Welcome to the second episode in my new series, The Show Training 101, where we’ll take an in-depth look at various mechanics and control schemes, analyze how they’re implemented in MLB 15 The Show, and explore the ways in which you can leverage your new found knowledge to take your game to the next level.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at directional hitting. Now there seems to be some confusion surrounding the mechanic’s functionality, so let’s take a look and see what we find. So leading off, what exactly is directional hitting? Well I’m glad you asked. Directional hitting, first and foremost, is simply an extension of traditional timing hitting, with the added ability to influence the direction of your hits. Before the pitch is thrown, the batter can look for an area of the strike zone with which to influence the direction of the ball, indicated by a yellow marker that borders the selected portion of the strike zone as well as a corresponding camera shift to that direction. By pressing up with the left stick, your hitter will look to hit a fly ball. Press down, and you’ll attempt to hit it on the ground. Or you can look to pull or drive a ball in the opposite direction by pressing right or left, dependent on the hitter’s batting stance. You can even attempt to direct the ball in a combination of directions. Want to pull the ball while lifting it into the outfield? Hold the left stick up and inside. Or maybe you want to hit a grounder to the opposite field? Hold the stick down and out. Very easy.

While you do have to hold the left stick in the intended direction as the pitch crosses the plate, you can also adjust your direction of influence on the fly. But it’s the ability to freely alter your direction of influence, or DOI as we’ll call it, that has led to some misunderstanding of how the mechanic actually works. Many wrongly believe that the DOI must match the pitch’s location to make solid contact. But this is not the case! Remember, this is not zone hitting. There is no PCI with which to match pitch location. The DOI simply influences direction; not the chance for contact. However, there is some validity to matching your DOI with the pitch location. The Direction of Influence represents a batter’s area of focus within the strike zone. The closer the pitch is to the batter’s selected zone of influence, the greater the probability that you’ll be able to DIRECT the ball in the intended direction. Likewise, the further away the pitch lands from your selected zone of influence, the less likely you’ll be able to direct the ball in your preferred direction. But remember, this applies to direction only; not the possibility of making contact. On the user’s end, contact is solely a product of timing. Of course, player ratings act in conjunction with a user’s timing, but those variables act independently from user input and don’t warrant inclusion in this guide.

So just remember that when you’re looking to direct a ball in a particular direction, make sure the ball ends up where you’re looking. It’s not at all impossible, but it’s certainly difficult to pull a pitch on the outside part of the plate, just as it’s hard to get under a ball that’s low in the zone.