Stop the chop- the proper hand path in hitting.

In teaching hitting, I often find young players developing an improper hand path where they hit down on the ball. This path results in many ground balls and not as many line drives.  I believe there is a misconception as to what the correct hand path should be. I also believe many coaches have a misguided hitting philosophy.  Let me explain.

 

It is a fact that the top hitters in the world do not chop down on the ball. Actually what you will see is not the hands starting the bat but instead the back elbow starting down and the front elbow initially starting upward. The hands are the last thing to be delivered to the ball. Good hitters do not commit their hands until the last possible second so that they can take a pitch if it breaks out of the strike zone. Many young hitters make the mistake of starting the bat improperly with either their hands going down and/or their front shoulder opening.

The second issue I see is that many coaches believe that hitting ground balls is the correct goal. While it is true that at the younger levels, a team that hits a lot of ground balls will probably win a lot of games I just cannot agree with limiting a player to being a ground ball hitter. College coaches want players who have swings that can drive the ball into the outfield (unless of course they are fast kids who are on the left side). By teaching a young player a downward hand path you are creating a muscle memory that will be hard to change in the future. What gets the player more excited – a ground ball or a homerun over the fence? I think we know the answer.

 

In short, teach players to hit the ball hard up the middle. Promote swing mechanics that lead to line drives off the batting T in practice. Remember, ground balls do not go out of the park.

 

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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