Youth Baseball ALERT: Hitting Fix for Bat Drag

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#1 Youth Baseball Swing Fix To Deflating Bat Speed

Awhile back I posted the following to my Hitting Performance Lab Facebook fan-page (CLICK HERE if you haven’t “Liked” my fan-page yet…new content daily):

This video blog post will target one of the worst youth baseball swing offenders to deflating bat speed…bat drag.  In this article, we’re going over:

  • What is Bat Drag?
  • The science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch), and
  • One way to fix Bat Drag.

 

What is Bat Drag?

#1 Youth Baseball Swing Fix To Deflating Bat Speed

Notice the difference in Charles’s barrel angle.

This is when the front arm “bars out” before the Final Turn.  Also known as “Casting.”  And it’s an oftentimes frustrating youth baseball hitting fix.

I received an email awhile back from James Brown (NOT the singer), that said:

…”I watched a video that perry husband had at the hitting hot stove at the abca in Dallas that showed analysis of the Homerun derby, and the furthest home runs by each individual competitor happened when their lead arm was extended early.  I think swing mass and leverage has a lot to power to the ball…  Think about having your hand slammed in a door.  Would you want a door with a short distance from hinge to knob, or a long distance?  Short would close faster, but do less damage.  Long will impart more force at a slower speed.”

James Brown’s email response was after I produced this youth baseball Shin-Soo Choo: Can Front Arm KILL Bat Speed? video post.

Here’s how I responded…

 

The Science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch)

…”I see what you’re saying and agree…to hit the ball the farthest, a straight front arm would be ideal. Look at golfers for instance. But here’s the problem…a hitter in a game doesn’t know with 100% certainty: pitch location, speed, and pitch type.

So a hitter needs to turn quicker for the first half of the Final Turn, to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch as soon as possible.  Then extend on the pitch plane, depending on pitch location and speed.”

In the home run derby, hitters know the pitch speed, type – and for the most part – location.

I agree with Perry Husband in that hitters should make it a goal to get to impact with a long front arm.

However, I don’t agree in getting a hitter to bar that front arm out early on, pre-turn.

It’s a simple Conservation of Angular Momentum issue.  CLICK HERE for a short 2-minute Circus Physics video from PBS on this movement Principle.

An ice skater speeds up by tucking her arms in towards her rotating middle.  She slows down by extending her arms away from her rotating middle.

What’s going on here?

Rotating speed goes up when the rotation is tighter (bending the arms), but inertial mass decreases.  Inversely related, when the arms go out, her inertial mass increases, but her rotating speed decreases.  This is how Angular Momentum is conserved.

So, unless like Perry teaches, Pitch Recognition and Strategic hitting game plans against specific pitchers is supplemented, I don’t see the logic in teaching hitters to early arm bar, pre-turn.

Why?

Because barring the front arm out early will slow rotation down (think arm extended ice skater), and on higher perceived velocities to the hitter, high or inside the strike-zone, why would we want our hitters to turn slower at the beginning of the turn?

The bottom line? Youth baseball (or softball) swing game mechanics are slightly different than in batting practice.  “Five-o-clock” hitters typically aren’t very effective in games.  And let me tell you, all my pitching friends LOVE pitching to early arm bar hitters because they have a weakness to exploit.  Just like hitters that swing down on the ball and extreme upper cutters do.

One Way to Fix Bat Drag

Youth Baseball ALERT: Stop Arm Barring

See Cutch pulling his top hand, while bottom hand restrains that pull forward (look at muscles in left forearm and triceps). Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Typically, I have my youth baseball hitters practice the Catapult Loading System when we have an arm barring issue.  The finer points before a hitter lands in the Fight Position are:

  • Showing pitcher your numbers,
  • Hiding hands from pitcher, and
  • Slight downhill shoulder angle.

Another piece I’ve just added to the puzzle comes from Homer Kelly in his book The Golfing Machine.  The following quote may shed additional light on “educating the hands” to combat arm barring…

“Power Accumulator #1 (for right handed golfer) – is the bent right arm. Even though the right biceps is active, the backstroke is always made with the right arm striving to remain straight. But the straight left arm restrains this continuous extensor action of the right triceps with an effortless checkerin action. Consequently , during release, the right arm can straighten only as the left arm moves away from the right shoulder.”

You see, the problem with bat drag at the youth baseball level isn’t the move itself, but how the compensation is triggered.  What’s happening before the front arm bars out?  Is the hitter properly activating the springy fascia within the torso?

If you “Click here to ‘Get Instant Access'” button below, you can get a free video that explains:

  • Why the following advice: “Power is all in the hips”, “Load and explode the hips”, and “The hips lead the way” won’t produce the repeatable power you’re looking for…

  • Where power really comes from – the answers to how the body actually loads are validated by science…

  • The 3 Do’s & Don’ts that will help you execute this simple strategy without any hitches in swing quality…

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Joey Myers

I’m a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).I’m also a HUGE supporter of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

I’ve spent 11+ years in the corrective fitness industry, and have too many alphabet-soup certifications to bore you with.I also played four years of Division One baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003.

It’s NOT how you study, but what you study that counts.I apply human movement principles (or rules), validated by science, to hitting a baseball and softball.
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13 Comments

  1. Lou

    Hi Joey, would like to know How you fix a problem with the hitter NOT getting the back elbow in the slot position before the start of the swing. In other words the hitter throw the knob of the bat inside the ball on a linear move. Keep the good work. Thanks

    • Joey Myers

      Hey Lou, are you asking about not getting the elbow into the Slot Position (as per Jaime Cevallos?) before the Final Turn, or picking up the front foot? Next week’s blog article will talk about a new hitting aid that will help with the hand (or knob) first swing.

  2. Mike

    Joey…I could use some help. It seems to me that you do the first three correctly…show your numbers, hide your hands, and angle downward with you shoulders and STILL have bat drag. I have a kid that does those three correctly but then his hands drop backward when the rear elbow begins to move toward the hip and then the elbow gets to far in front of the hands and the front elbow straightens out. He can’t seem to break it.

    • Joey Myers

      Mike, I hear you on that. I have a couple hitters with the same issue. I call it racing back elbow. Try having the hitter create tension in the arms before the Final Turn. In other words, have them feel like they’re trying to “break the handle” between their hands. Also, see if this hitter is straightening out their front leg prior to or at impact. Most likely they aren’t, and are trying to develop power from the backside instead of the front. Have your hitter sync the timing of their straightening front leg (pushing the ground away) with the barrel accelerating down into the ground. Let me know if this makes sense…

  3. Mike

    Joey,
    I understand what you mean by creating tension in his arms before the final turn. However, it would seem to me that creating tension would cause him to be tight and being tight and tense makes for a bad swing. I took a video of him swinging and after looking at it, realized there is more to it than meets the eye. First of all, yes he is straightening out his leg. However, two things are apparent. One…he is not showing his number as long as i thought. Two…he is actually opening up to quickly. While he is keeping his head on the ball, I can see that he is actually beginning to open his hips while his front foot is landing. It just looks a little too soon…even if only by a fraction. I am not sure if this is affecting the bat drag issue or if it is a whole additional issue to deal with. With the bat drag, his hand and bat head drop backward when the rear elbow begins to move toward the hip. In fact, I think the rear elbow moves too far forward and gets to far in front of the hands and the front elbow straightens out. I am trying to figure out a drill to help him. Something he can do over and over to build the muscle memory. What do you think?

    • Joey Myers

      Mike, racing back elbow is a nasty habit I know. And one I don’t have an immediate fix for at the moment. It takes time for sure. Since he’s straightening the front leg just before or at impact, then it may not be his front side. Make sure your hitter gets these three things right: 1) showing numbers to landing, 2) maintaining a downhill shoulder angle to landing, and 3) keeping more of a vertical bat before the Final Turn. A flatter bat at the start of the swing can cause a racing back elbow compensation as well. Try these and let me know how it goes…

    • Joey Myers

      Mike, on the tension thing. We want to create tension in the springy fascial material. If we do it right, then the muscles will help “lock in” the stretched and loaded fascia, like the locked click of a gun hammer.

  4. Mike

    Joey…ok…trying to implement a few things we have discussed and doing some reading has led me to a couple of thoughts. Tell me what you think. First of all, if we can do something about that racing back elbow, we may get somewhere. I think I read somewhere where you mentioned putting a rubber ball between his bicep and forearm to help with bat drag. I was wondering, what if we also place a similar ball in his armpit simultaneously. Presently, I notice that his rear elbow is racing forward as his front foot is landing. In my mind perhaps holding the ball in his armpit will prevent him from moving that elbow forward to quickly or it will drop. Also, making sure he shows his numbers UNTIL his front foot touches. In addition, I am also wondering if the prohammer training bat will be of some help because one of the results of this racing elbow and thus, bat drag, is rolling his wrists. Am I way off here?

    • Joey Myers

      Mike, one of my readers Kyle Harrington has a good hold on the racing back elbow issue. Check out some of his comments on my two latest posts: 1) Baseball Online: Never Suffer From Bat Drag Again, and 2) Hitting Tips To Boost Barrel Time On Pitch Plane…particularly when he talks about swinging “around the ball” which is the complete opposite of bat drag and racing back elbow 😀

  5. Frustrated

    Joey

    I have been struggling for the past 2 years with a player that lands with a flat bat. The initial gather looks great bat is in a great spot. But when the front foot lands the elbow starts to slot early and the bat flattens. Is this bat drag? It’s almost if his swing starts too early and his back knee and elbow start firing as the toe lands and then the heel lands the barrel flattens. I have done everything and cannot get this corrected. I bought your videos and there is no real fix to this. I need some guidance.