The Making of a Hitter
- Updated: May 1, 2009
by Jeff Louderback, PR
for Write Perceptions
After 12 seasons of professional baseball, including seven in the major leagues, Jack Perconte gave 60,000 hitting lessons to young players at his academy in Illinois. His first book instructs coaches and parents how to teach the art of hitting and make baseball more enjoyable for children from Little League through high school.
Chicago – Hitting is a challenge at any level of baseball, especially for young players learning the game. After all, even the most successful major leaguers experience frustration and lose confidence during a prolonged slump. Teaching these young players the correct techniques is essential to developing their abilities and their confidence at the plate. With this in mind, former major leaguer Jack Perconte wrote “The Making of a Hitter: A Proven and Practical Step-by-Step Baseball Guide,” which was recently released by Second Base Publishing.
“There are many books about how to hit, but I felt there was a need for one that details how parents can teach hitting to their children, and coaches can teach it to their young players,” Perconte said. “The art of hitting a baseball is not easy to learn, and it is difficult to teach if you don’t know the fundamentals and how to impart that knowledge in an easily understood manner.”
Perconte – who played 12 years of professional baseball, including seven in the majors for the Dodgers, Indians, Mariners and White Sox – posted a career .270 average in the majors and a .311 mark in the minors. He was a 16th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976 and made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 1980. After retiring from professional baseball in 1987, Perconte opened a baseball training academy in Naperville, Ill. The hitting drills, mental training and coaching tips found in “The Making of a Hitter” (www.themakingofahitter.com) were culled from the 60,000 hitting lessons Perconte estimates he gave while operating the academy.
“You can tell hitters a thousand times what they are doing wrong but they will not be able to solve the problem until they put in the work and develop the correct muscle memory,” Perconte said. “Just swinging a bat without hitting something is generally a boring exercise which most kids aren’t going to do for long. If you show them drills that help them learn the proper hitting techniques, there is a better chance they will have fun with practice and develop confidence.”
Perconte believes that the best way to help young players learn the correct way to hit a baseball is through educating coaches and parents. “The Making of a Hitter” instructs readers how to teach the fundamentals of hitting, incorporate advanced hitting drills, learn the strike zone, solve hitting problems and help players with the mental side of hitting.
“Even the great players have hitting coaches and are constantly analyzing and tweaking their swings. When, as a parent or a coach, you understand how to effectively teach hitting, and correct problems, then the game is more enjoyable for you and the player,” Perconte explained. “A batter develops timing from hitting a pitched ball, but he learns the proper swing from the drills and habits he develops in practice. It is better to take 10 fundamentally correct swings than to take 100 swings the wrong way.”
“The Making of a Hitter features more than 130 photos and 50-plus suggested drills. Perconte also includes stories from his professional baseball career to illustrate his points. One example is seen in chapter six, “Teaching the Strike Zone.” Perconte writes about the 1984 season, when he had an opportunity to win a starting second base role with Seattle after batting .346 for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate the year before. Perconte decided to choke up on the bat, which allowed him to “Stay on top of the ball and eliminate many of the lazy fly balls that I had been hitting.” The lesson is not to choke up, but “to be willing to try different things and learn to adjust.” Perconte, by the way, enjoyed his best major league season in 1984, when he collected 180 hits and batted .294 for the Mariners.
“After I was drafted, my goal was to reach the majors, but once I got there I realized that wasn’t enough. I had to be successful,” said Perconte, whose second book, “Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport,” will be released later this year. “That 1984 season gave me the peace of mind that I could perform at the highest level.”
Perconte was never an all-star, and though he had cups of coffee with some successful Dodgers teams in 1980 and 1981, he never played in the post-season. However, he did taste success in the majors and retired with respectable numbers. Perconte believes that his challenging journey to becoming a confident major league hitter allows him to show young players that hard work can reap rewards.
“I explain to coaches, parents and players alike that even though I played at high level, I encountered the same issues in the pros that young players experience when they are learning the game,” Perconte said. “I played with no confidence when I got to the major leagues, but over time that changed. If you are willing to invest the time, learn the fundamentals, and receive proper instruction, you can achieve your goals.”
Editor’s note: Jack Perconte will be writing a column here every other Friday so be sure to check it out!