Potent Batting Drills to Keeping the Front Shoulder In & Hitting on Your Head

The first of two Swing Smarter batting drills we'll be discussing today will help you to:

  • Keep the front shoulder from flying out prematurely,
  • Lock the hips in so they don't spin off the ball,
  • Develop more patience in letting the ball get deep,
  • Crack the "hitting to the opposite field" code,
  • Fine tune a more inside-out swing approach, and
  • Lead to hitting more low line drives.

(Sorry for the netting blurring the action, we needed this angle and I wasn't about to let my best bud Scott Beshears take swings at my unprotected camera)

Of all batting drills, the Oppo Low Rope Drill is definitely part of the 20% that work; 80% of hitting drills out there don't measure up to more than one of the above benefits. I use the following drill quite a bit in the beginning and middle of the season because that's when kids get too excited and start pulling off.

What you'll need: a cage, L-Screen, throwing partner, hitting tee (optional) and all necessary baseball hitting equipment. There are 3 total STAGES, and each should be mastered before moving onto the next.

Mastered means over 60% successful with the below "Down" drill objectives, so if you're taking a round of 20 pitches, at least 12 executed right proves moving onto STAGE 2.

If you're using a batting drills flesh-and-blood throwing partner, then they need to target the ball on the outer 2/3 of the plate.

On the other hand, if you don't have a partner, the good news is:

You don't need one.

That's why we've mentioned the use of a hitting tee above. With a tee, you would simulate an outside pitch by placing the ball in line with the hip and a little away from the body. The rest of the drill is the same.

The Oppo Low Rope "Down" batting drills objective:

  • Keep the head DOWN over the contact zone throughout the swing,
  • Take the knob DOWN to the incoming pitch,
  • Finish with the chin over the back shoulder,
  • We're concentrating on low line drives to the opposite field, and
  • The ball should never be hit more than 4 feet high.

STAGE 1: The Square Off
The hitter stands square to the pitcher, both feet parallel and a little wider than shoulder width apart. We then rotate the shoulders, by twisting our torso, so the front shoulder is pointing at the pitcher.

We're eliminating our use from the waist down and focusing on executing the upper body properly, so remember, since we're not using the prime power source, our hips, we're NOT going to be hitting the ball very hard, so don't over-swing, we're not trying to impress anyone until we get to STAGE 3!

STAGE 2: The Open Stance
We now move into our regular stance but move the front foot about 6 inches back, in other words, open up your stance. We're keeping both feet cemented in the ground, NO striding or rotating the feet.

Although now, we're rotating our hips and loading into the back hip flexor. All the "Down" Drill objectives from above still apply.

STAGE 3: Full Controlled Cut
Most batting drills create a lot of bad habits because they're done incorrectly, and the Oppo Low Rope Drill isn't any different, so use the directions and video above to stay on task.

Now we're in our regular stance, loading into the back hip flexor, taking our normal short soft stride, and rotating on the back foot. We're abiding in the above "Down" drill objectives here also.

Common Swing Smarter Oppo Low Rope batting drills troubleshooting:

  • Standing up too straight on the follow through (STAGE 1) - we may be hitting the ball up the middle or pulling too much...we must finish with the chin over the back shoulder at contact with a slight bend at the waist towards the plate.
  • Hips spinning off the ball (STAGE 2) - we may be hitting low line drills, but the hitter feels like the contact is weak...revisit the "Down" objectives, load into the back hip flexor, and explode (under control) the back hip into the ball following a line to the opposite field.

How to Master Hitting Backwards

Depending on your goals, this drill can either be a fantastic tool to finding the right swing tempo OR the key to becoming the golden grail of baseball: a Switch Hitter.

(Little clearer picture than the one above? Yeah, didn't have to worry this time because we were hitting off a tee;-)

Batting Drills: Use of Timing
I was sitting in on a hitting lesson of a good friend of mine,Thomari Story Harden who played in the Dodgers organization for 8 years, work with a Sophomore at a local high school.

My observation was the player was swinging way too hard, and I knew what I'd work on with him: holding his finish and making sure his belly button was lining up correctly; but Thomari had other plans, plans that rocked this kid's world and my traditional hitting paradigms.

Thomari began having this player bat on the left side (a natural righty), and I was skeptical, for crying out loud, this player needed to work on his right handed swing before working on his weaker side...boy was I wrong.

As I watched him awkwardly swing left handed, like most of usunnatural switch hitters, I saw one perfect tempo-ed swing in motion, huge difference from his over-swinging natural right side. After a round of fine tempo-ed uncoordinated left handed swings, Thomari asked me what I thought.

My reply?

I told the player that if we could take his left handed swing tempo and apply it to his right side, he'd be dangerous.

The result?

He slowed down his hips on the right side and began hitting absolute shots all around the cage, I was as amazed as he was!

I became a believer in Switch Hitting that day as a compliment to Swing Smarter's Top 5 batting drills, whether it's to fine tune your tempo or to make it an actual career...and for the latter, it's never too late.

Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies center-fielder, started switch hitting his 3rd or 4th year in pro ball, I believe. I had a teammate in high school, who's dad played pro ball for the Giants back in the 70's, was urged to start switch hitting as a natural righty beginning his Freshman or Sophomore year in High School. By his Junior year, he hit 9 total home runs on the season, and 7 of them were from the left side.

If that "ain't" inspiration, then I don't know what is;-)


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