After understanding the fundamentals of hitting, as described in my previous article (April 4, Bluffton Sun), now the youngster is ready for the “Pitch-Hit” approach to hitting a baseball.
The child should be comfortable in the batter’s box, totally relaxed, no tension. His only thought is to focus on and see the release of the ball by the pitcher.
When the pitcher releases the ball, the batter says, out loud, “Pitch.”
When the batter swings, at the moment of contact he says, out loud, “Hit.”
When swinging, the batter must rotate the hips quickly and make contact with the ball as the bat passes the front leg.
By consistently focusing on the release of the ball and saying “Pitch,” then making contact and saying “Hit,” the child will develop a certain rhythm and timing that is essential to hitting.
With the batter saying “Pitch-Hit,” the coach can hear whether or not the child sees the exact moment of release from the pitcher and the exact moment of contact.
If he swings and misses, the coach should ask whether the bat went over or under the ball. Most likely, the child will guess because he was probably afraid, turned his head away or closed his eyes.
Every time a child swings and misses, the question must be asked – “Was your bat over or under the ball?” Once he knows, he is on the right track to becoming a hitter because he is focusing on seeing the release of the pitch and the bat hit the ball.
Understanding the fundamentals of hitting is important because the player must have an idea of form and technique and the proper way to swing. But we don’t want them to be thinking about fundamentals when using the Pitch-Hit method.
What we want to do is change the hitter’s thought process. Now, when he enters the batter’s box, instead of thinking about the fear, the anxiety, or worrying about facing the opposing pitcher, each child will go to the plate with one thought in mind: Pitch-Hit – focus on the release of the pitch and make contact with the ball.
Richie Richman of Bluffton is a boys and girls baseball coach and author of the book “How to Teach Kids to Play Baseball.”