This past week, hitting games on the hit trax were held each day at Elite Diamond Performance. Each game was intended to both be enjoyable and improve each player's hitting ability. One of the days was centered around a Home Run Derby. Obviously enjoyable, how would that improve a hitters ability? Interestingly enough, some of the best swings of the week came during the derby.
Home Run Derbies often hold a negative connotation. People often think that players that participate in the Major League Home Run Derby ruin their swings for the second half of the year due to the contest. However, there is no evidence that this is true. Check out my article with the statistics here.
So, why did the Home Run Derby showcase some of the best swings of the week? Bat path. Bat path is perhaps the biggest thing that I work on with young players. Successful hitters at all ages swing up through the hitting zone. Like this:
However, most young players don't have this type of bat path. Most young players work down or level through the hitting zone. During the home run derby, what did I observe? Higher Line Drive percentages and fewer weak fly balls.
When given the goal to try and hit the ball over the fence, players often go from swinging down or level to working up through the zone. This upward bat path is vital to hitting line drives.
While the players were getting frustrated because the ball wasn't going over the fence, I was elated that they were hitting hard line drives. After all, the goal of everything that I teach my hitters and every cue that I give to hitters is to increase their line drive percentage.