PR Log -- Batting a baseball is a difficult skill to master. This is often an especially frustrating task for a child. Successful batting requires body control and sound mechanics.
In this article I will discuss some basics of hitting and introduce a few simple little league baseball drills aimed at improving technique.
The most important thing your kid can do is to watch the ball all the way to the bat.
They should practice watching the ball hit the bat.
See the Ball, Hit the BallOne of the many simple little league baseball drills your child can do to improve "picking up the ball" is to stand, chin on front shoulder (for a right handed batter). As they swing the chin should come to rest on the back shoulder.
A simple batting tee is helpful in enhancing this skill. Soft toss is an effective alternative little league baseball drill used to teach this technique. Furthermore, this is a good drill for developing bat speed.
Finding BalanceThe second basic rule of hitting is balance. Your child, or anyone else for that matter, must have balance to be a successful hitter.
As a general guideline have your child stand with their feet about shoulder width apart. This is flexible manypeople feel more comfortable with a slightly exaggerated open stance (feet wide apart) and others a closed stance (feet close together)
Whatever their stance make sure they can swing the bat and stay balanced, they will benefit and be more consistent in the long term.
The upper body muscles play a pivotal role in a fluid swing. In fact, bat speed has as much, if not more, to do with hitting for power than lower body strength. Remember to swing quick and compact, hot hard.
A simple adjustment of the swing to avoid over extending the arms can help achieve a shorter swing. A shorter swing speeds your bat up through the strike zone, creating more power.
Many coaches refer to this technique as throwing the bat at the ball because in effect the batter is throwing the head of the bat at the ball.
It's All in the Hands
The last prime component of the upper body in batting is the hands. Most batters hold their hands around chest level with the bat out in front. Again, this is a general guideline and not a rule, the most important thing is that your child is comfortable holding the bat.
When batting, it is also important to remember to never drop the hands prior to swinging. A lot of players drop their hands before they swing, meaning they dip the hands from the chest to the stomach. This drastically cuts down on reaction time to a pitch. Often batters that swing late do so because they drop their hands. They cannot make up the time they lost by dropping the hands resulting in a late swing. The soft toss drill is one of several little league baseball drills used for developing quick wrists and strong hands.
Additionally, a tennis ball can serve as strength and conditioning tool simply by repeatedly squeezing it. Stronger hands equal more bat speed.
The last component to successful hitting is in the lower body. As previously mentioned good balance is mandatory for a proper swing. The biggest mistake hitters make is over striding, resulting in an off balance swing. Instead of taking a giant, clumsy step, have your child lift the front (left foot for a right handed batter) off the ground and simply place it back on the ground. This helps to keep their weight back, a crucial element to hitting well and for power.
The other key role of the lower body is the hip twist. A drill called "squashing the bug" is one of several effective little league baseball drills to teach hip twisting. In this drill, the batter will hold out their left arm (for a right handed batter) in front of their body and hit the left hand with the right mimicking a one armed swing. The drill should be used to emphasize correct usage of the feet and maintaining proper balance. The batter should look to sharply turn the right, or back, ankle as if to squash a bug with the toes.
Remember the core components of hitting, balance; see the ball and careful timing between the upper and lower muscle groups of the body. Hitting and hitting well is a difficult task. Improvement will only come with the development sound habits, practice and work ethic.