If you are an avid baseball fan you can probably tell who the players are in the photos below if you look carefully. Check and see.
Even if you had no idea who was in the photos, would you be able to tell which one was the world’s best home run hitter? How about the one who sprayed line-drives everywhere but hit with little power? How about the guy who hits for both power and average? You probably couldn’t because all three photos are just about identical. Photo #1 is Albert Pujols who combines power and average. Photo #2 is Barry Bonds, the MLB home run king and photo #3 is Tony Gwynn, the player with the highest career batting average in the last 50 years (.338).
If each hitter gets to the same spot at the point of contact, what makes them so different in their results? The answer lies in the difference between the words procedure and technique.
A procedure is something you do and a technique is how you do it.
Every hitter at the point of contact must get to the body position as shown in the photos. This is procedure. If they don’t, their success at consistently hitting the ball hard will drop. How they get to this point - technique - will vary from player to player. Power hitters tend to have a bit more of a dip or loop in their swing before the point of contact in order to get the ball aloft to take advantage of their power. The down side is that their bats don’t stay in the hitting zone very long because the path/plane of the bat is different than the path/plane of the pitch. The two intersect at the point of contact. If their timing is off by just a little they pop it up, roll over on the ball (choppy ground ball), or miss. This is why many pure power hitters strike out a lot.
Hitters with a higher average who hit line-drives keep the bat in the hitting zone longer. The path/plane of the bat matches the path/plane of the ball more closely which gives them more room for error. They make contact whether they are early, on time, or late because the bat is in the hitting zone longer. Two things are important for young hitters.
If you want to improve your average, keep the bat in the hitting zone longer.
Getting to the proper position at the point of contact is not an option. It’s virtually the same for every hitter.
Young players will see all kinds of variations on TV when it comes to batting. Some guys start with the bat straight up and down and some keep it flat. Some wiggle the bat before the pitch and some keep it still. Some batters stride with a short quiet movement and some lift the front foot dramatically before striding. Many different techniques from many different players. However, what remains constant for every hitter is the procedure of where they have to be at the point of contact.
Visually, it is much easier to see how a player begins and ends his swing because he will be relatively still at those stages. The point of contact is a different story. When you watch a player swing in real time the point of contact is just a blur because it happens so fast. Still photos and slow motion video are really the only ways a player can see what’s happening. Because of this, young players tend to mimic the before and after technique of MLB hitters because that’s what they can easily see instead of the more important procedure at contact.
It’s ok to have a technique of your own when it comes to hitting. What’s not ok is ignoring the procedure at the point of contact.