Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to Be a Smart, Aggressive Hitter

By Jack Perconte

Since the book, "Moneyball," there is much debate whether it is best to have hitters take a lot of pitches or better to have them go up swinging early in the count. That is one of those debates that there is no definite solution for, but there is probably a middle ground that can be reached.

Of course, youth baseball is different than the game that college and professional players play. In youth baseball I believe it is best to have hitters expect, and be ready, to swing from the first pitch on. At the lower levels of baseball getting a good pitch to hit can be few and far between so hitters should be ready to swing at all times. Having the "yes (my pitch when ball leaves the pitcher's hand), yes (when the ball is half way to home), yes (swing)" or "yes, yes, no (don't swing)" is the best approach to teach kids.

Having said that, there are few approaches that I believe can help all hitters at every level to be smart and aggressive hitters. Most people think of aggressive hitters as those who go up swinging at the first pitch that looks good. That is an aggressive approach, of course, but not necessarily a smart approach. Good hitters combine the two of being aggressive and, at the same time, smart. They do this by being ready to swing at pitches that they are confident they can handle and get the sweet spot of the bat on the ball, while not swinging at just any strike or ball that looks good.

Of course, some of the points written below are for advanced players but all are strategies that coaches can begin to teach at every level of baseball.

To be smart and aggressive, hitters should:

1. Pay more attention to pitchers when in the dugout, and especially in the on- deck circle, so that hitters are "in tune" with a pitcher's speed and tendencies.

2. Know if the pitcher is considered a strike out pitcher - hitters should be more aggressive early in the count when facing a strikeout pitcher.

3. Be more aggressive with men in scoring position, especially with runner on third and less than two outs.

4. "Know thyself" - good hitters should understand which pitches they hit best and which they have trouble with. Early in the count, hitters should only swing at pitches that are in the zone that they hit best.

5. Learn to visualize - hitters who can visualize taking good swings at good pitches, hitting the ball hard and taking non-strike pitches is valuable to being smart, aggressive hitters.

6. Learn to cut down on their swing a little with two strikes and be willing to take a walk, especially when the game situation dictates that a long ball is not necessary.

7. Be observant of how the pitcher is pitching other hitters in the line-up. For example, knowing if there is there a common first pitch, strikeout pitch? Etc... is very valuable to being smart and aggressive.

8. "Be thyself" - all hitters have their own "hitting personality" where they are normally aggressive or more patient. It is important that hitters stay with their own personality most of the time. Trying to adopt a different personality can lead to extended slumps. Of course, the individual "hitters personality" should not be extreme, where it inhibits good hitting chances by allowing the pitcher to exploit the hitter's approach.

9. Practice pitches that they struggle with as much as possible - minimizing weaknesses can help immensely. Simply being able to foul off tough pitches can keep the at-bat alive and lead to hits.

10. Have short memories where they can treat each at-bat separate from the ones before, especially when in a hitting slump. Becoming very tentative when struggling is a common occurrence for hitters, which inhibits them from staying aggressive.

11. Remain hungry and never become satisfied, no matter how well they are hitting. Success often leads to complacency, which is often followed by a prolonged hitting slump.

Finally, having an aggressive approach is good for awhile, but having an aggressive and smart approach leads to prolonged success

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice can be found at
Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his positive parenting advice and books can be found at

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