Joe Espinosa is the owner and director of Baseball Plus as well as Recruiting Coordinator and Assistant Coach at Amherst College. A former pro scout, he's teaming up with Jake Epstein to break down swing mechanics for amateur baseball players. Learn more about the Epstein Hitting Academy here. You can contact Joe at Jespinosa@amherst.edu.
“Learn and Practice one thing at a time!”
Lets face it: We live in a culture that is in a hurry to get results. We are under constant pressure to “multi-task,” speed up and hurry, make our deadlines just in time to move on to the next challenge and deadline and the next one after that.
Increasingly, talented student-athletes and their parents face college recruitment decisions and pressures as they enter their Freshman year-months before they step onto a High School field, court, or rink.
Coaches often design practices whose sole intent is to “Keep them moving,” “Keep everyone involved,” “Build muscle memory.”
Dedicated players spend hours on their own or with a practice partner repeating their mechanical faults in an effort to get better, when, in reality, they may be ingraining bad habits.
My hope is that this year:
- High School Student-Athletes fully enjoy quality High School experiences without looking over their shoulders to see how their every activity affects their recruitment status.
- Coaches slow things down for their players and get back to the essence of coaching- Teaching!
- Players learn to correctly analyze their mechanics and work on one fault or deficiency at a time.
Here are pictures of three hitting faults common among youth baseball and softball players, pictures of players executing proper technique, and correctional drills designed to get the hitter on track:
"Arm Bar" fault
The lack of flexion in the front arm leads to many problems including loss of bat speed, premature barrel dropping, and looping under good pitches. You can see Pablo Sandoval (pictured middle) with proper elbow flexion during approach phase. Notice the space between the elbows.
The Drill: Using a bungee cord, tubing, or a theraband, can help a player develop feel for the added strength that is developed when he/she creates extension with the lead arm. Click here to see video.
"Bug Squishing" Fault
Bug squishing occurs when the back foot slides rearward away from the filed of play. This common fault destroys any type of weight transfer, and results in both power loss and swing plane issues. Troy Tulowitzki (pictured middle) has perfect back foot position. Notice the vertical position of the heel, his shoelaces pointed forward and down, and the back hip rotation as he faces the ball.
The Drill: A basket, bucket, or cinder block is placed behind the hitter’s back foot. The hitter will make contact with the object if the back heel spins outward (improper) and will miss the object if the heel lifts and the shoelaces face down toward the ground and forward to the pitcher (proper). The use of immediate feedback is effective in building proper movement patterns. Click here to see video.
"Wrist Roll" Fault
A premature wrist roll occurs before contact and results in ineffective ground balls to the hitter’s pull side. A-Rod has the proper top hand position just after contact. “Keeping the pizza on the tray” allows for more length and distance on his line drives.
The Drill: A batting tee, or Swingaway device (pictured here) is used in this upper body isolation drill. The hitter can feel and see the additional power applied then he/she makes contact with the top palm facing up. Click here to see video.