Using Wood Bats to Improve the Hitting Development of Young Players
Wood bats are making a comeback in amatuer baseball and none too soon. Although they may not replace aluminum, its important to understand how using wood at a young age can improve a player's hitting development. Please check out this article byDave Biddle from the website
Hitting With Wood.
This site is a great source of useful information and commentary on the return of wood bats at the amateur level.
Baseball Bat Purity - Wood is Good
Baseball Bat Purity - Wood is Good
By David Biddle
The debate about the safety of metal alloy baseball bats continues to rage, but wood bats are finding a resurgence in amateur baseball circles throughout the country anyway. More and more, high school level elite competitions carry the imprimatur of "Wood Bat Tournament." Senior and adult leagues are returning to wood, and a number of community baseball programs for kids throughout the country are finding that players can handle lumber just about as easily as they can expensive aluminum composite bats. Most importantly, learning to hit with wood is one of the best ways to become a true hitter.
Hitting instructors everywhere believe that hitting with wood forces kids to learn the proper mechanics of hitting. And pro scouts, tired of watching fly ball homers and bloop singles that pop over infielders heads, emphatically state that they want to see high school and college prospects demonstrate their skills using wood. According to a retired college coach, he is impressed with the fact that most NCAA teams these days take batting practice with wood throughout the season. "The kids still do their game day preparation with metal," he points out, "to get the feel and timing down, but all their other work is with wood."
Indeed, college standouts who play summer wood bat leagues are often surprised by their low batting averages. Nationally, renowned, hitting instructor Mike Epstein, who played for the Washington Senators, Oakland Athletics, and the Baltimore Orioles in the 1960s and 1970s, has written: "When the cream of the crop wood-bat Cape Cod Collegiate Summer League comes to an end, about 7-8 players come to our facility in Denver for instruction. These elite prospects, which tore up the collegiate ranks with their hitting during the spring, now find that even getting the ball out of the infield is difficult with wood. Many hit in the high .100s."
Does this mean hitting with wood is bad? No. It means hitting with would difficult. It also means that if young players learn to hit with wood, hitting with metal will be a breeze. Players for the Philadelphia Senators National Team who spent the summer hitting exclusively with wood remarked in a fall ball metal metal bat tournament that using their alloy bats "felt like cheating." The Senators won the tournament hands down, slugging twelve home runs and scoring more than forty runs in five games.
All of this points beyond the safety issue, but it doesn't diminish it. Because hitting with wood is so much more demanding than hitting with metal, the number of times young pitchers will see screaming line drives come towards their heads is statistically reduced with wood. And because hitters tend not to get so many consistent hard shots, the fielding component of the game becomes much more important.
In the end, from Little League Baseball through NCAA competition, allowing kids to play with expensive alloy bats made of space-age materials diminishes kids' ability to learn to play well. Getting kids started with youth-sized wooden bats at an early age (eight or nine at least) will go a long way to optimizing their chances of becoming good hitters by the time they're twelve. Wood builds stronger hands, wrists, and forearms and hones eye-hand coordination.
David Biddle has coached youth baseball for more than 15 years. Of the 33 teams he has skippered over the years, eight have won league championships (from 9U to 14U). He has also brought two teams to Philadelphia's city championships (sadly, never to win). Mr. Biddle has taught hitting to more than six hundred young players since 1992. He writes the blog "Hitting with Wood," and published an essay called "Pondering Baseball's Purity" in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2007.
Read more at http://hittingwithwood.com.
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