After observing countless young hitters in our demo-batting cage I have noticed several trends that seem to be the main problems why many kids struggle with hitting. There are many aspects involved with hitting. I am going to concentrate on the bad mechanics I have observed.
The first problem is the stride. Kids get in there and immediately want to kill the ball leading to a huge stride planting their front foot 16-18″ from it’s original position. The next problem is initial hand positioning being too low. If the hands are too low at the start, critical time is wasted getting them up into the loaded position. Then comes dropping the barrel and dragging the bat through the zone with a painfully long swing. Each of these problems compounds each other starting with the long stride. The stride is in sync with the loading phase of the swing, the long stride and low hands struggling to get into position leads to problems with timing and takes away any chance to adjust to the ball. When you combine the dropping of the barrel and being completely extended by the time the ball arrives, the hitter is usually behind and under the pitch.
The mechanics of a baseball swing are a controversial and complicated topic. Thousands of books have been written and millions of arguments/discussion have taken place. For young player’s I feel that simplicity is the key. A shortened stride, and less movement in the hands will almost always help a struggling young hitter. These are simply observations I have noticed and may not work for all players. I have had many coaches which all have a different philosophy on the swing, but one thing all of them agree on is a short, quick swing is the way to go. Young players have enough to worry about, including being cool, looking good in front of friends, and keeping dad happy. Keep it simple and let them have fun.