You've heard these, right?
Timing is a critical component to good hitting, so this edition of Mailbag gives a pair of reference points to help gauge your timing.
Here is the question I received:
I have a quick baseball question if you don't mind helping me. I just got back to school off of summer baseball and I am way in front of all the pitching, I was thinking if I should move up to a 34 inch bat to try and slow my hands down a bit. I have been trying to wait back and go the other way but that leads me to trying to inside out everything and getting jammed on pitches that I should be hitting into the gaps.
Slow the hands down? No way! Most guys wish that their hands are too fast or that they have too much bat speed. Having the ability to unload the swing with power is a great asset to have.
Inside-outing the ball to go the other way? Now that's just another way of changing the way you unload or swing the bat (in a bad way).
If the issue is consistently being out in front on all types of pitching, that suggests a timing issue that is related to the PRE-swing move (or the load) rather than the actual swing (the unload).
[caption id="attachment_2944" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="Loaded and Ready on time at Release"][/caption]
Here was my response:
you could switch to a 34" bat if you feel like you can handle it, especially if you're a taller/bigger guy. While it's very difficult to say without seeing what you're actually doing, it sounds like more of a timing issue that's related to your pre-swing move. Guys who describe this type of issue to me are usually stiff or lack some type of rhythm early in their swing that allows them to adjust to different pitch types. Your load or pre-swing move is one of the first things that allows you to make adjustments to different speeds.
You can work on this a few different ways. On the tee or soft toss just make sure you have some rhythm in your load. Then have someone sit on a stool behind the L-screen and throw to you from a short distance - do one round slow, one faster, then alternate fast/slow, then have him throw random where you don't know. I do this with guys and when they get in a good rhythm they hit everything.
Here are two reference points for your timing (based on a 90 mph fastball):
1. you should be ready to make your shift/stride/positive move at the time the pitcher is releasing the ball
2. your stride foot should be landing at about the time the ball is halfway home
this means that you are loading while the pitcher is getting ready to throw the ball
and it also means that you are seeing the ball as you are moving from your load into your hitting position
[caption id="attachment_2950" align="aligncenter" width="414" caption="Stride foot down with ball about halfway"][/caption]
A couple of weeks later, I received a nice follow up:
Hey Jeff, I was actually about to email you back and thank you for those drills. They have helped my swing tremendously and I have been hitting the ball a lot better.
Glad to hear it!