Thursday, February 28, 2008
7 Common Traits of Successful Hitters
RT Staff Note: Here's another contribution from Jon Doyle. Visit his web site Baseball Training Secrets.
By Jon Doyle
As you may know there are numerous hitting methods and styles that exist in the world of baseball. They all claim the same thing: that they are the best. So who’s right and who’s wrong? They all are. Now you are probably saying, “This guy must be nuts. What the heck is he talking about? He doesn’t even make any sense.”
My point being is that if a certain hitting style works for a particular player then that style is the best for him. However, that same style won’t necessarily work for you. It may, but it may not. That is because if a certain style doesn’t work for you it’s not the best.
We must remember that hitting is an art. Trying to carbon copy hitters is the worst possible thing you can do. I encourage you to try different approaches, stances and follow throughs to see what works and doesn’t work for you. Let’s look at the 7 common traits shared among great hitters, no matter what hitting method is used.
Believing in yourself and your ability is vital to becoming a great hitter. If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Questioning yourself on deck or in the batters box is pointless because it is way too late at that point to worry about anything. You must trust that the work you put in has gotten you ready to perform, no matter the pitcher or the situation. I firmly believe that most hitters get themselves out more often than the pitcher gets them out. Simply doing the correct preparation, both mentally and physically, can place you in the mind frame needed to be a great hitter.
If you are not comfortable you will not hit. Period. Yes, when first experimenting with a new stance or hand position or whatever you might feel a bit uncomfortable. However, this should soon disappear as you practice this new technique. If it doesn’t disappear it probably is a sign that it’s not the best for you. However, remember that you can come back to this at a later time and it might feel great. That is the beauty of the swing. It can be an ever changing art form. The bottom line is: find your comfort zone and work from there.
3. Baseball Specific Vision
The ability to recognize and react to pitches is evident in all great hitters. You have a miniscule amount of time to see the ball, recognize the pitch, its velocity and location and then have the ability to generate the mechanics to make hard contact. There is a specific way to develop the vision skills that great hitters possess. However, virtually nobody knows about it. Vision drills that use colored balls (Never quite understood this one as we all know a baseball is white with red stitches), video games and other wacky equipment may improve certain aspects of “vision”, but not the vision need to track and react to a baseball. I’ve tried them all on both myself and my students. I have tested them in the real world. I know what works and what doesn’t. This skill is obviously vital as the old saying goes “You can’t hit what you can’t see.”
4. Reactive Strength and Abilities
Your ability to react will determine how good, or bad, of a baseball player you are. The game is consistently challenging you on how quickly you react to different situations. For example do you know where to swing the bat before the pitch is thrown? Of course not. You have an idea of what you want to do with the pitch, but have no clue where it is going until it leaves the pitchers hand. In very simplistic terms you are reacting to the pitch. Great hitters react very well, bad hitter don’t really react much at all. For a deeper, more in depth explanation on this I will be releasing a three-part series titled “The Biggest Secret in Baseball.”
5. Triple Threat Torso – Quick, Powerful and Flexible
You must develop a torso that has the above three qualities. If you lack even one you are severely limiting your potential. Everything else happens as a result of the torso. Leg movement, path of the hands, contact position and follow through all are effected by the abilities of your torso, or core. By developing these abilities every aspect of your swing will improve. Trust me you won’t get the triple threat by training the core in a manner that is shown on late night television infomercials or by balancing on a wobble board. Baseball specific training with the correct exercises, weights and tempo can deliver a triple threat torso to die for.
6. Short Swing
We all know that you must keep your hands inside the ball in order to consistently make hard contact on the sweet spot, especially against a good fastball. No matter which hitting method you follow, a short, compact stroke is a major emphasis and is crucial to success. I like to say, “If you swing is long, your day will be as well.”
If you cannot maintain balance before, during and after the swing you are severely doomed to inconsistent and unimpressive performance. The better your balance the more consistent your swing will be. If you are falling in any direction you will not only make poor contact most of the time, but you will have a hard time putting anything behind the swing.
This does not mean standing on some sill wobble board or stability ball. It means the ability to maintain your equilibrium throughout your swing. This is swing-specific balance I’m talking about here. Don’t be fooled by a fitness and training industry that is riddled with low-level “trainers” who simply don’t understand your needs.
To become a flat out stud, you must be sure that your training is specific to the traits I have listed above. Bodybuilding routines and mindless batting practice will not do the trick.
There you have it, the 7 traits that are found in every great hitter. Experiment with what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. These traits can be developed, usually quicker than you think, with proper training. Develop the qualities that I spoke about and you will be on your way to complete and utter domination.