W A Y back near the beginning of last year, I stumbled upon a Valor Sports video on the camelotsportsmedia.com blog that offered little league batting tips. Admittedly, I didn't really watch it all the way through because the tips were from Sandlot Baseball's Mickey Hiter and I don't always agree with everything he teaches.
Well, I finally pulled the instructional video out of the dust and watched it all the way through. In this case, Mickey's tips are spot-on. As he states early on, these aren't simply basic tips for little leaguers; the key components of a properly executed batting swing are the same for players at every level of the game.
Do the following things in this exact order, and you'll have a much better chance of making consistent, solid contact with the ball:
- The Batting Stance - Whether you take a narrow stance or a wide stance, the most important thing is to make sure that each knee stays inside of the foot and that the back foot is at a 90° angle to the pitcher's mound.
- Load Your Swing - Transfer your weight to the back foot, making sure that you still keep your knee inside of the back foot. Your hands should cock back to a position roughly even with your back shoulder.
- Toe Touch - Whether you take an actual stride or simply transfer your weight, your weight should begin to transfer to to your front foot's toe as the pitch approaches.
- Heel Plant - Your back heel should anchor your weight transfer. The back knee and inside part of the back foot start to turn toward the pitch. The back knee and the shoelaces of the back foot should be pointing toward the pitcher as the weight transfer is completed. Keep in mind that as this weight shift goes on, your hands should still be cocked and in the same place they were during step two of the swing.
- Bat to Ball - Now it's finally time to start moving the bat toward the pitch. As you begin your swing, the bat should remain cocked back while you point the knob of the bat at the pitched ball, keeping it on the same height plane as the incoming ball (some call this move, "bat lag"). You should be in a knee behind knee position with the back knee pointing at the ball. The front leg should be locked and your weight should not extend beyond the inside of your front foot. Now that your hands and lower body are all in the perfect position, "throw" the barrel of the bat at the ball. Your front foot should be turned at a 45° angle at contact.
- Extend Through the Pitch - Extend the bat through the ball, with hands in a palm up/palm down position. Your shoulders should reverse, with the back shoulder pointing toward the pitcher and your chin meeting that back shoulder. At the end of the swing, your hands and the bat should finish slightly above your shoulders for a pitch that is at medium height. For low pitches, your bat will finish a little higher; for a high pitch, it should finish slightly lower.
Practice all of the above in slow motion until you get it ingrained in your "muscle memory." Then, gradually speed the process up until you can do it all at game time speed.
Great video, Mickey. I guess I need to start watching more of your lessons again! Here's the video:
Pitching Machine Stop Quote of the Day: "There has always been a saying in baseball that you can't make a hitter, but I think you can improve a hitter. More than you can improve a fielder. More mistakes are made hitting than in any other part of the game." - Ted Williams Ted Williams