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Is anyone familiar with Gary Ward and his approach to hitting? He was a head coach at Oklahoma State winning a number of titles. He now assists his son at New Mexico State. I believe he was inducted into the College Baseball Coach's Hall of Fame.

It is an odd looking "hands" swing but apparently he has had a high level of success with this approach.

My guy is at a college where the head coach worked as an assistant coach with Gary Ward while at Oklahoma State a number of years ago and is teaching the same swing.

It is quite different from what he (my son) has done in the past.

The Journey Continues!

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Wards style was either embraced or totally dismissed as being crafted specifically for aluminum bats. Not much in between.

I think it is safe to say that no one outside of Ward or his disciples teaches that style of hitting. Robin Ventura is arguably the best collegiate hitter of all time and his swing was retooled immediately upon being drafted by the White Sox.

Wards style of hitting was hands in the middle of the body, knees close together and don't swing at anything but the fastball. Always worked great in college until they faced pitchers that could locate the breaking ball.
It is another of the cookie cutter approaches that I despise. It takes the individuality out of the equation and teaches everyone to be the same. You see this alot at the hs levels. The teams usually have alot of success because all of the kids can put the ball in play. At this level if everyone is putting the ball in play you will score runs. The problem is the elite hitters are brought down to the level of the average hitters. The average hitters stay average and the below average hitters become average.

Power numbers go way down with this approach. I have seen it way too many times.
I'm not a big fan, but the Ward approach is actually effective in college. Last year NMSU ranked at or near the top of the WAC in offensive production, and led the conference in HRs. The Aggies can hit a little. Of course they do play in a small park, and the ball really flies in the thin desert air. Problem is their best hitters don't get drafted high despite putting up great numbers. Billy Becher (2003-2004) led all of D1 in HRs for consecutive years, and then waited until the 22nd round. Their leading hitter last year, Scaperotta, had 23 HRs and went undrafted.
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He also taught Pete Incaviglia who hit 48 jacks in a season. His teams were some of the best All-time in the NCAA. I don't teach his style neccesarily, but some of his principles are good.. Hell he was a top D1 coach for years. He also taught early seperation and zone hitting with cones. Lots of unique ideas..He taught hit fastball till two strikes and then early seperate and go to right..If you aren't looking fastballs then wow..Like to play you. I respect what he does, but he hasn't had the most talented kids either. I don't think you have to cookie cut either, but there are only certain principles to good hitting.
just some information i found.

Ward Inducted Into National College Baseball Hall Of Fame
Release: 07/04/2008


Gary Ward is the third Cowboy to be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

LUBBOCK, Texas — Oklahoma State coaching legend Gary Ward was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame Thursday.

Ward became the third former Cowboy inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas, during a ceremony honoring the Class of 2008. He joined his former OSU pupils Robin Ventura (Class of 2006) and Pete Incaviglia (Class of 2007) in the hall. OSU has had an inductee into the hall in each of its first three years of existence.

Ward was OSU's head baseball coach from 1978 through 1996 and guided the Cowboys to an unprecedented 16-straight conference titles, 17 NCAA Regional appearances and 10 trips to the College World Series. Seven of OSU's CWS appearances (1981-87) were in consecutive years, which is an NCAA record. The Cowboys also appeared in the NCAA championship game three times under Ward.

In 19 seasons in Stillwater, Ward compiled a record of 953-313-1, a winning percentage of .753, before retiring prior to the 1997 campaign.

While at OSU, 108 of Ward's players went on to sign professional contracts, and nine were named first-team All-Americans. He also coached three college baseball players of the year, two Olympic gold medalists and the 1988 Golden Spikes Award winner (Ventura).

Ward's influence and accomplishments extended beyond the playing field at OSU. He was the driving force behind the planning, funding, design and construction of Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, and his leadership helped raise the necessary funds for stadium improvements in 1995.

Ward came out of retirement and was the head coach for two seasons at his alma mater, New Mexico State, in 2001 and 2002. He led the Aggies to the Sun Belt Tournament championship and an NCAA appearance in 2002.

Ward's career record of 1,022-361-1 (.739) is 13th-best all time based on win percentage and ranks 24th in the NCAA record books in wins.

Recognized as a leading authority on hitting, Ward's energetic and enthusiastic approach and demonstrations are still in constant demand at baseball clinics throughout the country. Eight of his OSU teams led the nation in runs scored.

Ward came to OSU in 1977 after seven successful seasons at Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, Ariz. Yavapai won two national championships, and Ward finished with a 240-83 career record at the school. Following his two national championships in 1975 and 1977, Ward was named the NJCAA Coach Of The Year.

To be eligible for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, coaches must have achieved 300 wins or won at least 65 percent of their games.

Hall of Fame inductees are chosen based on the votes of more than 90 representatives from across the country. Voters include coaches, media members and previous inductees.
Nobody will ever dispute the fact that Ward was successfull, especially in the 80's. I dreamed of playing for the guy, just like most ballplayers from this area did back then.

For whatever reason, the swing he taught never translated to swinging a wood bat. Incavaglia was the most feared college hitter ever! Nobody can dispute that but only Ventura went on to have a solid big league career from OSU. He had over 120 players drafted from his 0SU tenure and several made it to MLB, but only one had a notable career. Inky made some money and bounced around for over 10 years in bigs, but never reached his draft potential.

Billy Hatcher from Yavapai, late 70's is the only other player that Ward coached that also had a solid big league career. Played 11 years.

I played for Ward, although it was his hitting approach he did not make all players use this method.  If you were successful with an approach other that what he taught, he did not change you.  Although I used his approach while there, I ultimately changed my approach in minor league ball, it took me a few years to adjust back too the solid back leg approach most typically taught.  Charlie Lowe had a similar approach to Ward so it did have some legs in professional ball.  After 7 years of minor league ball I came to see why his approach was difficult with wood and at higher levels; there was too much body drift towards the ball which decreased the amount of time you had.  It also reduced hip turn speed; as the body moves in a linear fashion, rotational speed becomes slower.  Equate it to figure skaters, when they are spinning real fast, they are not moving around on the ice like the tasmanian devil.  I have instructed youth players now for almost 20 years and it is my opinion that the less linear and vertical body movement through the stride and preparation phase before the swing makes for a better, quicker, and more efficient swing.


I would not be worried, your son may flourish with that style in college but if he goes pro, he will have to change.  It also takes a special athlete to be successful with the Ward style, that's why you don't see it in HS or lower level collegiate ball.  Ward coached many successful MLB players, but I don't think any of them used his mechanical approach.

Cosmo; you have a very strong "instincts" on hitting. Once on an airplane with Robin Ventura we discussed the "hitting" philosophy of Ward.


He said "as long as I hit my way successful, Coach Ward did not try to change me".


Please continue to provide the HS web viewers your experiences.

Bob Williams

International Baseball - 30 years

Funny to see this thread back! It was started when my son attended his first year at a JUCO. My son made it his mission that season to adopt and execute that hitting approach to please his coach and ensure playing time. He actually transferred from the program after one year as it became apparent that pro teams did not scout hitters there. It was an agonizing experience watching him in the batter box for a full season, even though he was successful.


My son hit .390 with that approach and about 7 HR's that year, but hit .454 with 11 HR's the second year after trying to get his old mechanics back in play.


It was very difficult for him to eliminate some of the movements especially the tendency to drift forward creating the negative aspects Cosmo alluded to.


After two years at a D2 and one short season in the minors, I can only hope that he has successfully eliminated any muscle memory this training gave him so many years ago!

Couldn't disagree more.  Some of the comments are a complete contradiction to Ward's approach.  I attended his camp at OSU in the 80's.  I still have a VHS copy of "The Hitting Machine" from the camp.  One of his most important points he makes right out of the gate is "different strokes for different folks"  Quite the opposite of what I reading in this thread that he teaches a robotic swing for all.  Where the hitter arrives at the point of contact should be generally the same, but how a hitter gets to that point can differ according to body type or overall ability or skill.  The description of a "handsy" swing is misleading.  Ward emphasizes bat speed and does point out the amount of speed the wrist, hands, and fingers can generate versus big slow muscles.  Hands and wrist are quick and backs and shoulders are slow.  Wards teaches the legs are your base and the legs combined with the back and shoulders provide the mass behind the ball but the without using your hands you are not maximizing your bat speed.  In the video he goes through many "touch" systems to emphasize hands staying inside the ball.  Yes, one is the hands in line with the sternum for stockier/shorter armed hitters, but he points out others that help different style hitters and body types such as the one Cal Ripken Jr. used where he laid his bat on his shoulder or Rod Carew's flat laid off approach but all good hitters arrive at basically the same position at the point of contact.  Ward's system is not for a freak of nature, which most major league hitters are...with superior eye sight and reflexes that the average person.  Ward definitely does not fix what's not broken.  His philosophy is for players who need instruction not the the best hitters in the world who have superior abilities and can hit from what ever position they chose.  He points out guys like Willie Stargel's low hands or Will Clarkes barred front arm. They get away with it because they are Willie Stargle and Will Clark.  As for the lack of power in Ward's approach...I disagree.  Bat speed means power and solid/square contact means power.  Ward's approach is all about maximizing bat speed and meeting the ball squarely.  It is definitely geared towards increasing a hitters contact skills which is the only way to become a better hitter is to make contact more often.  

Some people don't like Ward's approach because it's too complicated to learn.  However, his success speaks for itself.  His team's runs/game numbers were off the charts.


I would have loved to see how Inky or Ventura would have done in MLB had they kept Ward's hitting approach after being drafted.  But the fact of the matter is that the neither the White Sox nor the Rangers organizations taught that style of hitting - so you can't attribute their MLB stats to Ward (since neither Inky or Ventura used a Ward approach in MLB)..  


The reason why professional coaches don't want to adopt a Ward approach is because it's too complicated for them - and would take too long for them to learn.  Tradition also plays a big role in a lack of willingness to adopt something new.  Gary Ward is simply ahead of his time.  In my opinion he is the greatest hitting coach of all time.

JRW and Wilson are the people to listen to here.  Ward's techniques as he will tell you, takes time and hard work both for the athlete and the coach.  Most coaches are over anxious for results and do not have the patience to see the program through for their players. others are just plain, lazy.  I have been a Gary Ward "disciple" since 1986  when I first attended one of his hitting camps as a guest and I can tell you that all I have seen working with hitters with his approach on a consistantly routine basis is positive results.


As a youth coach I don't get the guys who end up in professional baseball.  I get Bobby-Joe down the street and more than my fair share of them have gone on to do well at the college and University levels.


A big THANK YOU goes out to my friend Gary Ward and his influence on me as a teacher and coach in this game. 

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