THE ABSOLUTES OF GOOD HITTING
By Charley Lau
A balanced workable stance. All good athletes are balanced most of the time. A balanced stance gives you a solid, comfortable base to work from, helps reduce tension and fear, and makes possible most of the other absolutes.
Rhythm and movement in the stance. Although it isn’t always obvious, good hitters always have some kind of movement in the stance. They’re like a car with its engine idling just before you pop the clutch. They can thus be quicker and shift their weight more effectively than someone who stands dead still.
A good weight shift from a firm, rigid backside forward to hit from a firm, rigid front side. A hitter must shift his weight back in order to go forward. Balance and rhythm make this possible. Generally, the better the weight shift, the harder you hit the ball.
Striding with the front toe closed. Striding with your front toe pointing out at the pitcher pulls you out of position, causing your hip to open, and throws off the mechanics of your swing.
Having the bat in the launching position at the moment the front foot touches down. It’s hard to see with the naked eye, but no matter where the bat is when they’re in their stance, all good hitters have it in the launching position when their front foot completes the stride. They all step to swing. They never combine the two motions.
Making a positive, aggressive motion back toward the pitcher. That’s where the ball’s coming from and that’s where you should try to hit it back. Good hitters go into the ball to hit it.
A tension-free swing. An enemy of his own creation, tension is one of a batter’s biggest problems. It prevents full extension; it causes your head to move the wrong way; and it destroys the fluid, graceful swing that’s ideal for hitting the ball.
Putting your head down when you swing. Good hitters see the ball longer and more often than poor hitters. And the reason good hitters do is that they lower their heads to watch the ball at the moment of contact. That is the most important Absolute of all, but it’s impossible to do if you’re not or if you’re tense.
Using the whole field to hit in. Only rarely will a good hitter limit himself by trying to pull the ball. Historically, as well as today, good hitters have hit to all fields. And in doing so, they have also gotten plenty of home runs without being crippled by tension and the other problems that afflict home-run-conscious hitters.
Hit through the ball. A good follow-through is essential to hitting the ball well. You can’t afford to stop short or slack off at the last part of the swing. If you quit too soon, if you don’t hit through the ball, none of the other Absolutes will do you much good