• ASK THE PROS: How to Become a Better Baseball Hitter
  • Choose Your Weapon

    No matter what level you’re at, it all starts with finding the right bat. Baltimore recommends finding the heaviest bat you can swing the hardest, to maximize force. Neither bat speed, nor control should be sacrificed for extra weight. Know your limitations. If you can’t properly harness your bat through the hitting zone, reduce the weight until you can. However, all things being equal, heavier bats will hit the ball farther. So if you can handle wielding a bigger bat without sacrificing velocity, by all means go for it and swing for the stars.

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  • Step into the Batter’s Box

    If you watch big league baseball, you see a lot of variety in batting stances. They range from the generic, to the bizarre. But if a Major League player is using it, by definition it works. If you’re stuck wondering how to align your stance, consider keeping your body square from your head to your shoulders.

    If you (or your child/player) have an open stance (meaning the front foot is far away from the plate) you may be moving inward with your lower body instead of stepping towards the pitcher, which can hinder your body’s rotation and bat speed. Baltimore recommends focusing on striding with an open stride angle towards the mound instead, while making sure your front foot lands with weight on your heel. That will increase both your leverage and your rotational body speed, which in turn will improve your hitting performance.

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  • Use Your Legs

    One of the biggest mistakes young players make is exclusively using their arms without utilizing their lower body or shoulders, says Baltimore. This also drastically reduces bat speed, causing kids to unnecessarily opt for a lighter bat off the rack. He reminds players that hitting is largely dependent upon your lower body and that channeling your forward momentum into both hip and shoulder rotation is the key to maximizing bat speed.

    Baltimore also suggests taking less pitches. Young players have a tendency to let hittable pitches go by unchallenged. You’re up there to hit, after all. Don’t let a fear of striking out freak you into standing still. “Swing hard in case you hit it,” says Baltimore and remember: You’re not trying to impress Billy Beane with your amazing ability to walk—just yet. So feel free to let it loose and crush any pitch you think you can.

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  • Work on Your Mechanics

    Sure, live BP and getting in the batting cage can help refine your technique but you can work on your mechanics at home as well. If you have a full-length mirror in your house (or even a sliding door that gives you your reflection), that can be an excellent (and free) training tool to fine-tune your swing. Learn how to take cuts correctly by watching your body’s motion in real-time. Baltimore suggests working hard outside a cage by practicing three basic moves: “step, spin, swing.”

    The “step” or stride builds momentum; the “spin” rotates the body and builds power for the swing. The “swing,” itself, should be in a circular path around the body and be shaped slightly upward to match the path of the incoming pitch. Avoid outdated advice such as “get your elbow up, swing down at the ball, keep your head down and throw your hands at the ball.” Those pearls of wisdom from generations past “defy the laws of physics as they relate to successful swings,” says Baltimore.

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  • Hone Your Talents

    Finally, you should know that there are plenty of tools available to hone your talents. These can include new developments that come from a combination of research and technology. Or it could just include a cross-generational staple, like a batting tee. Tony Gwynn, the last hitter to truly challenge the .400 mark, swore by tees, taking 150 hacks off of them daily. The brilliance of a tee is that you can set them up anyway you want. You don’t need to wait for a friend to toss a pitch in a perfect location. Simply adjust the tee to whatever area of the zone you struggle with. Obviously the worst part of tee work is the constant fetch quests associated with locating balls. If that’s an issue you want to avoid (and don’t have a team to shag for you) a net will do wonders with stopping your liners before they have a chance to go anywhere.

    While it’ll definitely take more than this to transform you (or your ballplayer) into the 21st Century’s version of Ted Williams, it’s always important to establish a foundation. In the short-run, remember: If you combine the right training, tools, and technique, you can drastically increase your reputation as a masher. Besides, terrorizing your league’s stable of pitchers is fun no matter what level you’re playing at.

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ASK THE PROS: How to Become a Better Baseball Hitter

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From the tee-baller smacking his first ball to the Major League vet trying to squeeze the most out of his prime, every make and model of ballplayer yearns to perfect the art of hitting. And when you think about it, it makes sense. If you complete three out of 10 passes in football, that’s not very good. If you make three out of 10 shots in basketball, that’s not good either. But if you get three hits in 10 at-bats at the dish, you’re basically a perennial All-Star. Hitting is a difficult skill to develop, and what that leaves is a lot of room for improvement, from Little League to the Hall of Fame

With young kids, a good place to start is with the basics, and from that foundation you can begin to build the next Jose Abreu. Jordan Baltimore, founder of New York Empire Baseball, has spent years developing players of all ages. Here, he weighs in on the steps to take to become a better baseball hitter.