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LL Hitting Drills

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by kanga12, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. kanga12

    kanga12 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,870
    After a fun season coaching t-ball last year (much of it due to all your advice and suggestions), I've moved up to coaching coach-pitch this season.

    One thing I've noticed is that some of our players are not swinging all the way through -- I think much of it is they are just trying to make contact vs. following through on the swing. Any drills or suggestions?

    Also, any fun/different hitting drills that you've used at this age level to vary it up?
     
  2. Just a bit outside

    Just a bit outside Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    3,042
    I liked to have the kids hit a partially inflated basketball off a tee. If the students don't follow through the ball will hardly go anywhere. Great for teaching a powerful swing.
     
  3. Jordu

    Jordu Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Stand *behind* the kid, gently lob the ball forward waist-high, and have the kid hit it. The kid can't help but swing through the ball. (It's also a great drill for eye/hand.)

    It's frustrating at first for the kids, but when they start driving the ball they're ecstatic.

    Say this a thousand times, just like every coach I ever had did: "Don't swing AT the ball, swing THROUGH the ball. Cut it in half!"

    To get kids to follow through, keep yelling "Pose for a picture!" Every kid knows that picture.
     
  4. ElcaballitoMVP

    ElcaballitoMVP Member SoSH Member

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    This is a great drill, but one they might struggle with considering their age. It's not an easy drill at first, but if they can get it, it will absolutely help with not swinging through the ball. Another drill I like, and a good one to start young, is hitting with a skinny bat and hitting plastic golf balls. (Something like this:
    ). Won't necessarily help with swinging through the ball, but great for hand-eye coordination and if you have a couple of bats and enough balls, you can break into a few different groups and get a ton of swings in without worrying about kids getting hurt with balls flying all over the place.

    When I helped coached my younger brother's teams growing up, I used to just tell the young kids to not be afraid to hit the crap out of the ball. Some of the kids were so worried about making contact they wouldn't hit the ball past the pitcher, but once they started attacking the ball, they saw the results and started swinging like they meant it. Obviously, you don't want them taking wild hacks, but don't be afraid to tell them to put something into it and go after a pitch they like. Sounds simple, but it worked.
     
  5. drleather2001

    drleather2001 given himself a skunk spot SoSH Member

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    How old are the kids?
     
  6. JimBoSox9

    JimBoSox9 will you be my friend? SoSH Member

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    soft-toss, soft-toss, soft-toss. Really, I don't care so much about the pros and cons of specific drills when it comes to hitting - the primary constraint, and goal, is to maximize the number of swings every kid is getting thoughout the week. Plastic balls, tees, those quick-hitter things....marshal your resources best you can to just get them swinging and keep swinging. A lot of the basics of how to generate good contact, they'll learn their way into without overcoaching if they're just making contact with a ball a couple hundred times a week.
     
  7. PaulinMyrBch

    PaulinMyrBch Don't touch his dog food Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Bat may be way too heavy also. If the bat is heavy, kids do all they can do get it to contact and have nothing left to finish through contact. A good sign is if the bat momentum changes upon contact with the ball, that is an indicator the bat is too much for the player. You see it at the early JV level as well when kids are forced into the -3 weights.
     
    #7 PaulinMyrBch, Apr 1, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
  8. kanga12

    kanga12 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The kids are 5-7.
     
  9. TheYaz67

    TheYaz67 Member SoSH Member

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    Another piece of advice is to make sure that they have a proper grip on the bat - aka ensure that the "door-knocking" knuckles are lined up with each other. When they grip the bat this way (despite it feeling really "awkward" at first) it will allow them to properly roll their wrists on the follow through. If they are squeezing the bat too tight and/or have their hands rotated all the way around (where instead your "big knuckles" are now lined up) it is next to impossible to freely follow all the way through on the swing - they "lock themselves up" instead.

    Make them grip it with door knocking knuckles lined up, put a ball on the tee, stand behind them and hold their hands and demonstrate how you want both their hands to make a quick path to the ball (no long swings where the first thing that happens is they drop the bat DOWN, then swing forward) and that after contact (remember tee needs to be a bit out in front of the batters front foot) you help them rotate the wrists all the way through and show them how the bat needs to end up over the front shoulder at the end of the swing...

    Good luck!
     
  10. kanga12

    kanga12 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Thanks fellas -- this is all helpful. I think for a couple of players it may be the weight of the bat -- they don't have any difficulty swinging through when hitting plastic balls but it does seem like when they hit the game balls they don't follow through as PaulinMyrBch noted.
     
  11. JimBoSox9

    JimBoSox9 will you be my friend? SoSH Member

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    It's also as likely to be the length as the weight of the bat. Long bats make long slow swings, short bats help teach keeping the hands inside the ball.
     
  12. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Another trick to have them line up knuckles properly: Have them hold bat in way that if they point their index fingers up, both will be lined up together and parallel to the bat handle.
     
  13. PaulinMyrBch

    PaulinMyrBch Don't touch his dog food Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    If that is the case and you do get them in a shorter/ligher bat, the ball drill describe above will help them get through it better. And it doesn't have to be a basketball. Pick something lighter, one of the mini basketballs, soccer ball. Anything a bit heavier than a baseball and have them hit it off a tee.

    I would add that to the hitting practice rotation. Have a station where they hit a bigger ball off a tee, for 5-10 swings, then real ball off a tee, then they step in for their turn with the live session.
     
  14. kanga12

    kanga12 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Yeah, for a couple of players we have them choking up on the bat a bit.

    It's hilarious, one kid has this bright neon orange bat with flames on it and every single player wants to hit with it -- even though it's too long for many of the rest of the team...

    Good tip. Will try this out.
     
  15. wildeman

    wildeman lurker

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    On the knocking knuckles thing... I wouldn't strictly mandate lining them up, as it can be very uncomfortable for some kids, and mess with their back elbow. Just make sure they aren't lining up their "punching" knuckles and they should be good. (said some idiot on a messageboard with all of 1 game of little league management experience)
     
  16. mikeysox

    mikeysox lurker

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    My son tends to get out on his front foot. This tennis ball drill helps him keep his weight back. Also emphasizes the need to separate the step and the swing.

    Batter at the plate ready to hit. Pitcher about 20-30 feet away (ideally behind a screen, but with tennis balls I feel reasonably brave).
    Pitch to the batter. However, instead of throwing the ball over the plate, bounce it a few feet in front.
    The hitter will have taken his or her timing step based on your release of the pitch, but because the ball bounces, the only way he or she can hit it is to keep his or her weight back .

    When I did this with my son, it took a few pitches but then he got the hang of it. Plus, everyone loves hitting tennis balls.
     
  17. BigMike

    BigMike Dope Dope

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    My assistant coach goes nuts with the knuckle knocking thing. I'll have a batter who is a complete mess at the plate. Back foot is sliding all over the place. just a complete mess, and I will turn around and he is worrying about rotating his knuckles another half an inch. Yes there are times that a kids grip is so bad they can't swing, but once you move past there, fry the bigger fish first
     
  18. wildeman

    wildeman lurker

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    I hear ya - learned this the hard way. Mentioned the knuckles thing in passing in the cage, and then had to watch one of my better hitters looking back at his hands while the pitcher was winding up all season. He's also one of those poor guys whose dad is yelling "back shoulder up!" from behind the screen every AB. Breaks my heart, cuz I can see there's a hitter in there, if he could just switch off his brain. I solemnly swear, from now on I'm just gonna make sure they're holding the right end and feel comfortable/balanced. I hated "see ball/hit ball" when I was a kid, but I'm starting to see the genius of it (especially at this level).
     
  19. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Yep - really not something that too much emphasis should be on, but something to be checked as they continue to play and get older. Especially if that takes the fun out of hitting.

    See ball/hit ball indeed.
     

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