I can’t think of anything more important in baseball hitting as to what you do or do not do with your front shoulder. I hope players, coaches and baseball parents realize this. And I have a very strong opinion on the elbows, particularly the back elbow. Don’t listen to that myth about the back elbow that has been around for decades. Most baseball tips on hitting are useful but some are pure nonsense.
Let’s look at several important baseball tips on hitting involving the front shoulder and then involving the elbows, particularly the back elbow.
Your Front Shoulder:
- It should go straight into the pitch and toward the pitcher and NOT fly open to the left if you’re a right-handed hitter or to the right if you’re a left-handed hitter.
- The front shoulder must be kept closed until the swing itself forces it to open.
More than one great hitter I know, uses a reminder to keep the front shoulder closed. One is a right-handed hitter who tucks his front left shoulder inward until it literally touches his chin just before the pitcher goes into his windup. He does this before every pitch.
If the front shoulder opens too early, it creates at least three baseball hitting problems:
- It will cause you to pull your head off the ball which will prevent you from seeing the ball as well as you should. You will be seeing the ball out of the corners of your eyes.
- It will create a longer swing, because your bat will have a tendency to take a “longer route” to the ball. A fraction of a second is an eternity in baseball, especially hitting!
- You will have a difficult time with low and away strikes. The baseball hitting is not taking place out by your third base coach if you are a right-handed batter or by your first base coach if you are a left-handed batter. Keep the front shoulder closed!
First things first. Make sure your elbows are relaxed when swinging. The front elbow should be pointing downward at the very start of the swing. If it faces toward the pitcher at the very start of your swing, it will create a slight loop in your swing. This will cause you to be a fraction of a second later to the ball. Like we’ve said before, a fraction of a second is an eternity when it comes to baseball hitting. Hey, it takes a fraction of a second for a fast ball to hit the catcher’s mitt. If you only have a fraction of a second as a hitter, you can’t afford to lose a fraction of a second. This is not open to any discussion. You don’t have to take my word for it. Watch your favorite professional hitters when they take their practice swings.
I have a very strong opinion on the back elbow. For many years, actually decades, I have constantly heard parents, coaches and managers yell out to the batter to raise the back elbow. Let’s just hold on for a minute here. I see younger and older players as well, raising their back elbow up to the height of their ear. (That is totally absurd) What I teach is to make a fist with your hand that will be your top hand when gripping the bat. Now raise the fist to about the same height as if you were going to punch a balloon that’s in front of you and across from your chest. That height is an ideal starting point for the back elbow! In other words, the back elbow should be slightly lower than the back shoulder.
You must be relaxed and comfortable to hit a ball properly and these hitters with their back elbow sticking up in the air are not relaxed and in almost all cases are not comfortable. Try it for yourself right now without using a bat in your hands. Pretend you are gripping a bat and raise your back elbow up to the height of your ear. Does that feel comfortable to you? Thank you, of course it’s not comfortable. Use the balloon technique for where the back elbow should be. I will concede that if you are more comfortable with the back elbow higher or lower, by all means make an adjustment either up or down because one of the better baseball tips on hitting to remember is that you are the one that has to feel comfortable and not me, your coach, your teammate or your parent.
I know that in at least 90% of all cases you will not be comfortable at the plate with the back elbow raised ridiculously high. I post a new FREE baseball article on hitting, pitching or fielding EVERY Monday at LarryBaseball.com that you can add to your favorites now. Baseball parents who want to help their son, as well as players and coaches will benefit by reading them. Feel free to share them to help other baseball people you know or to use the links for your website, blog or newsletter to attract more visitors or to keep your current visitors returning. I promise you will be raising a few eyebrows!
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