SIX STEPS TO A SWEET SWING
Everybody wants to be a great hitter. Most young players dream about hitting the ball like Alex Rodriquez or David Wright or Prince Fielder. What they don't realize is that All-Star players like that have such deeply ingrained muscle memory built into their swing that they can totally forget about their swing and concentrate solely on hitting the ball. The swing just happens for them at this stage in their careers. They are literally seeing the ball and hitting it, automatically! Guess how they got to that point? Work! Swing after swing after swing, thousands and thousands of swings. Not just any swing, the right swing. Soft toss, Tee work, Batting Practice... swing after swing after swing. Eventually, they developed the muscle memory to the Sweet Swing. When their visual system recognizes a good pitch, the "swing" command from the neural system is given and the Sweet Swing happens.
Does that mean that every swing results in a 450 foot homerun? No. There are many variables that affect success at the plate and those are for other discussions. What is important is that if you are fundamentally sound in the mechanics of the swing, you will have a greater opportunity to be successful in your at bats. The question is, Do you have what it takes to develop the Sweet Swing? In this article I will give you the proper mechanics of the Sweet Swing, broken down into six simple steps. Performing this swing thousands and thousands of times correctly is up to you. If you have the discipline, desire and dedication to ingrain these simple steps into muscle memory, you will be well on your way to becoming a better hitter. Don't believe me? Click Here to see Ted Williams performing these exact same six steps back in 1941! The year he became the last MLB hitter to hit over 400!
Step 1 - Loading
Coach! You forgot the stance position! Actually, no I didn't. I purposefully
left that position out. Look around the Major Leagues, there are hundreds
of different stances, very few of them are similar. Everybody has their
own comfort level, style and body type. If you have been playing baseball
for any length of time you more than likely have a position which you
feel most comfortable in, stay with that. Just make sure you get to a
simple, proper load position similar to the one shown here in the photograph.
The key points to a good load:
Step 2 - The Step
is a much more critical portion of the swing than most people give credit
to. The load stage gets the hitter in synch with the pitcher. The step
stage gets the hitter in synch with the pitched ball. Which are you hitting,
the pitcher or the pitch? See my point? Timing is the most important component
in hitting. An excellent swing poorly timed will likely get no results.
By contrast, a poor swing properly timed will likely result in success.
The key points to a good step:
Time your step between the release point and about 10 feet from the pitcher.
Early is much better than late. A late step makes it nearly impossible
to hit. Remember, it is step then swing
not, step and swing. They
Step 3 - Launch the Hips
The third movement in the Sweet Swing sequence is the launching of the hips. This movement is the cornerstone of the power generated in a baseball swing. I have referred to this movement as the "coiling and uncoiling" in previous articles. The launching of the hips is the beginning of the torque phase of the baseball swing. The big muscles of the lower body (the hips and legs) are moving one way, while the big muscles of the upper body are ever so slightly moving the other way or remaining stationary coiling against each other to create the powerful torque necessary for a Sweet Swing. The key points to launching the hips:
Step 4 - Launch the Hands
is the only phase in the swing that most fans are aware of. They either
see the player hit the ball or miss it when the player swings the bat
with his hands. In actuality, if the player incorporates the previously
addressed motions to muscle memory, this is the easiest part of the swing.
Providing, of course, that the player has some measure of hand-eye coordination.
Simply launch your hands at the ball
aggressively! This is no time
to be passive, trust your hands and attack the ball. With the previous
three steps already set in motion, the player has generated enough torque
to propel the bathead at speeds matching or exceeding that of the pitched
ball. The ball travels a total of 60 feet at those speeds, whereas the
bathead travels only a handful of feet from the start of the swing to
the point of contact. Great hitters are naturally more adept at this all
important timing sequence. But the simple truth is confidence in your
swing can play a tremendous role in your success. The key points to Launching
the Hands to contact:
Step 5 - Extend (The Power V)
fifth step seems unnecessary. After all, we have already hit the ball.
Isn't that the object? Well, the key to being a good hitter is being able
to hit the ball with authority. If you don't power through the ball, you
may as well bunt every time. You have to accelerate through the ball much
like a boxer punches through a heavy bag. Contact is important, accelerating
through the contact point is imperative. The key points to the Power V:
Step 6 - Extend Again (Finish the Swing!)
is where the hands finally roll over. The wrists are required to roll
in order to re-direct the forces from their final stage of centripetal
motion (directly out the barrel head at the Power V position) to centrifugal
again (around the body). This wrist rolling also allows the bathead to
decelerate more naturally. If the wrists were to remain firm it would
act as a brake to the bat and the player would lose power and distance.
The famous Charlie Lau theory was to release the top hand to prevent the
bathead from decelerating as a result of this resistance. This created
more extension in the swing and, according to some experts, more power
to the baseball. Problems occur when most young player's release too soon
and therefore lose vital control of the bathead's path. Most great power
hitters of the past had a more natural finish around the body. Ted Williams,
Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth, just to name a few, had this
type of finish to their swing. The key points to a good finish: