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Hitting the “Same Hand” Curveball

For many young athletes hitting a curveball is a struggle. A hitter may have the ability to crush a straight pitch, no matter the speed, but the breaking stuff gives them fits. If this is the case, the first thing a ballplayer should do is get their eyes checked. If vision is the problem, grab yourself some Rec Specs like Chris Sabo or some horned rim glasses like Rick Vaughn and let ‘er rip!

More times than not, however, the issue is a little more complex. A batter must be trained to hit breaking pitches, and while some athletes have a sharper learning curve than others, it is essential to put in the work. In order for a hitter to feel comfortable tracking a variety of breaking pitches, they must experience that pitch countless times.

Hitting the breaking ball is especially difficult for younger players. Youth hitters usually don’t have an understanding of physics, the concept of swing loft and how that loft changes depending on the pitch type and location. In Ted Williams’ book The Science of Hittinghe suggests that hitters have an upward swing path that aligns the bat path and pitch path for the best chance of contact. According to Williams, the loft should typically be about 5 degrees on a fastball and 10-to-15 degrees on a breaking ball.

To properly train an athlete to hit a “same hand” curveball (righty vs. right, lefty vs. lefty), set the MaxBP to the desired setting. Depending on the age and ability level of the hitter, they may want to spend some time tracking the pitch at first. Seeing the movement of the pitch before taking any swings is a good stepping stone and may provide a confidence boost for some hitters.

Once the batter is ready to take some swings, the idea is to be a smart and selective athlete. The hitter should take any pitches that are not in the strike zone, while hammering the majority of the strikes up the middle and to the opposite field. Most often a hitter will “go with” an effective breaking ball and hit it the other way; however, in the case that a pitcher (or in this case MaxBP) hangs a curveball on the inside part of the plate, a hitter should turn on that pitch and deposit the ball into the cheap seats.

This is a great drill for athletes 11 years old and above. A hitter should perform this drill and other breaking ball drills on a regular basis because hitting the curveball is essential to being a successful hitter. To participate in this drill a ballplayer will need a MaxBP machine, wiffle balls, a flat plate and preferably a BetterBat Skinny Barrel Training Bat. Always remember to finish this drill and others with a game bat.

For a hitter everything begins with having a solid swing foundation and the ability to hit the fastball. Once an athlete feels comfortable with the fundamentals of their swing, they are ready to make adjustments and apply the swing loft necessary to hit the nasty breaking stuff.

 

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