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Thursday, September 17, 2009
Do You Have a "Cheat Sheet" for Your Hitters?
By Chip Lemin
I have posted three drills and a small cheat sheet for hitting. I find it very helpful to catalog all my drills on my computer,print them off and save them.When I want to spice up practice, I get them out and make a new practice planner.
Know the Count drill
Station a coach seated behind an L-screen approximately 30 feet away from the hitter (coach should wear helmet and stay well behind the screen.) The coach can pinpoint the corners and move the ball up and down throwing a high percentage of strikes from this distance. The hitter is forced to react quickly.
To further the effectiveness of the drill we have the coach shout a count just before delivering the ball (i.e. 3-0, or 1-2, etc.). This forces the hitter to think about the type of hitting situation that they are confronted with before offering. For example, in a 3 ball situation the hitter may decide to take a questionable pitch for ball 4 whereas in a 2 strike situation they must guard the dish. Also we will vary the situational hitting by having the coach shout out where runners are as well as out count. This further reinforces the concept of productive at bats while giving a mental focus to what can otherwise become a repetitive drill.
Be sure to have your coaches mix in off speed pitches at anytime in the count. Chang ups are off speed pitches. This helps your hitters to keep balanced so that they hit this pitch. Mix in bunting situations also to work on squeezes and sacrifice bunts.
This is a great drill to develop bunting skills. The drill involves 5 players in each group. The players may use the pivot or square around bunt technique. The batter must bunt the ball to each of the four fielders.
The hitter bunts one to each and then takes the left fielders (facing the batter) place. The right fielder comes to bat and the other move over one place. The coach should emphasize that the batters bunt the ball softly to the fielders. The bat should be keep at a 45 degree angle and the batter should change height by bending the knees.
Fielders should catch the ground ball, bare-handed, out front, then square the feet around and throw the next strike to the hitter. This makes a great warm up drill for the beginning of practice. Defensive skills should also be stressed.
Full Count Game
This is a great game simulation drill that teaches hitters to be aggressive and to hit under pressure. Two teams face off in a 7 inning game with each batter coming into the box with a full count. Action is quick and players must be alert both offensively and defensively. The count may also be changed to 2-2 and each team can be given one out to start the inning.
This game can be done indoors also. Just have coaches determine whether or not it was a hit where the runners would have gone based on the hitter's skill level. It is a great change of pace drill. The kids will love it.
Hitting Cheat Sheet
Coach your players to learn the strike zone, so they don't swing at bad pitches. It sounds like common sense, but don't assume anything. Be sure players select a bat they can handle. It's better for bat to be on the light side than too heavy.
Keep your front shoulder and chin tucked in, and your hands back. Turn your head so that both eyes are on the pitcher - don't look around your nose. Stay on the balls of your feet - keep off your heels. Keep your head still.
In order to get the bat started, move your hands back slightly as the pitcher is getting ready to release the ball. This is known as the"trigger". If you like the pitch, go ahead and hit it. If you don't like the pitch, then hold up your swing.
Take a short step and stride - a long stride will only throw you off balance Use this small stride as a timing step. Many hitters widen their stances and take no stride at all.
Stay on top of the ball. A slight downward swing allows this and is a good way to keep from upper-cutting. Keeping the front shoulder in and down also allows a hitter to get the bat head out in front and prevents dropping the back shoulder.
Learn to hit your strength. Every hitter has strength, just as every hitter has a weakness. Instruct your hitters to look for their pitch to hit. When they get it, don't let it get away. Concentrate on solid, hard contact. Your players do not have to pull the ball if the pitch is middle out
There are many ways and drills to help your young hitters. Always be open to new ideas as a coach. That's one of the secrets that the elite coaches use. They never think that they know it all. I hope you find these quick hitter tips useful.
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Posted by Coach's Profile: at 4:24 AM