Hitting Drills for Power – Part 5, How to fix “stepping in the bucket”


This post is all about establishing good habits about proper direction in your baseball swing.  In general, we always want to be working toward the pitcher, and there’s a number of very common bad habits that I put in this category.  “Stepping in the bucket” and hitting around the baseball are common swing flaws that will rob you of your power at the plate, and we have 3 simple drills to help break these bad habits (see video below).

” Stepping in the Bucket “

“Stepping in the bucket” is when your front foot stride is open.  The problem this can cause is when you open up your front shoulder as well.  Opening up that front shoulder leads to 2 major problems.

1.)  Loss of plate coverage – the only pitch you can reach is an inside fastball. The front shoulder is the key. Even if you stride open, keep your front shoulder square. Then you’ll still have plenty of plate coverage.

2.) Loss of power – Stepping in the bucket or opening up your front shoulder is a HUGE problem for power.

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Whenever your front shoulder opens early, you’ve already spent half of your momentum before the baseball even gets to you. It’s like letting half of the air out of a balloon. Next time you release pressure, most of the pop is already gone.

You have to fight to keep the front-side tension ready and building until just the right moment.

You do that by keeping your shoulders back until they can’t stay back any longer, because your hips have already begun opening and your shoulders finally have to follow.

It’s a chain reaction that starts in your legs and works it’s way through your body until the very last piece, which is your hands. Opening up the shoulder breaks the chain in half, and makes far, far less powerful.

” Hitting Around the Baseball “

The second part of this is the elbow.

Often you see hitters, especially younger hitters, swinging around the baseball instead of through it.

Since losing your elbow will take your hands farther from your body, one way to recognize if this is happening is you are hitting a lot of pull-side ground balls or top-spin line drives to the pull side.

To fight this tendency, you want keep your elbow tucked into your body for as long as possible. This is the power position.

  • Losing it is another way to break that power chain we just talked about.
  • It is also critical to controlling the direction of the bat.

Drills for Stepping in the Bucket & More

Here are 2 super simple hitting drills to help with “stepping in the bucket” or to avoid “hitting around the baseball.”

  1. Bat behind the heels Drill – See video below
  2. Chin to shoulder Drill – See video below
  3. Paper or ball beneath rear elbow (Note: Check your grip!) – Hitting the inside of the baseball

Want more drills?

Baseball Hitting Drills for a Batting Tee is a project we put together to support the 100’s of pages of free baseball instruction from the pros on this website.  It’s an ebook that also unlocks a streaming (online) video for each drill in the book, plus extra some extra goodies.  Click here to learn more.

Also, be sure to subscribe to emails, so you don’t miss part 6 in this series!

Cheers, and play hard!


Hitting Drills for More Power, Parts 1 through 5

About Author

Avatar für Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. (You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier) Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, Doug retired and took a position as a Major League scout with the Colorado Rockies for 2 years. Currently Doug is the Data and Game Planning Coordinator with the Colorado Rockies


1 Comment

  1. Avatar für Tim

    Hey Doug. I am confused as to how to help teach my Granndson proper batting technique. I always was taught to keep your front elbow (towards the pitcher) tucked in and chin down to the shoulder with your wristing rolling over on your swing and imagining your head on a swivel staying down as the shoulders turn and open up. If I understand you correctly, you are saying to keep the back elbow tucked in. I would greatly appreciate you clarifying this for me as I don’t want to teach my Grandson improper technique. Thank you for your help and your time! Good luck this season!!!

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