Express Baseball Development: Baseball Skill Info

Sunday, November 9


1. The drill I think you should practice most at home/extra practice is this one. You can do it with dry swings, tee, live pitching or machine. Called vertical/flat drill or halfway home drill. Develops deep, on plane bat path.

2. One handed swing drills from the University of Miami. Strength builders. Especially with the bottom hand/arm.

3. High tee drill. Strength builder. Also may help with back foot action. Should not be a wild spin, pivot, or twist but more of a positive shift/transfer forward or at the pitcher. From Univ. of Arizona. You need the requisite strength in order to be a hitter- strength can be improved. Wood bats are good strength builders.

4. Small ball/thin bat drills for eye-hand coordination. You need the requisite eye-hand and it can be developed. You should not swing and miss in practice and you should not strike out often in games against the pitching you see.

5. Tee location drills: outside pitch/opposite field etc.

6. Hands inside ball/short swing. Pedroia at 1:15. Tee placed on inside corner- hit up the middle.

7. The article on David Ortiz is below. The summary is: a) every swing with a purpose b) up the middle, up the middle, up the middle c) "get on top" at times- no balls hit top of net d) compete in practice with little games and challenges.




1. Warming up-we ask players to "step behind" when they warm up to throw. This ensures that the feet, hips, and shoulders get turned sideways so that the big muscles bear the brunt of the throw. Makes it less likely arm will be injured, among other things.

2. Most throws in baseball should be chest high or higher ("hit 'em in the hat") even for tag plays. It's important. Catching a ball at one's feet is very difficult.

3. The drop step for pop flies/fly balls. Don't go straight back-open up one foot or the other, depending on where the ball is hit.

4. Fly ball communication. A loud "ball", know the priority system, call it no sooner than the peak, and call it if even it's at the last second in order to avoid a collision.

5. Watch or glance at the ball when running the bases. Don't get in the habit of running with your head down. Base runners make most decisions-the coaches are just for when a runner has their back to the ball.

Also, sprinting to positions, sprinting on a ball four-checking the coach for signals, and checking where the outfielders are playing so that the runner knows beforehand whether the next batted ball will be caught.


 Below is some short baseball "homework" for the players, about 10 minutes worth. Players use their "eyes" for decision making, base coaches mostly irrelevant:


Here's Ishikawa  explaining his mind set on his series winning hr. That "voice" in his head-"short"- shows how hitters approach an at bat. Hitters need to start remembering when they have had success and have several "go to" phrases in order to be successful in a given at bat or game. Here is how the phrases are formed:

1. They are almost always exceedingly simple
2. The word "ball" is often in it (can't get too far away from that)
3. An aggressive word is often in it, "hard", "quick"....
4. Sometimes direction may be in it, i.e., "up the middle", "at the first baseman's knee's" (oppo)

As an example, "hard line drive at the pitcher's forehead" is a classic one that is used at the highest levels in the most crucial situations 
1. This is probably my favorite website with tons of good information-Next Level Ballplayer with a good tee routine:

2. Staying "inside the baseball" from a good college coach.

3. High tee drill well explained.
  • Hitting is about making constant adjustments based on 1)the pitcher throwing and 2)how the batter is swinging  on a particular day.
  • Many are simple. If a batter is late (usually swinging under the fast ball) then swing earlier and/or aim higher on the baseball (top of the ball or higher), and think shorter/quicker. If a batter is early he needs to wait longer ("let the ball get deep"), and think hitting the ball to the opposite field, and so on.
  • When a batter has 2 strikes these adjustments need to be considered: move closer to the plate, put a little more weight on the back leg, crouch a little, shorten the swing, think like a hockey goalie protecting the strike zone and just "touch" the ball and put it in play. Look for the high strike fastball and generally not the curve. If you look curve you will not be able to adjust to the fastball. View it as a battle: you are not going to let this pitcher beat you with a strikeout.
  • Some younger guys are struggling getting hits but are actually hitting the ball well so don't get discouraged. Hitting with wood is tough, the older fielders have more range and stronger arms, and the pitching has been challenging. If anything, it should sink in just how important strength is in hitting: the ability to hit the ball hard past the fielders.


 Had trouble hitting off the lefty today-this is not uncommon. One way for a right handed hitter to go about it is to think about hitting the ball to right center field. Also, you can consider thinking about making contact a little more towards the middle of the bat as opposed to the sweet spot. Lefty pitchers commonly have some late tail to their pitches. Lefty batters have some success trying to hit to the opposite field. Also, they can consider taking a two strike approach right from the beginning of an at bat.


Ted Williams, the greatest hitter but also the greatest student of hitting ever, said that hitting is "self-education". The most important part, he says:" A hitter has to know himself as a hitter". It's not a minor point.

What that means is that nobody will know your own swing like you do. Nobody. Not me, not a snazzy hitting coach, not a well-intentioned observer. 

It's up to you to figure things out for yourself, to work things out through trial and error, to adjust, to copy good hitters or some aspects of good hitters, and to experiment and practice. 

Hitting coaches and good hitters can provide valuable advice about the mental aspects of hitting, the battle between the pitcher and hitter, training and practice, mental cues, etc. But they are often more likely to do more harm than good if they say do this with your elbow or that with your hips and spout mechanical theories. 

As someone who has studied many of the technical, mechanical theories of hitting I can tell you that the theories may well be true but they are irrelevant: they won't make you a better hitter. Stay away from them.

So here are some rules:
  • " Take ownership of your swing. It's yours and yours alone."
  • " Don't take any hitting advice from someone who has never faced good pitching, someone who has not had success against good pitching, or someone who has forgotten what it is like to face good pitching."
  • "Hitting is all about figuring out how to hit good pitching."
It's said that the great hitters, although they look different and have different styles and body types, do some certain key things that are all alike. That's true but why are there so many differences? The differences come from hard work, fault correction, and knowing themselves as hitters. It's their natural style they have developed.


1. Batters should be aggressive on the first pitch and every pitch. think hit, hit, hit. Doesn't have to be a perfect pitch. 

2. Nobody walks to a spot on the high school team, college, or the pros. I think in the youth leagues you can walk your way to victory but here we are less concerned with winning and more concerned with individual improvement. Swing the bat.

3. When you watch the Nats play or any big league game watch how many good hitters swing at bad pitches. That's because they are aggressive up until they get 2 strikes. Don't let a good pitch go by-swing. Doesn't have to be perfect.

4. Everybody on the team has a pretty fundamentally sound swing. When you swing the bat good things happen. Use that swing.

5. I don't care if a hitter swings at a bad pitch. Maybe your previous coaches emphasized this and yelled when you swung at a bad pitch. But swinging at a bad pitch is no big deal-just get the next one. Anyways, we haven't been swinging at bad pitches but we're letting a lot of hittable ones go by.

6. A hitter goes through their entire career sometimes swinging too hard and sometimes not swinging hard enough. So a hitter will go back and forth working on this. But at this age, the tendency is being too tentative; if you are going to swing, swing violently.

7. Don't forget to get up to Upton Hill-work on swinging hard. Our fundamentals are good. You just have to put the time in. No way around that.


The video below from Univ. of Arizona shows a few things: 1) note how the stride is short and soft 2) the concept of letting the ball "travel", get "deep". I prefer when the coach says let the ball get "even with your belt buckle." 3) the emphasis on the swing being "short", emphasis on using the hands, feeling like the hands dominate the swing.

The concept of having a short swing helps the hitter to a) wait longer to make the swing/take decision and b) to have more control and accuracy. Not insignificant things.

Most kids do not have nearly a short enough swing to hit good pitching. There should be some exaggeration here-feel like the swing is ridiculously short. Short doesn't mean "easy"-still should be close to 100 % effort with the hands.

"Short" is an important concept.


Also, touching again on what I talked about regarding adjusting to pitchers:
  • you can make a physical/mechanical adjustment by shortening your swing....
  • you can make a mental adjustment, say, if you have trouble with that pitcher's curve, by jumping on the fast ball even if it's not a perfect pitch....
Those are just 2 of many possibilities and you should already have many of these options stored away in your memory bank. Most are simple, common sense adjustments.

Most important, regarding striking out: You should view this as a one on one battle between you and the pitcher, a fight. He might get you out but there is no way he will embarrass you by making you walk back to the dugout which to me, personally, is very embarrassing.  It's really a question of pride and competitive drive. The umpire is a non-factor, not a real ballplayer's excuse.


Here are a couple of short videos about using a tee. These are drills which can be done at home or at the park. Dustin Pedroia talks about how he does these drills every day, in season and out. The name of the tee is a Tanner Tee and I recommend it.


I think it's time for all of our hitters to go to the -3 bat and get away from the -10 and -5 bat. Most or all of our players are jv eligible in the spring so now is the time. It might take a little time to get used to but not much. Really, it should help get the ball to the outfield because now the bat has more weight. 


Hitting and eye hand coordination- I mentioned before that I don't believe in "swinging and missing" and I did mean it. Eye-hand coordination-the ability to put the bat on the ball- can be improved significantly. A hitter needs to be fanatical in taking extra practice and doing your own drills and bp in order to get the requisite eye-hand coordination required in hitting. For example, a great major league hitter was driving on the highway when a hitting thought came to his mind. He pulled over, took a batting tee out of his trunk, and started hitting balls into someone's farm. That type of diligence. Without the requisite eye-hand (which really has nothing to do with how "good' a swing is) hitters do not stand much of a chance against good pitching.


1. We talked about standing in the batter's box before the game when your own team's pitcher is warming up. Called "tracking" it's a good way to get the eyes ready for game speed pitching/breaking stuff-"tracking" (taking, not swinging) is a good drill in general.

3. The best book on hitting is Ted Williams' Science of Hitting. Not so much for the hitting mechanics which, if taken literally, are geared more to a power/pull hitter but for the mental aspects: just the way a hitter goes about their business. If you were to ask a good college or pro hitter or coach if they've read it they would probably look at you funny and say "Of course I've read it."

A hitter can adjust to the pitching no matter how fast it gets but the fielding keeps getting better as a player advances and there is not much you can do about that except  hit the ball

hard .