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Swing Coach
11-18-2007, 04:20 AM
I have always been a big fan of hitting wiffle balls inside during the winter or for a pregame activity. But now when I really think about it, does the constant pounding of a ball as light as a feather have a negative impact when transferring to hitting a baseball (an object 10 times heavier)? I have a (just) 9-year-old who is small and skinny, but has a very nice swing. He can hit a wiffle ball a mile and his swing looks like a pro, but that changes when he hits baseballs. Last summer he had difficulty hitting through a baseball and driving it. Should I avoid wiffles (and stick with all baseballs) so he can develop a stronger swing? Or am I overthinking this one?


SC

Coach Art
11-18-2007, 05:10 AM
I'm a believer in hitting wiffle balls for hand/eye coordination and mechanics, however I also like to have them hit an old tire hung from a rafter in the garage. I paint a white circle (trace a baseball) so that you can still focus on the swing mechanics. This will work the proper "muscles" in the swing.

les
11-18-2007, 10:02 AM
I have always been a big fan of hitting wiffle balls inside during the winter or for a pregame activity. But now when I really think about it, does the constant pounding of a ball as light as a feather have a negative impact when transferring to hitting a baseball (an object 10 times heavier)? I have a (just) 9-year-old who is small and skinny, but has a very nice swing. He can hit a wiffle ball a mile and his swing looks like a pro, but that changes when he hits baseballs. Last summer he had difficulty hitting through a baseball and driving it. Should I avoid wiffles (and stick with all baseballs) so he can develop a stronger swing? Or am I overthinking this one?


SC

It sounds like your son might be getting the bat stuck from bat drag. When he hits the ball is it a dinker to the first base dug out (rt hander)? When he does hit a good one it is most likely out in front of him to the left side, correct? If so, I would do a search on bat drag and work on it over the fall. IMHO, wiffles are good as part of a routine.

cosmo34
11-18-2007, 12:14 PM
I'm a fan of using wiffle balls and both baseballs for hitting.

For the most part on game days, I'd stick to using real baseballs, but for practice I don't see a problem with using wiffle balls. In high school, we didn't have any indoor tunnels unless we wanted to drive across town to hit in a batting cage, so we'd go into the gym and just use wiffle balls. We could get a ton of reps that way, and you can always go into your backyard and see something similar to BP without breaking any windows or something.

If you see a youngster having problems driving through a baseball, just have them take more reps off a tee or soft toss with hard baseballs. Or there's always the old softball drill of hitting a basketball.

FiveFrameSwing
11-18-2007, 12:56 PM
I have always been a big fan of hitting wiffle balls inside during the winter or for a pregame activity. But now when I really think about it, does the constant pounding of a ball as light as a feather have a negative impact when transferring to hitting a baseball (an object 10 times heavier)? I have a (just) 9-year-old who is small and skinny, but has a very nice swing. He can hit a wiffle ball a mile and his swing looks like a pro, but that changes when he hits baseballs. Last summer he had difficulty hitting through a baseball and driving it. Should I avoid wiffles (and stick with all baseballs) so he can develop a stronger swing? Or am I overthinking this one?


SC

I'd suggest to you that your son does not hit like a pro.

It is easy to develop bad habits/mechanics with a steady diet of hitting wiffle balls. You need to be religious about keeping the swing mechanically clean.

FiveFrameSwing
11-18-2007, 12:59 PM
I also like to have them hit an old tire hung from a rafter in the garage.


I'd recommend avoiding that drill. Hitting a heavy object head on can promote back-foot hitting and muscling through the contact point.

les
11-18-2007, 01:20 PM
I'd recommend avoiding that drill. Hitting a heavy object head on can promote back-foot hitting and muscling through the contact point.

Lately I've been thinking of using a tire incorporating what I have learned from Nyman and Englishbey. What I like about the tire is that the bat will sort of bounce back and forth a bit IF positioned properly using proper mechanics (important bat must make impact with tire AS the bat starts to whip) . I feel it would be important to do it correctly making sure to maintain the box, hinge angle and the "starting" of the bat whip. Similar to Steve Englishbey's coiled spring simulation. Also like a "stop swing".

jima
11-18-2007, 02:53 PM
I think that at 9 he should do anything that is fun and not worry about whether it'll ruin his baseball career.

FiveFrameSwing
11-18-2007, 03:02 PM
Or there's always the old softball drill of hitting a basketball.


That's a terrible drill that promotes back-foot hitting and muscling of the bat throught contact.

cosmo34
11-18-2007, 04:02 PM
That's a terrible drill that promotes back-foot hitting and muscling of the bat throught contact.

Chill, it was kind of a joke.

Swing Coach
11-18-2007, 05:24 PM
Thanks to all those who responded to my question about hitting wiffle balls. To those with cranky comments totally unassociated with the subject.....y'all need to find something constructive to do with your time.

SC

Jake Patterson
11-18-2007, 05:47 PM
I use whiffle balls when inside or when soft tossing into a screen when trying to correct problems. Other than that I do not find hitting whiffle balls, especially with whiffle bats helpful.

TG Coach
11-18-2007, 05:52 PM
Or am I overthinking this one?

Yes! Kids used to hit and throw everything they could get their hands on to no negative effect. We hit and threw baseballs, whifle balls, tennis balls, and Dixie cups stuffed with newspaper. It never had a negative effect on our hitting and we never hurt our arms. Now dads analyze their kids forwards, backwards and sideways. They have off season workouts for them. Geez! Let them be kids. Let them have off seasons. Let them play other sports. My son is a freshman in high school. He's having off season workouts for the first time in his life.

Ursa Major
11-19-2007, 12:11 AM
As a couple of people have rightfully noted (thanks Jima!), we're talking about a 9 year old here. Let's worry first about him having fun and getting the general concept of hitting down. And, almost all have pencil arms and the real ball won't go far when they hit it. So, it isn't just the wiffles that keep 'em from being home runs.

I am a huge believer in working on swings up a range of simulations that ultimately lead up to swinging a bat in game conditions against a real pitcher with a real baseball. So, for a given lesson (stance, skill, motion, etc.) to be learned, you may start with no-bat drills then work up the laddet to partial swing drills, dry swings, soft toss, wiffles, short toss, pitching machines, live BP, and scrimmages. Wiffle balls can and should be a big part of the process, but you have to have the knowledge to see where you need to put them aside and do something else.

Just guessing, but a huge problem with 9 year olds is bat drag (i.e., back elbow leading the hands in the swing) and, because there is no "power L" brace to the bat, the ball knocks the bathead backwards and even a squarely hit ball doesn't go far. So, you've got to watch for this in wiffle drills and, if the kid can't stop doing it on his own, go to some other drill that "punishes" him for doing so.

In that vein, the tire (and related boxing heavy bag) drill are important not so much because of how you hit the object, but rather because the object stops the bathead at the instant of contact and shows you what the arm position is at that moment. It's great for detecting and correcting bat drag. Heck, I've even used the "hitting the basketball" drill for kids who aren't at risk of being back foot hitters where it helped correct other swing problems, like bat drag or dead hands.

Just last week I was working with a 10 year old who was chopping down on the ball. We used the wiffles to detect the problem and try to fix it, and then -- when his swing had improved against the wiffles -- threw him live pitching so that he would see how my "fixes" not only got him a better swing plane and hit trajectory, but helped the ball jump off the bat as well because he was better braced.

As my old chemistry teacher said, too much of any liquid -- including water -- is poisonous if taken in too high a dosage. Same goes for any one hitting drill. I have yet to see the kid who doesn't benefit somewhat from wiffle training. Certainly, in moderation they're better than nothing if you're in a situation where you don't have any other way for him to swing at something coming at him.

Thor
11-20-2007, 05:35 PM
Read Jima's suggestion, twice. In his autobiography, Henry Aaron says he grew up hitting bottle caps under a street light. This didn't seem to have any negative impact on his swing.