I’m sure you have heard someone say before, “Stay inside the baseball.” But what does that really mean?
I’m sure you’ve seen ball players on tv pull one down the line and it curves foul at the last moment. What could they do to keep that ball straight down the line? Well they could get inside the baseball just a little bit more and I am going to tell you something that has helped me and a lot of the guys I give lessons to.
Most of my hitters and a lot of the hitters I watch hit off the tee, front toss, or BP are getting around the ball too much. They are always hooking balls to the pull side and never really getting that back spin that everyone wants. How do you work on that by just changing one little thing in the players mindset?
Set the next ball up on the tee, with the two seam laces that go up and down the ball so they are facing back towards the net. Tell the batter to focus on hitting the inside lace, the one closest to him. 9 times out of 10 they will hit the ball either right back up the middle or oppo. Most of the time if they hit the ball to the opposite side of the cage they are dropping their backside to compensate. If so, just tell them to keep their backside up as they swing. Tell them to focus on swinging down and inside which means, drive the hands down towards the ball and focus on hitting the inside of the baseball. If they go back to hooking the ball, just remind them to hit that inside seam. They’ll know what you are talking about and will focus on that their next swing.
Whenever I was having problems on the field I would always go in the cage, grab a tee and tell myself, “Down and inside.” Every ball after that would go straight up the middle.
Work on that yourself or if you are a coach, with your hitters and I promise you will be surprised with the results.
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Has your team been hitting the weights this off season? If not, why not? Some, especially at the high school level and below may find it as a waste of time. I thought the same thing, but I am here to tell you that once you enter into a college program that it is almost all you do in the off season.
Lifting weights the right way plays a big part in “building up” your team and the off season is the perfect time to do that. The main benefits from lifting which I’m sure most of you have heard, include getting bigger, faster and stronger. Lifting will increase the power of a baseball swing and the power of throwing a baseball. Build stronger and more explosive legs to become faster. Have a pitcher who’s wanting to increase his pitch speed? Strengthen up the legs with squats and build up the pecs with bench press.
There are also different phases/cycles that players should go through in the off season that will help tremendously with the gains. Start the off season out with higher volume and less intensity which means higher reps and less weight to help build up some endurance. Then slowly taper down to doing low volume and high intensity which is lower reps and more weight. This last part of the training program should be solely focused on the fast twitch muscle fibers. Make sure players are being explosive in their movements. Baseball specific exercises should also be implemented during this period as well. Once in season, start a maintenance program with low weight and semi-high reps. Players should maintain the muscle they built in the off season and continue a lifting and stretching regimen to stay injury free. Keep all of this in mind and go out and have a great season! We are rooting for you!