Bat Drag 101
Bat Drag is a very common problem in hitters up to high
school age and sometimes, as in the case of
the major leagues.
Based on the large number of young hitters that I have seen or worked with,
I would estimate that upwards of 90 percent of young hitters have some
degree of Bat Drag in their swings.1
As it turns out, both of my sons struggled with problems with
Bat Drag, and Bat Drag was the problem that drove me to study hitting.
What Bat Drag Looks Like
What happens during Bat Drag is that, fairly early on in
the swing, the hitter's back elbow gets ahead of their hands.
As a result, the hitter will exhibit the telltale stacked
elbow position with their back elbow under their front elbow and
their forearms largely horizontal and level to the ground.
In the worst cases of Bat Drag, the hitter's back
elbow will slide well forward of their hands and their back hip
and out from under their front elbow.
Regardless, the result is that, at the Point Of Contact, the hitter's back elbow
will be well forward of their back hip, their back upper arm
will be more horizontal than vertical, and their swing will unfold
well out in front of them.
Why Bat Drag Happens
The most common problems that you see in younger ballplayers --
and some older ballplayers --
result from their trying to do too much
with their arms and not getting the rest of their
When they throw, they throw with just their arms, using a
motion that is commonly referred to as, "Throwing like a girl."
When they hit, instead of powering their swing with their entire body,
they power their swing with just their arms.
In the case of Bat Drag, as they try to swing with their arms
-- and because their back arm is usually their dominant arm --
their back arm and top hand overpower their swing, causing their
back elbow to slide forward and their swing to unfold well out
in front of them.
Why Bat Drag is Problematic
Bat Drag creates a swing that is sometimes very powerful but that is always
very long; typically too long to catch up to a good fastball or
to adjust between a fastball and a quality off-speed pitch.
Bat Drag also changes where, when, and how
the bat head starts to whip. As in the case of
Mark Reynolds, that forces the hitter to make contact with the
ball farther out front than is optimal, which compromises their
ability to adjust to the ball.
As players get older -- older than 11 or
so -- the result of a swing with Bat Drag is occasionally lots of
powerfully hit foul balls and/or hits to the opposite field but
typically lots of
I have seen Bat Drag turn 5th grade,
.500-average power hitters into 6th graders who
struggle to get one weak hit per game (or season).
Bat Drag vs. Bat Lag
Many people use the terms Bat Drag
and Bat Lag interchangeably when, in truth, they are opposites.
As I explain in my piece on
Bat Drag vs. Bat
Lag, Bat Drag is the sign of a
serious, but common, problem with the swing while Bat Lag
is a normal and necessary component of a swing and the
sign of a powerful swing.
My Older Son's Bat Drag
A while back I was cleaning up my web site and stumbled across the video below of my
older son playing Home Run Derby in our side yard in May 2006.
This video was taken back before I knew much about hitting. I
hadn't had to put much thought or time into his swing because he had hit
quite well up until that point.
The thing that is really prominent in this video is significant Bat Drag,
which explains why he started to struggle that year.
Notice how, as he starts his swing, his front arm bars and
his back elbow slides
forward of his back hip. This lengthens his swing and moves the Point Of Contact forward.
In Frame 6, notice how his back elbow has slid well forward
of his back hip and is under, and is almost touching, his front elbow.
The existence of Bat Drag in my older son's swing makes sense,
given his difficulties at the time.
Over the years, his batting average
declined as the pitchers got better and he started seeing more
than just fastballs. He also became increasingly
likely to hit
the ball hard to right field or just foul down the right field
line, both of which are signs of a swing that is being slowed
down and lengthened by Bat Drag.
My Younger Son's Bat Drag
My younger son also had a problem with Bat
Drag. In the clip below, notice how his back elbow
slides forward. That makes the barrel dump and causes him to swing with too steep of an
That frequently caused him to top the ball and pound it into the
His problem with Bat Drag also caused him to make contact farther forward than good
hitters do, which made him vulnerable to any pitch that wasn't
thrown at the speed he was used to.
Symptoms of Bat Drag
If you are wondering if one of your children or hitters may have a
problem with Bat Drag, here are some of the symptoms.
Wanting the Tee Well Forward in the Stance
In retrospect, one indicator of my younger son's Bat Drag was
that he was litterally unable to hit off of a batting tee if the
tee was placed closer than the toe of his front foot. He had to
push the tee forward, or back up, in order to be able to hit the
ball. Of course, that was because his back elbow was leaking
forward and was causing his swing to unfold farther out front than
A Swing That Doesn't Scale
One frequent tip-off that a hitter has a problem with Bat
Drag is that their swing doesn't scale.
They usually start out with tons
of multi-field power in tee-ball, coach pitch, and even machine
pitch. However, as they start to move up through the levels of
kid pitch, and especially around 5th or 6th grade, their batting
average starts to fall through the floor.
In many cases, what has happened is that the length of their
swing has forced them to
start their swing earlier. That can then make them vulnerable to
even low-quality curveballs, change-ups, and other off-speed pitches.
Lots Of Swinging Strikes
One symptom of a swing that is being affected by Bat Drag is
an increasing number of swinging strikes. The problem is that
Bat Drag is lengthening their swing and making them late.
Great Hitter During Batting Practice,
Poor Hitter In Games
Another indicator that a hitter may have a problem with Bat
Drag is that they absolutely kill the ball in batting practice, and in
particular when hitting off of a batting tee or during soft-toss
drills, but constantly strike out when going up against good, live
pitching. The problem is that Bat Drag isn't an issue, and is
often an asset, when the ball is
either standing still or moving very slowly. Instead, Bat Drag
is only an issue when the pitcher is able to bring it with decent velocity.
Lots Of Pushing The Ball
Hitters with a problem with Bat Drag will often develop a
problem with pushing the ball (e.g. hitting the ball to the
opposite field). While this sometimes won't cause an obvious
problem, and in the case of a right-handed batter may simply
result in lots of doubles and triples into the right field
corner, at some point the hitter may reach the point where many
if not most of their balls land foul down the right field line
(left field line in the case of a left-handed batter). The root
cause of the problem is that the hitter has
developed a bad case of Bat Drag, and telling them to swing
earlier is only of limited value.
Pounding the Ball into the Ground
In some cases, a problem with Bat Drag can cause the
hitter to pound balls -- and especially balls up in the
strike zone -- down into the ground between the plate and
the pitcher. That happens because, as the back elbow
leaks forward, that causes the barrel to dump down out
of the plane of the shoulders.
That then causes the hitter to swing with too much of
an uppercut and creates topspin that causes the ball to dive down into the ground.
Fixing Bat Drag
While Bat Drag can be a hard problem to fix on your own, it
is possible to fix Bat Drag if you understand why Bat Drag happens and how to get hitters out of the bad movement
patterns that lead to Bat Drag.
In the case of my younger son, I developed an approach to
fixing Bat Drag that transformed
his swing from the one above that was heavily affected by Bat
Drag and that rarely led to solid contact to the one below that shows no signs of Bat Drag
and that produced consistent, hard-hit line drives.
I have spent the past five years developing an approach to,
and a number of drills for, fixing Bat Drag. I have used this approach
and these drills to fix the swings of my younger son and many of his teammates. That information is available in my Fixing Bat Drag webbook, which
costs just $10.95.
You can buy my Fixing Bat Drag webbook on its own or, if
you buy my
Rotational Hitting 101 DVD, you
will get access to my
Fixing Bat Drag webbook for
For More Information
free information about
Hitting and the
High-Level Swing is available through
private client site. To access this information, and to see how much,
and what kinds, of information is available to my clients, all you
have to do is
 The reason you don't see much
Bat Drag in high school hitters isn't because it doesn't
happen in high schoolers. Instead, it is because most
hitters with Bat Drag simply can't hit high school pitching (or,
usually, middle school pitching).