Common Hitting Problems
You may have a player or two that are having a difficult time getting around on the ball and seem to be swinging late more often than not. This can become more obvious during the summer when the competition level often increases and young players face better and harder throwing pitchers. Being behind on a pitcher doesn't necessarily mean they have a slow bat, often it simply means they are not ready to swing when they need to be. Have those players try the following tips to see if they can develop a quicker bat.
- Better Balance - many players will coil and go back before taking their stride or start with their weight back. If you see this in a player that is having a difficult time getting around, have them move their starting position closer to center. Next have them emphasize putting their weight on the inside of the back foot. They should now feel like the most natural movement is forward. If the player coils, have them minimize that movement and keep the weight on the inside of the back foot. If they can accomplish this, then they are ready to take a stride and swing and hopefully will see a difference in the time it takes them to start their swing after deciding to swing.
- Loosen Up - easier said than done, but with better pitching will also come greater pressure on the hitter. Some kids will try to handle that pressure by trying harder and even putting more pressure on themselves. Tight muscles are slower than relaxed muscles and for a hitter the key to being relaxed lies in the hands. If you think a hitter is too tense and needs to relax, have them lift their fingers off the bat and then back on while they are in their stance. They can do this as a reminder to not tighten up. This will keep their hands loose and in turn keep their body loose.
- Shorten up that stride - some players who have been successful with a longer stride in the past will need to adjust it as they move up in competition and face harder throwing pitchers. If you have a player that has a long stride and it having difficulty, have them shorten their stride. Sometimes this can be easier to accomplish by widening the stance slightly.
- See the Ball - if a hitter is not picking up the ball out of the pitcher's hand, then it's difficult to make a quick decision and get the bat around on time. Work with the hitter to consistently try to pick the ball out of the pitcher's hand. Have him do this every time he plays catch or takes batting practice. Picking the ball up early is critical to proper timing, especially when facing a hard throwing pitcher.
Hopefully one or more of these tips will help a hitter get the swing started sooner and provide them with better timing.