Friends don’t let friends “squish the bug!”

In teaching hitting, one of the most common teaching cues I hear coaches of young players using is, “squash the bug”.  What the instructor wants is the young hitter to rotate on their back foot during the swing in a motion similar to how you would squash a bug under the ball of your foot. I want to, once and for all, state that “squashing the bug” is NOT a good hitting mechanic.

 

I understand why it works at the younger age levels – young hitters are usually weak in the upper body and coaches see this technique as a way to increase strength (and bat speed) especially off the hitting tee.  When a player squishes the bug their hips get involved in the swing and generate more power. The problem is that this method of early hip turn can happen before the front foot is completely planted and the full stride is taken.  This can be limiting for their development long term.  In fact – if you are “squishing the bug” it means you still have a substantial amount of weight (and energy) on the back foot before your hips are used.  In “squashing the bug” usually the player lands their front toe, turns their hips and then lands the heel of their front foot. Do you know what this causes? It causes a player’s front shoulder to open prematurely and then we yell at our hitters, “Don’t pull your front shoulder out”, which is exactly what the result of “squashing the bug” is – just try it. Get in a batting stance – take a stride but don’t transfer your weight – now squish the bug with your back foot and low and behold your front shoulder must come out early and we all know that is bad mechanics!

 

See the pictures below, and I can find hundreds more, of major league ball players and high level softball players and you will not see one hitter “squashing the bug”.

 

So if the concept of “squashing the bug” with the back foot is incorrect, then what should you teach? Think front shoulder to the pitcher longer and have your hitters land their front heel before they get aggressively engage their hips. Have players focus on hitting balls back up the middle of the field rather than pulling everything.   We will cover more of the correct mechanics to teach in future blogs.

 

There are a lot of hitting philosophies out there and I have seen a lot of hitters with “bad mechanics” get hits.  But, as the competition gets better the best possible mechanics are my goal. Do you teach your players to be average, or do you want them to be the best? Strive for mechanics that give your player the best chance of success at the highest level.  Remember, we want to take the bugs out of our hitter’s mechanics not bring them in.

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About Jennifer Hapanowicz

USA Elite Training LLC Virtual Softball Academy Coach Jennifer Hapanowicz – owner and founder of USA Elite Training LLC – has been instructing youth softball players of all ages throughout the New England region ( including CT, NH, NY. NJ. ME, RI) for the past 16 years. A highly accomplished collegiate player herself, Hapanowicz attended the University Of Rhode Island on a full athletic scholarship as a pitcher and first baseman. Utilizing over 16 years of experience in the softball and recruiting industry, Coach Hapanowicz has assisted in placing her clients in leading college athletic programs across the country including LSU, UMass, UConn, Stanford, Univ. Of Florida, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Bryant Univ., Cornell Univ., Univ. of Central Florida, to name a few. COACH HAPANOWICZ GETS RESULTS: An amazing 90% of her students go on to play at the collegiate level Numerous players under USA Elite’s tutelage have gone on to play on TOP 25 Collegiate Softball teams and have helped to lead their teams to NCAA Regionals. Coach Hapanowicz has trained CT Gatorade Player of the Year Award Winners ( 2003,2005,2007,2008,2009) Her student have dominated the Connecticut State top ranks: Trained winning State Championship pitchers ( 2003-2010) Trained 2007 CIAC Player of the Year Trained numerous All –State, All – Area, and All League Players Coach Hapanowicz has sent pitchers to the prestigious Gold Coast FL Hurricanes Junior Olympic Travel Team Winner of the 2008 18U ASA Gold National Championship Coach Hapanowicz is a top level consultant Jen has been a consultant to college softball programs including Wesleyan University and the University of Hartford Jen has been the featured speaker at the 2010 CT High School Coaches Association’s Coaches Clinic Jen has been the featured speaker 2011 World Softball Coaches’ Convention at Mohegan Sun Convention Center She has hosted coaches’ clinics throughout the New England area over the years to train local programs skills to excel in area of softball