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Thread: Teaching Hitting to Young Hitters

  1. #1
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    Teaching Hitting to Young Hitters

    I think it's worthwhile to discuss the best ways to teach hitting to young hitters, ages 9 - 13. So they're beyond t-ball and coach pitch, but they aren't in HS yet. I've coached a lot of teams in this age range. Typically when I introduce hitting I start with using the hips to generate power and getting the bat on plane early and into the bat lag position. I use pictures of Pujols and Jeter as guidelines for my player. I have several drills that reinforce this.

    The one aspect of the swing I don't cover is the proper way to load the hands as they stride. At least I don't until they are better at getting into bat lag position. Almost every player's hands go forward the same time as they swing. Recently with my 9-year-old as soon as we worked on loading the hands, the rest of the swing seemed to fall into place. I'm curious if anyone who has worked with young hitters has started with the proper way to load the hands and just let them swing. I've been thinking about trying that this LL season.
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  2. #2
    I don't know why so many youngsters (I'm talking young kid pitch) have such weak swings. The vast majority of kids on my son's 8u team last year simply had weak swings, with little lower body engagement, not much intent, not much power. My pet theory is that somehow (?) they are getting the athleticism drilled out of them. I have had a pretty minimalist approach with my kid... so far so good.

    (FWIW -- That Jeter picture looks pretty close to a bat drag example to me...)


    I have a five year old with much less baseball interest than my 8-y/o. If I toss to him, he can rip the ball pretty hard, though. Again, no real instruction, just playing some backyard baseball.

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    Teach them the barrel path, teach them the goal of the hands, teach them how to load and use the hands and the rest of the body will get close. The best part about teaching hands first is you do not stifle their athleticism. Get them tall and relaxed and let them use their hands. JMHO

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbrages View Post
    I don't know why so many youngsters (I'm talking young kid pitch) have such weak swings. The vast majority of kids on my son's 8u team last year simply had weak swings, with little lower body engagement, not much intent, not much power. My pet theory is that somehow (?) they are getting the athleticism drilled out of them. I have had a pretty minimalist approach with my kid... so far so good.
    I believe the primary reason for this is that most kids at that age haven't played enough baseball to develop anything close to a good swing, which isn't necessarily bad for 8U. Kids around this age can easily be taught to get a much better swing, but my experience this has to be taught, and teaching lower body mechanics to most kids I find is indispensable. Many, many kids don't fully rotate their hips, and you can't hit that way. I haven't seen that many 8U's having been overcoached. Older, yes, especially in the 12-14 age group but not at 8U, at least for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HYP View Post
    Teach them the barrel path, teach them the goal of the hands, teach them how to load and use the hands and the rest of the body will get close. The best part about teaching hands first is you do not stifle their athleticism. Get them tall and relaxed and let them use their hands. JMHO
    I assume when you say hands you're talking about the upper body in general. Teach them to keep their hands above the ball, point the knob at the ball, slotting the back elbow, etc. Or are you talking the path of the hands? Again, the hands grip the bat, and I know there is more to it than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbrages View Post

    (FWIW -- That Jeter picture looks pretty close to a bat drag example to me...)

    Speaking of bat drag, I don't see bat drag as big of a problem as others seem to. At 9-11, most of the kids who have bat drag are usually ahead of the game. Typically they are using their hips and getting the bat on plane. I'm not saying it's not something to work on, but I don't see it as such an awful habit compared to stepping in the bucket, dropping the hands, casting, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    I assume when you say hands you're talking about the upper body in general. Teach them to keep their hands above the ball, point the knob at the ball, slotting the back elbow, etc. Or are you talking the path of the hands? Again, the hands grip the bat, and I know there is more to it than that.
    I will bow out of this conversation. We don't need 500 pages of the description of the hands. That has been debated ad nauseum. Ever hear the phrase get the body out of the way so the hands can work? Will IMO teach the hands what to do and the body will get out of the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HYP View Post
    I will bow out of this conversation. We don't need 500 pages of the description of the hands. That has been debated ad nauseum. Ever hear the phrase get the body out of the way so the hands can work? Will IMO teach the hands what to do and the body will get out of the way.
    Why so sensitive? I was just asking for a clarification by what you meant by "hands". Tell you what. We won't discuss "hands". I've seen a lot of discussion on here about teaching the path of the barrel. How do those of you that do this teach the path of the barrel? To me the body does what it's supposed to and the barrel will follow the correct path.
    Last edited by azmatsfan; 01-03-2012 at 08:32 PM.

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    Deleted - Spam.
    Last edited by Cannonball; 01-03-2012 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Spam

  10. #10
    That was not spam but was a reply to hitting topic.

  11. #11

    Hitting for kids

    As for hitting I try not to change too much in a hitter unless they are making serious mistakes at contact. The swing is constantly changing and adapting, I don't know many coaches who WOULDN'T change Kevin Youkalis' swing because it looks unorthodox, however he is a very accomplished hitter and as I tell my kids it is the results that matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    I think it's worthwhile to discuss the best ways to teach hitting to young hitters, ages 9 - 13. So they're beyond t-ball and coach pitch, but they aren't in HS yet. I've coached a lot of teams in this age range. Typically when I introduce hitting I start with using the hips to generate power and getting the bat on plane early and into the bat lag position. I use pictures of Pujols and Jeter as guidelines for my player. I have several drills that reinforce this.

    The one aspect of the swing I don't cover is the proper way to load the hands as they stride. At least I don't until they are better at getting into bat lag position. Almost every player's hands go forward the same time as they swing. Recently with my 9-year-old as soon as we worked on loading the hands, the rest of the swing seemed to fall into place. I'm curious if anyone who has worked with young hitters has started with the proper way to load the hands and just let them swing. I've been thinking about trying that this LL season.
    How do you teach "load the hands?"

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by gquinn View Post
    As for hitting I try not to change too much in a hitter unless they are making serious mistakes at contact. The swing is constantly changing and adapting, I don't know many coaches who WOULDN'T change Kevin Youkalis' swing because it looks unorthodox, however he is a very accomplished hitter and as I tell my kids it is the results that matter.
    I suspect a lot of the variation in swings is due to different rates of maturity, and differing amounts of baseball played. I have 2 boys, one in this age range, and one slightly younger, whom I coached this past fall, and will coach this upcoming Spring. The kids with the very week swings in the 8U age group tend to not improve very much by 9-11 if all they are doing is their 13 rec league games and 10 or so practices. There is just not sufficient time to teach. And I am not advocating early travel ball or private lessons necessarily. It has just been my experience that kids who are out playing pickup games, wiffle ball, in the park with dad, etc... tend to naturally develop a "reasonable" swing by age 9. Very hard to work with the kids who never pick up a bat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gquinn View Post
    As for hitting I try not to change too much in a hitter unless they are making serious mistakes at contact. The swing is constantly changing and adapting, I don't know many coaches who WOULDN'T change Kevin Youkalis' swing because it looks unorthodox, however he is a very accomplished hitter and as I tell my kids it is the results that matter.
    His swing is not unorthodox what he does before launch is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pthawaii View Post
    How do you teach "load the hands?"
    I've tried a lot of different cues. "It's like you're getting ready to throw a punch with top hand." "Elbow the third base coach (for RH) as you stride." For my youngest when I had him visualize a rubber band from his his front foot to his hands that he wanted to stretch as he strode it seemed to click.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    Why so sensitive? I was just asking for a clarification by what you meant by "hands". Tell you what. We won't discuss "hands". I've seen a lot of discussion on here about teaching the path of the barrel. How do those of you that do this teach the path of the barrel? To me the body does what it's supposed to and the barrel will follow the correct path.
    Did you say this in another thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    These guys are smart and know hitting, so if I were you when they play dumb like this and pretend to not know what you're saying, I'd just ignore them.
    You know what I mean by hands but still ask for clarification. Hands have been discussed into the ground. We've had the grey matter discussion to they can only grip discussion.

    Now to the part in bold.

    Probably a poor analogy but it makes sense to me. If I tell you to start running. You will probably ask where and how far. If all I tell you is to take off and stop when I tell you to, you will have no idea how fast to run because you have no idea how long you will be running. You also won't know which direction to run.

    If you don't know the path of the barrel, if you do not know what the hands are suppose to do to create that path. Then the body doesn't know which direction to run or how hard.

    JMHO

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    Quote Originally Posted by HYP View Post

    You know what I mean by hands but still ask for clarification. Hands have been discussed into the ground. We've had the grey matter discussion to they can only grip discussion.

    Whether you believe it or not I was sincerely asking for clarification. Remember just because there's a few of you who like to play those passive aggressive games doesn't mean the rest of us do too.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    Speaking of bat drag, I don't see bat drag as big of a problem as others seem to. At 9-11, most of the kids who have bat drag are usually ahead of the game. Typically they are using their hips and getting the bat on plane. I'm not saying it's not something to work on, but I don't see it as such an awful habit compared to stepping in the bucket, dropping the hands, casting, etc.
    I'm coming to this point of view myself...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pthawaii View Post
    How do you teach "load the hands?"
    Watch this video of Bryce Harper. He loads his hands back and up (Steepens his hands) and takes a downward approach to the ball. This is a very good hand load and a very powerful swing.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqB7G...yer_detailpage

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    Quote Originally Posted by HYP View Post
    Now to the part in bold.

    Probably a poor analogy but it makes sense to me. If I tell you to start running. You will probably ask where and how far. If all I tell you is to take off and stop when I tell you to, you will have no idea how fast to run because you have no idea how long you will be running. You also won't know which direction to run.

    If you don't know the path of the barrel, if you do not know what the hands are suppose to do to create that path. Then the body doesn't know which direction to run or how hard.

    JMHO
    I guess I do something similar, but I focus on the body. I show my players three positions at front foot touch (sorry Tewks), bat lag, and contact. All elite hitters are in nearly identical positions at those three points. Then we do drills starting and stopping at these positions to get them the feel before doing full swings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    Whether you believe it or not I was sincerely asking for clarification. Remember just because there's a few of you who like to play those passive aggressive games doesn't mean the rest of us do too.
    Azmats,

    As Hyp has said, the "Hands have been discussed into the ground" for several years now, and once you go out and start swinging a bat in a whole new way, getting out of your comfort zone and what you have done since you were a kid, and attempt to emulate what you see the top MLB players doing with their "hands and arms" . . . you really won't need to keep asking for clarification.

    It's not a fast, easy, or pretty process, but once you start feeling the movement of the barrel behind you . . . you will immediately know what all of this "hands" talk is about.

    Once you get that "feel", you will then be able to start on the real hard part . . . getting the lower half to sync up to that upper half's movement (ie. running start), and begin to adjust to the timing differences that you are afforded with it.

    I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. - Leonardo Da Vinci

    Best of luck,
    mud -
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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    I guess I do something similar, but I focus on the body. I show my players three positions at front foot touch (sorry Tewks), bat lag, and contact. All elite hitters are in nearly identical positions at those three points. Then we do drills starting and stopping at these positions to get them the feel before doing full swings.
    It's the things that happen long before these "three positions" that separate the "elite hitters" from all the rest. While it's OK to teach what you are, you're kind of missing the differences in the first half of the swing . . . IMO obviously.
    In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by mudvnine View Post
    It's the things that happen long before these "three positions" that separate the "elite hitters" from all the rest. While it's OK to teach what you are, you're kind of missing the differences in the first half of the swing . . . IMO obviously.

    Where can you learn how to hit like the "elite hitters"? We have heard about the differences, but how do you teach a young hitter how to hit this way? Since this is a 101 forum, can anyone teach it in a 101 format? I know you recommend Malee, but he does not teach this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Standballdad View Post
    Watch this video of Bryce Harper. He loads his hands back and up (Steepens his hands) and takes a downward approach to the ball. This is a very good hand load and a very powerful swing.
    In my mind it is problematic when we use one of the best as a description to teach the youngsters. Bryce is doing what he does after many years of work and hundreds of thousands of swings. Other than maybe using this as an "ultimate" goal, how would you use this clips as a means to teach the average youngster?

    I feel we lose many children when we treat them and their instruction like they are pros. I go back to my previous example of teaching a pianist chop sticks before teaching them Bethoven's 9th.

    What I have found is many dads and youth instructors get so caught up in the minutia of the swing (most often to impress those around them - not directed at anyone here) they forget the basics at the peril of their players. Then when they get to HS ball and fail they can't understand why. JMHO
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudvnine View Post
    It's the things that happen long before these "three positions" that separate the "elite hitters" from all the rest. While it's OK to teach what you are, you're kind of missing the differences in the first half of the swing . . . IMO obviously.
    So how have you taught 9-year-olds to be "elite hitters" in the past?

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