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Do good hitters time the pitcher?


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
A question popped up in the pitching forum, and we wanted to get some input from the batting gurus. The discussion is not "what batters do" but "what good hitters do".

Do good hitters time the pitcher?

My thought is that good hitters watch the ball and react to the ball and not to anything the pitcher does.

What do you think?

Jul 29, 2008
It depends what age and what level within those age groups.

In the younger age groups, up through 12's, hitters just react to a ball. The rule of thumb is to disregard her motion and watch from the hip. I still don't think many batters have mastered that yet.

In elite 14's, 16's, and lower level gold, girls are picking up habits (where she starts on the rubber, catcher set up, repetitive pitch counts from the coach) and at least know what her go-to pitch is.

Other tip off's a hitter should know are repetitive sequences. For example, if they go get more dirt on their fingers for certain pitches, stand closer to one side of the rubber for a screw, have a drop curve/inside high combo, etc.

I do think there is always a certain amount of timing pitches, hence the reason for "closers" and throwing certain pitchers at certain teams. I also believe most batters are very uneducated as to probabilities and are under-prepared for their at-bat.
May 12, 2008
Good answers.

Yeah, they time pitchers based on what they expect. They then adjust from there. If they get the pitch they were expecting they should crush it.

If you watch elite hitters they are moving long before the ball gets there. The quick part of the swing is from first movement of the bat head into the swing plane till contact. Couple of quick examples.


Photo 2 of 16, Fastpitch
Dec 28, 2008
Here are things I teach batters:
1. You never ever hit a pitcher. You hit the ball.
2. Get your timing down in the on deck circle and just react in the batters box. But that is timing with the speed of the pitch and has nothing to do with the pitcher.
3. To have their own rhythm for an at bat and not to worry about what the pitchers rhythm is. If things are way out of synch, ask for time out, and get back to your rhythm and make the pitcher adjust to you. [Side note: Notice I said ask for timeout and not just put your hand up and step out. I tell them that the umpire owns the clock and all they can do is ask and to be prepared if he doesn't grant it.] Once they step out the pitcher will very seldom ever go through her whole routine again because she already has the ball.
4. Once the pitcher gets on the rubber just focus on her shoulders and down. Basically turn her into a pitching machine instead of a pitcher. Also serves to start narrowing focus. At presentation eyes then focus more narrowly on the hip to watch for the release point. This cuts out all of the nonsense and motions that pitchers do to throw off timing. I see pitchers with slow release motions then the ball snaps out and is faster than her motion would lead a batter to believe it is. I see pitchers with 100 MPH looking deliveries and the ball floats about 40 mph. I teach girls to ignore it all and focus on the ball.

Many of the batters I work with are pitchers and some of their pitching coaches do teach them to count to 17 (for example) in their heads after receiving each pitch. The goal is to help them get in a rhythm, and delay the release as long as possible because "normal batters" go crazy by that point. I wonder if the pitcher in the other forum ask the question because she wondered if getting into a rhythm was a bad thing because it would tip off the batter or something.

But you better believe that I teach base runners to time their explosions with the pitchers timing because those movements are key and not the speed of the pitch (except changeup.) I advise them to warmup before every inning (when they aren't 1st 3 in order that inning) on the sidelines with the pitcher to time their explosions perfectly since the pitcher is so kind as to take 5 pitches before every inning so that they can practice with her. And I REALLY love it if a pitcher throws a change up during warmups so that the baserunners can figure out if they can recognize the change early enough to go if they get on and see one. If they have any way (per Texas) of knowing a changeup is coming ahead of time, they know to go.
Jan 23, 2009
I never really timed a pitcher while I was on deck. I was the #5 hitter in high school and summer ball. I would watch her pitch but never swing the bat. I was more focused on how the ball spun and where her pitches went. I had enough confidence in myself that if I could tell what her pitches were I could make contact.
May 12, 2008
If a hitter didn't time a pitcher, they wouldn't start their motion before they saw the ball.
Jan 20, 2009
As a follow up from my post in a different thread:

It's been said, "You can't hit what you can see."

Focusing on the hip gives you this:

There is a spot that it converts to this:

If you focus on the hip, then your eyes have to catch up with the ball before you can bring it into clear focus, which equates to several feet in distance. Picking the clear object up sooner increases the amount of time the batter can track the pitch.

Teach your batters to find the spot where their eyes convert from blur to clear and have them focus on that spot. My 12-u team can do this.
May 12, 2008
I think where you pick up the ball is an important subject but of course the hitter is already moving before the ball comes out of the hand. These are movements based on an approximate anticipated contact time based on the pitcher's movements and prior observation of the pitcher.

MPEG4 7 of 16, Fastpitch
Jan 20, 2009
If "the hitter is already moving before the ball comes out of the hand", then the hitter shouldn't be playing softball, she should be in the book room in Vegas, or buying lottery tickets.

To improve pitch selection, the sooner the batter can "pick up the pitch", the better the odds that the "batter" becomes a "batter-runner".

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