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Friday, March 13, 2009

Coaching Baseball Baseball - Hitting Flaws and How to Correct Them

The following are common mechanical errors that should be quickly identified and eliminated. There are many more and we will continually add more.
Improper Stance Width
"Wrapping" The Bat
Looking At Your Nose
Poor Grip
"Hitch" In The Swing
"Locking" The Front Arm
Opening Up Too Soon

1. Improper Stance Width
The batter's stance is to wide or too narrow. A stance too wide causes a loss of power and prevents hip involvement during the swing. A stance with the feet too close often causes the batter to stride too far or long. This causes the head and eyes to drop during the stride. This makes the hitters success ratio drop tremendously. It is hard enough to hit with a "quiet" head or with no movement. Overstriding makes it even more difficult to see the ball, identify the speed and type or pitch nand to hit the ball where it is pitched.
Have the batter assume a stance with the feet shoulder width apart. Have the batter take a short stride of no more than 6 inches. If the stance is slightly wider than the shoulders, simply picking the front foot straight up only an inch or two and putting it down may be all the stride the batter needs.

2. "Wrapping" The Bat
The batter has the bad habit of "wrapping" or cocking the bat behind the head. The batter's bat speed is decreased becuase the batter now has to bring the bat farther to get to the ball.
The bat should be held at a 45 degree angle to vertical. Refer to the perfect swing page of this site for more details on proper bat angle.

3. Looking At Your Nose
The batter does not have the head turned far enough toward the pitcher. This prevents both eyes from picking up the ball and the batter has difficulty seeing the ball. The back eye is blocked from seeing the ball by the batter's nose, thus the batter is "looking at his nose". The batter is basically hitting "one eyed". This is another reason for batter failure.
The batter simply turns the head toward the pitcher until the batters face is facing the pitcher and both eyes are seeing the pitcher fully. A good saying often used is "show the pitcher both of your ears". This will always make sure the head is in the correct position.

4. Poor Grip
Improper grip reduces bat speed and bat control. Two simple grip mistakes cause this problem. The batter's hands are slowed by a grip that is too "tense" or too tight or the batter is gripping the bat with the palms rather than the fingers.
The batter should strive to stay loose with the hands. Effort should be made to reduce tensions and use a relaxed grip. Slight movement of the fingers may serve to keep the "grip stress" down. The batter should hold the bat in the fingers away from the palms. This grip allows maximum hand speed and bat control.

5. Overstriding
Overstriding is a common mistake. Batters that often get "jammed" may be in fact causing their own problems by overstriding. Overstriding causes the batter's head and eyes to drop often causing the batter to "loose" the ball during the swing. Tracking the ball visually is made very difficult. The batter's overstriding can also cause the swing to be long. A batter's wide feet that are too wide tend to prevent hip involvement during the swing.
Batters should use a short or a "no stride" approach. A short stride of 3 to 6 inches is often enough. In fact simply picking the front foot up and putting it back down is all the stride that is needed.

6. "Hitch" In The Swing
Batters that have a "hitch" in their swing often have difficulty hitting the fastball. They often get "jammed" and are often late on medium speed pitches. The batter is not "triggering" correctly. The batter is dropping the hands before taking them to the "power position" or what is often called the "launch position". This lowering of the hands causes the batter to be late to the strike zone.
Take the hands slightly up and then back rather than dropping them.

7. "Locking" The Front Arm
The batter "locks" or straightens out the front arm when the hands and bat are taken back to the "power" or "trigger" position. This flaw causes the batter to be late starting the swing. It also cause the the bat speed to be too slow and increases the bat's distance to the ball. Locking the front arm also often causes premature wrist roll.
Keep a bend in the front elbow. Keep the hands together and working together. Keep the hands close to the body and do not take them back so far that front arm flex is lost.

8. Opening Up Too Soon
The front side is opening too soon causing the batter's "whole body" including head and eyes to pull off the pitch. This flaw often causes the barrel to lag and a reduction in bat speed. Much less plate coverage is allowed. Another result of dropping the hands is an increase in flyballs.
Have the batter strive to keep the "knob to belly button" relationship during the swing. The belly button rotates with the knob of the bat. On inside pitches the batter will still "open" but the timing will be perfect. On middle and away pitches the batter will not open or rotate so much. "The belly button to knob" relationship maintains correct timing mechanics.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick