Baseball terminology should be a class taught in college. Maybe I’m more aware of all of the different terms because it’s a game I’m most familiar with, or maybe there is just an extraordinary amount of verbiage to learn. Nevertheless, I’d like to discuss a couple important hitting terms that should be understood as you’re working on your various baseball drills. The difference between bat lag and bat drag are immense. And because of the similar sound, they often get mixed up. Bad mistake. Let me help explain them both by developing a definition for each.
Bat lag is what all good hitters look to develop while hitting a baseball. As the hands move into the hitting zone it’s important to throw the knob of the bat at the baseball. You may be familiar with that concept as it’s a common phrase (throwing the knob). Doing this produces a result of the hands leading the barrel of the bat which creates whip and bat speed in the baseball swing. When looking at a picture of a hitter nearing the contact position, look for the hands to be in front (more towards the pitcher) of the elbows of the hitter. The barrel of the bat will be remaining significantly behind the hands and enters the zone last.
Bat drag has the opposite effect on the hitter’s swing as compared to bat lag. This is a common problem with younger hitters who lack strength or proper training. Bat drag is easy to spot when looking at a picture (from a side angle looking at the hitter’s chest) as you will quite likely see the hitters elbows “dragging” the hands and bat behind into the hitting zone. In this case, bat speed will be minimal and a sweeping action with the bat will occur. This problem often is accompanied by a collapsing back shoulder.
What’s unfortunate about the bat drag problem is that it can be years before a young hitter gets this mistake corrected. Reason being is that some success can be achieved at the younger levels as pitching is slower and the bat has much more time to enter the strike zone and connect with the baseball. The problem occurs when the hitter advances into junior high and high school where pitching velocity is greater. The mechanical failure created by bat drag becomes exploited and often hitters find their batting averages and consistency dropping very quickly.
There are thousands of pictures and video clips of MLB hitters all over the web. The best way to learn what this bat lag and bat drag look like is to observe what big leaguers are doing and compare their hands with those of a younger and less experienced hitter. Then, go to work solving the problem with a focus on some good baseball drills on the topic.