When players are striking out often, there are three things to address, mechanics, timing, and vision. The two baseball coaching hitting mechanics drills I use are best done on a batting tee or with straight on flipped balls, before trying them with regular batting practice. Usually, players with pretty good swings miss under the baseball so address the bat path.
To avoid a dip in the bat barrel or a drop of the hands, this two-ball drill, when players try to miss the rear ball, is a good way to eliminate those hitting problems. Line drives are still the goal with this drill, however, even if groundballs result with this drill, it is better than no contact. Of course, doing it on a tee is one thing, but things often change for batters with a pitched ball, so coaches should then try something similar with flipped balls or with batting practice by setting the batting tee at hip high and underneath the players' hands. Players should miss the tee on their approach to the ball. Once again, ground balls may result with this drill but muscle memory change requires opposite actions until contact arrives, with the eventual goal of meeting in the middle with the correct swing. Once players avoid hitting the batting tee and make contact, they can then begin practicing hitting the inside back of the ball to turn contact into consistent line drives.
The second mechanics drill keeps batter's front shoulder on the ball with a complete weight transfer by picking their rear knee up as they swing. This action keeps the front shoulder going to the ball and prevents pulling the front side out early. This hitting drill levels out the hips, avoiding a collapsing backside. As with the previous drills, even though these drills may not be the exact way to swing a bat correctly, they serve to change muscle memory and bring the contact that was absent. Other drills that keep the front shoulder from flying open, as seen here, can work to bring on the necessary contact.
Fixing hitters' timing by finding out what speed pitches players are missing is good. Alternating pitch speeds in batting practice with a three-speed approach, a slow speed, followed by a medium speed and then a fast speed works to figure that out. Coaches should then challenge hitters by throwing more speeds of the players weakness.
Finally, batters may not be seeing balls very well, or they may be thinking of their mechanics more than watching the ball, so having players perform some vision drills always serves as a good reminder. Having players yell out as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher's hand helps get their eyes and concentration where it needs to be. Also, having players keep their eyes on the ball all the way to contact and even after swinging is good, as well as watching non swing balls all the way to the catcher's glove. Setting an object down or flashing numbers in the contact area during practice helps players recognize the importance of watching balls to contact. These baseball coaching drills and tips may not eliminate all strikeouts, but they give players a better chance at contact.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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