Basic Hitting Technique
Basic Hitting Technique
There are so many variables when teaching hitting that it can become a real challenge when you’re starting out coaching. It’s not as much about fixing hitters as it is about not screwing them up. Simplicity is the key throughout all areas of baseball
What you’ll learn
The problem with hitting instruction
What’s important and what’s not
How to define correct hitting mechanics
Objective measurement of hitting fundamentals
How to create a proper stance
What’s important and what’s not
Where to stand in relation to the plate
This is a big one that young players do wrong all the time
How to load (basic launch position)
The most important phase of this module
How to get there, what it looks like, and examples of launch
Approach to swing plane 101
What is swing plane and how much you should really mess with it when beginning
The importance of bat speed
The faster the bat is moving at contact, the farther the ball will go
Breaking the swing down into manageable pieces
Having a "swing thought"
Making sure that your players are actively working on something every swing
Different coaching styles
Some kids react differently to either type of coaching so it’s good to know how to use both
Basically a list of definitions of short, concise verbiage that you should be using with your players
The problem with most hitting instruction
Hitting instruction has become so prevalent in the baseball world it can often be difficult to know the best way to hit a baseball. Most coaches have their own hitting “theory” about what is the best. Some of the information isn’t all that bad… (most of it is) however it can be difficult to then apply that information to a youth player, especially with so many conflicting theories.
All the information in this guide will be framed around teaching youth players to be great hitters, as well as giving you realistic expectations for what you can expect in their mechanics.
One of the great paradoxes in teaching youth hitting instruction is this idea of what will generate the most runs/win games for the team vs. mechanical efficiencies that will give those players the best chance to compete as they grow older.
At younger ages, teams are more likely to score runs by simply putting the ball in play (often on the ground) and hoping for a bad hop or an error. This is partly why, in my opinion, so many coaches will teach players to “swing down” or hit the ball on the ground… If you do this enough it will work and you will win the game. Youth players often throw the ball around the diamond while the other team runs around the bases.
This strategy can be effective for the team as a whole to generate runs, however this might not the best strategy for an individual player to improve his chances of moving up to the next level.
The game changes a lot as players get older; the fielders get better, the pitchers keep the ball down better, the park gets bigger, players get stronger, etc.
There will be a number of disclaimers throughout this section expanding on these different ideas.
This guide will be written for mechanics to help an individual player reach their potential as a hitter. It’s interesting because I had to battle myself quite a bit while writing this on whether to write this guide on how to teach hitting to purely win games at the youth level, or write the guide to help players develop as actual hitters later in life. I decided to take the latter. Let me be clear, I am in no way suggesting this guide will hinder your players at all, in fact it will definitely help if you follow these steps. I just placed a number of disclaimers throughout this piece just to give you an idea on what to expect realistically. There is often a time and a place to just hit the ball on the ground and score a run… there is also a time to practice to become the best you possibly can. All the information in here will apply to players about 14 years old or younger… give or take. Hitting instruction can often be difficult to write about… it is much easier to demonstrate on video. Check out the different videos and gifs in the other sections of this guide if you ever get confused.
Let’s get started!
Defining Correct Hitting Mechanics
Definition:We define correct mechanics by using objective measurement of hitting fundamentals through body geometry.
Everything we will teach you in this guide has been thoroughly researched through a scientific lens. We have looked at thousands of hours of video clips of the greatest hitters throughout history, and in present-day. It is interesting to see how the evolution of major league hitting mechanics have changed over the decades, much of this is due to the increased size and strength of players, as well as the constantly increasing pitch speed from pitchers. Not only have we looked at professional clips, but we have also looked at thousands of college players, high school players, and Little Leaguers. By doing this you can begin to draw conclusions of how mechanically sound your swing needs to be to reach a certain level.
Every level players go up, the hitters get better and so do the pitchers, therefore certain things that worked in a swing at 14 years old, might not work at 18. Things that worked great for a division-1 players, might not work in Double A ball, etc. The pitches become too fast, the ball has more movement, and the pitchers make fewer mistakes. The more flaws we have in our swing, the weaker and less efficient we become… this is what weeds out players as they move up the baseball pyramid. The better the mechanics are, the better your chances of making it to the next level. If you can learn to become a great hitter, you can play baseball for a long time…
When we use comparative analysis of great major league hitters throughout history, we are able to identify what the important elements are that make up a major-league swing. This guide will talk about all the information you need to start building a major league swing in your youth player.
We’re going to talk to you about a lot of different angles with your body parts, meaning where your body is in space. With all of these angles there is going to be an upper and lower threshold. We are going to make sure you understand exactly what those thresholds are to help maximize all of the angles in your swing.
Again, this is all based on sample size. It is not based on what one player does (like so many modern hitting coaches do), it’s not what ten guys did, but rather it is based on what the overwhelming majority of all the greatest hitters throughout history did. If your youth players can learn to implement the information in this guide, it is going to set them up to have great success as they get older.
Creating a stance
Elite level hitters stand in many different positions in the batters box. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where you start. Sure, once the player is older and are more knowledgeable about their mechanics, they can manipulate parts of their swing by changing their stance, but for right now lets just assume we want our stance to put us in a good athletic ready position. Most youth players have no idea why they are standing a certain way in the batters box… so let’s give them a good reason!
As a rule of thumb for beginning baseball players we want to first put them in a “universal athletic position.”
This position contains:
1. Feet spread out into a good athletic position
2. Slight tilt forward at the waist (chest over toes)
3. Evenly balanced (no more than 60/40 weight on back foot)
By starting in this position you are automatically putting yourself in the most athletic position possible.
Note:The batters back foot should be perfectly square to the front of the plate or slightly in. It is very common for youth players to start with their back foot pointing out… this puts their weight on the outside of their body, they are likely to stack their weight, which can make a full pivot more challenging. This body part moves at zero miles per hour, so make sure they check their feet every time… there is no excuse to mess this one up.
By starting in this position you are automatically putting yourself in the most athletic position possible.
Basic Geometry of Stance
Putting your players in this basic position is going to be the simplest.
Generally, the farther batters start away from launch position the more challenging it will be for them to get to the correct spot. Not that youth players can’t do it of course but it can often make it more challenging… we will expand on this concept later on.
Generally, the farther batters start away from this position the more challenging it will be for them to get to a proper launch position (scroll down to read more on launch position).
It doesn’t really matter how a hitter stands in the box. Some of the greatest hitters throughout time have had some of the most bizarre stances.
Note:When the batter is in the box you want to make sure they aren’t standing perfectly still… they should have a little movement or inertia created, this will help with their timing and cadence.
Where to stand in relation to the plate
As a rule of thumb the batter should not be too far away from the plate or too close. We want to achieve that perfect distance where the batter is able to hit a pitch that is low-and-away, as well as crush the pitch that’s up-and-in. If the batter is standing with their feet square in the box their front foot should be no closer than 8” and no farther than 12” from the plate. Taller players are going to have a longer bats than shorter players, which means they should stand a little further away from the plate than a shorter player. The most important part is the batter is able to hit pitches that are low-and-away.
Tip: An easy way to measure for younger players is to place the bat across the plate with the tip about 1” over the far side of the plate, and then place their foot where the knob of the bat is… it should roughly fall between 8-12” range depending on the size of the player.
Understand: this bat trick is just a general rule of thumb, this wont work as well for older players as their bat is too long.
The distance to the pitcher in the box will vary slightly from hitter to hitter. The most neutral place to stand in the box is with your front foot lined up with the middle corner of the plate. For slower pitchers you can cheat your way closer to the pitcher. For the faster pitchers, scoot back in the box a little.
Definition:The “launch position,” is defined as the 3-dimensional geometric shape of the body (including position of the bat) at the moment the front toe touches the ground, which if done properly is the instant before the hands fire forward.
One of the main elements of being a great hitter is being able to produce consistency within the swing. The swing needs to be able to be reproduced over and over until the player’s muscle habit patterns become so deeply ingrained that it’s the only swing the player knows. If we take one swing a certain way, and then try to take another swing a different way, we are doing ourselves a disservice. A player needs to be able to get into a good launch position over and over, regardless of the situation. It can be an extremely difficult task for youth players and should be THE MAIN MECHANICAL ELEMENT your players work on, because it is going to be the entire foundation for the rest of the swing. Stance doesn’t matter… launch position is everything.
Hitting a baseball is extremely reactionary. When we begin the loading process we have no idea where the pitch will be, how fast, how much movement, what type of pitch it is, etc. The only thing we want to have to rely on is our reaction, and our ability to make micro adjustments as the pitch comes in. The launch position is something a player should be working all for the length of their career. If you can get into a good spot here, the rest of the swing will often take care of itself.
Launch position is going to be our main reference point when analyzing the swing. Having a consistent reference point then allows us to use comparative analysis to identify the common mechanics of big leaguers. Lunch position can be found a couple different ways depending on what is happening with the swing.
At the big league level this occurs right at front toe touch, which is the instant before the hands fire forward [again let me emphasize here, this is for timing off a fastball. There will be a slightly delay of the swing on offspeed pitches… Which is a discussion for another day]. For many players that create slipping (see flaws) or they have a no-stride (the front foot never leaves the ground when loading) Here, the launch position can be found the instant before the hands fire forward. This is however not the most effective way to load because the hitter is unable to create kinetic energy and momentum.
If you are going to no-stride you better be extremely strong and quick, or be stellar in the field because you are setting yourself up to swing from a weaker position… some players can do this and it works well for them, but it is only going to be a very small percentage of the population.
How to go from stance to launch position
Teaching your players to not step-and-swing and not to slip is one of the most important things they should work on.
Slipping is when the batter put their foot down too early and the swing doesn’t start right away, there is often a drifting motion that is then associated with it. The swing should start the moment after the front toe touches the ground; there shouldn’t be a delay.
A step-and-swing is when the batter initiates his swing before the front foot has hit the ground. Stepping and swinging is problematic for two reasons:
1. Major reduction in power potential
2. Makes off-speed pitches extremely challenging
The way we get to launch position is the idea of going “foot-forward, hands-back.”
“When instructing youth players, one of the most important fundamentals is teaching them how to load properly.”
Think of this as if the batter had a rubber band attached to the knob of his bat and the front of his foot… we are trying to create dynamic tension by “stretching this rubber band.” Ideally the batter stretches this rubber band, once the front food hit the ground the swing will start.
Stepping and swinging is the opposite of stretching the rubber band. Here are a couple examples of what stepping-and-swinging looks like. We can see the left handed hitter has a severe step and swing, while the right handed student is much better, but it is still present.
DrillWork on this concept with students by going “Stance… Launch…. Fire” and the players work on going foot-forward hands-back, over and over. As they learn this move you can start to shorten the duration of pauses between positions “stance, launch, fire.”
The hitter should always be timing off a fastball unless they are guessing strategically for another pitch.
Remember:Front toe touch is our main reference point when analyzing a swing.
*Note: There will be a slight delay on the start of the swing on off speed pitches due to the change in speed.
The hitter should always be timing off a fastball unless they are guessing strategically for another pitch.
Front toe touch is our main reference point when analyzing a swing.
Angles at launch position
The geometric shape we create at launch position is one of the most important parts of the swing. It is amazing how consistent elite level hitters are at getting into this position properly. There is a large list of angles our body will create at front toe touch. Within each of these angles, there will be an upper and lower threshold. We just need to make sure we are within spec within all of these angles. It is actually pretty incredible how consistent these angles are in major league hitters.
I want to emphasize here again these are not just angles that we think are best. You will see a number of different pictures of major leaguers at the same moment in time getting into this position. Understand, these are players that didn’t grow up together, didn’t have the same hitting coach, didn’t play on the same high school team, might not even be from the same country, etc…. yet these are the players who never got weeded out. The players who made it to the top of the baseball pyramid… consistently get into this position the instant before the hands fire foreword. This is profound information, and it’s something the majority of hitting coaches know nothing about.
The most important ones to note for beginners are the following:
– Knob of bat: points to ground around catcher’s feet. “Barrel up.”
– Back forearm: Close to level to the ground
– Front arm: Close to 135 degrees
– Front forearm: Points slightly uphill (hands above elbow)
– Even weight distribution
– Slight tilt forward at the waist (universal athletic position)
– Eyes: Level to the ground and square to the pitcher.
– Spine angle: slightly back (nothing forward of vertical)
– Front shoulder: Slightly down-and-in (at least level at best)
As the player gets older these angles become more and more important to achieve… at younger ages it’s more important for them to load properly and swing hard. They are going to have a very difficult time getting into this position, especially out on a baseball field with another beginner throwing to them. Dialing in all these different angles is going to be easier one-on-one vs. with the whole team. Learning to keep the barrel up is going to be one of the most important things they could implement.
Tip:Doing dry reps (Practice mechanics without hitting a ball i.e. swinging in the air) from stance to launch will help the players feel what it’s like to get into this position. “A proper launch position allows the hitter to properly swing on plane with power.”
Launch position (expanded)
Bat angle: This is one of the most important elements of being a great hitter. Youth players are going to struggle with this; this is one of the most challenging parts of hitting for them. When the barrel is flat it sets the hitter up for higher pitches, when the barrel is nice and steep it sets the hitter up for lower pitches.
Disclaimer: At younger ages the pitchers often have a hard time keeping the ball down in the zone, and in order to keep the game moving at a normal pace umpires are often required to call pitches at the letters strikes. Pitchers often have to “lob” the ball to the plate in order for it to be a strike, which creates a big arch. The combination of these factors often lead to the barrel being flat… which can often cause success at young ages, but will severely hinder the player as he/she gets older.
Spine angle: Spine angle is going to be the axis of rotation; this is taken into account from the side view as well as the front/back view. Once a player gets to launch position, they then want to rotate as fast as possible around their spine. We keep the spine angle slightly back because it allows the hitter to more properly hit line drives with good trajectory. (INSERT MCCUCHEN GIF HERE #6)
Front shoulder down-and-in: This is going to create counter-rotation for the batter. The hips should be square to the pitcher at launch, while the shoulders are closed off down-and-in. This will create torque in the player’s mid-section/core, like a winding up rubber band ready to release.
Back forearm parallel to the ground: This is usually going to work directly with bat angle. When a player’s bat is too flat, the forearm hangs down more vertically. When the barrel is up, the forearm is way more likely to get level. This forearm should also be perpendicular to the line of the pitch… or parallel with the front of the plate Again, since youth players are almost always flat with their barrel they will usually have their back forearm closer to vertical.
Even weight distribution: This gives the hitter proper balance. Without good balance, the rest of the swing is likely to get thrown off somewhere down the line. If weight gets too stacked onto the back leg, the hitter will likely not be able to rotate as well or they will slip. See flaws on slipping.
Front Arm Angle: The closer the hitter is to 90 degrees the higher the contact potential. The more this arm is stretched out the more power they will have. Composite major league is around 135˚. Front arm should not get locked out and should never be less than 90-100˚.
Eyes Level: Players will often stand in the box with their eyes tilted down hill. This is going to cause major issues for them while trying to hit a moving object. Both eyes should be level and as close to square as possible.
Examples of Youth Launch Positions
Example #1 (insert youth launch position example #1 here, Picture #7)
This launch position from student 1 is pretty good! The barrel is pointing to the ground close to the catchers feet… he is a little wrapped around his head, but overall pretty good there. His back forearm is level with the ground, spine angle is back, front shoulder is slightly down and in, and he is close to evenly balanced. Overall pretty well done. You can see however he is pretty far back with his spine angle… we only say spine angle needs to be ‘slightly’ back, not way back… so getting the player to stay up a little more vertical would be a good coaching cue.
Example #2 (insert youth launch position example #2 here, Picture #8)
This launch position is more of a typical position for most youth players. We can see the barrel is a too flat… notice how the tip of the bat is hanging behind his head. We can also see the back forearm is hanging down too low. Again… bat angle and back forearm often go hand-in-hand. The player’s spine angle is good, but you can see his front shoulder is pointing uphill. The player is close to evenly balanced and his spine angle is good, so no worries there. This is your classic example of a typical youth launch position.
Example #3: (insert youth launch position example #3 here, picture #9) This is another classic example of a beginners launch position. This student did step-and-swing quite a bit. We can see the barrel is way too flat and too laid off… which we can see the back forearm also hangs down because those two flaws often go hand-in-hand. The spine angle is slightly back, which is good, but this is happening more so because of the front shoulder pointing up (along with the step-and-swing). The front foot did step in the bucket a little too. He is evenly balanced so he’s got that going on!
Example #4: (Insert youth launch position example #4 here, Picture #10) This student here also has a pretty good load. You can see the bat angle is right at the catcher’s feet along with his back forearm being level to the ground. That’s great! The main problem here is the front shoulder is pointing uphill.
* Disclaimer: As mentioned before at younger ages this isn’t really a big issue because the pitches often come in from a steep angle. If this was a high school player it would be much more problematic, but for this 10 year old student… not the end of the world.
Introduction to swing plane
Definition:A perfect swing plane is a two-dimensional shape created by the knob and the tip of the bat during a swing. This plane contains the line of the incoming pitch. The swing plane hinges from the base of the neck.
Swing plane is the holy grail of hitting. It is often what separates the great hitters from the good hitters.
Swing plane is one of the most misunderstand concepts in baseball, which is interesting because the concept itself is actually pretty simple. The difficult part is actually being able to properly implement a correct swing plane with a moving pitch.
As the hitter begins to rotate, one of the goals is to have your swing create a plane. A plane, by definition, is a flat two-dimensional surface similar to that of a sheet of glass. Youth players often have a very difficult time being able to actually create a plane with their swing. Many times the strength of the player will not be great enough to keep a plane and will often cause a distortion, or sign wave. Creating a plane is one of the goals because the motion is easier to repeat, versus a motion with distortion. We want our swing to be repeatable, and if we have a bunch of unnecessary movement it will make that task more challenging.
A distortion can also be caused by swinging: too far inside-out, rolling the wrists, finishing too high or too low, and a number of other reasons.
We will develop this concept in greater detail in a more advanced hitting products/videos. We want to make sure for you coaches that you don’t get lost by having too much information. In order to properly develop your players, beginners need to focus strictly on getting into a good launch position and then generating maximum bat speed from there. As players get older and they understand their swing more and how all the body parts work together, that’s when we can start teaching them swing plane. Not that it can’t be done with younger players, but you need to be careful you don’t start teaching the incorrect swing plane or it could become more challenging for them to fix it later on.
Some verbal cues that will help with swing plane without going too deep into the concept:
- “Hit the ball on the chin” (Picture the baseball as a face with nose, ears, forehead and chin… the hitter should feel as if they will hit the ball on the chin… not below the equator, but purely struck on the chin.)
- “Stay through it” (this is the idea of extension)
- “Extend uphill” (we don’t want the player to roll their wrists over and cut the swing off)
- “Catch/hit the ball out in front into the outfield”
- “Hit the ball over the outfielders head, purely” (this uses result oriented coaching, rather than mechanical)
All in all, for your hitters right now bat speed is going to be more important to instill into their muscle memory at an early age.
The Importance of Bat Speed
“Give me a youth player with perfect mechanics and terrible bat speed, and a kid with terrible mechanics and excellent bat speed, and I will always take the youth player with bat speed” – Corey
The goal for you as a coach is to help players have success, as well as prepare them for the years to come. As mentioned before, there are a number of disclaimers regarding the paradoxes between teaching youth hitting and winning games vs. advanced hitting and moving up levels and levels… it’s just a different game at a young age. However, teaching a player to swing hard at a young age can significantly help them in the future.
In fact, when younger players are taught to swing as hard as they can every time, their body will often self organize itself to put it in a position where it is the strongest and delivers the best results… this means their mechanics will actually improve, believe it or not.
The goal for you as a coach is to help players have success as well as prepare them for the years to come. As mentioned before there are a lot of disclaimers about the paradoxes between teaching youth hitting vs intermediate/advanced hitting… it’s just a different game at a young age. However teaching a player to swing hard at a young age can drastically help them in the future. In fact, when younger players are taught to swing as hard as they can everytime, their body will almost self organize itself to put it in a position where it is the strongest… and often times this means their mechanics will actually improve, believe it or not.
DefinitionBat speed is defined by how fast the tip of the bat travels through space, usually measured right before impact.
One of the most failsafe verbal cues you can use as a coach is “swing faster.” Assuming you aren’t working on a highly specific mechanical issue… bat speed, bat speed, bat speed!
Bat speed is going to be directly related to strength and quickness. Being able to hit the ball harder is not only going to get your players more hits, but it will cause more errors. This is one of the main elements that elite level hitters at all ages have in common.
This should be a great focus of yours while instructing. Players often start going through the motions and taking lazy swings.
Your players are better off taking 20 swings as fast as they can during batting practices and building up a sweat, rather than hitting 100 balls with little bat speed and little effort. It’s not about the quantity of repetitions, it’s about the quality of those repetitions. If you are able to combine those two… that’s where the magic is.
“Drive through the ball”
“See how hard you can hit this ball”
“Hit this ball to outer space”
One of the BEST ways to teach players to properly swing is to break the swing up into different positions, learn each one of those position, and then blend the swing back into one nice smooth fluid motion. The following six positions will help facilitate the learning process, and is great to do individually or with the team as a whole.
2. Launch Position
Let’s look at each one of these positions more closely…
a. Back foot square (parallel to front of the plate)
b. Evenly balanced weight distribution
c. Hands near the back arm pit
d. Barrel up (knob points to ground near catchers feet)
(Remember: Your players do not have to start in this position. It doesn’t matter where you start. This is a general rule of thumb to set them up in the most athletic position possible.)
a. Knob of bat: points to ground around catcher’s feet.
b. Back forearm: Level to the ground
c. Front arm: Greater than 90 degrees, less than 180 degrees (locked out)
d. Front forearm: Points slightly uphill (hands above elbow)
e. Even weight distribution
f. Slight tilt forward at the waist
g. Eyes: Level to the ground and square to the pitcher.
h. Spine angle: Vertical (or slightly back if possible)
i. Front shoulder: Level to ground (or slightly down and in if possible)
a. Maintain 3-dimensional shape from launch through [roughly] the first quarter of the swing.
b. Back foot shoulder start to pivot.
c. Hands and bat does NOT cast out (See common flaws)
a. Back leg should be slightly bent
b. Front leg should be straight
c. Spine angle slightly back (don’t go past vertical!)
d. Palm up / Palm down
e. Hit the ball in front of you (near front foot)
i. Note: This will vary depending on pitch location… outside pitches will be hit deeper in the swing, inside pitches further out in front.
f. Back foot completely pivoted around (back heel should be facing catcher)
g. Back elbow close to oblique
a. Arms straight out in front, barrel points near the pitcher
b. Palm up, palm down
c. Spine angle slightly back
d. Back leg bent, front leg straight
a. Shoulders are completely turned all the way around
b. Maintain balance by staying over the plate
c. One hand vs. two hand
Understand: At no point in the swing do we want to stop at any of the positions 2-5 (excluding finish obviously, because by definition that is when the swing will stop). This is especially true at launch position. It is very common for players to “get the front foot down early”; this is highly problematic for a number of reasons like loss of power, no timing, stacks weight, drifting forward, etc.
Now that we can see how the swing should look when breaking it up into pieces, you can start to blend it all together. This can be a great tool because the athlete can then just fill in the gaps, and make it one nice smooth fluid motion.
Part practice can also commonly referred to as chaining. Chaining is: An instructional procedure that involves reinforcing individual responses occurring (or positions) in a sequence to form a complex behavior… in this case, hitting a baseball.
Having a “Swing Thought”
It’s important to understand that hitting and practicing your mechanics is all well and good, but if you don’t have a “swing thought” in mind you are going to get the most out of your training.
A swing thought is best described the main things you are working on during that training session. Usually a player can only have about 1-2 swing thoughts at a time… once you have more than that you start diluting the quality of each focus. Here is a list of swing thoughts for your hitters:
– Stretching the rubber band
– Keeping the barrel up
– Using proper legs
– Staying back on the ball
– Finishing the swing
– Getting extended
Just about any mechanical or result oriented goal can be a swing thought.
What happens when most players are training is they are just “beating baseballs,” meaning they aren’t really working on anything specific and just hitting the ball just because it’s thrown. When concentration from the hitter starts fading or the swings become poor, take a break for a few minutes as start up again. If the swings do not improve after a break maybe it is time to consider ending the training session… again, we don’t want to reinforce bad habits! With every swing we are either getting better, or getting worse… if the swings are progressively getting worse, end the session.
Different Coaching Styles
There are going to be two different effective coaching strategies:
- Result oriented
- Mechanic oriented.
Result oriented coaching is getting a player to focus on a specific outcome or result. Basically that would sound like:
- “I want you to hit the ball in the top right corner of the cage.”
- “Try and hit this ball over the left fielder’s head purely.”
- “Hit the ball right up the middle.”
Using this technique is often interesting because you can see mechanics change right before your eyes sometimes, which is amazing really. Many youth players swing down at the baseball very aggressively, or they swing uphill… this type of coaching can be especially useful when working on swing plane, however definitely not limited to.
Mechanic oriented coaching would consist more of doing video analysis, mirror work, part practice, or talking about specific angles. This can be especially effective when working on launch position, but again not limited to.
Keep in mind; one of these coaching methods is not necessarily better than another. Every person learns differently and it’s the coach’s job to figure out which method of teaching WORKS BEST for that player. This is when coaching can become a lot of fun, seeing what works for each player and watching their mechanics/results change instantly! Your coaching might very well be a combination of both techniques, find out how each particular player responds to these two forms of instruction and then reinforce that over and over.
FOOT FORWARD / HANDS BACK – This is how the hitter is should be loading prior to the pitch. Helps increase power as well as helps provide a clutch for off-speed pitches.
GET READY– Players often start standing in the batters box, they need to make sure they get in their stance each time, knees bent with slight tilt forward at the waist.
STRETCH THE RUBBER BAND – Imagine there is a rubber band connected from the knob of the bat to the front foot, as we load we want to stretch this rubber band. Same concept as “foot forward, hands back.”
SWING HARD – This verbal cue can always be used! Youth players have a tendency to become lazy with their swings. A good thought is thinking loose and quick. The batter shouldn’t be tense while trying to increase bat speed.
LOOSE AND QUICK – It’s important the batter is not tense while trying to increase bat speed. Muscles operate better when they are in this tonus state.
PIVOT / USE THE LEGS – Helps remind the batter to also use the lower half to swing, rather than all arms.
STAY BACK (SPINE ANGLE) – Players have a tendency to lunge toward the ball as they swing. This cue will help remind them to stay back as they make their way toward impact which can help with trajectory of the ball. *Note: This is not weight distribution! Batter should always be balanced, we don’t want all their weight to stack on their back leg.
LOAD AND GO – We want to make sure players don’t have any energy leak from front toe touch to swing. This cue helps remind the player right as the front foot hits the ground the swing should start immediately. We don’t want players to go “Load, stop… go.”
USE YOUR WHOLE BODY– It’s very easy for youth players to get too armsy. We want them to start to feel what its like to use your whole body for this big rotation.
FINISH IT – Helps player to think about using their whole body, as well as driving through the ball, rather than just hitting it and quitting.
STAY THROUGH IT – This is the idea of getting extended through the ball. This works well in conjunction with finish it. (i.e. “Stay through the ball and finish it.”)
HIT THE CENTER OF THE BALL – At the end of the day the best thing the batter can do is hit the center of the ball. Mechanics are great and all, but the actual goal of hitting is to hit the center of the ball.
FIND BARREL – Reminds the hitter to hit the sweet spot on the bat, if the ball is hit too close to the handle or too close to the end power will be greatly reduced. This also works well with hit the center of the ball. (i.e. “Hit the center of the ball and find barrel.”)
BARREL UP – Helps remind the player to keep the bat angle steep. Too many players go flat.