Why studying the pitcher is important?

Elvis Elvis

Prior to coming to bat, studying the pitcher is the hitter’s number one job. Baseball is a game of inches, and as the hitter, any possible advantage you can take into the batter’s box will put you in a better position to succeed.

A truly unique confrontation.

The relationship between a batter and a pitcher is unique in team sports. In what other team sport is there a confrontation between only one player on each team while the rest of the team waits in the wings for the result of that meeting?

Soccer and Hockey have the penalty shot. But it isn’t a consistent, commonplace, part of their respective sports. Football has nothing that compares. Basketball … well the free throw is really you against yourself and the elements that surround you. But, nothing comes to mind that compares remotely to the duel between a pitcher and a hitter.

To be successful as a hitter you must start preparing for this meeting by studying the pitcher well before you enter the batter’s box. Doing so will increase the likelihood that you’ll leave this challenge victorious.

Study the pitcher’s tendencies.

Study the pitcher when he warms up between innings … when you’re on the bench . and when you’re in the on-deck circle. Get a feel for what speeds the pitcher may throw and try to time your swing before you enter the box. Watch the pitcher’s arm slot. Where is the pitcher’s release point? Is it consistent?

Why studying the pitcher is important?

Try to recognize any tendencies the pitcher may have prior to throwing a particular pitch. For example, does the pitcher change his/her location on the rubber when he throws a curveball? Or, does the pitcher implement a different body language for his changeup? Watch the pitches closely. Become familiar with the spin on the ball and how the ball moves as a result of that spin.

What is the situation?

When studying the pitcher, think about the situation. Is the pitcher using a fastball only on 3-ball counts? Is the pitcher accurate or wild? Is the pitcher making hitters chase pitches when the count is in his favor? Having an idea of what type of pitch is likely to be thrown will help you succeed.

It’s all in your eyes.

Watch the ball intensely from the moment it is in the pitcher’s glove through the time that you hit it. Never take you eyes off the ball. The game’s action revolves around that 3-inch diameter sphere. Having your focus thrown away from the ball as you swing — when it is finally you versus the pitcher — only decreases the likelihood that you’ll be successful.

You’re more likely to succeed if you’re prepared.

Keep in mind … from the moment you enter the batter’s box until the time that you leave it, it is you against the pitcher. No coach or teammate can help you.

Going into that box prepared, knowing all that you can know about the player on the mound, is only going to help you (and your team) succeed in this truly one-of-a-kind athletic confrontation.