He may be hot, that’s an understatement, but don’t teach youth players to hit like Alfonso Soriano.
Very Few can Hit Like Alfonso Soriano – A Better Baseball Stance
Players’ baseball stances obviously vary, but I notice more and more youth baseball players go to the closed baseball stance, as one used by the accomplished major league player, Alfonso Soriano. The closed baseball stance involves setting the batter’s lead foot closer to home than their rear foot. The closed stance generally leads to players stepping into the ball, which may seem to be a good thing. Additionally, one would think that youth players could not go wrong by copying one of the best hitters of the last number of years. The problem is that very few players have the fast hips, fast hands, and bat speed of an Alfonso Soriano, and with the closed stance, they struggle to hit. If not right away, the closed stance usually catches up to players negatively, as they do not have the talent of an Alfonso Soriano.
Many of these youth players, who have gone to the closed baseball stances, are not even aware of Alfonso Soriano, but employ this method of hitting as adjustments, because coaches tell them to keep their front shoulder in or because they step away from home plate with their stride. They and their coaches believe the closed stance helps them avoid those bad habits. However, without super-fast hips and hands, as Alfonso Soriano, the closed stance generally is trouble because players’ hips lock up and that prevents them from squaring up at contact, especially with pitches on the inner half of the plate.
Problem with Closed Baseball Stance as Alfonso Soriano
The closed stance usually leads to three problems with young ball players. One, players end up stepping out even more because they have trouble seeing the ball with the closed baseball stance. Two, they hit most balls very deep in the zone, leading to everything going to the opposite field or three, it leads to an early roll of the wrists, in order to avoid being jammed on pitches. Some players with the closed stance step back to even, which is good, because they do not have locked up hips, but any movement away from the ball is generally counter-productive.
Players have the best chance at long-term success with an even stance, when both feet are equal distance from home, giving them the best chance at seeing the ball, opening their hips completely, and of hitting the ball to all fields.
A few years back, the open baseball stance, when batters have the lead foot open towards their pull side before their stride, was popular. That does not seem to be the case as much now and that is for the best, as many hitters with that style fail to step back into the ball correctly.
Furthermore, any excess or exaggerated movement for young hitters is very difficult to repeat and usually leads to other bad habits, so youth baseball coaches should have players stick with an even stance, until players reach an age where they are experienced enough to make changes for the better. Players, who do know of Alfonso Soriano, I tell them that they can copy his style once they reach the big leagues, but for now, they should stay with an even baseball stance.