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Friday, October 30, 2009
Baseball Drills - 5 Key Steps to a Great Swing
By Bill Bathe
These are baseball drills that will make you a better hitter. I am often asked about what makes up a great swing. And what baseball drills can I use. As in baseball and in golf, you have to have some key elements in place for you to have a great swing. One that is consistent, repeatable, and powerful. So how do you accomplish this? I am glad you asked.
You cannot have a consistent swing without the proper foundation in place. All the baseball drills in the world won't mean anything unless you have good balance. And this all begins with the basics. And the one that is dear to my heart and, in my opinion, is the most important component of the swing is balance. So how do you get balance? It begins with the right stance (I like feet parallel facing pitcher). Taking the right stride (weight on back leg and just gliding your front foot six to eight inches forward on instep). Weight is still back. After the stride, you take your swing, which I will get into later. At every point during your setup and swing, you should remain balanced. You should not be falling over or falling side to side. If you are, you have a balance problem and you need to constantly adjust it to get to the right balance point. Without balance, you cannot consistently have a repeatable swing or consistent approach on all the pitches. The fastball, curveball, changeup, and other pitches. Practice your approach constantly. Making sure you have good balance at start, during, and after swing.
As I mentioned in the previous point, you need to have a consistent stride with proper weight distribution. You also need to be quiet with your front foot and not aggressive. What do I mean by this? Having a consistent stride with weight on backside provides you with a constant approach to the ball. One that is repeatable and one that you can build upon. Let me make a point quite clear. How can you develop your swing if you are off balance all the time, or always taking a different stride? The answer is you cannot. Ever wonder how the 300 hundred hitters stay consistent year after year? Because they have proper balance, the same stride, and the same approach to the ball. It does not matter if it is a fastball or curveball, because what they are thinking about is if it is a strike and in the zone they are looking for. Why? Because they have the repeatable swing, one that is consistent. Also, keep the front foot quiet as mentioned before. You want to stay quiet in your approach and see the ball.
What do I mean by this? It is a simple principle but often not used correctly. You have to go back before you go forward. As the pitcher is in his windup, you should be slightly coiling back or cocking your body. It is different for everyone and sometimes referred to as a triggering mechanism. It is all the same. As you cock or coil, your head should be staying still while your hands or arms are cocking slightly. You should also feel like your weight is really on your backside. I used to feel like I was sitting down in a chair on my right side. After the game, sometimes my right thigh and leg would be aching from putting so much weight and drive into it during the game. You need to feel like you are coming back before you can go forward. It does help you to make your swing consistent and powerful.
4- See the ball.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to see the ball. I am sure you have heard people say that the baseball was as big as beach ball. Or that they are not seeing the ball well and it looks like a golf ball. These are all terms to describe how they are feeling at the plate. If you have applied the above principles of balance, stride, and loading, then you should be seeing the ball just fine. Players get in trouble when they are out of sync and it is due to them not seeing the ball. One triggers the other. Not seeing the ball, over striding, too aggressive, bad balance, bad swing! If you are doing things properly and taking the right approach to the ball, then your swing should be short and sweet and you are not trying to do too much with it. Then you are locked in and you will be able to see the ball great. Which means you can wait on the ball and not be fooled by off speed pitches. There is not enough pages here to go into depth about the right approach to the ball, but I will cover that another time. You can always visit my website to learn more.
5- Strike zone.
If you do not know the strike zone, then how can you have a repeatable swing? You cannot. This is vitally important to being a great hitter, not a good hitter, a great hitter. You should know the strike zone inside and out. And then develop your swing by swinging at balls in the strike zone. Hitting is tough enough by itself, let alone trying to hit when you are swinging at balls out of the strike zone. Your goal should be to only swing at balls in the strike zone and in your area that you are looking for, once you have identified your area that you like. Example: looking for balls in the outer two-thirds of the plate.
One last point. You should be able to stride, stop your swing, and wait 5 seconds and then hit a ball off of a tee. If you are doing everything properly, by waiting 5 seconds, your balance should be fine and your weight and hands back.. You should still be able to take a good swing from this position. If not, keep practicing until you can. This simulates waiting on a curveball or changeup, and still be in a position to take it to right field. Keep practicing!
Bill Bathe - former major league ballplayer who played for the Oakland A's and S.F. Giants and played in the 1989 world series. Was tutored under such greats as Eddie Matthews, Billy Williams, Harmon Killebrew, and Dusty Baker to name a few. Website is http://www.pro-baseball-drills-and-equipment.com
You can also contribute to the forum at http://www.billbatheforum.com
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