How To Hit Slower Than Average Pitchers
by Jason K
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
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:
- Incorporating a slide step OR pick-the-front-foot-up-and-put-it-back-down-stride,
- Utilizing the 2-step toe tap stride, like Sammy Sosa used to use (or like Josh Hamilton)
- Scooting up to the front of the box,
- Swing a heavier/longer bat (this is a good one most don't think about), AND
- 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 :)