Daily Archives: May 9, 2007
Got the 2007 ASA rule book Monday night and started going through it as I always do. That’s when I found it — my nomination (so far) for the best new rule.
Essentially, it states that a legal pitch must be delivered from the side of the body on the throwing arm side. It specifically prohibits pitches delivered between the legs or behind the back. I can’t help but wonder what happened, and where it happened, that necessitated making a rule about it. Most pitchers I’ve seen are doing all they can to get the ball where they want it with a normal delivery.
This is almost as good as the one about all base runners returning to their original bases after an offensive conference. You shouldn’t even have to have a rule about that. But I guess you do.
Back in early April (I think) I had the opportunity to watch one of my pitching students in action. Her HS team was playing my daughter’s HS team. To say that Kristen struggled that game would not be an exaggeration. Part of it, her dad told me, was that she was nervous pitching while I was there. (That is part of the female psyche from what I’ve read — she didn’t want to disappoint her coach, whereas I was looking forward to seeing how she was doing.) In any case, between a weak defense and some control trouble it was a tough game for her. She finally came out in the last inning, replaced by a lobber.
We didn’t have a lesson that week, but she came in the following week and we got right to work. We were able to get one more in after that, and at that point I told her two things. One is that she was definitely ready to pitch, so get out there and do it with the confidence. The other was not to get frustrated if the defense struggles. Just keep pitching your game and let the rest fall as it may.
I had the opportunity to check in on her again one Monday night so I stopped by to watch her game. She was doing better but still had a rough point in one inning. Still, it was only that one inning.
Last night I received an update from dad, Joe. He told me in a recent game she struck out 17 hitters on her way to picking up a victory. She also came into another game where she struck out eight in three innings. She’s on top of the world right now.
It would’ve been easy for her to give up and say “I can’t do this.” But that’s not in her nature. Kristen stuck with it, focused on the things we identified together, and is now reaping the rewards. It doesn’t get any cooler than that.
One of the most common problems I see with hitting is an affliction called “bat drag.” It occurs when the elbow on the back arm gets ahead of the hands during the swing. This puts you into a weak position, with the bat flat and stuck way behind. As the body turns, the bat has to be pulled from that back position all the way to the front. As you might expect, this makes the bat late getting through the zone.
It’s not that difficult to cure. It just takes a little time. Step one is to maintain the “box” that is formed with the shoulders and the elbows. Bat drag usually begins when, on the beginning of the turn, the hands push back and the lead arm straightens out. As the shoulders begin to turn the hands remain back. But the hitter knows she should be moving forward, so the back elbow starts moving forward instead of the hands. At that point it’s going to be tough to get a good, quick, compact swing.
To fix it, set the bat down and grab your shirt by the back shoulder. Practice taking “swings” by striding and turning while hanging on to the shirt. Be very aware of what your back elbow is doing. Once you start getting the hang of it, move to the bat. Go slowly at first, then gradually pick up speed. If you can do it in a mirror, or video yourself doing it, it will help you check to make sure you’re on the right track.
From there, move to the tee, then either to soft toss, the pitching machine, or live pitching. Feel the back elbow come more into the side than past the hands, then extend through.
It may take some work to get it fixed. But it’s worth it. You’ll pick up bat speed, shorten your swing — and most importantly start hitting the heck out of the ball!