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How To Get More Out Of Batting Practice

Written By: Eric Tyler

How To Get More Out Of Batting Practice

We all know the 5 o’clock hitter. The guy that looks like Barry Bonds in batting practice but Chas Pippitt in a game (sorry Chas). Hitting a baseball is one of the most complex functions in sports. A hitter can do everything right and miss the ball by a quarter of an inch and ruin everything that was good about the swing. So how can we train hitters to perform in games and not just have a pretty swing? 

There is a difference in swinging and hitting and this is one drill to make batting practice more game-like to become a better hitter. 

One Drill to Make Batting Practice More Game-Like 

Swinging vs. Hitting

Tee work, front toss, over-hand batting practice, and maybe a little machine work. I would say that is the core of batting practice with even machine work making a surge as of late. These are all great ways to get more swings in and get better at swinging a bat. Which, to be clear is a very important skill to have as a hitter. 

But, isn’t there more to hitting that being good at swinging? Timing, adjustability, control of the barrel all play a major role in hitting at a high level when the lights come on. Having a good swing allows for the possibility of good results but doesn’t guarantee them. So how we organize batting practice can dictate how prepared hitters are for game at-bats. 

Mixed Toss Batting Practice

By mixing how the coach tosses the ball into the hitter, what they are doing is changing the angle at which the ball gets into the hitting zone. This angle is crucial when it comes to barrel path and making sure a hitter can cover the entire zone.

The adjustments in angle can represent the differences in the angle of a fastball entering the zone compared to an off-speed pitch. Different pitches require different swings. The better a hitter gets at recognizing the angle of the pitch and matching it with the proper swing path, the more adjustable that hitter becomes. 

Adjustability in Batting Practice

A hitter having the ability to adjust their swing to what the pitch is doing is crucial for them when it comes to hitting in a game. No two pitches they face will be the same. Whether different velocity, spin rate, angle, movement, or location, the pitch will always present something different. As a hitter, it is your job to recognize that and adjust accordingly. 

Improved Barrel Control and Vision 

  • This drill forces hitters to adjust in a timely manner, and do to so they must understand where their barrel is and how to move it through space.
  • Not only that but they must understand where the pitch actually is.
  • Too many times do I ask a hitter where they thought the pitch was and they guess nowhere near where it actually was.
  • Puts an emphasis on understanding where the pitch is and how they need to attack it.
  • So instead of focusing solely on their swing and how they’re moving (again there is a time and place for that), their focus shifts to where the pitch is and how they can be successful against that pitch. 

Other Drills That Help Improve Barrel Accuracy 

How Good Can You Be?

There is always a time and place for swing practice. A bad swing with a great approach may create game success. However, it will never be as productive as that hitter can possibly be. It takes both. For a hitter to reach their true ability and maximize their talent they have to put in the time for both a good swing and good approach. This is a great drill to test both and make sure your hitter is ready for game action. 

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