Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Problem With Oppo Hitting Approaches

                                                                           (Photo credit:

There are so many coaches who teach their hitters a linear hand path swing that chops at the ball, pushing the ball backside. Hitters with this type of swing are known as “bat control” guys, when in reality, we mean that they cannot hit good pitchers, with the exception of crushing a four-hole single.

Coaching your hitters to serve the ball backside like it’s a tennis backhand can be a valuable skill. Bat control is a terrific asset, but it should not be the core swing of a hitter with bat speed.

Too many coaches have clearly micro-managed hitters swings to the inside-out, “stay short” swing because they are A.) poor communicators of approach or B.) don’t understand what the mechanics of an efficient swing are, or C.) are afraid of the strikeout and thus, make all of their hitters “make contact” and “put the ball on the ground.” These are crappy ideas. These thoughts all come from a lack of comprehension...or fear. For most, I believe it is the latter.

Every weekend, I see a talented hitter with strength, a strong approach and plus bat speed that we can consistently get out by hammering him inside or spinning away before elevating.

Hitters who only possess a linear swing have a huge hole in their swing both inside and elevated, causing them to early commit to baseballs in these tunnels. Their maximum bat speed is only achieved on pitches middle in and down, making their barrel path steep, and causing them to hit choppers pull side on the ground and opposite field in the air. Particularly at the collegiate level and above, these hitters beat up weak pitching and soft lefties, but are easy to shift on and are exposed by velocity and movement.

These mechanical problems are only reinforced by the “oppo” batting practice round and teaching/forcing hitters to single their lives away backside. So many rounds of BP have been micromanaged, forcing hitters to push fastballs down the middle to right field. 

A hitter who attempts to force middle or middle-in pitches backside in batting practice is creating a physical and mental impediment that takes months, if not years, to break.

Earlier this season, we faced one group of knuckleheads who actually kicked their players out of the cage, during pre-game BP, if they were to pull a baseball to their pull side of second base. Needless to say, those cats didn't hit the ball well that weekend.

Allow your players the freedom to discover who they are as a hitter, with an understanding that it takes months to change a swing, and only a moment to destroy confidence and trust.

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