Adjusting To Off-Speed Pitches

Adjusting to off-speed pitches is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. The ability to be adjustable with your swing is crucial if you ever want to hit for average. Let's look at some ways to create some time with your swing.

The first method you can use a bat load that gets a running start into a neutral position. Many hitters will have the sensation of actually starting their swing by either getting a bat tip or preset position and rowing the back elbow back on the stride. This allows for recognition of the pitch while not committing to the pitch. The big positive factor of this move is the hitter gets a running start into his swing and still allows him to adjust timing on an early read of the pitch.

A second method you can use is a delay in the stride to time off-speed pitches. Many hitters will delay their strides as they move out into front foot plant, especially hitters who use a leg kick.  Josh Donaldson is the poster boy for this move as he varies his stride sometimes up to 100 milliseconds to time up off-speed pitches. To put this in perspective, 100 milliseconds equates to roughly 12-14 feet in recognition alone. This is a huge asset for any hitter.

A third method is sinking into the legs at front foot plant. By sinking into the legs, a hitter can delay his kinetic chain without losing a great deal of potential energy. This is a late timing adjustment for pitches you may not recognize right away i.e. pitches that tunnel longer toward the plate.

Adjusting to off-speed pitches take time. You can have the best mechanics in the world but if you can’t adjust, you will get exploited at some point. Being able to adjust is the main contributor to high average hitting.