Thursday, February 13, 2014

Teaches and Non-teaches From a Big-League Swing

Here is a great Jose Bautista video with many takeaways.

Bautista speaks mostly about approach in this video. Notice that his mechanics are elaborate and must take thousands of hours of repetition and honing. There is, no doubt, something both awesome and sexy about his swing; he has something that makes young hitters emulate him.

So what can we take away, mechanically, from Baustista?

Things that “Joey Bats” does that we should teach young hitters:

1.)    Start the swing slow and early. Tempo is best under control. Only the swing, beginning at front heel plant, should be fast.
2.)    Maintain tension in the legs and resist drifting forward as long as possible (see Uncle Charlie)
3.)    Slot the back elbow, immediately after heel plant, flattening the barrel prior to hitting zone

Things that “Joey Bats”does that we should avoid teaching young hitters:

1.)    Allowing the rear knee to align over the back ankle, creating huge momentum.
2.)    Start with your hands above your ear, requiring more movement pre-slotting.
3.)    Have a leg kick that transfers large amounts of energy.

None of these mechanics are hindrances to a swing IF a hitter maintains proper sequencing, or in other words, maintains proper balance, positioning and tempo. “Well that’s a lot,” you say? Exactly. This is a professional athlete: statically and functionally strong, flexible and dynamic. 

When youthful hitters mimic these mechanics, they quickly and consistently can come out of sequence. They lack the strength and low center of gravity to maintain proper sequencing in the swing. At heel plant, most young hitters are already spinning on their back leg or trying to stay standing up because of a loss of a low center of gravity.

On the contrary, each of these items could help create improved timing and tempo IF the hitter is athletic and disciplined (Bryce Harper, Gary Sheffield, Juan Gonzalez, Andres Galarraga, Prince Fielder, Carlos Gonzalez, Adrian Gonzalez, etc.).

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