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Monday, May 23, 2011

Baseball Coaching Digest - Teach Batters to Use Their New Brain When Batting

Baseball Coaching Digest - Teach Batters to Use Their New Brain When Batting
By guest author: Nick Dixon

To me the hitter's brain is his eyes. If you literally try to think yourself through every at-bat, you are in trouble in today's game. The hitter must let his eye's do his thinking at the plate. I consider the eyes a batter's new brain. They must learn to properly use it. This article discusses several coaching points, tips and details related to this approach to hitting.

Teaching young hitters to swing at what they see, not what they think they see or what they think that they are going to see is one of the most important coaching responsibilities as a youth coach. What I mean about this statement is that players have to step into the box realizing that they "never know" what the pitch will be. They should not guess pitches but rather learn to keep the hands back and see what the pitch is and then react.

Several coaching points come to mind when I discuss this process. Many of these are saying that you should teach or convey to your staff and players. Those points are:

1. Always set yourself up physically to hit the fastball on the outer 3rd of the plate, and adjust to hit the fastball in. Notice, I said "physically" set your stance at the plate. I did not say, "Convince yourself that the next pitch is going to be a "fastball away". The key is getting in a position to hit it and being able to reach. Batters should always be ready to hit the fastball away first and then adjust to the fastball in, curveball away, or pitch on the middle 3rd of the plate. The batter must let his "eyes control his hands". The decision to hit or swing comes from the eyes, not the brain. Therefore, the eyes are the hitter's brain.

2. Always set yourself up physically to hit the fastball and adjust to hit off speed pitches. The batter must be able to hit the soft stuff on the outer 3rd of the plate at all times. The batter should always be ready to hit the fastball, but should keep the hands back, and adjust to hit the off speed pitch. The key here is that to be a confident batter, a batter must have confidence in his "hand or bat speed". He must know and realize that if he keeps his hands back, he can still catch up with the fastball, but if he "leaks or cheats his hands forward", he will be incapable of hitting the away fastball and the way off speed pitch. He must learn to keep his hands back and allow his eyes to do his thinking. He must see a pitches location before he reacts. Assuming a position that allows you to see, react, and hit all pitch locations is the key to hitting success.

3. The hitter should never guess. Guess hitting makes a hitter an easy target that will fall victim to good pitches. Hitting is a process of see and reacting, not guessing and swinging. The hitter must see the pitch location before he swings, not guess a pitches location before he swings. The difference is that when you guess, you start too early. When you guess, you have a tendency to start the swing prematurely. The guess hitter may be able to get it right sometimes, and crush the fastball with power. But, more times than not, he will lunge, jump or get out to quick and strike out or pop the fly ball into the air.

4. The only thing a hitter should know is that you "never know" what the pitch is going to be. The key is to trust you eyes as your brain to allow you to be a "see" hitter and not a "guess" hitter. I know that count awareness can give you the edge as a hitter in many situations. If you are ahead, you are more than likely going to get a fastball. If the pitcher is ahead, you are more than like going to get his best out pitch, which may be a breaking ball. But, more and more in today's game, we are pitching batters backwards. So, the absolute best way to hit is to make batting a "seeing, identifying and reacting process" that allows the swing to be triggered, controlled and executed by the eyes.

I hope that you found this article to be useful and informative. You can find more like it at Baseball Coaching Digest, Youth Baseball Digest, Little League Digest, and the Baseball Parent Guide. I thank you for taking the time to read this article. I wish you and your team the best of luck in the coming season. Have a great day, Nick

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, a sports training company established in 1999. Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of the BatAction Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Target Trainer, the SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and the SKLZ Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick