Saturday, July 5, 2014

Being On Time, Part 3: Balance and Using the Legs

Recently, we have been exploring the fundamentals of a swing that is consistently on-time. This blog is dedicated to the use of the legs in creating consistent timing and barrel contact.

The best lower body mechanics in a swing allow the hitter to be both aggressive and "on time." Many professional hitters gain aggressiveness with a leg kick. Often the leg kick is mis-taught or misused at the amateur level; hitters often land with their weight disproportionately on their front foot, creating a break in the swing's synchronization and causing hands to drift forward away from separation. This immediately impacts both maximum bat speed and direction of the swing.

The avoid becoming a 'front foot' hitter, many amateur coaches react to this lack of balance by preaching "STAY BACK" and by cajoling their hitters to become inefficient lower-body rotators with very linear hand paths who lack explosiveness and have lessened their bat speed potential.

Watch these elite hitters:

Notice mainly two things:
1.) Their center of gravity at heel strike: low.
2.) Their head, centered directly between their legs.

Focus on the same items, while watching Mike Trout:

Now Barry Bonds:

Now, recalling what we have preached about gaining separation between the load and the lower body, think about those swings you just saw.

Now, recall the concept of elbow slotting to flatten the barrel out, allowing for 1.) Enhanced contact opportunities with the plane of the ball 2.) Early bat speed 3.) Late commitment.

Watch the videos again, focusing on separation and slotting.

Now, MOST HITTING COACHES spend 75% of their time coaching the upper body, when nearly all breaks in the swing's synchronization began in the lower half.

Focus on these mechanical breakdowns:
1.) If a hitter's head comes front of center, separation will be lost.
2.) If a hitter gets his heel down late, the ball will beat him to the ideal point of contact. He is beat.

So, the conundrum is what to do when the foot gets down too early? The answer: SINK. When a hitter gets his foot down too early and the ball is elevated, it is easy enough to retain separation or "keep the hands back." However, when the ball is away or down, often the hitter will roll over the top or swing and miss. SINKING the hips, lowering the center of gravity beyond normal allows the hands and load to remain separated longer. Often this is long enough to barrel the ball up, despite a break in the kinetic chain.


  1. Good stuff! Appreciate the way you communicate your teaching points, thanks for sharing your knowledge of the game.

  2. Kelly, thanks for your kind note.