I became the hitting and pitching coordinator for Harris Stowe State University in February 2016 and worked with the guys through the 2017 season.
Here are some of the things I've found are important when working with college hitters.
Most Common Flaws
While many of our hitters were in a good position to succeed in the fall, we had significant roster turn-over, so in many ways this year was a new year. In terms of the most common flaws I saw, they include...
Dropping the Hands
I first noticed this in one of our guys who last year hit for some power -- pretty much only down -- but didn't hit for a great average. This fall, I took a fresh look at him. I asked him to show me Contact on a fastball up, and the problem was immediately obvious. Some of the concepts we then discussed included...
I had to fix my guys' problems with dropping the hands first, but once I did, I spent most of my time this fall watching my players' hips and talking about...
One of the flaws I first came to understand during my work with Tommy Pham, and then saw in many of our hitters, was a flaw that I call Leaky Hands. I address this topic in a number of pieces...
One of our hitters has a nice swing, but a pretty good-sized hole due to a problem with a True Loop.
Diving Over the Plate
This results from not understanding Y-Axis Adjustability.
I know that people are pressed for time.
I sure am.
As a result, let me lead off this piece with a few ideas that lead to rapid transformations of my hitters' swing.
Point Of Contact
As I have mentioned, aside from the concept of Rotation, one other thing that completely transformed the swing of Andres Torres was simply understanding Connection and what a good Point Of Contact looks like.
Andres Torres 2010 World Series Home Run
In 2016, I had the same exact experience with several of my college hitters.
Literally all I talked about was what a good position at the Point Of Contact looks like and where/when to hit the fastball.
It helped they already had a good swing and, like Torres, his issue wasn't mechanics as much as where he was trying to hit the fastball.
One day this fall I was watching one of our hitters. He is ridiculously fast and had obviously been taught to keep his front elbow down, put the ball on the ground, and (try to) beat out the throw. This didn't work for him, so I've been trying to turn him into more of a line drive hitter.
The thing I focused on was the concept of Alignment and some of my favorite Alignment-related cues.
One day, when he was doing front toss with a partner, I saw that he had reverted by to his old A to C swing. I gave him one of my favorite Alignment-related cues, and it instantly transformed his swing.
After three pitches, all of which were smoked, his partner commented to me, "That's the hardest he's hit the ball all day."
Ted Williams' Secret
Although it wasn't the first thing I talked about, once I was confident that they understood the basics, the thing I obsessed over with our hitters, and spent the majority of my time on this fall, was...
If you are familiar with the work of Mike Epstein, who (supposedly) based his system on what he learned from Ted Williams, you should understand that I've never seen Mike Epstein talk about this.
Because many of our hitters had been taught to put the ball in play or on the ground and try to beat out the throw, this fall I first talked about and worked on the following concepts, milestones, cues, and drills...
- Ready Position
- Front Elbow
- Hands Inside the Ball
- Top Hand
- Tee Work & Deep Tee Drill
This is also the same general sequence I use when speaking to kids and their parents, although I don't get into topics like Resistance and Overlap unless I'm speaking to a more advanced or older audience.
I'll start this off with an overview and then go into more detail in the clients-only section, which is available to clients who have Power tier access.
Although it was critical to my learning process and to that of Andres Torres.
...I wasn't sure whether my college hitters needed to be taught what a good Point Of Contact looks like. However, as soon as I asked them to demonstrate Contact to me, I found that most had no idea what it should look like or how to get there.
Instead, most demonstrated one or more flaws...
- Dropping the Hands: Many had no ability to cover the top 1/3 or even 1/2 of the strike zone.
- Extension at the Point of Contact
Realizing that most of our hitters had little understanding of how to get to Contact, I backed up to the Ready Position, which is when what the hitter does stops becoming Style and starts becoming Substance. Many of our hitters had problems with their Ready Position that explained the holes in their swings and that hurt their...
- Swing Plane
Many of our hitters' problems with Contact or Getting To Contact resulted in problems with their hips, including problems with...
- Front Foot Angle at Foot Plant