How to Coach: Hitting #1 is the first “lesson” in teaching young athletes how to hit. Whether run at a team practice or with an athlete 1-on-1, HTC: Hitting #1 begins the process of teaching fundamentals. Thus, it starts by addressing the legs! Just as a strong foundation is required for any tall building, the athletic base of a young hitter takes priority over all other swing fundamentals. Throughout this, and other, How-to-Coach series’ Dugout Captain follows a ground-up approach.
EXECUTION / DRILL STATION & SET UP – When teaching an individual, the station and set-up isn’t as relevant. In a team environment, however, station and structure is a huge part of creating athlete focus! Use six cones to mark initial staging area and group instruction. Then, use a batting cage or catch net to set up the ‘live’ hitting station. Tee work is best to teach early hitting, as the focus is on swing fundamentals rather than the challenge of hitting soft-toss, front-toss, or live pitching.
- Group – Start the drill by having each group member take their hitting stance at a cone. Place six cones in a semi-circle, with ample room for each to practice their swing. Stand in front of the group and explain the way the drill will be conducted… and then get into instruction (see below). Next, move inside the cage or over to the catch net for individual swings.
- Individual / Broken Swings – Each athlete rotates through the ‘live’ hitting area individually for 5-8 swings. Initially, athletes are to execute proper fundamentals using freezes and holds to see / feel / experience the correct technique. Adjust number of swings depending on the size of the group. If needbe, assign live, on-deck, and ‘in-the=
- Individual / Live Swings – Continuing to rotate through individually, athletes are to apply instruction to live swings.
EXECUTION / INSTRUCTION – HTC Hitting #1 utilizes broken movements early. This means, freezing after taking a stride/load (position #1 in DC’s hitting system). The focus of this drill is getting to a strong and athletic stride position. Coach Malec consistently refers to this as an athletic base and uses the analogy of stretching a rubber band.
- Start – Begin individual swings with the athlete’s feet close together. The ‘narrow feet’ feeling is distinctly different than what the athlete feels after the stride.
- Step / Stride – Stride and load out to an athletic base. This is the “rubber band feeling,” which is be more heavily emphasized in Part #2 and #3
- Push Test – Use the push test to check for stability. Athlete should be strong at this ‘loaded’ position.
- Swing & Finish – Once the athlete has passed a stability test, instruct the athlete to swing aggressively and hold the finish.
Goal: Stride out to an athletic, loaded position and hold… swing like heck… and hold the finish. Strength and balance throughout the swing.
- Strong Athletic Position – This is the key to swing development, producing power, and moving the baseball.
- Step “Firm” to Ball of Foot – Take time to teach, see, feel this movement. Too light = stuck on backside. Too heavy = lunging forward
- Legs First – Follow the ground-up philosophy and shut up already
- Assign Homework – Use MyClipboard’s Homework tool to get athletes to work at home. Dry swings, tee work, balance beam drill… ANYTHING!!
- START FEET CLOSE TOGETHER... STEP/STRIDE OUT TO ATHLETIC BASE
- CHECK LOADED STANCE, PUSH FOR STABILITY, FIRE SWING!
- GROUP AT ONCE / BROKEN SWINGS / LIVE REPS
- STRONG ATHLETIC POSITION
- STEP FIRM TO BALL OF FOOT
- LEGS FIRST
- Baseball Buckets1
- Catch Net1
- Batting Tee1