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  Becoming a Complete Hitter
Jordan Hudgens Hitting Article


 
By Jordan Hudgens

Product Code: ART6
 

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Becoming a Complete Hitter

by Jordan Hudgens

 

You want to train yourself to become a complete hitter. Part of being a complete hitter is being able to hit the ball to all parts of the field. This is important because when you are capable of using the whole field, the pitcher is not able to pitch you in one particular way. In other words he will have to work harder to keep you off the bases. Additionally, the defense can not shade you to one particular area in the field.

 

DARRYL STRAWBERRY

 

In the 1996 World Series, you might have noticed how the Atlanta Braves defense was playing Darryl Strawberry. The defense shifted to the right side of the field, except for the third baseman, Chipper Jones, who moved to the shortstop position. This left the whole left side of the infield open. The reason for this was because:

 

• Darryl was basically a pull hitter.

• They were trying to get him out by pitching him on the inside part of the plate.

 

This is what can happen to a pull hitter - they can be easily defensed. Darryl was basically a pull hitter, but he had a lot more success when he used the whole field.

 

My father Dave Hudgens played in the big leagues and experienced the same thing. He says, “Looking back on my playing career, because I had a lot of power, I too became too much of a pull hitter. This means that being a left handed hitter, I hit the ball to right field quite often. So consequently I made a living of hitting ground ball outs to second base on the outside pitch. I did not learn until later in my career that there was something called left field, and there is a lot of money over there. Had I learned earlier in my career to hit the outside pitch to the opposite field, I would have been a much more successful hitter!

 

HITTING THE BALL TO THE OPPOSITE FIELD

 

To hit the ball to the opposite field:

• Get a pitch on the outside part of the plate

• Hit the ball deeper in the contact zone

• Keep the barrel of the bat above your hands

• Stay inside the ball

 

Most young hitters have the ability to pull the ball. However, to be a complete hitter and on your way to being a master hitter, you must develop the ability to hit the ball to the opposite field. One of the reasons that young hitters have a difficult time hitting the ball to the opposite field is that coaches are always telling them to pull the ball and to hit the ball way out in front. In order to handle the ball on the outside part of the plate, you must wait for the ball to get deeper into the zone. Contact for the outside pitch should be made even with the front foot or slightly deeper. You will find that this will help you to hit the curve ball as well.

 

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

 

Your stance may show the pitcher where your strengths and weaknesses are. For example

a right handed hitter that stands off the plate in a closed stance and strides towards the plate is going to handle the ball on the outside part of the plate better than the inside pitch. His weakness would be the inside part of the plate. This is opposed to a right handed hitter who has an open stance, and stays open on his stride - his strength will be the inside pitch. His weakness will be the ball on the outside part of the plate. This holds for left handed hitters as well. This is why I recommend that no matter how you stand at the plate, when your stride foot comes down, you should be at a parallel stance. Some hitters have to use the open or closed stance because of flaws in their approach. If you are one of these hitters, make sure that you are disciplined enough to swing at the pitches you can handle (your strengths) and do not swing at the ball in your weak area until you get two strikes.

 

AREAS OF THE ZONE

 

Let’s examine areas of the zone that you may be pitched. If you are being pitched inside, and you are looking inside, you will want to hit this particular pitch to the pull side of the field. f you are being pitched middle away, look to go to the opposite field.

 

A key point here, and many Major League hitters do this, is to look for the pitch down the middle.  By doing this, it is easier for you to adjust off the ball down the middle, than it is looking on the extreme outside or the extreme inside. There will be times when you will look inside or outside. For example, if a pitcher consistently throws you on the outside part of the plate, it is to your advantage to look on the outside part of the plate and hit the ball to the opposite field. If this is the case, you need to let the pitch on the extreme inside go.

 

If you feel the pitcher is trying to work you outside, then look outside. Do the same with inside.

Many youth league pitchers do not have great control yet, so it is best to look middle. However, at the high school level or above, the pitchers are starting to gain better control.

 

A point to remember is that you can look outside and still have a chance to hit the inside pitch, but if you look inside, you will have virtually no chance to hit the outside pitch. This may sound complicated and as if it were for advanced hitters only, however, all young hitters should start to learn how to use the whole field and to look for pitches in different areas. The chart picture illustrates the areas of the strike zone. Take note of where the high averages are. Find the area that you hit best.

 

Jordan Hudgens is the Instructional Coordinator for Hitting.com. Hitting.com is the home of Major League Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens.

Be sure to check out Coach Hudgens'
Hitting for Excellence DVD Series
:


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