Baseball Reflections

Rod Carew: 10 Important Keys to Good Hitting

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In the 43 years since I debuted in Major League Baseball, I’ve watched thousands of great and not-so-great hitters. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve sought to understand the fundamentals of success and failure. I’ve spent thousands of hours experimenting, watching video tape and refining my own hitting techniques. In the end, I’ve developed a few basic beliefs, and 10 important keys to good hitting. 

Do not fear the baseball. The greatest asset any hitter can have is to be fearless at the plate. You can’t be afraid of being hit by the ball if you want to be a good hitter.

Stay within yourself. Know who you are as a hitter, your strengths and weaknesses, and play within your ability.

Use your hands. Become an “aggressive hands” hitter. This allows you to wait longer on the pitch and react to changes in pitch direction, both horizontally and vertically in the strike zone.

Be confident at the plate. Know what you want to do when you get up to home plate. Combine purpose and discipline. Control the confrontation, do what you want to do, not what the pitcher wants you to do.

Stay flexible. You can’t be static in the batter’s box. You must be able to keep your stance and outlook flexible enough to react to different pitches and situations.

Practice makes perfect. Work hard to hone your skills, to fine-tune fundamentals. Be willing to pay the price of success, to put in the time necessary to compete against those athletes who pride themselves on having a strong work ethic. Because Coach John Wooden says, “perfect practice makes perfect,” I like to teach on a training aid called The Game and Practice (GAP) Hitter.

Hit the ball where it’s pitched. Learn to utilize the entire field, foul line to foul line. Learn to hit the ball pitched down the middle through the middle, to pull the inside pitch, to slap the outside pitch the other way.

Be aggressive. Swing to make solid contact, to hit through the baseball, remembering not to become so aggressive you begin swinging at bad pitches and start pulling the ball.

Develop a one-component swing. Strive to swing in one fluid motion, with all of your body parts functioning together. Avoid the step-turn-swing approach to hitting.

Stay in shape. Work year-round to get – and keep – your body in shape, to draw the most out of your physical abilities.



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