Coaching Baseball: What is Swing Plane? Part 1

Should I swing Level, swing down or have a slight upper cut? Part I

You may have heard the coaching cues like “swing down”, “swing level”, “Finish high” and so on. What should you believe? What should you teach your kids? Well I am going to add one more cue…”Stay on plane”. It kind of puts all of these cues together into one. So what is swing plane? The ultimate goal in hitting is to hit the ball hard and to hit it deep.  Balls that are hit hard with distance have backspin…period.

Why are we swinging the bat like it’s tennis?

I see many, many players that are strong and have a quick bat but they “top“ the ball and create topspin. Their hands drop down after they load and they have nowhere to go but up to contact the ball. tennis-forehand-topspin-nadalThey are swinging as if they are playing tennis! In tennis, most shots off the racket must have topspin so that the ball will land in the opponent’s court.  Look at Rafael Nadal’s forehand:  Why are we doing this in baseball, shouldn’t we try to hit the ball out of the tennis court, over the fence, into the gap?

Lets take a look at one of the best hitters in baseball, Prince Fielder. 83rd MLB All-Star GameYou may think that he has an upper cut by looking at this picture: So you emulate him… but instead of creating backspin on the ball you create topspin and the ball dies once it gets into the outfield.

If you take a closer look at Prince’s swing (below) Prince-fielder-hr-swing-contactyou will see that he gets on the same plane of the pitch, makes contact with the ball and gets through the ball then he finishes high.  Prince-fielder-hr-swing-through

So many people concentrate on the beginning and the ending of the swing and just don’t pay attention to the middle phases of the swing, which is most important.

You cannot tell me that any of Prince Fielder’s majestic home runs had topspin on the ball. Please, find a way to get your swing on the same plane of the pitch, make contact, and stay on plane through the ball before finishing the swing.

I work with many youth players that have this upper cut or this swing that is “low to high” very similar to the tennis forehand stroke. When they are little league age, this swing works. The player hits fly balls that will travel over the heads of the outfielders. But once they get to high school, these fly balls are just outs. Furthermore, this player has a very hard time hitting a high fastball.

What can I do to stay on plane?

One great tool to use that gets immediate results is the Ultra Instructoswing Batting Tee.  It is great for developing proper swing plane for any hitter.  Part 2 of the post will have drill suggestions and tips using the Instructo Swing and other types of tees.

Stay on plane…

About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.