Your swing may look AMAZING or it may look AKWARD but by no means will it be the primary driver of your success at the plate! Each hitter is different but there are 4 things I believe are CRITICAL to success in the batters box;
TIMING, DECISION MAKING, ADJUSTMENTS & CONFIDENCE.
Today is about Adjustments (pt.3 of 4)
Being able to make good and quick adjustments will only add to the consistency of a hitter and therefore enhance one of my 4 Critical areas (T.D.A.C) of being an elite hitter.
Players with high levels of hand/eye coordination are naturally in a position to be better at adjustments. SO WHAT ARE ADJUSTMENTS as it pertains to being a great hitter?
Adjustments at the plate is the ability to change what is needed to maximize positive outcomes. Adjustments can be season-to-season, tournament-to-tournament, game-to-game, at bat -to- at bat and pitch-to-pitch. The awareness of needing to adjust is the first step.
TODAY is about pitch-to-pitch adjustments which is where I feel most youth hitters really struggle.
With every pitch a hitter needs to be able to understand their potential outcomes. Here is a basic but VERY IMPORTANT adjustment young hitters can make pitch-to-pitch. If a hitter fouls 2 balls over the first base dugout thats a clear indication they are behind but are making contact. So, they need to get in back of box. This simple move allows their same swing to get to ball earlier to be on time. On flip side if they hit a couple pitches over 3rd base dugout they should move forward. NOW these are generalities but they point is hitters should ADJUST if they want a different outcome.
SO MANY TIMES I watch hitters in the middle of the box just stay in the same place even when they are not getting the right results timing wise.
There are so many adjustments we could discuss but do not have time in this blog so I will go over ideas for some common adjustments.
BACK OF THE BOX
I am a big believer the back of box is your friend --- It allows a hitter more time to make adjustments. I like to have my hitters work from the back of box to front depending on what they need adjustment wise.
GET OFF /ON THE PLATE
If you find yourself hitting the inside part of barrel to often and not getting the "sweet spot" the create more space by getting off plate. At 10u we see a lot of umpires calling strikes on outside of plate so we may need to have hitter tight on plate so they don't get rung-up when a outside pitch just crosses black. In this case tight on the plate may be the answer HOWEVER if a player is very good at going opposite field than crowding plate makes LESS sense. At 18u I see too many players crowd plate ---pitchers work inside much of the time at higher 18u levels. So many times I see hitter get handcuffed and yet next pitch they are still standing on plate. GIVE YOUR BARREL A CHANCE!
DO THE OPPOSITE WHILE TRAINING
Its a good idea to train hitting the ball in many ways ---opposite, gap 2 gap, pull side, fly balls, ground balls ect. Basically with good bat control you should be able to hit the ball anyway you want off front toss and certainly a T. OK ---so if the objective is line drives up the middle and you hit two line dives to OPPOSITE field, rather than tell yourself "c'mon, go up middle" TRY hitting a couple line drives to PULL SIDE, this more extreme adjustment will give you the feeling you need to change direction. Then go back to hitting up the middle. This techniques works with any type of ball your trying to hit. IF YOUR OUTCOME is not what you want, TRY THE OPPOSITE result of what your after, then get back on track.
STRUGGLING WITH SLOW PITCHING
One of the most efficient adjustments to make with slow pitching is to try to hit every ball opposite field. Assuming a player knows what hitting opposite feels like their brain will understand the hands will fire a little later and the ball will get a little deeper. Also without even knowing it most hitters will release their barrel later when trying to go oppo, all these things may be just whats needed to rip the slow pitching. NOW, the off-speed changeup is a different discussion for another day!
These are only a few ideas --- I will put together a more in depth article on adjustments but for now just remember that they have a place in the T.D.A.C of ELITE HITTERS.