Chad Parkerson Head Baseball Coach at TCCHS • My name is Chad Parkerson and I have been the head baseball coach at Thomas County Central since 2005. Gary Smith asked me to put together something for the volunteer coaches at the Thomasville YMCA. I envisioned doing a clinic but I know time constraints for everybody would make that difficult. I wanted to put together something that you can refer back to during your season or offseason that would be helpful. There are a bunch of different theories and drills out there. So find something that works for your athlete/team. I believe local coaches should be a reference for youth teams. If any of you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] • Be fundamentally sound • Be prepared and organized • Have fun so the kids will develop a passion for all kinds of activities • Good hitters are: • • • • • • Tough outs Productive at the plate Students of the game Able to make adjustments Able to learn from mistakes Confident – this happens through preparation • • • • • • Week 1 – Set up, Balance throughout the swing is the main focus Week 2 – Swing mechanics Week 3 – Ball in motion Week 4 – Batting Practice (B.P.) distance Week 5 – B.P. distance Breaking Balls/Off Speed Week 6 – Situational Hitting Balance is the main focus. You cannot be a good hitter without balance. • Stance - always work from the ground - up • Slight bend in the knees, 60-70% of weight should be on back leg • Front foot should be “light” • Be on the balls of your feet – “athletic.” A quick fix is to slightly lift your heels (imagine a sheet of paper needs to slide under both heels) • Grip – loose grip in the fingers, not the palms. We don’t want a “death grip” on the bat because that will slow the hands down and hinder wrist extension which weakens the “pop” or “whip” effect through the ball. • Hands – should be comfortable with relaxed elbows. A high back elbow makes it easy to upper cut and hinders the top hand grip. • Head – make sure both eyes are on the pitcher and level • Tee Work is great for any age. The ball is not moving and this is a great time to concentrate on the swing. • My favorite Tee Drill is called “Long Tee,” using a tee to hit the ball the full length of the cage. Try to hit line drives into the back net. Stay off the top. • If you are pulling the ball and hitting weak grounders, you are going “around” the ball and your swing needs to shorten up or your hands need to be more in a straight line. • Freeze at the end of swings in tee work and soft toss • Use commands (Stance, Trigger, Swing) for tee work and mix up the times between Trigger and Swing to make sure the hitter is staying balanced. • Soft Toss • • • • I provided some links to some videos. Find what works for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZsY0nSiEAo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhVSBMjLwsA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuhwyV32aLU • Pitch selection-the most important thing in hitting!!! Swing at strikes and do not swing at balls. This starts in batting practice. Know the strike zone! • Trigger/Load-hands are moved up slightly (2 to 3 inches) and stride is occurring at the same time. Shoulders should remain square to prevent wrapping. Hips should slightly trigger back to include lower half into your swing and front knee should slightly “roll” and lead with the front heel to stay back. • Slot – hands 1st few inches of the swing should be close to the body and in a line to the baseball. Think swing the knob. • Stride-have a small stride and be very light on the front foot. Act like you are stepping into a pile of mud and do not splatter it by stomping into it. Remember; stride to hit not stride and hit. Get the front foot down early and soft. • Swing-from the launch position (peak of trigger) hands begin a downward and direct path to the ball. • Contact –Imagine keeping the barrel above the hands to make sure there is a good top hand. Swing through the point of contact so the bat will stay in the hitting zone longer. Imagine a frame by frame high speed camera taking pictures during the swing, at some point, your hands should be in front of your belt, both arms are extended and the bat is pointing at the pitcher. • Finish-be balanced when finished. Front foot is at 45 degrees and back foot is pivoted. Head is at contact. Hands and bat should be between the ear and shoulders. • Lunging/Jumping at the ball • Hum Drill – I know it sounds funny but hum while in your stance and during the swing. The volume of the hum should not get louder before contact. • Place your hat in front of your front foot and take your B.P. • Long Swing • Fence Drill – bat length away from a fence and take a full swing • Inside/Out tee – place a tee in the middle of the plate with a ball and a tee on the outside corner and elevated. You should only hit the ball • Drop Toss – instead of soft toss, hold the ball about chin height, say trigger and then drop the ball. • Upper Cut/Weak Pop Flies • Long Tee • High Tee – place tee on a chair or anything that puts the ball at the top of the strike zone. Hit a line drive. • Weak Backside (Not fully pivoting the back foot) • Dummy or Tire Drill – hit a tire or dummy • Basketball Tee Drill – place a half deflated basketball and do your regular tee work • Hit off of a slight decline – hit downhill • Pulling Head Off (Flying open) • Hand to Tee – after a swing on the tee, be able to place your top hand on the tee • Chin to Shoulder – stress getting the back shoulder to their chin as quick as possible during the swing • Not seeing the Pitcher’s Release • Bunt • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS-PcxmaHmQ • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83g8-Bdb64U • Make sure the player feels good about his setup and overall swing mechanics by hitting off a tee. There are limited variables when working on a tee. So if you don’t hit the ball well off a tee you know that it is the swing and not the pitch. • You still need to stress: • Balance, Head at contact, etc. • Simple checkpoints after the swing (start from the ground up): • Front foot closed (can be at 45 degrees, but toes do not need to face pitcher • Back foot pivot (should be on the balls of feet and toes face pitcher) • Hip full turn • Shoulders – should be close to level • Head – should be at contact • Soft Toss – batter should trigger when the hand is dropped. • Drop Toss – tell the batter to trigger then drop the ball • Back Toss – get behind the batter and flip the ball firmly towards the pitcher over the plate • Underhand or Short Cage – Get behind the L screen 10-15 feet from the batter and toss the balls on a line for a strike • Rapid Fire (soft toss) • • • • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEPgrDKAKKU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNOdEbWFMjM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FEfCeMk5uM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuuIgh9VJ-g • The most important thing about B.P. is strikes on a line. Move the L screen about half way from the pitchers mound and now the hitter can see arm movement with hittable pitches. Throw only B.P. fastballs for now. • B.P. pitchers are not perfect, so stress the importance of the hitter only swinging at strikes. • When they take a pitch, make sure they feel that they are not lunging or jumping at the ball, hands are not dropping, front foot flying open, etc. • I like to keep each round with my team to about 8-10 swings per round. More than that can develop bad habits and slows practice down. In B.P. they should be thinking about strike zone recognition and hitting the ball hard where it is pitched. A few of Mike Trout’s B.P. swings (line drives up the middle and a bunt) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LPW_5qdTwU • You have been stressing balance all along so these drills will test them. • The stride should be small and light so that the hitter does not over commit to a pitch. If he lunges, drifts or jumps at the pitch he will not hit the ball with authority. This is a lot easier said than done. • During swings (soft toss, tees and any other time you can watch from the side) watch the hitter’s head and it should have little movement. • If his head is moving forward, he is probably not staying back and offspeed pitches will give him trouble by swinging and missing or rolling over (RH hitters – weak grounders to SS) • Tee work – use the commands: stance, trigger and swing in a natural tempo. Then hesitate between the command trigger and swing to simulate a curve ball or change up. • Soft toss – regular tempo is drop the hand and then toss. Mix in a few slight hesitations at the bottom of the drop. • Bounce drill – this takes a good B.P. guy or a machine • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOxSw3MJCIw • Regular B.P. with offspeed – the first round tell him when the offspeed pitches are coming. After that you can mix them in • Every hitter will make outs. Good hitters make productive outs. For example: • Ground ball to 2nd with a runner on 2nd and nobody out to advance the runner to 3rd. • Runner on 3rd with 1 out and hit a ground ball up the middle to get an RBI • Sacrifice Bunts – bunt strikes and execute • Runner on 1st – bunt the ball down the first base line, 3rd basemen will be charging and the 1st basemen has to hold runner so will be late charging. • Runner on 2nd – bunt the ball down the 3rd base line, 3rd baseman will be late charging so he can defend the potential steal. 1st basemen could be charging early • Suicide Squeeze – show when the pitcher’s arm begins forward and bunt the ball down in fair territory. Preferably not firm back to the pitcher. • This is a good strategy when the catcher is good so stealing is not a good option and your batter is a good contact hitter. • Runner – get a regular lead and make sure the pitcher goes to the plate. Run on the pitch and take a look on your third step in case the hitter pops it up, you have a chance to get back. • Hitter – hit the ball on the ground (preferably to the right side) no matter where the pitch is located. • Most of the time – 2B are covering with a RH batter, SS is covering with a LH batter, so the biggest hole on a hit and run will be to the opposite field side. • Rules: • Runner – DO NOT GET PICKED OFF! • Hitter – HIT THE BALL ON THE GROUND! • Same strategy as a hit and run but this can be a good aggressive call in a bunt situation. This gets infielders moving around and opens holes in the infield. • Runner – treat just like a hit and run. • Hitter – show bunt until the ball is released and pull back and hit the ball on the ground (preferably to the right side) no matter where the pitch is located. • Runner – DO NOT GET PICKED OFF! • Hitter – HIT THE BALL ON THE GROUND! • Situation: runner on 2nd with no outs • Objective is to advance the runner to 3rd to set up the next hitter for an RBI. • Execution: • Bunt to 3rd • Ground ball that goes behind the runner (ball up the middle, to 2nd baseman or 1st baseman) • Deep Fly ball to CF, RF or the right center gap • Any base hit Bad Execution: Ball to 3rd, SS, Pitcher or weak fly ball to CF or LF Pop up or Strikeout • Situation: runner on 3rd with no outs or 1 out • Objective: to get an RBI • Execution: • If the INF is playing back, any ground ball up the middle past the pitcher • Deep fly ball so the runner can tag up • Any base hit • Bad Execution: • Ground ball to 3B or P • Weak Fly ball where the OF are running up on the catch • Pop up to INF or Strikeout • These are balls that should be crushed! • 2-0 or 3-1 counts on the batter. The batter is looking for his pitch to drive. Think line drives or doubles in the gap. • On these counts, do not be fooled and give a pitcher a cheap out. • If you don’t get the pitch that you are looking for take it and make the pitcher make 2 or 3 good pitches in a row. • Round 1 • • • • 2 - Bunt to 1st 2 - Hit and run 2 - Move him 5 - Score him • Round 2 • 2 - bunt to 3rd • 4 – Mix or 2 strikes (2 strike situation looking for putting the ball in play, mix in offspeed pitches with B.P. fastballs) • 4 – Pick ‘em • Round 3 • 8 – Pick ‘em • We will have runners on base reacting to the different situations during batting practice so they can develop instincts on the bases. This can be confusing for young players but if your guys are ready then go ahead and try it. • It is also important to teach them why we are trying to hit the ball to the right side when a runner is on 2nd and up the middle when a runner is on 3rd, etc. This helps them understand the game. • Thank you for spending time with these young ball players. Don’t hesitate to contact me or any other coach if you have any questions.