Jack Perconte here - Stay with me on this one it may seem a little complicated and a little long winded, but the solution to this hitting problem is little known, but necessary to fix this difficult to overcome and most common hitting problem. The good news is that these two hitting drills solve many hitting problems, with the understanding that patience, practice, and consistency is necessary. Additionally, this is not only a problem with young ballplayers, as even major league hitters hands get lazy at times, too.
The most common hitting mechanics flaw and one that leads to many other hitting problems is a dragging bat, when the knob of the bat pushes up and out before, or at some time during the swing. This action produces an elbow leading swing. It is easier to notice when the front elbow comes up, as seen here, but recognizing an incorrect back elbow is much trickier. Notice in fast motion, this swing looks pretty good, but in slow motion, note how the back elbow comes in at the wrong angle, causing the bat head to drag through the zone.
Notice with the correct swing, the lead elbow and knob stay down, as the back elbow comes to the body with the elbow facing down.
Other common signs of this problem for inexperienced coaches to watch for is the initial dropping of the hands, a wandering bat barrel and an early roll of the wrists, leading to a lower than desired follow through.
What also makes this analysis difficult is that these type hitters have success at the lower levels of ball, as they are still able to arrive at the necessary and correct palm-up palm down, contact position. However, this hitting flaw does not allow them to get to the correct contact position as quickly as they need to, when facing more advanced pitching, in their future, and is why these type swings do not stand the test of time.
The cause of the problem is either incorrect hitting position when the stride foot lands and/or inefficient hand and forearm strength. Another cause, and one that happened to me occasionally in the major leagues, was an over reliance at trying to stay inside the ball on the approach to the swing. Even though that is a correct hitting fundamental, it sometimes leads to this problem, as hitters stay inside the ball by leading with the elbows instead of the hands. Of course, that is why hitting and coaching hitting are tricky things, even the correct teachings may lead to problems.
It is important to note that the lead elbow may lead slightly on high pitches and this is OK as long as the back elbow is in the correct position.
The solutions to this problem are drills that force hitters to use their hands, along with establishing the correct hitting position at stride foot landing. When the led elbow begins noticeably above the rear elbow the problem is almost inevitable.
One solution has players setting a glove under both armpits before swinging, but most kids are not going to stand for picking them up for long, as the gloves fly out after the correct extended follow through.
The two best drills to fix this elbow swing are lead arm swings at low pitches, in the manner shown, which force the lead hand to the ball, preventing the wandering front elbow, developing lead hand and forearm strength.
The second part to solve this hitting problem is the one that most coaches don't know. By having hitters hit the high and away pitch in a manner where they actually try to hook the ball to their pull side it forces the top hand to activate immediately, If the hands drop or the top hand is lazy they will strike the lower ball and not pull the ball. This casting action prevents the back elbow from bending in the wrong way, the initial cause of the dragging bat barrel. The casting out is not the correct swing either, but necessary to solve the problem of bringing the back elbow up incorrectly.
Once again, as with all hitting drills, it is important that coaches insist that players begin the bat in the correct position of the knob of the bat pointing at the catcher's feet before swinging.
As mentioned, both of these drills help build hand strength and the activation of the hands immediately with the swing. Once again, this is a very difficult habit to break, so performing thee two drills over a long period is usually necessary. Simply going back and forth between these two drills solve many problems and can help players develop a great swing.
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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