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Monday, February 22, 2010

Are Hitting Mechanics Your Only Ticket to Success? What You Might Be Missing - The perfect swing baseball trainer.
Article Title:
Are Hitting Mechanics Your Only Ticket to Success? What You Might Be Missing

By Nate Barnett

The great Ted Williams once said, "A good hitter can hit a pitch that is over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a questionable ball in a tough spot." In his book, The Science of Hitting, he makes it clear that being a selective hitter made him the.344 lifetime hitter he was. When reading his book, this stood out to me as one of the more valuable and under taught principles in hitting instruction.

Williams spends a good amount of time demonstrating the technique he uses to develop a good understanding of plate zones. What's interesting is that getting a good pitch to hit is mentioned in his book prior to his breakdown of proper hitting mechanics. As a side note, be careful that you spend ample time on the mental game of baseball otherwise you may never fully get to enjoy your hard work you've spent on your mechanical development.

Being a selective hitter is an absolute must at all levels of baseball. Once pitchers observe that you aren't going to bite on a pitch that is out of the zone, a choice has to be made on their end. It's simple; either give you a good pitch to hit and see if you can do it, or pitch around you and throw to some other guy. It's a tough choice either way, and that's how you want it to be. The more thinking going on in the head of your opponent, the better chance he will screw up and give you a fat pitch to hit.

Here's how to learn this concept Williams teaches. I've modified his idea just a bit but the core is the same. I find it easier to break this down by individual points.

1. Grab six baseballs and line them up next to each other on the front of a plate. The six baseballs will cover the entire front end of the plate nearest the pitcher. (Williams uses seven baseballs, though I find that six is easier to fit on the plate and serves the same purpose.)

2. Name the balls numerically beginning with the baseball nearest you as a hitter. The nearest ball would then be the #1 ball, and the furthest ball on the outside corner would be the #6 ball.

3. During batting practice learn to identify what range of baseballs you handle the best. That is, what ball do you get excited to see thrown your way because you know you can tear the cover off it? Throughout my career I knew I could handle balls #2-#5 quite well and could expand that to add the #1 ball if need be.

4. When you have identified your range, #2-#5 balls or #3-#6 balls, or whatever, this range is where you will spend the majority of your time in batting practice. Many coaches choose to work on pitches that are toughest for you to hit. Resist this advice for the following reason. If you know that being selective will increase the likelihood that you will get at least two good pitches to hit in any given at bat on average, then developing your skills to absolutely crush those pitches is a must. If you can hit the balls hard you've chosen in your range 80% of the time, why swing at balls outside of your range that you can only hit hard 30% of the time? Now, please understand that I'm not advocating never practicing the weak areas in your hitting zone; I'm just not advising spending the majority of your time working on those spots.

5. Learn to use the count to your advantage by shrinking your zone. On counts of 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, the ONLY pitch you should be swinging at is one that fits your developing hitting zone. If you can train your eye to recognize the pitches that float through this zone on a regular basis, you're batting average and confidence will go through the roof. Remember, pitchers aren't good enough to identify your weakness and exploit it each time you're up to bat.

While I get a thrill teaching baseball hitting mechanics to my students, I absolutely enjoy teaching hitters to increase their odds at performing to the best of their ability by winning the mental game of baseball as well. While you only get about 10 minutes of time to use your hitting mechanics in a game, your brain is working the entire time you are on the field. Training it to work with your body instead of sabotaging it will be your ticket to some good fun and success in this great sport of baseball.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball. His website is devoted to teaching the mental game of baseball and hitting mechanics. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career.

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