Hitting - Getting Good Consistent Contact
In this era of power hitters, often young players equate good hitting to pulling the ball. They think that by trying to pull the ball they will be able to hit with more power and be more successful. The majority of power hitters who also hit for high average hit the ball hard and have power to all fields. You want to be a hitter than can hit the ball to all fields, but your goal will be to hit between the power alleys.
The Sweet Spot
Every bat has a sweet spot right around the barrell of the bat that will produce the best results when hitting a baseball. As a hitter you need to have as one of your goals to try and hit the baseball on the sweet spot every time you hit the ball.
Understanding the Point of Contact
If we agree that we want to hit the ball on the sweet spot, we also need to realize that we decrease our chances of hitting the ball with the sweet spot if we are swinging early trying to pull the ball. The image below shows how the size of the sweet spot is reduced the more the bat is angled. So by swinging early and trying to pull the ball we are decreasing the chances of getting the good part of the bat on the ball.
So how can we hit the ball to all fields and still hit it on the sweet spot? - The answer: We're going to try to hit the ball to the power alleys letting the ball travel in closer to the plate before hitting it and using our arms and hands to deliver the sweet spot of the bat to the ball.
Hitting to the Power Alleys
The power alleys are defined as the gaps in the outfield between the left and center fielder and the center and right fielder. By trying to hit the ball from power alley to power alley you're giving yourself the best opportunity to:
- Hit the ball on the sweet spot of the bat
- Keep your bat in the hitting zone longer
- Stay balanced throughout your swing
- See the ball longer and avoid swinging at bad pitches
- Keep the ball fair
- Improve your batting average
Using Your Arms and Hands
You will pop your hips more open on an inside pitch than you will on an outside pitch, but it's really the relationship of your arms and hands to your body as you swing the bat that will determine whether you hit the ball on the sweet spot of the bat.
In the past it has be taught that your want to hit the ball with full extension, meaning your arms are straight on contact. This is incorrect! The only time your arms should be at or near full extension is on an outside pitch that you need to extend your arms to get to. On an inside pitch your arms should be bent more than on a pitch down the middle of the plate. The goal should not be to have your arms and hands coming through at the same spot each time but rather to have the arms and hands, deliver the sweet spot of the bat to the ball every time, no matter the location.
Don't be Afraid of Getting Jammed
All hitters get jammed from time to time, but some hitters let that dominate their thoughts and it will affect their timing and swing. If we are waiting and not lunging after pitches, both good things, then we're going to get jammed from time to time. It's going to happen, and yes it can sting a little when it happens, but it also let's you know that you're waitiing on the pitch. Realize that just like being a little out front, getting jammed means you're a little late. It's really a small adjustment that you need to make, not a big problem that you should avoid by starting your swing too early in order to avoid it.