Updates to my original questions
>>>>>>>> ATTENTION MODERATOR
Previous post was sent prematurely. Pls delete it and this comment, as I'm reposting the finalized version. Thanks!<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
After a bit of researching the batspeed archives and some other research, I'm posting replies to my earlier questions for reference sake. Unfortunately, I didn't log the batspeed archive links, so I can't post those.
1. OUTSIDE PITCH:
LivoniaDave was right, it's too hard to move your front foot diagonally to hit the outside pitch. Batspeed (Jack) notes when you do your THT, pull the bat closer to the center or the outside of the plate for the outside pitch. You'll have to experiment to find the correct angle of THT pull, depending on pitch location. Give it a try, and you'll see altering the THT angle changes your swing radius accordingly.
Another thing to assist with the outside pitch is the grip! See the notes on #5 below; it's easier to hit the outside ball if the bat isn't sitting squarely in your palm, as many Little Leaguers tend to do.
2. MISSING PITCHES DOWN THE MIDDLE:
I didn't find a "magic bullet" for this. I did note, however, that my son missed fewer "taters" at the end of the season, after much practice. So I'm guessing this is more a timing/judgement issue than anything else. If anybody has other thoughts, please share!
3. LENGTH OF STRIDE:
This was a red herring, as the stride length didn't determine a straightened front leg. From the batspeed archives, the hitter straightens the front leg by slightly leaning backwards at contact. As proof, see any of the hitting videos at www.youthbaseballcoaching.com. For exaggerated leaning, see the Griffey & McGuire clips.
Just a few weeks ago we received some digital pics of our son's final game of the year. One pic was a great shot of him just after hitting the ball, beginning his follow-through position. He had a nicely planted and straightened front leg, and... his upper torso was leaning slightly backwards! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees...
4. HITTING HIGH PITCHES:
No great revelations here, either. I believe this is just timing and judgement (& practice!), again.
5. BOTTOM WRIST POSITION AT IMPACT:
First, as noted in the DVD, the bottom arm must keep its elbow straightened and above the top elbow, for starters.
Second, the GRIP on the bat will help with final bat position. In my fist analogy, if you drop the bat square into your palm, so it sits 90 degrees perpendicular to your forearm, it'll be harder to finish with the bat as an extension of your upper arm. Try it out! You really have to contort your arms to make this work.
Now, go back to the hammer reference. When you hammer a nail, you grip the hammer higher in your palm, so it's squeezed in place at or just below the first joints of your fingers. You also cock or rotate your wrist slightly (ie, from rotating thumb towards pinkie finger along the line of your forearm) so the hammer makes an angle with your forearm someplace between 90 and 180 degrees. This makes hammering nails more comfortable, with less strain on the arm, too. Pity there's no way to attach a .jpg here, else I'd add something to illustrate. But you likely get the idea.
From what I've noted in hitting references (here and otherwise), this is the recommended grip for the bat, using both hands. Another analogy is the bat sits high in your palm much like a golf club does; you grip the club so it lies along the inside finger joints of your (cocked) wrists, and not deep in the palms perpendicular to your forearms. Of course, you need proper knuckle alignment for a baseball swing, and in a golf swing the wrists are rotated 90 degrees forward compared to a baseball swing.
If you don't agree, give it a try to prove it to yourself. Not only will you have better forearm/bat extension as advocated in the DVD, but it's much easier to reach for the outside pitches, as this bat grip lets you reach much easier than if the bat lies square in your palms. Finally, you get a bit more bat control with this grip, vs the "squared palm" grip. I also suspect that this grip will more efficiently impart bottom hand torque at contact than a squared-palm grip, but I have no evidence to support this. Perhaps a future post will be in order...
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