During the 1997 season, we spent quite a bit of time on hitting. As you can see by reviewing our archives, we covered the mental approach to hitting, set-up and preparation, swing mechanics and situational hitting.
Before moving on into1998, let's review some hitting drills you can use to work on hitting fundamentals.
Get in the batters box. Make sure you are balanced, comfortable, and most importantly, that you have good plate coverage. Get out of the box, step in, and repeat.
While standing in front of a mirror, simulate your start and stride. Make sure you have good balance and your hands are back when your stride foot lands. Work with your team's pitchers. Go to the bull pen and with a pitcher throwing, stand in and work on the timing of your start and controlling the speed of your stride.
Start on the batting tee. This will allow you to work on balls in, away, up and down. By properly positioning the ball, you will be able to work on your turn and get a feel for the proper contact point.
From the batting tee, the next step is a soft toss drill. This will allow you to incorporate the timing of the swing with the release and contact.
From soft toss, progress to live batting practice from about 30 feet. This should be firm batting practice, but not overpowering speed. This brings together the calmness of the stride, the quickness of the pivot, and the hand action to contact.
Players that are pulling off the ball and cutting off their swing should take soft toss with the toss coming from behind them to the outside part of the plate. This will make the hitter stay with the ball longer and have the proper finish to the swing.
The key to knowing you have taken a good swing and have finished properly is to maintain good balance after the swing. After each swing, check to make sure your feet haven't moved and that you are not struggling to stay upright.
Drills are designed to create muscle memory so that when in competition, you do not have to think about the swing...you can feel it. Quality is of utmost importance. Taking bad swings in hitting drills will create consistently bad swings in competition. When a player is struggling, go back to square one - the batting tee. This takes the speed out of hitting and allows the player to relax and take consistent swings. Drills should help create and develop a focus that good hitting requires good balance and rhythm.
That's it for now...keep your head in the game.
Updated April 22, 1998