Buy the Right Bat: Bat Recommendations | How Bat Weight & Swing Speed Affect Velocity
Hammerheads Hitting Program: Batspeed Program | Good Hitting Stations
More Hitting Stuff: Hitting Drills | Hitting Tips | The Tee | Fix My Swing | Common Flaws
Get Your Swing Right
There are so many stations and drills you can use to get your swing right and keep it right. For our Hammerheads program, there are some stations we will use more often than others when we send hitters through our circuit training. Take a look below to see some of the ones we like best.
Yellow Balls Pitching Machine (Mini Foam Golf Balls)
I love this station. Most of my players don’t like it, but it’s an awesome station to help hitters get better at hitting. If you can consistently hit these at the speeds that we set them at, pitching will look much easier to you in the real games come spring time.
Learning how to get on line with a high pitch and low pitch is so important. Too many hitters are either good at pitches up in the zone or down in the zone. Learn how to be good at both so your hot zone can be so much bigger.
Working inside and outside is great for learning how to recognize pitch locations and work on your contact points. Understand how the hips work for inside pitches and outside pitches. The inside, outside station is one of the most important stations for us when training hitters.
So many hitters do not understand the difference between the low middle vs. high middle pitch. So many hitting coaches will teach their hitters to hit everything around the middle of the plate back up the middle. The high middle pitch is closer to you and the contact point that will give you the highest ball exit speed will be more out front, so this is a pitch you can pull. While the low middle pitch can be pulled, for most hitters, it’s a lot easier to let this pitch get deeper. The deeper you let it get, the easier it is to get it in the air. This is another station that’s very important for us.
For many hitters, thinking middle helps them hit better. This doesn’t mean that you have to hit everything up the middle, but basically by having this approach, this allows you to hit more pitches up the middle of the field instead of pulling off of them. The best hitters can think middle and react in. For some, thinking middle will cause them to be middle-opposite field hitters which may be better for them than trying to pull the ball if they aren’t good pull hitters. For many hitters, thinking middle is just a station they use while hitting to get their swing right before they start trying to launch balls.
To Swing Faster
To get our players to focus on swinging with maximum batspeed and to help increase their batspeed, we use these stations below.
Who doesn’t love the ball exit speed station? I wish my college coach did this drill. I would have had some fun trying to pop triple digits. It’s a station that helps our players really get after it when using the batting tee.
10, 9, 8 Drill
The 10, 9, 8 drill is an awesome drill and it works great, especially for players that have never done it before. We can usually improve player’s ball exit speed by 2 to 3 mph very quickly by doing this drill. It is part of our winter training program where we see players gain an average of 7 to 8 mph at the youth levels. At the high school level, it depends where they are in the process. For the players in the 70s, it usually isn’t that hard to get them into the 80s. It’s a little harder to get players to jump into the 90s, but we have 6 to 8 players every year who get up over 90 and this drill is one of the big reasons why. We use this as a station or as an end of the routine station where everyone does it. 10, 9, 8 is one of the biggest reasons why our hitters will jump their ball exit speed off the tee.
Hitting the Tire
We love hitting the tire with sledge hammers. This helps strengthen our legs, core and hands. There is a definite different in gains from our players who come in and put in the work vs. the players that don’t do it. Our 14u players on up will swing the sledge hammers unless we have a player that is too weak or too small to handle them. For the smaller 14u players and lower, we will use a heavier bat than their game bat to hit the tire and it tends to still give us some decent gains.
Have an Idea at the Plate
We can’t just go up to the plate and just swing. There has to be a plan or approach geared towards cleaning up a player’s swing. For most younger players, the batting cage is going to be where they are constantly battling with themselves’ to clean up the bad muscle memory. So for one hitter, he might be focused more on flattening his swing out or adding lift to his swing while also going through our stations. Once the swing is really clean though, then some of the stations that help us have an approach in the games is what is going to really make the difference for us during the upcoming season.
2 Strike Station
The 2 strike station is usually a station where I have one of my college guys try to dominate my high school players and my youth players. It’s hard to lay off a curveball that breaks down into the dirt when you have 2 strikes on you. The high fastball is also a common pitch with 2 strikes, so this station is important for us to help our hitters prepare for how pitchers will try to put them away.
Hot Zone Station
Find a pitch in your hot zone and let it fly. For many hitters, this is something they need a lot of work on. They either think their hot zone is way bigger or way smaller than what it actually is. Some hitters have no approach whatsoever. This helps get them add a mental approach to their at bats.
Take Your Walks Station
Taking your walks is so important to playing winning baseball. I coach so many games at so many age groups every summer and the coaches that don’t teach their teams any plate discipline usually get beat. I remember playing a game against Pirates Baseball last year and they swung on 3 occasions with 3-0 counts and none of them worked out for them. We saw plenty of pitches, didn’t help their pitchers and won a game by several runs entirely because we took our walks and they refused to take a walk. When I see teams of equal talent and one team takes it’s walks and one doesn’t, the team that takes their walks will win almost every single time. When the opposing pitcher needs some help, it is not our job to help them. Take your walks and let’s get to their bullpen.