5 Biggest Hitting Mistakes In Baseball

One thing I learned in my 25 years coaching youth baseball is

that there is no perfect way to coach hitters. I never considered

myself an expert at teaching young 7-12 year-old ballplayers the

most refined hitting techniques. The most success I’ve had with

improving hitters’ techniques is when I didn’t over coach them.

I’ve attended my share of baseball conventions and hitting

clinics. Sometimes I came away more confused than when I went

in. The hitting coaches I enjoy the most are the ones that simplify

not just the hitting technique itself, but the explanation so young

players will understand it. Most of the speakers at these clinics

have incredible knowledge about hitting, but I believe many

should work on targeting their lessons to younger players. With

that said, I would like to share the five biggest mistakes I see

young players make year in and year out and what I do to correct


  Mistake #1 is a batter stepping towards third base with his

front foot. For lefty hitters it would be stepping toward first. For

young players, this might be the most common hitting mistake I

see. Instead of stepping toward the pitcher or even just lifting the

front foot and putting it down, many players step toward third.

This can also throw off the whole rhythm of the player’s swing

and also reduce the amount of power the player can put into the

swing. If the batter does make contact and hits the ball fair, the

ball usually is a grounder to the right side of the infield. This

hitting flaw is easy to recognize. To correct it can take time. What

I do is take two pieces of 2x4 wood, each about 36” long. Putting

them on each side of the player’s feet during batting practice will

force his front foot from stepping to the side. Very rarely do

players actually step into the wood while batting. Coaches should

have the batter practice stepping without even swinging for a few

pitches. One session alone will usually not solve the problem, but

over a period of time this can work more often than not with

most young players. You can also use two bats, but I prefer wood

because the bats can roll.

  Mistake #2 is when the batter takes too big a step forward

toward the pitcher. Many hitting coaches teach that batters need

to limit excessive movement of the head. Some hitting coaches

are even teaching their hitters that they do not have to step

forward as long as they lift their front foot up and put it down

when transferring their weight. When a player takes an extra big

step, his head can drop a good 4-6” or more. Plus, stepping too

far forward can limit the batter’s hip rotation and power. To help

curb this, I will take a flat piece of wood, like a piece of ¼”

plywood 4”x36” long. This would have to be cut to size. I put it

about 6-8” in front of the player’s front foot. He has to avoid

stepping on it. Again, the coach or parent must give the player

numerous repetitions to reinforce the muscle memory of the act.

  Mistake #3 is when players lift their head too soon. Everyone

who ever hit a baseball or a softball wants to see the result of

their effort. At the youth level, batters will sometimes move their

heads prematurely, losing sight of the pitched ball. This is almost

equivalent to a batter closing his eyes and trying to hit the ball.

Young players tend to do the same thing when hitting off a

batting tee. First, I have the player hit off the batting tee, and he

must yell “hit” upon contact. This forces them to focus more and

they will tend to keep their head and eye on the ball. The second

technique is to color code a few balls. I usually use blue painter’s

tape on some, yellow duct tape on others, and keep some

unmarked. We have blue, yellow, and white balls. Do not over

mark the balls with the tape. One small slice about two inches on

each side is sufficient. A coach will throw the balls and the batter

must track or follow the baseball into the catcher’s glove. He will

then call out the color of the pitched balls once he recognizes the

tape on it. The next step in this drill is to have the batter hit and

yell out the color after swinging and making contact. I’ve had

pretty good results with these two drills.

  Mistake #4 is when a player stops his swing. I can’t tell you

how many young players I’ve seen who have a tendency to not

swing through the baseball. This happens when a player makes

contact with the ball. His swing all of a sudden slows down. We

all know the importance of the follow through. Again, the batting

tee has given me the best results. I stand next to the hitter and

just tell him to swing through the ball. This is a process that can

take a while. Having the batter take numerous practice swings is

also a good idea.

  Mistake #5 is the upper cut. To help solve this, I use the

“Chair Drill.” I set up a batting tee with a chair just behind it.

When the batter swings, the bat must go past the highest part of

the chair first.

When swinging and trying to hit the ball off the tee, the batter

must avoid hitting the back of the chair.

I like to use the term swinging “high to low.” The player

understands this and knows what he has to do in this drill. In

batting practice, I also ask my players to try hitting only grounders

without chopping down on the baseball. This also helps solve the

upper cut issue.

 For these remedies to work, repetition is the key. With young

players, keep it simple. My own “Hitting 101” lesson is the soft

toss drill 6-10 feet from a fence or a wall with rag balls (rags

wrapped in masking tape). I then tell the hitter he must try to hit

the ball so it lands at eye level or lower. I have no scientific proof,

but when the hitter does hit the ball at eye level or lower, it seems

the batter is doing more things correct than not.

Hitting instructors are incredibly knowledgeable. They must

convey their theories so both the hitter and the layman coach, like

me, can understand the common nuances of this great skill. We

all have to keep it simple and supplement all instruction with

relevant hitting drills.

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