Tips From The Dugout
When a hitter initiates their swing by dropping their back shoulder typically the the barrel of the baseball bat will drop with it. Thus making it impossible to be short to contact and long through the hitting zone. The length on the backside of the swing causes the hitter to be late to contact. Even if contact is made the ball will be shot up in a fly ball trajectory or will be struck at an angle creating topspin rather than backspin, eliminating the opportunity for the ball to carry.
Proper batting stance is important. The angle of the shoulder should be level or have the back shoulder slightly higher than the front shoulder. While using this hitting aid players focus on sending line drives into the bullseye, staying away from uppercut swings. You can find baseball players at almost every level that are still under the impression that a bigger stride equals more power.
This could not be further from the truth, in fact most of the time the hitter experiences a loss of power due to an extreme weight shift.
A stride is meant to be used as a timing mechanism and nothing more. A big stride shifts your weight towards the back, causing your back leg, shoulder and hands to collapse. A big stride can also cause the hitter to lunge forward making it impossible to stay behind and inside the ball and making the swing longer. This can most noticeably be seen when a hitter ends up on one knee after his swing. In the hopes of helping baseball hitting instructors, here are some pointers that have helped me.
Knowing if players are ground ball, fly ball, or strikeout hitters before the initial lesson, helps shape the direction of the lesson. However, baseball hitting instructors should prepare for different answers from others, as opinions often differ. Often, I hear one parent say one thing, the other parent something different, and the player, even another thing — that is a struggling hitter, for sure.
Some hitters are fly ball hitters in games and groundball hitters in practice, adding to the confusion. It is important to realize that what players do on a batting tee and what they do with live hitting are rarely the same, especially with inexperienced players. I have seen coaches waste time teaching one thing and the player already performs that area well, but lacks in other areas.
For returning players, a few initial batting practice pitches gives clues as to whether the player practiced any and if any improvement has occurred since the last hitting lesson.
Change will not happen until players understand that what they are doing differs from the correct way. This is when coaching patience is paramount, as it gets monotonous, but necessary, to point out the hitting flaw every time. A key to good coaching is never letting the hitting fundamental mistake go without pointing it out.
Having players stop at the point of error, at least as much as possible with the fast moving swing actions, is the next key step.
With continual pointing out of wrongdoing, players eventually begin to recognize it and feel it, which is the initial coaching goal. Let me show you what our video lessons are really capable of. Simple concept I always wondered in my playing days: That results in a ground ball 9 out of 10 times. Only way to consistently drive the baseball is to swing level, if not with a slight upper cut. Thanks for checking us out man, long time no talk. Geez-O-Pete DW you think we should swing up????
When you coming up here to see the facility??? Not sure if you caught it on MLB channel yesterday but Freddie Freeman on the Braves was in a batting cage in Spring Training discussing his swing and what drills he prefers to do to get ready. Instead he prefers front soft toss. I may be wrong but he actuallly looks like he has quite an uppercut swing. Another case perhaps of a guy thinking he does one thing but video shows otherwise.
Most players believe they are swinging down as that is what they were taught and learned early on. Players that make it to the next level adapted either purposefully or unconsciously. It is really a function of necessity to be able to compete with the top level pitchers they are facing.
When they find they are outclassed and struggling, either by instruction, intuition, emulation, or experimentation, they adapt to keep up. The successful ones make it to the next level and vice versus. What is fascinating is that we see overwhelming evidence that one swing path is the only swing path that is predominantly successful.
And what is equally fascinating is how few people recognize this, including the very players that are swinging successfully with this technique. People are only willing to change when the pain of staying the same is less than the pain of change.
Some are not capable…those are the ones that are lost. I myself am a professional hitting instructor, former player, and by my calculations have averaged hitting lesson a week since I began teaching the swing path you advocate in Im one of 2 guys in the West Central Florida area that believes this is the most efficient path to the back of the ball. And all my clients hit for high average, and power, and it doesnt take them a year to see results.
Two, three lessons, and you are seeing a totally different hitter. The direction the pitch came in is the direction you pull your bottom hand into the back of the baseball, just like flying a frisbee with your bottom hand. Thats the visual a hitter needs, in my opinion. Most baseball people look at me like I have 3 heads when I talk hitting mechanics with others because not many people have slowed down the baseball swing to see what actually happens.
Thank you for your information, I direct all my clients to any information that will help them understand the most efficient path of the baseball swing. Further proof that the swing path you advocate is more efficient, simply look at two players who signed free agent contracts this offseason, BJ Upton, 75 million, Josh Hamilton million. BJ has twice the tools, and is a few years younger, but BJ swings down on the ball consistently, hence why he carries a sub.
BJ arguably if he had a more efficient swing path would have been a million guy. Hamilton has a completely different swing plane, his bat comes from inside, behind and slightly underneath the ball, this swing path is much more efficient. Hence why he hits around. Sadly I see minor league prospects released season after season because they cant hit, and its because the coaches in their organization advocate that they hit down on the ball. Two seasons of hittiing. The organization has set them up to fail.
This bad hitting advice wont stop until a professional organization is willing to give the swing path that you and I advocate a try with their minor league players. Or you and I get together and make more players aware of what actually happens in the baseball swing. Im ready to get to work when you are. Hopefully, we can connect and pick each others brain on hitting. I think this article is a bit insane!
I hope you are referring to older, or top of the list, select type kids. Have you ever tried to coach an 5,6,7,8, or 9 year old how to swing? Especially the kids at the bottom of the lineup who are currently extremely uncoordinated who think that the way to swing is to drop their hands and try to lift the ball? What do you think happens when those kids get in front of a coach pitching, a pitching machine, or worse live pitching? How do you rid of an upper cut and try to give that young child some success and joy from playing the game?
YOU absolutely do that drill at the top of this page. These kids have absolutely no hope of learning a real hope until they learn the basics and the basics DO start with learning how to avoid the death move of dropping your hands and trying to lift the ball. After working all year on trying to give the kids some simple keys to put the bat on the ball — he would now think that he is Ryan Braun?!?!
I would direct you to my article on Youth Hitters Featured Here. How do guys get promoted? Kids can learn at a high level at a young age if taught correctly. Ridiculous… again you are NOT focusing on the bottom of the lineup kids who an average 5,6,7,8, or 9 year old coach is working with.
If you think the average little league coach can focus on thoracic extension, you are clearly have more time than any LL coach I know! I work with professional coaches all the time and to promote this kind of advice as useful for these kids is the ultimate fallacy.
Vision and maintaining the bend in the back leg at landing Completely turning and finishing the pelvis movement Thoracic extension Switching his back shoulder to his front shoulder, forcing a complete turn A strong back foot with a high back heel Keeping his weight back in his finish and solidly on his back foot.
You asked me what experience I have coaching kids this age, probably about lessons. If you ask me about team coaching, my answer is none. What my information clearly states is that in a controlled learning setting you can learn this stuff, but I know from my camps and clinics, that we constantly improve kids ball exit speed and movement patterns in mere hours.
I also state that the words we use are different and the drilling is modified to allow kids his age to learn. PLUS — My son is an exception. My son works hard at advanced skills many of which you refer to above which I do NOT disagree with with advanced coaches. I think it is eggregious and arrogant that you poo poo drills that some kids need to be successful. Easy to sit in an ivory tower when you are teaching the best of the best and criticize drills that some of us NEED to get the bottom kids to improve AND for them to enjoy the game.
I have done this for many years and will continue to do so, but your arrogance is annoying. And referring to my son… NAH he is just fine thanks. I stand for accurate drills and ideas. I stand for teaching properly the first time, no matter how long it takes.
I stand for pattern matching the best players in the world as when kids learn that, they can totally dominate and enjoy the game on a completely different level. I stand for testing to see if movements are working via video and exit speeds. Upper level mechanics help every kid, from 9 hole to 3 hitters, and always improve kids.
Arrogance is one thing, Accuracy is another. I would say my tone is fair and video is on my side and so are the results of our players. Everyone can learn that wants to learn. Everyone can avoid movements that do not make sense. Kids are capable of learning at an extraordinary pace. Their unbiased brains can learn languages, patterns, and yes, bodily movements so much faster than adults…and they have no preconceived notions about them.
Of course you do not have to go through upper level hitting theory to them as a 5-year old; however, you are LYING to them if you are not having them do drills that are consistent with the best possible hitting mechanics that you know of. I do coach year olds. But they are there because they want to be there. And they can learn just as well as the stronger kids.
And they have much more room to improve. Teaching them correctly takes the same effort on your part as does teaching them incorrectly. Giving them the correct tools gives them the biggest chance for improvement and success. Teaching them incorrectly only has one outcome — failure. Chas — I see your point for baseball. What about fastpitch softball? The trajectory of the ball is a bit different. Actually, it is not. We disagree strongly with that and know from our own experience that softball players CAN hit this way.
I think you should find out why this is being taught. Also why does Matt Kemp do this drill and swear by it? You just say it is garbage. You show a couple of clips and draw a couple lines. But really, do you think that major league batters are doing this for no reason or because they are horrible hitting instructors? Just because these pros can overcome this information does not make it correct.
Say it out loud Patrick: The double-tee drill shown above and the swing it is trying to develop is the absolute WORST technique. No, and I mean NO, major leaguer hits like that. The pictures Chas shows prove it. I had a coach tell me to swing down, and I read a book by a major coach that said to keep your hands below the barrel on contact. It showed a picture of a player posing in this position.
What the heck — right? The swing-down instruction was the worst i had ever received. Where in the hell did that start and why has it continued? The instruction was bad enough, but then I took it to heart and practiced it and ingrained it.
Now as an adult still playing hardball, I cringe when I hear that terrible, stupid instruction. Also, look at that video of that dreadful double-tee drill. The leg is straight up and down. Again, look at any major leaguer in a still picture or freeze it with your dvr. The front leg is angled back, It is NOT straight up and down. Lastly look at the swing of the coach and what happens to the ball. The proper swing is what you see in the pictures Chas provided.
Yes, the swing begins down from where the hands are back by the shoulder, but then it comes up. Ted Williams said it in his book — Up is the way. I cant believe there are idiots like this guy here in the video. He should be ashamed of himself to even post this garbage. I would like to compare a baseball swing to that of a tennis player returning a volley.
A tennis player doesnt swing down. He brings the racket down to the plane of the incoming ball and keeps it there and then swings it in the same plane. A baseball player should have similar mechanics. Hi Chas, Everyone has an opinion. I coach fastpitch softball. We do not use it to muck up their hips…not sure why you believe that is the case. Teaching kids to hit only homeruns seems a bit narrowminded if you ask me not that you are.
Teach kids to be productive batters…. But again…softball and baseball are two different worlds…what you can get away with in baseball is your demise in our game.
As you illuminated early in your post, everyone does have an opinion. At BR, we advocate for the hands to stay as high as possible throughout the turn and the body posture of the spine allows for the upward trajectory of the pitch. It is a proven fact that all softball pitches go DOWN other than rise-balls that are out of the strike zone. You can read more on that HERE. And our products being purchased by other top level former players. The body is stronger than the arms.
It erodes the skill instantly. My power hitter… two consecutive tournaments… season average My next four hitters averages. So who are your Major League success stories? I hope you keep reading! When the facts are against you, pound the table! Cooked books and single team sample sizes lose. To chas great article and just keep teaching.
My son has a very polished swing he probably could change a thing or 2,like rushing and being tense through his load! Keep conquering the hitting world!!! Think Chubby Checker, not Elvis Pressly. Read your article and agree that the drill performed in the video is incorrect. However the drill itself is used to eliminate the separation of the hands from the body and prevent players from swing around the baseball.
I would bet that all the players highlighted in this article would miss the deep tee. If the goal is to hit off our front knee any swing that makes contact with the back tee would be way too long for most hitters to be consistently successful. All the players highlighted in the article would destroy the deep tee, as clearly shown by the drawings.
It has no place in the game. Chas, How funny to see this article. I am a Travel softball and Varsity high school coach. I was in a heated discussion with a fellow coach for teaching this. I am smiling like crazy now. Just made my day. My first question was how do you expect the girls to stay behind the ball when they are swinging down?
Would work for for slap hitters. For years my kid was taught the downward swing or short and to the ball. His stats were terrible. Not knowing much about baseball I accepted it. I started watching great hitters swings in slow motion and those swings were contradicting what my son was being taught.
He is now playing in college and is hitting very good. Thank you Coach Shouppe.! Chas — I will certainly take this into consideration. Never used the back T drill until this year and many felt uncomfortable with it so I stopped it.
But one thing I try to teach is bat velocity and keeping hands in and getting away from bat drag. Your article was very interesting and I am a person open to all ideas as every player does differ a little.
On a personal note, my 9 year old is a bid power hitter. He throws very hard and we always do proper drills for arm strength and hits very hard, about a year old level. When he gets lift it carries forever but also hits many ground balls. To me it seems like he is not getting proper hand foot separation as he loads while pitcher is in motion and strides with foot and hands at same time. Could this be the reason for all the ground balls? One word of advice: Agree and disagree, and here is why.
He is teaching a kid to have a huge hole in his swing and must have absolute perfect timing to be successful.