I recently did a coaches clinic where we spoke about various topics like:
Hitting, infielding, pitching, outfield and baserunning.
What’s important to understand at a coaches clinic is 1) to understand what age group you are speaking about 2) speak in general terms about the fundamentals. Everyone is different but fundamentals are absolute.
What do I mean by that statement? As a coach/teacher I understand that every hitter is different in size, body type and make up. However, fundamentals are the staples to having a good swing. I could talk about how I did it or how Mike Trout does it or how Barry Bonds did it (only they can tell you that) but that’s not what I am trying to address when speaking to coaches coaching 9-12 year olds. I am addressing the basics that all players at a young age should understand. Like head position, grip, being square with the lower half, feet with weight to the insteps (shoulder width apart) This is a general statement for someone who has never hit before. Knees inside feet, flexed, hips square, weight 60/40 in back hip or getting back to 60/40, hands loading back or back at the shoulder or arm pit, making a positive move or stride towards the pitcher with head staying between the legs. Staying inside, driving the hands/barrel to the path of the ball and through it. Staying on the baseball. Not launch angle and exit velocity. The Basics.
These are general fundamentals that all hitters learn and it is important for them to understand until they can make their swing their own. If that makes sense.
A young kid really doesn’t know his swing until he is taught how to and understands the fundamentals.
So fundamentals shouldn’t be dismissed as, everyone is different, because they aren’t when it comes to being a successful hitter.
Fundamentals are meant to put you in a good position to see the ball and hit it. If any of these things are off it can disrupt your swing causing you to have less chances to succeed. Basically limiting consistency.
One of the most harmful things to the development of a young player is to put a bandaid on a flaw. The idea is to teach them how to do it so they can eventually correct themselves.
Improvement, especially self improvement is very important to becoming a successful hitter and being his own coach.
The higher the level you go the more you will need to understand these to help with self correcting and avoiding prolonged slumps.
Velocity, location and movement. A good swing will be able to adjust to these things during an at bat or the course of a game. However, a breakdown in any of the fundamentals (basics) will result in exposure (holes) in a hitter’s swing making it hard to be consistent.
The concept of swinging down is hard for many people who had a hard time doing it. Swinging down to hit a ball up? That’s blasphemy! Why is this hard to believe in baseball but not in golf? Why is practicing backspin hard to believe?
Usually these statements come from people who had a hard time doing it or have never felt it before. I get it. You don’t know, until you know.
I didn’t really learn this concept until I was 22y/o-23y/o and my second or third stint in the big leagues. I was tired of getting my pitch and pulling it foul or rolling over to second most of the time. So, I had to make a change to hit pitches I was supposed to hit and keep them fair.
The mound was the same height and distance then as it is now. A ball on a downward plane was still hit consistently.
Like Jim Thome said which is so profound. “The ball will dictate where the launch angle goes.”