Developing Successful Hitters By: Shannon Miller
Approaching an at Bat • What is a successful at bat? • When a hitter swings on time, sees the ball well, hits the ball hard and executes the skills of the game. • Common Mistakes • Good at bat is when you get a hit. • Fact • Event the best hitters fail 7 out of 10 times.
Mental Preparation • Players must learn to deal with failure. • Mental preparation begins in the dugout. • Some questions batters should be thinking about are: • Does the pitcher show her pitches? • What pitch does she use to get ahead? • Does she have a good off speed pitch? • Does she work in and out or up in the zone? • Does she have a pitch sequence that is consistent?
Mental Preparation Continued • In the Hole • Batter puts on helmet and batting gloves and starts preparing to hit. • Have a mental checklist of physical and mental cues she observed while in the dugout or from a previous at bat. • Control breathing and use self talk to become relaxed and confident. • On Deck Circle • Practice timing of swing off of pitcher. • Visualize hitting the ball.
Physical Preparation • Position in the Box • Allows the hitter to maximize her visual skills and see the ball longer while ensuring a strong base for balance. • Deciding Where to Stand • Consider the pitchers strengths and tendencies. • Good position in the batters box can take away a pitchers strengths. • Main Factors in Deciding Where to Stand in the Box • Movement • Speed
Up or Back in the Box? • Instances where batter stands up in the box. • Pitcher has average to below average velocity. • When pitchers dominate pitch is down in the zone. • When the pitch shows a late break. • Instances where batter stance back in the box. • Pitcher has above average velocity. • When the dominate pitch is a rise ball. • When the pitch shows an early break especially for a drop ball. • When a hitter needs a longer look at the pitch
Types of Stances • Open Stance • Front foot is farther from the plate than the back foot. • Used by a pull hitter. • Allows batter to see ball longer. • Looking to hit inside pitch for power.
Types of Stances Cont • Closed Stance • Front foot is closer to the plate than the back foot. • Opposite field hitters
Types of Stance Cont. • Square or Normal Stance • Both feet are equal distance from the plate. • Equal plate coverage. • Not giving away visible weaknesses to pitcher, catch or coach. • Most widely taught stance.
The Stance • Weight on the balls of the feet. • 60% of weight on back foot. • Feet shoulder width apart. • Knees slightly bent. • Slightly bent forward at the waist.
Stance Cont. • Shoulders level. • Bat at 45 degree angle. • Arms form an upside down “V”. • Knocker knuckles and hands high. • Head level and turned towards the pitcher. • Chin tucked to front shoulder.
The Stride Stride 3” to 5” step with front foot towards the pitcher. Stride onto the ball of the front foot keeping feet square to plate. Hands remain exactly where they started in the batting stance still forming the upside V. Helps the batter with timing, balance and control.
The Swing Swing Hips begin to open. Back heal pivots (heal high). Front leg straightens (pushing toes into ground) Rotate down through the center of the body creating straight line from the head, shoulders, torso and back thigh to the ground. The knob of the bat and the back foot rotate together. Eyes on the ball and chin tucked to front shoulder. Arms fully extend at contact then the wrist roll over. Follow through.
Bunting • Purpose • to help move runners in to scoring position. • Mechanics • Place back foot in the middle to the front of home plate. • Pivot on balls of feet with both feet pointing at the pitcher. • Knees and arms slightly flexed. • Create a small shelf to hold bat with the thumb and index finger. • Angle the bat up to avoid pop ups to the catcher. • Hands high and move with your legs.
Hitting Drills • Tee Drills • Inside Pitch • Helps the batter practice hitting the inside pitch. • Point of contact is out in front and on the inside the plate. • Outside Pitch • Helps the batter practice hitting the outside pitch. • Point of contact is farther back in the zone at the center of the body.
Hitting Drills • Top Hand • Purpose of this drill • When to break wrists. • Swing through the ball. • Bottom Hand • Purpose of this drill • Knob and hands to ball. • Extension of arms. • Contact point.
Hitting Drills • Soft Toss • Purpose of Drill • Focus on contacting ball in front of the body. • Putting the different parts of the swing together. • Allows the batter to do a self check on their swing. • Bunting Drill • Purpose of Drill • Allowing the batter to watch the ball in to the bat at a slower speed. • Practice proper bunting mechanics.
Review • What is a common mistake made by many young hitters? • What are a couple questions a batter should think about when mentally preparing for an at bat? • Where does mental preparation begin? • What are the two main factors in deciding where to stand in the batters box? • Explain an open stance.
Review Cont. • What percentage of your weight should be on your back leg during you stance? • How big should your stride be? • What is the purpose of the bunt? • Name one purpose of the bottom hand drill. • Name two other hitting drills discussed in the presentation.