The Ole Ball Game

11 year old hits great in practice, can't seem to hit in game. Holds the bat up front (to correct late swing) ,load/follow thru good...just can't hit the ball. Trying too hard?

Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente

Roberge asked: Eleven year old hits great in practice, can't seem to hit in a game. Holds the bat up front(to correct late swing), load/follow through good...just can't hit the ball. Trying too hard?

Rick answered:Good hitting question!

Without seeing him swing, here are some thoughts to look at as you move forward.

The first thing that jumps out is that he has changed his hand placement, in an attempt to correct being late with his swing. Moving his hands into that position won't make him quicker. It will actually decrease his power and his bat speed.

Look to see that he load/strides, getting his front foot down slow and early. That load/stride loads his hands, and they stay back and are the last part of the swing. Load /stride, then swing. Two seperate movements.

Ask him if he is seeing the baseball, and at what point is he seeing it. Before he steps in the batter's box, he should know exactly where the pitcher releases the ball from, and be focused on that point as the pitcher's arm starts forward.

That is part of the Pete Rose philosophy, "see the ball ~ hit the ball."

For younger players, I would recommend they start their load/stride as the pitcher gets to his power position, that is where he has the baseball the furthest back, just before coming forward. Getting their front foot down, slow and early allows the player to focus on the baseball, with less head movement. It also allows the player to stride on line, directly back at the pitcher, which keeps

his front side closed. Load/stride must be timed to the pitcher's fastball. How you load stride is not as important as when you load stride.

If he steps in the bucket, or off line, it takes his head off the pitch, causing his bat barrel to drop, creating a long slow looping swing. Another possibility for being late to the ball.

The picture above of Roberto Clemente, is a great snapshot of a load/stride in progress. He is under control, eyes on the baseball, hands back throughout. His front foot will be down by the time the baseball is somewhere around half way to the plate.

If a player is late getting to the ball, being in a rush is generally never the answer. Starting sooner is the answer, soon and slow!

There is a page on the site,baseball hitter development, which may also provide you some additional information to help with your situation. There are also additional hitting pages, the links to which are at the bottom of the development page.

What he is experiencing can be very frustrating. The harder they try, the worse it becomes. See if you can get him to relax, see the ball early, get his foot down early and swing. If he hits in practice, he can hit in a game. The one major difference may be he isn't adjusting to game speed pitching, a different animal than BP speed.

Good luck as you go forward. I would be interested in hearing how it is going. It will take some time, and patience. He will get there.

Yours in baseball,


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