Stepping in the Bucket
Kids at a young age are inherently scared of getting hit by the pitch. But it is extremely important to put your body in a strong position to swing the bat when your stride foot lands. That spot is right back at the pitcher with the front foot still pointing into the opposite batters box (or slightly open), with weight balanced between the feet and weight on the insides of the feet.
Stepping in the bucket means your stride foot (as a right handed hitter) goes out toward the shortstop (to the second baseman as a left handed hitter). When this occurs, your front side pulls off the pitch causing your front shoulder to fly open and your hips to open prematurely. In both instances, you sacrifice power, bat speed and plate coverage. This can also be a posture issue. Kids who tend to stand upright in the batters box will have more of a tendency to sit back on their heels, making them more susceptible to an improper stride. Watch for it and make sure posture is good and stride foot goes back toward the pitcher and front heel is slightly off the ground with the weight against the ball of the big toe.
Quick Fix Drills:
- Practice taking strides and landing on the ball of your front foot, heel slightly off the ground, with front foot pointing in opposite batters box right back toward the pitcher (you can also incorporate a slight rock backwards or knee cock shifting your weight into your back leg). Make sure to keep your posture when you rock back and feel the weight go into the inside portion of your back foot.
- Practice taking strides with a pitch being thrown and no swing, same actions as above.
- During batting practice or tee work, place an object behind your feet and in line with the pitcher (a 2 x 4 piece of wood or an equipment bag will work). If there is not anything to put behind your feet, draw a line in the dirt or put a piece of tape down in line with the pitcher. This will give you instant feedback about your stride.