If you want to take your baseball game to the next level, then you need to learn how to become a switch hitter. So, what is a switch hitter? What are the disadvantages of becoming one? How does one become a switch hitter? Everything that you need to know can be found in this complete guide to switch hitters!
What is a Switch Hitter?
A switch hitter is somebody that is capable of batting with both their left and their right hand. This means that they should have absolutely no issues dealing with whatever hand the bowler is using. Basically, if you become a switch hitter, then your baseball game will be taken to a whole new level.
While most baseball batters are reasonably decent at hitting with either of their hands, some players are well known for being switch hitters. Take Mickey Mantle; for instance, This guy is regarded as the best switch hitter in history.
Now, I am not claiming that you will become as good as Mickey Mantle, I doubt anybody will. I am not claiming that learning to become a switch hitter will set you on the fast-track to the MLB.
However, I can promise you that you will become better as a player if you work on your switch hitter skills. This will make the game a whole lot more fun for you.
What are the Advantages of Being a Switch Hitter?
Perhaps the main advantage of being a switch hitter is that you can deal with any ball thrown in your direction. It doesn’t matter what hand the opposite player is throwing it from.
To be honest, it is all about ball visibility. If you want to be good at baseball, then you need to have proper visibility of the ball when it is hurled towards you. For example; if you are batting with your right hand, you will have more visibility over a ball thrown with the left hand. If the pitcher switches over to their right hand, then you will need to switch over to your left hand to ensure that you retain ball visibility.
If you are hitting with your right hand, you will also find that it is easier to reach first base. This may not make that much of a difference in the ‘big leagues,’ but if you are playing amateur baseball, then every small advantage is probably going to help you out. You will have a second or two ahead of those out on the field, which increases the likelihood of reaching the first base.
If you are looking to be scouted for your skills, or perhaps looking to find a new team to play for, then you will find that a lot more people will pay attention to you if you are a switch hitter.
After all, if you are a decent switch hitter, then you are going to be better than somebody that can bat with just one hand. Teams really want people that are versatile hitters. There is a reason why almost everybody that bats in the MLB is a switch hitter.
Finally; people find being a switch hitter a lot more fun. I am not surprised. The better you are at a sport, the more fun it becomes. It is nice to be able to switch up what you are doing on a moment’s notice, perhaps winning the game for the rest of your team!
What Are the Disadvantages of Being a Switch Hitter?
The only real disadvantage to becoming a switch hitter is the fact that it takes a lot of practice. Not just in terms of initially learning the skill either. Once you are a switch hitter, you now have to practice your game with both hands. It essentially doubles the amount of time that you are practicing baseball.
Remember; if you want to become a switch hitter, it is ideal to bump up the amount of baseball training that you do. If you do the same amount of training as before, it means that each batting hand will only get half the session to practice with. This means that your skills will improve far, far slower. The best switch hitters in amateur baseball will spend hours and hours per week working on their switch-hitting skills.
I am not going to lie; learning how to become a switch hitter is probably not going to be for everybody. it is going to take a lot of work. For many people, it is often best to just try to develop their game using one hand. If you are not able to put the hours of work in, then just concentrate on another aspect of your game.
How Do You Become a Switch Hitter?
In this section, I want to give you a guide to becoming a switch hitter. To be honest, the process of becoming a switch hitter is quite simple. The techniques are something that you could easily integrate into your day-to-day life. Your main stumbling block will probably be the amount of time that you have available to practice.
It is going to take a lot of work
If you want to become a switch hitter, then you have probably picked up by now that becoming one is going to be an astonishing amount of work.
A lot of people believe that they can start to practice as a switch hitter and see a benefit within a couple of sessions. You won’t. If you have never batted with one of your hands before, then it may take weeks and weeks of practice for you to be able to hit the ball with any sort of force. It will probably be months before you can take your skills into a competitive environment. This is going to be because of regular training too. It may take years if you only practice for a few hours per week.
I also want to point out that some people will never become a decent switch hitter. You may never be able to develop the skills with your opposite hand. There are some people that find this sort of thing a lot easier.
Even if you do develop the skills to be able to play with the opposite hand, you may still struggle to be as ‘good’ with it. This means a lower amount of power. In these situations, you will probably want to end up using your skills a bit more sparingly.
While anybody could become a switch hitter, the older you get, the harder it will be. This is because your brain would have ‘wired’ itself to work well with just one hand. When a person is young, they will still be developing those motor skills. This means that it will be easier to wire the brain to be capable of using both hands.
While we are not saying that it is impossible to become a switch hitter when you are in your late teens or an adult, you should be aware that it is going to be so much more difficult. At this point, if somebody hasn’t learned to become a switch hitter, it is probably going to be better for them to just develop their skills with one hand. This will be time that is far, far better spent.
Use the opposite hand in your day-to-day life
The key to becoming a switch hitter is to start to program your brain to be capable of using both hands. This process will begin away from the baseball field.
There are plenty of ways that you can start to wire your brain differently here. I suggest the following:
- Brushing your teeth with your off-hand
- Practice writing and drawing with your off-hand
- Start to carry heavier items with the hand you do not normally use. Bags work well for this.
- Practice catching with your off-hand
I am not going to lie. You are probably going to be awful at all of these tasks once you start them. However, I promise you that after a few weeks of doing daily tasks like this with your off-hand, they will become a little bit easier.
Remember; the aim of this is to help wire your brain to use both hands. This is why it is more difficult to start this process when you are older. Your brain will already be set in its ways. It doesn’t know how to control the opposite hand the way you want. Your off-hand is likely to be a lot weaker too, which can cause all sorts of issues.
At the same time as this, you will be practicing being a switch hitter, which leads us neatly onto the next section.
Start to Practice on the Baseball Field
You can’t get better at being a switch hitter unless you actually start to practice with your opposite hand on the baseball field.
When I first started to work on being a switch hitter, I remember it being one of the most frustrating experiences possible. For the first several hundred pitches in my direction, I was lucky to hit a ball. When I did manage to hit a ball, I would have been lucky if it traveled a few feet. It is likely that you will end up having the same experience.
During the early pitches in your direction, you are probably not going to know the correct batting stance to use. In fact, it is going to be highly uncomfortable to use the bat like that.
It can be tempting to switch back to a more familiar stance, but I promise you, once you start to push through that initial barrier, things are going to become a whole lot easier for you. It will become a lot more comfortable, and this means you will get better at hitting the ball.
Ideally, you will want to practice switch hitting with somebody that is already skilled at pitching with the opposite hand. Do not work with somebody that is developing their skills in this department, because they will not pitch the ball correctly. This will mean that you can’t develop your skills further.
Of course, the best option is to use a batting cage. This way you can ensure that the ball will be pitched to you at the correct force, but I know that not everybody is going to have access to a batting cage like this.
Just keep practicing. Thousands and thousands of pitches will see your skills start to improve. Some people will get quicker better than others.
Work the Strike Zone
Once your skills as a switch hitter have started to develop, and you are able to hit the ball accurately with a reasonable amount of force, then you can start to work the strike zone.
Once you begin working on hitting the ball in various positions throughout the strike zone, you will see that your skills as a switch hitter start to come on in leaps and bounds. It is at this point that you can start to work as a switch hitter in a competitive environment.
Start playing competitively
Your skills as a switch hitter can only be taken to the next level once you start playing competitively. If you are playing in a batting cage or with your friends and family, then there will be a bit of predictability to the way the balls are pitched at you.
If you start to play competitively, then this will add more unpredictability, and this means that you can work even more on your arm strength and muscle memory.
I am not going to lie. The first few times you play as a switch hitter in a competitive environment, you will be terrible. However, it is a key step in becoming better as a player. You probably won’t want to use your skills for the more important games, though.
Continue to Practice
After this, it is a case of just continuing to practice. Your practice time should be split into two. Work on both of your batting hands. It will take months, and sometimes years, but you will become a better player eventually. Please do not get discouraged.
Becoming a switch hitter is not going to be an easy process. It is lengthy, and many people will not be able to do it. However, if you dream of playing the big leagues, or at least becoming a far better player, then it is a vital skill to pick up. Start to practice now.