“LET IT GET DEEP!”
“LET THE BASEBALL TRAVEL!”
“TRUST YOUR HANDS!”
I can still hear my coaches at every level yelling this from the dugout. Notice I did say at EVERY level. The concept of hitting the ball deep in the hitting zone is stressed by most coaches, but utilized by few hitters.
What does it mean to hit the ball deep in the zone, and why is it important?
It means to let the baseball travel further towards the catchers mitt before hitting the baseball. Most hitters have a tendancy to hit the baseball out front. But, if hitters learn to hit the ball further back in the zone they'll give themselves an advantge for two reasons...
1-Hitters have a longer amount of time to see the baseball, which equates to better pitch recognition.
2-Hitters have much more leverage and power when hitting the ball deep in the zone, versus out front of the plate.
As we touched on above, if so many coaches teach this then why do so many young hitters not allow the ball to get deep?
I honestly believe that FEAR is a HUGE reason why most players don't execute hitting the ball deep in the zone. Let me explain...
The average player has this mindset:
“There is NO WAY this pitcher is going to blow a fastball by me! That just ain't happening!”
Deep down this is what that actually means...
“I am going to look stupid if he throws a pitch by me."
That kind of thinking has fear written all over it. So, how do we fix that mindset?
If FEAR is the problem, ACCEPTANCE is the solution.
Hitter's have to accept the fact that fastballs will get thrown by them. Big deal. It's part of the game.
If you are “ready to hit” (foot down and hands loaded) getting beat by a fastball will happen much less often than you would imagine.
So, what is the right mindset?
“I'm gonna let that thing get back in the zone so I can see it longer and drive a gap."
Have players practice the physical act of hitting the ball deep in the zone however you feel is best during BP. My suggestion is to have them mentally prepare themselves before each round to execute on EVERY pitch. This is achievable in BP. It must be mastered there. After each round, mentally break down why they felt they “had to swing early” on the balls they were out front on. It will help them recognize the fear and begin to eliminate it. The confidence must be built in BP or it will never manifest itself in game situations.
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