I see a lot of hitters who struggle with learning how to hit the outside pitch. I'm going to break it down in three simple steps in a second.
First off, learning how to hit the outside pitch begins with the approach and not the mechanics.
Because the right approach fixes your mechanics. If the ball isn't popping off the bat or if you are hitting lazy pop-ups or weak ground balls, my gut tells me it's your approach that needs tweaking and not your mechanics.
When you get the approach right, learning how to hit the outside pitch with 100% authority will fix your swing viruses while leaving space to focus on what's most important, getting a good pitch to hit while executing solid pitch recognition skills.
If you want to learn how to hit the outside pitch focus on these 3 simple hitting principles first.
- Cut the plate in half
- Let the ball travel
- Swing to make hard contact
1. Cutting The Plate In Half
Cutting the plate in half means adjusting your hitting approach to looking for or sitting on various pitches on one side of the plate.
If you're looking for a pitch middle-away, your choosing to not swing on pitches middle-in, and vice versa.
Being able to hit the outside pitch with authority starts with first sitting on the outside pitch, and swinging on only pitches on the outer half of the plate.
Here's why. The more outside the pitch is that you're swinging at, the more susceptible you are to the pitches middle in.
In other words, the more outside the pitch is, the later you start your swing, and the more inside the pitch is, the sooner you start your swing.
It's really hard to have complete coverage especially when you're facing a pitcher with good velocity and can locate strikes on both sides of the plate.
2. Let The Ball Travel
When we're trying to hit the outside pitch, being able to let the ball travel is what allows you to drive the outside pitch with 100% authority.
The adjustment is simple.
Move the plate back in your mind.
Load later, and try to drive the ball back up the middle or into the opposite field gap.
This puts your bat-head on the plane of the pitch while avoiding the early roll-over and weak groundballs.
3. Swing To Make Hard Contact
I see this often. The hitter gets an outside fastball and reaches & pokes at the pitch to make contact.
Then, they collapse their back-side shoulder because they're trying to "guide" the outside pitch to the opposite field. This is when you see the lazy oppo pop-fly that flairs to the foul line.
It's not pretty.
There's a big difference between swinging to "not miss" and swinging to make "hard contact".
When the hitter is able to let the ball travel while driving the ball off of a tall back-side (avoiding the early collapse of the back shoulder), making hard contact with the outside pitch becomes easier.
The more controlled-aggressive the swing is, the more consistent the hard contact.
How To Hit The Outside Pitch Checklist
As a hitter, if you're getting a steady dose of pitches on the outer half of the plate, make an adjustment by:
- Cutting the plate in half by sitting on only the middle-away pitch
- Let the ball travel by loading late and using the big part of the field
- Take a controlled-violent swing to make hard solid contact.
The better you're able to execute these three hitting principles, the more consistent your at-bats will be.