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You've probably heard someone say, "hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports." They weren't lying. Hitting a baseball is no easy task, and it gets harder and harder the older you get. By the time you reach high school, you're facing pitchers who not only throw hard but have mastered a number of different pitches. Learning and maintaining the proper fundamentals of hitting isn't easy, but it's the only way to become a consistent hitter.
Your feet, your hands and your head are keys to hitting success. If you can move them properly and in concert, you'll put yourself in great position to rack up hits.
The feet are the foundation for maintaing balance throughout your swing. Balance from the beginning through the finish of the swing is crucial for your ability to track the ball accurately.
The stance should be comfortable. You should stand approximately a bat plus an arm's length away from the opposite side of the plate. To ensure you're in the right position, stand in the box and reach the bat to see if you can touch the opposite side of the plate. If you can, you'll be in a position that provides complete plate coverage.
The load is when the hitter shifts all of his weight to his back foot while his entire body moves together. The load stops when the back knee and back shoulder are in line. The load is like the hammer on a revolver being cocked—it's done slowly and comes to a subtle stop before the trigger is pulled. It's the same thing in hitting: the load should happen in a slow and controlled manner before the swing is initiated.
The stride happens next. The front foot strides in line with the back foot toward the pitcher.
After a nice load and a soft stride, you should be in a balanced position and can begin to move your hands to the ball. We teach our hitters (regardless of age) to hit the ball where it's pitched and hit it into the outfield. That means that if the ball is on the outside part of the plate, you should try to take it to the opposite field. If it's on the inside part of the plate, you should try to pull the ball.
When moving your hands toward the ball, don't immediately extend your arms or push your hands forward. Keeping your hands back at the start of your swing will allow you to generate a lot of energy with your legs and core before bringing your hands through. As you make contact, your eyes should see the bat hit the ball. You should hit through the baseball, meaning your bat speed should be at its peak just before contact. This is a huge step in having a better hitting technique and driving the ball. Check out the video above to see how Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon focuses on keeping both hands on the bat to keep his upper body loose in batting practice.
Your head should be still throughout the swing. An easy mental note to enforce keeping your head still is to think "Ike to Mike." This is a saying I learned from an older coach and it's a great way to teach hitters.
"Ike" is on your front shoulder and "Mike" is on your back shoulder. You should say hello to "Ike" at the beginning of your swing and say hello to "Mike" after you hit the ball. In other words your chin should go from shoulder to shoulder while you swing the bat. You're not actually moving your chin, but your swing is rotating your shoulders. If you can control your head throughout the swing, hitting becomes easier.