by: Larry Cicchiello
I really want to destroy this baseball myth about the back elbow. Back elbow up, back elbow up…I don’t ever want to hear those three words again! Let’s look at several important baseball tips on hitting involving the front shoulder and the elbows, particularly the back elbow.
Your Front Shoulder
1. It should go straight into the pitch and toward the pitcher and not fly open.
2. The front shoulder must be kept closed until the swing itself forces it to open.
More than one great hitter I know, uses a reminder to keep the front shoulder closed. One is a right-handed hitter who tucks his front left shoulder inward and his front shoulder actually touches his chin about two seconds before the pitch is released. And when he tucks it in he leaves it there. He does this before every pitch. The hips and hands move first and drive the front shoulder out of the way.
If the front shoulder opens too early, it creates at least three baseball hitting problems.
1. It will cause you to pull your head off the ball which will prevent you from seeing the ball as well as you should. You will be seeing the ball out of the corners of your eyes.
2. It will create a longer swing, because your bat will have a tendency to take a “longer route” to the ball.
3. You will have a difficult time with low and away strikes. The baseball hitting is not taking place out by your third base coach if you are a right-handed batter or by your first base coach if you are a left-handed batter.
First things first. Make sure your elbows are relaxed when swinging. The front elbow should be pointing downward at the very start of the swing. If it faces toward the pitcher at the very start of your swing, it will create a slight loop in your swing. This will cause you to be a fraction of a second later to the ball. Like we’ve said before, a fraction of a second is an eternity when it comes to baseball hitting. Hey, it takes a fraction of a second for a fast ball to hit the catcher’s mitt. If you only have a fraction of a second as a hitter, you can’t afford to lose a fraction of a second. This is NOT open to any discussion.
I have a very strong opinion on the back elbow. For many years, actually decades, I have constantly heard parents, coaches and managers yell out to the batter to raise the back elbow. I see younger and older players as well, raising their back elbow up to the height of their ear. (That is totally absurd)
What I teach is to make a fist with your hand that will be your top hand when gripping the bat. Now raise the fist to about shoulder height as if you were going to punch a balloon that’s in front of you and across from your chest. In other words, the back elbow should be slightly lower than the back shoulder. That height is an ideal starting point for the back elbow!
You must be relaxed and comfortable to hit a ball properly and these hitters with their back elbow sticking up in the air are not relaxed and in almost all cases are not comfortable.
Try it for yourself right now without using a bat in your hands. Pretend you are gripping a bat and raise your back elbow up to the height of your ear. Does that feel comfortable to you? Thank you, of course it’s not comfortable. Use the balloon technique for where the back elbow should be.
I will concede that if you are more comfortable with the back elbow higher or lower, by all means make an adjustment either up or down because one of the better baseball tips on hitting is that you are the one that has to feel comfortable and not me, your coach, your teammate or your parent.
I know that in at least 90% of all cases you will not be comfortable at the plate with the back elbow raised ridiculously high.
Larry Cicchiello is the author of “Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away.” His very user friendly eBooks & CDs cover 320 topics on playing very good baseball. ALL baseball players, coaches or baseball parents who want to help their child will be fully equipped! Larrys site offers some FREE baseball tips on hitting and baseball pitching tips. http://var/web/site/public_html.LarryBaseball.com/products
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