Play Like A Pro - Batting Tips
Frame of Mind
When you are ready to step into the batter's box, be confident! You should feel balanced and relaxed. As you step into the batters box, do it with a sense of determination and focus. Set yourself by digging in with your back foot to gain good footing and balance. Demonstrate to the pitcher that you are ready to play.
Depth in Box
To set your feet at the proper depth each time, place your right toe on the back corner of the plate, then your left toe behind your right heel. Finally, step back with your right foot to establish a proper distance and depth (for left-handed batters, do the opposite). How far back you stand in the box is a matter of personal preference. Standing deeper allows more time for pitchers who pitch fast, but it may be tougher to hit a breaking ball type of pitch that sinks out in front.
Position from Plate
The first thing to do when stepping into the batter's box is to find the proper place to place your feet. Make sure you are not too close to or too far from the plate. Touch your bat across the plate to find if you can cover an outside pitch. Your bat should touch the same place each time you step into the box.
The type of stance you use is up to you. Many successful batters have very different stances. However, a balanced stance with your feet square to the plate provides you the best position to properly uncork a good swing. Allow enough room to take a good 6-8 inch step toward the pitcher as you begin swing.
Finding a glove that best suits your needs is mostly based on how it feels to you. A glove that is flexible usually has soft leather and is easier to squeeze. Condition your glove with glove oil to make it more pliable and ready for action. Gloves with a deep pocket make it tough to turn a double play because the ball gets lost in the pocket. Second basemen usually have the smallest gloves of all the fielders while shortstops will have slightly bigger gloves than second basemen. A good baseball glove mainly has to feel right to you. Refer to this glove sizing chart.
Persistent practice and repetitions are the best way to improve any aspect of your game, particularly fielding. There is no substitute for hard work and practice. Keep the following in mind when working on your skills for fielding:
- When scooping balls out of the dirt, try to keep your glove down.
- If you see the ball bounce, raise your glove with the ball
- Provide cushion when scooping the ball so that it doesn't pop out.
- If you are a first baseman, always expect a bad throw so you'll be ready for it.
- Properly positioning prior to the pitcher throwing a pitch - position yourself as far back from the batter as you feel comfortable, but take into consideration how fast the batter will run to first base.
- If you are playing third base when a double play situation arises, and a ground ball is hit toward the third base side, try to wait for the ball to get close enough to you before starting your movement towards second base.
- If a runner on second is looking to steal third, make sure that you keep an eye on him. If he attempts to steal third, wait as long as you can to see if the batter at home plate hits the ball.
- If a runner is rounding third base and heading home, and a ball is hit to the outfield, try to position yourself about 15 feet in from the baseline.
The best thing to do when you are playing catch or throwing to a base is always step toward your target. Accuracy can be more important than a strong arm.
- Work on throwing some long tosses to make your arm stronger.
- Getting on top of the ball, versus to the side, will help straighten your throws.
- Do not let your arm drop to the side if you are throwing over the top.
- Try to hold the ball across the seam.
All baseball players need to learn how to properly run the bases. Each player differs in their ability to run, some run fast while others run a bit slower. However, good baserunning has a lot to do with knowing when to run and when not to run.
The 3 key rules of effective baserunning are:
- Check the coach for a signal - know the signal before you leave the base.
- Check for where the fielders are playing.
- Before you leave the base, know where the baseball is at all times.
- Running to First Base
Getting a good jump out of the batter's box after hitting is the first step to good baserunning. A right handed hitter should step with his right foot toward first base after hitting the ball. A left handed hitter should cross-over with his left foot by opening up his right after hitting the ball.
On the 3rd or 4th step, the batter should take a quick look to see if the ball is on the infield. If so, the runner should plan to run through first base. If the ball has gone to the outfield, the runner should plan to make a turn at first base toward second base. The runner should not watch the ball after the quick look, instead focus on running hard to first base.
Run in a straight line toward first base. Runners need to stay within the restraining box that begins about halfway up the first baseline. You can be called out if you are hit with a ball while outside the restraining line.
- Do not leap for first base - run through first base.
- Attempt to touch the front of the base.
- Touch first base every time.
- Run full speed through first base.
After taking a quick look, if the ball has gone into the outfield, plan to round first base. Begin a bending turn about halfway to first base. Touch the inside corner of the bag with the outside of the right foot. If reaching second base is not possible, keep an eye on the ball while returning to first base.
Running from First to Second
If baserunning signals are used, be sure to 'take' a sign while standing on first base. Focus on what needs to happen before the ball is pitched. Guard against becoming distracted by other players, fans, etc.
Be responsible for jumping back to first base if the batter doesn't hit the ball and catcher attempts to throw to first base. It is possible the catcher may make a bad throw allowing you to advance to second base.
If the batter hits a popup or flyball, move toward second base depending upon where the ball is hit. Go about 1/4 of the way to second if the ball is hit in the air to right field, 1/3 of the way if the ball is hit to center, and about 1/2 way if the ball is hit to left field. If there are less than 2 outs and a line drive is hit, freeze on first base until it is known that the ball has been hit to outfield. This will help prevent a double play.