Youth Hitting – Part 2 – Swing Fast

Under the post Hitting Part 1, I explained why swinging faster is what I consider to be the most important when training/developing youth hitting so lets big deeper.

Swing Fast – Build a Better Engine

The first thing to understand is knowing what intent basically means in terms of training/developing. Intent is short for intention – what are you trying to do? From a psychological and physical stand point, intent is a very powerful tool. It may be the most fundamental aspect in development – it should never be taken for granted. Yet sadly, in youth sports it is often either knowingly or unknowingly ignored, demeaned or used incorrectly; all of which is to the detriment to the player.

Swinging fast does not mean the player should try to lose their balance or fall down although this may very well happen early in training/development of the very young. “Swing fast while keeping your balance” or “swing as hard as you can and hit the ball” often work as a cue. The point of telling a youth player to swing fast is not just trying to create the physical external feeling of bat speed. It is not just the classic, funny saying “swing fast in case you hit it” – I like that saying by the way. But when a player is told to “swing fast” the brain subconsciously kicks in and activates the central nervous system to recruit the big muscles to become more involved in producing the desired intent – to move the bat faster. Getting the bigger muscles to fire faster is development. Speed can and should be developed in youth. Not only is there anecdotal evidence of intent being very powerful development tool but also piles of scientific evidence going back decades.

The next important concept in developing a faster swing is swinging more. There are no quick “fixes” in development. Want to get better at reading? Guess what? Reading more gets you better at reading. In the context of building a better engine, better hitters tend to become better hitters because they spend more time hitting/swinging than their average piers. And for the record, swinging at a wiffle ball on a T into a net or fence can work at the youth level. I’m not saying that hitting a wiffle ball off a T is the only way to get better. A player has to start where they are at and with the tools available. And no, that does not mean a 10-year-old needs to take 10,000 hacks over a period of 3 months. Think of it this way, take two youth players (Burt and Ernie) that are identical in all aspects physically, in playing experience, and currently have the same average bat speed. Bert spends the next 6 weeks, not swinging a bat. Ernie spends the next 6 weeks doing this homemade bat speed program: trains at least 2 – 3 times a week taking 50 fast swings at a ball sitting on a T for 3 weeks. The next 3 weeks Ernie increases the number of fast swings to 75 each session. Over those 6 weeks this would total approximately 700 – 800 swings. Guess what happens to Ernie’s bat speed as compared to Burt? Now, what if Ernie did this 6 week bat speed training twice a calendar year? Now keep in mind, the numbers I’m using above are scalable, up or down, to the player’s age or physical ability.

Related to swinging more is the concept of swinging at balls in different locations of the strike zone. If hitting off a T, move it either up, down, left or right every 5 – 10 swings. Getting better at hitting is about bat control – “know” where the barrel is – creating a feel for barrel control. Grooving a swing to hit a ball in the same spot will look good on video but that does mean it will pay in a game. Hitting better in-game is the only standard that matters. Hitting a ball that was tossed under hand (soft toss), overhand (pitched) or from a machine is better batting practice than off a T. The benefits of hitting a moving ball, even if moving relatively slow, should not be underestimated. Of course practicing/training should include hitting a ball at game speed but there is physical developmental benefit to “getting your swings in”. The best hitters on the planet warm up using a batting T. They also train hitting a moving ball. Hitting in games is a very dynamic environment. No two pitchers are the same, no two pitch types are the same, and locations vary from one pitch to the next – train dynamically according to the players capability/level. So what happens if we take Ernie from the previous paragraph and during his 6 weeks of bat speed training we moved the T every 10 swings or so. So that after 10 swings with the ball and T sitting in the same position, we moved it to a different spot in the strike zone (up, down, left or right). After the next 10 swings we moved it again and continued this process while still having the focus to “swing fast and hit the ball” on every swing. Do you think this may help Ernie get better at hitting? Stay with me – we’ll put things together at the end.

Snapshot 3 (12-14-2018 8-51 AM)

The final concept to discuss in developing swing speed is swing more than just one bat. In fact, swing more than just a bat. This is not as complicated and nor as expensive as most think. There are weighted bat training programs available and products available commercially. If you have the means, I suggest you check into them. If not, here is some fundamental training tools you can use to build your own you hitting system:

  • Your child’s “old” bat that’s too small or beat up – keep it.
  • Look for cheap bats at your local big box store that’s doesn’t have any pop or is a bit too heavy or a bit too light or is at a discount during the off-season or find a used/second-hand one.
  • Youth wooden bats are excellent for training.
  • Buying tip: Every year from October – November is the best time of year to buy baseball equipment. Manufacturers are clearing inventory for next years products and warranties for new products begin at purchase date, not the date made.
  • A roll of athletic tape. The athletic tape can be used as bat grip or used to add weight to a bat.
  • If you don’t have access to one for free, go at a local hardware, home improvement store purchase (or find) 8 foot of 3/4 inch or 1 inch PVC pipe.

If you purchase everything above brand new, you should be able keep it under $75. For less than the cost of a couple of lessons you now have 2 – 3 bats (includes your game bat), and a piece of PVC pipe that you can cut to fit your player. I go into greater detail on this concept including videos/demonstrations on a previous post: CLICK HERE

The next piece in improving youth swing speed is the basic, broad concept of swing mechanics. Improving a players individual swing mechanics has two big impacts: 1) it unleashes more bat speed a player already has inside of them (swing efficiency), 2) it produces a better chance of making solid contact (more line drives). These two concepts of an individuals best swing mechanics and hitting more line drives is so interrelated they will be covered in greater detail in my post Youth Hitting Part 3.

To summarize increasing youth bat speed:

  1. Intent to swing fast
  2. Swing/hit more often, this includes more than just “in season”
  3. Swing/hit at balls in different locations
  4. Swing/hit with different items/bats

In my next youth hitting post we will put it all together and show an example of a youth hitting program using the concepts above while combining it with mechanics that you can scale up as needed.

Get Better.

Youth Hitting – Part 1 – Know the Why

Hitting a moving round ball with a round bat is not easy. But getting better at the youth level does not have to be hard or expensive. It is not uncommon for parents to view development of youth hitting (and pitching for that matter) in extremes: 1) do basically nothing or next to nothing or 2) over coach, over talk, frustrate the child, etc. Neither extreme is ideal and 2) is most likely the worst option over the long-term. But the training/development focus at the youth level should only come down to 2 basic components and both are highly teachable/trainable:

  • Swing Fast
  • Hit line drives over the infield

I did not say “swing level”. I’m not sure what swing level means. I know what most people think it means but practically speaking how do you “swing level” at a low strike? Swing level to what? The ground? In baseball, you will never see a pitched ball that travels level to the ground – more on that later.

Swing Fast

It is not an accident that I put swing fast as #1. At the youth level, developing/training bat speed is the most important element in hitting. Nothing adds more fun to playing the game than driving a ball into the outfield and there is no feeling quite like hitting the hard and on the sweet spot. The facts are clear, the faster a ball comes off the bat, the better chance it has of being a hit.

Of course “how fast” is relevant to the age of the player. Naturally, the average bat speed of a 7-year-old is less than the average bat speed of a 15-year-old. But increasing the body’s ability to generate more bat speed is always relevant.

There are two basic ways to increase bat speed: 1) increase the players physical ability to generate bat speed and 2) move better (basic swing mechanics) to make better use of a players current ability to generate more bat speed. Even though 2) sounds easier or faster to produce on the surface, in reality 1) is simpler to train and normally produces faster results. Here is the best part, a player can do both at the same time. Stay with me.

First, let’s go ahead and address some of the normal negative comments some will say about youth training/developing to swing fast. All push backs to training this way tends to sound like one of these: strike outs from over swinging, players hit better when you swing at 80% (or some such percentage).

In both of these cases the person saying these things is viewing training/development through the same lens as playing in a game. That is known as moving the goal post – changing the environment and the context of the point being made. On game day, it is time to play the game, compete, if its close to a strike, hit it. In short, the player has to react. Training and development happens before game day, in most cases weeks if not months before game day. The end goal is when a player plays the game (is reacting) his/her previous development/training (swing fast, hit line drives) is more likely to be the natural reaction. Playing in a game is about winning THAT game, development/training is about getting better at THE game – there is a big difference.

Also, a player may hit better in a game or team practice by feeling like they are swinging 80%, 50%, or whatever. If a youth player has developed the ability to swing faster, then regardless of the feel or percentage they will be swinging faster. Example, 80% of a 65 mph max swing is faster than 80% of a 55 mph max swing. All things being equal for an individual youth player, the faster the bat is moving at contact, the harder the ball will be hit. Hitting the ball harder over the course of a season is always better than not hitting it harder over the course of a season.

In the short-term, a player may swing and miss more often when they begin developing/training to increase bat speed. That’s ok – you gotta break some eggs to make an omelet. That’s why you don’t start developing/training for the first time an hour before a game. It helps if the youth player and parent think in terms of several weeks or a few months. If the desire is to truly get better at hitting a single hour of training is not going to help over the course of a season. But spending an hour (at home or batting cage or both), maybe 2 – 3 times a week, over a period of two or three months can and often does make a big difference when game day occurs.

Hit Line Drives Over The Infield

What is a line drive? Did you know Major League Baseball (MLB) actually characterizes EVERY ball that is hit in the field of play? And yes, they track and measure it. Per MLB – “Each ball that is hit into the field of play is characterized as a line drive, a fly ball, a ground ball or a pop-up.” The main thing most youth players and parents need to understand is a line drive is not just a ball hit relatively hard 5 feet off the ground. A line drive has a wider range (trajectory) than most people think. Visually, the range of line drives over the infield looks something like this:

LineDriveImage

A common negative push back on this is “youth players are not major leaguers”. Well, no kidding. But if you are implying that a 50 pound 7-year-old can’t hit a line drive in a youth game – you are simply wrong. If you are implying that any kid can’t train/develop to get better at hitting line drives – you are simply wrong. Another common argument is youth games can be won by hitting a ground ball or a bunt or “situational hitting”. Well, thanks for the news flash but once again that is moving the goal post.

'We can't discuss anything fairly - He just keeps moving the goalposts!'

Of course, taking advantage of poor fielding and throwing errors at the youth level wins most games. But why it is often used as an excuse to not get better at things that matter most over the long-term? Answer: it is easy, lazy thinking that is often sold to parents. There is no debate that being able to swing faster and hit more line drives during a season makes the game more fun to play and more enjoyable for parents to watch. There is no debate that increasing bat speed and the ability to hit more line drives helps win games.

I hope this gives you some understanding “why” developing a faster swing and hitting more line drives matters. The next post (Part 2) will be recommendations, pics, and videos of how to help a player get better at hitting. I’ll leave you with this vid of a line drive, wait for the slow motion of the hit/swing. Until next time, get better!

Hitting – What does a good hit look like?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to make various post related to hitting. Everyone has opinions on hitting mechanics. But before we can discuss hitting mechanics/movements we first have to agree on what a good hit looks like.

I’m not limited this to whether or not a hit ball is technically a “base hit”. From a training/development point of view we need a standard higher than just the result of making contact. I’m talking about a well struck/solidly hit ball produced by a swing that is efficient. An efficient swing is defined as repeatable, adjustable (player knows/feels where the bat is going), and is powerful relatively to the player. Example of 2 youth players:

  1. Player 1 swings: is a reaching or lunging or “push” swing creating a bat path that strikes the ball with descending blow, ball bounces several times and no infielder gets a glove on it for any number of reasons, ball rolls out to the outfield, hitter running to first base safely, outfielder fields the ground ball and throws the ball towards second base, makes a bad throw, hitter runs to second base and is safe. This result is the classic example of what is known as a “little league double”.
  2. Player 2 swings: makes a well-balanced, powerful swing, barrel makes solid contact with the ball, the ball hits the sweet spot of the barrel, the batted ball is a line drive into the outfield that happens to be hit right at an outfielder, the outfielder catches it, batter is out.

Which one of the two hits above is better?

It seems obvious to me that swing 2 above is the better hit even though it resulted in the hitter getting out but there are people who teach and argue that swing 1 will produce at the lower levels of baseball. In other words, there are people who teach, train, or will argue for swing 1 above because it takes advantage of youth field/throwing errors. This kind of thinking is not only at the youth level.

Here’s my take. I get the concept of swing 1 above from a trying to win a youth game standpoint. Even at the high school level fielding and throwing errors happen all the time and it’s “easy” to take advantage of these errors. My question is do you want a youth player to get better by being able to hit for damage (hit it harder/better, line drives) or by taking advantage of bad defenses? I promise you, if they want to play the game for as long as possible then it is no question training to do more damage at the plate is the childs ticket to playing the game as far as their talent allows. Defenses get better, more and more ground balls become outs.

This kind of “just put it in play” mindset goes beyond the youth level. Here is a video by the director of hitting for Driveline Baseball. They train players from youth to the professional level. This video is only about 4 mins and mostly about using physical assessment and tech to help players get better but play close attention to the first 60 seconds:

Of course making contact when a player swings is important but why is it sometimes thought of as one extreme or the other? Why can’t a player train/develop to do damage AND train to make better/more solid contact at the same time? The answer is of course they can, but that takes more time and effort. Is it worth it? Well, that depends on what you want out of the sport. Until next time, happy hitting.

Should I purchase lessons for my child?

The answer to this question depends on the parent(s) willingness to be directly involved in the development and learning of the game. And that statement in no way passes judgment on the parent. It simply means that a parent needs to make an honest assessment of themselves (sometimes not the easiest part) and what is in the best interest of the child.

T-ball – no lessons. Let the Tball coaches work their magic. And I’m going to give a shout out to Tball coaches – God bless them. The Tball field is the loudest field in any youth ball park in America (and for good reason) and those coaches are basically trying to herd cats in the middle of a baseball game. I did it, I’m glad I did – I don’t plan on doing it again. 🙂

From Tball to coach pitch/machine pitch is the level where being able to visually track and hit a moving ball is the first fundamental. For the enterprising parent, the underhand soft toss with a wiffle ball from 10 to 15 feet is great for learning to hit a moving ball. Just tell your child if they think they can hit it, swing fast! At first, there will be swing and misses and falling down. That’s ok! Praise the effort, not the result. The 3 – 5 sessions (about 20 – 30 swings each sessions) keep it simple. Hitting a moving ball with a round bat is not easy, especially for a 6 to 7-year-old. You can also throw the wiffle ball over hand from 20 – 30 feet away. You don’t need a net, they don’t fly very far since it is a wiffle ball. You can make it more challenging with mini wiffle balls or varying the speed you throw or toss the wiffel ball.

If this doesn’t seem like something you want to try to do as a parent, lessons are your best bet. But I encourage you to try. Not because you have this burning desire to coach but similar to playing catch, these are life long memories between a parent and the child. This age goes by fast. In that sense, you really can’t do it “wrong”.

As you get closer to live arm/kid pitch level (9-10 year olds) the more hitting a moving ball with some relative velocity starts to matter more and more. At this point, if your child shows a level of interest and willingness to get better (put extra time in outside of team practice) then most parents need to consider getting in a batting cage. At these ages (if not sooner), standing behind a screen and using real balls needs to be used more than wiffle balls. Here’s an example of underhand soft toss:

If you don’t see yourself (mom or dad) throwing a baseball or softball to your child with relative velocity standing behind a screen in a batting cage, then finding a hitting instructor with whom you feel comfortable with probably should be in your future.

Don’t forget, if you can not find or have access too a good local hitting instructor there are some really good online/remote hitting instructors.

#hitting #youth

Be Able to Hit With a Two-by-Four

An idiom for sure but the goal of getting better as a hitter can be found using something other than your favorite bat.

Changing the size, length, and/or weight of what is being swung, used as a rotational aide, or help training a feel does impact the bodies learning curve. It causes your brain and central nervous system to adjust and adapt to the tool or device being used. This is not theory. There is historical anecdotal evidence (informal) as well as scientific research. Want proof? Cool – Both the anecdotal/historical and scientific evidence can be found with a simple Google search using some of the words used in this post (and just watch the videos below). An example of scientific research can be found HERE. If reading scientific research is not your thing, here is a quote from its abstract:

“All three groups showed significant increase in bat swing velocity during the study (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the differences between pre- and posttest scores (delta scores) were significant between BP and control, between DS and control, and between BP and DS (p < 0.05). It is suggested that training with variable weighted implements will significantly increase bat swing velocity, and that the use of loads specific to the target activity but with sufficient variation about the standard load will induce further training adaptations.”

The point is it works. Like anything else, it takes a bit of judgment on how to use it – especially as it relates to each individual. Let’s press on.

PVC – yea, that plastic plumbing pipe at your local home improvement center. We had hardware stores back in the day kids, sorry old dude moment 🙂 It’s cheap, easy to cut to length, can add tape/weight, comes in variety of sizes and thickness. Some examples of use:

 

There are plenty of products/programs you can purchase from baseball training websites that can used to help improve a player. I am not saying you shouldn’t use, check into, or buy a more formal product/program. I encourage you to look into them. The end game here is to benefit the player. The point of this post is to make you aware that using something other than your game bat can be a real difference maker in any player – youth or otherwise.

Next, we will touch on weighted bat training. In simplest terms, these are bats that vary the targeted game bat weight by roughly 20% – heavier and lighter. Can be purchased as a set of bats or an individually adjustable bat – either way, they can help improve your hitting. With a little leg work and independent thought you can make your own:

For those with an analytical mind and want to know more about the “why” or “how” weighted bats work, here is an excerpt from Chad Longworth Online LINK TO FULL PAGE

“All human movement is governed by the central nervous system (CNS) of the human body. It acts as the command center for our movements and is responsible for all voluntary movement. It is very adaptable and responds quickly to changes in our environment to accomplish required tasks.

During movement, our body is heavily reliant on sensory information to create a roadmap of our surroundings. This helps us orient ourselves, and create a motor plan to solve the movement task in front of us.  Take riding a bike as an example.  In the beginning, the task is challenging.  Learning to keep the bike balanced as you pedal seems like an impossible task (which is why the most complex movements are determined from a young age, stubborn persistence).  But the more acclimated your body becomes to the task, “creating a roadmap,”  the more the CNS will develop an autopilot for the task to accomplish the outcome.

Now to hit a baseball.  It’s the most difficult skill in sports, and achieving it requires more than just simple “mechanics.”  At the beginning aiming a round bat at a round ball and making square contact in fractions of a second seems like an impossible feat.  But the more time you spend, the better and easier the task of hitting the baseball becomes.  This is the CNS adapting quickly how to do the task. As this process becomes easier, the hitter’s CNS can stop making changes because the body has developed a roadmap for the execution of the movement.  This roadmap then becomes a permanent fixture in the player’s brain and thus, efficient or not; it is there unless a new challenge is presented to the system.

The new challenge becomes a different weighted bat.  This wakes up the brain and forces the CNS to stop using “autopilot” so that new, better roadmaps are created within the brain to accommodate the change. Think of your practice process as a hitter; you go to the cage, hit some balls off the tee, do some front toss, maybe take some BP, and call it a day.  Not only is this boring to you, but it is also boring to your CNS not evening registering as a slight breeze to a flag on its flagpole (yawn). Now do that same process using weighted bat implements.  You now have new sensory information because you are using a heavy (end or knob) and/or a light bat. The CNS must go into overdrive to account for the new variables, and a new, better movement roadmap is created.  Effectively you are taking what used to be a two lane somewhat curvy road that your movement plan traveled upon and are turning it into an eight lane super highway. Because the challenge of the weighted bats is new, and the body realizes it’s new, additional movement compensations must be made to accomplish the task.”

As a player progresses up the levels of baseball, hitting becomes much harder. The best on the planet fail about 2 out of 3 times. The training window starts to close faster than most think. In closing, great hitters at any level have at least one thing in common – they can pick up pretty much any bat in the dugout and still be a dangerous hitter. Listen to exhibit A:

 

Hitting Posture vs. Style

One of the major issues in describing baseball is the lack of set terminology. Words or phrases are not defined universally within the sport. So let’s make sure we are on the same page as it relates to hitting posture vs hitting style. If you are not familiar with some of the words or their meaning, that’s’ ok. I’ve included some videos that will help with explanations but please don’t skip to the videos. The narrative below will help the understanding.

Style is personal/individualized. It is what you see from the moment a hitter steps into the batters box until they begin to stride, load, coil/pull back to launch the bat (prepare their body to swing/hit the ball). The best players may all stand somewhat differently and their hands are located in various positions during the style phase. Aside from some youth players who may need an adjustment because their “style” my actually prohibit them from gaining a good posture, style is mostly not a teachable concept. But posture on the other hand …

Once a player begins preparing his/her body to launch the swing (striding, coiling, pulling back, and/or loading) we are now in the realm of posture. Posture matters because it leads to all the proper mechanics and results that matter most in swing. The space to consistently get to pitches in all areas of the strike zone, bat speed, timing, quality of contact, getting behind the ball – all these things can be traced to and benefit from good posture. Certainly posture can vary somewhat from player to player but the feel, reason, and importance of posture is present in every quality hitter. Maybe the best way to say it is if a player has posture issues or is sloppy in their training of posture the odds of them playing competitive baseball beyond the youth level is greatly reduced with each passing season.

The beauty of posture, pun intended, is moms and dads can help train with minimum knowledge, video, and an eye for positions. So lets watch a couple of videos from Antonelli Baseball, click here for his main Main Website . The first video is actually a drill called 10 Toes. As you will see, posture is a critical concept that impacts many aspects of the swing.

The next video includes the phrase you hear multiple times at almost very youth game on the planet yet everybody has a different meaning or doesn’t even know what it means as it relates a player. “Stay Back” is also impacted by posture.

I hope this helps in understanding what posture is, why it is important, and how it helps you get better.

Bat Length & Weight: No Charts, No Tools

All you need is the player.

A player’s bat length and swing weight matters, the total weight is moot. Also, a bat that cost less than $100 can outperform a bat on game day that cost over $400. “WHAT? Are you drunk!” Relax folks, we’ll get there. It’s actually fairly simple once we all understand a few things.Let’s start with some facts and some misguided thinking on the topic of bat weight.

A youth alloy bat (not a BBCOR which is a high school bat) has a “drop” stamped/written on the barrel by the factory. The drop is displayed as a negative number. Common drops are -12, -10, -8, -5. You can use this to calculate the manufactures “total weight” of the bat in ounces. Stay with me, the math is simple. On the bottom of the bat knob is a number, this is the overall length of the bat. If you subtract the length of the bat from its drop, you’ll get the manufactures “total weight” of the bat. So a drop 8 bat (-8 on barrel) that has a 30 stamped/written on the bottom of the bat knob (it’s length) has a 22 ounce manufactures “total weight” (30 – 8 = 22). “Total weight” is in quotes above because manufactures vary WHEN they actually weigh a bat. Some weigh it before it is: painted, or has a grip, or before the knob is attached, or the handle, or end cap is attached to the barrel, or whatever combo of each of these.

Confused? Don’t be, because the actual total weight of a bat isn’t what matters most. Anyone who has played the game competitively after they started shaving will tell you the following statement is true: two bats can actually weigh exactly the same in total weigth and be exactly the same length, yet they feel and swing totally different. The difference is where the weight is distributed in the bat. A bat that has more of its weight in the handle, will feel & swing lighter. A bat that has more weight in the barrel will feel/swing heavy. So calculating the actual total weigth of a bat (length – drop) or putting it on a scale to see what it exactly measures or “should be” is moot.

Next, lets discuss the bat charts that are available online. I’ll estimate that 95+% of them are wrong for your child because of 3 issues. First, the ones that are close to being right require you to do math to calculate the length – most will not do the math. Second, the bulk of the charts are produced by bat manufactures – that would be for profit manufactures. I’m guessing selling more bats might be a motivating factor in producing these charts. Call me cynical. Third, the charts have to be based upon somebody’s average estimate of height and weight or based upon age. Question, when was the last time you met a child that was average physically (height and weight)? average arm and leg lengths? And when do these things not change? Yea, me neither.

So what is a mom or dad to do? Now we are getting to the fun/easy part. You can do this at the store. You may not buy from that store but they will have a supply of bats to test. In your quest for a new bat, start with length. It is an easy 2 step measure that might take 30 seconds. Getting length first helps narrows your options which is always a good thing because Lord knows how many different bats there are available at any given moment.

Step 1: Have player stand on flat surface with shoulders level to ground, arms at their side. Place bat (or use measuring tape) standing on one end next to players leg. Check to see where the other end of bat falls in relation to their hand. The end of bat/measurement needs to fall between the wrist and bottom of palm or first knuckle. Remember or write down the longest distance in inches that does not go higher than the wrist/top of the hand. In the example below, the bat being used is 30 inches long (stamped on bottom of knob). This is the max length of bat for this player based upon Step 1. See pictures/descriptions.

Step 2: Place end of bat or measuring tape in center of chest, extend dominate arm (the one they throw with) parallel to floor with hand open. Hold bat or tape parallel to floor next to arm. Check to see where the other end of bat falls in relation to their hand. The bat/tape should not exceed the finger tips but at least reach to the center of the palm. Remember this number/measurement. This is the same bat used in Step 1 (30 inch bat). It measures a tad too long in this step. See pictures/descriptions.

Now compare the two numbers from step 1 and 2 above. In my example above, the player maxes length out in step 1 (30 inches), but step 2 shows a 29 inch bat would fit best. We went with a 30 inch for no other reason than he can grow into over time.

Now for the weight. Hold the bat by the grip with one hand – the players dominate hand/arm. Have the player extend it straight out in front, or straight to the side, and hold it parallel to the floor. Now count at a smooth, moderate pace; like 1-Mississippi … 2-Mississippi, etc. If the player struggles to keep the bat parallel to the floor before the count of 8 it’s probably too heavy. If you can count to 15 or higher – it’s definitely too light. The goal is to be able to reach the count of 8 but no more than 12. This helps ensure the player can “feel” the bat/barrel when they swing it (it’s not too light) but yet still be able to swing fast (not too heavy). See pictures.

batweight1write

That’s it. Hope that wasn’t to painful. Oh, almost forgot. Remember I said bats under $100 can out perform $400 bats? I see it every year. $400 bats collecting dust in dugouts on game day and less than $100 bats get borrowed and used repeatedly by the kids with $400 bats. The reason, the $400 bat does not fit the player. I can not tell you how many times I have taken a $400 bats out of a kids hands at practice (because he can’t swing it well enough), hand him a less than $100 bat that fits him physically and within a few swings … BOOM!

Just keep in mind no bat is perfect, at least not for very long. Bats are static, kids keep growing.

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