Hitters dervie a large part of their power, and ability to make contact, from their stride. Here is a unique DIY solution to fine-tuning a young player's hitting stride with the use of a "stride box."
What is a Stride Box?
This is a device that I carry around with me in my coach's bag along with a myriad of other gadgets such as my 60-feet tape measure, glasses repair kit, glove restringing kit, rosin, Second Skin for the pitchers' blisters and a lot of other necessary things.
There is a variation to the original "stride box" that will be mentioned later.
How to Make a Stride Box
A "stride box" is merely a couple of 2x4's secured together to form a right angle. The sides are about a foot long each.
I stand the 2x4s on end so that if the player does happen to over-stride her foot will be stopped by the front of the stride box--and not allowed to step on the side of the stride box which might cause a twisted ankle.
How it Works
Have your hitter step into the batter's box and take up her normal stance. Now place the stride box with one side of it at the point where the lead or stride foot should land (no more than 6-8 inches from her normal stance).
The other side of the stride box should be near the plate. This forms a figure "7" when viewed from the batter's box looking at the pitcher. Note: I drilled a couple of holes in each side of the stride box and have 4 long bolts to secure it to the ground.
Benefits of the Stride Box
When the player takes her normal swing and stride, the side of the stride box toward the pitcher will prevent her from over striding and will give instant feedback to the hitter.
I use this a lot in hitting practice both in machine pitching and also live pitchers. It works great.
Stride Box Variations
I have seen some pretty elaborate stride boxes in my time. One that was really useful was mounted on a piece of plywood and had a couple of 1x1's at the back of the "batter's box" where the hitter placed her heels (heels on top of the 1x1s). This made her get up on the balls of her feet, which is the proper position to hit. It also had the 2X4's nailed down to the plywood and the entire thing was placed in the batter's box.
I liked this idea a lot, but asked one of my assistants to be in charge of getting it to and from the fields for practices and he quickly declined, so I decided not to make one. It just seemed very bulky and heavy unless you can store your equipment near the field. Make sure you have one of these stride boxes in your equipment bag. You will never regret it.
With all of these drills, try this out in the backyard or with your assistant coaches BEFORE going the field so that you can instruct the players in the proper mechanics of the drill.