There are a handful of good batting habits that are easily forgotten but can revolutionize your swing if given the correct consideration. These are five of those tips, ranging from positioning to strike motion. This is intended as a brief checklist to a younger player, or coach.
Everyone has their own nuances and rituals at the plate, but when practicing your swing it is always good to remember certain key points that will only improve your performance with every repetition. The problem is that we tend to hear just about every batting tip once or twice, and they just fall by the wayside as knowledge of the game is increased and groomed. For posterity sake, here are a few key points to take with you to the batting cage that you’ve probably heard before. The tips guaranteed to improve your batting average by time, especially if you are a young player, or aspiring coach:
• Athletic position
The truth is that all good batting stances come from the classic athletic position. Every sport from golf to football teaches the importance of beginning in the athletic position to work from a place of power. Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and knees bent slightly. Shoulders, head, and butt are all square with the ground. At first this will feel odd but it is best to find a comfort zone in this position immediately. The position gives you strength, balance, and focuses your strike zone forcing the pitcher to work with less space.
• Choke Up
It may not feel like the power is completely there, but choking up on the bat will allow for greater control and a more accurate swing. Most batters choke up after taking two strikes, but for the inexperienced (and especially when teaching young batters) try to encourage the smart habit, even in a batting cage situation. A controlled, confident swing that regularly produces results is the end goal, not a power hitter that never makes connection with the ball.
• Eye on the Ball
Every young batter hears this a million times but keeping your eye on the ball could be the most important tip on this list. It isn’t even just enough to recognize the outline and shape of the ball. You have to focus on the ball, make an effort to trace its laces with your eyes and watch as your bat makes contact. The hands and arms tend to follow where the eyes go, use this biological fact to your advantage. Practice this from the batting cages to in game because the rewards from this good habit will always compound.
• It’s All in the Hips
We tend to forget that our bodies function to move as a whole entity rather than as individual parts. Just as the hands follow the eyes, the arms and the chest follow the hips. Pivoting your hips into the swing will add power. Opening your stance with a strong pivot motion will cause your chest and arms to follow suit, and that’s where the real strength comes from, not just swatting at the ball using just your arms.
Like everything else that is hard, hitting requires hours of practice to really become competent at it on any level. Stance, timing, even breathing are all nuances that should be experimented upon and groomed to form your batting stance, and even then it can always be tweaked or perfected. For younger batters begin with slow, controlled practice at a batting cage and work at it constantly. 50-100 swings a day outside of the teams scheduled practice is recommended to really make your batting become something special. Always remember that you get what you put in.