Rolling the wrists

You know, people have to know their limitations. There’s nothing worse than a coach telling a player she needs to correct a problem when there’s no problem to be corrected. Well, there are a lot of worse things of course, but it’s what’s on my mind today.

Here’s a perfect example. Today one of the high school coaches told my daughter not to roll her wrists. But it’s apparent that she doesn’t know what rolling the wrists really is. Here’s a picture of her at the contact point:

<IMG style="WIDTH: 157px; HEIGHT: 171px" height=631 src="/images/55650-48775/Kimmie_contact_point.png” width=268>

As you can see, she is palm up/palm down at contact. Here she is at extension:

<IMG style="WIDTH: 166px; HEIGHT: 167px" height=620 src="/images/55650-48775/Kimmie_extension.png” width=372>

The hands are still palm up/palm down. The wrists won’t roll until long after contact, and not until after extension. Working on not rolling the wrists would be a complete waste of time.

That’s something to keep in mind. Not everyone who has the title of “coach” has the qualifications to be one. As Mark Twain used to say, “Better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you’re a fool than to open it and prove they’re right.”

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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 May 10, 2007, in Coaching, Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I will break down for your daughter what “rolling the wrists” means. Rolling your wrists occurs after you contact the ball your top hand rolls over and cuts off any good follow through. In doing so it makes it hard to hit line drives with any sort of power. Rolling the wrists is a common problems with young girls because when the kids are YOUNG their coaches (who are usually parents) don’t know better than to instruct to hit “through the ball”. I’m sorry but your coach is right, they should be teaching your daughter not to roll over. In case your wondering I worked on not rolling over my wrists and it helped me hit over 20 homeruns in college…

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  2. This one is for “Bob Uecker” whomever you might be. First of all thanks for weighing in under the anonymity of the Internet. I appreciate the clever e-mail address as well. Always nice when someone stands behind their opinions.The two clips you saw are not staged shots. They are screen captures from a full motion video shot a couple of weeks ago. Ok now that the housekeeping is out of the way, here’s the real discussion. If wrist roll is occurring before contact, at contact, or immediately after (as Erin suggests) then yes, it is a problem. However, that is not what was being conveyed to my daughter, nor what the video is showing. Not saying it never occurs, but it is not in this particular video. Wrist roll after extension, however is a natural and proper finish. Here is one resource that is worth checking out on the subject: http://www.batspeed.com/tf03.htmlThere is a good explanation of wrist roll and when it occurs. Ok, you say, but that’s baseball, not softball. In that case, check out this Web site: http://www.sportskool.com/softball/Click on the one labeled hitting for Team USA/Olympic Coach Mike Candrea talking about hitting, using Lovie Jung as his demonstrator. Let it load, and then move ahead to 13:40 to see a nice swing, and then 15:30 or so to hear Coach Candrea’s explanation of the finish. You may be surprised at what you learn. One last thing on my part. If I was too personal regarding the assistant coach my apologies. I happen to like her and think she does a good job overall. But keep in mind the ability to execute a skill is not the same as the ability to teach it. The best coaches become students of the game rather than relying solely on what they did in their playing days, or what they may have heard somewhere. A lot of people way smarter than me have put a lot of time effort into figuring out how hitting works. I simply take advantage of their knowledge.

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  3. Thanks, Erin, I appreciate the explanation. It’s certainly something to have my daughter ask for clarification on. If it is occuring at contact it is a concern. Again, I’m not seeing it on the video but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at other times. More of interest to me (and others I’m sure) is how you changed it.

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  4. It sounds like you are a bit closed minded to your assistant coach, even though you claim to like her. If your coach is instructing to hit “through the ball” and not roll over this is correct. She IS NOT THE ONLY COACH instructing that and it is not a waste of time to correct it. Again it sounds like your daughter is cutting off the follow through which is one of the most imporant parts of her swing. Her bat should be following through to her shoulder if not higher if she is swinging properly (hitting through the ball). To fix “rolling over” is not simple. It takes lots of reps to change it. I corrected my rolling over by hitting through big balls (deflated volleyballs or soccer balls)and the two tee drill (one tee in front of the other and you try to knock the back ball into the front one). If she doesn’t understand what a coach is telling her…HAVE HER ASK!!!!

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  5. Huckleberry Finn

    It seems as though Ken may have hit on a sensitive spot here with someone. I don’t know, Mr. Twain, if you are the coach for the HS or possibly an unhappy parent, but the first thing that comes to my mind is “hows the D1 starter’s instruction been workin for ya”. One only needs to go to HS web site to see the game scores to quickly see that hitting is a problem at the HS. Also your comment is in itself criticizing a person’s criticism of the coaching a week after their daughter is called up to varsity. Lord knows you can’t do that. After all, HS sports is like communism, right. You don’t have any say in anything as a participant or a parent. You’re just supposed to take the hand you’re dealt and like it. One thing that amazes about hitting is how different it is treated at the HS (I mean high schools in general) than pitching. Pitchers work all winter with their respective pitching coaches and when HS comes around most, I repeat most, HS coaches leave them alone and let them continue to get their instruction from their personal pitching coach. Hitters however do not receive the same acknowledgment of their off-season efforts. Many of them work all fall and winter long, three or four or five days a week, only to come to HS and have their coaches start to tinker with their swings. If a player has worked all off-season on their swing why can’t the HS coaches show some respect for that work ethic and let the player take that swing into play. There are other kids that may not have worked at all during the off-season that the HS coaches could work with and make a very positive impact on. Many times a last minute tinkering with a swing that has been grooved for six months may actually have the opposite effect as desired. I’m your huckleberry.

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  6. Ken I agree with you, what your daughter did was create bat lag, then “snap” or whip the bat around. I do not see that she rolled over”. I viewed Candreas clip in sportsskool and he too talks of every good hitter wanting a bat lag. If the arms extend and bat is lagged, when the bat head snaps or whips to contact, it will be at a much faster speed than if it was just dragged around. On these slides, it appears your daughter had lag and snap. After contact the arms reach full extension and here is where some coaches teach a rollover of the wrists occur. If the hitter is using the opening of the hips to connect to the upper body and extend and snap the bat, I think the bat will naturally whip thru the ball, reach full extension and finish in a natural manner. I don’t understnad why coaches feel the need to “teach” the wrists to rollover after extension..it happens naturally on a good swing as the bat head wants to follow around the body in a rotational manner… In fact sometimes I see girls hitting that sometimes appear to unnaturally stop the arms finish..by triggerign a hard wrist rollover..and that seems to cut down the natural extension and finish. If you extend, create lag and snap thru the ball to full extension, why not just let the bat finish naturally. On the bat snap, the hands are still in the palm up and palm down, but the wrists have changed position in a subtle manner from the lagged back position to contact. If the lower hand turns the knuckles down just a bit, the bat can whip around. If the left wrist stays totally locked in one position,totally and unmoved palm down, it will flex sideways to contact, but then the wrist will not be able to flex any more. If a subtle change occurs and the knuckles are turned down some, this unlocks the wrist and the bat can whip to full extension. I would not call this a rollover, but rather the natural motion of the snap from lagged to full extension..powering thru the ball. That said, some coaches just like their hitters to drag the bat head into the ball, going for more contact and less power potential. You often see good hitters without classic swings .JMO

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  7. Jessica Siegel

    I have been reading up on this blog for the past few days, and I think that everyone is missing the main point here. I myself have never seen your daughter swing, but from the pictures above I do not see that she is rolling her wrists. This doesn’t mean that she isn’t doing so. Although we’d all love to say that a hitter’s swing doesn’t change, we all know that it can and does especially when you are looking at your “practice swing” vs. your “game swing”. If your daughter is rolling her wrists or not, is beside the point. The main point is that if your daughter or any other high school athlete is doing something incorrect, the job of a good coach is to try and correct them. The comments made earlier by Huck Finn that a pitcher works all winter and a coach lets them be during season is completely incorrect. I know myself because I am a personal instructor and a high school coach. I know that kids that I work with all winter are asked to change things during season, and I have tried to enhance my own student’s abilities during season. When looking at a hitter it is completely different. A pitcher may be “off” one day. A hitter may be in a slump all season. Is a coach supposed to continue to let any athlete fail? Or try and make them better? I strongly agree with what Ken Krause has stated previously. That just because you were a great player doesn’t mean you will be a great coach? However, just because you were a great player, doesn’t mean you will be a bad coach? You can be a great player, student of the game and a great coach. And I think that some summer ball dad’s think they know more because they have looked up site after site on the internet– rather than a collegiate player that has not only studied the game for many years, but played it competitively at the highest of levels. These dads tend to feel threatened and intimidated. Again I do not know the status of your daughter’s abilities. But I do know that this particular coach is trying to help her and the rest of her teammates. I would imagine that the coach is not only a great player, but also a student of the game. She knows what she’s talking about, and I am sick of high school parents and students taking for granted how lucky they are to have such skilled coaching. Let the coach do her job in the “communist” environment. Everyone please keep in mind that no athletes, not even pros, are perfect all the time. All athletes should be open to learning and growing more within their sport. Your daughter and her teammates should take what the coach is saying and try to understand. Keep working hard, to make each swing better than the last.

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  8. Jessica – If you are a personal pitching instructor and you work with you kids during the HS season that is one thing, but would you approve of one of your students getting to HS and before she ever pitched a game have the coach start CHANGING her mechanics. I would think not. If you were a person who worked with hitters all winter to get rid of the wrist rolling and develop good extension and thereby improving a kids power to where they produce extra base hits over half of their hits, would you like the idea of a HS coach trying to change that swing, get rid of the extension, and begin to encourage wrist rolling, before they ever played a single game. I think not.I never suggested that a player be allowed to flounder all season. But if a coach is going to step in and start instructing, the least they could do is show the courtesy to talk to the player first and find out what their hitting philosophy is. It would be nice to know that you are both on the same page That is unless they think there is no way anyone comes to HS with a hitting philosophy already in hand.Threatened and intimidated ain’t even close. Frustrated and angry would be more like it. Maybe you teach all the right things to your players but not every collegiate player that is now coaching is created equal. There are some coaches out there that are still teaching 10 year old hitting philosophy and don’t believe girls can be short to the ball and long through the ball and hit for power. Heck, for that matter they don’t even seem to see the value in hitting for power. Why would they have a kid who can hit for power try to bunt with nobody on base. Some dads teach the right things and some dads teach the wrong things. Their are a lot of them that teach the right things. You make it sound as if every kid that comes to HS doesn’t know diddly squat until some college player has had a chance to teach them everything in one or two years. Maybe the dads have not only looked up site after site on the internet, but also attended coaching clinic after coaching clinic with instruction on how to coach coming from the elite coaches and softball teachers in America. Maybe, just maybe, some of the summer ball dad’s are better than some of the HS coaches. I’m also sure the reverse is true.Oh, and pitchers are just like hitters in that they go into two week slumps also. And a hitter that goes into a season long slump, ain’t in no slump.

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  9. Thanks, Jessica, and others who have responded. It was getting mighty lonely writing entries with no comments at all!Just as a quick FYI, I am also a private instructor. I started out with hitters but mostly I work with pitchers now. I still love hitting though and teach it when I can. My greatest satisfaction is working with players who have average ability and getting them to play above their natural level. There is nothing like seeing a kid succeed by working hard at what you teach her to do. I’ve been coaching for 12 years, and instructing for about eight. As Huck says, I have scoured the Internet, watched videos, but I have also attended many clinics with top college and national team coaches. I’ve consulted on hitting videos and talked to others who have an interest in the various skills. Which I guess is my way of saying I am a student of the game and have put in more than my fair share of time learning not only the basics but the subtleties. Personally I wish I was as interested in the stock market as I am in softball — I’d be a lot richer. But softball is what interests me, and is my passion.This stuff isn’t rocket science, but you do have to have the ability to recognize what is happening and fill in the blanks. You have to know what causes what, what to teach, and what not to mess with. I’ve gotten better at that over the years — less is more. Which is why I get on the high horse sometimes. I know what I teach works because I’ve seen it work. Not just once or twice but consistently. I’ve seen good and bad coaching from a variety of sources. And at times I’ve had to help someone overcome poor instruction by someone who means well but doesn’t understand the nuances of the skill. My own daughter’s swing isn’t perfect. If she had been told she needs to shift her weight better, or get her top hand through stronger for example, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear from so many people here. I would agree with that. But rolling her wrists is not a problem she has had. Not saying it’s impossible, but it’s unlikely.I agree all athletes should be open to learning and growing. Ultimately, they should seek to understand what they need to do and why they’re being told what they’re told so they can determine if it makes sense or not, rather than simply accepting what someone says just because they’re a coach. Me included. If it doesn’t make sense, or I can’t explain why I want them to do something, I always tell my students and players they shouldn’t do it.

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  10. A couple of things I missed last night in response to Jessica.You made a good point about inconsistency. Sometimes a problem can show up where there wasn’t one before. That’s why I like video. You can’t always see everything in real time, but with video you have the opportunity to review the skill multiple times to look for the root cause of a problem. It’s amazing how an earlier flaw will drive something later. Fixing the earlier flaw takes care of the other automatically. That seems to happen a lot with wrist rollers I’ve seen. Unless they’ve been taught to do it (and there apparently are people who still teach it) it’s often the result of a poor turn/weak body drive into the pitch. When that action is weak it can cause the bat to deflect at impact, which can look like wrist rolling but isn’t. Maybe that’s what’s going on here.The other point, which I think we can all agree on, is that no coach sets out to make a kid worse. I think all have a sincere desire to help their players. They’d be crazy not to. But the desire to help and the ability to help don’t always go together. Some mechanics and doctors are better at diagnostics than others. Whether through training or experience they can put the symptoms together better and find the disease. Some coaches are better technically, some are better at the Xs and Os, and some are better motivators. Just as some people are good at art or music and others are not. You have to know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. I coach differently than I did 12 years ago, or even five years ago in some cases, and continue to try to learn and improve. If I find something that works better than what I’ve been doing I will make the change. The most dangerous thing a coach can do is think he/she has it all down pat. I think that’s what Huck is saying too. The state of the art in our game is evolving constantly and rapidly. Coaches need to be sure they keep up with those changes, and not just repeat what they heard sometime in the past. Those who don’t will be teaching their kids to swing down for ground balls when the best coaches in the game say to swing up and hit for power, or teaching pitchers to close their hips at release when the best coaches in the game say leave them open 45 degrees. If you don’t keep up, you and your players can get left behind.

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  11. Huck Finn Again

    I couldn’t help but add to this. My earlier comments were based much on situations where coaches start to change things before they have ever seen a kid play a game. The following comments have more to do with the intervention that occurs during the season.You stated earlier that “When looking at a hitter it is completely different. A pitcher may be “off” one day. A hitter may be in a slump all season.” I don’t agree that a pitcher may simply be “off” one day and then it just comes back the next day. Not every HS kid or travel kid is of the quality pitcher/athlete that you were. Many times the being “off” is a result of some mechanical flaw and that flaw can at times be immediately obvious or it may be more subtle. When it is more subtle it may take several games to pick up what is wrong or possibly it may even require some video and last a week or more. I don’t know this from the pitching side through experience but rather from feedback from some very successful instructors in our area. So, much like a hitter, a pitcher can “slump” also. It requires someone to watch or video that pitcher or hitter to help them make the corrections. But, if a person does not have the understanding of the principles on which the swing (or pitch) is based upon, then they have no hope of helping that player. Actually, they will more than likely make things worse.By the way, congratulations on a highly successful career at North Central.

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  12. Jessica Siegel

    Okay—well to start off I guess Huck as googled my name. I hope that your comments about the success of North Central weren’t a knock? I think some of what I had originally stated was misunderstood. I don’t think any coach should meet a player and immediately try to change everything about them. However, I did state that “in season” if there is a problem the coach’s duty is to try and fix it.Because I am a pitching instructor and a HS coach I am able to help my pitchers during season. I realize every school isn’t in the same situation. If a pitcher is having a problem that’s lasting a season, then they probably aren’t a pitcher. A lot of work is done during the off season. During the season isn’t the time to be making major adjustments. There can be what I like to call some “quick fixes” to help pitchers and hitters with immediate success, but ultimately they will have to learn correct form to have the longevity. Would you agree Ken? This isn’t HS coaches vs. summer ball dads/coaches. There’s no doubt that some HS coaches are teachers that are there to earn an extra stipend. However, “some dads teach right and wrong things” I would add to this that some HS coaches and personal coaches teach right and wrong things. I think it’s safe to say that it’s the person not the title that makes a coach good or not. Experience and studying help with making that person more qualified. I understand the time and preparation that some coaches go through to make teams better. Clinics, I have gone to them, ran them and been a demonstrator multiple times over. Some videos are very good as well, and have helpful information. (Ernie Parker) You have to be careful because there is a lot of bad information out there as well. I am again in agreement with Ken concerning coaching standards and sometimes lack there of. “Every HS kid doesn’t know diddly squat until a college player comes to help”. I don’t think that, but it does make me laugh. I do think that some college athletes can drastically help players. My concern is that there are some fantastic HS coaches (former players) that aren’t being taken advantage of. A former player can explain things from a perspective of “done that”—and sometimes relate better because they’re younger, female. They have huge connections! If you are looking to extend your playing days into college—utilize your coach. They can help you more than you’ll ever know in looking, planning, scholarship opportunities, deciding on a division…etc. Once again, it’s important to keep in mind that everything is circumstantial. The dedication, ability and willingness of the player, coach, parent, team and administration make each situation different. I try as much as possible to be open to all situations and views as everyone can always learn more. Also I agree with Ken, no coach is ever trying to hurt a player. We all want the same thing. For the kids to grow and learn more about the game, get better and have fun!

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  13. Jessica,Very well said. I guess that’s what got me going originally (although I certainly could’ve handled it much better). There are some excellent HS softball coaches out there. I’ve known some of them. There are some excellent summer coaches out there. I’ve known some of them too. And there are excellent private coaches out there. You get the idea.There are also plenty of people in each category I don’t think are very good either. In fact, I was thinking today about a summer coach I saw a few years ago. (I was watching as a parent, btw.) He was so abusive on the field I asked the base umpire why anybody would play for him. “He gets his players scholarships” was the reply. To me that wouldn’t be worth it, but to each his own. A good coach is a good coach regardless of what level they coach, or what their qualifications are on paper. I definitely agree with you there. I remember when I started coaching I looked forward to the day I would have 10 years of experience. I knew then that though I’d played baseball for years there was a difference between playing and coaching. Hopefully I’ve gotten better over the years.There is definitely a lot of bad information out there. And there is stuff that I know I don’t agree with. But I like reading it or watching it anyway, challenging my assumptions to see if I really believe in them or not. You definitely have to be careful. Michele Smith and Bill Hillhouse have some great materials too for pitchers, by the way.I’d agree that once you’re in season it’s not the time to be teaching new things. Better to tweak. I actually stop lessons for the late spring and summer because I want my students to take what they’ve worked on in the off-season and execute it to the best of their abilities. I’m always available for a tweak, but I hope I’ve done a good enough job of teaching them the “why” behind the skills so they can do a lot of the self-correction themselves. Sometimes, though, they need real help, and sometimes they just need a little of the ju-ju — the confidence of being told “you’re ok now.” Real change happens in the off-season. That’s when champions are made. Most of my summer pitchers come to me for lessons, but not all. For those who are my students I will tweak only as much as needed. I won’t change the one who is not, but I know her coach and he teaches pretty much the same as me so there’s no need. If I don’t know a player’s private coach I will ask what he/she teaches and try to work within that. Jessica, you sound like an excellent coach, and a true coach. Based on what you said here your players are fortunate to have you to help them.

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  14. Jessica – You wrote “My concern is that there are some fantastic HS coaches (former players) that aren’t being taken advantage of.” I absolutely agree and have seen them in action. The kids that play for them are fortunate. And yes, I was totally sincere about the college career. I can tell you are being modest and don’t want to brag so I’ll do it for you. 27-7, 1.67 era in her senior year. Not too shabby, eh.

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  15. I thought I would throw my 2 cents worth in . . . . . . .actually I’m not even sure it’s worth 2 cents, but here it is anyway.Good Coaches create winning teams, Good Teachers impact young lives, When you run across someone who is both, you’ve found someone very special.When comes right down to it. . . . . as a father, the only thing that really matters to me, is that my daughter be exposed to this game we all love so dearly, and benefit from the lessons of life it has to offer.As far as how long her career will last, I believe that’s really up to her. A great coach once said; “Ability – determines what you do””Motivation – determines how much you do””Attitude – determines how well you do it” Lou Holtz

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