Among my many cues to get players to hit the ball in the air, I have recently been using the cue "Hit the Ball to the outfield." Seems simple enough but not something that most hitters are ever told. Let's take a look at why I use this cue.
First, poor mechanics can be fixed with the simple cue "hit the ball to the outfield." With most kids being taught to hit the ball on the ground, swing down, don't drop your back shoulder, young hitters often struggle with conciously changing these practiced mistakes. Instead, giving them the goal to drive the ball to the oufield many of these flaws begin to disappear. Why? the only way to hit the ball to the outfield with any authority is to drop the back shoulder and work the bat up through the hitting zone. Like this:
The second reason that this cue works is that if a hitter can hit the ball to the outfield more, they will be more successful. Why? Lets take a look at the dimensions of the average Major League Field. The average infield is about 19,000 Square Feet with all of the dirt included. This area is patrolled by 6 fielders. The average outfield is about 90,000 square feet. This area is covered by 3 fielders. That means that each infielder is responsible for an average of 3,166 square feet. Each outfielder is responsible for 30,000 square feet. Seems pretty clear that your probability of getting a hit will only increase once the ball passes the infield. Take a look at the photo of a recent Hit Trax session. For reference, the blue dots are hits and the red dots are outs.