Common Hitting Problems
Lunging is one of the most common hitting problems for young and older players alike. The issue stems from having a fastball timed and everything set for that pitch and then having the pitcher throw and off-speed pitch. The hitter then tries to hold the bat back while the body continues the swing and the end result is a horrible swing where the hitter appears to be lunging after the ball and usually results in a strike or very weak contact.
Cause: The most common cause of lunging is a batter's inability to stay back until he is able to determine the speed of the pitch. In a previous section I discussed starting the swing, the player that lunges often is a player who begins their swing too soon. So if the pitch is a fastball, he will be fine, any other pitch and the problem occurs. There can be a couple of reasons a player will initiate their swing too early:
- Hitter has a slow swing and has difficulty catching up to the fastball.
- Hitter has a long stride, high leg kick or some other movement that requires them to get things going early.
- Hitter is not picking up the ball well out of the pitcher's hand and is having trouble recognizing the pitch.
Everyone is going to get fooled once in awhile, but the player who more often than not will have this happen on an off-speed pitch has a real issue that needs to be addressed.
Fix: Although picking up the pitch early can be the problem, most of the time it's one of the other two. If everything looks good in the pre-swing mechanics of the player, then I would address trying to pick up the ball earlier. See Picking up the Pitcher Releaase Point for information to work with the hitter on.
For most hitters the problem comes from something taking too long or having their weight shift forward too early. Let's look at a couple examples and what you might try to help them.
- Player has high leg kick
Some players will pick up their front leg rather than having a stride or have this as part of their stride. If the leg kick is too high, the player will have to start the downward movement of the front leg too soon in order to be able to start the swing and hit the fastball. Work with this player on reducing the height of the leg kick and being able to hold that position for a split second when the off-speed pitch comes.
- Player has a long stride
Some players start with their legs closer together and take a long stride. This is the old slow pitch softball swing that is difficult to carry into higher levels of baseball. The reason for this is that weight shift always happens during the stride, so it is almost impossible for a player to keep his weight back when faced with an off-speed pitch. Rather than shortening the stride, most of the time I'll work with a player to spread out farther in their stance so they can be more balanced, stride later, and keep their weight back longer.
Key Point: I'm a big believer in having a short compact swing. Being able to wait as long as possible to start the swing is critical to the ability of a player to have a short compact swing. A hitter that has a problem with lunging generally doesn't have that short compact swing. Talk with them about that. Video tape their swing and show them what you are talking about. As with most things it can be difficult for a player to feel that they are long and slow rather than short and quick. Most times a small adjustment can be made that will really help the player. Help them determine and work on that adjustment. It will take reps and attention to detail but the hitter will benefit greatly.
Hello. I wanted to thank you and let you know I used the motivational patches last year for a team of 1st and 2nd graders. I started with a group that made me think it was going to be a long season but once we instituted the patches in the second game the difference was night and day. Kids were hustling for the bolt patch (the favorite), earned their pitching privilege stripe with the baseball patch, and showed much greater effort to earn Attitude and Defense patches.
- Matt V.