Hitting’s a difficult skill that’s as much mental as it is physical. If you’re looking for that “one thing” to help your hitters, this might be it.
Could your hitters stand to get better? If so, then check out one simple way that can happen.
We can complicate the heck out of hitting – making all kinds of mechanical changes, tinkering with this, adjusting that and willing to try everything under the sun. All in an effort to make our players hit better in games.
So, what if I told you about a very simple hitting concept, that can make all the difference in the world. And while the concept is very simple to understand, it’s by no means easy to do. But, it’s worth your effort because it will make a HUGE difference.
Here it is: Swing at Strikes and Don’t Swing at Balls.
Now, before you think I’m nuts for believing something so simple, hear me out. I have now heard this same advice from two outstanding hitting experts – Tim Walton, Head Softball Coach at the University of Florida and Yasiel Puig, outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here’s Tim Walton’s story:
- Tim spoke at this year’s Hitting Summit about what makes the Gator hitters so good. The main focus his hitters work on more than any mechanic or technique is to Swing at Strikes and Not Swing at Balls.
- Every day, every front toss, every live hitting round and every game the Gator’s focus on swinging at strikes and not swinging at balls.
Now here’s Yasiel Puig’s story:
- Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig had one of the best seasons of his career this year and tore it up in the post season.
- According to Statcast™, Puig, only swung at 27 percent of pitches out of the strike zone during the regular season, and he chased just 19.8 percent during the postseason — both career bests. His swing-and-miss percentage on in-zone pitches is a career-low 11.9 percent.
While swinging at strikes and not swinging at balls is a very simple concept, it takes diligent focus every day in order to create the discipline needed to carry it out! When hitters force pitchers to throw through the strike zone hitting becomes easier. If hitters lay off pitches outside the zone, the pressure shifts to the pitcher. They start pressing and making mistakes.
Pitchers want to throw as few strikes as they can to get hitters out. By laying off the balls and swinging at the strikes hitters force pitchers to put runners on base – which eventually leads to more runs and ultimately more wins!
For more help with your team’s hitting, check out the vast resources available to you as part of our Vault Classic – join either monthly or yearly – your choice!!
I believe That Paul Reddick has pointed out that 4% of a major league players hits come from pitches out of the strike zone.Swinging at balls out of the zone appears to be unproductive so why swing at balls you don’t practice hitting?
My point Larry
Thank you Cindy for this wonderful point…. In teaching this method for many many years, instead of teaching them to not swing at balls, teach them to swing at pitches in “Their Zone” vs the “Pitchers Zone”. Reason for this is two fold… first, the batter is now not trying to think about “is this a ball or a strike”, they are looking only for “their (type of) pitch” and second, in lots of cases the strike zone can vary a little from umpire to umpire, if they are looking for balls and strikes and the umpires zone in not the same as their zone, then the frustration factor of the batter comes into play and gets them thinking to much. The other thing I add to this is to have the players remind themselves as they are walking to the plate… their job is simple… see the ball hit the ball. Gets them in the mindset of watching and focusing more on the ball, therefore easier to identify “their pitch”.