All major league hitters have compact swings. They could not get to that level without one. What separates hitters at this level is their degree of bat quickness and bat speed. Bat quickness determines how quick they can get the bat to the ball once they decide to swing. This is one of the ingredients needed for being able to wait on the pitch as long as possible and for making contact. Bat speed determines the amount of power that a hitter will produce if solid contact is made when the ball is hit. Once again though, all major league hitters have compact baseball swings. This is vital in order to hit the speeds that major league players face.
You might ask, “If they all have compact swings, why do some strike out so much?” There are three reasons for that and one was mentioned, bat quickness. A compact swing does not guarantee a quick bat. Two, some players put more tilt in their upper body with their swing. When players collapse their back side creating un-level hips, they create more up-swing, leading to greater lift on the ball, but more misses too. Three, some players simply have better hand-eye coordination.
Developing a compact swing should be the goal of young baseball hitters too. This will be necessary if they wish to consistently hit as they move up the baseball ladder.
First, a definition of a compact swing is necessary. Compactness implies a short, tight area and this would define a good baseball swing. A compact baseball swing is one in which the bat barrel goes from hitting position (above hitter’s rear shoulder) directly to the ball as the hands descend into a palm-up, palm-down position approaching the strike zone. The bat barrel stays relatively close to the hitter’s head on the way to the ball, without taking a detour to the contact area. Why is this so necessary? The more compact the swings, the longer hitters can wait on the ball which is a huge advantage when making decisions on different speed pitches.
Following are the drills that will lead to a compact baseball swing, giving ballplayers the best chance of having baseball hitting success:
1. Place a pad under the hitters lead arm and take some swings without the pad falling out till the follow through. Hitters will develop strong quick hands and forearms with this drill and not a long arm swing.
2. Have hitters stand belly button away from a net and take swings with the edge of bat just grazing the net with a full, fast turn. This will force hitters to keep the hands close to body to avoid casting the bat.
3. Have hitter stand with net close behind them (toward catcher) and take swings missing net on way toward ball. This drill is best done with no stride and will not allow hitters to drop the bat barrel.
4. Set a batting tee hip high and even height with hitter’s rear hip. Hitters take swings while missing the tee and hitting balls at any level, even knee high – best done with dropped ball drill or soft toss flipped balls.
5. Dropped ball drill – coach holds ball up in air and drops ball into the hitter’s strike zone after the hitter takes their stride. A compact swing is necessary to make solid, consistent contact.
6. Alternate fast and slow pitches until hitters learn to have the same quick swing on all pitches – when players make good contact on both speeds while hitting balls in the direction of where the pitch is located is the goal.
Finally, hitters can perform a few of these drills in combination with the other drills to challenge them further. For example, combining the glove under lead arm (# 1) and the dropped ball drill (#5) with the tee hip high(#4) at the same time can be done.