Swinging late is often a problem with young players.
One reason for swinging late involves the hitter not knowing where he is supposed to make contact with the ball. Many want to make contact over the plate instead of in front of it. Carrying the ball to the plate and having the hitter swing slowly, indicating where they want the bat to make contact with the ball, is a good way to show them to hit the ball out in front.
Also, they should be taught that the point of contact needs to be further out in front of the plate when the ball is pitched inside and closer to the plate when the ball is pitched outside.
Players also need to understand that they must swing at a smaller ball against a fast pitcher. They have to make the decision to swing a bit earlier and fire the hands at the ball when it is further from the plate than they are used to (the ball looks smaller further away from the plate).
The most important thing for good timing, however, is to teach hitters to make adjustments with their stride foot.
If they are swinging late, they need to lift the front foot and begin the stride earlier. If they are swinging early, they need to lift the front foot and begin the stride later.
Dr. Jon Hoelter has operated the Competitive Youth Baseball Web site, GoodSwing.com, since 1997. He is also the author of the Illustrated Hitting Guide. Jon has three sons, all of whom enjoyed stellar high school baseball careers in Ohio.