In this one of many free baseball videos, I offer hitting tips for helping batters to stay back and wait for balls.
If you ask major league hitters what their biggest problem is, many would say, "staying back." That was true for me when I played major league baseball. It takes very good hitting fundamentals and confidence for hitters to trust themselves to wait for the ball. When hitters do not stay back, they commit their weight early, losing power, and becoming vulnerable on off- speed pitches. The ability to keep the weight back and wait for the ball is crucial for hitting success.
Of course, if major league hitters have troubles staying back, young hitters do too. A long swing is often the cause of batters being unable to wait. A long swing forces hitters to cheat by jumping at the pitch. Like most hitting issues, rarely is the solution simply telling hitters to "stay back" or "wait for the ball." Therefore, the first key to staying back is the development of a compact swing.
The following drills also help. This first drill has hitters drive their back knee to the ball after the stride, while coordinating the upper and lower body. Hitters cannot have a fast back knee with any kind of lunging action.
This second drill has batters freeze on the swing finish and can be done with t work, soft toss, or batting practice. Hitters hold their finish with two hands on the bat making sure they can see the bat barrel on the home plate side of home. Batters who do not stay back will be unable to get to this finished position with two hands on the bat and with their head back and centered. Most young hitters who let go of the bat with their top hand after contact do so because they did not stay back and therefore cannot finish the hip turn, which causes them to let go of the bat with the top hand. Having hitters simply get to this finished position makes an immediate difference with learning to stay back.
The net behind the hitter drill develops a compact swing by missing the net initially. It also forces them to stay back as the object is to hit the net on their follow through. It is important that hitters at least get close to hitting the net on the follow through without pulling the head or front shoulder. When done correctly, the batter's weight should remain on the balls of the feet with their head in towards home plate. This drill works with regular batting practice, as well as with dropped or flipped balls. If hitters over stride or lunge they will not be close to the net on their follow through, which should be pointed out to the hitter as incorrect.
Finally, part of staying back is making sure the hands do not drift forward. A pad under the lead arm helps this idea. Even if a batter gets out front with their weight, by keeping their hands back, a must to keep the pad from falling out too soon, hitters have a chance at meeting the ball solidly. This is a good method to teach young players to hit the curve ball, also.
Finally, alternating slow pitching with fast pitching in batting practice helps hitters learn to stay back, too.
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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