Help for hitters who are dropping the back shoulder

In science, the proper way to conduct an experiment is to limit the number of variables to one. In other words, all else is the same except for one thing that changes. That way you know whether the one variable that changed was the cause of the success or failure of the experiment.

We had that opportunity earlier today. We were working with our 18U hitters, which is our usual routine on Sunday mornings. Today was a machine day. We had the Jugs Jr. cranked up to 100%, and as it turned out we were shooting balls from about 30 feet. We actually had planned on going from 35, but the plate was moved up in the cage and we just left it there.

In any case, most of the girls were doing fine, but a few were having some trouble. Mostly, they were swinging under the ball. So we told them to lower their front shoulders as they went to toe touch. This was a point we learned from Deb Hartwig at the National Sports Clinics. She showed how all top hitters have their front shoulders lower than the back at this point. It’s something you don’t hear about in even the latest hitting videos, but it seems essential to great hitting.

Lowering the front shoulder was the only change we made. Yet in every case the hitter went from missing completely to hitting the ball solidly. At this point it was more of a reminder than a real change — they all know they need to be in that position. But sometimes they forget, especially in the heat of high-speed BP.

If you have hitters struggling with swinging under the ball, or just with dropping their back shoulders to go into launch, have them work on lowering the front shoulder. It works!

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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 February 9, 2009, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’ve never heard of ‘lower your shoulder’ instruction. Could it be the same as ‘stay on the ball’ or don’t let your shoulders open too soon?

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  2. Somewhat similar, although I use the two differently. I actually hadn’t heard much about it until I attended the National Sports Clinics and saw Deb Hartwig’s presentation. After that I started looking for it, and sure enough, when you see a good hitter the front shoulder is lower than the back until the shoulders rotate. Not a lot, but somewhat. It seems to help with girls who are dropping the back shoulder in particular. You live, you learn!

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  3. Ken,It’s time you quit piece mealing the swing. If lowering the shoulder doesn’t involve the upper torso turning around the spine, fine. Too many kids will counter rotate the upper torso/turn the sternum too much toward the catcher. Not good. The chest needs to be pointed toward the plate or close to it. The shoulder will look like it’s lowered because the front shoulder/scap will slide around the rig cage toward the sternum. The back shoulder toward the spine. All during the load of course.

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