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HITTING: Swing faults and some methods
* * Swing faults and some methods to correcting them * *
The Batting Dip
Over the years, like many coaches, I have taught players to keep their back elbow up, thinking that it would help the to move the bat faster through the swing. Well, what I found was that at the start of the swing, the bat dips and stays down. The first, and most obvious cause, is that the bat is too heavy. Another, less obvious, cause is that the player is pushing with his back arm. What I have found is that the batter often needs to pull the bat more with his front arm. To work on this I have the player stand as though he is holding an imaginary bat. Then I have him grasp the thumb of the front hand with is back hand (as though his thumb was the bat). Then I have him to through a batting motion, pulling with is front arm while resisting back arm. This is actually a great isometric exercise. The results are surprising. Not only does the bat stay level, a side result is that the batter utilizes both arms (not just the back) to hit the ball.
Late Swing
This one is classic, especially with younger (12 & under) players. Too often the batter is instructed to keep his "eye on the ball" and to actually watch the bat make contact. Well that's just what he is trying to do. As a result, the batter usually starts the swing as the ball passes through the strike zone. To help the batter visualize, with the player in batting position and "eye on the ball", I walk the ball (in hand extended from my body) through its path from the mount through the strike zone to the catcher's mitt. Then I repeat this action pausing several feet in front of the batter, explaining that it is here that the attack (hit) needs to start. As I complete the path (of the pitch) I speed-up as the ball passes through the path, emphasizing how the ball appears to accelerate. Finally, I place a ball on to a tee several feet in front of the player and have him image attacking the "moving" ball out in front. I have had great results using this method. Even with some of my better batters, resulting in them being more consistent in driving the ball up the middle of the field.
Wild Swing
Another classic. The sluggers often fall into this trap. They try to knock the cover off the ball and sometimes actually crush one, with some luck. yet, most often the results is an crucial out. To help here, I use a simple aid - a ball on a wand (available at most sports stores) or on a rope (drill a 1/4" hole and force a strong cord through tying a knot to keep it on). The objective is to have the batter just make contact, not crush, the ball. Of course the hidden intent is to teach the batter some patience and self-discipline. Finally, during situation practice, I instruct every batter to just make contact. This gives the infielders a good work out and actually helps the batter to learn to hit to a position. The final test comes during game time. Again the results usually are evident.

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