Troubleshooting Your Batting
You must understand that there is much more to hitting than just mechanics, but in order to be a consistent hitter, you must develop sound hitting mechanics as it is critical to your advancement.
You can work on specific problems during batting practice. Here are some common hitting flaws that often lead to slumps and some suggestions for correcting them.
Hitting off your heels
If you have your weight back on your heels, your body and bat move away from the plate as you swing. Outside pitches and off-speed stuff will give you trouble. You won't be able to hit with any power.
Remedy: Concentrate on keeping your weight on the balls of your feet while striding toward the pitcher.
Slumping, novice hitters will often chop down at the ball just to make contact. Swinging in this manner decreases your hitting area. It is also impossible to drive the ball with this swing; you'll hit a lot of grounders (mostly for outs).
Remedy: Make sure that you transfer your weight properly. When you transfer your weight to your front foot, your bat remains level. Keep your weight on your back foot, drop your rear shoulder (you can't chop with your shoulder down), and take your usual swing.
When you uppercut the ball, you raise your front shoulder while dropping your rear shoulder and dipping your back knee. Batters who uppercut tend to strike out a lot. You can also forget about hitting high pitches with any authority. Raising your front shoulder moves your head out of its level plain, which prevents you from seeing the ball well.
Remedy: Uppercutters keep their weight on their back foot too long; level your shoulder and make sure you transfer your weight from front to back. As I noted before, you should finish your swing with a slightly upward arc -- but avoid any exaggerated uppercutting.
If you have a hitch, you are dropping your hands just before you swing. A hitch is okay, as long as you can get your hands in good hitting position before the ball arrives. Frank Robinson had a hitch; he dropped his hands below his belt but he always got them back in time to hit. The last time I checked, his plaque was in the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, too many hitters compensate for their hitches with rushed, upward swings. This hitch produces the same poor results as an extreme uppercut.
Remedy: Keep your hands level and still.
"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.
Remedy: Take the hands slightly up and then back rather than dropping them.
Locking the front hip
Locking your front hip makes it impossible to transfer the weight from your rear foot to your front foot during your swing. You can't pivot properly. This fault significantly decreases your power.
Remedy: Open your stance and concentrate on stepping toward the pitcher.
Batters who lunge at the ball have stepped into the pitch too early. This misstep throws off your timing, power, and bat control. Hank Aaron would occasionally lunge with his upper body, but he could drive the ball because he always kept his hands back.
Remedy: Be patient. Wait until you've read the pitch before swinging. Make sure your stride is no longer than your original stance. Keep your hands back.
Bobbing your head
If you bob or turn your head, you lose sight of the ball for a second. When you pick the ball up again (if you pick it up again), it is either almost past you or appears to be jumping at you.
Remedy: Keep your head level and still throughout your stance, stride, and swing. If your stride is making your head bob, shorten it. Remember, your stride should be no longer than your stance.
Stepping in the bucket
Stepping in the bucket is another way of saying you are striding away from the pitch. The uneven weight distribution results in a loss of power. Because you're moving away from the plate, you can't hit the outside pitch.
Remedy: Close your stance and concentrate on striding toward the pitcher.
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 and to hit the ball where it is pitched.
Remedy: 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.
"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 because the batter now has to bring the bat farther to get to the ball.
Remedy: 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.
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.
Remedy: 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.
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.
Remedy: 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.
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.
Remedy: 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.
"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.
Remedy: 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.
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.
Remedy: 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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