A hitting tool you won’t believe you didn’t think of

Thursday, Jan. 31st 2013

I’m always interested in new a creative hitting methods, drills, and tools. Today, for our training equipment segment, we will look at the hitting disk. The hitting disk accomplishes all the qualities I look for in a piece of training equipment; the hitting disk is cheap, effective, and creative. You can get three disks for $24.95, but you could essentially buy a pool Frisbee at Wal-Mart for three dollars and save some money. However, just because the product isn’t proprietarily unique doesn’t mean it is not effective.

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(Pictures taken from hittingdisk.com)

The hitting disk is essentially a Frisbee made of fabric that you hold in between the palms of your two hands (see pictures above). After you place the hitting disk in between your palms, you get into your normal batting stance and take a swing, as you normally would, while you release the disk at the point you normally make contact with a baseball. The point of the disk is to create a correct bat path for young hitters. If your hands are not parallel to the ground or the sky when you release the Frisbee, and reach the point of contact, the disk will not fly very far; if your hands are tilted up at the point of contact, the Frisbee will fly strait up—like a fly ball; if your hands are angled down, the Frisbee will go directly into the ground—like a ground ball. The disk creates a way for a hitter to evaluate their bat path, and the best part about the hitting disk is that you don’t need a partner to use it.


Improve your youths reading ability and baseball skill simultaneously

Wednesday, Jan. 30th 2013

One way that I have always said a youth baseball player can improve their game is by reading about the game. However, as we, and most parents of young players know, it is difficult to motivate adolescents to read. But let me recommend a way to get your young player reading regularly about the game they love. BaseballCamps.com provides a blog in which they provide a piece of advice about baseball that is normally from eight to fifteen sentences long. The advice column will improve your child’s baseball knowledge will they learn to love to read.

The blog works for several reasons. To start, the blog is not very long and should be able to keep the attention of the most scattered youths. The advice column takes place daily. Get your child into the habit of reading the blog daily, and, most importantly as parents, read the blog too. Have a conversation with your daughter/son about the piece of advice they read and have them teach what they read to you—it will also give you the opportunity to correct them if they have misunderstood something. After all the best way to learn a subject is to teach it to someone else. Before you know it your child’s baseball knowledge will have increased exponentially, and their knowledge will translate to on field success.


Linear vs. Rotational hitting

Tuesday, Jan. 29th 2013

As promised from yesterday we will discuss the difference between a linear and a rotational hitter. The purpose of this distinction is to come to a conclusion about what type of a hitter your daughter/son is, and what drills best fit their type of swing. When you have a rotational hitter and try to do a drill that is meant for a linear hitter, you are trying to fit a square peg in a round whole. The key difference between a rotational and a linear hitter, as described by Chris O’Leary, is the hand path that each hitter takes to the ball and the area from which they try to generate power.

The linear hitter looks to take the shortest rout to the ball with their hand path, and generates its power from their arms, hands, and wrists. The linear swings hand path is characterized by phrases like “throw the hands at the ball,” or “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” in an effort to place the emphasis of the swing on the hands.

Unlike linear hitting, rotational hitting has more of a curved hand path and looks to generate its power from the entire body, in particular the upper legs, hips, and torso. Linear hitters sacrifice much of their power because of the size of the key muscles—hands, forearms—that are meant to generate power, especially when you look at the muscles that generate power in to rotational swing. Consequently the linear swing is not taught anywhere except the lowest levels of baseball because of its inability to generate power, and it’s inability to translate to higher levels of baseball.


Lessons for linear hitters

Monday, Jan. 28th 2013

I found a hitting exercise that I though would be helpful for all of our readers, regardless of their age. Then I remembered that we have not discussed the difference between a linear hitter and a rotational hitter. And, while we will not discuss the difference between a linear and a rotational hitter today, we will discuss this divergence in school of thought tomorrow, our blog for today—January 28—will discuss a drill that is meant for the linear hitterBeABetterHitter.com has been the source of conversation on this blog before, and I have yet again found a simple and effective method to improve the hand path in a hitters swing.

The drill itself is simple and here is the description from BeABetterHitter.com:

Here’s a drill to emphasize the importance of the hands to the ball. This drill can be incorporated with a soft toss or a short screen. It is very effective even without the luxury of hitting a ball during the drill. Find yourself an old plastic chair, or a bucket with a lid and sit on it. Lock your ankles around the legs of the chair or base of the bucket; This is to anchor yourself into the chair. We want to eliminate the lower body action in this drill. The only thing moving will be from the waist up. Take your bat and get in the hitting position. If you have the luxury of a practice partner, have him toss a ball up into the hitting zone. You should be rhythmic and rock the hands back slightly on time with the tosser’s initial move so that you can properly load the upper body. As the ball reaches the hitting zone fire your hands inside the ball, concentrating on the proper wrist action into and through the hitting zone. You want a Top Hand ‘UP” and Bottom Hand “DOWN” position for your palms at the point of impact. Hit “through the ball” as flat as you can to create a line drive flight.

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This drill emphasizes what it means to be a linear hitter. The drill places an importance on bat path—a direct A to B motion from your hands starting position to the ball—and builds wrist strength, which is integral in the a linear hitter’s approach. Consequently, this drill is not meant for all types of hitters and needs to be reserved for the right hitter. Once you find that hitter, this drill will prove to be advantageous.


Baseball hitting myths

Friday, Jan. 25th 2013

Today I want to defunct two common practices that coaches try to instill in hitters, as far as technique is concerned. They are connected in the way that they take place in the lower half of the body, and in the way that one generates the other. Let’s look at the load and the action of the back foot during the swing.

Most coaches suggest a short and concise stride on the front foot. This swing is also known to some as the “Stanford Swing.” Moreover, I can hear my former high school coach scream, “Get your front foot down early!” and “You can’t hit it if you don’t have your load down!” While it is important to get your front foot down to hit the ball, it is also more important to take a stride that will generate enough power to hit the ball. With the implementation of new BBCOR bats, youths around the country will need to learn ways to generate power now that old BESR bats are no longer there to create the power for them. A stride of one inch forward, where your foot only get one inch off the ground, will essentially make you a slap hitter in modern baseball. A coach explained it to me like this years ago. Would you rather get punched in the chest by a person that can only pull his fist back one inch away from you chest and then hit you, or would you rather get punched by someone that has free rain to load up on their swing and use their whole body to hit you? Exactly. In the same way that the punch uses the load to generate power and incorporate the lower half, the baseball swing uses the load of the front foot to generate power and incorporate the lower half.

So we have just proven that the load can be integral to the generation of power in your swing. However, lets iconoclastically attack another commonly preached baseball technique: squashing the bug. When you “squash the bug” you restrict the movement of your hips and disallow the energy you created with your stride. You want your hips to be free to finish through the zone, and your back leg should be in the shape of an L on your finish. Here is a video I found on play sports TV, that brings both of the concepts that I talked about together, called How To Generate Power. Next time you here a coach scream “Get your front foot down!” or “Squash the bug!”, you have my permission to roll your eyes.


Best BBCOR Bats of 2013 to get the most bang for your buck

Thursday, Jan. 24th 2013

This week’s segment on advanced/high school hitters will focus on 2013 BBCOR aluminum bats. How does one know if they are getting a good value on a bat that can run upwards of $400? Wouldn’t you like some none biased information to base you decision on? With a lot of money on the line, and little information to base you decision on, I have decided to lend a helping hand to out readers. There are several websites—CheapBats.com and JustBats.com—that provide non-biased information when it comes to aluminum bats, but I would like to point the reader’s attention towards TopBBCOR.com. TopBBCOR.com, in 2013 Baseball Bat Reviews, has acted as a critique, facilitator, and aggregator of all things BBCOR.

TopBBCOR.com’s article provides a look at the best aluminum bats available for the 2013 year based on six criterion: performance, durability, balance, looks, value, customer service. And, as an affirmation to the idea that they are unmotivated by financial incentives, their second and third rated bats retail for $200; that’s almost half the price as the majority of the other bats on the list. To aid to the quality of their article they have also placed, if not two, at least one promotional video, that either is an advertisement for the bat or a non-partisan review of the bat from one of the aforementioned websites that I named in the first article.


Old school instruments can help new age practice

Wednesday, Jan. 23rd 2013

AnnexBaseballBlog.com has brought up an age-old training method that will easily improve your young hitters mechanics. It’s simple; swing a wooden bat. As discussed in the article—The Importance Of Youth Hitting With A Wooden Bat—there are several mechanical advantages that this can provide your young hitter. A wood bat, as opposed to an aluminum bat that has its weight artificially and evenly distributed throughout the bat, has most of it’s weight concentrated towards the end of the at bat. The mechanical effect: your child will learn to get the front end of his bat through the strike zone faster than they normally would, once he/she switches back to an aluminum bat, through their ability to develop stronger wrists and forearms. Swinging a wooden bat also places a premium on contact. Where as an aluminum bat has a sweet spot that encompasses the entire length of the barrel, the sweet spot on a wooden bat is limited to a much smaller area (See below). Through repetitions with a wooden bat your child will be able to make more consistent and solid contact with an aluminum bat.

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If you want to reap the benefits of having your child use an aluminum bat, AnnexBaseballBlog.com provides a couple of guidelines that will help pick out the right bat for your child. The blog suggests that if you child holds a wooden bat straight out in front of her/him by the handle, and the barrel drops, the bat is too heavy for them. The website also has a bat guide that accounts for a child’s height and weight, and it can make a general suggestion as to what would be the best bat for them; remember, these charts do not take into consideration body fat and can be misleading.


Don’t get tricked when you buy baseball equipment

Tuesday, Jan. 22nd 2013

Many websites devoted to non-partisan baseball equipment reviews can afford to be non-partisan, because they don’t care if you buy a particular brand, as long as you buy a product from their website. The web is littered with baseball equipment reviews but you would be hard pressed to call any of them unbiased. The majority of the reviews you will see online claim that each product is the best, high quality, top of the line product you can buy. Why do I doubt this? Because, most of the product reviews online have been published by product manufactures themselves. Consequently, this is why intelligent consumers, that want the most bang for their buck, need to do their research and make the smartest and most informed purchases they can; baseball equipment is not cheap! I thought I would provide a little help for our readers.

picture of a shifty used car salesman

(Don’t let this man sell you baseball equipment)

On ProBaseballInsider.com, in the Low Liners blog, someone has taken the time to survey professional baseball players and facilitate their recommendations to the public. The survey looks to be anonymous, and therefor players may be able speak freely about their true opinions of baseball gear without retaliation from any sponsorships they may have. The list that the Low Liners blog has comprised is thorough, and current; the list was developed in April of last year; most of the items on the list can probably be bought at a discount going into the 2013 season and can still be considered elite.


Simple swing drill to succinctly suppress silly mechanics

Monday, Jan. 21st 2013

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For today—January 21, 2013—we will discuss a training drill that I discovered on BeABetterHitter.com. For a hitting drill to be “good” it must do several things; it must be simple, creative, and make you practice your technique.  The Grad-U-Weighted Bats Drill from BeABetterHitter.com has all three of these qualities. While the drill is simple because it allows you the practice hitting on your own, the drill is also simple in the way that it may be done with old bats that you have around your house and requires no financial investment.

For the drill you need five bats of varying weight:

Ideally, you need at least three graduating sizes of bats. A tee-ball bat (maybe16 oz. in weight), a Little League bat (approximately 20-23 oz. in weight), and     a Senior League bat (about 27 oz.). You also need a weighted bat, or a device to weight your heaviest bat such as a “donut” or “power fins”. Additionally, you need an extremely light bat, such as the XLR8 Speed Bat .

The drill  uses the idea of pyramid training that is present in weight lifting programs. Begin by stretching out and taking 15-20 swings to prepare yourself. Now, take ten perfect swings—focus on form throughout the entire swing and emphasize the location of your hands inside your body—with the middle bat. Next, take eight swings with the second to the heaviest bat, and after that take six swings with the weighted bat. After that take work your way back down the row of bats and take 8 swings with the second heaviest bat, and 10 swings with the bat in the middle. Once you get done with the bat in the middle, take 12 swings with the second to lightest bat, and then 15 swings with the lightest bat.  The most important part of the drill is that you focus on your form. Through muscle memory and repetition of the drill your form will be solidified and your bat speed will flourish. The drill is meant to be an exercise that is a main stay in your training regiment. Practice the drill every other day, and as the articles creator states, your bat speed will increase exponentially.


The jump from high school to college baseball

Friday, Jan. 18th 2013

Our blog for advanced hitters this week will discuss the transition from high school to college baseball, and, for the lucky few, the jump from high school to pro-baseball. My opinion, when it comes to high school baseball players that want to play college baseball, is that it comes down to two factors: 1) Do you want to play baseball bad enough? 2) Are you a hard worker? Those two factors probably feed off of each other in a reciprocal fashion, but they are important for any high school baseball player that wants to continue their baseball career. From my time in baseball, I have seen talent-deprived players play college baseball at colleges in subarctic and sub-Saharan climates, that have minimal academic standards, because they wanted to continue their dream of being a baseball player. At a certain point each player has to decide when their playing career is over, and for some it may be in high school, others in college, or, for the fortunate, in pro-ball. However, for high school and college players, the time to lay the glove down is when you have to choose between baseball and education; education always comes first. For example, I had a high school teammate who chose to play junior college baseball at Cochise Sate, over the University of San Diego. He immediately regretted his mistake and transferred to USD after his first semester in college. However, for those that are determined to play at the next level and want to work hard to get there, here is some help.

HSBaseballWeb.com provides a plethora of step-by-step guidelines and advice for high school players that want to play in college and at the pro level. The website takes you through every step of the recruiting process: contacting coaches, standardized tests, and recruiting camps. The website has it all. For players that want to play in college, reading all this information is part of the hard work that is necessary to get you where you want to go.


Three steps to improve your youth hitter’s confidence

Thursday, Jan. 17th 2013

This week’s edition of youth hitting will look at a drill devoted to the improvement of your little leaguers confidence. Confidence is important at every age, but especially at your child’s adolescence when every strikeout, groundout, or pop out could mean the end of the world in his or her eyes. Mark Muto in Youth baseball: Great batting drills has developed a drill with three progressions that is sure to improve your young hitters aptitude and fortitude at the plate.

In Drill 1, Muto places the child’s ability to have confidence in the hands of the parents. You will need a wiffle bat and wiffle balls. Preliminarily, have your child take 8-10 swings, and you will notice that the younger your child is the more consistently your child’s bat path falls along the same plane. Most importantly, this drill is intended for youth hitters that still place a premium on contact. After the 8-10 swings, the parent or adult should throw the wiffle ball to the hitter, while they do their best to put the ball on the same swing path that the hitter showed in their warm up swings, and have them hit the ball.

Drill 2 has more variation involved than Drill 1, is intended for hitters that have proven to make contact with the ball, and will increase overall contact ability. This drill will need a baseball bat and a bucket of wiffle balls: they should be multiple sizes, from baseball size to golf ball size. Now have your hitter try and hit the wiffle balls of varying sizes. They will struggle to make contact at first, but after their focus has honed in you will notice their eyes will always see the ball at the bat.

Drill 3 improves on Drill 2. For Drill 2 you will need a bucket full of golf ball sized wiffle balls and a sawed of broom handle the length of a baseball bat. Throw the wiffle balls to your young hitter as he tries to swing at the balls with the broomstick. Notice that any lapse in concentration will impede the hitter’s ability to make contact. Now, once the hitter approaches the batters box, the baseball will seem four times as big as when they tried to hit in Drill 3.


Establish essential plate discipline

Wednesday, Jan. 16th 2013

Much is made of the ‘five tool player’ in baseball. The player that can hit for power, hit for average, has arm strength, can field, and has the speed to run the bases. However, a tool that is just as important in baseball, and is often overlooked, is the ability to have plate discipline. By the time most hitters reach college or professional baseball, their idea of the strike zone and their approach at the plate has been ingrained into them and cannot be changed. However, QCBaseball.com has provided an excellent training drill that will help establish a correct approach for young hitters.

The drill requires a tee, a throw down home plate, a bat, and can be completed in three easy parts. Here is what the author recommends for Part 1:

Player moves and adjusts the tee to the pitch they like the best and can handle. This is the pitch they would like to hit on a 3-0 count. Have them take a few swings. Now at the same height have them move the tee towards them not going beyond a spot that they still like and is not too far inside the plate. Have them take a few swings and confirm that this is still a pitch they like and can handle. If not move the tee until they have a pitch they like. Then move the tee back to the original spot. Take a couple of swings, now move the tee outside a few inches to find the outside part of the zone for the pitches they really like. Once you have determined the width, then do the same for the height. After this station, the player should have a rectangle of a zero strike-hitting zone.

Once the player has established the zone in which he will swing at pitches with no strikes, the player must find his zone with one strike (Part 2), and two strikes (Part 3). A one-strike approach consists of being ready to swing at any pitch within the strike zone and without reaching for pitches outside of the zone. Part 2 consists of moving the tee around, but still inside, the strike zone so that your young hitter may understand what these pitches look like. A  two-strike approach (Part 3) requires hitters to open up their zone and swing at those pitches that may not be strikes but could be called strikes. Consequently, move the tee around and just out of the strike zone so your young hitter has an idea of what to swing at with two strikes.


What to look for when you buy baseball equipment

Tuesday, Jan. 15th 2013

While we frequently recommend training aids on this blog, I thought we would look at an article that gives suggestions for buying baseball equipment this week. The article is taken from Swing Smarter.com and is entitled Unraveling 4 Momentous Baseball Equipment Buying Guidelines. While the article is helpful with certain suggestions towards baseball buying guidelines, it seems to take on the role of an infomercial at other points; so, be a close reader if you choose to follow the link, because we will only focus on the good parts of the article for this blog.

The most helpful part of the article seems to come in the form of suggestions about where and when to buy baseball equipment. The author of the article conveys a sense of credibility when he tells his readers that he has made a living by buying overstocked brand new old stock (NOS), and selling it online. Essentially, NOS is inventory that retailers are left with at the end of a season, are unable to sell, and are forced to sell in bulk deals to websites like Baseball Express, Amazon, and Overstock.com. In turn, these websites are able to turn a profit on NOS because of the low prices they originally buy the merchandise for. While online retailers are a good place to find deals on baseball equipment, online classifieds like Craigslist are also places where you can save a lot of money. Craigslist offers a unique opportunity for buyers to negotiate a price for merchandise with sellers in “unique situations.” Sellers on craigslist have often acquired their merchandise through a unique means, and frequently want well bellow market value for their products. SwingSmarter.com also recommends that parents look to buy baseball equipment during winter months to prevent sellers from charging you a “seasonal rate.”

SwingSmarter.com urges parents to buy equipment that is durable, and will be safe for their children to use. When it comes to baseball equipment, or any product in general, it pays off to buy a quality product in the immediate, and stave off the price of an inexpensive product that will break down and cost you more money in the long run. Like wise, make sure the equipment that your son or daughter chooses to use is safe. Although online reviews may suggest that their equipment is safe, affordable, and durable, these reviews have often been written by wholesalers themselves. Look to Google Groups, Blogs, and .Orgs that do not have financial motivation when you look for referrals on products.


A mental approach to hitting

Monday, Jan. 14th 2013

This weeks hitting technique blog will not look at your technique inside the batters box, but outside of it. Connor Powers, on DeadRedHitting.com, looks at how your mental approach is integral to your performance in future at-bats in The Most Overlooked Part of Hitting. Powers acknowledges that the best hitters go through slumps but the attitude that you take after a strikeout may determine your outcome for your next at-bat, even before you step into the box.

Powers suggests that hitters, after their at-bats and regardless of their outcome, take away something good that they did inside the box. Here are Powers’ examples of what hitters can take away from at-bats, even in the direst slumps:

1.  You took your best swing and just missed it(swung through or foul ball)

2.  Took a close pitch for a ball

3.  Took a nasty breaking ball in the dirt

4.  Squared the ball up but didn’t get a hit

5.  Fly ball that you JUST missed

6.  The fact that you are in the game playing(Your Coach has confidence in    you so why shouldn’t you have confidence in yourself?  If you were real going  that bad then you would be riding the pine)

The mental aspect of baseball is an important part of baseball that is very overlooked. For example, the mental game is what separates a talented major league prospect—Elijah Dukes and Lasting Milledge—from a MLB All Stars—Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. The faster hitters can learn a solid mental approach to baseball, the more exponential their growth will be on the field.


Unconventional approach batting drills

Thursday, Jan. 10th 2013

Our training drills portion of our blog that normally takes place on Tuesday, and has been delayed because of the wonderful articles that I have found the last two days, will begin right now. Along with my discovery of a wonderful website that I have not encountered before, called BaseballThinkTank.com, I found an even more wonderful video on the website that gives a unique perspective on tee work and an alternative, creative, simple, and effective drill to them. Hunter Bledsoe is the creator of the video called Hitting Lessons: 4 Hitting Drills That Are A Little Outside The BoxHe, along with being able to provide a tremendous amount of baseball insight, is very well spoken and provides outside of the box way to practice hitting.

Bledsoe’s biggest qualm about tee work, or hitting off a tee when it comes to training, is its inability to generate an in game atmosphere and the potential bad habits that it can create. For example, Bledsoe is ultra critical of the way that tee drills always have you look directly down in front of your feet at the tee, as opposed to out in front, and at the pitcher, where the ball is delivered from. His other issue is the way in which hitters develop the bad habit of a front shoulder rotation toward the tee on their load.

Because Bledsoe sees the limitations of tee work in their inauthenticity and hindrance on mechanics, he provides a drill that takes place in a three-step progression with a foam ball. The drill must be done with two people. One person—the lobber—will kneel out in front of the second person—the hitter—on their knees. In the first progression, the lobber tosses the ball to the batter—who is without a bat—and with no lower body movement the hitter catches the ball with the hand that would normally reside higher up on a baseball bat. The first progression teaches a correct path to the ball and promotes vision of the baseball. The most important part is to keep your front shoulder closed when you catch the ball. For the second progression, add a load and the lower half of your swing as your partner tosses you the ball; you still just want to catch it at this point; remember to keep your front shoulder closed! For the last part of the drill—progression three—as the ball is tossed from your partner, punch the ball with the palm of your hand and remember what you learned in the first two steps.

The drill is simple, can be done in small spaces, and is a unique alternative to tee work. Watch Hunter Bledsoe’s video. You will most likely get a better grasp of exactly what he specifically thinks the drill does. However, what the video takes ten minutes to explain the paragraph above provides a brief summary that gets the gist across.


Don’t have a lot of time to practice in the offseason? Here’s the answer.

Wednesday, Jan. 9th 2013

For now we will skip the weekly drills segment of our blog, that was supposed to take place on Tuesday, because of the great articles I found for youth hitting yesterday, if you have not read it check it out, and the relevant blog that I found for today by David Keesee. Keesee, who has been referred to on this blog before, recently wrote a blog entitled Baseball Training Strategy and the Effect of Lack of It. While Keesee believes that there should never be a time when a player does not train, this tactic may be impractical for those high school athletes that play basketball and/or football. However, for these individuals, Keesee makes some suggestions that will keep the rust off players from the long offseason.

Here are the direct ideas that Keesee suggests that players may implement in a minimal amount of time to effectively stay sharp, if they are unable to train all the time as Keesee recommends:

  • Hitters- keep in touch with your swing and your eye for the ball by doing little quick drills like swinging at sunflower seeds, swing at a branch on a bush or doing some of the eye drills I provide for you on the website.
  • Pitchers- Get a couple of sprints in, play a little bit of catch to keep the arm loose or study what major league pitchers strategies are against hitters.
  • Infield/Outfielders/Catchers- Play a little catch now and then, get your workouts and training in (even if its light), watch major league games.

The benefits of Keesee’s suggestions are that they are position specific and allow players to stay sharp in simple ways. However, the often-overlooked aspect of baseball and sports in general that Keesee emphasizes is the learning aspect. The best coaches and players at every level will tell you that they learn something new every day about baseball, that they never new before. If you cannot train year round for baseball read a book about baseball, watch a re-run of an old game, or read articles about baseball online: like this blog maybe? You will be surprised how much you can learn.


Drills to improve common youth hitting errors

Tuesday, Jan. 8th 2013

Upper cuts, slow swings, head pulling, lunging, who has not seen these problems from little league to high school, from the best hitters to the hitters that need a little bit more help? Glimer Baseball.org provides a way for parents and coaches to look at batters, realize their problems, and fix the problems with a problem specific drill. The website is non-profit and their information is helpful more specifically for youth aged players.

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This chart provides a way for parents and coaches of youth baseball, who might not have much experience with the game, a way to correct their young hitters swing without the investment of a lucrative amount of money in training aids. The drills correct prevalent problems in youth baseball in simplistic, yet effective ways. The most unique part about the way they present their material is that it comes in the form of a graph. The graph provides an easy to use guide and an equally coherent procedure to follow when it comes to the execution of their recommended drills.


Tools to improve your bat path

Monday, Jan. 7th 2013

This week’s featured training aid is the Instructo Swing. The Instructo Swing hitting tool forcefully coaches hitters, by the means of the guided rails, to keep their hands in the zone longer, keep their bat inside the ball, and keep the proper swing path towards the ball. The Instructo Swing is adjustable for right handed and left handed batters and can be angled, down, level, and upward. Proper bat mechanics is a fundamental that needs to be reinforced at all levels, and the Instructo Swing does just that.

From my observation, the reviews for the Instructo Swing may be characterized as that of praise. Parents have said that it takes time for there young baseball players to adjust to the mechanics necessary to hit off of the unique tee, but once they are able to adjust their swing path they are able to carry over their newly found swing mechanics into in game situations. The device is relatively expensive at a retail of $169.99 on most websites, but smart buyers will be able to find it used for as little as $49.99.


How to not buckle your knees when you see a curve ball

Friday, Jan. 4th 2013

What troubles most hitters as they adjust from youth baseball to high school baseball is when they face pitchers that can consistently throw curveballs for strikes in a variety of counts. SwingSmarter.com, in Deuce AKA Curveball Smashing 101: How to Hit Tape Measure Shots & Return Your Trays to Their Upright and Locked Positions, has looked to develop a comprehensive way to hit a curveball for hitters. Their article is broken into three parts: technical adjustments, the Zen hitting mental approach, and the three best drills to practice against the curve.

As far as technical adjustments go, SwingSmarter.com stresses the importance of being short to the ball, staying on top, and not letting your eyes drift or drop, all of which are necessary when you hit a fastball or change up, let alone a curveball. The Zen Mental approach that the website suggests wants hitters look to up the middle for their approach, cut the ball out in front—as opposed to what most coaches woul teach, and ‘pick out a window’. The act of ‘picking out a window’ is integral if your hitter ever wants to consistently be able to hit a breaking ball, let alone tell whether or not the pitch is a ball or strike; pay close attention to that one. The drills that SwingSmarter.com suggest to become better at hitting a curveball are helpful because they range from activities that can be done alone, in a limited amount of space, or on a field: self fungo toss, front lob toss, live batting practice. Overall, SwingSmarter.com covers the mechanics, drills, and approach that are necessary if you want your high school hitter to be able to hit a curveball.


Alternative strength training and hitting regiments for youths

Thursday, Jan. 3rd 2013

Last week at this time we devoted our attention to strength training for high school hitters. While weight training should not be implemented for youth hitters, there are several simple, yet effective, ways to build hand, wrist, and forearm strength in youth baseball hitters that will serve them well in the long run. On Yahoo Voices, I found an article by a Coach Mc entitled Simple Tips to Improve Youth Baseball Batting and Hitting. Coach Mc suggests, in order to improve functional strength and bat speed, that parents have their children squeeze tennis balls to improve hand strength (here is a video that I found that demonstrates the action), and use a forearm roller (here is a video of how to make one).  Both exercises are low stress and effective at building functional batting strength.

While Coach Mc suggests limited strength training for youths, he also suggests that repetition is another key to success for youth hitters before they reach the high school level. A common theme amongst youth hitting instructors, when it comes to how to teach hitting, is the idea of station work to improve swings and keep players excited. For example, implement three stations with six kids in each group. All stations should have a coach or parent to facilitate the activity, and it gets everyone involved. At the first station have the kids hit off tees and work on their mechanics. The second station will put the mechanics they just worked on into use through ‘soft toss’. Finally, the third station will look to utilize what they learned in the first two stations with live batting practice. Not only will their swings improve, but time will fly.


Drills to increase plate vision

Wednesday, Jan. 2nd 2013

The hitting drill of the week is the Colored Horseshoe of Baseball, by BeABetterHitter.com. The drill stresses the importance, like many of the websites other drills, of vision in hitting. For this particular drill, take a group of baseballs and color a dot with a sharpie in the horseshoe part of the baseball. Use four different colors for as many balls as you would like. Then have a pitcher throw the ball to a batter, and as the ball comes towards the hitter, have the hitter call out the color of the ball.

BeABetterHitter.com suggests that the hitter not swing at the pitches during this exercise, for safety of the pitcher, but there are other vitiations of the same drill where hitters, along with warming up their vision for in game at bats, can practice their swings.  Take a group of whiffle balls and tape them with athletic tape. Then, like the previous drill, color the whiffle ball with a dot. Use as many colors on as many balls as you like. Then throw the whiffle ball to a batter and have them call out the color of the ball before they swing at it. This version of the drill allows hitters to improve their vision while they practice their contact rate.