by Harvey Krupnick
While all players strike out and hit pop-ups, every batter in a team's lineup should be a threat to put the ball in play by learning how to properly move the bat through the hitting zone and how to wait on a pitch. Wrist training techniques are especially good for strengthening the wrist and to improve hand speed and power.
Hitting effectiveness depends on what the eyes and hands do together, and the body complements them. Don't swing a bat, but "bring it" - then push and "flick" the wrists.
The wrist of the bottom hand is cocked in. The bottom hand is pushed forward by the top hand. The top hand goes straight toward the ball with the elbow trailing behind the hand. The top hand accelerates the bat around the bottom hand to start a "push and circle" maneuver. In the last three to four inches of the extension of the bottom arm, and the bat circles around the wrist as it is flicked, while the "hinge" of the bottom wrist remains level.
Drills include shadow swinging, to develop proper hand action and wrist manipulation; batting-tee drills, to reinforce swing drills and create "mind-muscle memory patterns"; ball-toss drills; and underhand long-toss drills. Some drills isolate the bottom hand; others, the top hand; and some, both hands, plus the eyes. Many of these drills can be found in CoachDeck for Baseball. Here are five additional drills:
ONE-HANDED WRIST DRILL. Place the right hand (left hand for left-handed hitters) behind the back, choke up on the bat, cock it to the back shoulder, then flick the bat toward the feet and around and up to the front shoulder.
TWO-HANDED WRIST DRILL. Place the hands between the knees; tip the bat back to the back shoulder; flick the bat down and up to the front shoulder, keeping the hands along the center line of the body.
CIRCLE DRILL. With the hands out front of the body, tip the bat over the head; rotate the bat in a circling motion without tilting the shoulders to learn to get the bat through the hitting area flat, with just the wrists.
SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER DRILL. Whip the bat from the tip of the back shoulder through the center of the body around to the front shoulder while keeping the elbows out in front.
"LOOP AND HAMMER" DRILL. This drill teaches the hands to move before the bat barrel moves. Start with the hands pointing the bat head toward second base; flick the hands through the hitting zone without letting the bat barrel drop below the hands, then "hammer" an imaginary ball out in front of the body.
As with any drill, practice and repetition are the keys. Keep working and become your team’s best “wrist hitter”!
Coach Krupnik was known as the “godfather of wrist hitting.” He was selected by Collegiate baseball newspaper and Easton Sport Bat Company as National High School Master Coach of the Year, and ran a Summer Batting School in North Attleboro, MA. His website, www.hkbattingschool.com, is a wealth of information.