Swing Path To The Baseball - How to Stop Bat Drag - A Cure For A Slow Bat
The best swing path to the baseball is the one that allows a hitter to consistently meet the baseball square on, in the shortest amount of time.
WHAT CAUSES BAT DRAG OR SLOW BAT SPEED?
Flying open with either the front foot, hips, shoulder or head will cause a hitter’s bat to drag through the zone. Flying open results in dropping the back shoulder, hands and bat head.
DIPPING TOO MUCH WITH THE BACK SHOULDER
As stated earlier, flying open causes a hitter to drop/dip the back shoulder. Dropping with the back shoulder is the number one cause of a long swing. Once the bat head drops beyond the point of no return, there is little chance of catching up to a good fastball.
TIGHT GRIP ON THE BAT
Tight grip causes tension in the forearms that results in a long swing with bat drag. There is nothing worse than watching a hitter tense up on the bat so much that he looks like Frankenstein when he swings. Loose grip equals a fast/tension free swing.
TENSION IN THE ARMS & ELBOWS
Besides the hands, the next worse spot to tense up is the arms and elbows. Tension in the arms will result in a long/slow swing. It is vital a hitter relieves all tension in the upper body while he presents in his batting stance. Refer to the image below.
BAD TRAINING HABITS
Too much BP where the hitter tries to hit home runs every pitch will result in bat drag come game time. Some say a home run swing in BP is a bad swing, too many home run swings in BP will contribute to bad habits. It is essential that a hitter has a balanced hitting regime that includes a variety of hitting exercises. See below for good hitting drills to prevent bat drag.
HOW DOES BAT DRAG AFFECT A HITTER?
TROUBLE WITH THE INSIDE FASTBALL
Once a hitter begins to drag his bat through the hitting zone, there is no chance of squaring up a good inside fastball. In order to hit the inside fastball the hands need to take the shortest path possible to the ball to meet the ball out in front of the hitting zone.
A hitter can forget about hitting for power with a long swing. Besides size and strength the next part of the equation for hitting home runs is bat speed. Of course bat drag equates to a long swing, and a long swing is a weak swing.
Let’s face it, bat drag does not look pretty and a long swing is an ugly swing. In order to have a “pretty baseball swing” a hitter needs to stay short and on top of the baseball.
Foul balls are great when a hitter has 2 strikes against him and he is fighting off some nasty pitches. But when a hitter is fouling off too many fastballs down the middle of the plate, then this can be a sign that he has bat drag. Dropping the bat head will ultimately cause a hitter to foul off hittable pitches, or even worse this will cause a hitter to swing and miss. Which leads to the next point.
Bat drag/long swing is a major contributor to strike outs. A hitter that can’t catch up to a fastball will ultimately rack up an insurmountable number of strike outs. Bat drag causes “a hole in the swing”. By definition a “hole in a baseball swing” is the area of the hitting zone where a swing with bat drag fails to cover. Dropping the back shoulder will cause a dip in the swing, this ultimately cases a bad angle for the bat head and results in a “hole in the swing”.
HOW TO FIX A LONG SWING?
THE HITTER'S CROSS - STAY TALL AND CENTERED
Stay tall & centered in the upper body (the hitter's cross). Throughout the swing stay centered from your head to belly button, all the way through the swing cycle. Once the head gets behind the belly button, this will cause a dip in the swing.
BE SHORT AND FAST
Take the quickest path possible to the baseball. A hitter with a long swing should be thinking “stay short”. This is especially the case when a hitter is beaten for pace by a good fastball, his thoughts should revert to “stay short & be quick”. The worst thing a hitter with a slow bat can do, is to not make any adjustments in the batter's box.
The hands inside the ball hitting drill is a great drill for teaching a short, fast and powerful baseball swing.
Share this hitting drill with someone that needs to shorten their baseball swing.
This is “old-school” mentality, however, sometimes a hitter has to swallow his pride and shorten up 2-4 inches on the knob of the baseball bat. What’s more embarrassing? Shortening up on the bat, or striking out 4 times in a baseball game? The hitter who is willing to make physical and mental adjustments during at-bats, will ultimately be more successful.
A hitter should have mental cues to remind him to “stay short”, “stay tall” or “stay back” depending on the situation. As stated earlier, hitting is a game of adjustments, and mental cues can help a hitter to adjust from swing to swing. During practice or a game a hitter can do such things as tap his leg, stare at the label of his bat or step out of the batters box to clear his head. Each of these actions can be a “mental cue” for some type of “hitting action”.
A hitter can tell by the way he is hitting the baseball as to whether his “swing is long” or “bat drag” is taking place. Weak pop ups to the right side of the field for a right handed hitter, or to the left side of the field for a left handed hitter, are a strong indication a hitter has a long swing. Find out more about self-evaluation and hitting a baseball.
Use a camera or your iPhone to capture a hitter's swing to replay step by step in slow motion. Look for common faults such as bat drag and a long swing. When a hitter can see for himself what he is doing wrong, then it is more likely to register in his mind to make some adjustments.