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Monday, July 15, 2013

Five Maverick Baseball Batting Drills Revealed

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.

Unfortunately, the baseball community is obsessed with statistics. In fact, almost every major league coach has a book of statistics in the dugout with a numerical story about each player. Over the years this sort of analysis paralysis has trickled down to even the youngest players and that is all they focus on. As a result, this has made coaching baseball even at the youngest level very difficult because players become resistant to change. Players, and people in general, always feel they know what is best for them and when you factor in the idea of getting a hit or playing time, you can rest assured you are going to have help them see improvement immediately in order to bridge any real gaps during training. If you don't, you will hear phrases like, "It feels uncomfortable", or "That doesn't feel right I am going to do it my way."

That sort of reaction isn't anything you should take personally because players hate change. It's nothing unique to players, people hate change too because it forces them outside of their comfort zone to experience something different. Usually players are emotional that they aren't doing well and it is a loosing battle all the way around. Therefore, instead of trying to change players, I like to challenge players with drills, so they have to change. At heart, everyone loves a challenge and will do their best to complete the challenge if put in front of them. Therefore, why not design drills that challenge players to make their swing better. The top 5 drills do exactly that! I use a batting training technique I call "Swing over train" or "swing exaggeration". It involves step specific drills that leave players no option but to adjust their swing to perform the drill.

Unorthodox baseball batting drill number 1, the Samurai Drill. To my knowledge, I am only one in America that does this drill with players. I say this because not only have I never seen it, but no matter who I talk to I hear, "I have never seen that before!" This drill was inspired by a group of players I call "weight loaders". These players have trouble separating their hands and front leg from their body during load portion of the swing. So here is what I came up with. Players should start with their feet together and their hands extended in front of their body out towards the pitcher; sort of like Ichiro or Ryan Howard. Then we break down the swing into two sections, the load, and then swing. When you tell your player to load, you want his hands to draw across is body back to the hitting position and you want his front leg to extend out towards the pitcher. Note, his body should remain stable and 99% of his weight should be on his back foot. Once the player has performed the load correctly, he may swing. This batting drill is done to help players understand how to disconnect their hands and front leg during load portion of the swing. If you are looking for why this is important, I want refer you to my article on the load.

Batting Drill #2 the Oar Drill. Before you right this drill off as something just for the younger kids, I want to let you know I have done this with 18-year-old kids. Older doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means older. In this drill we remove the bat and replace it with a small four foot oar. Then we take the oar and place it behind the player's back, flat side open as a hitting surface. As coach you soft toss tennis balls and the player has no option but to turn his back foot in order to have the flat side of the oar hit the ball. My father did this drill with our little league team and it is still the best drill for helping young players how to use their hips to hit the baseball.

Top 5 Baseball Batting Drill Number Three: Top Hand Drill. Out of all the drills I put my players through, this is the drill they struggle with the most. This is partly because using the hands is the most highly misunderstood step of the swing, but because players simply do not understand what it means to drive their hands to the inside part of the baseball. For this drill, have your player grip the bat with both hands. Then, have him open his top hand so just his palm is touching the bat. After that, he should place the back of his top hand on the other side of the handle. Finally, flip the hand over so the palm of his hand is on the opposite side of the handle and his thumb is pointing down. Note: Never grip the bat with your top hand. The goal is to push the handle of the bat through the zone with your top hand as you swing. For those of you out there who think you will not be able to generate any power, I have seen my players hit doubles off the wall in batting practice to all fields. The key is to extend your top hand to the field of play you want to hit the baseball. Goal: Understand what it feels like to drive your hands hard to the baseball.

Batting Drill #4 the Carrier Drill: Young players have trouble conceptualizing "staying long through the hitting zone" and gaining extension. However, if you make their concepts come to life, now you have something to work with. For this drill you are going to need two batting tees lined up at that same height about 17" apart. Then you are going to place a ball on each batting tee. The idea is to hit both baseballs with one swing. I relate this concept to landing a plane on an aircraft carrier. Once baseball is at the begging, and one baseball is at the end. In order to hit the both baseballs, you must land the bat on the aircraft carrier and keep it flat through the zone.

Batting Drill #5 the Reverse Bucket Drill. I have been called unorthodox plenty of times in my life, and this drill is no different. Understanding how to finish high and through the zone is a learned skill, not a natural reaction. Must young kids are caught up in rotating around their body to generate as much power as they can instead of finishing forward after contact. Here is how we change that. For this drill you are going to need a bucket or chair. Then you tell your player to put is back leg up on the bucket or chair. From there, the player loads and swing. If the player is off balance or finishes around his body, the bucket or chair will fall over. However, if they work through the ball everything will stay in place and they will finish high through the baseball. As a note, players use more of their upper body to swing during this drill.

If you take these batting drills into your next batting training session you will be amazed at the adjustments you player will make in just a few short rounds. These drills challenge players to become better and force them away from their old tired swing. As you break their comfort barrier, they become more open and receptive to your feedback and you are able to gain real, sustainable progress, that will help them have success on the diamond for years to come!

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by Robert Wicks Source:

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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