Eventually, you're going to face a pitcher with dominant stuff. The fastball will explode out of the hand, the breaking ball will fall off the table and they'll be able to locate the offspeed in any count at any time. Knowing how to track and hit advanced pitching starts with the approach, mindset, repeatable mechanics and pitching recognition.
As we make the adjustments to higher levels of pitching, a good place to start is understanding zone coverage, hitting the ball to the opposite, getting good lift and backspin while seeing the ball as well as you can.
If we could put it into four simple steps, it would be to:
- See It
- Track It
- Be Easy
- Go Oppo
- Have a Drive To Never Stop Getting Better
When are pitching recognition is poor, our ability to make adjustments during an at-bat falls to zero. Recognizing pitch types and location is out of the question, so we end up chasing pitches out of the zone and taking pitches we should be crushing.
Pitching recognition is the bedrock to Winning At-Bats because you can still string together a decent swing and cultivate confidence when you're seeing the ball well. Even when your mechanics are off.
It's really hard to make solid contact, be selective and make the pitcher work when you're not recognizing arm action, the spin and shade of the pitch, etc.
If you're not seeing the ball as well as you can, you will underachieve against advanced pitching, period.
See the ball as well as you can.
An average major league 90 mph fastball reaches the contact zone about four-tenths of a second (400 milliseconds).
As a hitter batter, you have just a quarter of a second to recognize pitch type, location and then drive the bat head through the zone to where you predict the ball will be at the point of contact.
This entire process happens pretty much on instincts.
It takes the hitter around 100 milliseconds to see the pitch, and around 75 milliseconds to recognize the spin and shade, speed and pitch location.
Next, the hatter has another 50 milliseconds to decide whether to swing or not. It can take nearly 25 milliseconds for the nervous system to fire and get the swing moving. Lastly, the actual swing itself takes about 150 milliseconds.
In all, hitting a pitch consistently requires you to see and track the ball as early as possible for as long as possible. This is why having a consistent hard and soft focus to pick up the release point is an important part of superior pitch recognition.
Track the ball as well as you can.
Often times, hitters will get in their own way because they struggle to stay within themselves.
One of my favorite sayings about what a good solid, aggressive swing and approach is this.
"Hitting is not violent, violent. It's not controlled, controlled. Hitting is controlled violence."
As hitters, when we're lunging at the ball, having an early collapse because we're trying to get "lift" or guide the ball the other way, or or increase our stride to get more bat-speed...
...we start hitting weak ground balls and lazy pop-ups because we're pulling pitches we shouldn't be pulling.
The more we can simplify the act of hitting, the better we can be at recognizing what adjustments we need to make in order to outperform our competition.
When your swing has a lot going on, it's really hard to identify and fine-tune what needs to be refined.
Lastly, an Easy Swing means you have loose muscles. Loose muscles are quick muscles. Tense muscles are slow muscles.
Be easy with your swing.
As a hitter, if you do not know how to hit the ball hard to all parts of the field, you'll be nothing but a dressed up out when the pitcher realizes you can cover the outer half of the plate.
Left-handed pitchers will carve you up by establishing the inner-half of the plate then go soft away.
The right-handed pitcher will dominate you by changing zones and work away until you can prove that you can drive the ball the other way.
If you can't drive the ball consistently to the opposite field, drop everything and make every round of batting practice an oppo round until you learn how to let the ball travel deeper int he zone while attacking the inner half of the ball.
Good hitters use the whole field.
Learn how to go oppo.
Have a Drive To Never Stop Getting Better
In conclusion, becoming a better hitter is about being committed to getting better.
Having an idea of what you need to work on to be more consistent at the plate involves being honest with what your weaknesses are, and then working to turn them into strengths.
Do you struggle with the inside fastball? Learn how to get your foot down, hunt pitches and attack the inner half.
Struggling with the change-up? Practice posting up and take aggressive swings up in the zone.
Need work with seeing pitch types and locations? Train your pitch recognition and baseball vision by rehearsing pitching sequences, arm angles, and eyesight transitions.
If you make learning how to track and hit advanced pitching better a priority, it will be just another advantage for you when you take the leap to the next level of baseball.
How Do You Track The Baseball better?
Begin with minimizing your head movement. Slow down your stride. Keep a soft gaze on the pitcher's release point to avoid eye strain. Them quiet your mind.
Here’s how. Focus on the result that you want and ignore the result you don’t. Visualize & rehearse success. Focus on helping your team get the W. When you stop making it about you, and you see the result you want in your mind, the most important skill in baseball surfaces.
How Do You Train Your Eyes For Baseball?
- Have great saccadic eye movements.
The ability to anticipate where the ball will be based on where the ball is so important it's mind-blowing.
When you see a big leaguer who seems recognizes the ball well out of the pitcher's hands, they're using saccadic eye movements. The ability to anticipate a moving object and the direction it's going.
Good hitters don't swing at where the ball is, rather they swing at where the ball will be at the point of contact.
2. Master recognizing pitch types.
Your ability to recognize the spin, speed and location of various pitches types is a premium skill set.
What this video breakdown to help you learn how to track pitches from various spin-rates, movements and velocities.