The Art of Hitting

Will ShafferCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2008

Every couple of days a week, I get to go to the batting cage and smack yellow balls around.

I'm a switch hitter, but I'm naturally right-handed.

Sometimes I notice my left-handed stroke is sweeter than my swing from the right side. That is, when I make contact from the left side, the ball cracks off the sweet spot more often than from the right side.

I've also noticed that I make contact with more balls from the right-handed side of the plate.

Making these observations after a few times out led me to experiment the next time I hit.

I love hitting. If I could, I'd do it everyday—but batting tokens can be expensive, and who has time to go hit baseballs everyday?

After spending some time hitting earlier this evening, I found when I hit left-handed, my left hand flies off the bat after I reach the point of contact. In essence, I was swinging the bat solely with my right arm.

I tried not only keeping my left hand on the bat throughout my swing, but also to bring my left hand to the ball instead of my right, which had been my natural tendency.

The results were several shots hit hard either up the middle or to the right-field side. One late swing produced a scorched ball to left field. Nice.

Then I switched to my right side and applied the same philosophy.

Usually from the right side I pull way off the ball, sometimes so much I even hit the ball off the top of the bat. Usually I'm trying to bring my left hand to the ball, with my right hand pushing. Sounds familiar, right?

This time I tried making contact with my right hand, and just let my left go along for the ride. Had there not been netting above me, balls would have been flying farther than I'd ever hit one before. The sound the ball was making coming off my bat produced a grin, and it allowed me to relax and have more fun.

For just one moment, I felt like a real hitter.

Sometimes I wonder if guys up at the big-league level have problems similar to my own. I have fantastic timing and excellent hand-eye coordination, and a short and pretty decent swing.

If I were only three to six inches taller, I might have actually had a shot at being an athlete, but I never was really given a chance.

Instead, I watch ballgames everyday I can, and I admire the lucky guys who get to go out there and have fun playing. 

And their salaries....