HITTING DRILLS TO STOP PULLING OFF THE BASEBALL

HOW TO STAY CLOSED WHEN HITTING A BASEBALL

The Red Hat Drill is a simple baseball hitting drill created by TheHittingProject.com for teaching a hitter to stay closed with the front shoulder and to prevent the head from pulling off the baseball. Join today to get access to 50+ innovative hitting drills that get results.

WHY DO HITTERS PULL OFF THE BASEBALL?

One of the most common flaws 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 why flying open is detrimental to a baseball swing — and they include:

  • Not letting the ball travel: It’s vital that the hitter is not afraid to let the baseball travel deep in the hitting zone before he initiates his swing (especially on the low pitch). If a hitter attempts to start his swing too early (as the ball is half way from the pitching plate to home plate) then most likely he will be out in front and pull off the baseball. A hitter can let the ball travel to within approximately 5 feet of home plate before he decides to make contact with the baseball (assuming he has a short compact swing). The deeper the ball travels from the pitching mound to home plate, the less likely the hitter will fly open with the front shoulder.
  • Bad hitting approach: If a hitter is over-swinging 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.
  • Not staying through the baseball: If a hitter rolls over on the baseball directly after contact then he will most likely hit a weak ground ball to his pull side. It is vital that a hitter does not roll over at the point of contact and stays through the baseball. Staying through the baseball is made easier with solid lower half hitting mechanics.
  • Lack of confidence: If a hitter does not have confidence in his swing, he will try to cheat by flying open too early. This is especially true if the hitter believes that he cannot 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. Learn more about how to stride when hitting a baseball.
  • Poor lower half mechanics: If the front foot is too open when it lands, the rest of the body will most likely follow. If the hitter does not get off his back heel during the swing and rotate his hips then the hitter will most likely spin off the baseball (refer to the image below). Learn more about how to train the best lower half hitting mechanics.
Baseball hitting drill to stop flying open

THE NUMBER ONE BATTING AVERAGE KILLER

 

The following is a quote from our article The Top 10 Batting Average Killers

 

#1- Flying open: Flying open too early with the front shoulder is a guaranteed batting average killer, releasing the front shoulder too early will likely result in a swing and miss, foul ball, weak ground ball or pop up! It is vital that the hitter lets the ball travel deep in the hitting zone before he releases his front shoulder to attack the baseball.

The #1 Cause Of Outs In Baseball

Rotational hitting, linear hitting — who cares! Unless a hitter is able to stay closed and keep his head on the baseball, then it doesn’t matter what hitting school, he subscribes to — he will not succeed.

Pulling off the baseball is still the number 1 cause of outs in baseball at all levels of the game… period!

If you ever watch a major league hitter get out, the majority of the time he will be rolling over on a pitch on the outside edge of the plate — this is considered, pulling off the baseball. And it happens all the way from little league to the big leagues!

Now that we have your attention — we hope that the following hitting tips and hitting drills will help you to stop flying open when hitting.

WHY IS PULLING OFF THE BASEBALL SO BAD?

  • 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 the number 1 cause for strike outs and ground ball outs!
  • Flying open 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 opens up too early in the baseball swing, it’s virtually impossible to generate any type of power with a pitch on the outside corner of home plate.
  • Pulling off the baseball prevents a hitter from being able to stay through the baseball. Consequently, if the hitter is lucky enough to make solid contact it’s most likely the ball will have too much top spin.
  • Pulling off the baseball inhibit the ability to track the baseball all the way into the catcher’s glove. Therefor, the eyes/mind are missing out on valuable information about the pitch.
  • Flying open too early will make it very difficult to hit the low pitch (especially a low pitch with late movement).
  • Flying open leads to an ugly swing. There is nothing worse than watching a baseball swing where the hitter is flying open with the front shoulder and pulling his head off the baseball.
flying-open

THE BEST BASEBALL HITTING DRILL FOR STAYING CLOSED

LASER STRAP FRONT TOSS

THE HIPS CONTROL THE UPPER HALF: There is too much focus on the upper half when hitting. The engine room is the core, more specifically the hips. If a hitter can get into a good lower half position then this will have a positive influence on the upper half of the body and the overall swing. The Laser Strap forces the hitter to use the hips to generate the swing, thus taking the weight off the back foot via momentum.

Learn how generate power fro the hips with your baseball swing

Laser Strap Front Toss is one of the best tools to prevent a hitter from flying open. Join today to get full access to The Laser Strap Program and more!

LOW – FRONT – AWAY – TEE DRILL

This is a great baseball hitting drill for training kids to stay closed with the front shoulder, to stay back and in the legs, to prevent lunging out at the baseball and the stay through the baseball.  View the full 12 minute version today when you join TheHittingProject.com

HOW TO STOP PULLING OFF THE BASEBALL

 

  • Have a good hitting approach: The best way to deal with flying open is to practice hitting the baseball to the opposite field. By focusing on the task of hitting the baseball to the non-pull side the hitter will naturally stay closed with his front side. This is the beauty of the opposite field approach, this effective hitting approach should be used in practice and during the game.
  • See and track the baseball: TheHittingProject.com preaches the following line in many of our articles, “close the mind and open the eyes“. By doing this a hitter will give himself the best chance for success at the plate. When a hitter is 100% focused on seeing the baseball out of the pitcher’s release point, you’ll find that many common hitting flaws will be fixed. One big reason for flying open is not seeing the baseball, when a hitter closes his mind and opens his eyes at the plate he will naturally pick up the baseball and will have more chance of being, “on time” with the swing (thus staying closed off with the front shoulder until the right time). TheHittingProject.com created the 3 Ball Hitting Drill and the Stand In Hitting Drill to help train a hitter to “close the mind and open the eyes.
  • Focus on lower half hitting mechanics: the upper-half of the baseball swing is controlled by the core and lower-half of the swing. If a hitter does not get into the correct lower-half position at the point of contact, this will cause the upper-half of the body to spin off the baseball. Baseball hitting drills such as our Laser Strap Front Toss force the hitter to get into the best lower-half position to hit the baseball.
  • Relax and breathe: a nervous hitter will be more likely to jump out and fly open when hitting a baseball. It’s vital that a hitter stay relaxed in the batter’s box and focus on controlling his breathing. By doing this the hitter will reduce anxiety that may cause the hitter to rush his swing.
  • Ensure the hitter is getting in the Locked In Position: this is where the front shoulder engages under the chin just as the front foot hits the ground. The Locked In Position comes directly after the load and stride phases of the swing and is where the hitter makes his final decision on whether to 100% commit to his baseball swing.
  • Don’t be afraid: a hitter that is scared of getting beat by an inside fastball will be more likely to fly open with the front shoulder. The subconscious mind will compensate for this fear by telling the body to rush the swing (flying open). A hitter needs to gain confidence that he can handle any type of inside pitch through muscle memory drills (Laser Strap Batting Practice). Once a hitter is truly confident that he can handle any pitch that is thrown his way, he’ll be less likely to jump out and fly open with the front shoulder when swinging at the plate.
  • 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. As stated before, focusing on hitting the baseball up the middle or to the opposite field is by far the most effective hitting tool for staying closed. 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. Our 5 Point System Check Hitting Drill is great for teaching a hitter the art of self-analysis when hitting a baseball.

The following video highlights core/lower-half hitting mechanics and the affect this has with pulling off the baseball.

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THE CORE CONTROLS THE UPPER HALF OF THE SWING

 

The back foot can be a great indicator for a hitter that is pulling off the baseball, dipping or late with his swing. If a hitter is not getting onto the balls of his back foot as the front foot lands then this will cause issues with the rest of the swing. It’s vital that a hitter understands back foot rotation is initiated from the hips.

 

 

  • Getting off the heel helps the body to get into a balanced athletic position — ready to hit.
  • Is crucial for staying through the baseball as it allows the upper body to be in a good hitting posture
  • Speeds up the rest of your swing as the back foot will complete its rotation faster
  • Prevents pulling off the baseball as apposed to hitting off a flat back foot, where the hitter will have a tendency to spin off the baseball
  • Prevents dipping — if a hitter is flat footed then his weight will be forced onto his back side thus causing too much dipping action

 

It is very difficult to break down this aspect of a baseball swing with isolation drills as it occurs dynamically within the constraints of a real time swing. That’s why TheHittingProject.com created The Laser Strap Program (part of The Complete Hitting System) that isolates the foot down position of the baseball swing and forces the hitter to swing from the hips. The hips then rotate the back foot and drive the back knee into the front knee (refer to the image below).

THE ROLE OF THE FRONT SHOULDER DURING A BASEBALL SWING

Pay special attention to the head movement within the following sequence of images — you will note that the head remains still throughout the entire swing. This is essential for keeping the front shoulder closed.

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WHAT THE EXPERTS HAVE TO SAY — RUSTY MCNAMARA

Two things, which is one thing… Hit through the ball and stay in your legs. Young hitters can’t hit THROUGH the ball without an athletic, balanced base (lower half). Anybody can make contact, but to maximize your opportunity for success a hitter must drive the barrel through the ball, not just to the ball but through it. Good leg positioning will allow the barrel to travel through the zone better.

High legged hitters (those that rise up and lock out their knees) have a tendency to really come off the ball and mis-hit balls too often. The swing becomes loopy, they have a hard time keeping their front shoulder in the swing, which directly affects their head, which really flies off and they end up looking into the pull side dugout. Not sure how you are supposed to hit a ball that is coming from the pitcher’s mound when you are looking in another direction. Yet hitters do it all the time. I truly believe that good leg positioning (staying in your legs) can solve many mechanical flaws in a hitter’s swing.

MORE HITTING DRILLS

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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