Common Swing Problems – Wrapping the Bat

Monday, Aug. 17th 2009

Wrapping the bat is a common problem for young hitters when they are trying to “load” to hit for power. When they set their hands, they let the barrel of the bat tip way over towards the pitcher. There are several significant problems caused by wrapping the bat. First, this greatly increases the distance the barrel of the bat needs to travel to the ball. Greater distance means slower bat speed and reduced reaction time. Second, when a batter gets into this “wrapped” position, this also often straightens out the front arm. This also slows bat speed and makes it very difficult to get the hands inside the ball on an inside pitch.

We always want to keep the swing as short, quick and simple as possible. More movement and distance make hitting the ball more difficult than it already is.

Yes, you’ve probably seen some of the pros “wrap” the bat. But they have the strength and timing necessary to get the ball into the proper hitting position. You will see many unusual hitting techniques in the pros. However, you will almost always see very sound hitting mechanics at contact.

Tips and Drills to Correct Wrapping the Bat
I like to teach hitters to start the at bat by resting the bat on the shoulder (really between the collar bone and the front of the shoulder), Then just lift the bat up about 5-6 inches. This puts the bat and hands in an excellent hitting position.

After getting the proper setup in step 1, practice bat speed drills that will help the hitter understand the concept of having to get the bat efficiently to the ball. One way to do this is by standing in front and across from the batter (sort of like soft toss) and holding a ball over their head and dropping it. (Be careful to stand where you won’t get hit or use tennis balls). See if the batter can hit the dropping ball. They will understand really quickly that if they wrap the bat, they will never hit a fast or inside pitch.

Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on the ultimate weapon for solving this and many other common hitting problems.


Common Hitting Problems – Plate Positioning

Sunday, Jul. 19th 2009

It may sound simple but where the batter stands in relation to the plate has a huge impact on the ability to hit the ball. There are two elements to plate positioning. The first is the distance from the plate and the second is the distance from the pitcher.

Distance
If they are too close, it will be difficult to hit the inside pitch and may have trouble hitting the ball on the sweet spot. Standing too far away, they may not be able to cover the outside of plate making it difficult if not impossible to hit the outside pitch. Both of these problems can also add to “stingers” particularly for younger players who may hit the ball in on the hands or on the end of the bat. We suggest a younger play (under 10) line up about one foot from the plate. As players get older, they will need to move back up to two feet to allow for longer arms and a longer bat.

Depth
The distance from the pitcher is also important. The farther back a player is, the more reaction time they have but the lower the pitch is likely to be. Players or coaches may have to adjust for certain pitchers/umpires and preference but typically a hitter should line up with their front foot pointed directly at the middle of the plate.

It always helps to have an “at bat routine”. Stay tuned for a routine that can lead to hitting success.