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Developing Hitters: Coaching Cues & Constraints

Cues are often used when developing hitters. What we say to an athlete to teach

them how to hit can be beneficial or detrimental. Examples: be on time, stay

closed, use your legs.


Internal cues require the athlete to focus on their body movement. Many coaches

spend a lot of time using internal cues.


External cues require the athlete to focus more on the desired result of their

movement. These types of cues often help the hitter move better than an internal

cue.


Athletes who focus too much on the internal movement of their body often move

slower and have less power output. There is a time for both internal and external

cues, but most athletes will benefit from an external goal, such as trying to hit the

ball over the L screen or hitting the ball at a certain point of contact.


Using a constraints led approach will help the hitter move better internally while

focusing on an external goal or task. We create constraints for hitters based on

the training environment, their body, and giving them a specific task.


The goal is to create an environment that will “force” or encourage the athlete to

move properly and execute a task.


Examples:


A hitter who keeps flying open and pulls off the ball with poor swing direction

could be put into an offset open position with the goal to hit the ball hard in the

middle of the field or cage. This will require the hitter “feel” how to stay in

posture throughout the swing and create the desired result.


A hitter who “steps in the bucket” could simply be put in a position where they

cannot do it, such as placing cones behind the hitter and creating a “lane” for the

hitter to move forward properly.


The practice environment should also have relevant constraints. Many hitters

perform well in batting practice but struggle in games because the training

environment is 100% easy while the game has a higher difficulty. A pitcher trying

to get the hitter out and mixing speeds is much more challenging than a full day

of batting practice where the pitcher is throwing fastballs down the middle.


Practice should incorporate varying degrees of difficulty and simulate a game-like

environment where hitters will struggle in their training.


Example: Hitting game-like breaking balls or faster velocity off of a good quality

pitching machine. Batting practice pitchers mixing up pitches or speeds during

BP.


Hope this helps,


See you on the diamond.

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