Bat Drag 101
Bat Drag is a very common problem in hitters up to high
school age and sometimes, as in the case of
and Mike Olt,
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. My experiences led me to put together this primer on
Bat Drag and a webbook that tackles the subject of
fixing bat drag.
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 top hand.
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 top hand.
The result will be 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 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 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 hurts their
ability to read the pitch and adjust to the ball.
In Mike Olt's case, his back elbow slides well forward of his
back hip, causing him to consistently hit the ball well out
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, and sometimes doubles and home runs, but
typically lots of swinging strikes.
Grand Slam Home Run
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, hitting for both power and average.
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 glorified batting practice 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.
Needing the Tee Forward in the Stance
In retrospect, one indicator of my younger son's Bat Drag was
that he was literally 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
was typical (or optimal).
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
Between the Plate and
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 an excessive uppercut and creates topspin that causes the ball to dive down into the ground.
Why it Happens & How to Fix it
As a result of years of experience working with my two sons,
their teammates, and hundreds of other young hitters in their
youth baseball and softball program, I have developed an
approach to fixing Bat Drag that is easy to implement and that
can quickly yield dramatic results.
In the case of my younger son, we were able to transform his swing from the one above,
which was heavily affected by Bat
Drag and which rarely led to solid contact, to the one below
that produces consistent, hard-hit line drive singles, doubles,
and home runs and has made him the 3-hole hitter on every team
he has played for since fourth grade.
I discuss many of the things that we did to get his swing to
this point in
Fixing Bat Drag, a webbook that contains large amounts of
free information about why Bat Drag
happens and how to start fixing it.
After years of teaching my drills and approach to fixing Bat
Drag to the other coaches in our program, I have distilled the
results of my experience into
Fixing Bat Drag.
Fixing Bat Drag is currently on
SALE for just $7.95
you buy my Rotational Hitting 101
Streaming DVD or hitting bundles, you will get
access to Fixing Bat Drag 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).