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Foul Play - Not Always a Bad Thing

  • by Coach Ross
  • 2 min read

There are many things about baseball that I really appreciate, and like most lifelong fans, quite a few of those things are of the smaller variety. Hitting the cutoff man, breaking up a double play or laying down a sacrifice bunt are all great examples of these “little things” that make up the beautiful game of baseball; however, one of my favorite underrated baseball plays that often goes unrecognized - is when a hitter exemplifies a gritty “never say die” attitude in an at-bat.

Aside from the fact that this mindset in the batter’s box is a fantastic metaphor for life, and everybody loves that kind of teammate, it’s just a lot of fun to watch. To me, there’s nothing better than watching a pitcher throw their best stuff at a hitter, only to have that batter spoil one "out pitch" after another. These stress pitches are an Achilles heel to a pitcher and often serves as a rallying cry for an offense.

It’s not a traditional practice for a hitter to practice fouling off pitches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. In this particular drill a hitter should intentionally attempt to foul off every pitch, by aiming for an outer section of the ball, instead of the center. There are several ways to modify this exercise - only foul of strikes, only foul off balls out of the strike zone, foul off every other pitch to train your eyes to focus on a different part of the ball, etc. But, of all the variations of this drill there is one that I find most effective. I recommend that a hitter fouls off every pitch on purpose until they get that ball right down the pipe, and then lift off! In my opinion, this is the best way to simulate the intensity and conditioning of a “grinder” at-bat.

The foul it off drill is ideal for hitters age 13 years and older, and it will potentially increase a ballplayers walks, hits, on base percentage and batting average. As today’s game transforms into a style with more home runs and strikes, while featuring fewer hitters who can handle the bat and put the ball into play, a player with the ability to prolong an at-bat is a rare commodity. In order to develop this skill an athlete will need a live arm or a MaxBP machine, a flat plate and a game bat or BetterBat Skinny Barrel Training Bat.

This drill is outstanding for building a hitter’s confidence and allowing them to feel comfortable while hitting with two strikes. If a batter practices this drill on a regular basis, they should be well prepared to foul off even the best “out pitch.” This ability will frustrate a pitcher and make him more susceptible to leaving a fat pitch over the heart of the plate.