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Oct
14
2009

How to Hit a Baseball: What Are You Looking At?

http://www.cobrabrigade.com/img/tony.gwynn.2009.jpgRemember these two things: play hard and have fun - Tony Gwynn

Moving along now, this post should be short and sweet as I detail where a hitter should looking as the pitcher is throwing the ball. This is kind of jumping ahead a few steps but in order to be prepared for this step you have to prepare once you are set in the batter's box.


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http://www.cobrabrigade.com/img/greinke.box.JPGSee ball, hit ball, right? Seems pretty simple but so many people either don't focus enough or have a clue as to where they should be looking when the pitcher is throwing the ball towards the plate.

Conventional wisdom tells us to just look at the pitchers release point but with so many pitchers varying their release points these days, and for good reason, I'm going to take Tony Gwynn's advice and encourage you to make a box just outside of where you believe the pitcher is going to release the ball. I've detailed this in the picture to the right.

I'll get into greater detail later as far as picking up pitches but right now we are establishing where your focus should be when you are in the batter's box.

Now, some people can't remain focused for the amount of time it takes for the pitcher to start his windup and release the ball so for those of you like that, I encourage you to look at the emblem on the pitcher's hat. I vehemently discourage you to look at the pitchers face, unless you are going to wink at him to piss him off. You want to keep a clear mind at this point so put your eyes on an 'dead' object. Once the pitcher begins his windup move your focus over to the box next to where the release point should be.

As always, leave comments below and if you have any other questions/comments, shoot me an email.
5 Comments
Captain Morgan said

I remember over the years I would begin to study the release point of a pitcher when I was in the on deck circle and I would use this to establish what I would be looking at when he begin to pitch to me. I think most people waste time by trying to time a pitcher while in the on deck circle...this time should be used to pick up pitchers tendencies and find that release point.

Some people do this in the on deck circle and others might do it by taking the first pitch because sometimes you don't get an accurate look from the on deck circle. Some folks don't do it at all. Sort of a personal preference.

The timing thing, I think, has to do with the tendencies as well in case the pitcher has like a herky-jerky motion or something like that. As you get to the higher levels you generally don't worry about how hard the pitcher is throwing but you probably do want to get your timing down if a pitcher has an unorthodox pitching motion. We'll get into the mental aspects of what you should be doing in the on-deck circle at some point if I ever get done with this.

Captain Morgan said

I agree, I remember being a kid and thinking, this is how I will be able to catch up with a pitch...time it in the batting circle...as I got older, I figured I could get around on anything...just needed to sit for offspeed stuff.

Bruce Paine said

Teddy Ballgame believed that the on deck circle was a really important part of an at bat. You needed to gauge the release point and time of the fastball and the depth of the break on the curveball. He also wanted guys to take the first pitch to help get on the timing of the heater, which is fine and dandy, but nowadays if that guy hits you with a curve or a change for a strike on the first pitch you might be screwed because the first fastball you see might be strike three in on the hands. I always told the kids in the dugout to watch the game, don't just sit there and fuck around, because a high school pitcher is going to have pretty set reactions to things. If he has the guts to throw a curve on the first pitch it is probably going to be the same curve with the same break and the same speed in the same place. If it is, screw up and drive that thing. I had one kid in two year understand the value of that.

Some folks aren't big 'thinkers' or analyzers before they get into the box and I don't want to encourage people to think too much so I try to not place too much of an importance on it during this elementary series on hitting. Right now let's just see ball, hit ball.

Once we get into the mental aspects, if we get there, I'll delve into it much more from a thinker's mentality.


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