The Ole Ball Game

Hitting Progressions Advanced: Practice Makes Permanent ~ Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!

Hitting progressions advanced; the movements a batter makes, prior to swinging at a pitched baseball.

Watching batting styles of professional baseball players, one might assume that most anything goes, in relation to pre-pitch movements.

While styles vary, on close scrutiny of batters, they all get to the power position on time and are ready to swing, regardless of the route taken to get there.

For young players, those below college age, it is a good practice to use as little motion in the batters' box as possible. The less motion created, the better the opportunity to see the baseball clearly and to get their bat to, and through the zone on time.

Is hitting a baseball that complex? The steps that put a player in position to swing at the baseball are not complex. The difficulty is created by the small amount of time available to decide if a particular pitch is one you want to swing at, and put a good swing on it.

One goal of every young batter should be to develop and refine those steps until they occur with no thought process. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!

Hitting Tips ~ From the Dugout

hitting tips ~ from the dugout

Goals And Expectations

It is good to keep the goals attainable, success level and repetitions high.

  1. Quality repetitions.


  2. Get comfortable.




Your Body Will Learn What You Teach It, Whether It Be Right, Or It Be Wrong! Focus on quality repetitions that will allow you to gain positive steps towards becoming a relaxed, confident and consistent hitter.


Concentration and focus in BP


5 Initial Progressions

  1. Stance.


  2. Grip.


  3. Load/Stride.


  4. Squish the bug with back foot.


  5. Hands/swing.

Stance

always balanced, seldom fooled



  • Feet slightly wider than shoulders.


  • Slight bend in knees.


  • Weight on inside of feet.




Easy Grip Check

correct grip

  • Grip the bat, extend your index fingers. Both should point in the same direction.


  • Your "knocking knuckles" will be aligned, allowing your back elbow to relax and remain loose.






Incorrect Grip

hitting, incorrect grip

  • When your knuckles are aligned incorrectly, your index fingers will point away from each other. This pushes the back elbow up, cocks the bat behind your head, creates a longer, looping swing.






Load ~ Stride

great load/stride in progress




  • Load your hands ~ Go back to go forward. Your hands should be set when the pitcher gets to the top of his release point.


  • Stride ~ Get to the power position slow and soon. The shorter and softer the stride, the less opportunity there is for head movement.


  • The more your head moves, the more your eyes move. The best major league batters, their head moves 3-4 inches at most. If your eyes move, the ball moves, making it harder to hit.


  • Stride, Then Swing; Not Stride And Swing.


  • Back Foot Rotation

    squish the bug, great dynamic balance, head down


    Terrific example of back foot rotation, which starts the generation of power from the ground up. The rotation of your back foot allows you to turn and open your hips.



    Foot rotation comes before your hands, feet first, hands last. Without that rotation, the swing becomes all arms. The more you can turn your hips without turning your shoulders, the more power you generate.



    Hands / Swing


    each step below nicely demonstrated


    • Keep your hands inside the baseball.


    • Take the knob of the bat to the ball, palm of top hand to the pitcher.


    • Head down at contact, you should be looking down your top arm, as in the picture above, see the baseball and track it to contact.


    • Stay balanced over your knees.


    • Finish strong and balanced, swing "THROUGH THE BALL", not "to the ball." If you are correctly balanced, you will not be falling backwards on contact.


    • Finish in the same two footprints you were in, after you completed your stride.


    Coaching Tips


    • Drill each of the parts of the swing on their own, then add the next part, putting those two together before adding the next.


    • The breakdown allows full concentration on each internal skill prior to adding on, culminating in a full execution of the sequence.


    • Taking time at the front end can save much time and frustration down the road.


    • Have batters concentrate on seeing the ball early.


    • Work on getting them to load their hands back, not up and down. Hands should be set when the pitcher gets to the top of his release point.


    • If players set on load/stride, then reload their hands to swing, they were not properly set at first. This will result in being late.


    • good, comfortable, pre-load stance
    • Realizing they are late, they often compensate by an even more exaggerated second load, in an attempt to generate speed. The problem increases at this point, as the exaggerated motion creates head movement and they pull off the baseball.


    • They aren't late due to lack of speed generated, they are late because they reloaded.


    • The solution is to get to the power position slow and soon, swing from there, with only one load.


    • Their front foot should be down by the time the ball is halfway to the plate.


    • The harder the pitcher throws, it becomes necessary to get the front foot down sooner, so that you are not rushed.


    • Load/stride must be in time with the pitchers' fastball. If not, it will be reflected in a poor mechanical swing.


    • Being in a rush here is generally never the answer. Starting sooner is the answer, SOON AND SLOW!


    • Stress balance throughout.


    Where Do We Go From Here?

    Armed with a solid set of steps, the mechanical portion of the swing becomes one of quality repetitions.

    The goal with these quality repetitions is to commit them to muscle memory, allowing the player to consistently get the bat head to and through the zone in the shortest path, while remaining balanced throughout.

    As mentioned in the opening section, the mechanics are the least complex ingredient in the process.

    The biggest challenge now becomes one of establishing a personal, positive, mental approach to putting that round piece of wood, on that round leather object traveling at you in various speeds and movements, and squaring it up.

    Additional Hitting Topics

    Hitting Vision

    You won't hit what you don't see; No matter how perfect your swing is!

    Hitting

    They hand you a round bat, someone throws a round ball at you, and they tell you to square it up!

    Proven team approach

    An approach that enabled our players to put the ball in play early and often, a recipe for success

    Keys to success

    We don't miss these pitches and we don't try to do too much ( Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, John Olerud )

    Batter development

    One valuable goal is to coach players to become their own best hitting coach

    MLB's Top 20 Hitters For 2009

    Hitting splits for the top 20 hitters in MLB for 2009

    Batting Average Analysis

    What it can tell you to help create a positive hitting plan

    Rookie progressions

    Keep it fun and simple, encourage them to turn it loose and swing

    Hitting The Situation

    A key part of teamwork and offensive production




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