The Timing Test: Front Foot Down Early or Step To Hit?
One of the first topics I address in The Elite Timing Program is identifying which type of hitter you are dealing with.
From a timing standpoint there are two main types of hitters.
Type 1: Front Foot Down Early Hitters
These are the hitters who are more comfortable getting their front foot on the ground early.
Front foot down early hitters base their timing off "heel drop." They initiate their swing by dropping their front heel into the ground, and then exploding their hips.
Type 2: Step To Hit Hitters
These hitters would prefer to start their swing right when the front foot strikes the ground.
These are the hitters who would really struggle when you have them get their front foot into the ground early.
In order to properly test which type of hitter your son, daughter, or hitters are there must be a moving ball.
Almost any hitter can get their foot on the ground early off a tee and still execute the swing properly.
You can do front toss, batting practice, or use a pitching machine.
The test in itself is pretty simple.
All you have to do is have the hitter get their foot down early and get into the launch position.
If you're not familiar with the launch position, watch the quick 2 minute video below.
The Launch Position Explained
After you have the hitter in the launch position you simply have to pitch to them and observe how they react.
The front foot down early hitter will naturally drop their heel into the ground and take their swing.
The step to hit hitter will take another step to try to hit the ball.
The easiest way to correct timing issues is making sure that the hitter is using the timing method that is the most natural for them.
If you're having a front foot down early hitter try to step to hit, or a step to hit hitter get their front foot down early then the hitter will have mediocre results at best.
What Comes After The Test?
After you've identified which type of hitter your are dealing with you can then work on three simple hitting drills that will yield big results.
1. The 100% Energy Load
2. The Slingshot
3. The Launch Position Checkpoint Drill
4. Explosion Direction Drill
Take about 20-30 swings per drill, 4-5 days per week.
All 4 drills are inside The ABC's of The 5 Tool Hitter Program which you received as a free bonus with your order of the timing program.
These drills help establish the proper fundamentals of the swing. I've used these drills with beginner level hitters (7U) all the way to the most advanced level hitter's I've worked with (Professional Level).
Regardless of age or skill level every hitter should have these 4 drills perfected.
Drills From The Timing Program
In addition to the drills I mentioned above you should also start using specific drills from The Timing Program.
Here are two drills I really like to use with hitters when finding their timing.
The Now Drill
The Now Drill is extremely useful to get inside the mind of the hitter. Timing is a very tough skill to teach because of it's nonverbal nature.
When you have the hitter actually say when they think the should swing then you'll get a better idea of how to make the correct adjustment.
The Around The World Drill
The Around The World Drill helps the hitter understand how long they should wait before they swing relative to the pitch location. This drill also teaches hitters bat control. It's a good idea to use this drill on a consistent basis throughout the season.
Looking For Some One-On-One Help?
If you're looking to get another eye on your son, daughter, or hitters I do offer swing analysis.
In every swing analysis I give a full break down of the swing, point out where the biggest mistakes are being made, and then create a customized practice plan to fix those mistakes as quickly as possible.
As a valued member of Dead Red Hitting you get over 25% off every swing analysis.
Finding Your Markers Further Explained
The timing marker is the point that you visually mark on the ground between you and the pitcher that helps you understand when you should start your swing.
All timing is based off the fastball, so I've also used the term fastball marker in the past.
When I was in the on-deck circle I would try to see exactly where the ball was at when I felt like I needed to get my front heel on the ground to hit.
I then mentally noted where that spot and "marked" it as the point the ball was at when I needed to make sure my front heel was planted in the ground.
Here's a picture I drew to give another illustration.
Like I said before, all timing works off the fastball. More advanced hitters can play a guessing game and sit on pitches, but I recommend staying on fastball timing and adjusting to the off-speed pitches.
Once you know your fastball timing you then understand how long you need to wait for the change up and the curveball/slider.
Some pitchers will throw harder sliders as their off-speed pitch instead of a curveball. In that case it would go...
3. Change up.
One point I want to mention is that there is no exact magic spot that the hitter should get their heel in the ground.
Every hitter has slight nuances, like a fingerprint, that affects their timing at the plate.
While I would love the magic spot to exist from a teaching and hitting perspective, the reality is that every hitter has slightly different timing mechanisms.
Turn on a Major League game and you'll see all types of stances, hand loads, and other stylistic elements that make up that hitter's swing.
The key with timing is to teach the hitter the concepts they need to understand and let the hitter run with it.
My Son or Daughter Is “Topping” The Ball. What Should I Do?
If your son or daughter is "topping" the ball then that means they are getting around or getting long in their approach to the ball. This can be caused for a few different reasons.
The most common issue for topping the ball is the hitter being extremely early. This causes the bat to get out of position leaving the hitter with two choices... roll over or hit a weak pop up to the opposite field.
The second most common reason is the hitter is not keeping their hands back/body parts are firing in the wrong order.
The Plan of Attack
Regardless of why your son or daughter is topping the ball (mechanics or timing) I've outlined a rock solid plan to help them get their swing back on track.
Step 1: Make Sure The Hitter Is Getting To The Correct Launch Position
If you aren't familiar with the launch position just watch the video below. I explain the launch position in depth. (It's from The ABC's of The 5 Tool Hitter Program)
Step 2: Make Sure The Hitter Drops Their Heel Into The Ground And Maintains The Launch Position
This is a drill I call "The Launch Position Checkpoint Drill." This will help you make sure your hitter is in all the right places when they are ready to hit. I want you to get your hitter in the launch position and then have the hitter drop their heel without moving their hands.
The hips will slightly open when the heel drops, but it's really important to make sure that the hands stay back and stay in the launch position. If the hands leak forward at all then the hands will start to move away from the body. When the hands move away from the body then we will start to see a lot of ground balls.
Step 3: Use The Tight To Back Shoulder Drill To Make Sure The Hitter Is Keeping Their Hands Inside The Ball
Step 4: Use The Explosion Direction Drills To Make Sure That The Hips Are Firing Before The Hands
Step 5: Introduce The Timing Drills
Timing Drill #1 - The Now Drill
The Now Drill will help you understand where your hitter's head is at when it comes to timing. When the hitter verbalizes when they think they should actually swing it saves a lot of time, energy, and frustration. You can help them correct early or late timing
Timing Drill #2 - The Around The World Drill
The Around The World Drill will force the hitter to let the ball travel and get closer to the strike zone before they can swing. This will help fix hitter's swinging too early.
When the hitter hits the ball to the opposite field it's important that the hitter is driving the ball with an aggressive swing and not just waving their bat out there in order to hit the ball to the opposite field.
It's much easier to be late and then adjust your swing to start earlier than it is to be very early and try to slow your swing down.
Timing Drill #3 - The Bounce Drill
The Bounce Drill helps the hitter learn how to wait for the off-speed pitch when they are on fastball timing. This also helps the hitter learn how to be softer with their front foot when they land and how to have a quiet front side.
How Many Swings Should You Take?
I'd advise taking 15-20 swings per drill, 4-5 days per week. It is more important to take quality swings and establish proper fundamentals. If you see the hitter starting to run out of gas, end the hitting session.
How To Send Me Your Son Or Daughter's Swing
I'm confident the drill plan I've listed above will help you solve your issue of topping/rolling over the ball. However, the fastest and most direct way I can help you fix a swing issue is by sending in your video for analysis.
If you're in dire need of help right away then I'd suggest you take advantage of the discounted swing analysis I offer to all Dead Red Hitting Members.
My Hitter Is Way Out In Front of Everything. How Do I Fix This?
Before we get started, be sure to read this related article that covers what to do when a hitter is rolling over.
If your hitter is constantly out in front of the ball hitting weak grounders then it's likely a timing issue especially early in the season.
The first place to go is to make sure the hitter is tension free and comfortable in the box. I've noticed that hitters who are constantly out in front are really worried about whether or not they are going to get a hit. They are vert attached to the result of the at bat.
It's key to detach yourself from the result of the at bat and focus on the things that will help you perform at a high level, like removing tension, visualization, and building confidence before every single at-bat.
Start With Visualization And Confidence Building Exercises
Telling the hitter to "relax" will likely only frustrate the hitter and increase the amount of tension/anxiety they have in the batter's box.
I prefer to give the hitter active exercises to help remove their tension and anxiety.
Put mental ABC's videos here.
Confidence and Belief
Next, you want to make sure the hitter is getting into a proper "launch position."
The Launch Position Checkpoint Drill
The Timing Drills
Now it's time to work on the hitter's timing. It's always better to have the hitter start every single day by intentionally trying to be late on every single pitch.
I like this practice for a few reasons.
1. Being late forces the hitter to let the ball travel all the way to the hitting zone. This is especially important for hitter's who are out in front and hitting the ball before it reaches the hitting zone.
2. Being late forces the hitter to get the barrel into the hitting zone and on plane quicker and earlier.
3. It's an easier adjustment to simply start your swing a little bit earlier.
1. The Around The World Drill
I'd recommend starting off with the "Around The World" Drill. This drill forces the hitter to change their timing and adjust their contact points based on where they are trying to hit the ball. Always start with the opposite field first.
2. The Bounce Drill
The bounce drill is a simple, but extremely effective drill especially when hitters are out in front of the ball. This drill will force the hitter to stay in the launch position until the ball reaches the contact zone.
3. Three Plate Drill
The Three Plate hitting drill is a great drill to use to simulate game like conditions. It will make the hitter uncomfortable and force the hitter to trust their hands and trust their swing when velocity changes.
The Drill Plan
I'd recommend taking about 30 swings per drill, 4-5 days per week to see the best results and quickest improvement.
Here's the order of the drills.
1. Launch Position Checkpoint Drill
2. Around The World Drill
3. Bounce Drill
4. Three Plate Hitting Drill
The Quickest Way I Can Help You Improve
The quickest way I can help your son or daughter improve/fix their swing is with a swing analysis.
I review their swing, break it down step by step, and show you the exact drills you need to be focusing on in order to improve hard hit percentage, home runs, and extra base hits.
My goal is to deliver the most value that I possibly can and give you the most bang for your buck.
The swing analysis also comes with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. If you're not happy with the results (or any other reason) you'll get a full refund.
It's important to go into your tryouts with both your swing and mind in the right place.
Here's my suggested practice plan for you to get yourself in the best place possible before your travel team tryouts start.
For every drill I'd recommend 15-20 swings of each drill, 4-5 days per week
Clean Up Your Hitting Mechanics
You want to make sure that you're mechanics are clean and functioning properly before you step into your tryouts. During the season it's very easy to pick up bad habits or revert back to poor habits you've had in the past.
Here are three mechanics drills you should master (or master again) before tryouts start.
The 100% Energy Load Drill
This is an important drill because this is where the foundation for the rest of your swing movements start. If you sway with your hips during your load, don't get enough weight transfer back, or load into a weak back leg then you could be doomed for inconsistency right from the start.
The Slingshot Drill
This is an important drill because it ensures that you've properly created power & torque in your swing. If you don't create the slingshot properly then you are leaving an immense amount of bat speed on the table.
The Explosion Direction Drills
This is an important drill because it makes sure that you're using the lower half of your body efficiently throughout the swing. Most bat speed is leaked because of improper lower half mechanics.
Adding Bat Speed To Your Swing
You can add bat speed to your swing by training your fast twitch muscles to fire faster and teaching your hips to be more explosive during the swing.
Training Your Fast Twitch Muscles to Fire Faster
This warm-up is straight from The 30 Day Bat Speed Cure Program. I've used this warm-up to help hitters learn how to fire their bat speed producing muscles faster. After you've used this warm-up you've primed your body to unleash bat speed.
Training Your Hips to Be More Explosive In The Swing
Here are a few drills I use with hitters to help them fire their hips more explosively in the swing. These are also straight out of The 30 Day Bat Speed Cure Program.
1. Back Turned Step Through & Fire Drill
Getting Your Mind Right Before Try-Outs
1. Daily Visualization Strategy
I'd recommend using this strategy and visualizing yourself performing well at the try-outs.
2. How To Slow The Game Down
In this video I share a strategy with you that helps you overcome nerves and perform well in clutch situations