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How to Hit Line Drives



A HARD DOSE OF REALITY

Don’t believe the hype! There are many “theorists” out there who claim anyone can be a home run hitter. I hate to break the bad news, but 80% of hitters will never develop into a consistent home run hitter. So why waste time trying to hit home runs?

If you are part of the 80%, then you have 2 choices, firstly you can try and defy mother nature and turn yourself into the 20% that hit home runs on a consistent basis. Or, you can face up to reality and work with what God gave you.

When I started out playing baseball, I was skinny for my age, but I was fortunate enough to have coaches around me who forced me to hit line drives to the opposite field. As my body developed and my swing got stronger and doubles started turning into home runs. The point is a home run swing needs to develop over time, a young hitter needs to learn the value of hitting line drives up the middle and to the opposite field before trying to hit home runs.


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SET REALISTIC GOALS

A hitter needs to decide early on what he wants to achieve with hitting. There is no use trying to hit home runs, if you only have warning track power. Let this be understood, a hitter who continually hits fly balls to the outfield will find himself on the bench in a hurry! Therefore, it is vital baseball batters define what their goals are, both long term and short term. These goals need to be realistic and achievable, the hitter needs to write down his goals and record his progress over the baseball season.

SAMPLE HITTING GOALS

  • I would like to hit 2 balls hard per game
  • I would like to try and hit 1 ball hard & up the middle every game
  • I would like to hit 70% of balls up the middle or to the opposite field during batting practice
  • I would like to cut down to no more than 1 strikeout per game
  • I would like to get 1 walk per game
  • I would like to get 1 RBI per game
  • I would like to minimize the amount of pop flies I hit

  • By not focusing on home runs the hitter will develop all-round skills that will make him a complete hitter.


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    THE HOME RUN CONUNDRUM

    It is wrong that a young hitter should be trying or expecting to hit home runs, and any hitting coach that is teaching kids to hit home runs should have a serious think about what he is doing to the long term development of his players. Hitting home runs is great, however home run hitters also have a tendency to strike out a lot, this is due to the very nature of the home run swing. Ultimately, increased strikeouts are detrimental to a young hitter's mental development in the game of baseball.

    Strike outs are mentally draining, even for the most experienced hitters. Teaching hitting methods that reinforce power and home runs, will more than likely correlate to increased strikeouts and a lower batting average (unless the hitter is a freak of nature). Alternatively, teaching the value of line drives at a young age will help nurture a hitter through the development stage of his baseball swing.

    Generally, line drives develop into home runs over a period of time. In fact, it is more than likely a hitter will never develop into a home run hitter. When you look at your average baseball lineup, how many hitters would you consider to be a true home run hitter? Maybe 2 or 3 tops. Therefore, the question needs to be asked, why are 80% of hitters trying to be something that they will never be (a home run hitter)?

    THE LINE DRIVE IS MAKING A COMEBACK

    If you have watched the past few World Series, it wasn't the home run hitting teams that win, it has been the “line-drive/good 2 strike hitting teams” who come out on top. In fact, during the majority of the playoffs home run hitting teams are shut down (New York Yankees Syndrome). Meanwhile, the teams with the solid line drive approach have the most success. Especially against tough pitching.

    WHAT DO THE SCOUTS LOVE?

    Let’s not kid ourselves, scouts like power, but they also like hitters that can hit line drives up the middle and the other way. This shows experience and poise, scouts know that a good hitter needs to master the opposite field line drive in order to be successful at the MLB level. Scouts also understand that doubles will eventually turn into home runs as the hitter grows into his body and gets stronger. Young baseball players should be happy with doubles in the gap. Young hitters need to understand that these doubles will eventually turn into home runs as their body gets stronger. In this case, the hitter does not need to make any mechanical adjustments to hit home runs, he just needs to be patient as his body and swing develops strength over time.

    HOW TO WORK ON BEING A GOOD LINE DRIVE HITTER

  • Take disciplined batting practice. Note the 80/20 rule, try to hit 80% line drives and 20% swing for the fence (if any at all).
  • Take note of the way the ball travels off the bat, ensure the ball is hit straight with backspin and does not tail off at the end of its journey
  • Focus on hitting line drives up the middle and to the opposite field. Once again the 80/20 rule. 80% of balls up the middle and the other way, 20% of balls pulled during batting practice
  • Discover what mechanics work best through repetitions & trial and error, every hitter is different and there is no “one size fits all” approach to hitting. If a hitter is focused 100% on hitting line drives hard to the opposite field, this will normally result into a short, compact swing.
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    Seal of Approval - Author: Clint Balgera. Credentials include: 20+ seasons combined playing professionally in the USA, Italy & Australia. MVP Junior College World Series, 2 Junior College National Championships, Helms Award Winner, awarded full scholarship to the University of Indianapolis & more.