Several years ago while traveling in Missouri, my son and I stopped off, as we often do, to take advantage of a commercial batting cage to get in some strokes. The entire facility, however, was rented out to a youth baseball team. So every stall was filled with team members taking their hitting turns. The coach was busily walking from one end of the cages to the other giving them baseball hitting tips, shouting out instruction to his hitters.
“You have to keep your elbow up!” was what he said.
“Get the back elbow “ is one of the most common statements used to instruct young hitters.What will this do to allow a player to improve? Why would coaches feel this could add value to a hitters stroke?
I asked, “Coach, is this how you teach and prepare for a baseball game?”
He answered , “Yes, when they finish their practice.”
Then I asked, ”Coach, why do you tell your players to get the back elbow up?”
And he answered honestly, “I really don’t know why.Every baseball coach has said this and some continue to teach it. So it must be a good thing.”
Let’s explore some baseball hitting mechanics.What happens when the back elbow is up as the hitter goes to the ball.Many students who come to me will have their elbow up, and we will immediately adjust the elbow so that it is not up, but approximately 45° from touching the backside.
By raising the elbow to 90°, we change the grip on the top hand, making the knuckles over-rotated, and unless the hitter makes an adjustment, prior to contact, this grip will cause him to roll his hands, losing club head accuracy to the ball.
What about professional baseball players?Why would some of them keep their back elbow up?MLB players make an adjustment with their back elbow prior to approaching the baseball.
What should the back elbow be doing?It allows for supporting the top hand.The elbow will not do this if it is as high as the hand.It allows for support to the grip and its no equal by being under it.
When checking a hitter, as he approaches the ball, the elbow should be under the bat in the formation of a “V”—which we call a “Power-V”.This keeps the grip correct and the hands in a state of strength.
Youth Baseball Tips: The role of the top elbow is to support the bat.The support is gone, and your grip has been changed when it is up.We do not want this.
“Get the Back Elbow Up” is one of the worst things that you can tell your players.
Learn Baseball Hitting Drills – Should You Swing or Not Swing
One of the most common words used in hitting is the word “swing” as associated with a hitter as he “swings” at the ball. And although swing is not a “nasty” word, it does give the impression that the bat makes a long arc as it goes to the ball.
Lets take a second and visualize a baseball bat and the swing. The club head is moving and arcing as it approaches the ball for contact. Hitters should not visualize this when thinking about “swinging”. You shouldn’t be doing this. It leaves little chance for the batter to make maximum contact.
So, whether coaching youth baseball or older, here’s one of our baseball coaching tips: A better idea to teach would be—no arcing or swinging the bat to make contact with the ball. Instead, DRIVE the baseball bat in a flat line to connect with the ball.
In simple words, a hitter does not swing the baseball bat to hit the ball! A hitter should DRIVE the bat in a direct line to make contact with the baseball. After contact, then the baseball bat swings! When should you arc the bat? After contact. A better explanation is that the hitter strokes it, and does not swing the bat.
The hitter who uses this stroke, which we refer to as the “pro-stroke”, sends the bat in a straight line to contact the ball producing better contact and distance.
This is what we call the “PRO STROKE” It is outlined in 8 Hitting steps, which we call The Super 8 Hitting System.
The 8 steps are: Stance, Coil, Stride, Drive, Contact, Extend, Extend Again, and Finish.
You can view more articles, videos, etc. completely demonstrated in a series of baseball hitting videos, which include many baseball coaching tips.
BASEBALL HITTING DRILLS FOR KEEPING THE HEAD HOME
Pulling off the ball is a common mistake by many hitters. In order to get consistent contact, the hitter must be sure his head stays closed, in other words, looking down into the contact area.
It is very easy to get into the habit of pulling off the ball. This is especially true for power hitters.
Have you ever seen a power hitter hit a home run and thereafter, he can’t couch the ball? What happened?
The home run took him out of himself. So as he pivots, he is also pivoting his head.
First of all, hitters should never take a 100% stroke. Doing this invites pulling off the ball.
For efficiency, the stroke should be no more than 95%, saving 5% for command.
As coaches, we sometimes go too far in the other direction by telling them to “just meet the ball.” And now they start to aim the bat, which is not good either.
Hitting is a controlled explosion. Continue to be aggressive, with a 95% stroke.
So what do we advise? The hitter is pulling off because he’s rotating his complete body when he hits.
He must focus on his head rotating in the opposite direction to the hips. As the hips rotate to the pitcher, the head should rotate to the ball.
Here are three baseball hitting drills for this:
Place a pile-on or glove across from the hitter just outside the batter’s box in front of home plate (45% angle). After the hitter makes contact, he looks into the pile-on area. This keeps the head inside.
DRILL #2 (with pitching machine or live pitcher)
Hitter assumes his stance, with no bat. To simulate holding a bat, his top hand grabs the thumb of his bottom hand. Coach stands in back of the hitter and holds his head on both sides . The hitter takes batless strokes at the pitched ball, while coach restricts the head to keep it on the ball as it enters the hit zone.
DRILL #3 (Full Take)
The hitter will coil, stride, and read the pitch to the catcher.
This keeps the head independent and disciplines it to stay with the ball. Note: This head discipline should carry over to his regular hitting, in the “full take”, a pitch that is an obvious ball.
Coaching Points. The hitter should not go to the point where his head is pushing against the back shoulder. This locks up the back shoulder and restricts his extension.
The head swivels. It should never tilt while reading the pitch. This causes the body to tilt also and the eyes to look on a vertical plane. Eyes must stay basically horizontal for best vision and body control.
These techniques are fully explained in our baseball hitting instruction web site for the “Super 8 Hitting System”, including batting aids and a series of baseball hitting videos, which demonstrates many baseball hitting drills.