Training Methods to Fix Bat Drag (Racing Elbow)

Baseball and Fastpitch Softball


This Fix Bat Drag article is excerpted from our book The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click for details about our new drill book).


For recommendations on how and when to use various training methods (dry, heavy bag, pylos, tee, toss, live, machine, etc.) and to shop for practical and durable training equipment, click on the link Hitting Training Methods and Aids.


Building Rome Series (Roman Theme) Introduction

fix bat dragPhilosophy can be defined as “a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live.” (Merriam-Webster, 2015) 

As the developing hitter progresses through the construction of their “Rome,” Philosopher Lessons provide ideas for making improvements.

After many days and nights of continuous study and contemplation, our Roman Philosopher was just settling in for a nap. But, outside, a crowd of younger citizens and their parents insist upon his appearance.

Younger citizens are suffering from a common plague. Our Philosopher rouses himself to speak to bat drag, which has become rife throughout Rome.


Bat Drag Defined

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“Racing” rear elbow is where the back elbow “stacks” under the front elbow at contact. The bat drags behind the rear elbow and hands. The batter’s shoulders rotate, but the barrel remains lagging, thirty to seventy-degrees from square contact. The barrel dragging through the zone causes the hitter to miss under or hit slicing curves frequently.


Training Methods to Fix Bat Drag

Use slow-motion video to demonstrate bat drag to the hitter. Bat drag is easy to miss; the swing happens so fast that the racing elbow may not be readily apparent. A youth hitter may hit relatively powerfully despite dragging the bat.

Unfortunately, bat drag does not translate well to higher levels of competition. When the hitter begins to face faster, more level pitching, and speed changes, bat drag becomes a significant handicap. When fixed, the hitter’s power and productivity increase substantially.

Building Rome Series suggests trying each item in the following checklist in combinations and repetitively for numerous practices. Racing rear elbow is not easy to correct; only persistence eradicates the habit of racing elbow.


  • Maintain the rear elbow horizontal and shoulders level until hitting position.

When the rear forearm locates near vertical in hitting position, the risk of bat drag rises dramatically. The young hitter must avoid slotting the back elbow too early in the swing. Keeping the rear elbow up, level to the ground, or a little higher, until front heel drive is an effective way to begin fixing bat drag. Also, check that shoulders are level or slightly sloped forward until reaching hitting position.


  • Extreme lag.

Ask the hitter to slowly rotate their hips and shoulders while pressing the barrel of the bat against the hitter’s back, just below the shoulder, until shoulders have nearly fully turned. Maintaining the barrel contacting the deltoid for as long as possible prohibits the rear elbow from racing. Extreme lag is an overcorrection-type drill. The goal is for the hitter to gain the feeling of maintaining the back elbow in a more productive position.


  • Static distance between elbows.

Have the hitter imagine a solid brace positioned between the elbows until the hands release during extension. The hitter swings slowly while maintaining the distance between the elbows. Elbow braces can be purchased specifically to help fix bat drag.


  • Slot rear elbow at contact.
Use a static heavy bag placed even with the front foot heel (after stride). Ask the hitter to swing slowly at first and strike the heavy bag, and freeze. The hitter observes if the rear elbow is slotted or it has raced forward. Ask the hitter to concentrate on maintaining their back elbow touching their ribcage (in the hitting slot) as they strike the bag.


Take Ownership to Fix Bat Drag

Ask the developing hitter to take responsibility and ownership of their swing, purposefully practicing correcting bat drag on their own. Monitor progress, emphasizing patience and persistence. Bat drag can be cured with quality, slow speed swings, focusing on building habit for correct execution.


Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series

step by step hitting fundamentalsClick Building the High-Level Swing Series to learn about our new two-book hitter 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!