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How Do Hitter’s Identify Different Pitches

The first lesson a hitter receives is to keep their eyes on the baseball, which is a great lesson.

But, it’s a lesson they need to keep having when they reach levels where pitchers:

    • start throwing different pitches
    • start throwing secondary pitches for strike
    • start throwing secondary pitches for the purpose of getting a strike
    • start throwing secondary pitches in all 12 counts

Then, the lesson needs to continue pitcher by pitcher. Every pitcher is different.

…….Pitcher A’s fastball is not like Pitcher B’s fastball, as they have different:

    • setup
    • deliveries
    • tempo
    • arm slots

So, this creates the need to continue to have conversations:

    • what different pitches pitchers have
    • what they will see from certain pitchers

There are many different ways to identify pitches…..

…..and some hitters identify certain characteristics over others. At AMBA we train them all and help hitters figure out the best strategy for them.

The different ways hitters will identify pitches will be:

    • pitch cues (out of the hand)
    • pitch spin
    • pitch color

Pitch Cues

We refer to pitch cues as to cues hitters will identify coming out of the hand.

Each pitch comes out of the hand differently and when one is aware of what they should be looking for, they see it.

The biggest problem hitters have is not being specific in what they are looking for…..

…..they can look for a fastball, but what tells you the pitch that’s coming is a fastball?

So let’s dive deeper into this (we will focus on the Fastball, Curveball, Change up and Slider for this blog):

Fastballs

The cues of the fastball out of the hand are:

    • Hitters will see and feel an explosive appearance
    • Hitters will see the downward angle of the hand coming through
    • Hitters will see the palm of the hand going through the downward angle

As a hitter, if we are looking for a fastball, we focus on these cues in what we are looking for.

When hitters are more specific on what they are looking for, they see it. Hitters, when they get good at this, will get to the point where they can ‘feel’ the pitch.

Curveballs

The cues of the curveball out of the hand are:

    • Hitters will see and feel a floating appearance
    • Hitters will see the skinny wrist and side of the hand
    • Hitters will see an upward appearance as the ball rolls over the top finger.

The curveball is a pitch that is usually pretty easy to see. The upward appearance stands out.

When hitters are more specific as to what they are looking for they see it.

Change Up

The cues of the change up out of the hand are:

    • Hitters will see and feel a floating appearance
    • Hitters will see the downward angle of the hand as it comes through
    • Hitters will see the palm of the hand going through the downward angle

The change up pitch is a good pitch working off the fastball, it looks very similar with the exception of a floating appearance and slower rate of spin.

When hitters are more specific on what they are looking for they see it. 

Slider

The cues of the slider out of the hand are:

    • Hitters will see and feel an explosive appearance
    • Hitters will see an outward angle (toward the hitter (RHP/RHH)

The slider is another good pitch that works off the fastball because of the:

    • explosive appearance
    • color of the pitch (will explain a bit later in the post)

When hitters are more specific on what they are looking for, they see it.

Pitch Spin

There are three vision windows. The first window we see the pitch cues and the second window is when we will see the spin of the pitch. The third window is the movement of the pitch.

At AMBA we teach everyone to see spin. It can be taught, but it has to be taught!

Hitters need to make it a priority, make it a focus, work at it, and they will be able to see spin.

The spin of the pitch tells you the movement the ball is going to make, hence improving decision making as to whether you swing or take.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to reading spin, this is why reading the pitcher is important….

…..the lower his arm slot gets, the more the baseball takes a different spin. But…. hitters already know this because they are reading pitchers, as shared in this blog

Fastball

The four seam fastball is a backwards smooth spin that for the most part is pretty straight.

The two seam fastball is a backwards tumbling spin,. you will see the railroad tracks. Some pitchers have two seam cuts and others tails. 

When hitters are more specific on what they are looking for, they see it.

Curveball

The curveball spins forward.

The curveball is only a repertoire that a pitcher who throws over the top has. As the arm slot drops lower and lower it becomes a slider type pitch.

When hitters are more specific on what they are looking for, they see it. 

Change Up

The 4 seam change up is a backwards smooth spin, and the rate of the spin causes it to tail downward.

The 2 seam change up has backward tumbling spin. Hitters will also see the tracks and the rate of spin distinguishes it from the fastball.

When hitters are more specific on what they are looking for, they see it. 

Slider

The slider will have a sideways spin as it slides across the plate sharp.

There are three types of appearance you will see:

    • red dot at 2:00
    • white dot at 2:00
    • dot at the bottom of the baseball

Hitters need to understand what type of slider pitchers have so they are able to prepare for the type of spin they will see from him individually.

Again, reading spin can be taught, but it has to be taught! Hitters need specifics as to what they are looking for…….

….once they know this, focus on it, work it, they will see spin.

Pitch Color

Pitch color is an alternative for the hitters that can’t see spin. This will happen in the same vision window as the spin…..

….. there are several colors one will see, but for the sake of this article we will call it either:

    • red
    • white

This is another thing that needs to be taught to hitters…… Seeing color is not as good as seeing spin.

Seeing spin tells you what pitch it is and where the ball is going.

With color, pitchers can follow up a red pitch with a red pitch and you aren’t positive what pitch it is….

….. and vice versa with the white pitch.

Red Pitches

The red pitches include:

    • 2 Seam Fastball
    • Dot Slider
    • Splitter
    • 2 Seam Changeup

Hitters that read color have to see velocity and speed to determine the difference between red pitch from red pitch.

White Pitches

Identifying White Pitches:

    • 4 Seam Fastball
    • No Dot Slider
    • Curveball
    • 4 Seam Changeup

Hitters that read color have to see velocity and speed to determine the difference between white pitch from white pitch.

Conclusion

Hitter’s that have the desire to play at higher levels need to be obsessed with developing the skills of seeing pitch cues, spin and/or color.

Too many do not teach this because it is hard to teach, it takes time, but it is the difference…..

…..it’s worth repeating over and over again because it’s that important.

But…. as with anything else, it has to be taught, focused on, and worked on, and they will see cues, spin, and color.

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