How to help hitters improve timingDec 26, 2023
Read time: 4 minutes
I am building an operating system for hitting coaches.
This will help you.
- Save time
- Be organized
- Develop hitting plans
- Build your own system
- Game plan against pitchers
I’ll have more details in the weeks to come.
Hitting is all about timing.
• What is timing?
• What affects timing?
• How can we help hitters improve timing?
Let's start and figure out what timing means.
I found the first two definitions via Webster's dictionary:
1. "A placement or occurrence in time."
2. "The ability to select the precise moment for doing something for optimum effect."
The second is more relevant for today's discussion.
'Optimum effect' for me as a hitting coach is seeing a hitter barrel the ball.
If timing is the ability to select the precise moment for barreling the ball, we must figure out when that is.
Once we have that, we'll know what it means to be 'on time.'
So, what factors go into selecting that precise moment in time?
First, hitters have a certain amount of 'time' before the pitch crosses home plate.
Here is a graphic showing a 90 mph Fastball until it crosses home plate.
Considering the hitter doesn’t have a bat long enough to hit the ball as soon as the pitcher releases it, the optimum time isn’t until the ball comes within the hitter's reach.
Now, where they make contact with the ball could vary: in front of the home plate, on the edge of the home plate, or the home plate. Lol.
Part of that is also determined by where they stand in the box, pitch type, location, etc.
So, ‘on time’ must be a range and not one specific point.
Here’s the definition I came up with regarding what it means to be “on time.”
“The bat can contact the ball as it crosses home plate.”
Here’s why I came up with that definition of ‘on time.’
I asked myself a few questions.
- Can you swing and miss and be on time?
- Can you have inefficient mechanics and be on time?
I answered yes to both.
If you disagree, respond to this email and let me know your thoughts.
Now we know what ‘timing’ and ‘on time’ means.
Let’s talk about 6 factors that affect timing.
Vision & Experience
You can’t hit what you can’t see.
You’ll also struggle to hit what you haven’t seen before.
Our brain loves to predict. It goes off past experiences.
I liked this quote I heard from Tony Baldwin:
“The best hitters are the best predictors of where the ball is going.”
What is the hitter trying to do or not do at the plate?
- Hit a home run.
- Be relaxed
All of these affect how the body moves, which affects timing.
The bat can’t have a chance to make contact with the ball as it crosses home plate if the hitter’s movement is poor.
I’ll wait to get involved in this mechanical discussion for a future newsletter.
Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb more than watching a hitter with limited strength hit against a pitcher with velocity.
They have no chance.
This is the one that has the most significant impact among hitters.
How can it not?
Every player is a human being, and human beings deal with life issues that bring emotions.
That’s why building relationships with players is so important.
Once you understand their background and past life experiences, you can adjust your coaching style to that individual player.
Help hitters with Timing.
The first thing we must do to help hitters improve timing is to help educate them on themselves.
- Do they know when they need to start their move?
- Do they know what their move is?
- Where should they be looking?
- What are they looking for?
- Should they have an approach?
The hitter has ' free time ' before the pitcher comes set or is in their windup.’
This time, it sets up everything we talked about above.
It’s crucial and often determines whether they are ‘on time.’
I believe in hitters making a physical change in practice if they’re struggling with timing.
- Change where they start in the box
- Change the weight of the bat they swing
- Change their movement
Here’s an example.
Have the hitter step back off the machine or a live pitcher.
Most players only do this on flips or tee work.
Permission to fail.
Give permission to a hitter to get jammed if they’re out in front and try to hit a home run if they’re late.
Overexaggerating can help a lot of hitters with timing.
Most are too scared even to try it.
You might have to give them permission to fail.
Whew, nearly 1,000 words, and I think we could’ve gone on for several thousand more.
Whenever you're ready, there's 1 way I can help you:
I'm currently working with hitters in Cincinnati, Ohio.
If you are a hitter who is hungry to become the best hitter you can, email me your name and contact information.