Building Rome Series

Top 5 Priorities for the Beginning Hitter

 

 

Building Rome Series Author

Top 5 Priorities for the Beginning Hitter

The Beginning Hitting Series

Baseball and Fast Pitch Softball

 

Do you wonder, how should I guide my beginning hitter when they are just starting to learn to hit? This article offers five priorities for helping your beginning hitter get started on the right path.

Before we dive in, here are the two most important ingredients for teaching kids under ten:

  • HAVE FUN!

Try to turn everything into a game. Emphasize fun and creating confidence.

  • KEEP IT SIMPLE!   

Especially with young hitters, when they are struggling too much to progress in a task, it can knock their confidence to the point of giving up. It is best to keep it simple to start.

 

Top Priority for the Beginning Hitter

Purchase a Good Fitting Bat 

Choose a bat for the beginning hitter

To avoid an unnecessary (and expensive) purchase, a bat needs to be: 

  • A good fit for the beginning hitter.

  • Allowed in the association or league in which the player participates.

A properly fitted bat speeds learning and helps grow confidence. For assistance in selecting a bat for the beginning hitter, please see the Building Rome Series instructional video Choose a Bat.

For the Building Rome Series review of best bats for the beginning hitter, see Best Bats for 2019 Ages 9 and Under.

 

Second Priority for the Beginning Hitter

See the Ball 

See the ball for the beginning hitter.

 

Seeing the ball well is the ability to see clearly, recognize what you’re seeing, and track what you’re seeing. The brain receives the visual information and signals the body how to react to the pitch.

To do this, the hitter must see the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and then maintain a keen focus on the ball until it contacts the bat. For hitters of all ages, seeing the ball well requires one hundred percent focus on the ball. Any mental lapse during release and ball flight increases the chances of a swing and miss, poor contact, chasing a bad pitch, or letting a good pitch go.

 

Drill for the Beginning Hitter 

 An excellent way to begin is to ask the young hitter to swing, and after hitting the ball, identify the spot on the bat where the contact occurred.

 

Game for the Beginning Hitter 

After they are comfortable with this first drill, here is a game to improve seeing the ball, hand-eye coordination, and rate of solid contact.

Give the hitter ten front tosses. Count no points for swing and misses, one point for contact on the cap or handle, and two points for contact on the sweet spot. Let the beginning hitter watch where contact occurs. Keep track of points scored in each group of ten. Have the beginning hitter try to beat their record during each practice session. Celebrate successes!

For additional concepts, drills, and games, see the Building Rome Series instructional video Step by Step for the Beginning Hitter – See the Ball. 

 

Third Priority for the Beginning Hitter

Reduce Fear of Being Hit by The Pitched Ball

 

Overcoming the fear of being hit by the ball requires time. These fearful kids turn into fearless hitters in an amazingly short time.

 

Drill for the Beginning Hitter 

The coach or parent can gradually increase comfort and confidence. Here is a deliberate practice routine:

  • Begin by asking the hitter to set up a distance from the plate where they are comfortable and won’t jump or step away from the plate. For most young hitters, this initial distance is much too far from the plate. That’s ok. Mark this spot (with tape) in the batter’s box and measure the distance from the plate.

  • Progress slowly, beginning with front toss, then using a pitching machine if available, and finally, live pitch. Repeat this sequence of hitting practice, from toss to machine to live, asking the hitter to move an inch closer to the plate each time through.

  • If they begin backing away, stop moving any closer to the plate until they are ready to try again. Keep measurements. Set goals. Compliment progress. Make it a game. Who knows, they may even have fun reducing their fear!

Using this gradual desensitization process, young hitters can become more confident setting up with a productive position in the box.

For further information aimed at reducing fear of the pitched ball, see our instructional video Step by Step for the Beginning Hitter – A Common Roadblock.

 

Fourth Priority for the Beginning Hitter

Swing at a Good Pitch

Swing a good pitch for the beginning hitter.

 

Here is a couple of strike zone related concepts to go over with the young hitter before beginning to teach them not to swing at bad pitches: 

  • Go over the strike zone rules for the league the hitter is playing in.

  • Then cover the real strike zone. The real strike zone is not what is in the rule book. The strike zone is what the umpire thinks it is. And the strike zone varies according to the umpire.

Next, the beginning hitter can make a start on learning to check their swing. That is, practice starting their swing, then holding up on pitches out of the strike zone. To do this, they should try to stop their hands just as they reach a point under their chin while keeping their barrel pointed rearward at the catcher.

 

Game for the Beginning Hitter

When the young hitter understands the strike zone and has practiced checking their swing, they are ready for a fun game. 

Give the hitter front tosses with a mixture of balls and strikes. Count how many correct decisions, that is, swinging at strikes and check swinging at balls, the hitter can make in a row. If they make an incorrect decision, they start over. Keep track of how many in a row. Have the hitter try to beat their record during each practice session. 

Purposeful practice earns strike zone discipline. Using focused drills and games where success is measured and tracked, the young hitter’s pitch selectivity and patience quickly improve. They will and soon have a fantastic eye at the plate.

For additional concepts, drills, and games, directed at improving patience and pitch selectivity, see the Building Rome Series instructional video Step by Step for the Beginning Hitter – Strike-Zone Discipline.

 

Fifth Priority for the Beginning Hitter

Swing Hard

Swing hard for the beginning hitter.

 

Coaches and parents have a profound effect on establishing goals for the young athlete. Shifting a hitter’s primary goal from making some contact, any contact, to hitting the ball hard can dramatically and rapidly cause positive movement adaptations. Amazingly, as scientists continue to uncover, the mind and body adapt to accomplish the desired goal. If the intention is to drive the ball hard, the young hitter’s body moves to accomplish that goal.

To further increase swing speed during games, see the Building Rome Series instructional video Step by Step for the Beginning Hitter – Swing Hard.

 

SUMMARY 

Guide the young hitter in a manner where they can have fun and success at the beginning levels of play.

Due to productive concepts, the beginning hitter has been improving. And confidence has grown from their increased ability to make hard contact on good pitches.

Please send me your thoughts and your top five priorities!

 

LEARN MORE

 The Building Rome Series book, Building the High-Level Swing, Volume 1 Hitting Position, more fully describes a step by step process to use when training a beginning hitter who is just starting to swing a bat.

Chapter 1: First Steps covers the following subjects comprehensively:

  • Bat Technology.
  • Bat Certifications for Baseball and Fast Pitch Softball.
  • Choose a Good Fitting Bat.
  • Improve the Ability to See the Ball.
  • Developing Hand-Eye Coordination.
  • How to Most Productively Set Up in the Batters Box.
  • Reduce Fear of the Pitched Ball.
  • Develop great Strike-Zone Discipline.
  • Check Swinging.
  • Developing the Intention to Hit the Ball Hard.

 

Building Rome Series Blog: The Beginning Hitting Series

Here are the thirteen videos and articles contained in The Beginning Hitting Series:

Introduction to the Beginning Hitting Video Series

Seven Steps to Successful Youth Coaching

Best Bats Ages 9 and Under

How to Fix Dipping Under the Ball

Top 5 Priorities for the Beginning Hitter

Choose a Bat in 5 Steps

Improving Vision of the Beginning Hitter

Improving Hand-Eye Coordination

Position in the Batters Box

How to Overcome Fear of Being Hit

How to Improve Plate Discipline

Check Swing to Increase Productivity

Develop an Aggressive Batting Swing

 

Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing

step by step hitting fundamentalsBuilding the High-Level Swing, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 contains a detailed and comprehensive examination of over 100 hitting fundamentals, techniques, and options.

In the Building Rome Series of books, fundamentals are built step by step. Construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.

All baseball and fast pitch softball players can “climb the steps of the Roman Coliseum” to becoming a powerful and productive hitter.

Enjoy the quest!