Reviews
In a major league career from 1980-1986 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox, infielder Jack Perconte clocked a pair of round-trippers. But he smacks one off the scoreboard with the outstanding book that was recently published -- The Making of a Hitter: A Proven and Practical Step-by-Step Baseball Guide. The 11 chapters and Drills Summary deliver a holistic approach to hitting, with practice tips for players as young as the age of four.

making_of_a_hitter
"My definition of power to most young hitters was made with the question, 'Can you hit a solid ground ball that can get through the infield?'" says Perconte in his book. "If the hitter can consistently do that then they have power."

In nearly 20 years of being an educator, Perconte has given around 60,000 lessons for players of all ages and abilities. That number was part of the title of the first edition of this instructional book: 60,000 Hitting Lessons: Hit It, Fix It, Coach It (2007, Second Base Publishing).  Though there are some tweaks in the text, the message remains clear: "Fundamentals are fundamentals - they don't change from a big leaguer or the little leaguer. (Teaching the strike zone) should begin at an early age."

He initially discusses bat size, gripping the bat, plate positioning, feet alignment and balance before delving into the complete swing through words and photographs. The most common problems are clearly explained and Perconte includes a wealth of drills, such as the use of tools like a hitting tee or multiple tees, a weighted bat, balance beam, towel and a bench, which is aptly called the "timber drill."

"See the ball, hit the ball," Perconte says in the book. "Baseball is a game of repetition - challenges and variety erase boredom."

For parents and family members, Perconte discusses how to positively support the young player. He provides direction on how to teach, which he focuses on a "Caring Coach," who gives each player a chance to compete well through a variety of games and contests. "Notice I didn't say a knowledgeable coach," Perconte writes. "I've seen players improve tremendously without much instruction just by being challenged by a coach who cares.

"Leaving the game for playing and using practices for coaching is one of the keys to having focused players."

A latter section on the mental aspect is a vital tool for coaches of older players. Perconte mentions a tennis book, probably Tim Gallway's The Inner Game of Tennis, that actually helped him with focus at the plate while playing pro ball. "The game wasn't designed so the pitcher can throw the ball by you," he writes, "so stay back and trust your swing."

This is truly a hands-on guide that could be used by a team during practices throughout a season or as a means for parents to guide themselves and their child in the life-skills of positive education.

"Knowledge creates confidence - the good coach is the knowledge creator," Perconte writes. "We had a rule at our camps that the only players who could yell at a fellow camper were the players who had never made an error or never struck out before.

"That usually would quiet up the players and keep them accountable for their own play and not criticizing everybody else's play."

And while the book is an excellent teaching guide on hitting a baseball for players at all ability levels and being a successful coach and teacher on and off the field, Perconte will be expanding the latter in an upcoming book, Raising an Athlete.

“A universal sports definition of ‘keeping things in perspective’ is necessary because the meaning of perspective can be different for different people,” he says in the book.

Perconte’s definition of “keeping it in perspective” includes the following:

1. People always keeping in mind the age of the players.
2. The physical and emotional health of the child is always most important.
3. Sports are only games and one aspect of many aspects of a child's life, and not the most important one.
4. Always remembering that it is the players' career and not the adults'.
5. Understanding that competition creates emotions but these emotions should never override good judgment about the four previous points.

A decent educator can guide a student to the fundamentals. An outstanding teacher will instruct the fundamentals to individuals, even in a group or team setting. A superior instructor will set the table to give each student an opportunity to succeed, while providing vital guidance in leadership.

Perconte has touched all the bases in his published books and is poised to deliver another round-tripper by expanding upon a major theme in his next volume.

AHP Rating: 4 Balls

AtHomePlate.com writes its book reviews with the following system:
Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book story to get a copy.
Three Balls: This book stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Two Balls: A book worth reading/owning and is usually above average.
One Ball: This book has something to say but is nothing special.

Leave your thoughts on The Making of a Hitter below.