Avoid this bad hitting advice – hit down on the ball

Bad advice – hit down on the ball

I grew up and was taught to hit down on the ball to create back spin.

I’m not sure who started teaching that, or why many well paid instructors teach someone to “hit down on the ball.”

The reason to not teach this is in my opinion comoon since, but for some reason many people (including many professional instructors) struggle with it.

If I grab a ball and a bat and throw it up to myself to hit it, I can hit it either on the ground, on a line, or in the air for a pop up.   I can hit the ball hard in all three directions, but the only way I can hit it hard is if I square the round bat to the round baseball.  If I perfectly center the ball to the bat, the ball is going to go in the direction of where my swing is.

If I swing down on the ball, the balls I hit hard will be into the ground.  If I have a big uppercut, the balls I hit hard will be pop flys.  If I swing in a slightly upward plain, the balls I hit hard will be line drives.

The direction of your swing path is the direction of where you have the ability to hit the ball the hardest.

Still don’t believe me.  Check out the pictures of Arod and Manny Rameriz to little leaguers that are swinging down on the ball on this page.

Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know your thoughts by commenting about hitting down on the ball.

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Leave A Reply (11 comments So Far)


  1. Dan LaChance
    7 years ago

    Steve, Jim and Tom,

    I enjoyed enjoyed your latest comments on Tee work and hitting down on the ball. Where did this hitting down on the ball and it will creat “backspin” thought come from?

    Thanks for your instruction of the years.

    Dan


  2. Bill
    7 years ago

    I agree with you and line drive swings but let me tell you about a fairly good hitter who believed in the theory of hitting down to create backspin . . . his name is Hank Aaron. Take care . . . bil wexted


  3. Jim
    7 years ago

    Bill. Great point. The problem is that language is a major barrier and sometimes what a person says compared to what they really mean are two different things.
    I couldn’t find a great you tube video, but here is a link of the best video of Hank Aaron hitting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyeaF30LzZg&feature=related

    I believe that what I’m seeing of his actual swing is a slightly upward swing (in reference to the ground.) We can talk all day about what Hank really meant when he said swing down on the ball, but what I want to know is what he actually did, not what he thought he did. What do you see and think?


  4. Jim
    7 years ago

    Hello Dan! Thanks for the support.
    From time to time we’ve heard this term actually from big league players. Bill points out that Hank Aaron has used this term. I believe last year I heard the Cardinals Mark McGuire even use this term.
    Obviously, both gentlemen knew how to hit the ball a long way. Unfortunately I believe that what they are meaning to say, and the words they are using are two different things. When we hear down on the ball we think down in reference to the ground.
    What they are most likely meaning is what we here call “plaining the pitch” or swinging slightly upward in the same plain as the pitch that is traveling down.


  5. george
    6 years ago

    hi coach this is a good post by you. the best way i can answer this is by giving you a bit of a small histroy about myself. i graduated high school in 1971. there was no instruction back than at all. for myself i just experimented . i remember i read a book with the toronto outfielder rick bosetti. he stated his thoughts that you should “hot down ” on the ball. i must admit i did have some success doing that however all the rolling of the wrists also led to alot of 6-4-3. much later i tried the slight upswing and i found i had better success. hitting is the most difficult thing to do in sports there is no doubt. i am just glad that my 16 year old doesnt swing down on the ball. george


  6. George
    5 years ago

    There are something’s to consider with youth hitting.
    1st balancing natural reaction with what the technique is being learned.
    Some kids are analytical thinkers and overexaggerate what is being taught.
    They need more drill and reaction work that encompasses the principles and less
    Instruction.
    The more athletic player needs more instruction because they
    Athlete or muscle the ball. The majority of those players think
    Less and get their body and hands into the ball as one unit.
    Their failures come much later when they can no longer just do it!

    Plane the ball? Great term for a coach. I’ve found center the ball to be more successful for a
    Young player. Center is less foreign to their minds.

    Swing path is difficult for a player to understand until
    About 12. I don’t care what their parents say.

    Drill the lower half to stay balanced and you will be surprised what their hands will do positively.
    Epstein causes one extreme and Charlie lau the other. It’s in the middle.

    Watch the player hit for a while and see what adjustments need to be made.
    Sometimes it’s too much top hand =choppers. Get the front arm to pull the bat.
    no pop=no wrist snap, poor hand starting position. Take tension off the bat and tilt bat towards head (do not wrap)
    Hook ball= barring lead arm. Stay flexed in front. Hitting on the way up= biggest youth problem.
    I’m not a physics professor but I believe power comes from the ground up.(funny).

    And on and on. Anyone can be a part changer but a true
    Hitting instructor needs to be a mechanic. Did I say that?

    Just some of my thoughts plus buzz words that are useless
    And bad “let the ball get deep”. U hit all 3 pitches in front of the plate.
    It’s just a matter of where. Kids have no concept of what that means.
    It makes them late on everything. Please guys stop that!

    “Take hands to the ball” a phrase coined by Tom Robson
    To help Jon Olerud. Quit that also! U end up with and inside out swing
    And jam yourself inside. If you want to be a “move the runner along hitter”?
    Then please “take your hands to the ball”.

    That should set me up for hitting down on the ball.
    The ball does not backspin it knuckles when hit squarely.
    The hands do start down on the initiation of the swing but telling that
    To a 8-12u guy gets you today’s lesson. Stop telling it to these little guys
    And they will stop the “tomahawk chop”! But when all this other nonsense
    With backspin comes into play I
    Guess it sells. Foolish that people pay for that ridiculous reasoning.

    Love the site Steve. I respect what you do.
    Talk hitting anytime.

    All the best,
    George D.

    Young player.


  7. Alannah Divine
    4 years ago

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  8. Laraib
    2 years ago

    the golf balls at the range have been hit so often they have lost some of their spring. if your htiitng drives farther at the range than on the course it’s because of the fact that the mat or the tee isn’t changing.you get use to htiitng the ball from that one position, on the course each shot is different and requires you to adjust.theoretically if you can hit a ball close to the 300 yard maker at the range, you should be able to do this at course but it usually doesn’t work out that way.

  9. I love reading these articles because they’re short but informative.


  10. Anonymous
    1 year ago

    Yep… Same with squashing the bug!! When you squash a bug you push DOWN on the bug. when you rotate you you want very little weight on the back foot…


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    1 year ago

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