How to cure being power happy and bat path flattening out

by Todd Henderson
(Cresskill, NJ, USA)

Hi, my son is 18 and will be playing D3 baseball in NJ this coming fall. I think his problem is 2 fold. (a) I think he has gotten a little power happy and is swinging too hard. (b) I think the path of his swing has flattened out.

He's always been a good contact hitter with power, however this season while he did hit close to .500 with a lot of extra base hits, his strikeout total increased from a total of 5 last season to 17 this season.

As a junior, while in his stance, he seemed to hold the bat more up and down with the knob more pointed down. This season I've noticed while in his stance the bat is more angled with the knob pointing toward the opposite batters box.

I think by holding the bat with the knob not pointing down in his stance has caused his swing to flatten out. During his swing it seems to me that his front elbow isn't always staying down and the path of his swing as a result has gotten a little long. He's always been a real good fast ball hitter but this season he seemed to fouling back a lot of pitches that in the past he would be right on. And as I noted his strikeout total increased from 5 to 17 this season.

How can he correct this? My thinking is to adjust his stance slightly to hold the knob more down, and do some drills to reinforce this and his swing path. Also he has a problem getting fooled on off speed stuff and slow curve balls which may be more a result of him trying to swing too hard and not staying back. Do you have any drills for hitting off speed stuff?

Any advice / drills you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time, Todd Henderson, Cresskill, NJ

Swing Smarter Response
Thank you Mr. Henderson for your question and congrats on your son going on to play D3 college baseball; it will be one of the best times of his life.

For a strikeout total to increase over 200%, like what happened to your son, most likely he's over swinging and has the "swing for the fences" mentality. A couple other questions may be, did he hit more home runs this past year? Did he hit more fly balls than normal?

If so, he may be coming through the ball too much, which means his swing is getting loopy and possibly too long. To Swing Smarter we need to get him down on the ball a little more, so please read this Swing Smarter article on hitting down on the baseball.

We try to keep things simple here at Swing Smarter, we can either spend our time tinkering with bat angles in the stance or whether the front elbow is coming up prematurely during the swing, but it's better to shoot for the BIG wins, or the 20% of drills taking care of 80% of swing faults.

Such as this Swing Smarter article about top/bottom hand Down & Through drills.

Addressing your son's issue with off speed and breaking pitches...

Stand in line because virtually everyone has a problem with those pitches, they separate those who move up a level and those who don't. The best way I know to work on off speed pitches is to have a live arm throw golf ball sized whiffle balls to the hitter; they mimic a fastball once they leave the pitcher's hand, but slow down as they approach the hitter. They are an excellent tool for off speed hitting.

Your best bet with curve balls is to have the same live arm throw them over and over again from a shorter distance, to take pressure off the thrower's arm. This article will help with staying inside the baseball and developing an opposite field approach to hitting the curve ball.

I hope the Swing Smarter response has helped out, please respond back if you need more clarification or elaboration. The best thing is to KISS, Keep It Simple Sally;-) I'm very impressed with your analysis of your son's mechanics and results, a man after my own heart!

All the best,
Joey Myers

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Awesome included action picture!
by: Todd Henderson

I just wanted to say thank you for your reply and your great web page. I wish I came across this a few years ago. My son is a left handed hitter (6-2 / 195) with good power to all fields. He gets a lot of extra base hits, but I can't really say he hit more fly balls this year than in the past. When he is hitting well he is driving the ball well from LCF to CF.

I think sometimes when kids start to fill out and start developing good power they can get away from staying back and driving the ball where it's pitched. I think when this happens the hitter gets a little too aggressive which makes it more difficult to hit and or layoff the off speed stuff.

Thank you for the suggestion to use plastic golf balls for training on off speed & slow curves. I've used them for soft toss in the past and kind of got away from using them. Sometimes I'd have my son use a shorten stick ball bat to hit them with. Pitching them at short distances sounds like a real good idea.

Swing Smarter Response:
Mr. Henderson, no problem and I appreciate the kudos on the site...I just thought this information should be readily available to everyone; I was just so tired of regurgitated hitting information in popular "for sale" media with professional player endorsements.

Great pictures by the way, they turned out great, I would love to see your son get a little more through the ball after contact instead of rolling the top hand over too soon...not bad though, but a little adjustment and he may see more backspin with the swing through 3 baseballs drill in the preceding article response.

Another Swing Smarter article I forgot about a 2-Strike approach can be found HERE.

You have lots of reading to do;-)lol If you have any other questions, you know where to find me.

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