For sure, the toughest thing in the game of baseball is hitting. If it wasn't so difficult, someone who gets a hit only three times out of every ten plate appearances wouldn't be considered an exceptional hitter.
What is it that makes one player so much better at making solid contact than another? Is it simply an innate ability? Better eyesight? Quicker reflexes?
All of those things help, but the real reason most players make better solid contact with the ball has to do with where the barrel of their bat meets the ball in relation to the plate.
Earlier this month, their was a fantastic post by J.K. Whited on the Baseball Rebellion website - Directional Hitting: Find Consistency and Power to All Fields. In it, J.K. ridicules coaches who spend entire practices teaching batters to hit to the opposite field. "Backside hitting," he says, "may be the most overrated and swing-ruining type of practice."
Instead, J.K. says players should be taught the optimum contact points for inside, outside and middle of the plate pitches - something Baseball Rebellion calls "Line of Hitting." In a nutshell, the goal is to get the barrel of the bat on the ball and in order to do that, there are ideal points of contact that change with the location of a pitch.
On inside pitches, you need to get the barrel of the bat out in front of the plate before the ball crosses it. On outside pitches, the barrel of the bat needs to contact the ball when it is approximately midway across the plate. When it's a fat pitch down the middle, the optimum contact point is where the ball crosses the front edge of the plate.
It only makes sense that the better you are at getting the meat of the bat on the ball, the more consistent you will be because of the greater hitting surface. The extra mass of the barrel adds more power, too. It also makes sense that it is far easier to do when the ball is in the perfect position relative to the plate. For example, imagine how impossible it would be to get the barrel of the bat to hit an inside pitch at the back of the plate. Can't be done!
This is precisely what the JUGS 5-Point High-Low Hitting Tee is made for. Not only does it allow players to position the ball in the proper hitting zone inside-outside, but it even lets you work on the high inside fastball versus a low inside fastball. Get used to where the bat must meet the ball in practice, and instincts take over in a game.
The Baseball Rebellion article goes into much greater detail on the concept of "Line of Hitting" and contains fantastic pictures and videos of ideal bat position. One of the better hitting articles I've seen in awhile, I'd highly recommend it to hitters of all ages and skill levels.
Pitching Machine Stop Quote of the Day:"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?" - Yogi Berra