HELP!!! I'm Having a Hard Time PULLING THE BALL!!

Barry Bonds: Mr. Pull Hitter (pic courtesy of AP Ben Margot)

Barry Bonds: Mr. Pull Hitter (pic courtesy of AP Ben Margot)

I have mostly been a linear hitter and always hit for high average, shooting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.

Let me tell you that I play slow pitch softball and have been for over 15yrs. I don't want that to scare you away because there are a lot of similarities.

I have messed with my swing, different approaches and my mechanics a lot. I try to stay on top of the ball and hit line drives. We are only allowed so many homeruns. Teams always picked me up because I hit for high average and hit behind the runner.

Well, the problem I'm having is i really can't pull the ball that well and i don't feel like i hit with a lot of pop. Feel like i just don't hit as good as i use to. Yeah i know i hit with mostly my upper body(linear) and i want to change that.

So, i'm asking for your help with maybe some drills or mechanical issues i'm having. I've got the next 4-wks to try and change this before we start back.

Thanks! adam fowler

Swing Smarter Response:
I can feel your frustration Adam, and believe me, I've tried the linear "thing," and it left me more frustrated than anything.

I'm also more than aware of the slow pitch rules about the limit to home-runs by a team in a game, so I can see you don't want to lose consistency, and gain too much power which would hurt your team.

The quick answer for pulling the ball is to catch the ball about a foot ahead of your stride foot, out in front. The way that'll help you get there is as follows...

One of my kids who I've been teaching Down & Through to for over 3 years came to me and said, "Coach needs me to hit for more power." Unfortunately, Down & Through wasn't cutting it for him, he wasn't having fun, and coach thought this BIG strong young man was a "slap" hitter.

Now, he's having a blast (pardon the pun) putting dents in the outfield wooden wall even with the new BB Core bats, consistently.

What did I teach him differently?

Mainly coming from Jaime Cevallos's theory on Positional Hitting. Two main ideas really struck a cord with my High School Senior:

  • To make sure in his Impact Position, he was keeping the elbows nice and tight to the body (especially the front one), AND

  • He got longer with the barrel in the zone following the slot position

The problem with linear and Down & Through hitting philosophies are: the leading of the knob, and the front arm's job of pulling the body through the swing. This detaches the front arm away from the body putting our swing in a bad "mass" position.

It's simple physics you see, to increase Force in the swing, we have to increase bat speed and mass (this comes from hitting with bigger muscles than the upper body explained below).

Do an experiment for me...

Get into the Impact Position (the point at which you would make contact), do the "knob to the ball" creating a light gap between your front arm and rib cage like in linear hitting models, and have your kids or wife push on your Impact Position barrel while you resist...

Then, get in the same position, but keep the front elbow pinned to the side of the rib cage, slightly bent, and have the back elbow pinned to the backside rib cage in an "L", have your hitting partner push on the barrel and once again, you resist.

Which position were you stronger? I tell my kids, imagine you have to chop down a big heavy sequoia tree and have to do it in the least amount of ax swings as possible...which hitting position would you be most able to do that? The second experimental position, absolutely.

What's more...

Now, about getting your barrel in the Impact Zone sooner than with linear or Down & Through models...this will double your Area Of Impact, or AOI, the margin for error in making a connection with the ball.

In other words, as you start to bring the barrel around (from the Slot position), it should get into the Impact Zone at about your back hip and then the top hand will stay palm up helping to push through the AOI.

Keeping in mind, the rotation of the trunk is the main engine, and the arms are just along for the ride. Think about your barrel path like the NIKE Swoosh sign.

Remember, palm up with the back hand, and palm down with the front hand through the full AOI, or else you'll hit ground ball after GB, or fly ball after FB. I always come back to the chopping down a tree test, how would you want to hit the tree at impact with your hands and wrist??

A great drill would be to practice doing this very thing on a heavy 70-100lb boxing body bag.

Going from linear to Position hitting will prove difficult, but it takes a lot of swings while looking in a mirror, video analysis, and the proper baseball hitting aid tools. Let me give you a couple suggestions:

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