It is every baseball hitter’s dream to improve their average and hit for power, but, as most people quickly find out, hitting a baseball has to be one of the most difficult things to do in baseball. The good news is that with the right tips, practice, and mindset, you can go from hitting like an amateur to hitting like a pro.
In this post, we will take a look at 10 baseball tips for hitting like the pros.
1. Choose the Right Batting Gloves and Bat
One thing hitters can easily overlook is choosing the right gear. If you are looking to be a good hitter, you want to make sure that you choose the gear you are most comfortable using. There are a lot of different pieces of gear to choose from and we’ll briefly cover batting gloves and bats below, but if you’re interested in reading more about the different types of gear used in baseball, feel free to check out my previous article that goes more in-depth on the types of equipment used in baseball.
One of the first pieces of gear a hitter will look at is their batting gloves, if they use choose to use batting gloves at all. Choosing the correct batting gloves can be the difference between swinging with power and swinging for contact. so you’ll want to make sure that the batting gloves you choose are gloves that fit well in your hands and are comfortable.
To find the right batting glove size, you want to take a measure from the base of your palm, all the way to the tip of your middle finger, and once you are done compare that to a batting glove chart. Generally, the more snug the batting gloves are, the better. For a more in-depth look at choosing a size for batting gloves, check out this batting glove article from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Also, you want avoid using a wrinkled batting glove. Wrinkled batting gloves tend to cause blisters, which affects your grip. And as we know, having a great and strong grip helps you improve swing speed.
Another important piece of gear to choose correctly is the bat you’ll use. Lots of baseball players like to share information on the types of bats their purchasing or thinking about purchasing, but you do not want to get a certain bat because all your friends are getting it. Instead, you’ll want to get a bat that feels good to hold.
The bat you’ll use determines the accuracy of how you’ll impact the ball during your swing as well as determining your swing speed. You do not want to choose a bat that is too heavy or too light so make sure the bat you choose is just the perfect weight and length and feels comfortable when you hold it.
To help give you a good idea of where to start when selecting a bat, check out this baseball bat sizing article from Baseball Monkey where they even have a handy chart that shows the recommended weight and length of a bat based on a player’s size.
2. Have Confidence at the Plate
When it comes to improving your hitting, whether in practice or during a game, having the right mindset is non-negotiable. Even if all the other tips laid out in this article are followed, there is no way a player can become a great hitter without the correct mindset.
Every professional player has the right mindset, which is why they are good at what they do. Doubting yourself before stepping into the batter’s box is a recipe for a strikeout.
What does it mean to have the right mindset in baseball?
Having the right mindset means you have confidence in yourself that you are going to hit a good amount of pitches, no matter how good the pitcher is. Also, believing that all the hitting drills you practiced in the cage have made you better. All pro players have confidence at the plate because of all the time and energy they’ve put into developing their craft so remember that having the correct mindset will come with time and practice.
How can a hitter have a good mindset at the plate?
Hitters can gain confidence to hit a baseball by:
- Taking a deep breath before entering the batter’s box
- Studying the game and the pitcher while on deck.
- Have a plan before entering the batter’s box. This could be wanting to hit the ball hard, bunting to move a baserunner, performing a hit and run, etc.
- Have confidence in your swing and attack the pitch aggressively
- Do not overthink, just relax.
Doing these should elevate the state of your mind and improve your chances of getting on base.
3. Improve Pitch Timing
One of the best ways to ensure you make contact with the baseball has to do with improving your timing. Timing is everything because, without the right timing, all you will be doing as a batter will be swinging without making any contact with the ball.
As a hitter, you want to make sure that you focus on when the pitcher is about to deliver a pitch before you swing. To have good timing, you want to make sure you tune yourself with the pitcher as he winds up, and you can do this by beginning your swing just as the pitcher is about to deliver the pitch.
One mistake a lot of amateur hitters make is to stand still while waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball. They do this because they want to see what type of pitch is being thrown and whether it will be a strike or a ball.
Standing still and waiting on the pitcher is a bad idea because, by the time the pitcher throws the ball, your body would be delayed in gathering the energy needed for the swing. To counteract this, hitters will begin their swing as the pitcher is delivering the ball. This doesn’t mean that hitters will swing every time, but it does mean that hitters will have to read the pitch as they are towards the beginning of their swing.
If the pitch is a ball then you can let it go by, but if the pitch is a strike then your body is already in a great position to perfectly time the pitch.
How to improve batting timing
One of the most effective ways to improve your timing as a hitter is to practice with your team’s pitchers when they are throwing bullpens. Another great way is to have a hitting coach watch your swing and make recommendations on how to improve your timing.
4. Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
If you are looking to improve your contact with the ball, then you need to have great hand-eye coordination. All pro players practice their swing in order to improve their hand-eye coordination, which helps them make contact with the ball more often. There are a couple of drills you can engage in to help you see the ball much better.
How to Improve Hand-eye Coordination for Baseball Hitters
Train with Smaller Bats or Smaller Baseballs
Training with smaller balls or a smaller bat is a great way to improve hand-eye coordination. Doing this drill helps you see the ball much better because if you can hit these smaller balls, then hitting a much bigger baseball wouldn’t be a problem. Most of the small balls used for baseball drills range anywhere from 2″ to 5″.
Study the Pitcher
Another way to make sure that you see the ball better is to study the pitcher before the game to see how he is releasing the ball. Most pitchers practice their throws before entering the mound, so you want to watch as the pitcher is practicing in the bullpen.
Studying pitchers while they are in the bullpen should help you determine where the ball will be coming from once you get in the batter’s box. You’ll want to know whether he is throwing submarines, throwing sidearm, or throwing over-the-top. All small pieces of information help!
Also, you want to study how that pitcher throws their fastballs and curveballs. You’ll want to see the pitches they are struggling with and the ones they do well at getting over the plate. Knowing this information can give you an idea of what you expect once you get into the game with them.
5. Have a Consistent Batting Stance
Once you get into the batter’s box, you want to make sure that you have the correct batting stance. You want to choose a position that you are comfortable in and then be consistent with that position.
If you’re a player who wonders about where to stand in the batter’s box, feel free to check out my previous article that goes into detail about where to position yourself in the batter’s box.
When it comes to the batting stance, you have the option of splitting the box and standing in the middle, or you can stand in front of the box or the back of the batter’s box. Having a consistent stance is important because it makes it easy for you to make the right adjustments. When you are in the same spot, have the same batting stance, and same basic batting routine, it’s easier to know if something feels off so you can call time.
6. Swing Early in the Count
For amateur baseball batters, swinging early in the count should be the primary focus because most amateur pitchers aim to throw strikes. This is because most amateur pitchers aim to get ahead of hitters early in the count and then use that leverage to give them control of the at-bat.
Once pitchers have the upper hand of the at-bat, they begin to throw pitches just outside of the strike zone and try to get batters to chase bad pitches. However, you will quickly realize that most amateur pitchers try to get the ball over the plate by throwing strikes so the best way to counter an early strike is to swing early.
Swinging early doesn’t mean you should always swing your bat at the first pitch, but you do want to make sure that you are ready to swing. If that pitch is a perfect strike then it’s a great time to swing.
7. Prepare For The Fastball
Getting ready for the fastball is non-negotiable regardless of the stage you find yourself in your baseball career. This is because the fastball is the pitch that most pitchers tend to consistently get over the plate for a strike and it’s also the easiest pitch for hitters to connect with.
So, even though a pitcher might change it up and throw a curveball here and there, most of the time they are likely to throw a fastball because that is the easiest pitch to control. Quite often pitchers will miss their location when they throw a curveball – especially at the amateur levels. So, the fastball is what they tend to get over the plate most often.
So hitters want to be ready for the fastball most of the time. And the good news is that the fastball is the easiest pitch to hit because it is the straightest pitch and the easiest pitch to time correctly. Also, when you’re prepared for the fastball, it’s easier to adjust to a curveball. So it’s generally recommended to sit on a fastball and then adjust to slower pitches as needed.
8. Understand Failure is Part of the Game
Failing is a part of baseball and even the best baseball players fail some of the time. If you think about it, a good batting average in the Major Leagues is .300, which means that the best hitters get a base hit 3 out of every 10 at-bats.
Take some time a look through the career stats of your favorite player and you will realize that even though they were successful in hitting pitches, you will also realize that they failed a lot. So, failure is part of the game, however, you do not want to get accustomed to failure.
So, don’t look down on yourself because you struck out or couldn’t connect with the ball just right. Acknowledge that it happened and learn from what went wrong in that at-bat so you’re more prepared for your next turn at the plate.
9. Use a Wood Bat During Practice
Most amateur and college baseball players use metal bats during games, but the key to becoming a better hitter is to connect more often with the sweet spot of the bat. Because wood bats tend to have smaller sweet spots than metal bats, practicing with wood bats will help players make more contact with the sweet spot.
So practicing with a wood bat makes it much harder to connect with the sweet spot, which can help improve hand-eye coordination when swinging. The idea behind using a wood bat during practice is that once you get to the game with a metal bat, you will have a better swing, better power, and be able to make more contact with the ball than your teammates.
So, during the offseason or when you are practicing at a batting cage, take the opportunity to practice with a wooden bat.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is the key to any athlete becoming better in their craft. Without practice, athletes can lose out on improving themselves as well as let some of their skills slip away. Practicing helps keep you sharp and helps you prepare for the next game.
Going to a team practice is important and all teammates should strive to make it to every single practice, but once you get back home you might also want to take some time to practice the drills you felt you didn’t get right during practice. Practicing away from the team can be beneficial to get you some extra reps where you feel like you need it the most.
So do not limit your practice to only your team’s practice. Have some time for yourself and practice alone or with another teammate. If you made any mistakes during a game, come home and figure out what went wrong, and then find some time to work on what happened. Because team practices are great, but sometimes you might not get enough time for yourself.