Common Mechanical Errors of Hitting
Because of the numerous mechanical aspects that comprise a baseball swing, it is by far the hardest skill to master in athletics. It could take players months, years and in some cases decades to master this skill. Players, along with their coaches, must understand and practice proper swing mechanics over and over to become an accomplished hitter.
Mechanical errors of the swing are common in hitters from youth leagues up to the big leagues. Identifying and correcting these errors are the two ingredients to become a great hitter.
This resource will cover three common mechanical errors that hitters encounter with their individual swings. Through observation, coaches and players must first identify the problem(s) and the severity of the problem(s) in each players' swing. Once these errors are identified, the coach and player must make the necessary adjustments in the hitters' mechanics to eliminate these problems.
IMPORTANT: Remember that each player has an individual swing and problem(s) and must be evaluated accordingly as an individual. Both coaches and players must be patient with new mechanical adjustments in their swings.
Balance is very essential throughout the sequence in producing a quality swing.
- Identify problem(s)
- Check players balance prior to initiating the swing: If you can push the player off his stance in any direction with minimal effort, the hitter is off balance
- This lack of balance will be magnified during the swing due to the tremendous force of a hitters swing
- Off-balance swings will hinder eye contact with the ball, proper arm and hand location during the swing, solid contact and a proper follow through
- A players' body should stay in the same plane throughout the swing
- Suggestions for Correction
- Square stance
- Wider stance
- Even distribution of weight over feet.
- Stacking the stance
- Knees over toes
- Hips over knees
- Shoulder over hips
- Head straight up
- Eliminate bending at the waist
Upper Cutting - Lifting the Ball
"Level swing throughout the zone is essential to solid contact and hitting line drives."
A common mistake by young hitters is upper cutting during their swing. This swing creates a barrel that drags through the strike zone, causing the bat to make contact with the lower half of the baseball. This swing results in players hitting weak pop-ups and weak ground balls. Coaches can identify this type of swing during tee work, soft toss or live batting practice. If the ball elevates immediately on contact, the hitter has an upper cut and a mechanical problem. There are multiple reasons for this problem.
- Identify the Problem
- Excessive weight on the back leg at contact with ball
- Elevation of front shoulder, thus dipping of back shoulder
- Leading with bottom hand which causes barrel to drag through zone
- High back arm and elbow on initial load
- Gripping bat too deep in palm of hitters hand
- Pivoting on the lead foot heel
- Correcting the Upper Cut
- Weight balanced prior to initiating swing
- Level shoulder prior and during swing
- Relaxing back arm and pointing elbow to back hop
- Grip bat in fingers - relaxed grip
- Pivot on balls of your feet
Not Hitting the Ball on the Sweet Spot of the Bat
"Squaring the ball up on the bat is essential to hitting the ball hard and on a line."
During the past 30 years, the use of aluminum bats by youth, high school and college players has diminished the need for players to hit the ball on the sweet spot of the bat. With the introduction of wood bats and the BBCORE bat in these age groups, the skill of squaring the ball up on the bat has become more important to young hitters.
- The two easiest ways to identify deficiencies in this skill
- Flight of ball
- Sound on contact. Ball goes directly down or up if hitter has not squared ball up, if there is not a distinct crack (wood) or ping (aluminum) the player has not squared up the ball on the bat
- Suggestions for Correction:
- Short compact swing to ball - eliminates looping/dragging the bat
- Top hand to ball
- Concentrate on hitting backside of ball
- Hitting the ball with a level barrel