Last night I was doing a hitting tune-up with one of my students. She'd been hitting the ball pretty well, but over the weekend she struggled a little bit. She told me her coaches told her she was dropping her back shoulder and her hands.
I just sort of rolled my eyes because usually when people say that they don't know what they're looking at. But then, before she stepped up to the tee I discovered the cause of the problem. She quietly said to herself "Hands to the ball."
"Where did you get that?" I asked. "Did those knuckleheads tell you that?"
"Yes," she answered.
"Ok then riddle me this," I said. "If you take your hands to the ball, what are you going to do?"
She thought for about a second, went through the motion of doing it and the lightbulb came on.
"I'm going to drop my hands," she said.
And there you have it. Her coaches were telling her to do the exact thing they were saying was a problem. It's no wonder so many players have trouble hitting.
This is why you have to be careful about what you say as a coach. It also helps to actually know what you're doing instead of repeating the same bad advice that limited your own playing career.
Most importantly, when you're instructing a skill, listen to what you're saying. You just may find what you're saying, and the result you're trying to achieve, are at odds with each other.