Dry Run Hitting
One of the best ways to get better at hitting a ball with a baseball bat can interestingly be by removing one of those things – the ball! Often times players will be so focused on trying to make contact that they over compensate or forget their fundamentals, leading to a hole in their swing that can be very difficult to overcome. By removing the ball and allowing them to go through a ‘Dry Run’ you can prepare them to better handle a game situation.
Spread the hitters out across the field with at least 5 strides of space in every direction. Each player has a bat and faces the coach.
Lead the players through the phases of the swing one at a time (relax - ready position - stride - swing) ensuring each player is using the proper sequence. Call each phase out one at a time. Demonstrate the different mechanics and swing path for different types of pitches. Complete 5-10 swings for each type of pitch.
Players Going Through Dry Run Drill
- To make the proper stride, try telling your players to "walk away from the hands." The hands stay back while the front foot makes a small step forward. The stride should be a "soft stride" - with 80% of the weight on the back foot
- Outside pitch: keep the hips slightly closed, try to make contact deeper in the hitting zone, and hit the ball to the opposite field. Middle pitch: open the hips slightly, try to make contact in the middle of the plate, and hit the ball to center field. Inside pitch: open the hips even more, try to make contact out in front of the plate, and pull the ball on contact
- The back hip always goes to the target. Practice placing one hand on the back hip, taking the stride and pointing the finger (and hip) in the direction you would hit the ball
- Always stride to the same spot regardless of the pitch location
- Use visualization to help players picture how they will swing on different types of pitches
- Low pitch: take the same stride and keep the hips at the same level. Adjust the hands lower to make contact. High pitch: take the same stride and keep the hips at the same level. Adjust the hands higher to make contact
- Keep the hands inside the ball to create a shorter, more compact swing. Avoid looping or casting the bat around the plate.
- Be short to the ball and long after you hit it to generate more power. Extend the hands outward and make a long follow through after contact.
Learning how to visualize is a very important skill – not just in batting either. This is something you should have players doing for all aspects of the game, from pitching, to catching, to fielding as well. Once you have pictured yourself doing something successfully, it becomes much easier to actually do it in real life.
If you’ve got some skeptics, you can show the players the dividends it will pay very easily. Have them all run through the ‘Dry Run’ drill, and immediately after put them through a hitting drill. The players will all see an immediate improvement and really buy-in.