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Hitting is anticipating and adjusting based on what we see. There is simply not enough time to react solely based on what you see. A hitter anticipates a certain speed and then adjust accordingly. Timing is often times the hardest thing to teach in hitting. This is a big reason why it is so important for a hitter to be on plane with the pitch, in turn giving themselves a chance to do damage when not perfectly on time. So as instructors, how do we train this? How can we prepare our hitters to be able to adjust their timing?
Often you will see a drill that tests hitters quickness and ability to swing on command. These drills are very common in the baseball world. But what senses are the hitter using to react in time? Often the drill is done with a coach or instructor using “go” as a cue for the hitter to react to. The hitter has to HEAR the cue. However, in a game environment, the hitter adjusts with their vision. Why train reacting to a sense that isn’t used when it matters. This is why when we train to time in hitters we strive to always use visual cues such as this drill.
A hitter’s ability to anticipate a fastball and adjust to off-speed gives them a unique advantage over its competitors. Training that ability is the same, if not more important than training the mechanics of the swing. Help your hitter be on-time more often.
Part of timing is the hitter’s ability to stride while resisting rotation. Often times hitters will rotate their upper half before needed causing timing issues and early rotation off the ball. The unknown of the constraint helps hitters understand their upper body rotation is their timing.
Many hitters struggle with their ability to control their stride. There is often a lunge of fall forward that leaves them off balance and unable to swing at certain points. If their stride doesn’t have control at any point, they will fail in this drill.
Keep the visual cues realistic and don’t use this drill for the intent of tricking the hitter. Mix timings but don’t include a timing that they wouldn’t see in a game environment.