|How to Teach Hitters to Keep their Eye on the Ball|
Every time a player swings and misses a pitched ball, observers, automatically, assume the hitter took their eye off the ball. In reality, that is rarely the case because most missed balls are due to poor timing or bad fundamental swings. However, there is some basis for the statement. It is very common for youth hitters to have too much head movement when they swing causing the appearance of taking their eye off the ball. Whenever the head moves too much, out, forward or down, the chances of squaring the ball up lesson.
Of course, this gets back to the importance of good fundamental drills that prevent hitters from moving their heads. The best solution is development of the correct use of hitters’ strides, hips, and hands, which allow the head to remain steady, of course. Additionally, the following drills can help batters limit the head movement so they can see and square the ball up better.
Drills to Keep Hitters’ Eyes on the Ball
When performing tee, flips or dropped ball drills have the coach, who is standing off to the side, flash a number down with his fingers immediately after contact. The hitter is required to read the number before looking for the hit ball.
During regular pitched batting practice, place an object like a fielder’s glove to the opposite side of home plate from where the hitter stands and a few feet in front of home plate. After swinging, players are required to look at the glove before looking up to find the hit ball.
Behind the hitter flips are great for keeping a hitters head in on the ball. While on one knee and a safe distance behind the hitter where the catcher usually is, the coach flips balls forward into the hitting zone. Hitters watch the ball from the coach’s hand and swing when the ball reaches the hitting zone. With this ball coming from behind, it will force the hitter to keep their head and eyes on the ball.
Having hitters take some short flipped or tee ball swings while on their back knee can help give kids the idea of staying back, using their hands and keeping the head steady.
Practicing hitting on a balance beam can greatly help because the key to balanced hitting is the head, so any head movement will prevent hitters from remaining on the beam throughout the swing.
Finally, having hitters watch the ball all the way to the catcher’s glove on pitches they do not swing at will help them keep their eye on the ball when they do swing as well, which is the obvious goal.
Just to reiterate though, most youth hitters lose sight of the ball because of incorrect hitting mechanics, which cause too much head movement. Fundamentals, fundamentals and more fundamentals will solve the problem of taking the eyes off the ball.