Baseball Swing Analysis: What taking a pitch reveals about your swing

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Most of us, (me included) spend a huge amount of time analyzing our baseball swings on video.  This is great, and essential to getting the most out of your abilities.  But there is something else that is just as important to analyze – all those times when you chose to NOT swing. By saying “your take” or “taking a pitch” I’m referring to those at-bats where you were ready to hit, but chose not to.  And what your take can tell you about yourself and your swing is vital to becoming a better hitter.

“Looking” VS “selling out”

So you got a hit.  Was it luck?  Or did YOU make your luck?  One reason I put a lot of emphasis on a take is because it can help you answer this question.

In every at-bat, you should have an idea of what kind of pitch you are looking to hit.  The pitcher’s tendencies, your strengths as a hitter, and the game situation will all play a role in the hitting strategy you take with you to the plate.  But being able to adjust to a hittable pitch that you may have not been looking for is an important quality as a hitter.  Swing adjustability can be seen in the quality of a take.

On video you see your sweet swing and a hard line drive as a result.  Sometimes you can guess right on a pitch and your swing syncs perfectly.   It all looks good.  What it does NOT tell you, however, is anything about your ability to make adjustments.  You won’t know if you were were you looking for a particular pitch and you got it, or were you selling out for a pitch.

“Selling out” for a pitch means you are ALL IN on that one pitch. For example, if you get the fastball you are looking for, you will crush it.  But if the pitcher throws you an off speed pitch you may swing and miss badly without really seeing the ball and making a swing adjustment.

Compare this to “looking” for a pitch, which means you have a plan but you can still make adjustments to hit other pitches.  “Looking” for pitches is what the best hitters in the world are doing.

In video baseball swing analysis, there is a tendency to fast forward past a take and look at your next swing.  But, there is a lot of information in your takes that can help your swing to become better.  Some of it can be visual and some of it is listening to what your body is doing.  I’ll explain.

Baseball Swing Analysis – Video

When analyzing your baseball swing on video, here are a few diagnostic checkpoints to watch out for during your takes .

  1. Are you balanced?  When the ball is caught by the catcher, are you falling over one way or the other? Or are you still planted firmly in a strong position with your legs?  If your base is weak you will not be a consistent hitter.  You should be able to take a stride and not fall over, lose balance, or see head movement once the front foot is fully on the ground.
  2. Are you in a strong position?  Watching a video you can see if your hands are back ready to attack and your head is split equally between your feet. This is a strong position.  From here you give yourself the best chance to hit all pitches in all locations.
  3. Where is your stride taking you?  Are you stepping towards the pitcher, closed, or opening up the front foot?  Our swing (not always) has a tendency to follow our stride.  For example, if we stride open, our shoulders will usually follow earlier than we want, committing our hand path to the inside pitch making it difficult to hit the outside pitch.

Honest self analysis

There are a few things only the hitter will know about their take.  It is important to be honest with yourself about these items.  Through pictures and videos it may look like everything is right where it needs to be, but nothing can replace being in the batters box as the pitch is on its way.  These questions can help your position in the batters box be more consistent and stronger.

  1.  Am I seeing the ball well?  If you aren’t seeing the ball well then everything else doesn’t matter.  The earlier you can identify the pitch the better your swing will be.  Make sure that during your take you are able to see spin, location, and see the ball as large as possible.
  2. Could I hit that pitch?  Be honest, (you don’t have to tell anyone else) sometimes we may have gotten a pitch in a location that is difficult for us to hit.  Sometimes we may have been looking for one location and got another, or spin of the baseball through us off just enough.  Ask yourself, “if I would have swung the bat, would I have hit the ball.”  Only the hitter knows.  If you could have, that gives you confidence that you may have been in a strong position.  If not then figure out why (especially if the video or the physical check points seem good on that particular take).  Maybe you were thinking another pitch was coming, or you weren’t ready to hit.  These happen to every hitter.  Understanding why is what will make you a better hitter.
  3. Am I mentally ready to hit?  Sometimes our mind gets cluttered with things other than competing with the pitcher.  When that happens it can be normal to not be 100% ready to hit.  If you are not, step out of the box and identify that you need to lock in and get ready to compete.

Learning from what our “takes” are telling us will help us know more about our swing.  This knowledge will actually help us hit better and more consistently.  Good luck, and hopefully next time you are analyzing your baseball swing, you will learn from your takes as well as your swings.

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About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, he is now a professional scout with the Colorado Rockies. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

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