This is a guest blog post from AHP’s Hitting Coordinator (who also happens to be my brother) Connor Burns.
In my still young hitting coach career one of my biggest combatants with players has absolutely nothing to do with mechanics. It actually has everything to do with the mind.
One word describes it: Intent
Now what is intent when it comes to hitting?
In its simplest terms, intent is a hitter’s goal when swinging the bat: Intent to do damage. Intent to hit the ball hard.
When it comes to each individual player they are capped at what their max bat speed is, but the discussion of how this impacts how much a player should aim to lift the ball more or flatten it out more is an entirely different bag of worms.
Intent is interwoven with both mindset and approach.
Let’s start with mindset. The hitters goal every at bat needs to be to hit the ball hard. It really is that simple. Now why do so many high school hitters have trouble with this concept? One reason could be that their bat to ball skills aren’t where they need to be. When they swing hard their whiff rate goes up. Maybe they are embarrassed by swings and misses. So their solution is to swing with less intent just to put the ball in play.
On the other hand is approach. Our approach is what we want the baseball to do in a given at bat. I’ve had a lot of talks with young hitters about what their approach is. A lot of times i’ll get the answer of “make contact.” Now, if we hit a dribbler to the pitcher and we get out, did we achieve our goal? Yes. Was it a good outcome? Absolutely not. We have to have the approach of hit the ball hard!! Now, depending on the situation that might change what we are trying to execute, but we still want a hard hit ball!
For example, with a runner on third, infield in, our approach should be to get the ball in the air to score the run. With the infield back we want to stay more flat and are absolutely okay with a ground ball to the shortstop. But in both of these situations we still need to; and need to want to hit the ball hard.
The game situation in front of us will dictate what we are trying to execute, but we still want to hit the ball hard! Just trying to put the ball in play (to say hit a ground ball and score a run) takes away a hitter’s aggressiveness (and room for error – which we’ll get to shortly in the below chart) Hit a hard ground ball to move the runner 90 feet.
If we can commit to swinging with our best intent in-game, we will be taking our swings that are going to be within 10% of our max bat speed (hopefully). Before 2 strikes, we have to have that mindset of punishing baseballs in play. Swinging hard = more exit velocity. More EV means a better chance of getting on base. The MLB Averages for certain EV are as follows:
EV (MPH) — BA (Average)
110-114 — .753
105-109 — .704
100-104 — .582
95-99 — .406
90-94 — .275
85-89 — .224
80-84 — .150
As you can see, batting average goes way down with EV.
In closing, we have to have an iron clad approach to hitting the ball hard! Hit the ball hard and good things happen.