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Baseball drills

Unread postby furls » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:58 am

My son just turned 12 and looks to be a bit of a baseball prodigy. I have always thrown him a ton of BP and he is a sick hitter. Last year, in Columbus he hit a hair under .900 and he looks a lot like an adult playing softball when he hits against kids his own age. He just rips line drives into the outfield.

This year we started in a new league in SC where they take youth baseball like we take youth football. It is a serious, year round game and my son has really continued to stand out hitting .775. He is such a good contact hitter that his coach has told him to swing at any pitch no matter how bad on 3-0 counts to force a 3-1 pitch. We have started working on batting lefty now because that is all I really know ho to teach him at this point, just the fundamentals.

Do any of you guys know some ways we can get more "pop" in his bat aside from the obvious tried and true solutions (HGH, steroids, etc.)? He can get it to the fence in the gaps, but he cannot carry to the fence on the fly. Ideas?
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Unread postby dmiles » Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:46 am

Furls I could swear I left a really long post here the other night, but I don't see it. I was half asleep with one-eye open so maybe I never hit post. I'll put some stuff together here for you.

The best thing you can do is take some film of his swing, and create a swing clip. You can always email it to me, but I don't want to speculate. I run a 10U travel ball team here in Coastal SoCal, as well as managing LL Majors for a couple of years. I am getting ready to take on a Juco kid, and a HS sophomore for some swing training once my schedule settles down.

In the mean time (forgetting the long post I thought I made), here is a site with a bunch of clips that I have setup for my team (the Surfdawgs). Basically the barrel up in the air is the best way to create some air under the ball, and so many of the great ones do it, that you must sit up and take notice. You might have to hit reload on a few of these.

http://coachdm.hittingillustrated.com/surfdawgs/vertbarrel.htm

Also I can show some clips of progress I made with my sons. On the one hand your kid is hitting well but on the other a couple of bombs will really peak his interest in the game.

We lived in a semi-rural area around Warren, and my boys really had to step up their games out here where the kids play year round.

Here was my now 10 year old a few months after moving out here about a year and a half ago:

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Now here he is at 10, and playing LL majors for the next three years. He can already belt it over the fence however he hasn't done it in a game and besides most of the pitchers are 12 and the better ones are hitting around 65, where he is slightly outmatched. In these clips we were using a wooden dowel and golf whiffles. Much smoother looking (though a couple of issues we are trying to fix).

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Unread postby mattvan1 » Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:09 pm

Furls,

D Miles knows a lot about the bb swing, and although we disagree on a few of the finer points I would trust what ever he writes. I love video idea, although I would add a caution to be careful which MLB hitter he copies. I love the Manny swing for any little leaguer, A-Rod less so.

Other things to consider - depending on your disposal income consider hiring a hitting coach, if only for a few lessons. It has dome wonders for my son, both from a mechanics point of view and also a great confidence builder. Listen and then reinforce what he teaches in the cage at home in your garage. One obvious issue with a new coach is that he may try and tear down your son's swing and then re-build it, which may cause a huge step backward and endless frustration. If your son hits everything and only lacks power, here are some other drils to consider:

1. Fence drill - back foot up against the base of a chain link fence. Normal stride (if any) and full speed swing. The barrel of the bat should NOT contact the fence at all. Teaches leading with the hands and a short, compact swing, generating more power.

2. Use a tee and broomstick, which is held behind his back at waist level. No bat. Put a ball on the tee and have him knock it off with the broomstick by taking his normal stride (if any) and rotating his hips through.

3. Use a tee with a volley ball. Normal swing. Against a heavier object, will teach to finish his swing and rotate hips to generate power.

All else fails, buy him one of these. Soon to be banned in my son's league, but maybe OK in yours. Check first.

http://www.combatbaseball.com/
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Unread postby furls » Tue Oct 23, 2007 6:24 pm

Shit, we got crazy bat regulations. More or less, they tell you what bats you can use as opposed to outlawing a few.

I will work with those things suggested so far. I have been doing the wiffle balls a long time, but not with the broom stick. I figured it was better to have him hitting them with the bat to help generate the bat speed.

Speaking of bat speed, he is doing really well getting around right handed. We are slowly working up the speed left handed. Also, I noticed that his stance is more open left handed and when I close it, he doesn't hit as well. You think I should get him to close up some lefty?

I really like the Volleyball idea and putthing him on the fence. I think those will help a lot.
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Unread postby mattvan1 » Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:01 pm

It seems as if his hand eye coordination is great, and he hits so well that I would be reluctant to mess with too much, unless you feel the open stance causes him to open his torso and hips too soon, which would rob some power. That doesn't seem to the case RH'd. Personally, I don't care too much where the feet are before the pitch, as long as the stride (if he has one) is directly at the pitcher. Teaching him to load up is a bit tricky, so I'll let dmiles take over from here. Some teach an actual slight weight shift to the back foot, others teach a slight coil, and I have seen some guys just have the hitter load with the hands. Personally, I like very quiet hands, which is why I think the video of Manny is damn near perfect. Another thing to look at is too much of a weight shift back to front as the swing unfolds. I've seen some really good young hitters fail to generate power because they're too much out over the front foot at contact. Stay back is the mantra.

10 minutes on hip rotation might help. The point is not to over do it, but just to give him the feeling of bring the hips through (around). A shorter swing might also help with bat speed and power. Also, check his hands at contact - any excessive wrist roll (bringing the top hand over) may create top spin and cause the ball to drop. Most people that I know now teach to keep the hands flat thru contact, and finish high.

The vids of dmiles son, especially the side view, shows a great swing and a high finish. Keep us posted on the progress.
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Unread postby pup » Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:51 pm

Wow. That is some of the most impressive analysis and recommendations as I could ever imagine. Great job van and miles!

Two things on the power aspect:

1. Do not over emphasize it. It will come with age. Quickest way to bring bad habits into the mix.

2. High finish. Critical. Puts backspin on the ball, giving an extra 10 or so feet.

Good luck. And when you decide pitching is the way to go, I can be a lot more help 8) :cool: 8-)
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Unread postby leadpipe » Wed Oct 24, 2007 1:11 am

A quick comment. I think point number two that Pup brings up above is critical, if you are trying to instill power, and/or begin switch hitting. That is, make sure your son is generating an underspin on the ball.

The single biggest fault in retarding a skilled, young hitter's strength is top hand dominance, many times caused by a kid simply trying to kill the ball. Generally, a hitter's dominant hand is going to be his top, and trying to crush the ball beyond one's natural stregth at that point in time is going to cause the top hand to dominate and "two-part" your swing, which essentially rolls your wrists too quickly, in layman's terms. (Think of how your wrists would not be broken if you were going to strike a tree with an ax with the most force, if your wrist were to roll early, you would sacrifice strength.

Long story short, the things that you try to incorporate in order to generate more power, make sure you aren't compromising the underspin on the ball. That underspin tells you A LOT. Use it as a checkpoint. If you begin to see a lot of top spin and you've got a big warning sign of some faults that may be developing.

This is also important for beginning switch hitters. Geting that harmony in your hands (palm up/palm down, as they say) needs to be one of the first things to iron out, and it'll take some time.

Lastly, I've given private lessons to hundreds of kids, and group lessons at camps to thousands, and I'll say this, if there is a twelve year old hitting the hell out of the ball, i'm not going to mess with him much. poer development is better left a few years down the road IMO. The key thing at that age IMO, is making sure they can hit to all fields, especially the opposite one, because that is what is going to set them up for the near future - which is pitchers being able to better change speeds more consistently. I see fathers all the time throwing their 8 year ols in the fastest cage all winter long, and it's setting them up for nothing that is reality. f you have a kid that will be an advanced player, the speed of the ball isn't going to get him out, the change of speeds on the ball will. This is what to prepare extra hours for.
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Unread postby mattvan1 » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:51 am

Lead Pipe,

Excellent point on using the entire field and teaching being able to hit the other way. I agree this is critical for any young hitter, and I would value this trait over power as well.
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Unread postby dmiles » Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:21 am

One thing is I totally agree on with MattVan is using Manny as his swing for a RH hitter is about as good as it gets. For whatever reason those clips I used Arod, I can't remember why.
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Also I don't want to recommend you do anything without having seen a clip of your son swing, but instead I'll give you what I know and have been through.

One thing you might consider here Furls, and I suppose I wish I had done this a little more is try and learn what you can first and see if it feels right, before you try it out with your son. Step in the cage if you can still hit and get some air under the ball (line drives, flies, bombs). The reason I say this is that many kids aren't as receptive to listening to something from dad. I had a long talk with my kids, and explained that they were going to have to learn from me, I wasn't going to pay for lessons. One problem I see occasionally is a guy tinker too much and the kid loses faith in dad.

Remember that strength will soon hit, depending on puberty. This is a very tough age. My oldest just turned 13, and many of the kids in his age group are well into puberty, and trust me that is huge. There will be instances where you have oversized LL kids who smash homers, yet don't grow that much more. So keep in mind some kids will look like power hitters right now who may not be in a couple of years. I am surprised at how little my son looks right now considering I am 6'1" and the wife is 5'-10", but I started to really shoot up from 9th to 10th grade, and I think he is in the same boat. He has teammates who are 5'10" already with parents not even the same size as us, so hopefully my son didn't get some small gene. Those boys are stronger though.

Nevertheless I do think there are certain mechanical advantages that assist in power generation. I have my own 10 year old and another kid I work with who can hit homers on the majors Little league field, although my son has yet to hit one in a game but just hitting the first one in practice set his world on fire. A good deal of that has to do with the mechanics we work on. But he isn't a perfect hitter by any stretch. I'd say he strikes out slightly more now, possibly from getting anxious with the top hand like the other poster mentioned. He also drives ball more than he used to. Changing things is also hard. I have a bud who wants me to teach his son to hit for power, but this boy is always getting singles and if he happens to strike out he cries, stomps, throws things etc. I don't think he's ready because you often take a step back to take two steps forward.

I'll be up there in Ohio in another month or so and would be happy to give a lesson sometime if I can squeeze it in, but the goal would be more for you to get something out of it so you'd know what to look for. In general I am not freed up enough with time to do hitting instruction as a business, mostly because I coach teams. However my trip to Ohio is vacation time and I don't have to manage a team for a couple of weeks.

Now let me get technical for one minute, but in general what a lot of kids do is externally rotate the back arm out of sequence (before the hips start to open). That mumbo jumbo could also be called slotting the elbow too soon.

Here was my son last year at 12, and watch very carefully his back arm and compare it to Ryan Howards. Please note I am not saying you have to lift your elbow like Howard, but it does help him keep the sequence correct. In Dmiles' number one son, see how the back arm slots before the hips have started to open? Certainly here he can still hit the ball hard but he is now dragging the bat through the zone instead of powering the swing with the hips and the hands.

Looking back I would not use this Ryan clip again because the location is different, however the point is that he slots the elbow too soon resulting in hips/shoulders hands moving in sync. No stretch and fire. Ryan gets stretched and turns the barrel by rotating the foreams, not pulling arms through the zone like my son. I would label my son's swing a bit "armsy" compared to Howard. (they are kids). I don't think this habit is easy to break.
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You don't have to have a high elbow (most do except for Jeff Kent) you just need to keep from slotting it any further until that front hip is opening. Always, always always download a clip you are watching and open that file in quicktime because you can use your arrow keys to go back and forth frame by frame. Quicktime is a must when watching swing clips.

So Stretch and Fire can be summed up as: Clear the hips with the hands back (and locked in), and get the hands flat quickly at GO. One guy says "snap the pole" as in imagine you are holding onto a pole in the ground and you have to snap it off just below the hands.

With that in mind, watch some of these guys from the front, and behind them you can see the back arm. In a high level hitter they will not be flattening this bat, or slotting the elbow if you will --- until the hips have fired. Stretch -- Fire. Mike Epstein uses a rubberband to show how if the lower part is stretched away from the upper, it will snap back into place. The resistance of the shoulders from flying open with the hips, is what creates power we see in the MLB swings.

Watch these swings again, in fact pick a few and download and watch in quicktime, frame by frame. Note the front leg opening (can watch either the stripe of pants or knee) either prior to or at the same time the back elbow is lowering as the bat moves into swing plane.

http://coachdm.hittingillustrated.com/surfdawgs/vertbarrel.htm

The big guys have figured out how to stretch and fire. or clear the hips, and snap the pole, or get the hands flat (whatever cue works). Little guys, even the good ones (including the typical above average HS player) probably look a little closer to my son. An exceptional athlete can overcome a bad mechanic for quite some time (well into minors) before hitting a brick wall. So learning this stuff is hard work.

I think the other night another way I put it was the hips should be open at the time the barrel is going rearward (i.e. away from the zone). Every swing on this page exhibits the correct sequence even if the style is different.

Also I have a small thin bat called a Gro-Bat that is little like a broomstick but weighted as heavy or heavier than a real bat. In fact I have a clip of us messing around with it. It also has a sweet spot, and makes it nice to hit golf whiffles.
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Unread postby IndiansFan101 » Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:44 pm

well when i played i hit line drives 2. i was a insane 2nd baseman. but there was 1 kid who hit a fastball during a game 333 ft! he pre loads the bat so he didnt have to bring it back. he kind of ducked his shoulder during the swing. it was wierd and hard 2 explain
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Unread postby dmiles » Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:35 am

IndiansFan101 wrote:well when i played i hit line drives 2. i was a insane 2nd baseman. but there was 1 kid who hit a fastball during a game 333 ft! he pre loads the bat so he didnt have to bring it back. he kind of ducked his shoulder during the swing. it was wierd and hard 2 explain


One sign of a good setup is if the front shoulder has more of that "down and in" look. That is if you were looking directly from the side of the player the back shoulder would look higher than the front. Then at swing launch it quickly reverses.

Also for anyone still interested I saw a great overhead clip of Bonds over at hittingillustrated. If you look at the clip and some of the stuff I said previously, it will make some sense. Where are the hips at GO? By GO I mean at the point where he could still "check his swing" his man parts are almost looking at the pitcher and the hands still have not come forward.

Also see how the barrel loaded outside the helmet aids in separation because the hips are firing the barrel comes back and around that rear shoulder.

Image

Also Bonds and Ted Williams:
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Unread postby mattvan1 » Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:04 am

dmiles - excellent clips. However, this is where I say that I don't always like having Little Leaguers emulate an MLB swing. If the player is an exceptional athlete for his/her age with good hand-eye coordination, then loading with excessive hand movement and cocking of the barrel may be fine.

I have found, however, that for a majority of players at a young age, the quieter the hands, the better. As always, every kid is different, so my comments are pretty general.
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Unread postby dmiles » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:11 pm

mattvan1 wrote:dmiles - excellent clips. However, this is where I say that I don't always like having Little Leaguers emulate an MLB swing. If the player is an exceptional athlete for his/her age with good hand-eye coordination, then loading with excessive hand movement and cocking of the barrel may be fine.

I have found, however, that for a majority of players at a young age, the quieter the hands, the better. As always, every kid is different, so my comments are pretty general.


Matt, I have no problem with that and I am more recommending this as a dad to someone who really wants to get into this stuff with their own kid. As a Little League and travel ball manager, I don't do this stuff across the board. With my own sons, I obviously have a little more time to tweak things. So I need to be careful that not everyone should jump to this level.

In Little League the problems I am dealing with are at a much more basic level (don't step out, letting the bat droop down the backside, good balance). In general I don't teach ANY of this stuff to one of my team player's unless asked. In fact one dad said he didn't want me to teach it to his son, but he wants me to work with his HS Sophomore, for the reasons you stated, that he is more mature, and can adjust more easily.

Also not every kid --no matter what mechanics you work on-- will take what you teach into the game when he is facing a pitcher. Anxiety, fear, whatever it is, I wish I could report I was the golden hitting instructor, but sometimes I have really uncoordinated kids and I tend to simplify things as much as possible in that case. My goal for some kids is just to make contact in the game with a very simple setup. Hands around shoulder, bat at 45 degree angle, and bring the bat into the zone quickly.

Now I will say though back to Furls, original point of the thread, that obtaining more power will in fact require learning to get some kind of separation at some point. Furls, also have to be careful about seeing a Little leaguer who creams the ball, and make sure they are not hitting early puberty because you can't judge things that much just yet. It could well be your kid will naturally hit farther and farther as he begins to outgrow some kids. Be happy with the current success.

During the SD Wildfires a couple of weeks back, I worked with my older son who just turned 13 on some very basic updates to his swing. He's busy with football, and plays one game a week sometimes two of Pony fall-ball but his swing kind of degraded without much practice. Since making this new adjustment, he is 4-5 with two doubles and walk. And the two doubles were the farthest balls he's hit in games (now no more cheap little league home runs on the big field), probably well over 250 feet. These were his first doubles this season, so he went from some cheap singles (a few good line drives) to really driving it, with some very basic instruction.

Anyone who wants to see the before after clips PM me, but we specifically attempted to start the swing with the barrel in front of the helmet but cut down on the hand movement because it wasn't working as smoothly for him (all kids are different). Think Aaron Rowand for instance, seen in this clips I made showing the same HR from two angles. My point being it wasn't that hard to teach, it simplifies hand movement, and still managed to enhance separation. Now in practice, he generally doesn't get the barrel out there as much like a Youkilis, but still he isn't flattening it way too soon, and I think that's why he's getting more pop.

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Unread postby mattvan1 » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:59 am

DMiles - Great stuff, as always. Thanks - the Rowand clips are super.
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Unread postby mattvan1 » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:15 am

C'mon Mike - give us an update!
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Unread postby dannymac18 » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:32 pm

enjoyed the read. thanks!
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Re: Baseball drills

Unread postby gotribe31 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:21 pm

1 tip, 1 suggestion.

Balance, balance, balance. If the kid is already a good line drive hitter, having him keep his weight back just a touch should add a little pop. Step on the eggshells, squish the bug. His front leg should be almost perfectly straight at the point of contact.

Have him practice with a wood bat. Miss-hits wont move nearly like they do with a metal bat, and it will show you both if he is hitting balls on the sweet spot in a hurry. Plus the added weight compared to his metal bat will allow him to build strength in his wrists and hands, which is where your power comes from in your upper body, not arms. Legs and hips are still the driving force, but strong wrists/forearms will provide for quick hands and more bat speed.

Agree 100% with what some folks have already said though...if he is 12 and hitting .700+, there is really not much tinkering to be done. Keep him strong mentally so he can deal with the inevitable slumps (baseball is a humbling game!), and you're home free.
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Re: Baseball drills

Unread postby dmiles » Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:07 am

Good advice on firming up the front leg. Actually squishing the bug is not something I like to teach because too many kids actually turn from the foot. The foot really comes off the ground as the hips are opening. Teaching squish the bug might not hurt, just make sure the foot itself is not what's turning.... But instead that it is turning as a result of the opening of the hips. Many use bug squish to teach little guys to turn the hips a little more which is possibly harmless, but can create issues. But if you see them turning the foot (by itself) stop the drill and make sure the hips control that.

In many major league swings what you see is the whole back side of the foot coming up first as they try and maintain some of that "stay back" weight you spoke of on the inside of the front foot.

Just made this clip of Carlos Pena the other night for a dispute some of us hitting geeks were having regarding the hands (long story). Anyway watch his method of keeping the weight back like you mentioned, and compare and see how the shift and hip turn brings the foot up:
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See how Tulowitzki gets completely on the upper toes (facing the ground). I am showing two different extremes but that neither hitter actually gets on the ball of the back foot.

Image

Kent a little different. Gets even further up on the toes (away from the ball of the foot).
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Re: Baseball drills

Unread postby The Tribe Zone » Sat Nov 08, 2008 12:29 am

How did I miss this thread?

Awesome advice here by everyone.....Maybe I can add a few tips I have....

The wiffle ball can tell you alot about how your hitting the ball, just like a golfer uses it. One tip I have is use a golf wiffle ball.....gives the hitter a smaller target, better for focus......use a regular size bat when hitting it. Pitch at regular speed. Again, like a golfer, it will help detect his wrist control and how he brings the bat through his hitting zone....a wiffle ball hit correctly has just enough spin to help carry it....too much spin (ex., ball dives sharply to the ground) should help pinpoint a flaw with the swing....

It might be alittle difficult at first, which is good. You have to keep challenging a young hitter....

Power hitting is a full body effort, from head to toes...... Full arm extension equals power.

Practice good 2 strike hitting principles. Choke the bat if you feel the pitcher has advantage. Shortening the swing means just that, and is the opposite of full arm extension swinging.

One other teaching method I found very successful. If it is a batting practice only workout, hit everything, not just strikes. Use common sense here, we don't want him throwing the bat at pitches. But hit everything.

While not always the rule, some hitters know when they really got all of a pitch for a homerun, but many didn't know they powered a ball until it went over the fence.

So trying to kill a ball in search of power isn't what we want.

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Re: Baseball drills

Unread postby jb » Sat Nov 08, 2008 1:33 pm

If you all really knew what you were talking about you'd have won back-to-back-to back national championships.


:wow:
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Re: Baseball drills

Unread postby mattvan1 » Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:26 pm

JB wrote:If you all really knew what you were talking about you'd have won back-to-back-to back national championships.


:wow:


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Re: Baseball drills

Unread postby jessyj » Mon Nov 22, 2010 8:37 am

fantasy baseball 10 is up and running on Yahoo..
Do you guys wanna create a league this year?
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