FarmThreads: Approach

Featuring Joey Votto

A hitting approach is like having a plan; It is everything and it is nothing. But why is having an approach so important? It brings awareness to what a hitter is capable of doing and how a pitcher may try to get that hitter out. So what happens when the pitcher’s game plan is geared toward your weaknesses?

We have found that a hitters approach heavily influences how the body moves, which effects:

  • Spacing
  • Direction
  • Power
  • Timing
  • Connection
  • And More…

The two biggest issues we find with hitting approaches is:

  • The athlete isn’t physically capable of moving in a way to execute said approach


  • The athlete gets married to an approach and doesn’t keep an open mind to a change within their approach.

How does an approach influence how the body moves? Let’s first take a look at some simple cues that are commonly used by coaches and Instructors:

  • Think right center
  • Hit it to the second baseman
  • Hit it in the air
  • Hit a ground ball
  • Get the bat head out
  • Knob to the ball
  • Stay in your legs
  • Swing down on the ball
  • etc…

We all can agree that these have worked for some players and they’ve failed others, but why Is that? Cues influence the way the body moves and they could result in a move that doesn’t lead to a productive solution for an athlete at that specific time.

Let’s look at a cue we mentioned above & some results we have gotten from athletes with it: Pull The Ball In The Air.

Notice how from this one cue there are several good & bad possibilities? Every athlete’s interpretation and physical limitations play a major role in any cue given. In the video above, Joey Votto makes the comment “No matter how much scouting you do, you have to be ready to go physically, meaning your swing has to be sharp… I want to execute this and my body has to be able to do it.

This is a perfect example as to why a players approach should be looked at from a movement standpoint. An approach should create better movement solutions and in turn provide the athlete a sense of confidence.

While an approach can help the hitter achieve the task at hand on that specific day, it can can also fail to achieve the physical demands being asked of the same athlete the next. For example, the approach today could be to think opposite field and it works because the pitcher lives away, or the hitter has the movement solution to hit the ball to the opposite field.

But tomorrow comes and that pitcher lives inside. the athlete continues to think opposite field, resulting In cutting themself off. It’s also possible the hitter may not have the movement solution built at this point to be able to hit the inside pitch consistently well. This leads to the topic of changing your approach.

Change is inevitable. The question is, will you change when it is time to change? In the video above, Joey Votto talks about the changes he has made throughout his long career. Most of his adjustments have been necessary based on the advancements on the pitching side. He mentions that pitching was more “touchy feely” at the beginning of his career, whereas today, pitching has “higher velocity and higher spin rate..

While this example is over the course of his career, there are scenarios where adjustments in an approach need to be made at a quicker pace; even between at bats. Let’s say you face Kyle Hendricks who has an average fastball velocity of 87 MPH in one at bat. Then you face Craig Kimbrel the next at bat, with an average fastball velocity of 96.9 MPH. To have success in both of these at bats, you’ll most likely need to change your mental cues/ approach up at the plate.

When it comes to approach, here at the farm we:

  • Identify what the hitter is doing well
    • Moving Reciprocally
    • swivelling forward
    • maintaining good posture
    • ETC…
  • Identify what the hitter isn’t doing well
    • Yanking with back
    • pushing with back leg
    • dragging the barrel
    • snap hooking balls
    • ETC…
  • Determine what cues worked for the hitter, allowing them to hit pitches in specific parts of the zone
    • back shoulder above ball helps hit the high pitch
    • Swing the barrel helps hit the middle in pitch
    • ETC…
  • Determine what the pitcher is trying to do
    • I.E. Live away
    • Live in
    • Stay down
    • Work above the belt
    • Fastball dominant
    • Offspeed dominant
    • ETC…

Now that we have shortened the list of variables, we implement our plan.

If you are interested in how we implement our plans and approach here at The Farm, go ahead and check out our resources! Don’t Miss out!

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