5 Baseball Tips to Improve Contact Hitting

At virtually every level of baseball, making contact at the plate is the primary goal of any hitter. When a hitter steps up to the plate, the object is to put the ball in play. The art of doing so is called contact hitting.

If you are able to consistently contact the baseball, then your batting average and offensive statistics will eventually reflect that. Here are five tips to help you make better contact with the baseball more often.

Tip #1

Keeping your head in is the number one way to increase contact with the baseball. The natural reflex when a baseball is flying towards the plate is to turn away from the pitch. This is to protect your head and face and it is completely natural. Unfortunately, this natural reflex makes it nearly impossible to hit a baseball consistently. Instead, you have to resist the urge to turn away and keep your head and eyes on the baseball all the way through. In theory you should be able to watch the baseball make contact with your bat.

Tip #2

Occasionally it benefits a hitter who is having trouble making contact to choke up on the bat. This means to hold the bat a little farther away from the end. This increases your bat speed thereby increasing the odds that you will make contact with the ball.

Tip #3

The vast majority of great hitters watch at least one pitch per at bat. Many of them watch even more than that depending upon the count. If you’re struggling with contact, make up your mind that you will watch the first pitch and visualize your swing. If the first pitch is a ball, then you will watch another. Continue this until you have at least one strike against you. This will help you to stay ahead in the count and get better pitches to swing at.

Tip #4

Practice striding through the baseball. If you ever watch a Major league baseball hitter, the vast majority of them step into and through the baseball. Many people that have difficulty making contact with the baseball can attribute it to the fact that they step out with their lead foot. Learning to stride towards the pitcher as opposed to opening up will help you to make better contact with the baseball.

Tip #5

The single most important thing that you can do to increase your contact is to practice. While simple and obvious, you would be amazed at the number of hitters who ignore this simple truth. Time in the batter’s box and in the batting cages will increase your contact exponentially. However much time you put into practicing you will get back as points on your batting average. Get out there and swing that bat!


How to Run Batting Practice

Preparing your baseball team for the season requires a tremendous amount of preparation and hard work. As a team manager or coach it is your responsibility to make sure that your team has been given every available opportunity to work on the skills needed to be successful during the season. In this article I will focus on one aspect of the game that is very important to the success of your baseball team, running an effective batting practice.

The very first thing you need to do as a manager or coach in charge of the hitting is to have a batting practice plan for your team. This is not only important in the winter work outs, it is important at every batting practice session. All too often you see teams that have no rhyme or reason to their batting practice sessions. It becomes a glorified home run derby session if it is not organized properly.

Our Method for Batting Practice

My coaching staff and I like to take BP with a purpose. We break it down into 4 rounds. Each round consists of 12-15 pitches per batter.

In the first round we have our batters start off with five clean sacrifice bunts when they first come to the cage. They are then instructed try to hit ground balls and nothing but ground balls with their remaining pitches.

In the second round of the batting practice we work on situational hitting of advancing a runner and moving him over. All too often players do not know how to effectively advance a runner when the situation calls for it. This is why we work on this with each and every hitter during batting practice.

In the third round we work on driving in a runner from third base. How many times have you been frustrated as a coach leaving a runner at third base after two or three failed attempts to get him home? Working on this situation in batting practice can turn some of these situations into runs and some of these runs into wins.

The fourth and final round of the batting practice is to have the batter hit the ball as hard as they can while not trying to hit a home run. I know many coaches will want their players to try and swing for the fences, I do not. I want my players to drive the ball as hard they can in this round. All too many times you see what could be a big inning end because a player was swinging for the fences and flying out instead of hitting a hard line drive into the gap.

The Purpose of Batting Practice

The sole purpose of planning a batting practice is to make sure the batter works on each and every aspect of the game he may face as a batter. Doing this over and over each batting practice, before and during the season, will make each and every hitter on your team a better all around hitter. It will also help make your team become a successful hitting team as well as a winning team.


Top 3 Baseball Pitching Tips

A formidable pitcher can play a major role in catapulting his baseball team’s success. While home runs are said to win the games, pitching is what drives a team to win major series.

Becoming a good pitcher is a matter of learning control, having precision and understanding the fundamentals. Below, you’ll read our top 3 baseball pitching tips.

Tip #1: Don’t Worry About The Swing

Professional pitchers realize that their job is to choose a target and hit it with the intended velocity. If the batter swings and connects, that’s not the pitcher’s problem. So, don’t worry about the aftermath of your pitches. Choose your targets and focus on hitting them.

Tip #2: Speed It Up

If your movements on the mound are slow, it’ll hurt your pitch’s velocity. Quicken your stride. Beginning pitchers often fail to understand that most of the ball’s velocity builds during the lunge. When your front foot makes contact with the mound, the velocity of the ball is already largely determined. So push off hard, with vicious intent, and speed up your stride. Your pitch’s velocity with increase in step.

Tip #3: Think Positive

Don’t laugh. If you ask a pro, he’ll tell you that your thoughts on the mound play a huge part in determining how effective you are. Confidence in baseball (as well as all performance-based activities) is huge. Hitters will try to intimidate you. Don’t let them. When each hitter approaches the mound, you should already be thinking about how you’re going to dominate him.

Becoming a great baseball pitcher takes both experience and an appreciation for the mechanics of pitching. Think about some of the great pitchers you see at the MLB and watch their mental focus.

So go out and buy cheap MLB tickets and get out to a ball game. It’s inspiring.

Bottom line: Focus on your targets, speed up your movements and win the mental game. Your pitches will follow your lead.


How to Coach Little League Baseball

When you coach baseball at the lower levels — I’m talking Little League here — don’t get too fancy. Remember these are young children and you have to keep them moving and engaged. You don’t want kids standing around and being bored, or sitting down and picking blades of grass.

Some Practice Ideas

Let’s say you have 12 kids on your team. Divide them up into three groups of four players. The first group goes to third base and stands in a line. You stand at home and hit the first kid a ground ball. He has to throw it to first. You hit the second kid a ground ball. He has to throw it to first. The point of this exercise is simple. You want the kids to practice getting a ground ball and throwing it to first as much as they can. Hit them ground ball after ground ball after ground ball. You can have a parent or older kid playing first base. After the kids have taken at least 15 ground balls, move the parent to second base. Now the kids have to take at least 15 more ground balls and throw them to second.

Meanwhile, the second group of kids is going to practice hitting. Take them to a corner of the outfield and have a parent throw them wiffle golf balls. Not a regular size ball, but wiffle golf balls. You can pick them up at any sporting goods store. Each kid gets five swings a piece. Then the next kid takes five swings. You do this as long as possible. The wiffle golf balls are much smaller than a regular baseball and they force the player to focus on the ball and swing through it.

The third group of kids goes to the outfield. Three kids stand in line and one kid stands by you. The player by you represents the cut-off man, which they have to hit with the ball chest high. Do not hit the ball with a bat. Have the kids stand about 20 yards away and throw them a pop-up. They have to catch it, position themselves properly and throw it to the cut-off man. Do not throw the pop-up right at the player – throw it to the side of in front of him or her. Make them move for it. This exercise is all about tracking the ball, catching the ball and throwing it to the cut-off man. Do as many reps as you can. Then line all four kids up and throw a ball over each kid’s head – much like a football pass. This makes the player turn and catch the ball over his shoulder. Do not overthrow the ball, just toss it high enough over the kid’s head, so he has to turn, track it and catch it.

Have the kids change stations – ground ball, fly ball and hitting stations when you think it is time. Note that each station is designed to give each player as many reps as possible in catching ground balls and fly balls, while making a good throw to the base or to the cutoff man. The hitting area with the golf wiffle balls is again, designed to give each kid as many reps as possible in tracking a small ball and swinging through it. At this age, little league age, it is all about getting as much fielding and hitting in as possible and that is what these stations will accomplish.

A good drill to end practice with is to pair off the players and make them stand about 15 yards apart. Then the first play throws the second player a ball that bounces in front of him. This is “short hop” practice” and gives the players numerous reps in handling bad hops. The short hops should not be thrown hard. This is just to improve the glove work of each player.

To give you an idea of the sorts of things you can try, here’s a brief video of some practice drills:

There you have it. A short practice where no player is standing around and they get as much practice as they can in handling groundballs, fly balls, throwing and hitting.


How to Hold and Swing a Bat in Youth Baseball

Note: An article contributed by little league coach Henry Stevens. A special thanks to him for this great technical advice on swinging.

I love coaching and managing little league baseball. The only thing I loved more was when I played. I was always a good hitter. I had quick wrists, a discerning eye and good hand to eye coordination.

One of the most important things to me in hitting was to get a bat that “fit” you. There are important differences to the player; the length and weight of a bat will make a big difference. The length of the bat will be determined by the height of the little leaguer. The weight in ounces will be proportionate to the size of the bat. An example would be a 29″ long bat with a weight of 17 ounces. The grip will also need to feel comfortable.

Once you have the bat picked out, you have to develop how you will face the pitcher. What will your “stance” be like? That means how far back in the batter’s box will you stay. It also means how close to home plate will you stand. Other factors such as having an open stance(facing the pitcher with the back leg close to home plate) or a closed stance( head looking over your front shoulder and your front leg close to home plate) will be decided. Either way, you want some bend to your knees and your weight towards your toes. Then we get to the grip, or how to hold the bat.

Little league baseball hitter

You do not want to hold the bat too tight. That creates a tense, clinched, tight hold on the handle. Put your bottom hand approximately one inch above the bottom knob of the bat. Put your other hand directly on top of your bottom hand, and keep the knuckles of both hands lined up even. Next is to hold the bat firm, not squeezing it too tight, in the palm area of both hands. Do not bury the bat deep in your palms, but at the bottom part of your fingers, where they meet your palm.

Your front arm should make a 90 degree angle, bent at the elbow (similar to the letter, “L” lying on its back) and held about 6 inches away from your chest. The back arm should also form a letter “L”, with the elbow facing down. The hands should be at shoulder height and the barrel of the bat forming a 45 degree angle over your back shoulder. That is essentially the way that the bat is held.

Hitting is 30% grip, 20% stance and 50% recognition. By recognition, I refer to knowing in an instant what type pitch is being thrown and then timing your swing. You follow the ball all the way in with your eyes, keep your head still, step forward towards the pitcher’s mound, turn your back hip and back leg inward and extend the arms through the ball and snap the wrist just as the bat meets the ball.

It is a difficult task to do all of this with consistency. That is why the best hitter’s in baseball are successful 35 or 36% of the time,(a .350 or .360 batting average). At the time of this writing, the batting average leaders are Ichiro Suzuki in the AL @ .364 and Hanley Rameriz in the NL @ .340. Baseball , especially the art of hitting, are not as easy as it looks.