Productive Position in the Batters Box
The Beginning Hitting Series
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This post will detail 5 concepts and demonstrate 2 drills to improve position in the batters box.
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So often young hitters struggle during their beginning years simply because of where they stand in the batter’s box. This article demonstrates how to immediately increase the youth hitter’s rate of contact through better positioning at the plate.
The Beginning Hitting Series helps you get your beginning hitter, ages 5 to 9, off to a fun and productive start.
Concept 1 for Improving Position in the Batters Box
Front to Back Positioning in Box
With coach pitch, machine pitch, and the first years of kid pitch, the ball is often dropping at 20 degrees or more as it arrives at the plate. The pitch is a strike if it crosses over the plate in the strike zone. The pitch is a strike regardless of where the hitter positions in the batter’s box.
The benefit of a more rearward position is that it gives the hitter more time to make a swing decision. But it has one major drawback. Setting up back in the box would require the youth hitter to swing at some strikes around their shoe tops.
Conversely, in the front of the box, the hitter would need to hit some high strikes around the top of their helmet.
The solution is that the youth hitter can line up their belt buckle with the middle of the plate. This belt buckle setup position creates the highest percentage of good pitches to hit.
Concept 2 for Improving Position in the Batters Box
Distance from the Plate Positioning
Most youth hitters set up much too far from the plate.
A “hole” in a hitter’s swing is a pitch location in the strike zone, where the hitter rarely makes solid contact. It is unfortunate when a terrific young hitter leaves a large hole in their swing for the outside pitch by merely setting up too far from the plate.
Our recommendation for this age group, depending on the height of the player, is one to three inches from the batter’s box line.
Concept 3 for Improving Position in the Batters Box
Good Positioning Helps Avoids Poor Habits
Asking the beginning hitter to get close enough to the plate so that they can control the outside pitch avoids creating a habit for a long, casting swing path. Casting is where arms move away from the body, and hands reach out into space, as the swing executes.
A crucial second advantage for setting up closer to the plate is this positioning begins fostering a quick swing path.
Drill 1 – “Set up in Box”
This drill asks the young hitter to recognize where their feet are in relation to distance from the plate each time they set up.
Here are five simple methods to choose from:
- Toes bat distance away from the plate.
- Bat on the belt buckle and line up the cap of the bat over the outside edge of the plate.
- In stance, tap bat on the outside edge of the plate.
- Establish toes one shoe distance away from plate.
- Recognize distance toes are from the inner batter’s box line.
Concept 4 for Improving Position in the Batters Box
Swing ownership is a crucial concept. Ask the young hitter to check their positioning, on their own, and don’t be hurried.
Correcting and coaching themselves makes their parents proud, their coach thinks it is incredible, and teammates are impressed with how the young hitter gets themselves ready to hit.
Concept 5 for Improving Position in the Batters Box
Practice Inside Pitch Location
The close to plate positioning described, while improving the overall rate of hard-hit balls, can increase the difficulty of making solid contact on the inside pitch.
Resolve this difficulty through focused practice. The goal is excellent overall plate coverage.
Drill 2 – “Inside and Outside Soft Toss”
Mix up outside and inside toss locations.
Discourage stepping away from the plate to clear room. Instead, ask the hitter to try to hit the inside pitch more out in front of their body. And keep hands tight to the body as they do so.
In sum, we would like the position in the box to accomplish two hitting goals:
- Achieve the highest possible percentage of hard-hit balls.
- Build good long-term hitting habits.
Building Rome Series Blog: The Beginning Hitting Series
Here are the 12 videos and articles contained in The Beginning Hitting Series:
Click the link for our Beginning Hitter Series on YouTube
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
Click Building the High-Level Swing to learn more about our new two-book hitting series containing a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!