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Hitting a Baseball - How to Keep My Sons Feet and Bat "Quiet"


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#1 Skiponzo

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 02:19 PM

Hey SOSH coaches. In So Cal baseball season is starting up again and while I've been coaching my boys for the better part of 4 years I am having some trouble finding a way to alleviate a problem that has developed with my 8 year olds hitting.

B (as I will call him) is a small kid who likes the game but really isn't very good at it. He's playing his second year of machine pitch (some call it CAPS) and when he stands in the batters box he waggles his bat, and when the ball comes shuffles his feet. I've told him until I am blue in the face that he needs to keep still and then just attack the ball but he can't seem to get the concept. He keeps telling me "that's how I get comfortable". We've worked on doing it correctly with a Tee but when he gets back into the cage he goes back to moving around.

I'm hoping some of you may have dealt with this before and can offer suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

#2 TheYaz67

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:55 AM

Have a couple different pieces of advice, based on the description you provide of his issues. I'm currently coaching my sons (4 and 7) in tee ball/A Ball, but in another life coached hitting for 13-16 year olds for 7 years (Babe Ruth and AAU teams), so I have some experience with these issues.

First - the waggling of the bat - to a degree, this may be an issue of "picking your battles" at this age - waggling the bat may not be a huge problem, provided that as the ball approaches the plate, the hands and bat return to the correct position to launch the swing (think for instance where Youks starts his bat in his stance - back and almost over his head with one hand way up the barrel, but as the pitcher winds & delivers, the hands & bat drop lower to the correct launch position - Gary Sheffield was also a infamous "bat waggler" who could rake).

If he wants to waggle the bat, at least try to get him to do it as a "small waggle" with the bat mostly straight up and down while keeping the hands quiet, and just not letting him move his hands around and waggle the bat back behind his head - that will make for a long and slow swing if he has to launch from back there. Waggling the bat is also not a "must fix" from the perspective of it can have the benefical side effect of keep the batter loose overall - although I prefer that kids waggle their fingers on the bat to keep the grip loose and the bat remain more still - perhaps try getting him to switch to wiggling his fingers before the ball arrives.

The shuffling of the feet is a bigger problem that indeed needs to be corrected. Some kids shuffle their feet because they are nervous they are going to be hit by the pitch, so they don't dig in - your son is playing machine pitch, so this shouldn't be an issue (unless it is a wild and unpredictable old pitching machine!), but you need to rule this out as a possibility. It can also just be a symptom of overall pressure and nerves - anxiety to hit/not being able to wait until the ball gets there.

Another cause of shuffling the feet at this age beyond just anxiousness to hit the ball is the belief that the ball can be hit harder by moving the feet late to create more "leverage" on the swing (often the back foot will move back a bit to create this leverage, and the front foot just compensates). In doing so, his subconsious instinct is correct - think of casting a fishing rod - you don't just hold it upright then flick it forward, you bring the rod back, then cast it forward to create the leverage to throw the lure further.

I would suggest trying to correct this by talking to him about creating a powerful swing that does not involve moving the feet to create leverage (the drawing the rod back) by instead "loading" his swing. This may be tough with an 8 year old, I understand, as this is a somewhat more advanced swing concept than just the "basic" swing mechanics that are taught at the early years. Try having him get in his "normal" stance at the tee, then yell out "load" - at the load command, you are teaching him to slightly curl his front side (shoulder and knee primarily, and hips slightly) inwards and shift a bit more weight to his back foot - then yell "swing" and make sure when he swings that he uncoils that front side and shifts the weight to the front foot - that is how he can create the leverage and power in his swing that he seeks, without the happy feet.... When he gets in the cage, use the same "load command" before the pitch is delivered to reinforce what he practiced on the tee.

Hope some of these suggestions are helpful, and good luck!

Edited by TheYaz67, 08 February 2012 - 10:58 AM.


#3 Skiponzo

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:15 AM

Thanks Yaz.

I like the idea of the finger wiggling to replace the bat waggle (that's what I used to do as a kid so not sure why I couldn't think of it). The bat usually ends up being in the wrong position so I think I'll "suggest" he use the finger thing but allow the waggle as long as he holds the bat up high and is ready to go when the ball comes. The feet is excatly as you descibe in that he's trying to generate more power and is striding more into the plate vice directly toward the pitcher. This is a result of me moving him away from the plate becasue he's now strong enough to handle a longer bat and he's struggling with the idea that the bat can still reach the proper hitting zone.

Been working with him on the hip turn so I guess I'm on the right track but just need to give it time. Tough for me to do and for him as well because he has a couple of good friends on the team that can just rake....and it's frustrating him.

#4 loshjott

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:59 AM

I like the concept of "loading" also. If your kid has nervous energy the load is good because it teaches him it's OK to move a bit in the batters box and in fact the load is movement that will help his swing by getting his body in the best position to attack the ball.

As for the hip turn, I was taught to help kids by telling them to begin their swing (after loading) by "squashing the bug." The first movement is to turn on the ball of their back foot which drives the heel back, knee and thigh forward, and rotates the hip in the correct manner. Little kids especially like the concept of squashing a bug under the ball of their back foot and that sets the swing in motion.

#5 LoweTek

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 06:14 PM

I used to use "Lock, load and GO!" I would explain all the disadvantages of excess motion anywhere just before the "real" swing or "load and GO." Try to get the load at pitcher zenith - when the arm is at its high point during delivery (helps also with pitcher release concentration and timing). I would tell them, "I don't care what you do before 'lock.'" These were older kids though.

You can try having him hit ten each BP session with no foot movement, only pivot, weight transfer and swing - can't change the position or placement of the feet.

#6 PaulinMyrBch


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Posted 10 February 2012 - 08:30 AM

I call that happy feet. Which for kids I've coached is setting the front foot before they set the back for the last time. In my experience it really doesn't hurt them until they get to the varsity high school level and have to deal with fast pitching. Or at the 11-12 level when they are in the last year of 46' mounds.

Having said that, its a habit you need to work him out of, not immediately IMO, but slowly. I think his pre-load is the problem, and he goes happy feet to get his weight set. Instead of going back to go forward, he goes forward, then back to go forward.

My suggestion is using different drills to get him to properly load and to feel a proper pre-load.

1. A - B Drill. Soft toss or short toss behind an L-screen. Have him get to the A position, pre load. And then have him set to B, the load (stride with left, set the hands). He freezes that position, toss the ball, he hits from there.
2. Front foot lift. Short toss behind L-screen. Have him in preload position, (normal stance when pitcher is winding up). Before you throw it, have him lift the front foot off the ground a few times, up down up down, to feel the pre-load on his back leg. Then have him resume his normal stance, toss the ball and have him swing normal. This should reinforce the feeling of a proper pre-load weight distribution.

Monitor what he does in a game, but don't dwell on it. I've got a kid that's had happy feet for years and he's still a real good hitter at this age (10th grade), but I think it catches up to him with good varsity pitching this year.

#7 JimBoSox9


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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:56 AM

This is a drill that I would recommend:



It's really designed to focus on torso rotation and quiet hands, but it can also be helpful in this case because it simply reduces focus on lower body movement, so it will get him to a place where he doesn't feel like he HAS to shuffle his feet to drive the ball.

#8 PaulinMyrBch


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Posted 11 February 2012 - 08:24 PM

FWIW the kid that I've coached since he was a 6 year old kid that has happy feet was 2-3 today in a varsity scrimmage. One of those hits was against a senior who was throwing fastballs 93. Yes, 93 in 45 degree weather. He did not move his front foot twice today though.

So if he's hitting the ball with his big ass waggle and happy feet, slowly work him out of it, but let him rip it his way for now.

#9 Skiponzo

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 02:51 PM

Thanks for all the info guys. We've been in the cage 2 more times and so far I've got him to stop with the happy feet. He hit the ball MUCH better last night and afterward said to me "I hit the ball as good as Dylan tonight" (Dylan is his friend who rakes) so, being the resourceful dad I am, I told him it was all because he kept his feet still and was striding directly toward the pitcher. Hoping the confidence he is gaining will reinforce the strategy.

I also convinced him to hold the bat a little higher and this seems to have had the effect of getting the bat into a better position on impact. Still doing the waggle but ,per suggestions, I'm going to ignore that and focus on the point of impact and results obtained.

FYI. Some HS players in the cage next to us were doing the drill in the video. I think we'll do a little of that next time out (maybe 25 soft tosses).


Oh and apropo of nothing...he got his uniform last night and he's #34. He turns to look at me and says; "Yes! I got Big Papi's number!" I LOVE IT!!

Edited by Skiponzo, 14 February 2012 - 02:54 PM.


#10 PaulinMyrBch


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Posted 14 February 2012 - 06:16 PM

Thanks for all the info guys. We've been in the cage 2 more times and so far I've got him to stop with the happy feet. He hit the ball MUCH better last night and afterward said to me "I hit the ball as good as Dylan tonight" (Dylan is his friend who rakes) so, being the resourceful dad I am, I told him it was all because he kept his feet still and was striding directly toward the pitcher. Hoping the confidence he is gaining will reinforce the strategy.

I also convinced him to hold the bat a little higher and this seems to have had the effect of getting the bat into a better position on impact. Still doing the waggle but ,per suggestions, I'm going to ignore that and focus on the point of impact and results obtained.

FYI. Some HS players in the cage next to us were doing the drill in the video. I think we'll do a little of that next time out (maybe 25 soft tosses).


Oh and apropo of nothing...he got his uniform last night and he's #34. He turns to look at me and says; "Yes! I got Big Papi's number!" I LOVE IT!!


Explain a little higher. Was it in a bad position before?

#11 Skiponzo

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 10:02 AM

He was holding the bat a little low and close to his shoulder, which in and of itself is not "bad positioning". However, the aforementioned waggle would make his swing late to the point of impact and thus he either made weak contact to the opposite field or tried to compensate by forcing the swing through the zone to catch up to the ball and missed it entirely. By making him raise the bat higher in his stance it makes it a little harder for him to waggle the bat as much and allows him to reach the hitting zone slightly quicker (and we all know a tenth of a second can make the difference between good contact and weak contact).

We'll see if it continues. I'll try to take some pics of him swinging and put them up here but it's a little hard since I am the coach and work with all the kids.

#12 PaulinMyrBch


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Posted 16 February 2012 - 08:58 AM

Just pay attention to his hands when they are in the load position. That's the point (just before they come forward) that is critical. Low or high before that, while not ideal, is tolerable if his hands are loaded in a good position.

#13 Skiponzo

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 11:04 AM

Thought I'd drop back into this thread (our season's almost over....1 game left) and just say that while he's never been a great hitter my oldest seems to have figured out where his hands need to be before the ball comes and most importantly at impact. Now it's just repetition repetition and more repetition!

Thanks for the advice.