What good is a Ferrari it if the engine isn't roaring efficiently pumping out maximum horsepower! I frequently use the analogy with our team that our hitters are the equivalent to an exotic sports car and we need to be sure their proverbial engine is clicking on all cylinders.
Because we want them working as efficiently as possible, we do a quick 10 minute drill set to start our offensive period each day and we equate the drills to a daily car "tune up".
Upon selection of our team in January, our coaching staff introduces our daily drill set. If the hitter is moving effectively pre pitch (we have hopefully made any adjustments on pre-pitch movements during winter 4 on 1 workouts), we need to reinforce that the kinetic chain is firing properly and in the correct order all the while maximizing GRF (Ground reaction force).
All hitters have different swing styles and rhythms, but at front foot strike, all swings have extremely similar characteristics, and our daily drills focus on the area of the swing from front foot strike to contact.
In 2020 our team is focusing on 3 drills that emphasize 3 different points in the kinetic chain / swing process.
Click here for a short tutorial on our 3 drills. In the video I am reviewing drills on day #2 of the drill "roll out": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bIEOMQygdE
Drill 1: Barrell turn
Emphasizes utilizing the abs and obliques when transfering GRF.
Starting position: front heel plant, hips have not centered.
Keys: EXPLOSIVELY swing by engaging front abdominal wall and accelerate as quickly as possible. (how fast can you go 0-60?) Looking to see abs, shoulder, & hands working in conjunction to create bad speed.
Drill 2: sway drill
Emphasizes getting off the backside and or effectively preparing hips for maximal rotational force. Allows hitters to learn how to properly move hips without moving their head.
Starting position: rocking back and forth 3 times between back heel lift and front heel plant.
Keys: Move core without moving head. Hitter learns how to have better body control of their core and how to properly "center" weight.
Drill 3: "Beltre Drill"
Having the adjustability to be on time for an elite FB but still being able to preserve power to drive an offspeed pitch is a necessary ingredient to win a championship against ELITE pitching.
We have been teaching "FLA" (front leg adjustments) since 2017 but we have only done it against front toss or live pitching.
I have been searching for a tee drill to add to our repertoire that would help us better train this adjustability and I believe this is it!
A chance meeting with Red Sox 2nd baseman Michael Chavis and a productive conversation about better ways to train "FLA" led me to believe this drill would benefit our team. Chavis referred to the drill as the "Beltre" drill and discussed it's utilization during front toss. After talking with Chavis about how to communicate the best way to our hitters how to make a "FLA" and then listening to Matt Lisle discuss front leg adjustability - Matt Lisle - front leg adjustability
I realized we could turn this concept into a tee drill to help our hitters better learn this movement.
Starting position: Swing normal and prepare to hit in rhythm as if hitter was attempting to be on time for a FB. Once the front foot hits, sink into front side and make contact with ball as back knee bends towards ground on contact. Be sure Tee is set as low as it can go.
Keys: Do not allow front knee to get outside of foot. If hitters feel strange or seems to be drifting to front side have them do a slight pause (1/4 second) after foot strike and then complete swing. Hitter should feel tension in glutes.
Here is an example of the results of an excellent "FLA": Michael Chavis HR #11 - FLA
About the author: Coach Turco is a 6 time state champion hitting coach who coaches a nationally recognized high school program in Marietta, Ga. Coach Turco publishes the blog Championshiphitting.com and posts work samples on twitter @championhitter