I’ve seen this Interview all over the internet and there are some awesome things for hitters to hear in it. When I saw this initially (on Twitter) I was really bummed out because it was only the 1:41 soundbite from the end where Votto’s talking about the ball being the best feedback and it seemed to disregard anything other than external results. Then I watched the full interview and I felt differently about it. So before you read on please watch the interview. See you in a few.
Alright, so let’s think about the parts where he’s talking about Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout. Votto explains that the reason that they are both so good is because they can do whatever they want with the ball, including pound it over the wall.
If you can do whatever you want with the ball – including control your launch angle and where you hit the ball – but you can’t hit for power, the ceiling you can reach as a baseball or softball player is low unless you’re absurdly fast.
I agree that the ball is the best feedback but the results of how you hit it tell you what you need to do next. If you’re not hitting the ball as far as you want, the feedback the ball is giving you says that you need to turn your body more efficiently or get bigger/stronger. Please don’t listen to this interview and think that the best way to play at a high level is to just hit the ball over and over again. This will make you repeatable for sure but if you want to have a high ceiling as a player you have to learn turn your body and your barrel efficiently.
Some people play at a high level by being externally focused. Most times this happens with large humans because they can swing however they want and still hit the ball a mile. This is why a lot of big guys get tricked into thinking they have a major league swing. For example, look at Judge prior to his swing change last year -he didn’t turn his barrel well so he struggled. Once he learned how to turn his barrel, he had a great year.
Failure is our greatest teacher and our greatest feedback. The ball tells you if you’re good or if you’re bad. But the ball doesn’t tell you why you’re bad or how to become better, your movements do. If you use the ball as feedback and just think “I should hit it further,” that doesn’t mean you actually will. Once you make the determination that you’re not good enough, put your bat and ball away and figure out how to move better. Then try hitting again to see what the ball tells you.
Lots of respect to Votto for being so open about his process and the realities of baseball/softball. It would be awesome to talk hitting with him.
Thanks for Reading,
Kurt Hewes – Director of Hitting and Founder of Ignite Baseball