How To Hit Slower Than Average Pitchers

by Jason K
(Johnstown, PA)

Less is More Hitting Mentality

Less is More Hitting Mentality

My 16 yr old son has been training long distance on the same down and through method you advocate for five years with a relative who was a minor league hitting coach for about ten years (actually helped Miguel Cabrera's swing in 2002).


His swing is great. Every thing you guys emphasize. However, lately the slower the pitching, the more trouble he has with his timing.

80-85 mph pitching is not a problem for him. However, when he plays JV against guys throwing in the 60s -70s, he's frequently hitting weak ground balls and he strides too early. I can't fix it, and his hitting coach (who still lives in Florida) just tells him to wait longer, which he just can't seem to get.

Can you give any advice or drills that we can do for timing? Right now what he does is slowly load his hands in a linear fashion and then strides when he recognizes the pitch and location.

When he plays varsity games, he doesn't have the issue. He is right on everything and lays off the breaking stuff. When he is in jv games against weaker pitching, he is just so early on the fastballs that many of the other kids look better than him even though their swings have so many
flaws.

One thing we just tried is to implement a "slide step" or cocking action of the front leg rather than just a stride. It has seemed to help so far, but the jury is still out. Any suggestions?

Swing Smarter Response:
Great question Jason, and we discussed over email it was funny after reading about your son's swing issue with slow pitchers, I revealed a similar talk I had with some of my local hitting students about the same darn thing just this past weekend. Your ears must've been burning ;) lol

Anyway, there are a few options or adjustments we can make when facing a "poo slinger" OR a pitcher that couldn't break a pane of glass. No offense to those who throw like that because I throw like that now ;)

Your suggestion about the slide step is really good and one I hope most adopt anyway in their swings regardless of the speed the pitcher throws.

As analytical beings, hitters have this mindset when they face a slower than average pitcher, they have to muscle up to get the same distance on the ball as they would swinging easier with a pitcher throwing above average speed. This is because we're all taught the pitcher supplies our power, and we just need to worry about putting the barrel on it. So, a hitter feels his power is being diminished when the person throwing resembles President Obama throwing out the Washington Nat's first pitch this season.

I believe dealing with this issue is mainly mental, but I will include a few swing mechanic adjustments a hitter can make also.

So, what kind of mental approach should we have?

The main mental points in this swing issue are both patience and embracing a less is more swing mentality. Both are pretty high in priority, in facing a below average thrower, but mentally I think, getting into a 70-80% of max swing speed tempo is more critical.

We all know we need to be more patient, but sometimes the batter has a hard time wrapping his head around letting the ball get to him, because his brain is saying to swing harder to make up for the pitcher's lack of manhood...again sorry, I just had to do it ;) Remember, I'm right with you guys who throw that slow.

Telling him to swing less will actually make him more patient. I'm all about telling a hitter one thing that will fix 3-5 things :)

As a hitter, we have to give up some batted ball distance when facing this type of pitcher, whereas instead of hitting a home-run, we're going to have to be content with a triple or double, which isn't half bad...we're still driving in runs and helping out team win.

Here are 5 powerful physical adjustments your son can make with these JV "poo slingers" today:


  1. Incorporating a slide step OR pick-the-front-foot-up-and-put-it-back-down-stride,

  2. Utilizing the 2-step toe tap stride, like Sammy Sosa used to use (or like Josh Hamilton)

  3. Scooting up to the front of the box,

  4. Swing a heavier/longer bat (this is a good one most don't think about), AND

  5. Think about hitting a laserbeam over the 2nd baseman's head (if a righty hitter), AND
    shortstop if lefty.



J, I hope this information helps...definitely drop us a line and update me on your son's status :)

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GB's to second base
by: Joey from SwingSmarter.com

@latest Anonymous comment:

I'm assuming you're a lefty hitting if you're rolling over ground balls to the second baseman when up against slower than average pitchers...

We really have to let the ball get deeper into our Area of Impact if we want to have any positive line drive effect on the baseball. The problem is we're making contact too far out front causing us to roll over.

Try doing the Deep Tee Drill...setup the tee over the middle of the plate and so the ball is just inside the front leg. The goal in this drill is to pull the ball to right center field gap (for a lefty), so the hitter MUST keep four things deep: the weight, hands, eyes, and point of contact.

Hope this helps!

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Hitting slower pitchers
by: Anonymous

This is happening the the same thing to me. But I am constantly hitting groundballs to the second base and first, when facing slower pitchers
Does anybody know what I can do?

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Anything is slop
by: Euroslugger

Slide step, front shoulder high and tucked and front forearm tucked with your weight back and hips cocked thinking of crushing to the opposite field.

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Awesome comment: Heavy Stride Foot
by: SwingSmarter.com

I love that Chris, I can see how kids could really get their heads around a heavy stride foot concept. Thanks again for the fantastic comment!

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Heavy stride foot
by: Anonymous

Hey Joey,
Sorry that I have not responded. The term "heavy stride foot" is just an analogy as to the feeling a lunger or quick strider should shoot for. Slowing down and shortening that stride foot will keep the head still and provide greater one plane vision and balance to hit. So the term itself is really just a description of how the stride foot should operate in a soft, more gradual and controlled manner. You can actually drill with ankle weights on the stride foot to accomplish this for extreme cases.Once again, love the site and your comments.Keep up the great work.

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Right on about the stride!
by: SwingSmarter.com

You hit the nail right on the head Chris about the stride foot. I've been huge on this lately with my local hitting lessons...piggy backing on what you were saying...by minimizing the stride, we better our chances to keep our eyes from moving too much. And we all know the eyes are the key to the hitting soul.

I'm curious Chris, what did you mean by "heavy stride foot?" I'm always looking for new sayings to help kids wrap their head around a concept. Thanks amigo!

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5 for 5 or 0 for 5
by: Chris Walpole

This is a common problem with a young hitter with a good short swing. However, timing is the most critical piece to hitting and always will be. A bad swing with good timing is more effective than a good one with bad timing. I believe that training that front stride foot is essential to consistency for the younger hitter because there is such a disparity in hard to soft tossers at that level. This is even more evident in girls softball where you see flamethrowers all weekend and then come back to a lobber during the week. I like to preach "heavy stride foot", ""slow feet, quick hands, and " drive that middle strike to right field". These are all pretty good cues for the hitter and will help stay away from making an unneccessary trigger to slow themselves down. To often hitters make excuses regarding just this issue. "I can't hit him or her, their throwing to slow", is common. Keeping one's head still to see the ball, staying within yourself(80% swing speed as Joey said) and traing that stride foot will go a long way in making a successful hitter.

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Fresh eyeballs...
by: SwingSmarter.com

No problem Jason, it does help to get someone else's POV, and one more note on the weighted bat idea...even Big Leaguers are advised to swing a heavier bat in the All Star break Home-Run Derby because of batted ball physics. We have to find a happy-medium on bat mass (weight), swing velocity (tempo), and pitch velocity. As a hitter we can control 2 out of the 3 :) Happy hitting!

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Thanks
by: Jason

Thanks for the info. Sometimes it takes a fresh look to gain some perspective. With all of our focus on mechanics we didn't even think about swinger a heavier bat or slowing everything down a little more. I am going to recommend that and see how that works.

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