Feet first, people!
| 3 min read
Let’s take a little trip. The destination? Hitting a ball with a bat. The path to get there? Many, many steps. The first is learning how to hold the bat correctly.
Step two is developing a good batting stance. Once that’s second nature for young players, they’ll always be in the best place to connect with the ball. Added bonus: Getting their full body power behind each swing.
Here’s how to get the littlest hitters lined up right.
Working from the ground up, players’ feet should be planted shoulder-width apart and knees bent.
Encourage kids to get into an athletic position. Think a deeper knee bend, a slight bend at the waist, or a slight tilt forward. “I ask kids what an athletic stance feels like for them,” says Dan Keller, a youth baseball coach with 20 years under his belt. “I don’t want to define it for them.”
The win is in getting your hitters to be engaged physically and ready to be aggressive.
Correct foot placement at home plate means a player’s body is in the right spot to make a great connection with the ball. Keller recommends a trick to make sure kids get there every time.
Have your player stand at home plate. For righties, have them touch the big toe on their right foot to the back corner of the plate. Their left foot lines up behind their right foot. Then they step their right foot back to be parallel with their left. “Right, left, right,” says Keller. Now the player is where they should be for a solid hit.
Try this coaching hack to avoid lining up little feet at every at-bat. Use three cones at practice – different colors will step up your coaching game. Drop two blue cones in a line from the back corner of the plate. When kids go up to bat, Keller likes to say, “Two toes, blue cones.” Place a red cone out where their right foot should step. The cones help kids get their feet in position quickly and help you keep practice moving along efficiently.
Once your players can get to the right spot, praise physicality at the plate, Coach. Kids who are focused, engaged, and swinging aggressively should get the MVP award every time.
Dan Keller is part of MOJO’s Partnerships & Strategy team.