Rolling the wrists upon making contact with the ball comes naturally to many hitters, but it is a bad habit that should be corrected. Wrist rolling can rob the swing of its power, resulting most often in grounders. Jack Mankin of batspeed.com tracked 26 major leaguers who had this flaw in their swing and calculated a batting average of .224 for this group. A follow-up three years later found only four of these players still were in the majors. The earlier you identify this flaw in your swing, the better your chances of correcting it with a few simple drills.
The Rolly-Polly Drill
The Rolly-Polly drill will not only allow you to develop proper wrist motion with your swing, it will show you the best way to hit different pitches according to location–outside, inside or right up the middle. To perform this drill, you will need a fence or an L-screen to protect the pitcher. The pitcher should get behind the screen, which should be placed about 10 feet from the batter and roll the ball right toward the center of the batter’s strike zone. You, the batter, must be on your knees–this will allow you to focus on your hands and arms, not your lower body. Use your bottom hand to point the knob of the bat toward the ball as it begins to roll, then use your top hand to direct the head of the bat to make contact with the ball once it reaches the strike zone.
If your bat hits the ground before it hits the ball, this means you’re leveling out too soon, a flaw which can lead to pop-ups. If you strike the ball but it bounces or rolls along the ground, you’ve struck the top of the ball. Adjust your top hand until you are able to hit the center of the ball and get a line drive that is raised slightly off the ground and is headed straight toward the pitcher. If you can achieve this result consistently, you’re curbing your tendency towards wrist rolling.
Top Hand/Bottom Hand Drill
The top hand/bottom hand drill will help to isolate the action each hand needs to be performing when you swing. As proper hand action leads to proper wrist action, this drill also will be effective in curing any improper wrist motion you may be making in your swing. To perform this drill, you’ll need a light bat, a ball and a tee. Hold the bat with your top hand only, in correct hitting position. Cross your other hand over your chest. Swing the bat down to the ball on the tee, taking care not to roll over your wrist. Then keep your fingers in sight while you flip your wrist just enough to bring the bat barrel down right at point of impact.
Next, take the bat and hold it just with your bottom hand in the correct hitting position. Bring the knob of the bat straight to the ball on the tee, looking right at your thumb knuckle. Complete the motion by rolling the wrist and forearm, continuing the follow-through up and over your shoulder. Note that in both instances you move the bat to the ball without rolling your wrists–wrists are only rolled at, not before, contact is made. Do this slowly and repeatedly until it becomes routine for you.
Land The Plane Drill
It might help you to remember how to use your hands (and wrists) in your swing by thinking of your bat as an airplane. The bottom hand is the one that lands (directs) the plane (bat). The top hand is the one that crashes the plane. Okay, not so good if it’s an actual airplane, but when it’s a bat hitting a ball, you want to “crash” (or crush) it with all your might. This drill will help you to do just that.
Start with your bottom hand at your shoulder with your palm open and facing down. You should be in the correct hitting stance, except for keeping your other hand on your hip. Lift your front heel, then rotate your hips to face where the pitch would be coming, moving your bottom hand from your shoulder in a straight line to the front of your body where it would be when the bat hits the ball. Keep your palm facing down as you “land the plane.” Repeat this part of the drill several times, each time starting with your hand back at your shoulder, in your batting stance position.
Next, move your top hand up to your shoulder, also in your correct batting stance, but this time keep your palm open, facing up and forward. Rotate your hips to where the pitch would be again, moving your top hand to the front of your body where you’d be hitting the ball, just like you did with your bottom hand. With the top hand, though, keep your palm facing up as you “crash the plane.” Repeat this part of the drill several times.
Finish the drill by putting both hands together, and using the bat. Start with your hands and bat at your shoulder, then move the bat to where it would be hitting the ball, making sure your hands are in the same position as they were before. Open your hands when they reach the position at which you’d contact the ball. Your top hand should be open under the bat, palm up. Your bottom hand should also be open over the bat, palm down.
As you complete your swing, your top hand continues under the bat as you make contact with the ball and on through your first extension. You roll your wrists (and the bat) as you come to the second extension, just before you complete your swing.
This drill will allow you to practice proper hand action and teach you not to swing to contact, but to snap at the point of contact. Doing so will increase your bat speed and allow you to make better contact with the ball.
Via: By Maria Scinto, eHow Contributor