I was asked to come work with a youth baseball team recently which was struggling with hitting slow pitching. The coach told me prior to the practice that frustration within his lineup was at an all time high, and confidence was at an all time low. They simply didn't have the necessary tools to approach slower pitching and have success. It was my job in a two hour practice to equip the hitters with some baseball drills and a hitting approach that would improve their chances for success against slower pitching. I've outlined the approach taken below.
1. Modified Stance
The first thing we worked on was understanding what it was about slow pitching that was giving the hitters such trouble with their timing of the baseball swing. We all agreed that slow pitching primarily caused off balanced swings. Logically then we needed to find the solution to what would create improved balance within the baseball swing mechanics. Simple verbal advice of “wait on the baseball" doesn't work in this scenario by the way. Most hitters understand that they must wait on a baseball if they are out in front of the pitch.
One great solution to the off balance problem is to hit with a wider stance and eliminate the stride. We moved the boys from their normal stance position to a stance that was roughly 6 inches wider (depending on the preset width of each individual hitter). This widened stance allowed the boys to keep their weight back without floating up onto their front foot. It's simply easier to feel weight stay back onto the back leg this way. Also, when hitting a baseball with this approach, it's much more difficult physically to let your weight move forward improperly.
2. Eliminate the Pull Side
One of the first things many hitters do when they encounter slower pitching is gear up their muscles and try to crush the baseball. I mean after all it looks so good to hit! This is the wrong approach. I taught the hitters to eliminate the pull side (left field for righties, right field for lefties) from their radar system. By doing this, there was no reason to be early on hitting the pitch since the focus was in hitting a baseball to the opposite field. This is not to say that all balls thrown from a slow pitcher should be hit to the opposite field, as it's plenty fine to pull pitches. It's just that the focus should not be on pulling pitches solely.
Patience is key when battling a slower pitcher. Proper understanding of the baseball swing and baseball swing mechanics is necessary in order to win the fight. Learn to prepare ahead of time and you'll enjoy a greater degree of success in hitting a baseball off slower pitching.
Nate Barnett is owner of Your Sport Guru, a sports information website designed to improve your sport. Your Sports Guru contains information, products, and forums on baseball hitting mechanics, pitching workouts, advanced soccer drills , hockey information, basketball drills , sports rehabilitation information and much more.