By Jack Perconte
Major league hitters have very advanced swing fundamentals, which explain how they made it to the major leagues. However, it is important to note that fundamentals are fundamentals. The drills that are designed for little league players are the same drills that major league players perform. There are numerous baseball hitting drills with the best drills being the ones that address the particular hitter's needs. Every hitter, from the major league player to the little league player, has a weak part of their swing. When this weakness is known, hitting drills can be geared towards addressing those areas. Working on correct fundamentals is a continual process for major league players as it is for youth ballplayers.
When I played major league baseball, the off season was the time where I was more concerned with getting in great shape by gaining quickness and strength. I was not as concerned with timing the ball as much as in season. With this in mind, preseason was spent performing drills on the batting tee and with soft toss drills. The important body parts that major league baseball players want to get in shape are their hands and core muscles, including the stomach and hips. With this in mind here are a few major league hitting drills that ballplayers practice to get their hands and hips in shape.
1. One arm drill - hitters will take swings using only one arm with a lighter bat or by choking up on their regular bat. This drill will force them to use the muscles in their fingers, hands, wrists and forearms so that they develop the strength and quickness necessary to hit major league pitching. It will also help them develop the correct swing fundamentals of each hand separately. It is recommended that players take more swings in this manner with their weaker arm.
2. Another popular major league hitting drill is the self-flip drill. With this drill, players will begin by holding the bat with their lead arm only and flip a ball up in the air with their rear hand. The ball should be flipped no higher than eye level and in the hitting zone, at which time the hitter grabs the bat with both hands and hits the ball. This drill develops quick, strong hands and requires a good fundamental swing to hit line drives.
3. Fast hips can be developed with the quick swing drill. Players will swing five times in a row forward and backward as fast as they can. Players should be sure to finish their swing to the middle of their back before they reverse the bat as fast as they can. This drill can also be done with a partner who flips five balls in a row to the hitter, releasing each ball when hitter returns to hitting position. This drill will also help overall balance, which is another key ingredient to a good baseball swing. (See following drill)
4. Balance beam drill - players stand on a balance beam and take swings at game speed, with the goal of completing the swing while staying on the beam. An example of this drill and of making a usable balance beam can be found in my book, "The Making of a Hitter."
As the season begins, major league baseball players tend to work on timing and vision drills. This is mostly done with correct batting practice habits with flip drills from the coach or regular pitched balls from a batting practice coach. Good hitters will always try to hit the ball where it is pitched in the strike zone and try to watch the ball hit the bat at contact. They will not swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Following are a few more major league hitting drills that also help hitters:
5. Back knee pickup drill - hitters swing and pick up their back knee, allowing it to rotate towards the pitcher with the swing. This drill develops hitters' front side and weight transfer as they will have to keep their front shoulder going towards the ball as their weight transfers. Both of these are necessary for good contact and power.
6. No stride drill - hitters take their regular swing without the initial stride. Many hitters get in trouble when they jump at the ball. This major league hitting drill will allow them to stay back and rotate instead of lunging at the ball. Doing this drill after the previous drill is a good idea.
It is important to note that using a batting tee for taking productive swings is a must for all serious ballplayers. The batting tee is an important device for major league hitting drills as well as for young baseball players. Coaches and hitters should consult instructional manuals or a good hitting coach so they know how to use a batting tee for the best results. All hitting drills can be done on a batting tee and will help groove a perfect baseball swing. Hitting balls solidly and on the line is always the hitter's goal, whether hitting in a game or with hitting drills.
Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball hitting lessons advice can be found at http://www.baseballhittinglessons.com/baseball Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his parenting blog can be found at http://positiveparentinginsports.com
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