This is a guest post by David; an editor/co-founder of www.theplanetofbaseball.com. Being a software engineer by day and a baseball blogger by night, I also participated in the training activities of a youth baseball team at my hometown. I have passion with baseball, it pertains to my life from childhood until now and I love to share what is related to that passion with others. I believe in the support of other baseball bloggers like me to spread the passion.
Hitting a baseball is definitely one of the hardest things to achieve in spots. It gets even harder the older you get; this is because as you advance from junior to high school, you face pitchers who throw harder and have also mastered various pitches. Learning the fundamental of batting is not easy either, but it’s the only way you can become a perfect and consistent hitter.
One of the most important things that determine the best hit is your swing. This needs to be worked on consistently until it becomes muscle memory; considering once the ball has been thrown, you don’t have time to think. You only have less than 3 seconds to react. Here are five tips that will refine your batting and make you a consistent, skilled hitter.
- Start with the right bat
Apart from carefully selected batting gloves, great batting starts with choosing the right baseball bat. Months of training, coaching, and preparation can all be watered down by a slight error in choosing your bat. Ideally, you should consider your weight, height, arm length and hitting ability, as well as the right weight, length, material, and handle of the bat.
The best way to choose a perfect bat is to try out various bats of the right length and weight, and then find out which one feels at home in your hands. Unfortunately, if you don’t get this first step right, you will struggle big time throughout the entire batting. There are many other factors governing the choice of your bat including the type of leagues you’re playing in and the legality of the bat in relation to your age. For instance, choosing youth baseball bats requires that you know something about 1.15BPF (Bat Performance Factor).
- Hold the bat right
Don’t make the hitting too complicated; simply keep the fundamentals and basics in mind, like holding the bat correctly for instance. Years of experience and practice have shown that the best place to hold your bat is at about 5 to 8 inches from your body. This will help you in swinging the bat through the strike range quickly and smoothly. Hold the bat upwards in a vertical position, and do not let it lie on your shoulders. Keep your upper body relaxed and calm while making sure your elbows are bent parallel to the plate. Additionally, keep your shoulders closed so that you don’t swing too early.
- Stabilize your feet
Balance is the most crucial factor in your swing. It is, therefore, important to maintain balance from the beginning to the end of a swing in order to accurately track the ball. While every hitter has a unique stance, you should generally stand with your fit shoulder-width apart at a distance of approximately 2 bats away from the opposite side of the plate.
In addition to positioning your feet, a nice load can work an extra trick towards achieving the best hits consistently. The load is basically when you shift all your weight on your back foot while your entire body moves together. It should be done in a controlled, slow manner before you initiate a swing. The load is then be followed by the stride, where your front foot strides in line with your back foot towards the pitcher. Following this will give you more stability and balance, which also offers more power.
- Positioning your hands
Many coaches advise that you should not immediately push your hands forward or extend your arms when moving towards the ball. The trick is to start your swing with your hands back so that you can generate extra energy with your core and legs before you finally swing your hands. Your eyes should be on the ball as you make contact. To ensure that you hit the ball at the highest speed possible, be sure to hit through’ your swing. This technique will help you hit and drive the ball with the maximum power possible. Just focus on keeping your hands on the bat and your upper body loose through the batting process. And it might help if you have fitting batting gloves to minimize slip.
- Head position
The rule of thumb is if to keep your head still throughout the swing. To put this in perspective, your chin should move from should to shoulder without actually moving. What is really moving here are your shoulders as they rotate during the swing. If you can manage to keep your head in position throughout the swing, then hitting should be pretty easy.
Word of caution: Do not over-think the above steps during batting; it will only make things frustrating. Practice step by step as you incorporate in the above tips one by one, and soon you will be a natural.
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