Your favorite hitting drills
Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).
If you have a favorite hitting drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!
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About Ken Krause
Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.
Posted on December 22, 2006, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
My daughter went to the DePaul clinic last weekend and we saw a very simple drill that I will use in the future. Most speakers I have heard talk about connection – keeping the back elbow connected to the hip during the swing. So for something with immediate feedback, the DePaul coach has his girls put a towel, rolled up and taped to keep it rolled, under the back elbow and to be held to the girl’s side by keeping the elbow in to the body. If the towel falls out during the swing, you know the back elbow is seperating from the hip. If the towel stays in and the girl is rotating properly, then the elbow has no option but to connect to the hip. This is something the coach doesn’t even need to watch as the girl herself will know immediately when the towel drops to the floor.
I like the sound of the previous drill especially for newbies. My question/concern would this possibly cause slotting and bat drag?If so would this be the lesser of two evils, good rotation and connection with slotting as opposed to a linear arm swing which is what all of my rec players do.
Seems to me like it would prevent slotting and bat drag. In order to hold the towel in place you’d have to keep the elbow back, rather than letting it get ahead of the hands which is where bat drag usually comes from. It may not allow as much free swinging movement as you might ultimately like, but that can come later. Have to have your priorities!
Interesting! I am going to give this a try to tonight. Thanks for the reply.Joe
Here is a drill with a frisbee. I went to Walmart and bought these floppy flier frisbees for $1 each. Put your hands together like you are praying (which I do before, during and after every game of course). Put the front end of the frisbee between your hands with the back of the frisbee hanging out beyond your thumbs. Get in your stance as if the frisbee is a bat. Now start your swing by turning the hips. To show improper shoulder rotation – simply rotate your shoulders and watch what happens to your hands and see where the frisbee is pointing (still up and perpendicular to the ground)- pretty impossible to then extend your hands out and hit the ball without chopping at it. Now to show proper shoulder rotation – start the swing and bring the back should down at an angle towards the front foot and watch what happens to your hands and see where the frisbee is pointing (close to parallel to the ground)- quite simple to extend the hands and arms and keep the bat in the correct plane of the incoming ball. The young girls really like this visual and seem to understand it. Now continue the drill by going through the full motion and extending the hands straight out and letting the frisbee go. You want the frisbee to be close to parallel to the ground and go straight out towards where the pitcher would be. If it goes left, then the girl is not extending (alligator arms), if it goes right, then she isn’t keeping her hands in tight enough – letting them get too far away from her body (no short in, long out going on). If the frisbee isn’t parallel to the ground as it flies and veers to the left, then the shoulder drive was not complete. If it veers to the right then she is probably dropping her hands.
Good drill Mike. I haven’t heard this one before. Getting that back shoulder in and down is important to setting the plane of the bat to meet the ball. We may have to try that with the older girls. Well, that and they praying thing.
Your first sentence in the reply says it all. Until I did this drill, I did not realize the correlation. I thought of driving the shoulder as a way to get more power, keeping the head in (prevent pulling out) and keeping the back elbow attached to the hip – which I still believe does all of this too. I never realized how important it is to ‘setting the plane of the bat’ as you put it. It was a huge eye opener for me – literally saw the light bulb come on. Each of my girls now has one of the Floppy Flyers for their own and I have another 15 or so I carry around in my bucket. This drill can be done anywhere and at any time. I now have my daughter do this drill for 5 minutes each day followed by the hit-away for 10-15.
I have always been a fan of hitting a volleyball or something large like that off of a tee to help teach the girls drive through the ball. Coming out of the off-season, my daughter’s bat was looking pretty good for 10U and I felt she might have quite the season. 2/3 the way through the season and her bat isn’t anything what it was coming into the season. She is hitting .320, but we don’t count errors yet against the average at 10U and her hits just aren’t solid. Watching her, it looks to me like she isn’t extending her arms and is rolling her wrists. So last week, during some down time during the July 4th break, we went back to the volleyball – you just aren’t going to hit it well if you don’t extend and keep those wrists solid (palm up/down). I brought out the tee and watched her hit away at the vball. It seemed to be missing something – wasn’t helping correct the alligator arms. So I started pitching the vball instead of using the tee. It was brutal for the first 10 minutes. She continued to alligator arm it and it was REALLY obvious she was rolling the wrists – seeing the bat deflect up or down off the vball made it completely obvious, not only to me, but to her too. I also added a twist by creating a lane outlined by orange cones – this was the area the ball had to go and was consistent with a hit up the middle. Since I wasn’t burning the vball in (just lobbing it), it was easy to get the timing down so she should drive it up the middle within the lane I created – should highlight and enforce the need to extend. She kept working at it and got better…she was more consistent at hitting it up the middle. After I made it into a game for her (hit it so far get 1pt, 2 pts for the next level and so on) against her 5 yr old brother (the kid is really good though and pushed her with slightly modified pts for him) she started to catch on with the wrists as they seemed to be the key for her power (lower body and shoulder were already working well). She got the timing down and started driving it hard within the lane. It gave her confidence. I don’t know if it will help her, but games start again tomorrow and I will let you know. So why did I write this? Maybe instead of hitting a vball off a tee into a net, set-up a lane for them to hit it into which helps show them they are extending properly, not alligator arming and also displays their power better. Just an idea for twist to a drill.
I promised an update. The first week after focusing on powering through a vball did not yield great results. She hit .250 over 6 games. I do feel she had a better use of her hip, but she faced average pitching and should have done better. The second and into the 3rd week she faired much better. She hit .500 against similar pitching and brought her average back up to .333 for the year. She faced a couple good pitchers during the time and did well, but not great (but nobody did). So did it help? I don’t know. Wish I could say. My neighbor came and took pictures of her and against one of the better pitchers, she had really good form and went 1 for 2 against her. She’ll take it. Made her feel good to hit against a good pitcher. Had she hit well the first week, I would say the drills were a success, but now I don’t know. Sorry I can’t give you anything definitive.