I am an ex-minor league baseball player, and currently an administrator in the public school setting. I have coached high school and college baseball, however, I have really begun to break down the hitting of the young baseball player since working with my young son, who now is 8-years-old.
My tip/technique deals with young players stepping out or away from the flight of the ball.
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Stepping out seems to be a major problem with young players; it prevents the bat from being in the hitting zone long enough to make consistent contact or inhibits proper plate coverage. The technique that has been successful in my teachings is to have the young hitter raise the back heel so only the balls of the feet and toes are in contact with ground.
It is really difficult mechanically to step out when the hitter's back foot is raised. In addition to being virtually impossible to step out, this technique allows the youth hitter to accomplish several other necessary hitting musts:
- Makes pivoting the back foot much easier, thus allowing the hips to explode on the ball.
- Weight transfer tends to remain in center of the stance instead of overcompensating one way or the other.
- Shortens the stride.
- The hitter focuses on pivoting and rotating on the center of gravity axis, instead of lunging.
This has worked for my son and several of my younger players. My son was seven last season, and was hitting the ball in excess of 150 feet.
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From the Ground Up
Another important factor in teaching the young hitter making the transition from T-Ball to Minor league is to teach them that the swing begins in the downward plane before leveling off and ending high. T-Ball creates a swing that makes young hitters begin their swing in the upward plane. Kids want to see the ball fly off the tee, so therefore, they naturally swing up to get the desired results.
Kids must be taught to start down--because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line--and most hittable pitches are down in the zone. T-Ball leagues should buy tees that promote the downward arc swing.
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In summary, the two major problems I have seen in young hitters is stepping out and swinging in the upward plane. When these problems are rectified, the hitter has more success making contact, and thus has a better baseball experience. After all, the goals of youth leagues is for kids to have a great experience, so they will develop a love for the game. Excessive K's will not develop a love for the game, but will drive the youth away.
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