By Wand Agency
In all my years of baseball I can't ever remember hearing two similar theories on driving the hands to the baseball. In fact, this step of the swing is largely over looked and under trained. Consequently, in my younger years, the most that was ever taught to me was, "keep your hands inside the ball" or "drive the knob back at the pitcher". Although those are two great pieces of advice, they don't have any real substance to them. For that reason, I am going to give you unique insight and give you some insider tricks on what it really means to drive the hands to the baseball.
If you have been following my previous articles then you know by know that everything starts in the load and with proper pitch recognition. I don't care how good of an athlete your player is, if he doesn't separate the plate, and doesn't understand that you have more than one baseball swing, then his batting progression is dead in the water. So to repeat, separate the zone into 3 separate sections, L for left, C for Center, and R for Right. Each zone has a slightly different swing or commitment, and thus our hands drive differently depending pitch.
When describing driving the hands, I like to draw an imaginary line at a 45 degree angle that runs from the knob of the baseball bat to 3 different points on the ground in front of the plate. Each angle correlates with the respective field that you can drive the baseball to. As players drive their hands, they want to drive down toward the zone keeping as close to the 45 degree angle as possible. Now, the height of the pitch will obviously change the angle, however, planting the idea of driving downward towards the baseball gives players a better opportunity to keep their hands ahead of the baseball and will prevent a long loop in their swing.
When players begin to develop an understanding of how to swing the bat and their muscles begin to develop, I add a few advanced batting techniques to help them generate more power. In actuality, players should drive the outside of their bottom hand wrist towards the inside of the baseball. When done correctly, this will cause their wrists to be "cocked back" and allows players to drive their hands along the inside part of the baseball longer. This little technique will increase "wrist snap" and/or generate more "bat whip". As a result, players will increase their power. This technique also players a major part in the what I call the "Power V".
I have heard the "Power V" explained in a few different manners, however I believe the "Power V" runs from the cap of the baseball bat, down to the "cocked back" wrists, and along the top hand forearm. As players drive their body and hands to the baseball, it will create a V. The point of the V will basically face the pitcher and the open part of the V facing the catcher. As a batter approaches contact, the V will begin to release until forming an L just after contact. This release through the zone is the acceleration of bat to contact. As a reminder, the hands should be just ahead of the barrel on contact.
If you watch well developed hitters, the hands only release 2 to 4 inches from the body to the baseball before contact. This is done in effort to contact the baseball with their bat speed at its highest peak and where they are the stingiest. If a player is extending his hands past 4 inches on average, then he is contacting the ball to far out in front of his body and loosing a good majority of his power.
When players attack the ball out in front, their confidence may be suffering and/or the are trying to "see the ball hit the baseball bat". In my opinion, this phrase is one of the worst phrases to tell a young hitter. Not because I don't want him to keep his head and eyes on the baseball, but because it will cause players to extend their hands and arms to far foreword before contact. If you watch any hitter, their eyes are actually focused approximately 10 to 15 feet out in front of the plate. From their, a player uses their tracking skills to project their contact point. Trying to "see the ball hit the bat"