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Hitting the “Opposite Hand” Curveball

  • by Coach Ross
  • 2 min read

There is a reason why managers in the Major Leagues make so many pitching changes in the late innings. Most of the time the substitution has been made to gain a match-up advantage. The statistics for over 100 years have shown that right-handed batters typically hit left-handed pitching better, while left-handed batters are more successful at hitting pitchers with a right-handed delivery.

The predominant reason for these significant splits have to do with the natural trajectories of a pitcher. A right-handed pitcher’s fastball tails away from a right-handed batter and into the hands of a left-handed hitter, while their curveball breaks away from a right-handed batter and into a left-handed hitter. The same concept is true for a left-handed pitcher and how they match-up with a respective hitter.

With that being said, hitting an “opposite hand” curveball should generally be a more rewarding experience for a batter than facing a “same hand” curveball. Although some pitchers with a big, back door breaking ball can be extremely challenging. That is why it is essential for a hitter to have the ability to hit a curveball in every part of the strike zone.

To properly train an athlete to hit “opposite hand” curveballs (righty vs. lefty, lefty vs. righty), set the MaxBP pitching machine to the desired configuration. 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 smart and selective. The hitter should take any pitches that are not in the strike zone (usually breaking too far inside), while hammering the majority of the strikes up the middle. If the ball starts out high and away, stay with that pitch and smoke it to the opposite field gap for extra bases.

This is a great drill for athletes 11 years and older, and is a great training exercise on a regular basis. To practice this drill a hitter needs a MaxBP pitching machine, a flat plate and preferably a BetterBat Skinny Barrel Training Bat. However, don’t forget to finish this drill and others with a round of swings using a game bat.

In today’s game it is essential for a hitter to take advantage of a match-up opportunity. Sabermetrics are more prevalent than ever, as many teams are deploying platoon strategies to gain any possible advantage. Some of the “old school” guys may not like this approach, but the number crunching appears to be here to stay. All a ballplayer can do is be prepared when they get their opportunity - if that happens to be a favorable match-up with an “opposite hand” pitcher then take advantage of it.