Here’s your usual batting cage routine: Swing as hard as possible and raise your arms in triumph as you win yet another home run derby. It’s great for the ego, but lousy for improvement. Jim Thomas, assistant baseball coach at Wichita State University offers up a progression to groove your stroke, sharpen your eye and nail every fat pitch that comes along.
1. Start simply.
Before you hit one ball, take 50 free swings, making each successive one slightly faster. Visualize every kind of pitch—even bad ones that you’ll take—coming all the way into the catcher’s glove, and then see hitting it where you want. Your head and eyes will stay in the hitting zone. Since your bat is quicker, you can watch a pitch for longer, and, once you’re in an actual game, nothing will be a surprise.
2. Take to the stand.
Hit 50 off a T, starting with hitting away, focusing on the inside part of the ball to maximize and lock in direct contact. Move the T up and down to work on different planes; move to hitting up the middle; and then only finish with pulling the ball. If you start by pulling, it’ll look and feel good, but, with no velocity, it’ll also lead to a false sense of competence and ingrain sloppy techniques.
3. Enter the live ball.
Hit 30-40 soft tosses to incorporate motion and to discern between a good and bad pitch. Follow the same progression—middle away, middle, pulling.
4. Open things up.
End with 50 at whatever you deem is maximum velocity, following the same progression and laying off bad pitches. Your ultimate goal is to swing so much that it becomes second nature. “If you have any mechanical thoughts while trying to hit, it’s very difficult. You need a swing you can trust. You need to be on autopilot. You want to worry about the ball,” Thomas says.
© Core Performance
Abbott Nutrition strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program and perform exercises under the supervision of a certified fitness trainer or conditioning coach. The effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition should be determined by your health care professional. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.