Swing, batter, batter, swing! This week, we’ll provide drills to help you perfect your swing. The main things we’ll focus on are the feet, the head, and the hands. The alignment and posturing of these three key areas go a long way in terms of making good contact with the ball. Seeing, recognizing, and adjusting to the location of each pitch over the course of an at-bat is also key to success in the batter’s box.
The prolific Ken Griffey Jr. once gave a very relevant quote: “[Hitting] is like jousting. If the pitcher throws the ball away, hit it to opposite field; if he throws it inside, pull it.”
Reacting accordingly to whatever your opponent throws at you (literally) is crucial. Outlined below are a handful of drills that will help you nail down these important fundamentals, and prepare you for in-game situations. Find a bucket of baseballs and get to hitting!
Dry Cut Drill
Prolific development coach Brian Smith paints each swing as a four-step process: load, stride, see the ball, and hit the ball.
Obviously, this is easier said than done!
This first drill is designed to familiarize hitters with these four steps, to the point that they eventually become ingrained in their minds.
Have the hitter assume his or her normal stance. When the coach yells out “one,” the hitter should load the legs and bat into starting position. Smith says the knob of the bat should point to the other team’s batter’s box at this stage.
On the “two” count, the hitter begins his or her stride and begins to transfer power with the lower body.
At “three,” the coach also yells out a pitch location, such as inside, outside, middle, high, or low. The key here is for the hitter to focus on this location: decide how to make contact, and where to put the ball into play.
By the “four” count, the hitter swings the bat to the pitch location. Smith says the back shoelaces should face center field if the hips have transferred power correctly. During every swing, the head should remain stationary as the shoulders rotate.
Baseballs are “flipped” or tossed at various locations in the strike zone. At the front hip to simulate inside pitches, from behind for an outside pitch, and from the front of the hitter for a middle pitch.
A bucket of baseballs and accurate tosses are keys to this drill. The hitter will know which ball location to expect, and through repetition, develop a unique plan of attack that is consistent.
Here’s a short video that demonstrates the flip drill and its desired outcome.
Basically, the Tee Drill is the same as the Flip Drill with the exception of the stationary baseball. The goal is the same: recognizing outside, middle, and inside pitches to hit them a certain way. As you can see in the video linked above, the hitter hits outside pitches to the opposite field and pulls inside pitches.
A ball on a tee may seem too simplistic. It is straightforward, but can also be vitally important. The hitter learns the relationship between pitch location, bat connection, and ball placement. When faced with a full-speed pitch in any of these locations, the hitter should know the steps required to put the ball in play.
Live Batting Practice
Once the four-step fundamental has been drilled into hitters, they’re ready to put their swing into practice. Live pitches require that all these aspects be put together in only a split second. If a hitter isn’t hitting or placing the ball correctly over time, return to the earlier drills.
Last week, we passed along two swing tips from the Kansas City Royals’ Alex Gordon. Hopefully these drills help cement those fundamentals.
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