Players have reasons for opting out of the MLB All-Star Game home run derby. The main reason for opting out provides one of many hitting lessons for young hitters.
Many people, who do not know baseball hitting, do not know the damage that home run derby makes on players. The damage I am talking about is not an injury risk, even though that is one of the given reasons for choosing not to partake in the MLB home run derby. Of course, if players have a slight injury already, it is wise to not participate. However, the chance of injury from participating in the derby is minimal, as players are used to swinging the bat hundreds of times a day, and with the game like speeds. Even though much time exists between rounds, players warmup enough before each round. The reason players opt out, and the hitting lesson for young players is that trying to hit home runs usually means attempting to pull the ball.
The fences are shorter down the lines and pulling balls is easier than hitting to the opposite field, when going for distance. However, thinking pull and practicing the swing and timing it takes to pull balls, often leads to bad swing mechanics and bad timing. To pull balls, players must plan on hitting pitches out front of home plate more than on other pitch locations, and that may cause timing problems after. Additionally, home run derby often leads to batters pulling their front shoulder off balls prematurely. The key point is that it only takes one-hitting practice session, as with home run derby, to mess up player's swings and hitting timing. Once players timing and mechanics are off, it can take many hitting sessions to recover, time that players cannot afford once the regular season games begin again.
With that in mind, young players should learn the following lessons to maintain hitting mechanics and timing, which home run derby does not help:
It was impressive watching Yoenis Cespedes win the home run derby again and very understandable he won it. If you watched closely, he kept his head down all through the swing, even to the point of not even looking to see where his numerous home runs landed. He simply let his lower half work, kept his bat through the hitting zone, without yanking his front shoulder off the pitches. A great hitting clinic for young players to emulate. Hitting is about staying under control, applying good hitting mechanics and letting the swing and lower half of the body work. With those concepts of hitting, players will hit balls as far as they can without trying to over swing and pull off balls.
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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