Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Skill of Disconnecting



Metaphorically, we should never put our hitters in a box. They are unique, have different skills, confidence levels, work ethics and talents.

Physically, hitters should not hit in a box. What I mean is, they should be allowed to “disconnect.”

Imagine your four-hole hitter on time for that cookie fastball that ended up a little lower and a little further outside than he was anticipating. He swings, rolls over the top of the baseball, “staying tall” as hitting coaches so often preach. 6…4…3. Double play.

Your leadoff steps into the box with the bases juiced, two outs and a 1-2 count. He’s in a lefty-lefty matchup with your rival’s ace. A slider comes spinning his way then darts down and away from his projected swing path.

He can’t keep his hands back; they float forward as he loses his center of gravity and, from his front foot, weekly waves at the pitch. P-5. Inning over.

Hitters should seek to make connection with pitches with good posture. Strong posture, or what many coaches call “staying tall”, can allow for hitters to utilize their best swing…but only if they have a low center of gravity. This means that they have flexion, not necessarily in their knees, but in their quads. This is why “staying tall” is a mis-teach. The term “tall” puts a hitter’s focus on the height of his stance rather than his lower body strength and center of gravity.

Imagine Kobe Bryant dribbling, analyzing a defender. If the defender has a taller center of gravity, Kobe will penetrate and dunk on someone. If the defender has an athletic stance, a low center of gravity and balance in their lower half, he likely will pull up for a jump shot (God knows he isn’t passing the rock).

A defender- with strength in his legs- has explosive control of his body. Note that this doesn’t mean an overly-wide base. We aren’t talking about the typical defensive stance in basketball, slapping the ground with energy like you’re playing pressure defense. If you’re going to guard one of the most dangerous scoring guards in the game, you must be able to move quickly in any direction. This requires recruiting the power in your glutes, quads, hammys and calves in unison.

So does hitting.

NOW, if we have a hitter who has a low center of gravity, we can teach them to retain greater separation between their load (whether scapular or with their hands) and their stride. Retaining such separation is what creates the most explosive bat speed and highest exit velocities for each hitter.

NEXT, we must understand that WHEN FOOLED (whether we are early on a fastball or out in front of an off speed pitch) it is MORE VALUABLE to retain separation and DISCONNECT from a typically tall posture, allowing the chest to move forward of center, than it is to stay in my posture and finish a swing.

A hitter who is early and retains separation with a low center of gravity can murder the baseball regardless of posture.

We’ve all seen MLB hitters hit home runs, doubles and heat-seeking missiles, despite their balance being primarily on their front foot. This is achieved through a sinking of the hips when fooled. To do this, a hitter must have a lower center of gravity…and DISCONNECT from a normal posture, utilizing their separation. This allows the hitter to stay through the baseball with top hand extension, and drive in the big runs…even when fooled.



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