Many players are getting ready for tryouts at their high schools and some are doing 'preseason' workouts for their 12 and under travel teams. I keep hearing the same complaints that some of the drills they are being forced to do are against what makes sense in the swing. Many coaches will 'isolate' the hands with top and bottom hand drills. I don't really have a problem with that in moderation as its a great strength and coordination building movement, and can be fun for kids to make games out of. Coaches will spread hitters out really wide and force wrist isolation as well with more 'speed toss' drills which consist of repetitive arm motion to swing the bat across the chest instead of hip driven turning. We do this drill in our evaluations to see what kids 'eliminate' in their swing in order to hit the balls. Most kids take their hips out...bad idea. The best kids with the best patterns naturally keep their hips moving, and more often than not, can hit more balls in number and hit more balls hard. Coaches also do drills putting kids on one knee, again, taking all stabilization out of the swing (which makes no sense) and forces kids again to create an 'arms and wrist dominated' move, simply because they have no other choice.
While those drills aren't the best drills, they're not the worst either. This is the worst drill you can do for hitting a baseball properly and yet it's one of the most commonly used drills from little league up, even into the college ranks. It hurts me to even link to this drill I think it's so bad...so proceed with caution...
How would the High Back Tee Drill look if added two tees into Ryan Braun's game swing? Looks like Braun is doing this drill incorrectly?
How about Ichiro, a hitter I never teach off of and is known for hitting SINGLES instead of powerful drives, do you think he's going to miss the high tee? Even singles hitters must get their barrel in the way of the baseball!
Maybe Ken Griffey Jr, one of the best 15 hitters of all time could execute this drill. I figure he's noted for hitting for power, average, and just overall being extremely technically sound and having one of the 'prettiest' swings ever to grace the game of baseball. Surely he misses the back tee. One of the best hitters of all time destroys the back tee in this drill with a real game swing!
Do we think the professional player's actual movements are incorrect or the drill? Even worse, if we now know the drill is wrong...how come this is such an accepted part of our fundamental teaching for our youngest players? The scary part about this drill and the blind following of mechanical teachings, like 'A to C' mechanics and 'swing down' mechanics, is that they're not visually supported at all in actual MLB games!
Remember this clip from the 2012 world series? Really LISTEN to the announcers' voices and how they're excited about debunking the myths and finding out what really happens in the game swing of MLB players. Think about the advantages of seeing what's happening so hitters across the country can benefit from more accurate teaching and more drills that make sense.
What would happen to the 'high back tee' in that swing? Honestly, it really makes me sad when I see a kid come into my building with that downward trajectory in their barrel. It makes me mad when that kid tells me he's had dozens of lessons and PAID for that information. I do not expect youth coaches to be experts in the baseball or softball swing. But I do expect the ideas and drills they have the kids do to make sense. As stated in our Pitchers vs Hitters article, we know the pitcher is throwing the ball down so we must get our barrel in the way of the baseball and keep it there a long time. Drills that directly disallow that should not be practiced...and there is no real use for them in training purposes other than to fix a DRAMATIC uppercut and even then there are simply better ways to accomplish a better swing path.
"As a former professional, I would go out and watch BP on the days of my start to gain a perspective on the hitters I would be facing later that night. Regardless of size, potential, and current statistics at the time, I knew I had a competitive advantage over the hitters whose swings resembled the path of swinging down on the baseball. I threw a sinker, and a late-breaking slider; two pitches that posed to be tough for hitters who were swinging down. On the other hand, a hitter who dropped his bat in the zone early and was able to keep the barrel in the zone for a longer period of time posed a tougher challenge." -Justin Orenduff