Batting Aids That Can Actually Help
There are a number of batting aids on the market today, some rather complex, but most extremely simple in design and function. As most who have tried it will tend to agree, hitting a baseball, at least at the professional level, is one of the hardest things to do in sports. And by hitting a baseball, we're talking about hitting it reasonably hard, or getting a base hit, and not about hitting a pop fly or dribbling the ball back towards the pitcher's mound.
For many of us, there never was much in the way of batting aids. When we were playing sandlot ball, our teammates would tell us to "get a hit". When playing high school baseball, the baseball coach would tell us to "get a hit", though sometimes he would try, usually unsuccessfully, make adjustments to our batting technique.
Batting practice could be difficult as a team's star pitcher would seldom pitch batting practice, and we would face a pitcher who pitched too slow, had no control, or both. Trying to hit wild pitches doesn't really teach one much.
Batting aids can vary from an inexpensive batting tee, to an expensive pitching machine. What both have in common, is allowing a batter to practice the same thing over and over so as to develop consistency while making adjustments in batting techniques. Since a tee or a pitching machine introduces a constant into the drill, it makes things easier for a coach or instructor as well.
Virtual Aids And Colored Baseballs - Other types of batting aids are helpful in that they provide feedback to the batter. An aid like the Swing Bat can help the batter with timing, giving an indication where the ball would go if a ball were actually thrown. The ball actually remains attached to the bat throughout the swing, but the feeling is one of hitting a pitched ball. Any of the batting aids that allows one to feel the satisfaction of making good contact with the bat, whether the feel is actual or virtual, can provide valuable feedback. Batting aids even include colored baseballs, designed to help the batter focus, concentrate, and keep his or her eye on the ball.
Stance And Style, Another Story - Books and DVDs must also be included in any list of batting aids. These usually are designed to help the batter with his or her mechanics, how to stand, how to hold the bat, and of course how to swing it. A batter can be wired with sensors to study the details of motion and mechanics, although the degree of assistance provided by such advanced techniques is probably open to question. Batting stances and styles are extremely personal and variable, and as more than one coach has found out when trying to mold batters into using the same batting techniques. It seldom if ever works well. We see major league players whose stance makes it look as it they might fall over at any moment, yet they hit .300, and we see batters with picture book stances who can't get above .200.
Instilling Self Confidence - Maybe the greatest thing batting aids have to offer, besides possibly making one a better hitter, is helping instill self confidence in the batter. You can see this beginning with preschoolers, playing T-Ball or simply learning to hit from a batting tee. Once a player finds it's actually possible to make contact, and shortly thereafter, it's actually possible to hit the ball solidly, self confidence will sometimes just take off.
Even those of us who no longer need batting aids, or might even have trouble getting around the bases, can still take advantage of batting aids such as pitching machines, take a few cuts, and again experience one of the sweetest feelings in sports, when the bat meets the ball.