Very young hitters (9 yrs. old and younger) should be taught to hit right out of the stance. There are a couple of
1) They are just learning to hit. The grip and stance should be the first thing they learn. They need time to get
comfortable with hitting out of this position. For this age, as long as their hands are positioned over their back
shoulder, enough power will be generated. Besides, we're just trying to teach kids at this level to make the bat find
2) The stance and the trigger occur too close in time to one another. Certain aspects of the stance are similar to
the trigger phase and others are different. That's a lot of muscle memory to ask an 8 year old child to exhibit.
As a hitter reaches 10 years old, it may be time to introduce the trigger. Reason being, at this age level habits
begin to occur. It's almost like the clay is beginning to harden so you need to mold it while you still can. If a hitter
goes too long hitting just out of a stance, he may never develop the much needed energy distribution that a good
load or trigger will supply. At this age, pitchers begin to throw harder. Therefore, more force is going to be need
from the hitter.
When I teach a hitter how to load up before hitting, I break it down into two
1) Lower Half
About six years ago I attended a coaches clinic in Cherry Hill New Jersey. One of
the speakers used a great analogy when he explained the role of the lower half of
the body during the trigger phase. I will share this with you.
Pretend when you are in your stance that there are electrical plugs on the bottoms
of your feet. Furthermore, the ground is the socket. The ground is also full of
energy. You are in a sense, plugging yourself into the ground.
Keeping this analogy in mind, we need a way to draw this energy from the ground.
This is what the lower half of the body does. There are a few different types of
trigger actions with the lower half. I'm going to keep it simple on here.
SIMPLE WEIGHT SHIFT- Take some of your weight that is evenly distributed in
your stance and shift it to the rear by turning your front knee inward. At that time,
your front heel should leave the ground while the foot turns inward. This
movement should cause your center of gravity to shift to the rear. Using the above
analogy once again, you just drew energy from the ground and it is now going to
be stored for a split second on the rear half of the body. If done properly, the
hitter should be stacked on his/her back side momentarily. This means
that the rear ankle is directly below the knee. The knee is directly below
the hip, and the hip is directly below the shoulder. This proper alignment
essentially creates a vertical chamber from shoulder to ankle. Tis is
where the energy is stored. The hitter should also feel as if the thighs are
bearing most of the weight load. In a sense, the hitter is now more into
This action should be done in a fashion that allows the hitter to remain free from
any "herky-jerky" movements. Instead, it is performed in a controlled state that
allows the head and eyes to remain locked in to the pitcher.
SOMETHING TO WATCH FOR- Be sure that your hitter is not just rocking back
onto his rear side. This is evident when he or she actually gets a bit taller from
rising onto the ball of the front foot and straightening his or her back leg. This is
not a powerful position. In fact, when done correctly the hitter actually becomes
nearly an inch or so shorter because of a slight flex of the rear knee.
2) Upper Half
While the lower half is drawing energy and storing it, the hands need to go from
being relaxed and comfortable to a more powerful position. However, there is not a
lot of movement required for this to happen. The difference in distance between
the hands in the stance position compared to the loaded position is only about 6
to 8 inches. Remember, power must be generated before it is exerted. Therefore,
as your lower half is loading, bring your hands back and up about 6 to 8 inches.
The term that I have heard used in some clinics is develop "separation". This will
put the hands in a power slot. It is very important however to make sure that the
bat keeps its 45 degree angle. Below you will find some common flaws that occur
with the hands during the trigger phase.
1) Front arm bar
When loading the hands, be sure your hitter is not barring his front arm. An arm-
bar is when a hitter’s front arm becomes extended across is chest when loading his
hands. This is similar to a golfer’s front arm as he loads up to drive a golf ball.
This is a result of too much movement with the bottom hand when loading. This
problem makes it difficult to execute a short approach and therefore leads to a bad
swing-path. To correct this flaw, tell your hitter to use his top hand to bring his bat
to the power slot, while the bottom hand just goes for the ride.
2) Bat Wrap
When loading his hands, be sure your hitter’s bat stays on a 45-degree angle off
of his back shoulder. Many hitters will cock their wrists, causing the bat to wrap
behind their neck with the knob pointed toward the backstop. This flaw will
automatically lead a hitter to break his wrists early causing him to immediately cast
the bat away from his shoulder. To correct this problem, tell your hitter that the
knob of his bat should be pointing toward the catcher’s mask before his approach
to the ball.
These are just two of the many barriers that we must conquer when trying to
develop a short approach to the ball. They need to be looked for at all times.
Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Why can’t this kid take to this concept?” Here it
turns out that he is demonstrating some type of flaw that is not allowing him to
execute what you are trying to reinforce:
|PROPER FRONT ARM
PROPER BAT ANGLE
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