Batting performance is what separates the good from the great. At all levels, it is the determining factor for playing time, scholarships and Major league contracts.
Yet most traditional batting practice focuses solely on mechanics and neglects the most important part of hitting- REACTION TIME. What makes you a great hitter is not your ability to hit a particular pitch, it is your ability to quickly recognize pitches and make an appropriate response.
“Speed of hand, speed of foot, speed of mind -the most important of these is speed of mind!” Anatoly Tarasov
There are three parts to great hitting:
#1 is PHYSICAL
This is better known as athleticism. It is the God-given ability to not only be athletic but have the hand and eye coordination to put a bat on a moving ball. We have all seen very athletic football players or basketball players that can’t swing a bat and yet are highly skilled at their particular sport. Then there are those that can play nearly any sport and do it at a very high level regardless of the complexity. This is the first of the three necessities for great hitting and it also includes the physical attributes such as great eyesight.
The gift of athleticism; some people have it and some just don’t.
#2 is MECHANICAL
Better known as fundamentals, this is a learned skill. These are acquired from experiencing the teaching or instruction of a coach or mentor that provides direction for such things as stance, load, timing and proper swing mechanics for particular pitches. It is a skill-set and can be constantly improved upon with practice and conditioning.
#3 is MENTAL
Assuming you have the physical ability and the mechanical skills needed to be a great hitter, you now possess 30% of what it takes to be a great at the plate. The Holy Grail of Hitting and the remaining 70% is mental and where we will spend the remainder of our time. Don’t believe it? Consider the three T’s of hitting (Talent, Timing and Technique). You can be off a bit on your timing, and great technique can save you for a hit. You can even be off a bit on your Technique, and great Timing can save you and get you a hit. But you can be spot on with Talent, Timing and Technique, misread a pitch, and look like you’ve never swung a bat. Haven’t we all been there.
Which brings us to the most import and most neglected part of hitting, Pitch Recognition.
Nothing tops great Processing Speed- NOTHING. It is the Holy Grail of hitting and the most neglected part of our training. It’s like a computer or a smart phone. No one really cares how much memory it has if it is slow to respond. Processing speed is king!
“THIS TRAINER WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER HITTER, GUARANTEED!”
– STACY MAY JOHNSON, PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER, D1 COACH, AND HITTING INSTRUCTOR
What exactly is Processing speed?
Better known as Pitch Recognition, it is the brain’s ability to quickly recognize a pitch upon release from the pitcher and react with the appropriate response. The faster you can process this data, the more time you have to react and the better the outcome will be.
A traditional thought process does not exist in hitting, there is not enough time. It is a trained and automatic Reactive Response that must take over to be successful at the plate.
Consider a 90-mph fastball. The time it takes a ball to go from the mound to the plate is about 425 milliseconds. If, we broke down this distance in four equal parts, the first half would be considered the processing zone. Within this area the batters brain has to process all the information it can gather, analyze that information and make a decision to either swing or take the pitch. This happens in about 200 milliseconds. Talk about an amazing feat. There is not a supercomputer in the world that can do what your brain is doing in that short of time. The third part of that zone is called the Response Zone. Before the ball enters this zone, your brain has had to discern what the pitch is, make up its mind to act and send a signal to the body to react accordingly to swing or take the pitch. Considering it takes the average pro hitter 150 milliseconds to get their bat around, this only allows you about 75 milliseconds for your brain to pull off this amazing feat! By this time, speed, trajectory and intercept angle has already been calculated by the brain and a decision has been made to swing or take. The final quarter is consumed with flight time getting the bat head to the ball. While amazingly complex to perform, an explanation of the hitting process is quite easy to explain and with a few simple training ideas, you can learn to take your hitting from good to great like the pros.
We must first understand that hitting is reactive and requires a trained Reactive Response. You don’t get to choose what pitch is going to be thrown to you. You don’t get to pick the speed, location or break of the ball. All you get to do is respond to what you are given. The mindset of a hitter should be that once the ball leaves the hand of the pitcher, there is nothing further that the pitcher can do to influence the outcome. From that point forward, the hitter is in control of their destiny and the more you have worked on the mental side of your game, the more successful you will be at the plate.
“Speed, as it is employed by the elite, carries an element of the extrasensory. We’re all too slow, but the best of the best have figured out how to compensate for nature’s deficiencies. They’ve learned how to cheat science.” – ESPN
Anticipation- analytical thinking versus guessing.
Understanding what you are most likely to see and capitalizing on a pitcher’s mistakes is another key to great hitting. When a pitcher gets careless and throws certain pitches too frequently or in sequences, that is the time to up your game. With careful study known as Baseball of Softball IQ, you can take advantage of mistakes from your opponents and make them pay. Watching tendencies and habits and exploiting them is part of the game and a major skillset used by top players worldwide. Great hitters go to the plate looking for one to two pitches dependent on the count. Careful study of their opponent allows them to know with great likelihood what they are about to see thrown although the best pitchers will always keep you guessing.
Practice- Warming up the brain before a game.
Have you ever wondered why everyone kills it in the cages? I call this a Batting Cage Mentality. It is because they know what they are going to see. They walk in the cage and virtually turn off their brains. One hundred percent of their focus is given to bat on ball and the decision-making process is turned off, further evidence that hitting is mainly mental. As a hitting coach I have found that rarely a slump is the result of mechanical issues. Ninety percent of the time with high-level athletes the problem is above the shoulders and can be cured in a chair much faster than a batting cage. We are not machines, we are humans. We are affected by weather, sleep, emotions, fatigue and stress just to name a few factors and even a minor overload in one of these areas will compromise the brains ability to process with efficiency. Learning to deal with emotions and having a disciplined work ethic and rest schedule are essential to peak performance.
If hitting is seventy percent mental, why do we neglect it and how do we address it?
Great question. Because short of live pitching, there are not many traditional drills that work on the mental side of hitting and because we are limited to live pitching opportunities and one-on-one instructional time, we have to train ourselves.
One of the best training drills ever created for this is the BatterOx Strike Zone Awareness Drill. Unlike static and stationary tee work, the BatterOx allows you to constantly move the ball throughout the zone which forces the hitter to mentally adapt much like live pitching. In this drill the holder sets the ball on the front of the plate. The hitter will then get in the ready position, close their eyes and say “SET”. At that time the holder will move the ball into the strike zone (or out) and say the command “LOAD”. On that command the hitter will go into their load and open their eyes exploding towards the pitch. If it is a strike, it should be hit. If it is a ball, the hitter should say ball and take the pitch. At this time the holder and hitter will repeat the process with differing pitches for each sequence. Unlike a tee, this drill forces the hitter to make split-second decisions exactly like they will be required to do in a game and begins to warm up the brain for the demand it will be required of at a live at bat. This is the most effective drill for a hitter that we have ever used, and that sentiment has been echoed by thousands of BatterOx owners worldwide. So, the next time you, one of your players or your child is struggling at the plate, consider what they did to prepare before the game. If that preparation didn’t include a BatterOx swing trainer, give us a call and we’ll fix you up. You will soon come to know what thousands of great hitters have already learned- BatterOx Training Drills accelerate your Reactive Response. It will make you a better hitter.
Still not convinced? Take our 30-Day Challenge. If after performing our Training Drills for the next 30 days you are not markedly a better hitter….
WE WILL BUY IT BACK!
Q: DO YOU PROVIDE A WARRANTY AND IF SO WHAT IS IT?
A: Our customers are our top priority. If you follow our FREE training circuit download and do not improve your hitting within the first 30 days of purchase – WE WILL BUY IT BACK! If anything on our trainer prematurely fails under reasonable use – we will fix or replace it at no cost to our customer. Contact us at email@example.com for questions about our warranty.
Q: I AM A COACH AND I WOULD LIKE TO USE ONE TRAINER FOR MY WHOLE TEAM. IS THIS A GOOD IDEA?
A: Yes, it is a great idea if your whole team also shares one bat, or one glove or one pair of underwear. If this is not how you roll then we recommend that you purchase a Batter-Ox Team Pack (Baseball and Softball). Much like any other piece of equipment, if 15 people use it instead of the one it was designed for, components will wear at a faster rate. The Batter-Ox Team Pack (Baseball and Softball) is very compact and has six trainers for use by the whole team. We also offer special incentives for teams.
Q: WHY DOES BATTER-OX SWING TRAINER WORK?
A: Batter-Ox is not just a trainer, it is a hitting system. With our free 5-circuit training, we will show you a completely different approach to training that was never possible before Batter-Ox. Batter-Ox takes proven, old school training techniques and marries them with a state of the art swing trainer to infuse proven results into your training program. You will love the feel, you will love the drills, but most of all, you will love the RESULTS!
Q: CAN I USE MY HIGH PERFORMANCE BAT WITH BATTER-OX WITHOUT VOIDING THE BAT WARRANTY LIKE SOME OTHER TRAINERS DO?
A: Yes, Batter-Ox uses a real, high compression ball to provide the batter the most realistic feedback possible, all the while protecting the most expensive piece of equipment in the players gear bag- their bat.
The Batter-Ox System features a lightweight design and is made to fit in the convenient travel bag.
IT PROTECTS YOUR BAT
Unlike other trainers that damage your bat and void its warranty, Batter-Ox uses a regulation ball for realistic hitting.
IT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER HITTER – GUARANTEED
Follow the AR2 Training System for 30 days and if it doesn’t do what we promise, WE WILL BUY IT BACK!