Hitting a baseball, is considered by many people to be one of the most
difficult physical tasks to master in all of sport. This time of the year I get lots of
calls from parents of baseball players who want their youngsters to perform
better at the plate.
Typically, I help them learn how to stay relaxed, confident and focused when they
step into the batter’s box. Sometimes, I have a hitting coach review their mechanics to
make sure that they are using the correct technique to make good contact with the ball.
We look at the youngster’s stance, balance, grip, head, swing speed, timing,
position in the box, weight transfer and their ability to adjust to different kinds
In many instances, the psychology of hitting, anticipating the pitch,
understanding the count and game strategy is ignored by some
batting coaches. Consequently, I spend a lot of time discussing the
the strategy and psychology of hitting which is complicatesd and
quite fascinating, since there are many elements involved in making
wise decisions at the plate.
Recently, I discovered a rather interesting and very useful
statistic pertaining to hitting. Apparently, many fine hitters get a high number of
pitches when they come up to the plate. One fine American League hitter averages
more than nine pitches every time he steps into the batter’s box. If you follow the
careers of some of the finest hitters in the game, you will discover that many of
them show great patience, take a lot of pitches and are quite selective as to what
kinds of pitches they swing at.
Why is this concept so important when it comes to being an effective batter?
A hitter who is getting a lot of pitches is tenacious. In addition, he knows how
to bat in an intelligent manner when he is ahead or behind in the count. He works
the pitcher effectively, because he knows the strike zone very well. A hitter who
knows how to be patient and selective and who knows how to foul off a lot of
balls tends to be a very tough out.
Also, a batter who sees a lot of pitches from the same pitcher begins to
get familiar with pitchers stuff. They can start to read the pitches and
anticipate the break, action and movement of the ball with greater confidence.
Once the batter zones in on the pitcher’s speed, tempo and ball movement, he can be
a very dangerous hitter.
If a hitter with good mechanics works the count well, he may see twenty five
pitches from the same pitcher by the time his third at bat comes around. At this point
in time, he or she or she tends to quite familiar with what they are likely to encounter
when they bat. They begin to gain a psychological advantage over the now
Furthermore, a hitter who has these kinds of psychological and physical skills
mentioned earlier in this article, is well-suited to batting in the leadoff position, since he
is likely to get on base often and tire a lot of pitchers out.
I encourage a lot of the baseball hitters I work with to read Ted Williams’
book on hitting. Ted Williams recognized the importance of knowing the strike
zone very well.
In brief, if you want your child to bat in the zone, he or she needs to know the
strike zone very well.
Your son or daughter also needs to know what kind of pitch and which pitch
location is his or her personal favorite. When they recognize this pitch, they
can unload on the ball with great confidence.
So, if you are coaching a youngster on his or her hitting, teach the youngster to
be patient and selective and encourage him or her to develop tenacity, an
understanding of the count and a good sense of the strike zone. Don’t
let them hit balls that are not strikes when they practice. This helps them
to develop self-defeating habits that can make them less effective when
they step up to the plate.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D, is the Founder of StayInTheZone.com. He counsels
athletes from many different sports. His son has played on three
championship baseball teams. Dr. Granat can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at 888 580-ZONE.
For information on his products and services, go to www.stayinthezone.com