Troubleshooting Hitters

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Troubleshooting Hitters

Jack Byerley

Head Softball Coach Northwest Florida

Coach Jack Byerley from Auburn University covers some problems hitters have and gives you insight to what causes them and, more importantly, what you can do to correct them.

Troubleshooting Hitters - Overview.

In this short introduction to the troubleshooting hitting program, Coach Jack Byerley talks briefly about correcting common problems among hitters, starting with feet positioning and working through the head.

Proper Feet Positions

In this section, coach Byerley demonstrates how to get into and maintain a proper stance at the plate. Starting with feet together, the batter moves to a shoulder-width stance for a striding stance, and a slightly wider stance for a non-striding stance.

Front Foot Placement

Focusing on the placement of the front foot during a batter’s stance, Coach Byerley demonstrates ways to correct the bad habit of ‘stepping out’ at the plate. He demonstrates a wide non-striding stance as well as a striding stance that starts with the lead foot out and brining it as the batter goes through her swing.

Back Foot Placement

Following the section on front foot placement comes this short lesson on back foot placement. Byerley demonstrates how the over-rotation of the back foot can cause the batter to lose balance during the swing. Here, they discuss techniques to correct the problem.

Proper Hip Position

In this segment, coach Byerley shows how many hitters over-rotate their hips as they move through the ball in the batter’s box. Instead of moving the hips 90 degrees as the batter swings, coach shows how the hips should remain in a linear position throughout the swing.

Over-rotation of the Hips

Correcting the common problem of over-rotation of the hips is the goal of this section. Using a modified version of the broomstick and T-ball drill, Coach Byerley demonstrates a method for proper hip rotation, eliminating the habit of over-rotation causing and creating a more consistent swing.

Over-Rotation of the Shoulders

Moving up the torso from the hips, Coach Byerley tackles the problem of over-rotation of the shoulders. The teaching technique utilizes the flat part of a fence or a wall allowing the hitter to make contact with the surface with her elbows or shoulders in order to feel the over-rotation.

Lead Elbow Position

Focusing on techniques for the power hitting, Coach Byerley demonstrates drills aimed at keeping the front elbow down as the batter moves through her swing. Teaching techniques include methods that emphasize proper elbow position eliminating pop-ups and easy fly balls.

Grip

Emphasizing being relaxed, loose and in control at the plate, Coach demonstrates how to employ a proper bat grip. The teaching techniques include resting the bat on the inside of the fingers in stead of the palms, properly lining up the knuckles and eliminating over-rotation in each hand.

Hand Position

In this segment, proper hand position is demonstrated and related to creating power during the swing. Coach emphasizes moving the hands in a linear motion as the hitter moves the bat through the swing rather than out in a ‘casting’ motion.

Hands and Wrists

In this segment focusing on proper wrist technique, Coach demonstrates a hitting drill using a hammer and broomstick. Moving the bat through a typical swing, the object is to hit the point of the broomstick square with the head of the hammer. Striking the broom stick on the side is an indicator of incorrect wrist position.

Head Position

Moving up the body to the head, Coach discusses drills that help the batter see the ball at all times with both eyes. From determining the hitter’s dominate eye to tee drills meant to focus the batter’s eyes on the top of the tee after striking the ball, head and eye position are key to better hitting.

Balance

In this segment balance is the focus, training the batter to properly shift weight from the back leg to the front leg during the swing. The teaching technique in this sequence involves the batter standing at the plate, bat in hand, on a tire training the leg muscles to be properly balanced.

Balance Part II

Further emphasizing balance at the plate, a rubber cord is tied around the hitter's waist putting pressure on the batter as she moves through her swing. With a second coach providing the tension, the hitting coach is able to see how the hitter responds with the added pressure put on her torso during her swing.

Swing Techniques

Using a ball on a tee, coach Byerley demonstrates drills that emphasize making contact in the hitter's 'contact zone.' Teaching techniques include wrist technique at the point of contact as well as bat head position in the loading stage of the swing.

Contact Point

In this segment, Coach Byerley discusses hand and bat head position as the hitter approaches the contact point during her swing. Key points include keeping the head of the bat behind the hand as the hitter moves through her swing, correcting tendencies for players to get ahead of the ball at the plate.

Hitting Drills

Here, Coach Byerley addresses common misconceptions regarding tee placement during hitting drills. Correcting the frequently used technique of placing the tee directly on top of the plate, he demonstrates proper positioning when working on hitting pitches on the inside and outside parts of the plate as well as pitches down the middle.

Side Toss

Proper technique for administering the side-toss drill is discussed in this segment. Coaching points for this drill include proper ball placement allowing the hitter to hit the ball in her contact points – down the middle, outside and inside potions of the plate.

Front Toss

The front toss is one of the most important hitting drills available to coaches. In this segment, Coach demonstrates proper techniques for coaches in setting up the drill and the importance in tossing balls in the hitter’s contact zones ensuring success at the plate.

Closing Remarks

During his closing remarks, coach Byerley talks about the joys of hitting and the excitement in seeing young athletes develop confidence at the plate. Creating players who are eager to hit balls on their own time and in practice is an important part of being a successful softball coach.