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Winter Work: Dan Spring's Indoor Hitting Drill

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Dan Spring was drafted in 2003 by the Detroit Tigers, and has spent the last 10 years providing instruction for over 17,000 youth baseball players. He currently runs the Spring Training Baseball Academy in Palos Verdes, California and runs the Eye Black Academy, a youth baseball instruction site.

 

I'm thrilled to be writing for and sharing my youth baseball knowledge with the GameChanger community. I’ve been a huge fan of GC since the beginning, and I’m excited to be involved with such a great company and product.

It's 75 degrees today in Palos Verdes, and I gave my hitting lessons yesterday in shorts and a tee shirt. I know most of the country is freezing, and I feel your pain: I was born and raised in DC and played college baseball in Rhode Island, so I know all too well about playing baseball in cold weather.

It’s hard to get your work done in the middle of the winter, but there are drills your son can be doing RIGHT NOW in your living room, garage, or driveway (if it's not too cold outside) that are going to help improve his swing immediately. No batting cage, field time, or 70 degree whether required!

One of the biggest and most overlooked problems I see with youth hitters (ages 5-12) is balance.

All great hitters do a tremendous job of maintaining their balance throughout the swing.

Unfortunately, most Little Leaguers lose their balance during the swing (or even before the swing has started), leading to disastrous—and completely avoidable—results.

So before I work with any of my young hitters on their hand path to the ball, generating power from the lower half, pitch selection, etc, etc, I make sure they learn how to take a balanced swing first.

Here's the drill (it's REALLY easy, but REALLY important):

Have your son take 10 swings—no matter what they look like mechanically—where the only thing he thinks about is keeping his balance. He doesn't even need to be swinging at a thrown baseball or off a tee.

Just have him take 10 dry swings. Your job: make a little circle with your fingers and look through the hole like you're looking through a microscope. Now put your son's head right in the middle of the little circle you created with your hand.

If he's taking a balanced swing, his head shouldn't move out of the circle in your hand. If his head jumps or falls out of the circle, then he lost his balance at some point of the swing.

A few common reasons young players lose their balance that you can easily look for:

* Taking too long a stride ("Step towards the pitcher" is BAD advice)
* Not bending their knees (having a high center of gravity)
* Standing flat-footed (they'll fall towards their heels)
* Tippy-toes (they'll fall towards home plate)

To make sure your son is in a balanced set up position, have him take his stance, then walk up to him and try to push him over with one finger. Most players will tip right over. If that happens, tell him you're going to try to push him over again. This time though, he'll naturally bend his knees, put his weight on the balls of his feet and without realizing it, put himself in a more powerful batting stance that is less likely to fall apart during the swing due to lack of balance.

I dig deeper into the whole concept of set up stance, and balance in this video: please click here to watch it for free.

Thanks for reading,
Dan Spring

Baseball

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