The Best Baseball Hitting Program in America

The Big Dog Baseball USA hitting program that I used for my son Jeff, really helped him. But the problem was I wasn’t his hitting coach in high school or college. We had to give our trust to other coaches and it just did not work. Whenever I worked with Jeff over the 6 years of high school and college he hit very well until we had to trust someone else with the coaching.

I am totally shocked at some of the things that I have seen and heard at the high school and college level. But that is all past history, and it is time to go to the present and the future.

A hitting session consists of a minimum of 100-150 swings a practice. We need this many to build confidence and muscle memory with my program.

With my hitting program there is a lot of cage work. I have learned from Ex Red and Cardinal Tom Lawless. I have studied and watched videos and gained a lot of experience with a lot of hitters and my son Jeff. He raised his front foot and put it right back down, and was quick and short to the ball.

I am going to go through all the stages of my program to make all hitters better! You will see that I am a firm believer in using the whole field when hitting. I will not get technical on the swing in this program, but will show the stages that it takes to be a better hitter. As you go through each of these stages you have to be patient, as you have to be successful at a stage before moving to the next stage.

Stage 1

The first time in the cage you have to pick up the ball and hit it right up the middle. What this says is that you have to go back before you go forward. You have to walk your hands back in a slow manner then explode into the ball. Take and hit the ball up the middle well a good 10 times.

Stage 2: Tee Work

Next Is the tee work, and what this does is keeps your head right on the ball. Most coaches love this kind of work, but it is just a start in my program. All you need to do is get about 10 swings then advance to stage 3. I am not very big on the tee as it is boring and the pitch being thrown is not sitting on a tee for you to hit, it is moving.

I had a high school hitting coach tell me that if he was in charge the players would only hit off the tee right up to the first game. I just shook my head and thought this guy was crazy. I was really shocked by some of the teaching from this crew.

Stage 3

What we do next is a soft toss from the side. Soft toss the next ten pitches and all the hitter does is watch the ball from my hand to where it goes past home plate. He watches it like a hawk. Next ten soft tosses he bunts and watches the ball meet the bat. He has to do this well to move on.

What happens next is he swings at the ball but with a slow controlled swing like playing pepper. Patience! Once he is doing all this well he can advance. Our hitters will be taught to use the whole field, because it is harder to pitch to a hitter who can use all fields properly. Soft toss him middle and out pitches and he has to hit every pitch to right field! As he starts to get better start to jam him and he still has to hit to right. He has to concentrate on keeping his hands inside of the ball. This may take a while and when he is ready he can move on to stage 4.

Stage 4

Remember don’t hurry through stage 3, 4, and 5, as it takes time. I remember the Cardinals old hitting coach Hal McRae several years ago was in spring training for about three weeks, and was asked how the hitters were doing? He thought for a second and said they will probably be ready to go in another 4-5 days. Take your time and you will be rewarded! Now let’s get to stage 4,  this is my favorite, because you can get a lot of good work in.

Turn the screen around so that the tall part is directly in front of you. Put the screen about 15 feet from the hitter. You have to make sure that you stay protected. The coach can either stand or sit behind the screen and soft toss the pitches middle and out in an underhand motion.

The hitter has to hit all pitches to the opposite field. No ifs they hit all to right field! This may take a while and we all have to be patient. Start to jam him and he still has to hit to right.  Give this time it will give him confidence, shout out praise when the hitter is doing well! When he has this process in good shape, then we can do center field the same way and then do the same for left field. When he is doing this well he can start to hit the ball to all fields. Do not let him get pull happy! Make sure he is opening his hips on the middle to in pitches and is hitting them hard. You have to show encouragement and enthusiasm! Believe me it is contagious. When he is doing well then he can start to hit 3 to right, 3 up the middle then pull 3. When he has a lot of confidence and is hitting the ball hard and using the whole field he can got to Stage 5.

Stage 5

You need to turn your screen around with the short directly in front of you and move the screen back to 25-30 feet. You need to start pitching with firm pitches and they have to watch 10, and then bunt 10. When they are bunting well you can go to hitting.

This has to be done the exact same way as stage 4! Patience! Enthusiasm! When he is doing well then start to challenge him with more velocity. Once he conquers this then challenge with even more velocity! When he has some real good confidence, you can begin to change speeds. You have to challenge, push, high expectations, and praise! You can now stay at stage 5 unless the hitter starts to slump, then you can probably go to stage 3 or 4 to get him going again! After he gets into a groove again then get him back to stage 5. You can also work on hitting the curve ball with a video by Dave Hudgens that I highly recommend. Your hitters have to get 100-150 swings a practice and about 50 swings before games.

Stage 6

He is now ready for some live pitching with the pitchers throwing at 75-80% of their velocity. In due time the pitchers will be ready to go full blast and then the hitters will be prepared to hit. Don’t forget they have to use the whole field! Patience and Enthusiasm!

Great Additions:

Wood Bat: I always had Jeff and my players use wood bats along with aluminum with our hitting program. The reason for this is they are a little heavier and thinner. The players have to know how to hit with a wood bat!
This is a must soft toss from the side with small beans “Great Northern Beans” with a thin swift stick. He has to concentrate on hitting to right and center. Jeff got real good at this, and this has to be a part of your program.

Play Pepper: This is real good for the players to be doing to concentrate on watching the ball meet the bat and using the sweet spot.
Use the Swift Stick and throw small wiffle balls from the side or front with a canvas on the screen. The small balls will go through the screen and can hurt. If you go to the front get close and challenge him!

  • xlr8speed stick system is another small ball and thin stick method. I really like this method as it can really help on off speed pitches.
  • Big League Eyes is another small ball and thin stick method that is very good.
  • Sports Eye Site is a computer program that can help you to track, and identify the pitches; it is a good addition to the program.

I am telling you right now that if you follow my advice the player will be a lot better hitter! Something real good about my hitting program is it can be done with the small ball program in a small area with 2 people. Don’t forget hard work, hit to right, praise, enthusiasm, and do well at a stage before moving to the next! Please contact me for more information or questions.

Pitching For Accuracy

Everybody knows that I am a freak on drills and repeat! I have something here for anybody who pitches. This procedure has to be done if you want to hit your spots with more accuracy. This is a real good program for the young pitcher all the way up to college.

First it is story time, when I was about 20 years old I purchased a pool table, and practiced all the time. What I would do is put a ball on a certain spot, and the cue ball at a spot. I would make that same shot repeatedly, until I got real good, and then I went to the next and then the next. But I kept refreshing myself on all my old shots. I got real good, and found that there was a big margin of error on shots that I thought, I had missed.

I also did the same procedure with basketball when I was about 13 and with my son Jeff, when he was younger. It really works!!

I highly recommend all youth pitchers to purchase Atec Pitchers Practice Screen and Stand Combo from Baseball Express. It has 6 spots for you to throw to, and everybody has to learn to throw to one spot low and outside to the right handed batter or #3. In the spring and summer it is up to how many games you play but this is something you can do 2-3 times a week.

You will have to coordinate this with your coach and also tell him what you are doing. He will love the idea and recommend Atec and Big Dog Baseball USA to the other players.

What is needed to be done is you have to be warmed up and then step to the mound or back yard. You have Atec or a catcher and you want to concentrate on that one spot for 10 pitches. Before you throw you visualize in your mind that you will throw the ball through the # 3 spot or hit the catcher’s mitt low and outside. You know the ball is going to go where you want it to go. Then before you throw, you hard focus on the spot, then you throw through it! You can even start from a shorter distance, if you want more accuracy. Once you are hitting on about 7 out of ten consistently then go to low and inside. Do the same here but keep refreshing on the low and outside, but drop it to 5-6 pitches. Use your own judgment then start to hit your other spots.

If you are older you can do this same procedure with other pitches, curves, sliders, and etc. The only difference is the pitcher needs to know how much break he has on his breaking balls. Remember one spot at a time and get good at it! Then go to the next spot. I guarantee you will see some tremendous results! Older players can do the same, but coordinate this with your coach and he will probably get all his pitchers on the program.

How to field a Ground Ball the Correct Way

This is a subject that is very important to me, and I even get irritated some times. What will be discussed is surrounding a ground ball compared to the alligator method. I do realize that a lot of amateur and pro coaches teach the alligator style. I will explain the difference and what style I prefer to teach.

The alligator method was probably started 20-30 years ago, and I am just guessing. The two methods have the similarity of the bent knees, catch the ball out in front, and keep your head down. With the alligator method you tuck your elbows in and have your glove hand centered on the ground in front of your body. What happens next is you take your throwing hand fingers up, anywhere from 6-18 inches above your glove. As the ball enters your glove, the throwing hand closes like an alligator. I don’t know who started this but, this is the wrong way to field a ground ball.
1. It is a very stiff way to field a ground ball.

2. Your body is not as wide, so to cover more ground.

3. If there is a bad hop, you have a less of a chance of making the play.

4. If I bounce a tennis or basketball to you, do you catch the ball alligator style? No you don’t.

5. There is no continuity at all in this method, it is very robotic.
SURROUND THE BALL
First you come in on the ball with your elbows outside of your body. You field the ball with your hands and arms coming from the side and your arms seem to make a barrel. The elbows are like hinges, and give with the grounder. You catch the ball soft, and you can either bring the ball to your chest or go directly to your throwing motion. This method is all continuous, and very fluid. If there is a bad hop your body is wider so you can cover more ground latterly. Also on a bad hop you can take it in the chest, and corral it and make the play.
CONCLUSION
The Surround the Ball is the much better way to field a ground ball than the alligator method. You can play faster, cover more ground, field bad hops, and not be robotic.