By Rod Carew
Rod Carew was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. He won seven American League batting titles and retired with 3,053 career hits. One of baseball's most sought-after hitting instructors, Carew has seen players such as Jim Edmonds, Garrett Anderson, Troy Glaus, Darin Erstad and Torii Hunter blossom under his watchful eye. Rod’s useful hitting tips on becoming a great hitter will appear regularly at www.rodcarewbaseball.com.
John Wooden once said, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
The late, great basketball coach’s wise words applied to the baseball diamond, as well.
Quick hands, wrists and reflexes are valuable tools at the plate. Having patience and the ability to refrain from rushing things is just as valuable, particularly when setting up your stance in the batter’s box.
Quite simply and oh-so importantly, your stance is the foundation of your swing – take your time.
Don’t feel silly, don’t feel rushed. If you have to take a few extra seconds to get adjusted in the batter’s box, especially when you’re still experimenting with the stance that’s right for you, do so.
It’s important to take your time, because there are myriad aspects you need to take into account.
Are your feet set? Can you cover the plate with your bat? If they’re not or you can’t, or if any adjustments need to be made; make them, ask for time, step out of the box. Take your time if need be, don’t hurry through the at-bat.
Throughout my Major League Baseball career, much was said and written about my style of hitting, the different positions I would take in the batter’s box, and how I moved around from at-bat to at-bat or pitch to pitch.
I adjusted my stance depending on the pitcher I was facing at times and even, on occasion, from pitch to pitch. But nothing but my front foot ever moved. My back foot remained in place, with my front foot shifting open or closed depending on the situation.
My belief is that a successful hitter needs to be able to adjust, to adapt his approach to the pitcher.
The changes I made, and believe should be made, are never major ones, but small, mechanical adjustments to the location of the pitch, not the kind of pitch. In turn, the hitter is privy to a far better chance of seeing the baseball.
Like every nuance of baseball and hitting, it takes time and experimentation. You can’t just use a stance for a day or a week or a month and expect big results – it takes time and work. You’re going to have bad days with a new stance or an old one, thus a couple bad days should not send you back to your old stance when you’ve committed to the notion of trying a different approach.
To be a successful hitter, you must give yourself a chance to become comfortable and confident with your batting stance.
So take your stance in front of a GAPHitter, make your adjustments, stay patient and start practicing.