Swinging late is often a problem with young players. One reason for swinging late involves the hitter not knowing where he is suppose to make contact with the ball. Many want to make contact over the plate instead of in front of it. Carrying the ball to the plate and having the hitter swing slowly, indicating where they want the bat to make contact with the ball, is a good way to show them to hit the ball out in front. Also, they should be taught that the point of contact needs to be further out in front of the plate when the ball is pitched inside and closer to the plate when the ball is pitched outside.
Players also need to understand that they must swing at a smaller ball against a fast pitcher. They have to make the decision to swing a bit earlier and fire the hands at the ball when it is further from the plate than they are used to (the ball looks smaller further away from the plate).
The most important thing for good timing, however, is to teach hitters to make adjustments with their stride foot. If they are swinging late, they need to lift the front foot and begin the stride earlier. If they are swinging early, they need to lift the front foot and begin the stride later.
Correcting a Weak Swing
A swing that is slow in relation to a players physical ability reflects a problem in thinking. Often a player slows down his swing in an effort to "just make contact." Making contact is not hitting. This is very poor advice to give a player in most situations. If a player takes a good swing, he will generally make better contact than if he just tries to get the bat on the ball.
Mental focusing on bat speed often corrects a weak swing. One good way of creating this focus is to define the position of the hands in the launch position (right before the swing starts) as point A. Also, define the hands above the lead shoulder after the follow-through is complete as point B. Then have the player concentrate on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible (without losing his balance or pulling his head). Make sure the hands extends fully forward in getting to point B. Emphasizing "A to B" during batting practice will help to develop a faster swing.
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