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Friday, April 24, 2009
A Guide to Peak Performance in Base Ball
A Guide to Peak Performance in Base Ball
By Ruth Cracknell
How one faces the pitcher is a very important part of a base ball game. Generally speaking, the back end of the plate should be about even with the middle of the hitter's body. The big end of the bat should extend to one or two inches beyond the outside edge of the plate when the arms are fully extended. The type of pitcher and the situation tells the batter how to adjust. If the pitcher is very fast and relies on his fast ball most of the time, the batter should stand as far back as possible.
If the pitcher uses a curve most of the time, the batter ought to move to the front of the box and try to hit the curve before it breaks. If a runner is on base and the "Steal" sign is flashed, the batter should stand back as far as he can so the catcher will be forced back a few steps, adding to the length of his throw. If the count is three balls and no strikes, the batter should crowd the plate and make as tough a target as he can for the pitcher.
Hit It Where It's Pitched!
Once the pitcher starts his move, the batter wants to stand absolutely still, but relaxed, never taking his eyes off the pitcher. He concentrates most when the pitcher is about to release the ball. It's not a good practice to try to follow the ball all through the pitcher's windup. As the ball comes whistling toward the plate, the batter must get into the habit of watching it all the way-until it actually meets the bat. He must not pull his head away from the plate until after the ball has been hit.
The batter must start the weight forward early! Take your stride as the pitcher's striding foot hits the ground.
When learning to hit the ball in base ball, starting the forward stride and striding in the right direction are equally important. Always step toward the ball, but move so that the ball will arrive near the "meat end" of the bat.
For example: If the pitch comes directly over the center of the plate, the hitter can step along a line parallel to one running between the pitcher and the plate. (He has already made certain, with his practice swing, that the heavy end of the bat would come over the heart of the plate). If the ball is wide, he should adjust the direction of his step accordingly. He cannot possibly hit the ball well if he steps the same way on an inside and outside pitch-he must adjust the step.
In addition, he must adjust the level of his swing if the ball is low. If the batter holds his hands in the position I advocate-just below the level of the Power Shoulder -he need only adjust the hands for pitches in the strike zone that are above the belt line. The Power Shoulder is the one opposite to the shoulder above the arm that guides the bat.
Below the belt line, he should bend his knees so that the bat still remains level with the ground as it goes around. Except when trying to place-hit, always hit the ball in front, or to the pitcher's side of the plate.
Ball players talk a great deal about "pulling" the ball and "hitting to right", or "hitting to left". For a young hitter, he should : "hit the ball where it is pitched." That means this to a right hand hitter (the opposite to a left-hander): If the ball is "outside", hit directly into right field. If it's inside, hit into left field. If it's over the center of the plate, hit into center field.
By doing this you can hit with full power and have a better chance of getting solid wood on the ball. You also keep the defense from "ganging" up on you.
A boy who always hits to the same base ball field is not as valuable to his team as the boy who hits to all fields. Practise hard to be that boy!
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