More and more hitters at the highest level are showing the ability to keep their feet planted in the ground and use it to create torque. Based upon our assessment video from the beginning of winter training, many of our hitters appear to shift their entire body weight to their rear foot during the load, and transfer to their front foot to bring the barrel to the baseball. What we’re looking for is the hitter’s ability to keep their weight mostly neutral and coil their pelvis into their rear hip joint in the load, and snap open the rear hip joint into extension upon launch; a more efficient and more powerful mechanism of the swing using the body’s natural stretch reflex and kinetic chain. When a player can keep his center of mass over the middle of his body, he will be able to use the ground to create this strong coil and fast move into back hip extension, transferring torque up the body into the hands and barrel.
The second piece of ground force is the ability to decelerate the torque created in the initial fire of the hips with the hitter’s front leg. A bent front leg or weak tension of the foot into the ground may cause the hitter to over rotate, lose power, and throw the direction of the swing significantly to the pull side. Imagine a trebuchet launching a boulder. If the arm of the trebuchet does not slow down, the boulder would sling directly into the ground in front of it. The arm must be decelerated to allow the transfer of torque into the boulder. A hitter who struggles decelerating his swing will appear to extend his arms toward third or first base, depending on their handedness, over rotate, and decrease their margin for error on any given pitch.
New Cues: Coil with the ground, use the ground, keep your weight centered, smooth coil
Along with this new line of thinking comes a few new constraints our guys are training with, the most important of which is the Post-Stride stance. The hitter starts the rep with their feet where they would land after whatever loading mechanism they use. It is important that the hitter gets to this position and starts each rep with their front foot slightly open. This emphasizes the front leg deceleration required to keep an efficient swing on plane as the hips launch open and the semi closed front foot braces the force. Without much leg or upper body movement, the hitter will coil and fire smoothly with the timing of the rep using the ground (tee, flip, throw). The main emphasis of the drill is keeping the hitter’s feet in the ground to create the coil and launch. Again, the hitter is trying to feel their hips provide the load and power of the swing using the ground, not the shifting of the hips (valgus knees) or weight from backwards to forwards.
Post stride stance pairs well with something we’ve used for a few years; banded resistance on the hips using the PC 360 harnesses overload and underload training bats. The PC 360 harness and band should be used to first resist, then assist the hitter in an efficient action of the hips. By switching which side of the body the band pulls from, the hitter can feel multiple extra variables upon their swing patterns that encourage efficient moves to the baseball. The same concept is true of the weighted bats: the heavy bat reinforces an efficient swing to get a more difficult implement to the baseball as the underweight bat encourages moving at greater bat speeds than normal.