Hitting Lessons

 


Take lessons from Gary Barr, author of Building the High Level Swing, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. For information on Gary’s books click here.

Here are some unique aspects of lessons with Gary:

  • Hitting lessons are given for both baseball and fast pitch softball. Click here (Eight Truths and Three Myths About Hitting a Baseball vs. Softball) to see the differences between hitting instruction provided for the two sports.
  • Gary categorizes hitting into three crucial components necessary to be a successful hitter: mechanics, timing, and mental approach. The student can choose which to emphasize, but it is crucial the student masters timing adjustments and develops effective mental processes during both practice and games. Being a successful hitter is much more than correct techniques.
  • A critical part of a good mental approach to hitting includes having a plan at the plate. Lessons gradually bring students along, seeking an evolution from simple planning to more involved. Click here (Plate Approach Checklist) to view a checklist of a plate approach appropriate for planning each at bat at a high school or college level of play.

Importantly, if the only time the hitter goes through the planning process is during a game situation, their brain will know this is not the norm and responds by being overly conscious, because the planning is not automatic. So, how do we make the planning process more automatic and improved? We practice it during lessons. The routine must be so well rehearsed that decision making at the plate can be on auto-pilot. Students are encouraged to incorporate the planning process into upcoming scrimmages and games.

  • While power and batting average are highly interrelated, the student can choose where to focus most intently depending on the type of hitter they are or want to be.
  • New students have the option of following one of two paths to success. The student can choose 1) a ground up swing build, or 2) Gary can help the student prioritize where improvement would most increase productivity in the shorter term.
  • Click here (Fundamental Matrix) for a checklist of fundamentals and mechanics.

To become a good hitter, the first task is to figure out what expert performers’ do that makes them so good. The single biggest problem with developing hitters trying to learn to hit is their lack of understanding of what they are trying to achieve. If the inexperienced hitter has poor concepts they will simply get better at doing the wrong things.

  • Fundamentals are identified as Universal or Fit to Player. Understanding these concepts is crucial for the student’s long term success.

There are a few Universal hitting fundamentals which can be identified in a great swing. Universal fundamentals are those where, for at least ninety-percent of professional and successful college hitters, there is one prevalent technique for executing the fundamental.

Outside the few Universal fundamentals, all other fundamentals should be Fit to Player. The swings of successful hitters vary substantially in many, non-universal, aspects. Each player has different strengths and weaknesses, physically and mentally. Some swing styles are more natural and a better “fit” for some hitters. The real “art” of coaching hitters is know when to let things be, when to experiment with a change, and when to insist on a change.

  • For quickest improvement, students are taught how to observe and coach themselves. They are encouraged to own their swing!
  • The why of any recommended change in techniques, including both pros and cons, will be discussed so the student can make an informed decision whether to incorporate the recommended change into their baseline swing.
  • How a hitter learns is just as important as what they learn.

New persuasive methods of learning, relating to the development of motor skills, deliberate practice methods, and enabling high performance are the subject of recent scientific research. Some of the findings are to a degree intuitive and have long been adopted by the best coaches. Nevertheless, it is important each student obtain a good understanding of how genetics, talent, the way the human brain adapts, ways to focus attention, how to allow movements to organize themselves, purposeful practice, feedback, goal setting, confidence, and motivation relate to hitting. These concepts can be life changing for a player.

  • For fastest progress two points are critical:

1. The training plan must provide the best order to learn things. Training must start with simple and progress to complex. From easy to hard. Remembering individual hitters will progress at different rates.

2. Training in any complex endeavor requires putting a bunch of “baby steps” together to reach a longer-term goal. Gary defines and details each of these baby steps in the strategies, fundamentals, techniques, and mechanics covered in each lesson. Steps are ordered to continually push the player just beyond their current skill level.

  • Goal setting.

Athletes often focus too much on the dream goal. Success is in the process, the pathway to that dream goal. The more mini goals the hitter can set between where they are now and their ultimate goal, the more successes they will have. This provides motivation, a sense of fulfillment, and also an enormous sense of fun with the journey. Gary’s lessons will guide the student in the setting of goals.

  • Feedback is objective and measurable.

For example, measuring increases in hitting power is done via modern technology. Gary will measure and track early bat speed, overall bat speed, and ball exit speed for each student. Additionally, slow motion video analysis is available as needed or requested.