Young players need to practice their stride (or the little step taken before they swing the bat). The stride should be:
Unless they are using an open or closed stance, the stride should be at the pitcher. When opened or closed, the stride should put them in a position where their shoulders make a line pointing at the pitcher.
2. Short (especially for young players).
Long strides make it difficult to keep the head relatively still and thus make it difficult to see the ball. Long strides also make timing more difficult, because long strides take more time than short strides.
The weight must be kept back during the stride. Remember that the swing doesn’t start until after the stride is complete. If the batter’s weight shifts forward during the stride, they will not be able to keep their hands back and will not be able to get their weight into the pitch when they swing. Weight should shift during the swing. Teaching players to turn their front knee in toward their body during the stride will help them to keep the stride soft.
At least for young hitters, the front foot should stay close to the ground during the stride. Some young players lift the front foot to the back of their thigh which makes a soft stride next to impossible.
Many young hitters point their front toe at the pitcher when they stride, usually because they want to start swinging the bat before their stride foot lands. The front foot should not be turned more than 45 degrees upon landing. Often the front foot will pivot somewhat during the swing (and may end up pointing at the pitcher), but this is okay as long as it lands closed.
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.