How to stop pulling off the baseball - The Chalk Hitting Drill
The Hitting Project developed the Chalk Hitting Drill to prevent hitters from flying open. The Chalk Hitting Drill combined with a focus on hitting the baseball to the opposite field is an effective strategy to prevent a hitter from pulling off the baseball.
WHY IS PULLING OFF THE BASEBALL SO BAD?
One of the most common faults with a baseball swing at all levels of the game is "flying open" or "pulling off the baseball". Flying open or pulling off the baseball occurs when the front shoulder releases too early during the initial stages of the baseball swing. There are many reasons flying open is bad and they include:
- Flying open with the front side causes the bat head to drop, thus increasing the likelihood of a pop up, foul ball, weak ground ball or a complete swing and miss!
- When the front shoulder flies open the head and eyes will follow. One of the most well known phrases in baseball is "you can't hit what you can't see". Flying open is a leading cause for strike outs, due to losing eye contact with the baseball.
- The hips fly open too early making it virtually impossible to generate any type of power, especially on a pitch on the outside corner of home plate.
- Flying open causes a swing to look ugly. In fact, there is nothing worse than watching a baseball swing where the hitter is flying open with the front shoulder.
TOP 6 REASONS A HITTER PULLS OFF THE BASEBALL
- Trying to hit the baseball too hard or trying to pull every pitch. If a hitter tries to swing too hard or attempts to pull every pitch he will have a tendency to fly open with the front side. It is vital a hitter stays relaxed, within himself and focused on hitting the ball to the middle of the baseball field.
- Lack of confidence. If a hitter does not have confidence in his swing he will try to cheat by flying open. This is especially true if the hitter believes that he can not hit the inside fastball or is not seeing the baseball out of the pitcher's hand.
- Not seeing the baseball. If a hitter has problems seeing the baseball out of the pitcher's hand, he will more than likely fly open to try and compensate for not seeing the ball.
- Hitter's anxiety. If a hitter is anxious or "jumpy" there will be a tendency to rush the swing, which can cause the front shoulder to fly open.
- The hitter may step in the bucket. Stepping away from the plate will cause the rest of the body to fly open.
- Front foot lands open during the stride to the baseball. If the front foot is open when it lands, the rest of the body will follow. Tee drill is great for teaching the correct technique for a soft & short stride.
TIPS TO PREVENT PULLING OFF THE BASEBALL
Self-Analysis. As a hitter becomes more experienced, he can feel when he is pulling off the baseball. Good hitters can make an adjustment during batting practice or even a live at bat in a game. When a hitter is able to recognize that he is flying open, he has the ability to step out of the batter's box and use internal dialogue to tell himself to stay closed and focus on hitting the baseball up the middle or to the opposite field. Focusing on hitting the baseball up the middle or to the opposite field is by far the most effective hitting tool for staying closed.
Visual or Mental Hitting Cues. Every hitter should have a some type of cue to stop themselves from flying open. Experienced baseball hitters will recognize straight away if they are flying open. For example, if you see a Major League hitter on TV step out of the box and tap his leg, there is a good chance that he his telling himself to stay closed, stay back, relax and see the baseball. Tapping a body part or looking at focal points, such as the label on your baseball bat are common cues that help remind a baseball hitter of an important hitting technique that they should follow.
RECOMMENDED HITTING DRILLS
MORE DRILLS TO STAY CLOSED
- Tee drills can teach a short/closed stride. A hitter that flies open during tee drill will be exposed, as when he flies open his bat head will drop and he will hit the tee or hit a weak pop up.
- Front toss batting drills where the ball is thrown low and away will force a hitter to stay closed and go the other way. The only way a hitter can consistently hit the low and outside pitch is by staying closed and hitting the baseball to the opposite field.
- Bottom hand hitting drills can teach a hitter to keep his front side closed. If a hitter opens up during this drill he will foul the ball off or hit a weak ground ball. This hitting drill can be executed by shortening up on a normal sized bat or by purchasing a small purpose-built baseball bat.
- Visual hitting drills, where the hitter works on picking up a pitcher's release point. The release point is where the pitcher lets go of the baseball. The release point can vary from a pitcher’s ear, shoulder, or waist if you are facing a drop down submarine pitcher.
- Mental training, can also help with flying open. When a hitter is confident in his own ability he is more likely to trust his swing and stay closed. Cognitive techniques can help with a hitter's confidence. A hitter that is focused & positive will have the best chance of success. Find out more
- Any type of opposite field hitting drill will teach a hitter to stay closed. It is virtually impossible to hit a baseball to the opposite field if the front side has opened up
Share this article with someone that you know that has trouble staying closed.