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Friday, January 21, 2011

Five Anarchic Baseball Batting Drills Revealed

Five Anarchic Baseball Batting Drills Revealed
By Robert Wicks

As I sit back and think about my playing days, I can't help but think I didn't question enough people about their methods of training. I took for granted that my high school coach, or the local hitting instructor had a legitimate theory on how to develop me as a hitter. Now as coach, I look back on the hundreds of camps and the dozens of instructors I had and can't help but think that I wasted a good majority of my time. Unfortunately, baseball has become oversaturated with "new" drills. If you are not careful, you will train your players in circles instead of helping them make any real progress. This is precisely why I have put together the top 5 baseball batting drills that your players can start using today, and begin to see some real results.

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First off, let me explain why these drills are head and heels above all the other ones that are on the market. Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with the drills themselves. Players are naturally "stubborn" when it comes to making changes to their swing. Often times you will hear, "It feels uncomfortable" or "This throws me off" for which my response is "Good!" People are a afraid of change because it means a different result that they have never experienced before. With that mind, if a player has never felt uncomfortable in his batting training, all he has bee doing is excising by swinging a bat.

As a result, we must strip out result oriented drills and add step specific drills that break them out of their comfort zone. For me, I do that by "overtraining" or "over-exaggerating" their swing path. I design, or use drills that forces players to make adjustments naturally. I have seen countless coaches over the years try to convince players that feeling uncomfortable means making adjustments. Although they are correct, that is a loosing battle on the coaching front and leads to more conflict than resolution. So I work for the opposite direction and challenge my players with hard to do drills that force them to manipulate their swing and help them figure out how hit the baseball better. From the outside in these drills may look unorthodox, but once you add them to your batting training, you question why you have ever trained any other way.

Top 5 Baseball Batting Drill Number One: The Samurai Drill. When I first got back into coaching, I began noticing a trend in most young players. They are what I characterize as "weight loaders". "Weight loaders" are typically stiff by nature and carry a lot of tension in their body that results in difficulty separating the hands and front leg during the load portion of the swing. As a result, I designed this drill to break that tension barrier. Have you player place his feet all the way together, and his have hands extended out straight towards the pitcher. Yes, it should be on the other side of his body. This is our starting position. From there we break the swing down into load and swing. On the load, the player draws his hands across his body to comfortable hitting position, and extends his front leg out towards the pitcher. For this drill only, I want the player to keep 90% of his weight on the backside of his body. This is done to over train the disconnect of his hands and feet. From there, the player takes his swing freely. Goal: Become comfortable with our hands and front leg loading away from our body.

Unorthodox baseball batting drill number 2, the Oar Drill. Nothing says baseball like an oar to paddle a boat right? In this drill you take the bat out your players hands and replace it with an oar. Then, have your player place the oar behind his back leaving the open face of the oar extended as the hitting surface. As you soft toss tennis balls to your player, he naturally has to rotate his back leg to hit the ball. This is a great drill to help players understand how to use their backside more appropriately and efficiently to give them more power.

Unorthodox baseball batting drill number 3, the Top Hand Drill. The first time any player does this drill he will give you an awkward look. This will soon be followed by, "This is impossible" or "How am I suppose to get any power?" I love this reaction! Have you player grip the bat. Then, tell him to open is top hand so just his palm is touching the handle of the bat. Then have him put hand on the other side of the handle, and flip it over so his palm is on the bat ready to "push" the bat through the zone. The key is not to grip the bat with the top hand. After you player finishes his swing his top hand should be extended towards the pitcher. This drill does wonders helping young kids how to use their hands to hit the inside part of the baseball and not extend to far to soon. My players can generate enough power during this drill to hit balls that one and two hop the wall.

Top 5 Baseball Batting Drill Number Four: The Carrier Drill. I named this drill after an aircraft carrier. They are long and flat much like how our swing path wants to be through the hitting zone. Staying through the zone for a long period of time helps players make up for timing mistakes and end up with more hits. This batting drill involves two batting tees set-up in a line one to two feet apart depending on skill level. The tees should be the same height and baseball should be placed on each tee. The objective is to hit both baseballs with one swing. It is a lot like landing plane or having a plane take off from an aircraft carrier. Goal: Understand how it feels to gain extension through the zone.

Top 5 Baseball Batting Drill Number 5: The Reverse Bucket Drill. You are sure to get an awkward look from your player the first time he works out using this drill. Saying that, at the end of the drill he will come away with better balance, and a better finish. Have your player take his batting stance. Then, place a bucket under his back leg for him to step on. This elevates the back foot dramatically and removes stability from his stance. Then have him load and swing. Note: Players back leg lightly rotates or rolls onto the topside of their foot as they swing. If the player over rotates the bucket will fall over. The key to this drill is staying balanced through contact and finishing through the baseball instead of around his body. Goal: Understand how over-rotating can affect you power through contact.

As you can see, these batting drills are a bit unorthodox and may seem a bit far-fetched, but they accomplish one thing, adjustments. It is virtually impossible for any player to go through these drills and not come out with a more efficient, powerful swing. When you break the comfort barrier, you make adjustments. Try these drills out during your next batting training session and you will be amazed at how well your players will respond!

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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