It is extremely frustrating when players hit ground balls all the time, especially ground balls that have no chance of getting through the infield for hits. The solution is sometimes simple, but often takes a great deal of muscle memory repetitions to improve swing mechanics.
For the possible quick fix, batters should make sure their grip is correctly in the upper palms and fingers, as a deep hand grip can cause a lack of the correct palm-up, palm-down hand position at contact. Additionally, simply lowering the hands an inch or two, or widening the stance, may allow hitters to get to the lower part of the ball. Finally, having batters concentrate on hitting the inside of the ball may help lift the ball. It is worth noting that the common suggestion of trying to hit under the ball or trying to lift it often worsens the problem and those suggestions may lead to long-term bad habits.
Generally, there is no easy fix to hitting problems. A trial and error process and a combination of multiple drills are often required to figure out the solution.
Ground balls result from hitting the top part of the ball and that occurs for a number of reasons. An incorrect initial set position before swinging often prevents the hands from getting to the level of the pitch, casting the bat or late opening hips, an early roll of the wrists and the front shoulder pulling off the ball can all lead to ground balls. In addition, losing posture by straightening up the rear leg or upper body, not staying back behind the ball and an incorrect weight transfer all lead to hitting ground balls.
To stop hitting ground balls and begin hitting balls into the air, hitting the lower half of the ball is necessary and that process begins by setting a batting tee at knee high or lower. Simply hitting the low pitch through the middle and in the air with the ball set deep in the hitting zone is a sign of a great baseball swing. Once players learn to hit line drives on knee high pitches, they are most of the way to solving the problem, as most ground balls come from pitches below waist high. Once the tee is set at knee high height, setting the tee in the middle of home plate and just a few inches in front of the batter is best to get the correct swing feedback.
It is also worth noting that players often think it is incorrect to hit the tee at all, but in order to get the desired backspin line drives, striking the very top of the tee stem is necessary, even if the tee falls over, at times. Hitting all ball on the tee usually means batters are hitting the top half of the ball.
Addressing initial hitting position, with the knob of the bat pointing down and not out, is always the first thing to good hitting mechanics. Getting to the preferred inside back of the ball is difficult with incorrect starting position at foot stride landing, especially on pitches below the waist.
Notice that setting a glove under each arm helps prevent the lead elbow from rising and the back elbow from casting out over the ball, both common problems to hitting many groundballs. This drill begins to solve the ground ball problem, as long as players open the hips and transfer their weight correct.
Another good way to make the point of the importance of start position and contact position is to have batters start in this open manner. This method shows hitters correct bat position, hip position and inside of the ball contact position. Most kids will hit line drives immediately on this open stance drill, even with the ball set at knee level, when they go for the inside half of the ball.
To coordinate the upper and lower body actions and to keep hitters staying back behind the ball, this fast knee drill is good to prevent lunging and casting the bat out over the ball. Keeping the back elbow close to the body and working with the back hip prevents casting the bat out.
Along the same lines, the following two drills help kids understand contact position. The stop swing at palm up palm down contact position, with punched line drives the desired result, as well as this inside the net hitting drill to prevent casting, helps batters square the hands and hips correctly. Players, who roll the wrist early or cast the bat out will know it with these two drills.
Many hitters lose posture by straightening their rear leg at contact - the drop knee hitting drill helps that to make sure there is a good break of the back leg and so hitters do not rise up as they swing. Practicing good upper body posture by hitting on a balance beam is good, so players know when they are pulling their head or front shoulder, as they will incorrectly fall away from home after swinging with those bad habits. Setting balls on two tees in a row helps players stay down through the swing by hitting both balls without rolling the wrists early.
Finally, Even though lead arm work may not seem like a solution, it is sometimes necessary to get hitters to drive their hands to the level of the ball. This lead arm drill works for that and reinforces good initial hitting position, as well as the necessary correct first move of the swing.
As mentioned, usually, there is no one simple solution, but finding that one drill that works or combining these drills, should lead to many less groundballs.
After this initial batting tee work, players should attempt the same drills with flipped balls and during batting practice.
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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