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“Better Safe than…Out” Hitting Tips

Over the next several pages you’re going to be given several tips and topics on the current techniques used by today’s leading instructors.  As always the information is yours to use or not.  If you find this free report helpful and thought provoking then I’d like to take the opportunity to invite you to meet the instructors whose work I studied and inspired this piece.  By no means do I take credit for any of this work, but I would like to share with you what I’ve been able to learn over the years from my instructors, coaches, teammates, and of course my wonderful students.

A few words

The best advice I can give you is to tell you its O.K. to experiment with your swing. Get to know the inner workings, movements, and rhythms of what you are doing as a hitter.  However, when experimenting only experiment on one item at a time.  Make your own evaluation and determine whether or not it fits your style.  I also caution you to give the experiment some time to work not just five or ten swings, but more like a weeks worth.  Studies have shown that in order to re-write a motor skills program the body must perform approximately 500 repetitions.  That’s about two to two and one-half hours of swings.

If one is going to improve their hitting, then we need to find a way to measure our results.  The information you are about to receive here has been measured and recorded over hundreds of students and has shown to improve their swing results in nearly all cases.

Notice I said nearly all cases, because the truth is there are no magic wands.  The path you are about to take will require persistence and dedication on your part.  Nothing more than the Law of Practice in application.  When asked how much time daily he devoted to studying mathematics, Albert Einstein responded, “It is better to spend fifteen minutes a day doing something you enjoy rather than spend two hours once a week.”  Familiarity will breed a knowledge of your swing and can be done in just fifteen minutes a day. 

One final point, but a most important one is to assume the right frame of mind, attitude, approach or whatever you want to call it.  Nicholas Bernstein, Soviet Sports Scientist, noted “the body will organize itself based upon the ultimate goal of the activity.”  Therefore, if you want to hit the ball hard, then you must tell the body to hit the ball hard.  At this point the body will arrange itself to accomplish the goal in the most efficient manner.

In order to complete this task you must first be the hitter you want to be in your mind, then do the things that hitter would do to be successful, then you will have the results you’re looking for. 

We’ll discuss this topic a little later on, just before we start our swings.  But, until then the report you were looking for:

-Is the bat comfortable? - Not too heavy or too  long.
-Can you hold it straight out at your side for twenty seconds without the barrel drooping?  If it droops, then the bat is too heavy.
-Does the bat allow for good swing speed and balance? 

With today’s variety of lighter bat weights to length ratios, there is a common tendency to go to a longer bat.  I still believe in barrel control and with our younger hitters this is a large issue or rather the lack of barrel control. 

Now that you’re sure of the bat your using let’s move on to the…

-Knocking knuckles line up
-The Grip is loose in the fingers and attempt to minimize the tension in the forearms
-The Bat is in fingers and not gripped in the palm next to the thumb.  By gripping deep in the palm or “handshaking” the bat you will cause tension and place the wrist in a weaker position. 
-Avoid gripping deep in the palm
-Loose grips maximize bat speed

Perry Husband asks his hitters to grip the bat normally and then straighten out the fingers.  If the general lines of the hands cross paths then your hands are moving in two different directions.   If this happens then the bat will get out of line and lose power because the hands are resisting each other.  The key is to make sure the fingers are going in the same direction.

-Know advantages of being “up” or “deep” in the box, close or away from the plate.
-How about this.  I don’t really care.  My feeling is as coaches there is a tendency to over coach the stance.  I don’t care if you stand like Mr. Peanut leaning on the bat as long as you get to a good load position.
-Feet are PARALLEL or nearly parallel.  Open and closed stances should be used when seeing the ball is an issue or as a comfort issue to get in line with the pitcher on the stride.  If you maintain a closed stance throughout the swing the front foot will block off the hips from rotating through the ball creating an inability to the hit the inside pitch solidly.  Again, I say I don’t really care about the stance as long as you get to a good load position.
-BALANCE at the plate with weight on the balls of your feet so you would not lose balance or have your toes flip up if given a slight push on your chest or back
-Head and BOTH eyes are directly towards pitcher- VERY LITTLE Head Tilt
With the chin and shoulder separated.  Hitting Instructor Joe Iannuci discusses this area as the chin and shoulders should be enemies and never touch in the starting position.
-Do Not hold the bat too far or too close to your body, but find a comfort zone.
-Elbows RELAXED and DOWN.  The top elbow will have a slight, relaxed elevation
-Hands creating maximum drive line distance (Application of Force)*.  So whether in the stance or in the load, extend the lead arm to access the elasticity in the shoulder and abdomen muscles.  This is referred to as locking out the lead arm and despite popular myth will actually allow you to increase ball exit speed off the bat.  HI Perry Husband’s “rubber band” analogy and research and implementation on this topic has been quite revealing and revolutionary.
-Above ALL find a stance that works for YOU that includes some of these tips.

* Sonny Parker and Perry Husband.

-Inside leverage on the back foot
-Do not take the knee on top or behind the back foot.  Keep weight to the inside of the back foot.
-Separate hands and front foot upon entering the load
-Keep head centered/balanced over body
-Trigger/Load when pitcher shows his hip or back pocket (Do Not Rush) (FP pitcher breaks her hand as she enters the windmill)
-Lead arm is approaching a locked position.  This is a huge topic of discussion.  Rubber band analogy.

*Myth buster - the idea that the weight should be on the back foot at the beginning of the swing.  This will force you to stay off the ball, be off balance, and create a loss of power.  Not only that, but the body will have to get to center before it can begin the swing.  This means if you hold your weight on the back foot then you will be slow to the ball.  In this instance the hitter will probably pull harder with the front hip causing the backside to collapse and tilt and make the bat go up.
-Stride is Controlled and Late
-Front foot closed to slightly open on landing (Not pointing to pitcher  before swing)
-Landing on inside of big toe
-Front leg stiffens during swing and locks out.
-Head is still and follows ball.  It’s O.K. if your head is moving forward on the same path as the ball

SWING - Lower Body
-Strong first motion forward to keep hips closed
-Strong first motion, back foot pulls forward and comes up on the toe
*Myth Buster - DO NOT SQUASH THE BUG - “Squashing the bug” allows squatting and spinning in place
-Strong push off inside of back foot then hips take over -(push to gain on FB)
- Linear Move to the Rotational Move
-As Coach Husband says …”the trick is to have equal amounts of push (Backfoot) and pull (Front Hip.)

SWING - Upper Body
-Hands will find the ball if head is on ball
-Lead hand inside “Tunnel” to the pitcher, this will allow the shoulders to adjust for the depth of the pitch.  The “tunnel” is the top of the strike zone to the middle of the chest.  Rule of thumb is to keep bottom hand on the bat in the tunnel.  This allows the general body lines to stay through the ball and not in a downward line on a low pitch or an upward body line on a high pitch.
-Top hand throws barrel of the bat to the ball
-Top hand palm up/bottom hand palm down at impact
-Arms are extended (Hitters “V”) at impact
-Hips and Hands at the ball at the same time = Timing
-Finish around the shoulder or slightly above for line drive, higher for loft
-Top hand release is the RESULT of good lead arm extension, not a part of the swing
--Apply FORCE in the DIRECTION of the ACTION
-Finishes can be different.  Two hands at or above the shoulder with the bat in a somewhat down position.  Or top hand release toward the level of the pitch and its location. Or top hand release after lead arm extension and finishing on front shoulder.

-Have positive thoughts, “Expect to do Well”
-Visualize hitting the ball
-Good swings lead to good at bats
-Know the Strike Zone
-Think “Hit the BALL HARD” not “Hit the ball”
-Know your strengths and weaknesses
-Know the situation, Know what to avoid
-It’s the Action Between the Dots
-Study the pitcher; look for trends/tendencies;
-Be selectively aggressive
-Never let a bad at bat lead to a bad ball game
-Develop your at plate routine
-Remember the Big Three (underlined above)
-Develop two strike approach
-Develop hitter’s counts approach

Getting The Idea of What You’re Doing
In my day there was a saying players would use with each other when teasing about a rough at bat or swing or pitch, it was “Get a clue!”  Well, that is exactly what you must do as a hitter. 

Figure out what you are attempting to do with your swing.  What is your goal as a hitter?  What do you want your swing to accomplish? 
Coach Husband’s work, along with the like of Coach Sonny Parker and others, has helped to clarify this confusing goal.

It’s Choice Not Chance that Determines Success. 

There is no one way to hit.  All hitters are unique.  Your job is to find out what you do and why you do it, then find out what works, then make adjustments for what doesn’t work, and do it all over again.  Keep an open mind, never be afraid to try something new or throw something out.  Never hesitate to question convention.  Experiment with one point at a time.  You will never be the same hitter from year to year if you are improving.

Character Counts!

The Ultimate Edge @ GoodSports
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