Shorten Your Swing with One-Handed Drills

By Bryan Sidensol, Owner of Hitting World

Having a short, compact swing is vital to a hitter’s success. Among other benefits, having a short swing enables the hitter to start their swing later, which can lead to better two-strike hitting, better opposite field hitting and more success with off-speed pitches.

As players get older, they will face better pitching which will require sound hitting mechanics. The sooner youth hitters develop a consistent short stroke, the better positioned they’ll be for long term success at the plate. Here is one great set of drills to establish the proper muscle memory for a compact swing.

One-Handed Drills

One-Handed Drills are ideal for promoting a short swing because in order to perform the drills effectively, the hitter has to swing the bat correctly. This drill is just like any basic soft toss drill, but the batter will only swing the bat with one arm. The goal is make sure each hand takes as short a path to the ball as possible.

Have the hitter use a shorter, lighter bat than they are used to. If the bat is too heavy, it will put stress on the shoulders and it will be very difficult to do the drill. The hitter will assume his normal batting stance. Have the hitter start off with the bat in their lead (bottom) hand, with their other hand pressed against their chest for balance. For better control, have the hitter choke up.

The tosser should be positioned about six feet away, at an angle. The tosser should throw the ball right around the hitter’s front hip. The hitter will try to hit the ball right back up the middle, using their normal swing. Do three sets of five swings each . As a coach, look for the hitter to keep his lead elbow down and keep the barrel of the bat above his hands.

Next, have the hitter switch hands so the bat is in their top hand. The key here is to make sure the hitter is not throwing their top hand too far out, or “casting” the bat. Again, the focus should be on a short, direct path to the ball with no wasted movement. Do three sets of five swings each.

Variations – Isolate the Hands

Taking this drill a step further, have the hitter drop to one knee when swinging with the bottom hand. It helps to drop the front knee – this will keep the shoulder in proper position. By taking the lower body out of the drill, you will further isolate the hands to focus on a short path to the ball. Keep the repetitions consistent as before. For the top hand swing, have the hitter drop to both knees. This will make it easier to perform the drill. After completing the one-handed drills, work in some regular soft toss so the hitter can put it all together.

Practicing these drills on a regular basis will give the hitter a feel for the proper hand path and will develop muscle memory to be short and quick to the ball. And that will provide a foundation of good hitting for years to come.

Bryan Sidensol is the owner of HittingWorld.com

 

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What Pitch Do You Like To Hit?

By Kevin Wilson

Watch good hitters hit and you will notice that they don’t miss their pitch very often.

And to take it a step further, they pretty much know when their pitch is coming and they are ready to attack it.

I ask many young hitters this question: “What type of pitch do you like to hit?” Most of them have to take a second to think about it. That’s NOT GOOD! You should know right away what you want to hit. It shouldn’t have to take a few seconds to register in your brain. This is part of being a good hitter.

Being aware of what you want to hit when you’re up there. You know you can hit multiple pitches, but you also know that you are the most successful hitting one type of pitch. Good hitters don’t get to higher levels without hitting this certain type of pitch. They don’t get a chance to fulfill their life-long dream of becoming a big league player without hitting this pitch.

What’s that pitch? A fastball.

Now this may not seem like rocket science. In fact, many of you reading this might have said, “Duh” when you saw the answer to my question.

But what I want to do is have you ask yourself this question: “Am I committed to hitting a certain pitch before two strikes?” If your answer is “yes” then you’re well on your way. If your answer is “no,” then I have some information for you that may help you be more consistent at the plate.

We talk about approaches and plans all the time. To each his own when it comes to this, but what all good hitters have in common is that they are hitting off the fastball.

I always tell hitters that no one is in the Hall of Fame for hitting a breaking ball.

Let me break it down to you this way. What’s the best pitch a pitcher can throw for a strike? A fastball.

As a hitter, what’s the easiest pitch to hit? A fastball.

So with this being said, what type of pitch should we be looking to hit the majority of the time when we go to the plate? Yes, a fastball.

I see a lot of guys go up and not have a solid plan, thus swinging at pretty much anything that comes near the plate. They end up getting themselves out because they aren’t committed to something specific. They walk back to the dugout saying they can’t hit anything. Of course you can’t. You aren’t giving yourself a chance to hit anything because you haven’t committed to hitting one thing.

Yes, there are times that we commit to other types of pitches with less than two strikes.That absolutely happens. But I’m trying to help you with committing to something that’s more manageable for you.

Let’s talk about getting into fastball counts. It doesn’t mean you’ll get a fastball every time but the likelihood of this happening is greater. I’ll take my chances on those counts because I’m not guessing, just simply playing the percentages and understanding how I can best get my fastball that I want to hit.

I love when guys go up there with a mindset to get a pitch they are looking for and working with that pitch and only that pitch until two strikes.The best hitters in the game are not afraid to get to two strikes. They are aggressive and ready to hit but know what pitch they will be more successful swinging at.

They also do not abandon ship when they see a pitch they’re not looking for go right down the middle for strike one. They are going to stick with the pitch they want to hit until they get two strikes. That takes courage and confidence in your plan.

How do you get to the big leagues? You hit the fastball.

How do you succeed at your level? You hit the fastball.

We are never not prepared to hit BP, right? Of course not! We are ready to hit the many fastballs we see each round. It’s just a matter of where they go.

Go hit the pitchers’ best pitch today. It happens to be your best pitch too.

Kevin Wilson is a professional hitting coach and founder of Kevin Wilson Baseball. Since 2001, Kevin has been working with hitters in MLB, MiLB, NCAA as well as elite high school players from across the country. In 2013, Kevin was the hitting coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team who won gold in Taichung, Taiwan.You can find him on twitter @KWBaseball or check out his website www.KWBaseball.com