hit the ball in such a manner which results in a Safe hit, after all the game is about runs and you must be on base in order to score.
However, there are times the goal of acquiring a Safe hit, which is always acceptable of course, is secondary to making Contact with the ball and placing it into fair territory even if it produces an out.
When is an out as good as a safe hit? Home half of an extra inning game, tie score, man on third base, 1 out. You don’t have to have a line drive shot into the gap, you’ll settle for a slow dribbler to the second baseman, as long as it puts the ball in play enabling the winning run to score.
Baseball Batting Tip - Solid Contact
This is what’s known as Hitting For Contact and is intended to avoid the Last & Worse result you want in a game deciding situation like this …. a strike out.
One such method of hitting for contact is to shorten your swing, which is referred to as Being Short to the Ball, which, at least for me, the name is quite confusing and has nothing to do with shortening your bat swing which is what pops into my mind.
What it means is narrowing, or shortening the distance the bat travels before making contact with the baseball. Let me explain using a hypothetical set of numbers which I understand, so I know everyone else will be able to.
Example: Let’s say you hit the ball as soon as it crosses the front of the plate. The distance your bat had to travel from the cocked position to striking the ball would be say 2’ 8” … but if you hit the ball as it crossed the back half of the plate, your bat would travel say 1’ 10.”
Baseball Batting Tip
Hitting Deep In The Box
That means your bat will travel 10” more by hitting the ball in the front of the plate vs. deep into the plate, which is 10” more distance for a mistake, such as missing or fouling a breaking ball, or missing a rising fastball. By eliminating that additional 10” of travel you have reduced the chances of missing the ball or to look at it another way, you’ve increased your chances of making contact with the ball, which is exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
Another method for increasing bat control, which increases the chances of contact, is by choking up on the bat, which simply means moving your grip up bat handle, making the bat shorter, which increases the hitter’s ability to get the bat through the hitting zone quicker in order to make contact.
There are three levels of choking up the bat, “no choke”, “half choke” and “full choke”.
Baseball Batting Tip: Keep Weight Back
The “No Choke” is just that, as the hands are at the bottom of bat resting against the knob, which allows maximum performance of the bat’s length and weight.
In the “Half Choke” the hands are moved @ 1 ½ - 2” up the bat away from the knob, which increases bat control by cutting down on the swing.
In the “Full Choke” the hands are moved 2” & above which additionally decreases the swing, almost similar to a Slap swing used in Women’s softball, minus the lower body action.
A word of caution: Be careful your batter is not over choking, that is the hands too far up the bat handle, because it will handcuff the hitter restricting his swing creating an awkward and robot like motion, essentially taking all bat control away from the hitter instead of increasing it.
If your batter has trouble maintaining a choke, there are hitting aids which can be placed on a bat that forces a hitter to choke up, but be sure to check with your league’s rules before trying to use them during a game.
Baseball Batting Tip: Don’t Discount Visualization
Successful hitting goes beyond physical skills and requires a mental aspect, which very much involves imagery or visualization, which is a powerful tool and is utilized by every MLB player as a part of their normal ritual of preparation, whether it be hitting, fielding or pitching.
Baseball Batting Tip
See The Bat Hit ... The Ball
(1.) When visualizing see yourself hitting the ball Through the outfield fence, not over it, as this will help create a level swing instead of an upper cut swing, which produces fly balls.
(a.) As a point of interest, nearly 75% to 80% of fly balls result in outs. This is based on MLB stats, but would also hold true at the amateur level, the greater percentage of fly balls hit result in outs.
(b.) If need be, concentrate on hitting down on the ball, trying to drive the ball into the ground, it’s easier to adjust a swing upwards than downwards. Begin by hitting down … then go up.
(2.) Concentrate on making solid contact, actually see the bat squarely strike the baseball on the sweet spot, coming off the barrel of the bat.
Practice this physical - mental combo and I guarantee your hitting will improve.