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Monday, February 1, 2010

Teaching Young Hitters to Hit Like Major League Players

By Jack Perconte

Just as when I played in the major leagues, there are many great major league hitters playing now. Of course, there are a few that stand out and I never turn the channel when they are up to bat. When I talk to young hitters, these are the current players I often bring up, admire and advise young players to try to emulate:

1. Derek

2. Youk

3. Ichiro

4. Albert

5. Joe (Mauer - You probably knew that but Joe is so plain I figured I would make sure)

All household names for baseball fans of course. My favorite major league hitters are probably not much different than many fan favorites. I enjoy watching these guys for all the same reasons.

First, they all have their individual style.

Second, they are all fundamentally sound.

Third, they are tough to strike out but aggressive at the same time - rarely going out of the strike zone for a pitch.

Fourth, they make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat.

Fifth, they know the game situation and hit accordingly.

Good hitters like these know what is needed depending on the game situation. When they just need to get on base, they take the walk. When an RBI is needed, they will take the single and when a long ball is needed they will look for a pitch they can drive out of the park. The result of all this is that they have quality at-bats every time.

Of course, not many youth ball players will develop the great hitting skills of these major league players but that does not mean coaches should not teach the attributes of these great stars. Good coaches should allow hitters to have their own style as long as it allows for and includes good hitting fundamentals. They should teach hitters to be aggressive and patient at the same time and they can teach them the strategies of the game so they will know what is needed at a particular time in a game. Additionally, good coaches can teach players how to analyze the opposing team pitcher so they learn what adjustments may be necessary as the game goes on. Here are a few further points that follow up on these points:

1. Good coaches know the difference between style and fundamentals. Style is unique to the individual and involves the players' initial set-up.

2. Fundamentals begin with hitter's stride which must bring them to the correct launch position and the hitter's first move of the swing.

3. Teaching kids to learn and adhere to the strike zone is a never ending process that coaches should constantly be preaching to their players.

4. Having players study the opposing teams' pitcher's tendencies is another job of the coach and one that will pay off with quality at-bats and more wins.

5. Helping kids understand game strategy and game situations is another teaching aspect of good coaches. Players will begin to anticipate game situation behavior which makes them more mentally prepared.

Finally, each ball player learns at a different pace but with constant coaching reinforcement, all players have the opportunity to become great students of the game. After all, there is more to the game than just being able to run, hit and throw.

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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