The Six Batting Fundementals
Every player who plays baseball wants to become a good hitter, for hitting is the blood and bone of baseball; without hitting or with weak hitting, the game would lose its color and be uninteresting.
There are six fundamental qualifications that go to make up a great hitter and all except one of them can be acquired. This one qualification that cannot be acquired is that a player must be of average physical strength and have a pair of good eyes. This should not deter a player that is out of shape or has poor vision. Corrective eye-wear can be prescribed and a regimen of strength training through weight lifting can recreate a solid physique. All of the other fundamentals can be acquired:
- A good eye and average physical strength
- Correct balance
- Proper timing
- A level swing
- A good follow-through
- Thinking correctly
All outstanding batters possess these six fundamentals. Of course, any young player who lacks power to drive a ball beyond the infield is seriously handicapped. It is self-evident that a good eye is important for the good batter must see the ball every inch of the way from the time it leaves the pitcher’s hand until it strikes the bat.
Naturally, clear vision and physical strength are the result of healthy living. Anyone who hopes to become an outstanding ball player must perform strength-training exercises and get the proper amount of sleep and nourishing food in order to stay in good physical condition and to fully develop.
Constant practice in swinging a bat will develop correct balance. The batter should stand at the plate in a comfortable, easy, unrestrained position. His shoulders should be level both before and during the swing and the weight of the body evenly distributed on both feet. Hips should be level.
Proper timing is very necessary to great hitters and is most of the one thing that is lacking in poor batters. The distance the ball will go on being struck varies directly with the degree of perfect timing between the speed of the ball and the speed of the bat. Imperfect timing results, more than anything else, in broken bats, when the hitter and not the bat is at fault.
When the bat meets the ball at maximum speed, then the timing is proper. Fast balls should be hit at a certain spot on the bat, while curve balls should be hit at a different place. If a fast ball is hit about an inch from the end of the bat, then the batter is guilty of incorrect timing. A batter who steps too quickly or too late will not be able to time a ball correctly with the maximum amount of power in his swing.
A Level Swing
If you have the tendency to swing down at the ball, you can correct the defect by holding the bat a little lower at the point where you start the swing. If you swing up at the ball, then raise the level of the bat a little to the point where you start the swing. Remember to keep the swing level. Level shoulders and level hips will aid in cultivating the level swing.
A Good Follow-Through
All great hitters have developed the knack of “following through” with the bat after the ball is hit. It is this feat that puts power behind the hot and makes for distance. A good follow-through means that your bat is picking up speed when it meets the ball. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your bat should stop when you hit the ball. Practice the level swing and you will find that aides in the development of a good follow-through. Just remember that you cannot follow through correctly if you swing downward at a ball, you must swing level.
Clear thinking and good judgement are important factors in any competitive sport. A batter must practice constantly to keep in mind where the plate is, so that he can knows whether a ball is going to be over the plate or not. He should so school his muscles that he will be able to stop his swing after he has started it if the pitched ball is bad. He should keep his eye on the ball until it passes the plate because the ball may curve at the last second and become either a good ball or a bad ball. Learn to strike only at good balls and your batting will improve.
Study the pitcher. Try to learn his tricks, determine if his curves are big and roundhouse or quick and sharp. Some pitchers use a change of pace to meet different circumstances. A batter must learn how the pitcher reacts to different situations and be governed accordingly. Try to determine whether the pitcher handles himself the same with the bases unoccupied as opposed to when men are in scoring position.
Most pitchers study each batter carefully and adopt one way of working against one player and entirely different way against another. Try to decide how the pitcher has decided to pitch against you. Determine whether he is a low-ball pitcher or a high-ball pitcher and whether or not he has control. All of these things have a bearing as to where you should stand in the box and also how you should hold your bat.
Acquire the habit of facing the pitcher with determination, confidence and poise. These characteristics come from the batter’s knowledge that he has no weakness against any particular ball and his ability to not overrate the opposition. If a hitter has a decided weakness, he cannot have confidence in himself. The only way in which to overcome such a handicap is to overcome the fundamental weakness. This means practice, practice and then more practice.
A batter must learn to adapt himself and his hitting style to meet the style of the pitcher. Suppose a batter is left-handed and is facing a pitcher who uses a side-arm delivery with a break on his fast ball that gives away from a left-handed batter. Now if the pitcher keeps the ball on the outside corner, then that batter must take up a position near the center of the box in order to effectively guard the plate.
On the other hand, suppose the batter is right-handed and the pitcher has a big, roundhouse curve. In this case it is better for the batter to stand in the extreme rear portion of the box and wait for the curve to break, rather than to stand in front of the box and attempt t hit the ball before it breaks.