The Hitter's First Set of Tools
I had mentioned before that when we trigger, we are drawing energy to put forth into
our swing. Now we need to guide that energy. To say that the energy needs to be
guided to the baseball would not be a lie, but I would be selling the concept a bit short.
It needs to be guided to the ball at the correct contact point. These contact points are
illustrated on the “Hitter's Triangle” diagram (See the links to the left). These are the
points where the hitter's energy needs to be guided and ultimately unleashed.
However, the question arises, “How does a hitter stay under control enough during a
full-speed swing to be able to guide this energy to a specific contact point?” The
answer lies in the following sections.
Releasing the Energy
Recognizing pitch location is a very difficult task. In fact, it's one of the elements
that separate a great hitter from the average bunch. However, for the purpose
of explaining swing mechanics. I am not going to reference pitch location. The
swing is the same for inside, middle and outside, the contact point is just in a
different part of the hitting zone. Once again, you can click on the Hitter's
triangle link above to see these contact points for both left handed and right
THE LOWER HALF
Let's begin with the initial movement. When a hitter starts his swing, the first
thing I look for is whether his LOWER HALF is initiating the movement.
Many hitters get overwhelmed with the idea of hip rotation. They are told to
explode the hips when swinging. The hips are a very important part of
unleashing this energy we talked about but there are some rules to follow. First
of all let’s think back to when we discussed the idea of drawing energy when we
load up. Our weight is transferred onto the backside of our body. This is where
the energy is stored momentarily. Therefore, this is where the energy needs to
come from. Think of our back leg as a chamber. Energy is drawn from the
ground, travels up our back leg and is stored in our back hip ready to be
As we begin our approach to the ball we need to explode our back side by
driving the back knee down and in towards the crease of the front knee
while we allow our hands to remain in the slot (above the back shoulder) .
This, will in a sense create a split-second coil/uncoil effect that is
pertinent to developing bat speed. If you begin your approach with your
hands first, you will be forced to hit around the baseball. ONCE THE HANDS
GET AHEAD OF THE BACK HIP, THIS HIP WILL NEVER CATCH UP.
Imagine holding a "Slinky spring" in your hand while twisting counter-clockwise
with you bottom hand and clockwise with your top hand. When you let go of
your top hand, the spring will uncoil in a powerful manner. This should happen
with a hitter as well. If you slowed down a video of a professional hitter, you will
see this action occur.
Many hitters begin their hip movement with the front hip. Very big mistake!! Our
bodies are not made from clay. When our front hip rotates outward, our front
shoulder will go with it. This is called “pulling off of the pitch”. If we are trying to
direct our hands to the ball and rotating our front hip at the same time, our
hands will get away from our body causing our front arm to extend prematurely.
Instead, let the back hip do the work. The front hip will then go along for the
Allowing the back knee and thigh to initiate the torque will allow the front side of
the body to remain closed initially. As mentioned above, we do not want the
front side to open up prematurely. This will make it very difficult to hit
During the approach, your rear shoulder and your hands need to work
together. This is known as staying connected. Many hitters begin their swing
with their hands first. . This will not allow the hitter to square up to the ball and
ultimately prohibit him from extending through the ball at contact. In a sense, he
will run out of back arm and have to wrap up his swing prematurely. Not to
mention numerous other problems that this will cause.
Instead, the back hip should explode. When this occurs, the hands will go for
the ride taking the knob of the bat toward the hitting zone. Once the hip has
cleared, the hands can now distribute the barrel of the bat to the ball. Once the
hands take over, it will be natural for the front side to open up. This will allow full
extension through the baseball.
Demonstration (The Touch Drill)
Have your hitter stand in the box without a bat. Now stand in front of the
batter’s box about a foot away from him. You should be facing his left
side if he is a right-handed hitter, and right side for a lefty. Now, ask him
to touch you with his back hand without moving the front side of his
body at all. What does he have to do in order to accomplish this task?
He needs to rotate his back hip. This will clear space for him to extend
the back arm toward you.
Now ask him to try and do the same thing without opening his hip.
Notice that he cannot do it because he runs out of back arm length. The
same applies to hitting a baseball.
|The Most Important Tool to a hitter
The eyes, without a doubt, are the most important tool when it comes to hitting
a baseball. Try closing your eyes and hitting the ball. You wont be too
successful. Therefore, just like any other part of the body, you need to use
your eyes properly. Many hitters do not see the ball long enough. They see it
for a split-second out of the pitcher’s hand and then their scope of vision
opens up. From here, they begin their approach to the ball.
Instead, a hitter needs to lock his eyes in to the ball and keep them locked all
the way through contact. He needs to shorten his scope of vision so that it is
fine-tuned to the ball only. Too many hitters have way too broad of a vision
scope. Their eyes are not only in tune with the ball, but other elements in their
range of vision as well. Fine-tuning into the ball is known as having “tunnel
vision”. This is the reason why a lot of hitters look better inside than outside.
In the batting cage, the background elements are limited. Therefore, allowing
a more disciplined focus on the ball.
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reinforcing proper approach mechanics.
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Proper backside movement