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3 Keys to Catching up to High Velocity

One of the biggest challenges that seems to get harder every year is hitters having to catch up to higher velocity pitching. In the Major Leagues, the average fastball has gone up from 91 to 94 from 2007 to today. That is a massive increase that continues to climb every year. That increase has been seen down the ranks too with high school hitters having to adjust to many pitchers throwing harder. Every week we have hitters coming in having faced pitchers throwing upper 80s or low 90s which is a relatively new phenomenon amongst high school baseball. So, today I want to discuss how hitters can give themselves the best chance of catching up and succeeding against high velo.

There are 3 main things that help hitters hit higher velocity pitches:

1. Take an aggressive approach

When it comes to approach against higher velocity, hitters need to be and stay aggressive. That means that hitters need to take the "expecting approach" rather than a more passive "looking for approach. You can read more about that difference here but simply put, the hitter should be in the box expecting a certain pitch (usually a fastball) and expecting it rather than looking for it and trying to adjust. Against higher velocity, it is much easier to catch up if we are expecting high velocity rather than trying to react to it.

2. Load Early

The second thing hitters can do to catch up to high velo is to make sure they load early. When we talk about loading early, we are talking about the initial rearward movement onto the back side and into the back hip. Notice how, in the clips below, the hitters have completely loaded back onto their back leg before the pitcher releases the ball. This move will look different based on the stride mechanism the hitter employs, but the take away should be that the regardless, the load of the backside is done before pitch release.

3. Create Bat speed

I'm sure many people reading this are saying "Duh, obviously I need to create bat speed to catch up to high velo" but let me explain. Many times, when hitters face higher velocity, they will change their swings in a detrimental way when it comes to moving the bat fast. Whether it be from their own thinking or from coaches advice, many hitters will shorten their load, stride, create less stretch and try and shorten their bat path. All of these things lead to decreased bat speed. When facing high velocity, hitters need to double down on the mechanical pieces that allow them to create maximal bat speed. Check out the video of Mookie Betts below. He loads his back side, shifts forward while keeping his hands back to create stretch, hits the ground hard with his front side and lets his hips lead the way to sequence properly. All of this, keep in mind is done against a guy throwing extremely hard. So, rather than shortening everything up in the swing, hold onto the pieces that allow you to create your max bat speed.


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