Tips For Better Hitting Approach and Better At Bats
You hear a lot of coaches, myself included, talk to hitters about having an approach at the plate. What this basically means is, have an idea of what you want to do before you step in the batter’s box. I want to go over a few things to let you fully understand what this entails.
The main thing I want to stress is to pay attention. Hitters can gather a ton of information by just observing what is going on in the game. Major league hitters have the option of looking at film on a daily basis, tracking pitchers they’ve faced before, and finding their tendencies. For most of us, we are not privy to that type of set up. We have to do it by memory or on the fly.
The first thing you must understand is you. We all have a bunch of stuff going on on a daily basis. We don’t feel the same everyday. Some days you may feel stronger than others. Some days you may feel weaker than others. This can affect your swing. Depending on how you feel, adjust your approach. If the bat feels slow some days, look more for pitches out over the plate, let the ball get deeper and drive the ball the other way. If you are feeling a bit stronger, maybe look more for pitches to pull. Changing the bat size/weight can also help.
Second, always be aware of the weather conditions on game day. For us northerners, the two biggest factors are going to be cold, wind. If the wind is helping ball flight to the opposite field, by all means adjust your stroke to play into that strength. There is nothing worse than crushing a ball and having the wind just kill it. On cold days, the last thing a hitter wants is to get jammed. Look for more pitches out over the plate to avoid the sting (do I even need to say anything to the pitchers out there reading this about where they want to throw the ball on those days?).
So we have covered everything up to the game about things that can affect our swing. Now let’s get into in-game swing management. Here is where the “pay attention” part really comes in. First and foremost, watch the opposing pitcher warm up and know what pitches he throws. Don’t want to be walking back to the dugout shaking your head saying, “Didn’t know he threw that pitch.” During the game, watch how the pitcher pitches to other hitters in the lineup. He may be getting into a pattern. If you can pick up on that pattern, you have a huge advantage. For instance, every time he misses with a breaking ball, he throws a fastball. Or vice versa, every time he throws a strike with a fastball, he throws a breaking ball. Pay attention. Also, what is his best pitch and when and where does he like to throw it? On what type of pitch does he get most of his outs? Does he throw the majority of his pitches on the same side of the plate? Is he struggling to throw any one pitch for a strike? You can learn a lot by just watching (again, you pitchers out there, are you listening?). If you can narrow down the type of pitch the pitcher will throw and the location, your batting average just went up a hundred points.