Hitting a baseball thrown at high speed is among the most difficult feats in sports. When a ball is traveling at more than 90 mph, it can reach home plate in 0.4 seconds. That leaves little time to decide where and when to swing.
Hitting well requires concentration, great eyesight, lots of practice, and making educated guesses on the type of pitch the pitcher will throw and where the ball will arrive.
To improve your concentration, try to minimize personal distractions. Shut off your cell phone before a game and get away from background noise. Make sure you get enough sleep, stick to a schedule and maintain a healthy diet.
- Once you’ve got that down, practice concentrating. Focus on a single object, maybe a baseball, for several minutes. Use a physical prompt like snapping your fingers to regain focus.
- Establish a physical routine when batting, such as taking a practice swing before pitches. Although some people view them as superstition, routines can help you focus and prepare for the next pitch.
- Focus on the pitcher and each pitch. This is very important. Knowledge of a game situation is also important, but don’t stress about it or worry about the outcome of your at-bat.
It’s essential to have good eyesight, as hand-eye coordination is critical in hitting. A batter needs to always see the ball and its markings clearly and to make quick decisions based on visual analysis of the pitcher and the ball. A batter with excellent vision can make a split-second assessment on the type of pitch coming by seeing how the seams on the baseball are spinning.
Besides glasses, traditional contact lenses, and laser eye surgery, a couple of other options may improve vision. One is orthokeratology, overnight vision correction. Worn only at night, high-tech contact lenses change the curvature of the eye and can improve vision during the day. Another is vision therapy, neuromuscular training such as eye exercises that work to improve eye alignment and hand-eye coordination.
There is no getting around the need for plenty of practice in order to hit well. The body responds well to repetition. Timing and rhythm need to be developed. Proper placement of hands on the bat and properly shifting of weight from the back leg to the front are important for momentum and power. This takes time and patience.
Here are a few techniques to improve your form.
- Try hitting the ball the other way. It forces you to wait a little longer before you swing. It also helps your eyes and body adjust for reacting to pitches.
- Do situational hitting. Use scenarios such as advancing a runner or driving in a run with two outs. This is important for improving bat and hand control.
- Work repeatedly on anything that builds your confidence, like hitting balls to different parts of the field.
Remember: Hitting a baseball is such a challenge that even great players fail nearly 70% of the time. That is considered success.