Doug Latta has coached big league hitters for over three decades, including notables like Justin Turner and Marlon Byrd. He shares his thoughts on hitting in multiple formats that can be consumed for free. I encourage any curious young hitter to explore his content - he has hours of podcast and video resources, here are a few examples:
- Video series of conversations between Coach Latta and his colleagues breaking down their approach to coaching hitting
Latta's message is simple, powerful, and replicable. I do not necessarily agree with 100% of his ideas; you can make your own judgements and take from this what you find valuable. Here are my takeaways from the podcast - link HERE
- Hitting, at its core, is a reactionary activity. Therefore...
- A "good swing" allows a hitter to make quality contact in a large coverage area, and adjust to a variety of speeds and movements. This requires balance, vision, and timing. Power comes from physical strength rather than swing mechanics.
- Exit velocity off a tee is largely worthless because the skills that it requires do not translate to reacting and adjusting to a live pitch
- Ages 13/14 are the most critical times to address hitting challenges
- Young hitters tend to develop bad habits from swinging bats that are too heavy for them
How to Teach Good Hitting
- A good swing is a by-product of good body movement. Don't stress about the bat, teach good body movements....sometimes without a bat in hand!
- Body movement is a product of the setup position, therefore the swing is a product of the setup position
- Setup position is critical; proper balance and posture improve vision, free movement, and allow the body to get into proper positions for the rest of the swing.
- "Stay back" is bad advice if you want to hit the ball hard. Latta teaches hitters to "float" forward and stay balanced through the forward move.
- The proper pre-swing position is balanced, 50-50 weight distribution, hands prepared to unload to ball
- Back leg controls movement forward from the setup position to a balanced pre-swing position and into the swing itself
- IF front side leads the swing, balance and hand path fall apart
Latta is obsessed with balance. Balance is so critical because...
---- When head is off-balance, the nervous system has involuntary responses to get back to balance
---- These responses distract your mind from processing visual cues and tense a set of involuntary muscles that impact free body movement
---- When balanced, your brain and body are free to focus on hitting
Let me know what you think of this approach to hitting!