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This Top-Hand Drill Will Help Make You a More Consistent Batter

Lee Kicklighter is an unapologetic advocate of top-hand drills.

We practice a lot of top-hand drills,” the softball coach at Union Grove (Georgia) High School said. In my opinion top hand is very critical to hitting.”

Kicklighter is in his fifth season at the helm and has been coaching the sport for 13 years. He has guided Union Grove to fourth and fifth place finishes in the state, respectively, during his tenure. And he credits a part of the team’s triumphs to their emphasis on top-hand drills in practice.

In a top-hand drill, the player grips the bat using only her dominant hand while getting into her stance and making sure her palm is up when she swings.

“We focus on maintaining balance throughout the swing by trying to encourage each hitter’s strong points but focusing on contacting and consistency,” Kicklighter said. “Being a good hitter is about being consistent.”

A specific drill Kicklighter uses at Union Grove is what he calls the “hose drill.” Kicklighter has his players hit softballs on a tee with a 3-foot piece of water hose. The goal is to whip the end through the zone while trying to make contact the last three inches of the hose.

“Emphasize simplicity. Maintain good balance from beginning to end of swing,” Kicklighter explains.

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The players get 30-40 cracks at it on batting practice days, with an 85-90 percent success rate expected. Kicklighter said this drill is beneficial for batters and coaches alike.

“A ‘swinger’ has trouble with this drill. A hitter doesn't,” Kicklighter said. “It helps us as coaches identify flaws in the mechanical chain of the swing.”

Kicklighter details how the process of the drill translates to the batter becoming a master of her domain at the plate.

“The hose drill reinforces our hitting philosophy that ‘hitters hit,’” he said. “Give them a broomstick, Wiffle ball bat, water hose, they will adjust and figure it out in a few attempts. Therefore hitting a softball or baseball with a bat should be easy.”

Kicklighter believes the simplicity of the drill creates the kind of muscle memory that is essential during in-game at-bats.

“I try not to flood them with too much information. Hitting can be as complicated as you want to make it,” Kicklighter said. “Time is not a luxury with high school softball. So we really focus on getting our hands in the right position.”

To Kicklighter, batting can also be viewed as a reflection of what it takes to be successful in life.

“It teaches discipline and having to pay attention to the details,” Kicklighter said. “It's the little things that make the difference. Don’t overcomplicate things.”

From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa

Softball, Softball Tips & Drills

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