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Plate Coverage 
 Forward Extension 

Many young hitters have trouble with outside pitches, particularly low ones. While striding away from the plate (or stepping out) is one obvious reason for this, there are other reasons as well. To understand these reasons, we must first consider the path of the bat head during the swing. The bat head comes down and trails the hands to the hitting zone. Depending on where the ball is, the hands snap the bat head around (with the palms facing up and down).

If the hands stop at the point of snapping the bat head around, the bat will enter and exit the hitting zone too quickly (although such "rotational" swinging is taught by some people). Instead, the hands should continue in a forward direction toward the pitcher and the arms should fully extend forward after contact. The wrists should then roll and the follow-through should be high (above the shoulder for those following through with both hands on the bat).

Lack of proper forward extension can also occur when striding too late and beginning the swing before the front foot is planted. Swinging prematurely leads to landing on a stride foot that is pointed straight at the pitcher (instead of being closed or half closed). The hips open up before the front leg is firm. This tends to result in full forward extension to the left of the pitcher (for RH batters). Often the symptom of pulling the front shoulder out is observed when this occurs, but this isn't the problem that needs to be corrected (try telling kids to keep their shoulder in there and it doesn't work because their shoulders are following their hips). Rather, the stride must begin and end earlier and the hitter should be conscious of fully extending his arms toward the pitcher after hitting the ball.

It is difficult to diagnose this problem with the aid of a video camera. Filming directly behind a hitter can show where the bat is pointing at full extension or if full extension even occurs. A side view of the hitter can show if the stride is completed before the swing starts. An easy way of determining this, is to compare the strides when hitting the ball and taking the pitch. If the front foot stays close when taking the pitch yet pointed straight when swinging, the swing is premature.



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