Pitchers and hitters will constantly try to outsmart each other. A good pitcher will mix up their pitches with different speeds and types of spin to confuse the batter. A good hitter will wait for a pitch in their zone instead of chasing after bad pitches. By picking up on the type of spin a pitcher uses, a batter can increase their chances of a hit. Still, there is next to no time to think when a 90 mph fastball is headed a batter’s way, so learning to be reactive takes practice. Follow these hitting tips below to be prepared next time the pitcher takes the mound.
Hitting the Fastball
The two major kinds of fastball pitches are the two seamer and the four seamer. The two seam pitch causes the ball to sink and move slightly towards the pitcher’s throwing arm side. The four seamer is more of a straight shot and is generally harder -- look out to see all four seams spinning. The fastball doesn’t allow for much time to think at all, so the batter must have quick reflexes to be able to get their bat around to the ball.
Hitting the Curveball
Curveballs and sliders, collectively called breaking balls, are generally easier to see, but still tough to hit because of their movement. Some hitting coaches in youth baseball or high school baseball will instruct a batter to look for a red dot caused by the spinning seams when hitting a breaking ball. Breaking balls may also have a ‘hump’ meaning they come up out of the pitcher’s hand, and back down before crossing home plate. The spin is in the opposite direction of a fastball so keep an eye out for that. Practice makes perfect, so try using a pitching machine that mimics curve balls or ask your baseball coach to throw them to you so you can learn to pick up the spin better.
Hitting the Changeup
A well-thrown changeup is the toughest pitch to pick up because it comes from the same arm slot, with the same arm speed, and should have the same spin as a fastball. Slower spin, that may cause the ball to appear as if it is tumbling towards home plate, or a pitcher slowing down their arm are good tips to pick up on a changeup.
The most focused batters can pick up the spin of the pitch right out of the pitcher’s hand. Keep your eyes on the ball and look for any differences in spin, flight path or arm speed you can see.
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