What if I told you about a drill that required a hitter to swing at absolutely everything and it didn’t matter if they made contact or not? Sounds a little unorthodox? Well consider what Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrereo once said about his hitting approach, “If something looks good, I’m swinging. They pay me to hit.”
Well, that's not the most sophisticated approach, but what’s good to Vlad sounds good to me - especially in this drill. In this particular exercise a MaxBP machine or person delivering the pitches has an important job, because they are the one’s unleashing a combination of balls and strikes, The hitter’s objective is to swing at everything - balls, strikes and anything in between; however, it is essential that the hitter maintains a strong base and stays balanced throughout the beginning, middle and final stages of the swing - and into the follow through.
If an athlete recognizes from the outset that the pitch is not even close, they should still swing away - even if they miss the ball by a mile. The idea here is to swing at everything and remain balanced. The object is not to hit everything. In fact, when doing this drill properly, the pitcher will throw balls and strikes, and some of the balls will not even be close. The hitters job is to keep their eye on the ball and having a consistently strong base. That will enable their body and mind to work cohesively, and make it easier for them to decipher what is hittable or not.
One general rule of thumb is that if a hitter can’t swing with balance, they’re probably not swinging at strikes. The hitters body will help the mind and eye recognize pitches in the strike zone. For example, reaching for the outside pitch, or the low pitch, will cause the hitter to fall off balance. Time can vary on this drill, but remember to consciously acknowledge that you are swinging at every pitch thrown. So, it’s important to give the hitter enough time to regroup and reel off another balanced swing. Something to remember, it's perfectly normal and actually expected of a hitter to swing and miss at a baseball! Has there ever been a ballplayer that hit everything? Babe Ruth struck out over 1,000 times in his career!
This is a solid drill for athletes nine years and older, allowing them to improve their pitch recognition while promoting better balance in the batter’s box. In order for an athlete to perform this drill they will need a MaxBP machine, flat plate, a minimum of 20 balls, a game bat or BetterBat Skinny Barrel Training Bat, an L-Screen (if using live pitching) and helmets (if hitting hard balls).
Due to the fact that a hitter doesn’t care if they miss a ball in this drill, this gives an athlete a unique opportunity to syndicate their mind, eyes and body. When this occurs a hitter can let the body take over naturally, because they subconsciously realize what pitches can be hit using a balanced swing with proper mechanics. When you a hitter moves on to other drills or a game situation, they will have sharper recognition skills and a better idea of the strike zone. This will improve their take rate and will lead to more advantageous “hitters counts." The hitter will also have fewer check swings, and their body won’t contort into a lousy defensive attempt in a two-strike situation.