After giving over 2,000 hitting lessons with players fro the youth level to players now playing at the collegiate and professional level, I'm convinced more than ever about these 3 things that good pitch recognition gives you.
- Time Buffer (more time to fix your swing viruses)
- Positive expectancy
Though these things function separately, when added together, an opportunity is created to reach the next level as a hitter.
1. Good Pitch Recognition Breeds Confidence
Seeing the ball well will give you confidence.
As a hitter, when you're confident at the plate, you will perform better. Period. Your reactions are quicker, you're more aggressive, your mental toughness is on a different level.
Just the same, when you're seeing the ball well, visual acuity is sharp, you pick up pitch location and pitch type more efficiently. Also, the ball seems slower. Now you're a hitter who's utilizing their instincts.
2. Good Pitch Recognition Cures Your Swing Virus
The reality is, solid mechanics requires constant maintenance. This is why having solid fundamentals as a hitter is important.
The ability to stay inside the ball, minimize head movements, avoid the early collapse, utilize the lower half during the swing...
...all important aspects of a solid swing.
But the swing still occasionally breaks down. We develop bad mechanics. We lose our timing.
This is where good pitch recognition comes into play. Like having a solid mental game and approach, having good baseball vision gives you something to rely on when your swing is off.
Not "if" your swing feels off but when because I don't care how good you are, your swing will not feel perfect throughout the entire season.
You need a plan B and C. Now you have a chance to make the right mechanical adjustments because you're able to still produce at the plate using your "compete-level" and pitch recognition ability to make consistent, hard, solid contact.
3. Good Pitch Recognition Gives You Feedback & Positive Expectancy
You walk back from the dugout after failing to get on base. Maybe yous struck out, lined out or rolled over on a pitch.
You take your helmet off with a smile. Why? The ball is looking like a grapefruit today. You're seeing the ball well.
We've seen this happen at the professional level countless times.
A hitter is 0-1 to start the day, but all is good. Their pitch recognition is firing on all cylinders. Today is going to be a good day at the plate.
And since the hitter feels this way, you'd be surprised at how often it turns out to be true.
There's no better feeling in the world than knowing you're going to crush a pitch in your next at-bat.
Having "positive expectancy" is how you influence the tempo of the game. You make good things happen instead of playing passively. All great players do it. They can shift themselves into a positive, confident mindset regardless of their past results.
When you're seeing the ball well, it's easier to make this shift as well.
Combining These 3 Things Good Pitch Recognition Gives You
So here's what we know about hitting.
- Developing confidence at the plate
- Eliminating swing flaws
- Being free of thought while competing w/ confidence
- Being in our body but not aware of our body
- Relying on other skill-set when our mechanics and timing need work
These are all tools that we can leverage when we need to turn on the attack-switch when the pitcher releases the ball.
Hitting is about being the best competitor on the field. Being a valued asset in our line-up isn't about being great. It's about being good, consistently.
Being consistently good overtime leads to greatness. In my opinion, Derek Jeter is great because he was consistently good.
He never lead the league in home runs, won a Silver Slugger but never a batting title.
Came close but fell short of an MVP....but he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Why? Not because he was the best, but because he was consistently consistent.
Knowing how to compete. Having a solid mental game. Developing great pitch recognition skills, are all skill-sets you can learn, develop and refine.
Getting good at seeing the ball, can lead to greatness.
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