Is your hitting game struggling? Your time at the plate doesn't have to be the most difficult aspect of your game. Include these three easy hitting drills in your daily practice to stay balanced and spinning the caps of pitchers at every level. (See also 3 Tips To Help You Become a Better Hitter.)
Load. Stride. Swing.
This tee drill provides a solid foundation for less experienced athletes by breaking the swing down to its core components. However, older collegiate athletes can also benefit from it if they're in a slump and need to retrain in basic fundamentals. This drill is simple, and it can also be used with other drills such as the Step-Back Drill.
- Set the tee up in any type of pitch location (inside, middle, outside).
- Start in your stance. Make sure you are in a balanced position. Load into the power position, which will begin the separation of your hands from your front foot.
- Keeping your weight and your hands back, stride early by landing on the inside part of your front foot. It is better to be early with your stride than late.
- With your front (stride) foot down, take a full swing with a balanced follow-through.
- Your weight should be evenly distributed between your feet as you begin your weight transfer on the swing.
These hitting drills are good for maintaining a short swing path to the ball, because if your swing is too long, you will have immediate impact, as you will not square up on the ball. They are especially good if you are casting or rolling over during a lot of at-bats [Note: These are advanced drills, mainly because younger players aren't always strong enough to hit with one hand.]
- Bottom Hand: Place your opposite hand (top hand) at your chest to take it out of the equation but yet maintain good balance in your stance. As you stride, your elbow will trigger the rest of the swing, and the knob of the bat will be on a path directly to the ball. This will keep your hands inside the ball and allow you to be quicker to the inside pitch.
- Top Hand: Again place your opposite hand (bottom hand) at your chest to keep a good frame. Keep your elbow close to your body as you stride. If you don't, you will feel the barrel of the bat leading the swing, and it will be in front of your hands, which will force you to roll over the pitch, or cast the bat.
- One-Knee Variation: If you are rolling over and over-striding, do these drills with your back knee on the ground, your front leg extended and the ball of your front foot on the ground. This will simulate a balanced stride. From this point, focus on your hand path to the ball.
This is an easy front-toss drill that can help hitters keep their weight back as they stride and begin the separation of their hands. It's also good for working on off-speed pitches. (See Gordon Beckham's Guide to Off-Speed Pitches.)
- Start in a balanced stance.
- Have a partner or coach feed from behind a screen in front of you.
- Once your partner begins the throwing motion, begin your swing by loading your hands (separation) and taking your stride.
- Instead of flipping the ball underhand, have your partner bounce the pitch half the distance so that you must wait on the ball. This will force you to get your foot down early and stay in a balanced position.
- Concentrate on staying back and driving the pitch up the middle or to the opposite field.
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