There is a simple, old school hitting philosophy that continues to make a lot of sense for hitters at every level: wait and weight.
This “reminder” has been used by some of the greatest hitters in MLB history. For example, Wade Boggs, Don Mattingly, Rod Carew, and George Brett have all, at some point, admitted that “wait and weight” was something they kept in their mind while in the batter’s box. A fairly impressive group, wouldn’t you agree?
So what is “wait and weight”?
“Wait” is waiting for the pitch to get to you — another way of saying “let the ball get deep”.
“Weight” is keeping your weight back while you’re “waiting” for the pitch. Some coaches say “keep your weight on top of your back foot”.
In other words, one of the fundamental keys to successful hitting is to stay back — refrain from committing to swinging — as long as possible. The longer you can wait for the ball, while also keeping your weight and your hands back, the better your strike zone judgment will be and the better chance you’ll have of hitting the baseball.
Of course, if you see a pitch you like, don’t wait so long that the ball ends up in the catcher’s mitt! There’s a fine line, and it takes hours and hours of practice for you to learn how long you can wait. Next time you are in BP, try it: wait just a millisecond longer than normal before starting your swing. Keep trying to wait longer and longer on each pitch — particularly pitches that are “middle – out” — before committing (pitches on the inside part of the plate require you to swing earlier, or you won’t get the barrel on the ball). Get to the point where you’re almost missing the ball on purpose because you’re waiting so long. Eventually — and this won’t happen in one session — you’ll start to learn how long you can wait before starting your swing.
Trust your hands — they’re faster than you think, particularly when you keep them back and in unison with your weight.
(photo of Chase Utley credit to Christina Stetler Photography)