While developing a good swing is an obvious step to being a good hitter, having good swing mechanics without proper timing is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without peanut butter.
Spring baseball is almost over for many of you. Next up – summer ball, which affords more time for practice and games. As your spring season winds down, following are three things you can do to help transition and prepare for the rigors of summer baseball.
1. Master the skill of timing – While developing a good swing is an obvious step to being a good hitter, having good swing mechanics without proper timing is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without peanut butter. One just doesn’t work without the other. Timing is when you get to a loaded position to swing the bat. Good timing will help you track the ball better (which also helps with plate discipline) and use your lower body to produce power. One of the best ways to improve your skill of timing pitchers is to stand in the batter’s box in the bullpen when a pitcher is warming up. Don’t worry about swinging a bat – that’s why the tee is there. Make time to develop and maintain proper timing.
Remember: If your swing isn’t on time, you don’t have a chance.
2. Study pitch patterns – Why do pitchers throw breaking balls? Why do they throw inside, up and down, and change ups? It’s simple: Good pitchers throw good pitches to prevent undisciplined hitters from getting extension and driving the ball. Like everybody else, pitchers are creatures of habit. If you understand their pitch pattern, you can find success by combining a good swing with an educated guess.
During the spring, spend more time studying pitchers while you’re in the dugout.
3. Limit your strikeouts – I had a bad habit of fouling pitches off when I was in a hitter’s count – 0-0, 2-0, 3-1 etc. That always increased my chances of striking out. The reason: I tried to do more with my swing than was required. To make matters worse, I’d look at another pitch for strike two, and then over swing for strike three. Sound familiar? At times, two strike pitches are tough to hit. The best way to prevent striking out is to avoid fouling off that first strike.
Foul balls are going to happen, but if you stay within yourself and trust the swing that you’ve been working on, you’ll get more hits and less strikeouts.