Bottom of the 9th, two outs, and it’s the championship game. You are playing shortstop and you are about to have a chance to make the game winning play. You have two options.
Would you rather have…
A) An easy pop fly?
B) A hard hit ground ball to field and throw the runner out at first?
I think we can agree on (A) right? I bet Bill Buckner would definitely go with (A) on this one.
A pop fly requires one action to record the out. Catch the ball in your glove before it hits the ground. Easy enough.
A ground ball on the other hand, preferably well hit, has three things that must occur to record the out:
1. Field the ball cleanly. 2. Throw the ball accurately to the base. 3. Another player must catch the ball at the base being thrown to.
If hard hit ground balls are harder to defend, don’t you think that should be your objective at the plate? It is simple math. Make the defense work three times as hard to get you out. Give them three ways to screw up rather than one.
Hard hit ground balls lead to more hits and more errors, which creates a higher on base percentage, which gives your team more runners in scoring position.
SO FOCUS ON HITTING IT HARD AND ON THE GROUND!
I'm not preaching to ONLY hit ground balls. And I'm definitely not advocating hitting weak “rollover” ground bal ls. But the fact of the matter is, hard hit ground balls turn into hard hit line drives. Hard hit line drives, turn into balls driven into the gaps and out of the ball park. You have to learn to walk before you can crawl. You have to learn to hit that hard ground ball before learning how to effectively “drive” the baseball.
Give this some serious thought during batting practice. While others are swinging for the fences, focus on making solid contact and hitting down and through the baseball. Line drives and homeruns will come naturally. Don’t force them.
Good luck. Let us know how this works for you.