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Fixing Extreme Uppercut Hitters

Young and inexperienced players are bound to have bad habits in their technique. For youth baseball players, a common flaw comes in the form of an extreme uppercut swing.

Although this type of swing can be seen in higher levels as well, it is most prevalent among younger players. And it's a problem Plymouth (Massachusetts) youth baseball coach Frank Jackson finds himself fixing every year.

“Kids who are just starting out really don’t know any better,” he said. “All they’re trying to do is hit the ball. That’s what we want, but at the same time, if you’re coaching 9-year-olds, then it’s kind of your job to help them improve. For us, that means leveling their swings a bit.”

Assessing the problem, Jackson said the most common reason for an uppercut swing is a shoulder drop. He also noted there can be other root causes to the drop.

“Sometimes, it’s a kid with a bat that's too heavy,” he said. “Many times though, they’re putting too much weight on their back foot, especially if they have a big leg kick. It’s always important to make sure your kids don’t drop their shoulders back too much or drop the bat before they swing.”

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Speaking of the bat, Jackson noted one bad habit many players have is resting the bat on their shoulder prior to the pitch.

“If they do this, then they’ll probably be wrapping the bat and have less reaction time,” he said. “The quickest path to something is a straight line, so this could very well be a root issue for some guys, too.”

Another issue Jackson said he sees is coaches putting a lot of loft on the pitches they throw to their hitters during batting practice.

“That’d be great in slow pitch softball,” he said. “But the truth is, if you’re putting a lot of arc on the ball in practice, they’re going to have to put an uppercut swing on it. Putting the ball on a straighter plane and keeping it in the zone definitely helps them out. It’s tough for a little kid to hit a high ball without going golfing, as they say. The kids need to practice how you want them to play.”

When asked how to cure the problem, Jackson said it often takes repetition — and lots of it — to break a bad habit. The solution Jackson offered is simple: hitting off a tee.

“Think about it: how is someone with a wicked uppercut swing gonna hit well off a tee?” he said. “In short, they won’t. 

From GameChanger and Thomas Joyce.

Baseball, Baseball Player Development, Baseball Tips & Drills