Basic Batting Skills
This first in a series will provide some basic skills needed to improve the hitting, fielding, and baserunning skills of the high school athlete.
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Every coach worth his salt has memorized the phrase “keep your eyes on the ball”. . . but, what exactly does that mean and how can it be put into actual practice? I will provide some hints and actual skills that should improve the athletes average at least 25 to 50 points and cut down severely the number of strikeouts.
As I’m sure you know, a pitched ball does not travel in a straight line from the pitcher’s hand to the plate. Besides dropping at least three or four feet it may move from right to left or left to right as much as 3 feet. This makes it imperative that the hitter focus on the pitched ball all the way until contact with the bat…hence “keep your eye on the ball”. I prefer a different request, though. I will suggest “watch the ball hit the bat” instead.
The next time the athlete is in the cages or taking live batting practice take some white athletic tape and wrap the barrel of the bat right at the “sweet spot” about 4 inches in width. Have the pitcher rub a little dirt on the pitched balls and have the hitter “watch the ball hit the bat” as he swings. Have the hitter get into the habit of watching exactly where the ball hits the tape and tell the coach before he looks for himself. This forced focus to follow the ball all the way to contact will keep his/her head in the perfect position to provide for nature’s natural hand eye coordination to take over. It will prevent head pulling or the natural inclination for the shoulders to take the head out of position.
This basic practice will allow the athlete to hit the curve ball and slider with the same confidence as the fastball. This can also be used when using a lob drill into the fence. The athlete will actually see the dark spot appear on the barrel as contact is made. Good luck and good hitting!