What types of drills could lefty hitters work on when facinf lefty pitchers?
Jack asked: My son is 14 years old and currently playing High School Baseball.
He is a lefty hitter with good bat speed. Last year he open his stance when facing lefty pitchers slightly.
He has grounded out to second base more than usual with this open stance. What types of drills or tips would you advise to focus on for the off season.
Rick answered: Jack, thank you for your question.
Without seeing him swing live, it is hard to pinpoint what may be going on.
My first question to ask him would be why he felt he needed to open his stance against lefties.
He may have a good reason for doing so; and he may just as well not.
When you open up your stance, you can also create some visual and timing issues that weren't there before.
Logistically, when you open your front side up, you then have to develop a method for getting it closed which allows you to get back on line loaded, in time with as little head movement as possible.
Younger players are generally better off with hitting mechanics which have as few moving parts as possible, it makes them quicker to the ball and allows their head to remain as still as possible.
When your head moves, your eyes move. When your eyes move, the ball moves. Calm, focused vision, in my experience, is at the top of the list for individual hitting skills.
You won't hit what you don't see, no matter how perfect your swing is.
As you look at the photos above, each one of these hitters is online back through the pitcher. If you start from that balanced position, it allows the hitter to load soft and early, with less head movement. With that load, hitter's can focus on seeing the ball at the pitcher's release point, tracking it all the way to the hitting zone, deciding if it is a pitch he wants to swing at and putting a good swing on it.
Since the process in the above paragraph happens in split seconds, it is helpful to have as few mechanical movements as possible.
The off season is a great time to develop the skill of consistently seeing the baseball well, with focus.
When your son grounds out to second base, are they hard hit balls, or are they roll over or jammed ground balls?
Besides the ground ball outs, how does he hit over all? Mostly line drives, fly balls, pop ups?
I would highly recommend two books which will help him out in all aspects of the game.
They are, The Mental Game of Baseball, and The Mental Keys to Hitting. Both books are written by H.A. Dorfman. Mr. Dorfman was a Sports Psychologist who worked with numerous MLB clubs in his life. He passed away a couple of years ago; but his books are still available. I consider him nothing short of genius when it comes to the Mental Game of Baseball.
These books are available through the store on my site, or you can go directly to Amazon Books. They are the same price either way and all go through Amazon.
If I were to offer up a suggestion for any player's of-season program, these books would be at the top of the list. I recommend them to all our players at their end of the season exit interview.
The tribute from Roy Halladay and others speaks volumes.
More often than not I find that hitting problems stem more from a lack of a plan for that at bat, than the mechanics within the swing.
Good luck as you both move forward. If you can send some additional information, or have more questions, please stay in touch. I would be interested to hear more about where he is at.
Yours in baseball,
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