03 Oct Drill Prescription: Understanding The Hitter’s Needs
This hitter presented with some backward sway in the loading phase and excessive drift during the initiation phase of her swing. It was observed as the head or center of mass sliding forward throughout the course of the swing thus preventing a quick bat path from the end of loading to contact. The best drill prescription for someone that presents with this issue (assuming the hitter has no structural issues contributing to this swing compensation) would be the wedge step off drill. This drill is fantastic for correcting both deviations because (1) the step down off of the one inch elevation allows the hitter to feel the ‘sinking’ into their back side (activation of their backside glute complex) and (2) The angle of the wedge initiates an over-exaggerated drive phase toward the ball. The powerful lower half drive typically allows the upper half to properly lag behind in sequence before whipping to the proper position for contact. Typically, this drill very easily corrects for drift and sway.
As observed in this video, this hitter completes the drill extremely well. However, when slowing the movement down, we are able to recognize that separation of the lower and upper half did not happen in sync. The drill appears to be too mechanical in nature as her foot lands in a harsh manner and her hands continue to load AFTER front foot contact has been made. Although the end result is a hard hit line drive, how the hitter got there is not effective in developing proper skill acquisition to later translate to the swing.
Therefore, we utilized a walk up drill for this particular hitter. You may be saying to yourself, “For someone who is drifting forward in their swing, why would you ever use the walk up drill?” This is where understanding the mechanism of the drill as well as your hitter is extremely valuable for proper drill prescription as a coach. Yes, the walk up drill is very focused on aggressive backside drive. However, with a mature hitter who can feel their drift occurring, the walk up drill can be one of the most effective drills because it will expose their compensation if the drill is not performed properly. With this drill, as observed in the second half of the video, we are working to create a fluid rhythm of the separation phase. By adding the reactive component to the drill (calling in vs. out during separation) not only are we making the drill more game-like but we are disallowing the hitter to commit their body to a certain pitch during the loading phase. This makes tee work way more accurate and especially for this particular hitter who had difficulty releasing tension, it allowed the hitter’s swing to fall into the proper place with smooth and relaxed effort.