What Pitch Do You Like To Hit?

By Kevin Wilson

Watch good hitters hit and you will notice that they don’t miss their pitch very often.

And to take it a step further, they pretty much know when their pitch is coming and they are ready to attack it.

I ask many young hitters this question: “What type of pitch do you like to hit?” Most of them have to take a second to think about it. That’s NOT GOOD! You should know right away what you want to hit. It shouldn’t have to take a few seconds to register in your brain. This is part of being a good hitter.

Being aware of what you want to hit when you’re up there. You know you can hit multiple pitches, but you also know that you are the most successful hitting one type of pitch. Good hitters don’t get to higher levels without hitting this certain type of pitch. They don’t get a chance to fulfill their life-long dream of becoming a big league player without hitting this pitch.

What’s that pitch? A fastball.

Now this may not seem like rocket science. In fact, many of you reading this might have said, “Duh” when you saw the answer to my question.

But what I want to do is have you ask yourself this question: “Am I committed to hitting a certain pitch before two strikes?” If your answer is “yes” then you’re well on your way. If your answer is “no,” then I have some information for you that may help you be more consistent at the plate.

We talk about approaches and plans all the time. To each his own when it comes to this, but what all good hitters have in common is that they are hitting off the fastball.

I always tell hitters that no one is in the Hall of Fame for hitting a breaking ball.

Let me break it down to you this way. What’s the best pitch a pitcher can throw for a strike? A fastball.

As a hitter, what’s the easiest pitch to hit? A fastball.

So with this being said, what type of pitch should we be looking to hit the majority of the time when we go to the plate? Yes, a fastball.

I see a lot of guys go up and not have a solid plan, thus swinging at pretty much anything that comes near the plate. They end up getting themselves out because they aren’t committed to something specific. They walk back to the dugout saying they can’t hit anything. Of course you can’t. You aren’t giving yourself a chance to hit anything because you haven’t committed to hitting one thing.

Yes, there are times that we commit to other types of pitches with less than two strikes.That absolutely happens. But I’m trying to help you with committing to something that’s more manageable for you.

Let’s talk about getting into fastball counts. It doesn’t mean you’ll get a fastball every time but the likelihood of this happening is greater. I’ll take my chances on those counts because I’m not guessing, just simply playing the percentages and understanding how I can best get my fastball that I want to hit.

I love when guys go up there with a mindset to get a pitch they are looking for and working with that pitch and only that pitch until two strikes.The best hitters in the game are not afraid to get to two strikes. They are aggressive and ready to hit but know what pitch they will be more successful swinging at.

They also do not abandon ship when they see a pitch they’re not looking for go right down the middle for strike one. They are going to stick with the pitch they want to hit until they get two strikes. That takes courage and confidence in your plan.

How do you get to the big leagues? You hit the fastball.

How do you succeed at your level? You hit the fastball.

We are never not prepared to hit BP, right? Of course not! We are ready to hit the many fastballs we see each round. It’s just a matter of where they go.

Go hit the pitchers’ best pitch today. It happens to be your best pitch too.

Kevin Wilson is a professional hitting coach and founder of Kevin Wilson Baseball. Since 2001, Kevin has been working with hitters in MLB, MiLB, NCAA as well as elite high school players from across the country. In 2013, Kevin was the hitting coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team who won gold in Taichung, Taiwan.You can find him on twitter @KWBaseball or check out his website www.KWBaseball.com

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Two Steps to Creating a Blazing Fastball

By Dan Gazaway, Owner & Founder of The Pitching Academy

When you are out working on pitching mechanics this off season, take some time and work on your torque. It’s the key to throwing deep into games as well as improved velocity.

This past week I was out at a local baseball training facility working with a bunch of youth pitchers on pitching mechanics. We were focusing on the lower half of the body (waist down pitching mechanics) and looking at some video clips of Big League pitchers. The purpose was to crack the code so to speak and figure out how these guys created so much velocity and torque that allowed them to whip the ball towards home plate.

After the 30 minutes of watching these video clips and explaining, all of the pitchers, ages 10-18 were seeing the secret all Major League Pitchers understand. It’s the technique of creating torque. There are two points that need to be accomplished while working on pitching mechanics in order to increase torque and pitching velocity.

1. The Leg Lift: Most all youth pitchers I’ve instructed on pitching mechanics understand that lifting your leg into the balance position is an important step. We modified the process slightly. Instead of bringing the front leg up into a balanced position with the knee pointing in the same direction as the chest, we turned in the leg some to close the lower-half of the body off even more. This slight twisting motion, or coiling, prepares the body for the second and most valuable torque- creating technique. Take a look at the picture of Harden (above left) for a visual of this step.

2. Delayed Shoulder Rotation: The second part of the torque process will take some more time to work on during your pitching mechanics training. However, once our pitchers worked through the mechanics, they immediately felt less tension on their throwing arm as their body acted like a giant sling shot.

Upon landing with the front foot, the front foot and front knee should be turned towards home plate. The hips will be slightly open, and the chest and front shoulder should remain closed off and not open at all towards the catcher. The longer my guys were able to keep the upper body from rotating, the more whip action they were able to create.

Dan Gazaway is Owner and Founder of The Pitching Academy. He has instructed over 2,000 pitchers in the last seven years and received a Bachelor’s Degree as a Health Education Specialist at Utah State University. He is a motivational speaker for topics ranging from attitude, goal-setting and leadership and be contacted at contact@thepitchingacademy.net.