First let’s talk about softball. Many softball coaches have been able have success teaching subpar swing techniques. Why? When you get into higher level softball any girl with some size can easily hit the ball out of the park. The fences are simply short. 190’ in most parks. The Strong girls can easily hit the ball even with bad lower body mechanics. Many times I have observed softball coaches over coaching the upper body mechanics and under coaching the lower body mechanics. Many talk about leading with the elbow of the top hand without properly training the lower body to start the chain reaction. Let me say that again. CHAIN REACTION. If your swing be it baseball or softball does not start by pushing the inside of your back foot into the ground creating ground force and sends the energy up into the legs then hips and core and then through the shoulders down the arms into the hands and finally into the bat head all in that sequential order than you need to retool your swing. Like I said before, that is a lot of steps. Let’s get the list of 3 things I promised.
1) Stride Length
How long should it be? Simple. If your inseam (the seam in a pair of pants from the crotch to the bottom of the leg, or the length of this. ) then your feet should end up approximately 30 inches apart after you take your stride. This makes an equilateral triangle as demonstrated in the picture of Troy Tulowitski. Easy to remember right? I see way too many young hitters take too short of a stride. The reason we need a longer stride leads me to my next item on the list.
2) Don’t SQUISH THE BUG!!!
Sorry Coach. I used to coach this too and I understand why it’s used but unfortunately it’s wrong. Here is why. The back foot starts the chain of events that makes up a good swing much in the same way it starts a good throw. With a push into the ground with the inside of the back foot. We push to the ball which leads us into our stride and in order to use the power generated by the push the stride needs to be a decent length. We push our back knee towards our front knee by using the inside of our back foot as leverage to create power. Once we have started our back knee forward that will drive our back hip forward. As the back hip drives forward the back foot heel will start to rise straight up off the ground and then begin to follow the hip to the pitcher. So you see the back foot pushes then lifts and to follow the hip as a result of the hip rotation. The hip does not follow the foot.
Check out this picture perfect swing by Carlos Correa on youtube and watch the sequence starting with the push off of the inside of his back foot.
This is a great video not only because it is one of the best swings in the league but because of where his back foot is in the picture frame. It proves a point. When you spin your back foot (squish the bug) the heel actually travels backward away from it’s original position. If Correa did this half his foot would disappear off of the screen. Instead because he pushes toward the oncoming ball notice his heel comes straight up off the ground and then the foot turns toward the pitcher slightly after the hips turn toward the pitcher. Now go back and look at his stride length and notice the equilateral triangle he makes with the distance between back foot, crotch and front foot. The next part of the sequence leads us to our 3rd and final tip.
3) Keep the bat VERTICAL as long as possible
This allows you to stay away from the number one swing flaw of young hitters. BAT DRAG. In my experience 99% of young hitters have the bat drag flaw. This is where a back elbow or top hand elbow beats the hands to the ball. The elbow should stay behind the hands to and through the ball. Go back to the Correa swing and watch his back elbow. Compare that to this photo. At no time does Carlos’ back (top hand) elbow beat the hands to the ball.
You can clearly see this young man’s back elbow way in front of his hands. Classic bat drag. We see it in both baseball and softball players. How do we stop it? Have your hitter start with a contact drill. Use some kind of a pad that won’t damage the hitter’s bat. Heavy Bags work great for this. Have them put their bat on their shoulder and strike the pad in slow motion at first keeping the bat on their shoulder and vertical for a long as possible meaning don’t lift the bat off the shoulder and go toward the ball until they absolutely have to take the bat to the ball. This will keep the elbow at least even with or better yet behind the hands through impact. This makes for a short swing and staying on the plane of the ball longer. As they get better at that they can increase the speed of the swing but make sure they freeze when they strike the pad or bag. There is a progression to the steps and drills to break this habit but it would simply take too long to go through in this blog. Below is a video by Rich Lavelle. He is an Epstein Certified Trainer like myself. He is going to show you the impact drill with some extra tips not discussed in this blog.
Thanks for reading my blog. I am sure you have a lot of questions still. I am always here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a video swing analysis or private lessons. Hope you all have a great season!CONTACT US