Baseball Hitting Techniques-Good, Better, Best

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Baseball Hitting Techniques-Good, Better, BestBaseball hitting techniques

Whenever you have a conversation about hitting, it always revolves around technique. Baseball hitting techniques are varied. Players swing many different ways. What we believe as coaches will dictate what technique our players are going to use. We will have a discussion today about good technique, better technique and the best.

Kids are willing to try things to make themselves better. As coaches, we want to help them reach their potential. These two facts make for a great combination. However, coaches need to be sure that what they are trying is what is best for the player.

There are three predominant swing camps. No, we are not discussing linear v. rotational hitting. We beat that conversation to death. Anyone holding on to either side is full of hot air. We are referring to pushing the knob to the ball, connection or barrel to the ball.

By watching a video of a player’s swing everyone that is at least a little open-minded can see that players move forward (linear), then plant their front side and rotate (rotational) so there are elements of both in every swing. Too much of one or the other and you have an ineffective swing that needs work. The real questions now are what the right swing pattern is with the hands? The other one is how do you achieve it as a hitter?

Digging IN

So we dig into the three options. The first way that we will review is the knob to the ball method. As with most things in hitting this is a delicate topic. I believe there is a place for this phrase when you are coaching hitting. The problem is it is a cue for individual players who’re getting their hands stuck behind them, not a great hitting method.

Knob to the ball

Why isn’t it a great hitting process? Naturally, it creates problems that a player can only address with athleticism. Many players, especially young hitters, don’t possess enough athletic ability to be successful consistently using this method.

Baseball hitting techniquesThe first problem that swinging “knob to the ball” creates is that it forces the hands out in front of the swing creating a contact point in front of the body. That means the batter has less time to decide if it is a good pitch to hit. The batter is also making contact with the ball with their arms extended further from the body most of the time creating less power.

The second problem with “knob to the ball” hitting is swing plane. The hands getting in front early creates a downward swing path. This swing plane will cause the hitter to hit a lot of groundballs. Hitters don’t like groundballs; pitchers do, so hitters are forced to manipulate the swing plane. The manipulation that most hitters will use is to drop their back shoulder excessively. Yes, the back shoulder should be lower than the front but in a straight line. Dropping or dipping the back shoulder is an unnatural curved spine position that will promote an extreme uphill swing plane.

Players that hit with the “knob to the ball method can be successful if they are great athletes and spend a lot of time working to create compensations for the flaws in their swing. If a player can have success, then you can’t say that it is a bad way to hit. So, we will call this method good. There is a better way though and let’s face it unless there is some physical reason why a player can’t do something better why wouldn’t you teach them the better way.

ConnectionBaseball hitting techniques

The connection method is the primary focus of a rotational swing. Back when the debate between linear and rotational hitting was raging connection was a term that was preached by the rotational side. Connection only means that you keep your hands stationary around the shoulder area of the body as you rotate your core to the pitch. The point of this is so that when you rotate you don’t drop the barrel of the bat too early and lose all of your power before the bat enters the hitting zone.

“Connection,” is not a great method to use when hitting. It is better than the “Knob to the ball,” way because it keeps the hands in closer to the body and creates a better leverage position at contact for more power. With the hands closer to the body it also promotes a deeper hitting zone which translates to more time for the batter to decide whether they want to swing or not.

Connection-The flaws

Connection still doesn’t create the maximum amount of time for a hitter’s decision process though. It also requires a considerable amount of athletic prowess to establish timing for off-speed pitches. Both of the previously stated systems need a hitter to wait until they recognize a pitch before they can begin generating power.

The problem is that force in both swings starts from the time the player starts their forward momentum. When a player stops this movement at toe touch to wait for an off-speed pitch, the player loses some of their power.

The players also have to restart the rhythm of their swing. Not being able to have a continuous swing stride to finish is the biggest flaw in most hitter’s swing.

Barrel to the ballBaseball hitting techniques

The barrel to the ball method has a lot of similar traits to the other two methods except for barrel path.The question you are asking yourself or should be asking yourself, right now is why is it any better than the other two methods then? I will tell you in a single sentence. The barrel to the ball method creates power through barrel movement. You don’t need to move your body to create energy this means that your body movements can be used to create timing. Baseball hitting techniquesGreat concept, right?

How do you describe the Hitting of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, or Albert Pujols? I would describe it as effortless. That is what a barrel to the ball swing will create for your players.I will explain the process and the benefits as simply as I can.

Breaking down the mechanics

There are similar pieces to every swing. There is a load phase, a stride phase, and a swing phase. How players do these things vary.  Sometimes to their benefit, sometimes to fix a flaw and sometimes to mask a weakness.

Loading

In the load phase of any swing, the players draw their body back to gather their weight into their back foot. Loading is done in preparation to stride and then swing the bat.

With the first two methods, this phase is critical because it is the first chance that a player has to create a window for timing. A player can load back and wait in that position for a short period to change how soon they will get to the swing phase where contact with the baseball occurs. Players are encouraged to maintain quiet hands during this phase of the swing to keep the swing simple.

 

With the barrel to the ball method, the player loads in the same way but the load is just a process to get the body moving the bat creates the power by starting to make progress in this phase. A player should tip the barrel up, and back this is where the power starts.

Striding

During the stride phase, the player is starting to generate power by shifting their weight forward. The stride is considered to be the time when the hitter’s weight stops going back and begins to move forward until the front toe touches the ground. When the toe touches the ground, we call it toe touch, and in the first two methods, it is the last chance to create timing in the swing. Players will often try to land soft and stay back with their weight at this stage.

The problem with this is that when you try to stop or stay back at this point, you break the kinetic chain working in your swing. Or you have a situation where you will lose stretch in your “spring X pattern,” as Joey Myers would say in his book, “The Catapult Swing System.”

Swinging

In the swing phase, the hitter has to put the sweet spot of the bat into the path of the ball to make contact. The “knob to the ball technique teaches players to swing inside the ball. The reason for that is the natural barrel path is going to take the bat from the inside to the outside on a downhill trajectory. No hitter is trying to do this so they must compensate for the bat path.

When using the connection process coaches will talk about taking the hands to the ball. A hitter needs to master the separation of the hands because if a player maintains the connection through the swing, they will not be able to reach the outside corner without a long bat and their feet as close to home plate as possible.

The barrel to the ball method allows a player to use the barrel momentum to generate power so they can separate their hands from the body. The ability to separate with power makes it easier for players to hit any pitch in the hitting zone.

Benefits of barrel to the ball

In the stride is where the real advantage of the barrel to the ball method starts to come out. Because we are using the momentum of the barrel to create power what our body does in this phase is only used to create timing. A hitter can speed up or slow down this part of the swing. It doesn’t affect the amount of power they are releasing in the swing phase.

The barrel to the ball swing method will allow you to rotate your hips to the front while keeping your hands back and upper body slightly closed. By doing these two things, you are in effect holding off your swing longer. Doing these two elements gives a hitter the ability to generate power in their swing. At the same time that they recognize what the pitch is. Using the barrel to the ball system also means that you will hit the ball deeper so you can maintain leverage for power and gain time before needing to release the swing. More time before releasing the swing means more time for pitch recognition.

The attributes of the barrel to the ball method make it the best way to hit a baseball. Because it allows the batter to wait longer and do more while they are waiting it will make hitters better than they have ever been. This hitting method has been proven throughout the history of baseball and is still going on today. Players like Ted Williams swung the bat with these principles. Major leaguer Josh Donaldson among others is using this swing system to make themselves better hitters as we watch today.

Coaching points

A hitter is only going to be as good as his mechanics and abilities allow them to be. As a coach, you should try to find the best swing pattern to bring out the potential of your players. To get a more in-depth with the barrel to the ball approach that I have described you should read two books.

Baseball hitting techniquesThe first book is “Elite Swing Mechanics,” by Bobby Tewksbary. Bobby is a great swing guy. He has worked long and hard to understand the swing mechanics of some of the most successful hitters ever to play the game. He has also worked with hitters from young kids to big leaguer’s and makes hitters better.

The second one is the book I mentioned before, “The Catapult Loading System,” by Joey Myers. JoeyBaseball hitting techniques does a great job breaking down the science of what the body does during the swing. He is a lot like Bobby in the fact that he has dedicated a lot of time and effort to the subject of hitting and understanding how we get the body to do what we want.

Both of these guys have a similar background as well. They both played D1 college baseball and couldn’t get much beyond that because their swings failed them. They both tell in their books how what they didn’t know hurt their pursuit of their dream of playing baseball.

Being the difference

I implore you to be the coach that stops crushing the dreams of kids around the world because you didn’t know what to teach them. Explore the world around you. Examine the efforts of others and find the right answer for every young baseball player you coach. You never know who might become the next Teddy Ballgame with the proper teaching at the right time. You could be watching your T.V. one afternoon and see the kid you taught to hit when he was eight hitting a home run in front of 50,000 screaming fans.

Or you could be the guy that inspires the next book about hitting or pitching mechanics by a baseball player who didn’t quite make it all the way. Don’t worry though they usually thank their coach for teaching them to learn more from their failure than their success.

Time to take your newfound knowledge and put it to the test. Before you run out to the field check out the post, “Youth Baseball Batting Practice-Tips for progress” This will give you a good plan to take what you are working on and maximize your ability to get there.

Thank you,

Coach Wood

 

 

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Baseball Video Analysis-Using it to coach

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Baseball Video Analysis-Using it to coach

Coaching is about making players better at every level. Whether you are coaching youth baseball or coaching pro baseball, your mission is to improve your player’s ability. Baseball video analysis helps coaches get players to reach their potential.

Baseball video analysis


The use of video analysis will assist you as a coach improve a player’s skills. Mike Trout, arguably the best hitter in the sport today, uses video to make sure his swing is the best it can be. If we are teaching our players to hit like the best players then why wouldn’t we use the same tools when they are available.



What you need

baseball video analysisIt used to be hard to use video to analyze a player, but now it is as simple as downloading an app on your smartphone. There are several apps available the one I prefer is Coach’s Eye. Power Chalk is another app that is available. The key to all of them is to find one and use it until you are comfortable with their system. Both of these apps are free and offer in-app purchases.


There are also computer programs that you can buy. Most are costly, and you need need to buy additional video cameras to use the system. RightView Pro offers packages ranging from $299 to $6,000. For a youth baseball coach, this is a huge of out-of-pocket expense.



Do you really know what you are looking at?
baseball video analysis

Knowing what you are looking at in a hitter’s mechanics is the essential part of using baseball video analysis to make yourself a better coach. Anybody can learn how to use an app. Knowing what you are looking for is a lot harder.


You must become versed in hitting mechanics. Immersing yourself in the world of baseball mechanics can be time-consuming. There are so many opinions about how we do things. I would strongly recommend that you research by reading and watching. When you read a book by a former or current authority on baseball, take their words and then watch what they are doing. In a lot of cases, you will find that there is a difference. What they do is not what they say.



So what is right or who should you follow?baseball video analysis

That is hard; I have found a handful of people that I trust. We start with Ted Williams. We end with Ted Williams. Ted was the greatest hitter of all time. He knew things about hitting and explained them in detail back in the 1930’s that people are just catching up to now.


My next resource is a combination of individuals. The gentlemen behind Epstein Hitting, dad, Mike played for Ted Williams. He got to work with Ted and listen to his teachings first hand. He has passed that knowledge down to his son Jake and others through his hitting instructor certification classes and his books. You can find more information online at Epstein Hitting Online Academy.


I also follow Bobby Tewksbary. Tewksbary Hitting is one of my favorite places to get hitting information because I know some of the guys that Bobby has worked with personally. They are on top of the mechanics and mental side of hitting like few others in the game today. Once you get on his website, you will be hooked if you have even an ounce of interest in how to hit a baseball. I would recommend getting his book Elite Swing Mechanics.


Finally, I think that the information put out by Sean T Plouffe at Hitterish.com. Sean talks about a lot of the mechanics of a great swing. He has a lot of videos that reinforce what he is teaching.



Hitting always comes back to Ted Williams

baseball video analysisThe thing that you will find when you visit all of these sites and read or watch the material that they present is that they are all doing what Ted Williams said was happening over 70 years ago. I am not taking anything away from these guys. I think they are great but if Ted Williams had the video analysis and the internet, I wonder if any of these guys would have a job today.



Some things you might not know you don’t know

Unless you have been studying the baseball swing for the last 15 years, there are things that you have probably learned that you shouldn’t have. Vidoe has brought an understanding to hitting mechanics that we just didn’t have when we were growing up. If you have not played baseball in a progressive program withing the last ten years you need to do your players a favor and catch up on hitting.

Understanding hitting mechanics will allow you to look at the swing of your players and determine if they are getting their foot down early or learning to use their stride and balance to keep inside the baseball and hit every pitch. You will be able to see if a player is long to the ball or short and quick allowing more time for pitch recognition. Are your player’s getting on plane and staying there or are they swinging down, looping or pulling off?



How to use your baseball video analysis system

The biggest problem with using video analysis is getting a good video to analyze. When taking video make sure that the angle you are using will allow you to see the particular mechanic you would like to address. If you are working on the leg drive of a player, you have to get video from the opposite batter’s box. If you are slightly in front of or behind the hitter, you will not get the angles you need to measure correctly.


When you are looking for hand path, you will want to use video that is taken from directly behind, or in front of the hitter. If you are trying to see if a player’s hands are released too early in the swing process, you may not get a good angle from the opposite batter’s box view.


As the person getting the video, you will also want to keep in mind that having a reference point in the background is very helpful. Using a backstop or another player works in live game video. When you are in a batting cage see if you can find a grid to use as a backdrop.


A good analyzer can look at a bad video and make good suggestions. However, getting the right video will make it a lot easier to definitively correct poor mechanics.



Analyze the video

Now that you have a good foundation of hitting mechanic knowledge, an app on your smartphone and a good video, you need to break it down. To thoroughly analyze the video, you must have a system. Most hitting guys will tell you to start from the ground up and I don’t disagree. The legs are the most important part of any sport including baseball.


After addressing the legs, you will move up the body ending with the hands. The sequence of analyzing will go feet, legs, hips, shoulders, head, then hands. If you follow this process, you will never miss something in a hitter’s swing.



Don’t get stuck on one swing

When using video to analyze your players you need to remember that the video does not lie. However, you can see things that are there because of something that happened outside of the frame. When breaking down a player’s mechanics you can’t use just one example. Make sure you get a few samples for each hitter. Something that is wrong in one swing may not be a habit. It could be an adjustment to a variable like pitch location or speed.


Breaking down video will help you develop young players if you use it the right way. Be sure to educate yourself on the mechanics you are analyzing. The best tool any coach has is their knowledge of the game.

Thank you,

Coach Wood

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Hitting Approach-How to coach the approach

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Hitting Approach-How to coach the approachhitting approach

Every hitting coach I ever talk to uses the term “approach” when talking to a player about hitting. Almost every player I talk to about hitting has no idea what that coach is talking about until you start asking them questions. This post is going to help coaches teach a hitting approach and get players to understand what they are learning.



What is a Hitting Approach?

The first thing we have to do is define a hitting approach. A hitting approach is simply the plan that the batter is going to use during an at-bat. Things like offensive philosophy, where a batter is going to position themselves, what pitch the batter is looking for and where the batter wants to hit the ball are all things that make up their approach.


A hitting approach is flexible. Meaning that what your approach is during your first at bat of a game may not be what it is in the 3rd at-bat of the same game. An approach is so flexible in fact that it may change from one pitch to the next during an at-bat. As the situation changes so must the approach.


An example would be a batter comes up to the plate with a runner on first base. On the second pitch of the at-bat, the base runner steals second base. The hitter just went from being a mover to being a producer. This changes where they are trying to place the ball and what pitch they are probably looking to hit thus changing the approach.



Coach the approach

hitting approachThat brings us to the hard part, how do we teach such a flexible thing to kids. As a coach, I believe in keeping things simple. Start with explaining the fundamentals of offensive situational baseball. Tell your players about the three things that every hitter can be. An “on-er,” someone that gets on base. Or a “mover,” someone who pushes the runner into scoring position. Finally a “producer,” a hitter that drives in runners from scoring position.


Which one of those three a batter is will not be defined by their position in the batting order but by the situation of the baseball game. If your four-hitter is leading off the second inning, he is an “on-er.” His job is to get on base, put pressure on the defense and help the team.


hitting approachUnderstanding what their mission is at the plate will help a player start to build their approach. The player also has to know how they are going to use their strengths as a hitter to battle the strengths of the pitcher. Your cleanup hitter is probably not going to be bunting to move a runner over even if they are in the role of a “mover.” When your number 9 hitter is in the position of “producer,” they may be looking to get a safety squeeze down to drive a run in.



I know me. Do you know me?

Starting with the basics a player needs to know themselves. Some hitters are very confident, they know the strike zone and know they can make contact on most pitches. Other players aren’t so sure they, maybe they swing and miss a lot or have a weakness for chasing that ball at the eyes, so many kids have a hard time laying off.hitting approach


As coaches, we have to help each player develop their approach accordingly. I remember struggling my sophomore year in high school. My coach pulled me to the side and said,”You know you get three strikes every at-bat don’t you?” He then told me that I should never come back to the bench unless I put a ball in play or swung and missed three times. That was my approach, swing and hope you make contact. Not the best approach but that’s what the coach wanted until I snapped out of my funk.



Take care when coaching

We use phrases as coaches to get our players to do things. We have to be careful who we are saying certain things too. You don’t want to confuse a player by contradicting their approach with a coaching phrase.


Some of the phrases I hear are, “box it up,” or “see ball hit ball.” To me, that means two different things. “Box it up” means be selective pick a zone and don’t swing unless it is in that zone. Whereas “see ball hit ball” means if you pick the ball up early swing at it.



What are we talking about?

So now we have an understanding of what we want to teach when we are talking about a hitting approach. How are we going to get our players to understand what we are teaching them?


The first thing we need to explain is that an approach is a plan and like Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Our hitters need to know that their plan is going to change. They need to take the time to think through an at-bat.


In youth baseball, I group everything into four levels. You have straight instructional baseball. This level includes T-ball and coach pitch into the first year of kid pitch. Then there are transitional baseball beginners; this level would be kid pitch baseball on the smaller fields including modified fields. Players then move up to advanced transitional baseball. This level is when the players are on a full sized diamond for the first couple of years mostly middle school, Babe Ruth and Senior League type baseball. Finally, there is competitive baseball. Competitive baseball  I would consider to be anything from J.V. through varsity high school, 16u and up travel teams and Legion baseball.



Instructional Baseball

hitting approachWhen you are talking to younger players at the instructional levels, they can have a simple plan.
With T-ball players, it may be as simple as explaining that the where they stand in the box affects where they are going to hit the ball. For a player that is facing live pitching for the first time, they may want to deal with the speed of the pitch. With a fast pitcher, they may want to go into the box and think to get my foot down early and stay middle/opposite. They can be successful as long as they have a plan and know what that plan is.



Transitional baseball beginnersHitting approach

The approaches we teach players as transitional baseball beginners are a little more complicated but need to be widdled down to their simplest form for each pitch of each at-bat. There are more situations in a baseball game the older a player gets. The approach gets complicated only to the degree that you have to have more than one approach so you can hit in all situations.


Transitional baseball beginners are dealing with stealing and pitchers and catchers that are more consistent. Pitchers are going to throw strikes, and runners are going to change positions on the field during an at-bat. Players need to be able to adjust their approach based on the situation.


Younger players are less likely to think along with the game. They are learning and don’t have years of experiences to draw upon for guidance. As a coach, you are going to want to make sure you have a system in place to help that during an at-bat or a game when circumstances change.


When there are runners on base, you have signs that you give to a batter to let them know if you want them to bunt or hit and run. Therefore, you should have an indication to change their approach. The signs don’t have to be complicated you don’t even have to hide them. Give a verbal command like, “Now you’re a mover.” If your players understand offensive situational baseball, they will be able to understand you and what the team needs their approach to be.



Advanced transitional baseball

Hitting approachAdvanced transitional baseball brings on a new set of challenges. Though a lot of coaches treat this level as competitive, I still consider it an instructional level. At this level, you are still teaching a lot about the game of baseball. The introduction of leading is a new concept for some players at this level. Also, the size of the field changes what players can do with the ball on offense and defense.


A player’s hitting approach is going to be modified as well. Hitters may be changing their primary roles as they move up. A kid who was hitting 220-foot home runs the year before may now be asked to drive the ball in the gap to the opposite field because that same ball is a 220-foot pop-up now. So being a producer has gone from meaning hit a home run to get a base hit.


Players at this level should be asked to think along with the game more as well. As a coach, you are going to review a player’s decisions more as opposed to helping them make the decision. By letting them make the decision, you assist the player to learn to deal with critical thinking in high-pressure situations. We can do it for them or teach them to do it for themselves.



Competitive baseballHitting approach

Now the fun part, competitive baseball. At this level, a player must know how to adjust their hitting approach between pitches or even have two approaches for a pitch. That is an odd concept for some players.


A player is stepping into a situation where pitchers can throw multiple pitches to several locations in almost any situation. I like to think of this as logic and “what if” preparation.


Logic says the pitcher is going to try to get ahead early, so I am thinking fastball middle away. What if he decides that I am looking fastball, so he is going to throw a curve. Now I have an approach for both. I should be able to pick up a high school curve from release, so there is plenty of time to adjust if I have a plan before the pitcher releases the ball.



The key

Hitting approachThe key to teaching hitting approach at any level is going to depend on the player’s knowledge of the game and the coach’s ability to communicate the team’s needs to that player. With the combination of those two things, players will become better hitters, and better hitters make better teams.


Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how to “Coach the Approach.” I would love to hear back from you after you apply this at any level. I am sure that it won’t take long for the results to show.

Thank you,

Coach Wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Youth Baseball Batting Practice-Tips for progress

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Youth Baseball Batting Practice-Tips for progressYouth baseball batting practice

Most youth baseball coaches miss out on one of the best opportunities available to them. Youth baseball batting practice is the most underutilized tool in the coach’s toolbox. Have you ever asked yourself, how can I get more out of my team’s offense?



Failing your players

Most youth baseball batting practice goes like this. The coach stands on the mound with a bucket of balls. The players go out to their positions, and any extra players fill in space between them. One player stands in the batter’s box and hits while the other players try to make plays.


This system allows the coach to throw fewer pitches to the batter. The players in the field do nothing productive, and the first five hitters usually get a good BP session after that the coach rushes everybody else through because of time restrictions.



So how should youth baseball batting practice be run?

First, we have to agree that batting practice is practice for the hitters. You are going to focus your attention on getting as many swings as you can for each player on your team. Defense is not that important.



Hitting groups

Now that we are in agreement let’s move on to the process. For the sake of this discussion, we are going to usYouth baseball batting practicee a hypothetical team that has 12 players. To run this system effectively, you will create hitting groups. Try to make the groups even. On our team, we have four groups of three hitters.

Group one is usually the top 3 hitters in the batting order. One player is the batter while the next player will be on deck. The third player will be doing soft toss with another coach or tee work on their own.



Workstations

The batter will be in the batter’s box, or I prefer to move them back a couple of feet from backstop so that fewer balls leave the field. The coach will be throwing pitches to this batter from a distance of about 25 tYouth baseball batting practiceo 3o feet, not the full distance.


The on deck batter will be in a place where they are not going to get hit by stray balls but can still see the coach. While this player is waiting, they should be doing dry swing drills. Working to maintain or improve their swing mechanics.


Youth baseball batting practiceThe third batter will set up at the hitting net. Working on solid mechanics not trying to see how hard they can hit a ball into a net 5 feet in front of them.


Running BP this way is going to keep three hitters all woking on getting swings at the same time because youth baseball batting practice is about the batter.


What happens during bad BP

That sets up the how of batting practice now we need to explain what we are going to do. Most coaches just throw ball after ball to the batter that is at the plate. Some hitters will see 20 to 30 pitches in a row. Trying to get a player to hit the ball is hard work. Repetition is necessary. However, you have to remember that most players will only swing on average 2 to 4 times in a given at bat. If they get four at-bats in a game, the are only looking at taking 16 swings. So taking 30 swings in a row during batting practice is going to make them tired.


 

When players begin to get tired, they start to compensate. Compensation creates bad habits. In conclusion, what you are doing to try to help your players is probably hurting them. Therefore, spacing the swings out and giving them a purpose is what you should be trying to do instead.



Running a good BPYouth baseball batting practice

Youth baseball batting practice will be broken down into three rounds. In the first round, you will have your players go through some situational hitting. Next, you will work on developmental hitting. Last you will do a round of free swings to see if the player incorporates what they have worked on into a game swing.



Situational hitting

The situational hitting round covers fundamentals needed to manufacture runs. Sacrifice bunting, bunting for a hit, moving a runner into scoring position with a hit, and sacrificing in a run according to the defense, i.e., infield in or back, are necessary skills every hitter should possess.
Youth baseball batting practice


When doing situational hitting, the coach should ask every player on the team to get a sacrifice bunt down. Some of the faster players you may want to have practice bunting for a hit as well. You should also work on moving a runner with the infield in by hitting a ball in the air. Next, you will want to work on getting runners over hitting behind the runner. After this, you will want to work on the hitter getting sacrificing runs in when the infield is playing in by hitting a ball in the air to the outfield. Finally, you will work on getting a sacrifice to get a runner to score when the infield is back by hitting a ball on the ground.


Situational hitting gave your hitter two bunts and three to five swings in the first round. Now you will move on to the second round in your youth baseball batting practice.



Developmental hitting

Youth baseball batting practiceIn the developmental hitting round, you are going to be working on your player’s ability to focus all of their effort on mechanics. Good mechanics are going to help a player hit the ball to all fields, but the best way to work on them is to hit the ball back up the middle or to the opposite field. Pulling the ball happens all by itself it takes discipline to stay back and hit middle/opposite.


The developmental round will consist of hitting 6 to 8 balls middle/opposite. If a player is struggling, you can give them a couple of extra but no more than ten swings.



Swing awayYouth baseball batting practice

The final round of a quality youth baseball batting practice is the one the players like the best. Free swings are exactly that. Now that you have worked on team needs and player development the players get to show off what they can do. It is alright for players to pull the ball in this round. As a coach, you are going to throw eight to ten pitches to each player watching to ensure that they are maintaining their form as they try to hit the ball all out.


You will run through the remaining groups the same way. All of your players will get a couple of bunts and between 17 and 23 swings. More importantly, the hitters are strong because the swings are spread out over three rounds. This BP system ensures that they are getting useful quality swings and not developing bad habits along the way.



Everyone else

Keeping in mind that youth baseball batting practice is for the hitter you may want just to have the other players shagging in the outfield. However, because youth baseball practice is limited, you may want to run some other defensive drills during this practice time.


Youth baseball batting practiceAs long as you have qualified assistant coaches, you can have infielders taking ground balls between pitches. The outfielders can work on fly balls as well. The coach hitting the extra balls must make sure to only hit them in areas where it is safe.  Only hit extra balls between pitches to the batter. The other option would be to shield the players with a protective net in a designated fielding area.


Another thing that you can incorporate is to have the batter run out his last swing. Running it out will allow the fielders to try to make a play. It also gives each hitter a chance to do some baserunning.


Run all of the extra defensive drills like any other drills you run in practice. Do every drill with the purpose of getting better. You don’t want defense interrupting your hitter’s efforts to get better.

Thank you,

Coach Wood

 

 

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Youth baseball hitting drills

Youth Baseball Hitting Drills – Get Hits

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Youth Baseball Hitting Drills – Get HitsYouth baseball hitting drills

As coaches, we are always looking for something that will make our players better. We need the magic bullet. What is the one thing that will take their game to the next level? I am going to be the one that tells you the answer to that burning question. The answer is hard work. It is the only thing that will make a player better. These youth baseball hitting drills will help them on their way.


Now that you know the answer what can you do with it?

You have to give them one tool at a time that will make them better. These tools are practiced over and over again by doing drills. When it comes to hitting there are quite a few drills that will produce the desired effect. Choosing the right youth baseball hitting drill depends on the hitter.


Timing

Youth baseball hitting drillsTiming is one of the hardest things to teach any hitter. Young players have a really hard TIME with timing. You have that player who swings as soon as they see the ball. Then there is the one who swings when they hear the ball hit the catcher’s mitt. How can you get these players on time? You use the “Load and react” youth baseball hitting drill.


Load and React

Load and react is a great drill for all players even if they don’t seem to have timing issues. As players get older pitcher will learn to change speed. All players need to learn how to adjust their timing to be able to hit what they see.


This drill will start with a player ready to hit. I usually have another player in a safe area off to the side working the same drill with dry swings. Dry swings are when a player is practicing their swing without hitting a ball.


The coach will stand in front or off to the side to flip the ball. This will be an underhand front toss or side toss drill.

  • The coach will start with their arm extended out in front of them showing the batter the ball. The coach will then bring their arm back as if to start flipping the ball.
  • When the coach is bringing their arm back the player will start the load / prepare part of the swing.
  • The coach will then bring their arm forward to imitate tossing the ball.
  • As the coach is doing this the player will get to toe touch.
  • The coach will repeat this drill two or three times ( keep it random ).
  • Every time the ball is not tossed the player will go back to the stance position and get ready to do it again.
  • Finally, the coach will actually toss the ball.
  • The player will swing and try to hit the ball. The player should be able to hit the ball with maximum power if they are doing the drill correctly.

Coaching points

While doing this drill you will be watching to make sure the batter is maintaining their balance. You are also watching to make sure the batter keeps their head back. If the batter’s head moves forward the player is losing power and won’t be able to hit the ball hard if they are early. You will also be looking to make sure that the batter does not move their hands. The hands will be fired by the hips and in this drill, the hips should not engage until the ball is tossed.


Be sure to read the Hitting page on Hitting With Wood so that you have a clear understanding of the different phases of the swing as I see it.



Side toss

Side toss is a good drill to work with hitters when you are short on space. It is also a good drill to give the coach a different angle to watch hitters from. It does have some negative side effects if you do it too much.


Side toss will start out with a batter ready to hit. There will be a net or fence in front of them about 10 to 15 feet. The coach will be kneeling down facing the batter from the side. As the coach, you are going to want to make sure you give good tosses. The toss should float up slightly above the player’s waist. You will also want to make sure that the ball is in the hitting zone, usually right in front of the batter over the middle of the plate.

  • The tosser will start with their arm extended out in front of them
  • Then the tosser will drop their arm down
  • When the tosser’s arm drops the player will load/prepare
  • The tosser will toss the ball into the hitting zone
  • The hitter will progress through the launch and swing attempting to hit the ball
  • Repeat as many times as needed.

Coaching points

You will be watching the swing mechanics during this youth baseball hitting drill. Often it is better if you can get another player to do the flips while you watch. If you are coaching younger players this might not be possible.


This technique can cause some problems if the tosses are not good. Make sure the ball is in the hitting zone. Another problem that can occur is if the batter starts to watch the ball off to the side of them. Make sure the batter always starts the drill looking out at an imaginary pitcher. They can turn their head to the ball after they see the tosser’s arm start to move.



2 Ball Drill

The 2 ball drill is a variation of the side toss drill. This youth baseball hitting drill helps develop a batter’s focus on the target.


To do this drill you will need a few baseball that is colored differently. I usually just color a few balls with a marker.Youth baseball hitting drills


In this drill, the tosser will have two baseballs in their hand. One regular and one colored. Both balls will be tossed at the same time. The tosser will call out which ball to hit. Most of my balls are colored blue so I tell the hitter to hit or blue. The batter will then hit whichever ball has been called.


Coaching points

During this drill, you will want to watch for the batter’s ability to pick out the correct ball and focus on making good contact with it.



See Ball DrillYouth baseball hitting drills

This is a youth baseball hitting drill to help batter pick up the baseball when it is pitched. Seeing the ball as early as possible will help a batter with deciding if a pitch is a ball or a strike before it is too late to stop swinging.


This drill is done during live batting practice. The drill is simple: call “Ball” as soon as the hitter sees the baseball.


The coach will throw the ball normally from a batting practice distance. The player will yell, “Ball,” as soon as they see the baseball either in the coaches wind up or shortly after the ball is released. The player will then continue to try to hit the ball as they would in normal batting practice.


Coaching points

Watch the players, make sure they are looking for the pitcher’s release point. Make sure the batter is calling “ball” in the first third of the distance between the pitcher and home plate.



With these drills, your hitters will be on time and more focused on the ball. If these drills don’t make your hitters better check with me and I will review what the problems your hitters are facing are and give you specific drills that will help them.

Thank you,

Coach Wood

 

 

 

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Youth Baseball Bat Review

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Youth Baseball Bat Review

Easton S3 -13 2 1/4″ Aluminum Baseball Bat


Product:Easton S3 -13 2 1/4″ Aluminum baseball bat.

Price: $159.99 (Retail)Easton S3 baseball bat

Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon $159.99

SPECS: Lengths from 28″- 32″ all weights -13 oz. (subtract 13 from the length to get weight in oz.)

My Rating: 7 out of 10



Easton S3 -13 2 1/4″ Aluminum Baseball Bat Review

Youth league baseball bats are not a very complicated subject. Picking the right one is. I have been asked countless times, “What bat is the right one for my child?” The answer is simple. The one that they like. The hard part is guiding them to the one that they like. I subscribe to the Ted Williams theory on selecting a bat. Swing the biggest bat you can handle. The Easton S3 is a good quality bat. It uses quality aluminum compounds to create a durable bat that will last the season. It has nice graphics and all the key ingredients you need to control the bat.



The Players Perspective.

A good looking bat that is light and responsive. With the -13 weight to length ratio you are at the max end of drop. The stunning blue, black and grey graphics are sharp and simple. With a thin handle that will allow you to keep a good grip and create good whip this bat has everything you could ask for.



The Pros for the Parents

Most parents are looking at the purchase of a baseball bat while rolling their eyes. “I just bought you a new bat last year,” has been repeated more times in this house than I can count. You are going to have to get used to it. If you are going to buy your player their own personal bat you are going to buy them a new bat almost every year until they are about 16 or 17 years old. The problem with bats is that you have to have the one that fits your swing. A player’s swing will change every year almost as they grow. A bat that works for your 8 year old who is around is a little over 4 feet tall and weighs about 55 lbs is not going to work for him when he is 10 and 4′- 6″ tall and weighs about 70 lbs. The players physical dimensions have changed and so should his bat. Your player is getting stronger as well so the drop weight ( The drop is calculated by subtracting weight of the bat from the length. ex. 28 in. – 15 oz. = 13 therefore -13 is the drop.) The player may still like the bigger drop but should get a longer bat so it is heavier. Now you can go out and buy the top of the line bats and drop $200 to $300 every season or you can purchase a second tier bat that is going to perform well but has a better price point. In the case of Easton’s S3 $159.99. Usually these bats can be passed down or sold on the internet as used. I usually donate my son’s bats to the local Little League at the end of the season.



Why Buy at Price PointMoney

I have said it before but here it goes again. When you buy baseball equipment, most of the time you get what you pay for. I would love to have bought my kids a brand new top-of-the-line baseball bat every year. It just doesn’t make sense. I bought my kids a great bat for the last year they played Little League then when they played their first year at the middle school level and usually 2 top-of-the-line baseball bats for high school. Other than that middle of the road works great for one year.



What is the Conclusion

I like this bat because Easton has made a good looking bat that players will like. Style has a lot to do with young players equipment decisions. The bat is made from good quality materials and should last at least the season if not more. Finally the bat provides the technological features that will help the good hitter have a good season at the plate. Check out the Easton S3 here.

Coach Wood

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