Thursday, February 23, 2012

Switch Hitting Tips

Nobody enjoys attempting to participate in a game, especially a "Team" sport, which your skills are far below the other participants, it's just not any fun being an automatic out. Therefore, for personal reasons, increasing our fun and self respect, we strive to improve and add to our skill sets, but there is another very important reason to improve.
In little league there are always your naturally larger and stronger kids which dominate hitting and pitching, but as kids grow into young adults the strength and ability gap narrows as the serious athlete hits the weights for strength, spends hours in the batting cages and seeks professional tutorage.
Not only do the athletes change, but the game itself and how decisions are made changes drastically as Coaches begin making position moves during a game based on percentages and odds rather than gut feelings. He'll bring in a left handed pitcher to face a left handed batter, although his right handed reliever was throwing well, based solely on percentages.
When analyzing talent during tryouts a Coach and his assistants, will grade the performance of each player as he performs such tasks as hitting, fielding and throwing. This grade card is then tabulated into terms of what benefit would this player be for the Team.
This is the point where being able to proficiently Switch Hit could very well be the determining factor if you make the team or not, as the ability to switch hit increases a player's value by adding options for a coach to draw upon.
I don't know any Coach which, all other factors considered between two players being equal, who wouldn't choose the player who could switch hit to be on the team.
So how do we go about learning to switch hit?
Mental preparation is the very first thing we must do. Mickey Mantle is the only player I'm aware of who hit consistently the same whether hitting left or right handed, and he's in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The very first thing to be aware of is You will NOT feel the same when hitting from the opposite side of the plate. Although this should be obvious, I've know many players who I believe had the talent to become very good hitting from either side, who quickly discarded the idea because they felt awkward hitting from the opposite side.
Another, what should be obvious difference except in very rare cases, you'll be a different type of hitter as you switch hit. In almost all cases you will have more power hitting from your natural side, not to say you can't hit a home run from your opposite side, but it's not as likely. Why?
Theoretically, the body's entire hitting system, muscles, eyes, and mind have been trained one way to react as you hit, but turn the body around backwards and this entire system must immediately adapt new memory.
Because of the complexity of this memory adaptation, the mind quickly reverts back to basics, make contact with the ball.
I've known of coaches, (me) who have forced a star hitter, mired in a hitting slump, to hit from the other side during practice and by going back to the basics of intently watching the ball and swinging for contact instead of power, the hitter becomes better.
Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward, therefore here is the system I used for my players when learning to switch hit.
1. They began by hitting off a batting tee extensively as this began to somewhat acclimated their body and mind to the new and awkward physical task of hitting from the opposite side.
This drill was used until the hitter could solidly hit ten balls in a row off the tee. After all, if you can't hit a ball setting still you definitely won't hit one moving.
2.Once they demonstrated they could perform this drill (which also increased their confidence immensely) they moved to taking swings in a batting cage.
3. Establishing a reasonable skill level at making contact with a moving ball, they began switch hitting during batting practice. The first few times they batted from the opposite side only, then they'd hit from their natural side, then switch and hit five pitches.

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