Category: Line Drive Hitting Tips
The following article discusses the dangers of teaching home run mechanics and highlights the value of the opposite field line drive hitting approach
Don’t believe the hype! There are many “theorists” out there who claim anyone can be a home run hitter. I hate to break the bad news, but 80% of hitters will never develop into a consistent home run hitter. So why waste time trying to hit home runs?
If you are part of the 80% then you have 2 choices: Firstly you can try and defy mother nature and turn yourself into the 20% that hit home runs on a consistent basis. Or, you can face up to reality and work with what God gave you.
When I started out playing baseball I was skinny for my age, but I was fortunate enough to have coaches around me who forced me to hit line drives to the opposite field.
As my body developed and my swing became stronger, doubles started turning into home runs.
The point is a home run swing needs to develop over time, a young hitter needs to learn the value of hitting line drives up the middle and to the opposite field before trying to hit home runs.
Clinton Balgera, founder of TheHittingProject.com and inventor of the Laser Strap Bat Speed Trainer
By not focusing on home runs the hitter will develop all-round skills that will make him a complete hitter.
It is wrong that a young hitter should be trying or expecting to hit home runs, and any hitting coach that is teaching kids to hit home runs should have a serious think about what he is doing to the long-term development of his players.
Hitting home runs is great, however home run hitters also have a tendency to strike out a lot due to the very nature of the home run swing. Ultimately, increased strikeouts are detrimental to a young hitter’s mental development in the game of baseball.
Strikeouts are mentally draining, even for the most experienced hitters.
Teaching hitting methods that reinforce power and home runs will more than likely correlate to increased strikeouts and a lower batting average. Alternatively, teaching the value of line drives at a young age will help nurture a hitter through the development stage of his baseball swing.
Generally, line drives develop into home runs over time. In fact, it is more than likely a hitter will never develop into a home run hitter. When you look at your average baseball lineup, how many hitters would you consider true home run hitters? Maybe 2 or 3 tops. So, why are 80% of hitters trying to be something that they will never be (a home run hitter)?
If you have watched the past few World Series, it wasn’t the home run hitting teams that win, it has been the “line-drive/good 2 strike hitting teams” who come out on top. In fact, during the majority of the playoffs home run hitting teams are shut down (New York Yankees Syndrome). Meanwhile, the teams with the solid line drive approach have the most success. Especially against tough pitching.
A hitter needs to decide early on what he wants to achieve with hitting. There is no use trying to hit home runs, if you only have warming track power. Let this be understood – a hitter who continually hits fly balls to the outfield will find himself on the bench in a hurry! Therefore, it is vital baseball batters define what their goals are, both long-term and short-term. These goals need to be realistic and achievable. The hitter needs to write down his goals and record his progress over the baseball season.
Let’s not kid ourselves, scouts like power, but they also like hitters that can hit line drives up the middle and the other way. This shows experience and poise, scouts know that a good hitter needs to master the opposite field line drive in order to be successful at the MLB level. Scouts also understand that doubles will eventually turn into home runs as the hitter grows into his body and gets stronger.
Young baseball players should be happy with doubles in the gap. Young hitters need to understand that these doubles will eventually turn into home runs as their body gets stronger. In this case, the hitter does not need to make any mechanical adjustments to hit home runs, he just needs to be patient as his body and swing develops strength over time.
Validation of The Hitting Project’s Line Drive Approach…
You watch Miguel Cabrera in BP. He can hit the ball as far as anyone. But in batting practice, he’s all about hitting to right-center field, right-center field, right-center field. He might have one round where he goes in there and tries to feel his extension, but not with the intention of hitting the ball in the seats. He’s trying to square the ball up.”
More evidence this is the correct approach: Trout and Robinson Cano also said they focus on hitting the ball to the opposite field.
“I’m just hitting the ball to right-center,” Trout said. “Maybe I’ll pull the ball a bit to left-center sometimes, but pretty much, I stay hands inside the ball.”
“I always try left field only,” the left-handed-hitting Cano said. “After that, I try to hit line drives.”
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