How to Get to Know a Hitter’s Tendencies Very Quickly!

By Larry Cicchiello

It is mandatory for baseball pitchers to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the baseball hitters they face. There are certain very clever things a pitcher can do. If the hitter takes a practice swing before facing you, pay attention to his practice swing! If he appears to be hitting an inside pitch with it, he is probably a pull hitter. If he appears to be hitting the ball the opposite way with his practice swing, chances are he likes to go the opposite way. If he appears to be hitting a high pitch, he probably likes the ball up. If he appears to be hitting a low pitch, you guessed it, he’s probably a good low ball hitter. One of the best baseball pitching tips to remember is that professional baseball hitters, all the way down to very young players like to practice what they do well and not what they do NOT do well.This very often includes their practice swings.

Some Guidelines To Use BEFORE You Actually See The Hitter Swing:

Batter Has A Closed Stance. He probably likes the ball away from him and out over the plate. Find out if he can handle a pitch inside.

Batter Has An Open Stance. He probably likes the ball inside. Find out if he can handle the low and away strike.

Batter Stands Deep In The Box. I would be thinking primarily breaking balls.

Batter Stands Shallow In The Box. Well, if the batter wants to give me an extra couple of feet on my fastball, I’ll take the extra foot or two he’s giving me to see if he can catch up to my heater.

Batter Has His Hands Held High. Almost always likes the ball LOW, with very few exceptions! You can check it out for yourself right now. Put your hands up high right now, by your back ear and pretend you are holding a bat. Move your hands like you are swinging at a chest high fastball. It doesn’t feel right, does it? Pitch him primarily up in the zone until he proves you to be wrong.

Batter Has The Bat Curled Around His Neck. Find out if he can handle a pitch that is up and in. His bat has to travel extremely far to hit that pitch well.

Some Thought Processes To Use AFTER You Have Seen The Hitter Swing:

Your first pitch is a real good fastball and he pulls it and hits a seed that’s a foul about 350 feet from home plate. You now know there is a very good chance he loves the fast ball. You should strongly consider going off speed on your next pitch. The only risk is that if he’s a good hitter, he might be thinking along with you after what he just did to your fast ball. (This is part of the chess match that takes place between a good pitcher and a good hitter.)

Good hitters are good hitters for a reason and that’s because they are always thinking. OK, he has clobbered your first pitch fastball. I’m not saying that you should not go off speed but you do have another option, considering this guy appears to love the fastball. The thought process goes like this…OK, you love the fastball, well I’ll give you another fastball. But this time it’s going to be six inches or so off the outside corner. Remember, if he loves to hit the fastball, he may chase one out of the strike zone because he doesn’t know if he’ll get another one from you. After two fastballs, he may start to think that you are going to stay with your heater. You might then go off speed, on your third pitch. If this sounds like a chess match to you, it is because it IS a chess match that should be going on between a good pitcher and a good batter!

Remember that even if I see that a hitter does NOT like a pitch in a certain location, it does NOT mean that I can throw that same pitch over and over and over again and expect to be successful. Good hitters will make adjustments at the plate. I still have to show him other pitches and other locations also.

Be cautious that a batter doesn’t start out one way and then when he is actually swinging, he changes. For example, a batter may have his bat curled around his head but when he’s actually ready to hit, he changes and it’s NOT curled any longer.

Another example is if a batter has an open stance. He may possibly close his stance just before getting ready to swing. You have to pay attention, just like a batter who takes your pitch and follows it all the way into the catcher’s mitt to see how your pitch is moving.

Baseball pitching tips require clever use of the mind as well as the body and pitching is NOT simply getting the ball and throwing the pitch. Please make sure you learn a hitter’s tendencies as quickly as possible!

Larry is the successful author of several very user friendly eBooks and CD’s covering 320 topics on playing or coaching excellent baseball. ANY player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Check out some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips at LarryBaseball.com. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Larry_Cicchiello/436671

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How to Expand the Strike Zone Properly

By Larry Cicchiello

Whenever you are ahead in the count, you should “expand the strike zone.” No, let’s rephrase that. You must expand the strike zone! That simply means throwing a pitch off the plate, that’s actually a ball. Or throwing a pitch too high or too low that is out of the strike zone. Let’s be clear on one thing. I think it is a total waste if you throw the pitch too far off the plate. If ahead of the batter and the count is 0-2, it makes no sense to throw a pitch over the batter’s head or two feet off the plate. The objective is to get the batter to swing at a pitch that’s not a strike. If you throw the ball way off the plate or over the batter’s head the batter will not swing. The only thing that does is that it adds to your pitch count. That makes no sense.

It is estimated that at least 70% of swinging strike threes are on pitches that are NOT strikes. Please read the previous sentence again!

You don’t have to take my word for it. You can see it for yourself. Occasionally, when a pitcher strikes out a lot of hitters in a baseball game, the following morning on television, they sometimes show the replays of all the strikeouts. Keep a tally for yourself. (Trust me on this one, you can do it.) I have done it several times.

If the hitter took strike three, you DON’T tally it. You are ONLY checking the SWINGING strike threes. Simply count the pitches swung at that were strikes and pitches swung at that were balls. Your tally will go like this: 1 out of 1, 1 out of 2, 2 out of 3, 2 out of 4, 3 out of 5, etc.

I really suggest you try this. You will get very good at it and in no time at all and may find it very interesting as well as surprising. The batters swing at more strike threes that are balls than are strikes! That is a very powerful statement. It is because the batter can no longer be fussy about what he swings at and must protect against being called out on strikes.

There is an expression that has been around for decades and still holds true and will NEVER become obsolete. “You get ahead of them with strikes but you get them out with balls.” I know it’s been around for decades because my father taught it to me about 50 years ago, when I was 9 years old. Boy am I old!

Make very good use of expanding the strike zone because very often, if ahead in the count, you will get batters out with balls.

One of the better baseball pitching tips you should always remember is that there is simply no reason on earth to give a hitter a strike to hit if he’s going to swing at a ball! Baseball pitching is plenty tough enough.

Why not make your life easier?

Larry is the successful author of several very user friendly eBooks and CD’s covering 320 topics on playing or coaching excellent baseball. ANY player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Check out some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips at LarryBaseball.com.

How to Greatly Benefit From the Long Toss

By Larry Cicchiello 

The “long toss” is simply a throwing session where you start out fairly close to your throwing partner, then gradually increase the distance between the two of you. You finish the drill by then gradually decreasing the distance until you are back to the distance you originally started from.

Many very good authorities believe that the best way for a pitcher to build arm strength and increase the speed on the fastball is by making very good use of this fabulous drill. It is totally acceptable to take a couple of steps when long tossing.

You can approach it basically the same way as if you are trying to throw a runner out from the outfield. You don’t want to be throwing fly balls when long tossing. A trajectory that goes a little bit up and down is okay but try to keep it as low as possible.

How To Long Toss:

First, be advised that you may have to work yourself up to the distances listed below and BE PATIENT until you can comfortably work up to these distances. Adjust distances downward for younger pitchers. Be extremely cautious with both the distances and the number of throws. This is NOT a competition of any type between you and your throwing partner and DO NOT overexert yourself!

You and your throwing partner should be sure to loosen up your arms before doing the drill.

Possible Distances When Doing The Drill:

60 feet apart–6 throws

90 feet apart–8 throws

120 feet apart-10 throws

90 feet apart–8 throws

60 feet apart–6 throws

Remember not to overexert yourself and find distances and number of throws that are comfortable for you! I would NOT recommend long tossing on two consecutive days. If you have a somewhat serious session, I would take two days off before long tossing again.

During the season, I would recommend long tossing only occasionally. Some pitchers don’t like to long toss at all during the season and love it in the off season.

It’s going to come down to your personal preference as to how often you “long toss” and don’t overdo it.

Long Toss In “OFF” Season:

In the off season, many pitchers use this drill every other day and gradually increase the repetitions to develop arm strength. Several outstanding professional pitchers have changed their off season throwing strategy and incorporated more “long toss” and less throwing from the mound. One M.L.B. pitcher actually gained 5 m.p.h. on his fast ball after increasing the amount of time spent on the drill and decreasing his throwing sessions from the mound. The drill has definitely grown in popularity the last several years.

Please Remember:

  1. This is NOT a competition between you and your throwing partner.
  2. Be VERY CAREFUL with the distances and the number of throws!
  3. We do the long toss to improve arm strength and NOT to get injured. Please…proceed with caution!

Larry is the successful author of several very user friendly eBooks and CD’s covering 320 topics on playing or coaching excellent baseball. ANY player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Check out some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips at LarryBaseball.com.

Overcome Two Very Common Baseball Hitting Problems!

By Larry Cicchiello

Tension Is A Hitter’s Worst Enemy!

I’ve heard this expression dozens of times and could not agree more. No, let’s make that hundreds of times. If you have tension in your swing, it is next to impossible to hit the ball effectively. On the other hand, relaxing is a great asset to have.

An outstanding baseball coach I know has his hitters take a deep breath before every pitch and go into relax mode. Please note that I said outstanding coach and not good or very good. It is often referred to as “the calm before the storm.” Hitting a baseball well on a consistent basis is NOT an easy chore. If you have tension before and during the swing, it makes it an almost impossible chore. A smooth and gracious swing is what you want to strive for and tension will make it very difficult.

Like I’ve mentioned before, sometimes a slight waggle at the plate will help you to relax. Or you can wiggle your fingers on the bat while waiting for the pitch. It’s very difficult to have your body tense up if your body is moving. Learning how to relax at the plate should be very helpful to you!

You Must Be Short To The Ball!

1. You must go from point “A” where you are loaded up, to point “B” where you are making contact, in a straight line. The very beginning of the swing is NOT level at all. It is a DOWNWARD movement when going from A to B and NOT a horizontal movement. Way too many players level out their swing at the start. The reason it is such a common problem is because they have heard the words “level swing” hollered out to them since they were eight years old. I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard a coach, parent or teammate holler those two words out. Only at the point of contact should the swing level out and NOT before that. You can not lose a valuable fraction of a second if it takes a fast ball a fraction of a second to get to the catcher’s mitt. Look at it as simple math.

2. Another possibility for your swing to be “long and looping” may be that you are dropping your hands at the beginning of the swing. This can cause you to be “long” to the ball and cause your bat to have a slight drag.

3. You may be pushing your hands out too far away from your body and that will create a longer swing. Remember the expression, “hands back and bat forward.”

4. You must keep your front shoulder closed. If you open the front shoulder too early, it will cause your bat to drag through the hitting zone. This is often referred to as “casting” the bat and not swinging the bat. “Casting” is what you do when you go fishing and not when you swing at a baseball.

Let’s face it. There are hundreds of baseball tips on hitting. Having a tension free swing, being “short to the ball” and keeping the front shoulder closed should be right near the top of your list! They are three things that are absolutely critical for successful baseball hitting.

Larry is the successful author of several very user friendly eBooks and CD’s covering 320 topics on playing or coaching excellent baseball. ANY player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Check out some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips at LarryBaseball.com.