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Don't Get Caught Following Bad Hitting Advice!
by Dave Hudgens
Improper hitting instruction can stop a promising athletic career dead in its
tracks. This article will expose some of the most damaging BUT widely taught
hitting misinformation that is used today.
I have the greatest admiration for parents and volunteer coaches, but it
frustrates me to see wrong information being taught that can destroy a player's
chance to have more fun, get more hits - or even get a college scholarship.
Let's look at two of the worst hitting fallacies in detail, and then look at the
long term consequences of repeating these mistakes.
Hitting Fallacy #1: "Get Your Back Elbow Up!"
I cringe every time I hear these words. Every little league coach I have ever
heard at one time or another has told his hitters to do this. I asked my friend
Chris Bando, a former Major League Coach, what the worst advice he ever heard a
little league coach say. Chris is a great person to ask since he has had five
boys in Little League. The first thing he said to me was, "The absolute worst
thing I hear all the time is, 'Get your back elbow up!'" He's right. This is the
worst advice around, but you hear it everywhere. How many baseball scholarships
do you think have been lost just because players blindly followed this one
fallacy? This one statement has hurt more young hitters than anything else I've
The idea here is to get on top of the ball and hit line drives, but just the
opposite occurs. During the swing, the back elbow should come close to the rib
cage and the barrel of the bat should stay above the hands. With a high back
elbow, the elbow has to travel a much greater distance and at a much faster rate
of speed. When this happens, the barrel of the bat will drop below the hands,
the front elbow will rise, and you will have a long swing. If this goes on for
very long, you have created a habit - a very bad habit.
What about Griffey?
I get asked this question all the time -"What about Griffey, his back elbow is
up?" Most coaches and kids don't understand the fact that the elbow can be up in
the stance, for that matter the elbow can be anywhere. However, when good Major
League hitters with high back elbows in their stance take their stride, their
hands go back into a Position of Power. At this point in the approach, their
back elbow will relax just before they start their hands.
Unfortunately when unknowledgeable coaches tell young kids to put their elbow
up, the kids do not know what this means and generally they do not take their
hands back into a good position from which to hit. They also fail to relax the
back elbow just before they start their swing. If kids don't relax their back
elbow slightly before they start their swing, the back elbow has so far to go
that it puts the top hand in a weak position and creates a long swing. 99% of
coaches don't know how to put a kid's hands in the correct position nor do they
know the correct placement of the back elbow. They just tell kids to get their
back elbow up yet they don't have a full understanding of what the hands and
arms should be doing at this point.
Long Term Effects of Practicing With Your Back Elbow Up
A 15 year old who started practicing with his back elbow up at age 10 has been
practicing 5 years with the improper hitting principles. Some of the
consequences are as follows:
You'll develop a long swing......so you will have
difficulty adjusting to different types of pitches.
You won't be able to get the bat around on an average
fastball......having inconsistent at bats.
You'll hit too many long fly ball outs.......decreasing
your batting average.
You won't adjust well to a curveball, making it
hard to succeed against good high school pitchers.
You'll be inconsistent at making hard contact, making
it hard to impress college recruiters or scouts.
Fallacy #2: Your Top Hand Should Roll Over At Contact
This is a very detrimental teaching. Coaches who say this totally misunderstand
what part the wrists play in the swing. The common thought is that the top hand
rolls over the bottom hand at contact. This is not true. Rolling your top hand
over prevents you from taking advantage of the power that explodes through your
wrists. Whatever you do, don't roll your top hand over your bottom hand until
well after contact is made. At contact, your top hand should be facing up, and
your bottom hand should be facing down.
Long Term Effects of Rolling the Top Hand Over the Bottom Hand
You will hit with less power....creating less bat speed.
You will hit more weak ground balls....hitting into more
You will not make consistent contact....destroying your
chances to impress a college scout.
You will not be able to drive the ball to the opposite
field....making you a limited offensive player.
If you are following either of these fallacies, then your hitting career could
be in trouble. There is good news - you can now recognize and correct these bad
habits and learn the correct swing mechanics.
Dave Hudgens has been involved with the best of baseball for over 30 years.
He is currently the Minor League Hitting Coordinator for the Cleveland Indians.
Prior to that he was a longtime hitting coach in the Oakland Athletics'