Bat Drag 101
Bat Drag is a very common problem in hitters up to, and sometimes
through, high school.1
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.
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 Brag is that, fairly early on in
the swing, the hitter's back elbow will get well ahead of their hands.
That is what you can see in the picture below of my older son.
In the worst, and most problematic, cases of Bat Drag, the
hitter's back elbow, rather
than staying near their rear hip, will slide well forward of their back hip.
The result is that, at the Point Of Contact, the hitter's back elbow
will be well ahead of their hands, their back elbow will be well forward of their back hip, and
their back upper arm will be almost horizontal
rather than nearly vertical.
Why Bat Drag Happens
The most common problem that you see in younger baseball and
fast pitch softball players, and some older ones as well, is that they try
to do too much with their arms and don't get 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, they stay upright, adjust with their arms, and drop
The same basic thing happens in a hitter with Bat Drag.
Instead of powering their swing with their entire body,
they power their swing with their arms.
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. That
causes their back
elbow to slide forward as it tries to get to a position of
leverage, putting the hitter in a position of Bat
Why Bat Drag is Problematic
Bat Drag is problematic because it can change the timing,
sequencing, and plane of the swing.
Bat Drag changes where, when, and how
the bat head starts to whip; it delays the whipping of the
bat head. That lengthens the swing and forces the hitter to make contact
with the ball later and farther out front than is typical. That
can also reduce the force with which the barrel whips through
the point of contact and keep the hitter from hitting the ball
as hard as they could.
Bat Drag creates a swing that is sometimes very powerful but that is always
very long; too long to catch up to a good
fastball. As players get older (e.g. older than 11 years old 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.
However, in many cases the result of Bat Drag is simply lots of
In the case of many kids that I know, Bat Drag can turn a 5th grade,
.500-average power hitter into a 6th grader who
struggles to get one weak hit per game.
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.
Albert Pujols in the Bat Lag Position
The frame above shows Albert Pujols just coming out of the Bat Lag position,
with the barrel of his bat lagging behind his hands and pointing
back at the catcher. Notice that Albert Pujols' back elbow is at his back hip.
As a result, his hands are connected to and
rotating just ahead of his back shoulder.
In contrast, in the pictures above and below, which show what
hitters with Bat Drag look like at the Bat Lag position,
notice how their back elbows have slid forward of their back
hips and how their hands are rotating in line with
their shoulders instead of ahead of their back shoulders.
That is a problem because it will change where, when,
and how the barrel will whip through the strike zone.
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 and
hadn't really put much thought or time into his swing. That was largely because he had hit well up
until that year.
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 elbow slides
forward of his back hip. This causes his front arm to bar out, moves the Point Of Contact forward,
and lengthens his swing.
In Frame 6, notice how his back elbow has slid well forward
of his back hip and is almost touching his front elbow.
The existence of Bat Drag in my older son's swing makes sense,
given his difficulties back then. Over the years, his batting average
declined as the pitchers got better. 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
of his back hip. 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 off-speed pitches.
Symptoms of Bat Drag
If you are wondering if one of your children or your hitters may have a
problem with Bat Drag, here are some of the symptoms.
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 their swing has gotten too long, and too slow,
to catch up to a good fastball. That can force them to have to
start their swing earlier which can then make them vulnerable to
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 slowing the swing down 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 $14.95.
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.