The “Bad Ball Hitter” is often romanticized in the game of baseball. Past and present players like Vladimir Guerrero and Pablo Sandoval are celebrated for their ability to barrel pitches that are out of the strike zone. These unorthodox swings often result in the respective player losing balance after contact.
This type of effort is hailed because the player was able to get the job done in a classic “well, it wasn’t pretty, but it worked” type of fashion. This ability to battle is essential for all athletes, and a gritty effort often serves as inspiration to a team; however, does this mean a hitter should feature a swing that is off balanced after contact consistently? Absolutely not, that is a misconception.
Balance is a very important attribute in sports, all kinds of athletes from surfers to football players, benefit from a strong equilibrium. We discussed this in detail a couple months ago in “The Importance of Sticking Your Balance.”
Equilibrium is particularly relevant in the baseball swing, which should be balanced throughout - beginning (stance), middle (stride to contact) and end (extension and follow through).
Think of the classic swings in MLB history. When you picture Ken Griffey Jr. - Do you remember his swing as being unstable? No, more like poetry in motion. Do you think Stan Musial was off-kilter in the batter’s box? I don’t think so. Will Clark finished his swing with a little lean didn’t he? Negative. These legendary strokes were developed from years of fine-tuned practice, eventually leading to muscle memory.
The best way for an athlete to develop their own muscle memory is through an organized practice routine and lots of repetition. Some folks believe it takes “10,000 hours of deliberate practice to develop world-class skill,” it that’s the case - it’s time to get moving!
MaxBP is a beneficial training tool because it provides athletes with unlimited repetition to develop their skills. The reaction training and small ball approach is a game changer, because it helps athletes fine-tune their vision, while improving their hand eye coordination and reaction times.
A trained hitter, with a developed understanding of how to have a quality at-bat, will look for a pitch to drive early in the count (or before they have two strikes). During this time a player should only feature their “A” swing. If an athlete takes an off balanced swing or expands their zone in the early parts of an at-bat, it is a disservice to the player and their team.
When the count reaches two strikes, everything changes. Depending on the match-up, umpire or situation - a player may have to expand their zone with two strikes, as they battle to get on base. This is the only time you should see a player become a “bad ball hitter.” We discussed this at length in “Misconception - Every Swing Should End with the Exact Same Finish.”
A player should strive to develop a swing that is a balanced thing of beauty, like some of the aforementioned baseball legends. Sure, that’s a tall task. Perhaps, it’s even unlikely. But, it’s important to remember that every classic swing began with a love for the game and a dream. Those athletes willing to “Shoot for the Moon (Major League Baseball)” may not reach their ultimate goal, but chances are they will still “Land with the Stars (college scholarship).”