Lesson 12 of 33

5. Net Drill

Summary

This drill will eliminate casting your barrel6 and force you to stay tight (*27) and compact, which makes for a more efficient, more accurate and more powerful swing. In other words, this drill will help develop both power and barrel accuracy. Barrel accuracy helps if you are experiencing too many swings- and-misses or fouling good pitches back.

Benefits of this drill

1. MorePower. This drill helps develop a more powerful swing for several reasons.

First of all, bat speed and launch angle are important for power, but none of that matters if your barrel is off target. If you are not hitting hard line drives as consistently as you would like (such as too many hooking line drives that don’t have the distance they should *(32)), it is probably because you are not getting the proper backspin on the baseball.

Solid contact increases your odds of creating backspin, and the benefit putting proper backspin on the baseball is that it will travel further. This drill will help you get the barrel to the ball if you having trouble controlling the barrel.

Another benefit of this drill is increased bat speed, which is another critical aspect of power. The shorter the distance of your hand path, the tighter the axis of rotation will be.

This results in greater leverage and acceleration of the bat (i.e. bat speed). It’s similar to the figure skater who spins much faster as they pull in their arms and legs tight to their body.

A long, inefficient swing loses bat speed and therefore results in less power. This drill causes you to shorten your hand path to the baseball for maximum bat speed.

2. Better bat path. Weak ground balls or choppers to the pull side are usually caused by a poor path to the baseball.

Note: The fence above is for visual purpose only. We recommend using a batting cage net or batting tee, so you don’t hurt your bat or your wrist if you hit it.

There is a tendency to swing around the baseball instead of staying inside it and driving through it. This drill is needed because it will shorten your swing (*22) by helping you stay tight (*27) with your hands  to your body and removing unnecessary movement. All of this benefits you by making your rotation to the ball shorter and more direct, which will give you that better path to the ball.

3. More time to see the pitch. Another benefit of a good bat path is that you gain a few more precious milliseconds to see the ball before starting your swing. If your swing is shorter, faster, more efficient, then you will have a little more time to see the ball – giving you more time to identify the pitch and react appropriately.

4. Teaches Pulling the ball correctly.  This  drill is  also great for teaching players to pull the ball correctly. Many hitters when pulling a baseball get their hands away from their body and get around the ball with their barrel, this promotes ground balls and hooking fly balls (*32), both of which are not ideal.

This drill shows you how to stay inside and drive the ball to the pull side with backspin (If you remember from Tip 4, backspin makes the ball go farther). As you will find out, staying tight (*27) with your swing is what you are trying to accomplish every time. This drill will help you accomplish that feel.

Equipment

  • Batting Tee
  • Batting cage net or extra tee (The fence in the images is only for demonstration purposes. When you hit something hard like a fence it will ding up your bat and it may hurt wrists depending on how hard you hit it, so we recommend using a net or extra batting tee.)

How to execute this drill:

  1. From your normal spot in the batting cage, walk forward until you’re 30-35 inches from the net. You can measure by placing the knob of your bat so its touching your stomach and the end of your bat is barely grazing the net (see Figure 14.A).
  2. Once you have set your distance from the net, place the tee where it feels comfortable – without backing up from the net.
  3. Swing without hitting the net. It’s ok if you lightly graze the net, but if the net starts interfering with the swing, you know you need get your hands more linear and inside (Figure 14.B).

Checkpoints

Use these checkpoints to make sure you are getting the most benefit from this drill.

  1. If you are hitting the net, work to keep your hands close to your body and finish your swing. Once again, it’s ok if you brush the net, but if you get too much of the net during your swing, it will stop your bat.
  2. You are trying to take a good quality swing (start at 50% effort level if you find this drill difficult) by taking your normal stride and using your backside1 to start your swing.
  3. It is important not to cheat. Check your stride to ensure you are not stepping away from the plate.
  4. After you swing check to make sure you are not falling away from the net. If you find yourself off balance after contact, it probably means you were cheating to avoid the net by leaning away during your swing.
  5. Hit line drives up the middle to the pull side of the cage without hitting the net. When you are doing this consistently you know your bat path is correct.
Figure 15

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