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After watching the video above, I think you would be able to say that every single swing was taken with authority, purpose, and the plan of ruining a pitcher's day. If your player is not training with these same qualities, they are, without a doubt, falling behind. If you watched the most recent all-star game what you saw was non-stop action for ten innings. Every single run scored in the game was via the home run. Against the best pitchers in the world, the likelihood of stringing together three straight hits is nearly impossible. These hitters knew they had to go up there with the intention to do damage and that's exactly what they did, totaling an all-star game record 10 home runs.
As researchers and instructors, we are always looking for the technical advantage for our players. We study how the human body is supposed to work and how it can be used in the most efficient way to strike a baseball with accuracy and force in the shortest amount of time possible. We want our players to have an understanding of the key components and principles of a great swing pattern. The principles include but are not limited to, vision, hip and shoulder separation, and stride direction. All of these principals have a very important place on the "hitter's totem pole" so to speak. Without these components working together as a system, the player can not reach their full potential. This is not to say they can't still be good players, they simply just won't be working at maximum potential.
Important as all of those principles are, there is one underlying concept that seems obvious but is rarely seen. Intent. There are many variations of the word "intent," but put simply it means "what you are planning to do." If your dream is to be a great hitter, then there is only one kind of intention that works and that is the intent to crush the baseball...all of the time.
When a new client comes in for an evaluation, one of my favorite questions to ask them is, "So when you come up to hit, what are you trying to do?" Nine times out of ten, the response I get is, "To hit the ball." This is the mindset we see when a hitter is scared to swing and miss. They most likely have been handcuffed into believing just making contact is the goal of hitting. While it is embarrassing to swing and miss, it shouldn't be seen as a failure. I would argue that success at the plate lies in taking a great swing with great intentions, whether they get on base or not. If they have the swing pattern and more importantly the intent, I don't worry about the results - they will come.
As a staff, we tell our players that mistakes at top-speed don't matter. We want top-speed and aggressive mistakes. It does the instructor and the player no good to make mistakes while going slow to ensure contact. Don't get me wrong, there is a phase of a player's training where they must learn to walk before they can run. However, they need to top-speed as soon as possible. I often make the comparison to a first-time swimmer. If they were to jump in the deep in of the pool without the ability to swim, would they swim slowly to make sure they were doing it correctly? The answer is no, and it needs to be the same answer when a hitter is learning to turn correctly. The hitter must be willing to take aggressive swings and fail in practice in order to become more successful in games. I will fully admit that one of my biggest challenges as an instructor is to not be over technical. Quality instructors spend a lot of time analyzing every single movement from a technical view, which they need to do. They also must be careful not to fall too deep into the technical hole which will at best produce good technique in a robotic fashion.
Intent can also lead to success in games. Intent has everything to do with hitters going into slumps as well as going on hot streaks. When it's going well for a player and they feel like they can hit anything, they aren't worried about making contact. They know that contact will happen and they aren't anxious to take their best swing. However, when they start to struggle and second guess themselves, the goal then becomes, "let me just put a good swing on this" or "if I can just make contact here". These thoughts and swing goals are passive and set up a hitter to swing slowly. So when a hitter feels like they are in the biggest slump of their life, chances are their intent to do damage isn't there.
Young lefty shows both technical skills and serious intent to crush the ball at all locations.
The young lefty you see above is an example of a great kid who has changed his swing for the better. He has worked extremely hard and kept a phenomenal attitude through the good and bad times of his training. However, he never fully came into his own until he understood and believed that he could take the hacks you see him take now with no fear of missing. If you notice in the series of pictures below, he was able to have almost identical swing patterns with intent to crush the ball on all pitch locations. This entire series of eight swings took place during two rounds of five where he crushed every ball at every location. It was a very inspiring round for him and myself, hence the video and this article.
The Med Ball Throw Drill will help hitters practice to move their whole body with intent.
Eric Tyler, Hitting Instructor at Baseball Rebellion