Happy Gilmore Baseball Hitting Drills: Swing Like the Pros
Positioning and explosion in the lower half of the body are vital aspects of a successful baseball swing, and these elements of hitting technique are best instilled in athletes at a young age. Bad habits and stance problems can be difficult to remove after they become ingrained, so young athletes should be coached from the start to control and properly direct the hips, legs, and core during the swing. In the video below, Matt Johnson will walk viewers through the two phases of the Happy Gilmore drill, a multi-stage set of baseball hitting drills that train baseball players to control the lower half of the body, channel the momentum of the swing, and follow through in a way that puts the maximum level of force behind the ball.
Coaches can set up this drill with a simple tee, a ball and bat, and a pair of Kbands resistance training bands for each player. Once the bands are in place and the baseball player has taken a few minutes to warm up, the drill can begin.
Happy Gilmore Baseball Drills: Phase 1
The first phase of these baseball hitting drills will focus on keeping the body positioned in a straight line during the approach, the swing, and the follow through. The force of the swing will be concentrated behind the ball if the body stays aligned, the shoulders stay square, and the back foot stride is controlled and channeled along the same line as the body during the swing. The basic elements of position for Phase 1 are as follows:
1. Straight line body position: if necessary, paint a straight line on the ground so players have a point of reference as they approach the swing.
2. Strong momentum: Baseball players will need to gather all the force of the lower body and place this energy directly behind the ball.
3. A controlled back foot stride: the back foot will need to come forward as discussed below.
4. Square shoulders: Again, the straighter the line of the body, the more control and force will gather behind the swing.
Back leg drive will be an essential aspect of success with this set of baseball hitting drills. As players execute the hitting drills, coaches should pay close attention to the following four elements of lower body technique:
1. Drive the back leg: The back foot should push force forcefully from the ground, anchoring the body and placing power behind the swing.
2. Explode through: The baseball player should feel an explosion of energy moving through the lower body and into the bat. This requires balance and controlled foot positioning.
3. Push off the back side: The back side of the body should be the driving engine of the swing.
4. Continue after contact: After the connection, both the lower and upper half of the body should follow the path of motion through to the end.
As coaches communicate the stages of Phase 1 to players, they will need to emphasize these key points:
1. Move the back foot first 2. Move THROUGH the ball 3. Keep the heel drive solid 4. Stay in line and keep the body square.
Happy Gilmore Baseball Hitting Drills: Phase 2
For the second phase of these baseball hitting drills, the single step toward the ball will be extended into a longer lead-in in the form of a hard shuffle. This drill can be broken down into four phases of movement:
1. Initial position: The player will begin by standing about 5 feet behind the tee.
2. Power between the legs: As the player moves toward the tee in a shuffle, power will be transferred between one leg and the other. The Kbands will help keep the pressure points active between the knees and toes.
3. Hard shuffle through: The shuffling motion should be both forceful and controlled.
4. Continue after contact: Again, the line of motion in both the upper and lower body should continue uninterrupted after connection with the ball.
As the player moves the body weight from the left foot, to the right, and back to the left, explosive momentum will gather and concentrate behind the ball. As this happens, players need to keep these pointers in mind:
1. Maintain mechanics
2. Stay in control
3. Be explosive
4. Put max effort into every single swing
To get the most out of both phases of the Happy Gilmore baseball hitting drills, players will need to bring their full focus to each repetition of the drill. Coaches will need to watch carefully to make sure that every swing involves full, unbroken concentration. If players move through the drills too quickly, become fatigued, or start going through the motions without concentrating on the drive through the back leg, the drills won’t be as effective.
With that in mind, the sets and reps for these drills should be carefully observed. The drill should involve:
1. Five to ten reps
2. Three resisted sets
3. Four unresisted sets.
4. In between each set, complete five regular swings with no resistance.
5. Pause if players show signs of fatigue.
For the first three sets, the Kbands should be securely in place. At that point, the bands can be removed, but each player should work against the temporary sensation of lightness that accompanies the removal of the bands, and should work hard to maintain explosive drive in the back leg.
Between each set, coaches should have players complete a set of swings without the extra steps that signify the Happy Gilmore drill. Simply remove the Kbands resistance bands and return players to a typical stance for about five swings. Again, players should bring complete focus and energy to every single swing in the series.
For more information about the Happy Gilmore series, and for similar sets of baseball hitting drills that can help players increase the balance, control, and force that go into every swing, visit the baseball hitting drill section of Kbands Training.com.