Hitting, Art or Science?
Hitting is an art, proper mechanics is the tool of the artist.
Many people say that hitting a baseball is the single hardest thing to do in all of sports. Ted Williams believed that all hitting comes from the hips. Pete Rose had an intensity that wouldn't quit. Roberto Clemente had a carefree but knowledgeable approach at the plate that few could match. All of these great hitters had one thing on common. They were the top hitters in their era. Some players are born with great natural ability and some have to spend hours and hours perfecting the art of hitting. Whichever hitter you are, you have to start with a basic knowledge on how to get the best performance out of your body. My goal is to give you that information in this article.
The best physics in the swing comes from "rotating motion". The faster that you can generate your bat, the longer you can wait, the better you see the ball. This builds up more explosive power if you stay in your stance ready to explode.
It's Like a rattlesnake attack - He strikes with the force of his whole body from a coiled position.
I am going to give you an outline that you can follow that will take you through the proper hitting mechanics:
.1. Stance / Position
Walk up to the plate and place your bat on the outside rear corner of the plate. Your arm should be extended not over extended, you should be able to reach the other side of the plate comfortably through the swing. You should be standing with your toes 2-3 feet from the plate (for an adult male).Feet should be slightly farther than shoulder width apart, your weight be on the balls of your feet distributed 70% on the back leg. Slightly bend over at the waist for perfect balance. Your feet should be a little "pigeon toed" or slightly turned in.
You should then mark an "X" in front of the plate dead center. Get back in your stance, look at the pitcher, put your chin on your chest, then slowly lift your chin an inch or two so that your eyes can focus on the ball when you see it in the pitchers hand. Your head is now poised to watch the ball with very little head movement from the pitchers release to the "X" you drew on the ground in front of the plate as the ball travels into the "Hitting Zone". The Hitting Zone is: across the plate from the knees to the arm pit. That is what you are guarding with your swing. (you actually hit the ball in front of the plate, but strikes are called as the ball crosses the plate).
If your stance is right, you will be perfectly balanced (70% of your weight on the back leg), with your eye on the pitcher still ready to explode. The bat should be over the back shoulder with hands loose (it is important to keep you hands loose It will generate more bat speed). If you have any doubts about the balance in your swing take a heavily weighted bat, get in your stance, and swing it, staring slow, then generate speed driving all the way though your follow-through. If you are moving your feet all around instead of leading the body, you are not balanced. If your feet lead and toes point ( as your feet twist) to one of the outfield positions, you have achieved maximum balance.
4. Trigger / Explosion
Everyone needs a trigger. It comes in many ways. The key is not to lose your balance! My bottom hand was my trigger. ( When I knew I was going to swing, my hand gently slid back).Today there is a big push on high stepping. I don't like that (especially in a young hitter), because of the balance factor. Whatever you use to start your swing make it work with the balance of the swing. Remember the rattlesnake, his body strikes all at one time. He waits then attacks.
The follow through will tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. As you Trigger your explosion your feet (at first just twist your feet with momentum- then as you grow use a small linear step to set up the twisting feet) will turn towards the ball as your bottom hand heads toward the ball. (The quicker your feet the quicker your swing - your hands will follow almost simultaneously).Your head stays on the ball as it comes to the plate. Swing hard - generate bat speed. You want a pendulum motion. You will swing as hard as you can, but still control your swing. The swing should be about 95% to start, then as you get better move up to 99.5% of your hardest swing.
Remember you have to be in control and only swing at strikes!!! Once you get the feeling from the ball making contact with the bat when your body is balanced you will generate the most power you can with your body. Just like playing a musical instrument. It is awkward at first. The more you practice the easier it becomes, until you are playing with the confidence of a pro. Then it is just up to improving your body (muscle memory) and adjusting.
If you swing and miss the ball - your head should be either looking at the catchers mitt or at the "X" you drew in front of the plate when you first took your stance. If you don't swing your head should be on the ball in the catcher's glove or an the X. The end of your swing should be balanced forward and back but when you learn how to hit you may fall off a little from the sheer force you have created in your swing. Your front leg is holding you back as your back leg is driving you forward dipping at the knee(to your comfort level)creating centrifugal forces. Body weight starts at 70% back leg in your stance and winds up 50-50 through the swing. The same as walking.
What just happened?
When you start hitting, you will sense all of your body is exploding on the ball with supreme balance. You will feel it from the balls of your feet all the way through your body to your hands. The ball will explode off of your bat. Strikeouts will be fewer (because you can wait longer, you will see the ball better) and more far between. Your average and Runs Batted In, will increase because you will hit the ball harder and with more authority. You will also be on base more because of the walks you will take as you see the ball better.
Your hitting IQ has just risen 35-135 points. When you get down in the count 0-2 you are still confident because you will at least get a piece of the ball to stay alive to hit your pitch. You have now become what they call in the game a "tough out".
This also applies to girls softball. I don't care what your softball coach says The swing is virtually the same. See Batspeed.com. My daughters proved it !!!
Note*** If you don't get what I'm talking about (or if you just want a great drill) use a steel bar 3'long maybe 1.5"thick and practice 25 - 50 swings a day. Keep your hands up don't drop them straight down in your swing. Swing like you are hitting a ball at the letters and follow-through high. Everything I just told you will come into your thinking as you start understanding your body and how to generate this amount of power. Also warm up with the bar before you go to the batters box. You will hit - Guaranteed! - or your money back. The bar will make you understand rotating motion. When you step forward it is linear motion. You can use step as a trigger, but no power comes until you rotate - and you lose valuable split seconds that you have to watch the ball by stepping forward.
Good luck! I hope you have much success. I learned it to late or you may have seen me in the Major Leagues. I'm convinced of that. I was MVP of many leagues around Chicago until 38 yrs old., so I know this works. I think God had other plans for me.