In my previous article, I wrote about how the hitter creates top barrel speed and where the acceleration actually happens. In this article, I’m going to discuss what happens next, EXTENSION.
Barrel extension in a swing has been cued the same way for a long time. Like many of you reading this, I had dozens, if not hundreds, of hitting lessons growing up, and obviously did not know the information I know now. Having said that, one cue I remember hearing a lot was “get to extension” or “get extended.” Anybody who studies a high level swing knows that the arms become extended. Below is a picture of Starlin Castro at extension, in his swing.
My problem with extension is that it does not happen the way it is taught to many of our young players. What I mean is, in a high level hitter, extension is ACTUALLY the “release” of the barrel, not the act of extending the arms.
Hitters are usually taught to “push” or “punch” through the contact of the ball. The problem, is that pushing or activating the arms, will dramatically decrease the speed of the bat and encourage straight arms at contact, or ‘Power V’ position. Let’s assume the hitter moves properly into his front side during his load and his hands stay up and back while he’s slotting the bat. If the hitter’s arms engage AT the ball and actively “extend” in the attempt to get to “extension”, the connection between the batter’s power (body movement and turn) and barrel is disconnected. This, ‘bench pressing’ of the barrel, instantly sucks all the power out of the swing. Sounds like a bad plan doesn’t it…
Below is how extension is widely taught today. Please try not to be distracted by the ridiculous “A to C” demonstration in the video at the 33 second mark. The 1.33 mark is where the ‘extension’ demonstration occurs.
Holy triceps Batman! If he drives his hands down like that at top speed, how can he possibly change directions with the bat to an extension point? Hint: He can’t.
I describe extension as a release of the barrel and energy through the very end of the hitting zone. Chas likes to talk about the barrel ‘pulling’ the hitter’s arms straight. If you speed up the barrel correctly, you should not be able to stop the bat head. That’s why giant strong major leaguers can’t check their swing.
Notice Cabrera try and fail to stop. He committed with his torso to the early accelerating, which Chas and I have described repeatedly. (See Chas’s Bat Speed/Vision Article here)
Going back my last article on early acceleration, (which you can read here), bat speed must be created early for the barrel to release properly. Remember, problems at, or after contact, will always be created early in the swing. Your First Mistake is always your Worst Mistake. Fixing extension must first be addressed at the very beginning of the batter’s movement. Below is a video illustrating the difference between “pushing” or “bench pressing” the bat to extension, and the “release” of a turned bat to extension. I used medicine balls to illustrate the difference in power by looking at height and distance. You will see some differences in my footwork as I must keep my back foot on the ground to use my quads and calf muscles in order to SUPPORT the PUSH of the med ball with the back shoulder. When I turn and throw the med ball, you’ll see Baseball Rebellion’s explosive and physics-backed footwork.
While the med ball PUSH is a complete waste of time for training a baseball specific movement, the med ball turn and throw is a great training drill to practice high level footwork. It helps you feel the release of energy toward the field. See the difference when Chas Pushes the bat downward, (like the coach in the first video demonstrates), compared to when he Turns to Throw the bat. Which do you think is the better option to generate power?
No matter how hard you try, you will never push the bat as far as you can throw it. Remember, correct body movement and footwork are the keys to a good release. Once the footwork and turn is established in your hitter, work on feeling the release. The hitter should just ALLOW the barrel to continue onward and upward, without the use of their arms. Is Hamilton actually driving his hands (arms) down to this pitch, with “A to C” mechanics, like the All-Shores Academy video? If so…how does he do this?
JK Whited, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion