With today’s technology, we can find the answer to almost any question in seconds with a Google search, asking Siri, and now asking Alexa (Amazon’s Echo device). However, try and find out how to hit a baseball online, and you are bombarded with dozens of different techniques that contradict each other, 100s of drills and exercises, and countless terrible cues for young players. Cues are little phrases we tell players to get them to perform a technique or movement, like “squish the bug.” By the way, “squish the bug” is one of the bad ones – don’t use it. The cue that we will be cover in this article is “swing down”, “swing down to the ball” or “hands to the ball.” They are all phrases or cues that teach poor swing path. If you are being told to swing down to hit the ball up, find another coach. If your swing looks like this at contact (swing on the black line to hit the ball on the green line), you need to correct your swing path.
Yikes! Poor kid. His line drives will be far and few between.
Even some professional hitters think they swing down. However, their hitting coaches would say otherwise. Some professional hitters will even be on TV interviews explaining how they swing down. Just a quick look at their swing will show they don’t swing down. Let’s take Fred McGriff as an example. Fred McGriff is a five time All-Star, lead both leagues in home runs in separate years, and ended his career with 493 home runs. Fred is one of those players that thinks he swings down. He was on a TV interview one time, and he showed the whole process of swinging down to hit the ball up. He sets up the tee and gives a demonstration of swinging down. He then goes ahead and hits a ground ball back to the pitcher. The female interviewer, with no baseball experience, then gives it a try. With a weak swing, but better swing plane (slightly up) hits a line drive through the middle to center. You can see that video here.
Sorry Fred. Swing down; hit down.
Here’s a clip of Fred McGriff’s game swing. It’s not down. He gets on plane early, and with a slightly upward swing path hits the way Fred McGriff is known for hitting – line drives and home runs.
This is how Mr. McGriff really swings!
To put it simply with some common sense, if you want to hit the ball as a line drive to the outfield, you have swing on that path - slightly upward. If you want to hit the ball to the ground, then swing down.
Here's an image of Albert Pujols. As you can see, it's another example of getting on plane or path with the ball early and hitting through the ball.
Lastly, remember there are three principles of hitting. Follow and reinforce these in your drills, and you’ll be OK:
- Hips lead the hands.
- Stay inside the ball (short to the ball and long through the ball)
- Stay on plane with the ball for as long as possible (this is the one we discussed here).
I hope this helped bring some clarity to swing path. If you have any questions email us, or I’ll be glad to discuss it with you at any one of training sessions.