The Back Elbow

There have been many great back elbow moves in sports.  None can come even close to the most electrifying elbow move in sports and entertainment history.

The back elbow of a hitter's swing is something of an enigma for most young baseball or softball coaches and parents.  They might hear a coach, one time, say "keep it up" and then hear another one tell their kid to "keep it down".  Some might hear that it needs to "go back" in the load and others might try to raise it higher.  The back elbow and its role in a high-quality swing can quickly become the Bermuda Triangle of baseball or softball swing mechanics. It is easy to get lost in, and never really know if you're going the right way.

In this article, Baseball Rebellion will highlight some common questions that coaches and parents might have about the back elbow in the swing.  I will be using Robinson Cano, Mike Trout, and Prince Fielder for examples. Each one of these great hitters has a slightly different starting elbow position, but all three have great back elbow movements.

Back Elbow: Where should it start?

Honest answer, it doesn't actually matter where it starts, however...as you will find out further on in this article, the back elbow will need to make a move eventually. In this move, the elbow needs to at least rise back to shoulder height in order to create maximum bat speed.  Since most younger players have trouble sequencing up multiple upper body moves, with lower body moves, it is easier for younger players to start with their back elbow already around shoulder height.

Let's take a look at a few MLB All-Stars with different back elbow starting positions.

Robinson Cano, Mike Trout, Prince Fielder Back Elbow Starting Position

The three different players you see here, all have slightly different back elbow starting positions and starting movements. Robinson Cano has always had a sub-shoulder height back elbow, Mike Trout keeps his right at or slightly higher than shoulder height, and Prince Fielder clearly starts with a higher back elbow than most and then goes even higher. Having said that most players do move their back elbows while in their stance as part of their pre-stride rhythm, but for the most part these players keep it right around the same area. 

Back Elbow: What is the first move?

The first initial move of the back elbow will be generally up and back behind the hitter to some degree. This move behind the hitter can be referred to as the back elbow/shoulder "row".  I call it this generally because the degree of height and back shoulder "row" or scapular load will vary from hitter to hitter. If the hitter can get higher and/or further back in their row they can ultimately create more distance between the elbow and body which will in turn give the hitter the ability to create more bat speed. While a higher and bigger back elbow/shoulder move can create more bat speed, a bigger move is also more difficult to sequence up with the rest of the body. This can lead to timing issues. Always remember that bigger moves like this are risk/reward movements.  They can create more power but for many young players, the increased bat speed isn't worth the inconsistencies that come with learning the new move at first. However, with consistent practice, most baseball and softball players will be able to pull it off.

Here we can see three quality back elbow/shoulder moves that are extremely consistent among these players. Elite level hitters rarely change their loading moves, which plays a huge part into why they are as good of hitters as they are. Their consistency allows for great timing, adjust-ability, and maximum force generation.

Robinson Cano first move back elbow

You can see that Robinson Cano's back elbow is much slighter than Trout or Fielder's. Cano loads his back shoulder and elbow simultaneously both slightly back and slightly up. Nothing to crazy here as it has proven to be comfortable and work for him. This is also why you might see Cano's home runs to be slightly lower than a player like Prince Fielder, which can be attributed to Cano's shoulder rotation being much less vertical at times. Still, he creates tremendous turn speed which is clearly enough to clear a Major League fence.

Mike Trout first move back elbow

Mike Trout, on the other hand, has a much more noticeable and aggressive pull back from his shoulder. This, in turn, pulls the back elbow much more behind him. You can still clearly see more height in the back than Robinson Cano, which allows Trout to work extremely well to lower pitches.

Prince Fielder first move Back Elbow

Prince Fielder's move in this particular swing is much more up towards the sky than the previous two players. I really think Fielder aggressively works to get a ton of lift in his swing. This high back elbow/shoulder move allows him to work much more vertical with his shoulder rotation, which can be seen by how much higher of a launch angle he is able to get than most players. It is important to remember though when the launch angle increases, at a certain point the ball exit speed must get higher as well, otherwise, you will just fly out.

Back Elbow: Where should it be at contact?

Once the hips start to rotate and bring the back shoulder down and around, the back elbow will follow and quickly pass the back shoulder.  At this point, the hands will be making their move past the back elbow while turning the barrel. As we will find out later, the hitter will start turning the barrel either sooner or later depending on their timing of the pitch.

At the contact position, the back elbow will be directly behind the back hand of the hitter on a middle pitch and there will be a slight upward angle from the elbow to the hand. Remember, this is in an ideal contact situation with minimal adjustments. The back elbow will sometimes have to move slightly to adjust to some contact locations but for the most part it will located firmly by the hitters ribs. Here is Mike Trout getting to contact with an outside pitch and an inside pitch.

Mike Trout contact outside pitch

On the outside pitch Trout's elbow is still behind his hand but angled more outward, toward the right to center part of the field. Although he doesn't hit the ball deep enough for it to go that way, there is still plenty of speed in the barrel with full release. He is able to still drive this ball left center with tons of power, proving that you don't always have to hit outside pitches that way to be successful.

Mike Trout contact Inside Pitch

For more middle to inside pitch locations, Trout's back elbow will continue to turn with the body further before releasing outward or sometimes not at all. Still, you can see the strong position behind contact with the slightly upward angle of the Ulna and Radius.

Back Elbow: Where does it finish?

Through the contact position, the back elbow will continue it's path outward on most outside to middle pitch locations. There are some instances where the hitter's back elbow will remain close to the body as the arms of the hitter stay bent, which will keep the barrel close to the body so that the hitter can handle inside pitches. Here we can see Mike Trout adjust to both inside and outside pitches with the back elbow through the finish.

Mike Trout Finish: Outside Pitch

Mike Trout Swing Finish Outside Pitch

Mike Trout Finish: Inside Pitch

Mike Trout Swing Finish Inside Pitch

Robinson Cano back elbow extension

Once the barrel passes the back elbow and hands, it has now become the controlling force. This energy will pull the back elbow away from the body if the hitter allows it. The release of the back elbow can be triggered early or delayed, depending on the hitters timing of that particular pitch, which is a nice feature to have since we know that hitters will not have perfect timing on every pitch.

Prince Fielder back elbow extension

This is a really nice camera angle in which you can see Prince Fielder go from maximum elbow height to the release of his back elbow. He hits this pitch slightly more in the release phase of the swing, which is not optimum, but plenty enough for someone with so much size and power to get the ball over the fence. This is a great example of a slight delay in the release of the barrel.

What should you do?

This is the question for most baseball and softball players. Make sure whatever you do, that the back shoulder and elbow work well together with the body's movement forward in the stride. Once consistency is established, the hitter can then venture out and play with a more vertical back elbow or slightly more horizontal, back move. Always keeping in mind how far they can get without jeopardizing too much consistency at contact. If you are a slightly undersized player for your age, it may not be a bad idea to try and get a little more from your back shoulder / elbow move. Bigger guys may not need as much movement, but can still find out what they can get away with and shouldn't settle for just being big, as this may not always be the case.

Power and consistency is the name of the game with moves like these and finding your "magic line" where you can maximize both of these attributes is important. With enough practice, find out what you can do and use it to the fullest. Baseball and Softball Coaches, don't be afraid to allow players to play with these types of moves, especially during the off season. Sometimes just a little higher back elbow in the stride can really open a player up to their full potential.

Interested in what JK has to say about hitting?

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The Arm Bar & The Bent Front Elbow

There is a lot of talk about across hitting platforms about the front arm position and if it should be bent or straight throughout the swing. While you will certainly see both across Major League Baseball, I want to talk about both and show you what we believe to be the most efficient. But first, let's talk about the bat path and the correlation to the front arm.

When I hear most hitting coaches and players talk about swing path, they often talk about the back shoulder and the hands. While these are important aspects to consider when working on the proper swing path. There is another often forgotten component that is essential to the back shoulder and hands working well, the front arm.

Front Arm and Swing Path

Before we get into how the front arm helps hitters obtain an efficient swing path. Let's take a second to identify what an ideal swing path looks like. Ted Williams was one of the earliest proponents of the upward swing path that we teach.

He reasoned that since the ball travels towards the catcher at a downward angle. The hitter can put themselves in the best position possible by starting the bat down towards the catcher behind them followed by a slight upswing in the direct path of the pitch. This should all be common knowledge at this point. However, we are STILL arguing about what swing path is more efficient. Here is an image depicting this idea.

Ted Williams Description of the Proper Swing Path
Ted Williams Description of the Proper Swing Path

The Front Arm Positions in Major League Baseball

Arm Bar Hitters

In the two videos below you have two unbelievable power hitters in Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ronald Acuna, Jr. They both demonstrate a lengthening of the front arm very early in their turn. While this has been written about as being a very powerful swing move, which it is. It is very hard for MOST hitters to adjust to different pitch speeds and pitch locations by barring their front arm early.

Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Ronald Acuna, Jr.

Early Front Arm Length

The early lengthening of the arm in younger hitters is very prevalent. It mostly comes from a lack of upper body and core strength. Because of this, the hitter will try to activate their swing by engaging their chest and arms, resulting in an arm bar swing.

This becomes a one plane swing very quickly, especially for the inexperienced hitter. Guys like Griffey and Acuna have been able to overcome this and be in the Hall of Fame (Griffey) or a potential 2019 MVP (Acuna). This isn't to say that if you or your hitter's arm bar early in their swing they are hurting themselves. There is just a more efficient way for lesser (and by lesser I mean anyone who isn't a professional) experienced hitters to have a solid swing path that is both fast and adjustable.

Bent Front Arm Hitters

The best swing path is the result of the back shoulder dropping. The back elbow working down into the slot near the rib cage, and the hands staying high and working the knob up.

This is where the use of the front arm becomes vital. Every hitter that I have ever seen at any level naturally drops their back arm as they swing. This means that in order for the knob and hands to remain at chest height, the front arm has to work upward during the turn and maintain this upward path through contact.

When it does not, the bat path tends to flatten out or even work downward causing the chances of a mis-hit to increase. The dropping of the front arm or failure to turn the front arm upward can also lead to bat drag. This can cause an excessively long barrel path that does not create deep and sustained acceleration through the path of the pitch. Check out some other MLB hitter's who keep their front arm bent longer in their swing.

Christian Yelich
Christian Yelich
Mike Trout
Mike Trout

Youth Hitter vs. Big League Hitter's Front Arm and Swing Path

We talked about the importance of getting the barrel going backward and back up towards the ball. Check out how Anthony Rendon and one of our in-person hitter's uses their front arm to help achieve that.

Front Arm Position at Heel Plant
Front Arm Position at Heel Plant

You can see both hitters' still have a good angle in their front arm. This will allow them to get the knob working back up and keeping the hands high in their turn. Because of this, the barrel will 'fall' back towards the catcher which gives us time and space for the bat to work back up to the ball.

Front Arm Angle at Barrel Turn
Front Arm Angle at Barrel Turn

Now both hitter's bat is turning behind them and towards the catcher. This is setting them up to have their fastest bat speed BEFORE and AT contact. Not after. Hitter's who bar their front arm too early have a tendency to swing flatter at the ball, making their bat speed up it's fastest AFTER contact. Which doesn't help any hitter.

Front Arm Angle Difference at Contact
Front Arm Angle Difference at Contact

Front Arm Difference

This is the first time you see a distinct difference in the angle of the front arm. Rendon (on the left) still has maintained a sharp bent angle with his front arm, while the youth hitter (on the right) has added some length. There could be two reasons for this from the youth hitter:

  1. The hitter has recognized that his turn is early and this lengthening of the arm is a timing adjustment he is making to ensure that he is hitting the ball. This is why keeping the front arm bent as long as possible is so important. It allows us an extra timing mechanism (along with our front leg) in our swing when our timing is not perfect.
  2. The hitter lacks the upper body strength to keep the bend in the front arm as he is swinging the bat around. This is a very common flaw with younger hitters and for the most part, it isn't their fault. Whether it be puberty or genetics most young hitters just don't have the strength (yet) to support a full bend of the front arm all the way to contact.

Front Arm Thoughts

Regardless of your opinion on the front arm, you can see that there are different ways that hitter's swing the bat to be successful. One thing that remains constant however in all good hitters is their ability to use their whole body in the swing. Any time the arms are dominant in the swing we are not setting ourselves up for success. We will see slow, long swings that aren't conducive to hard contact in games.

Drills to Help Focus on the Front Arm and Bat Path

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ROW 'TIL YOU GO Back Shoulder Row and Bat Speed Many people teach a hands first downward plane swing. As readers of the Baseball  Rebellion know, we are not part...
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At Baseball Rebellion, we often teach and write about the importance of the lower half of the body because kinetic energy works from the ground and proceeds through the body, eventually reaching the bat. While this is still the priority, it is also important understand how to fire the upper body explosively when the time is right. The major movement we use to do this is adduction of the back arm. Adduction is simply the motion of bringing your arm closer to the midline of your body. You can remember this because adduction is ADDing your arm to your body. Below is a diagram showing adduction as well as a video where I take a look at Aaron Judge adducting his arm in a swing.

Now that we know that adduction is important in the baseball swing, lets discuss the major muscles that act to adduct the arm. In my my opinion, there are three muscles on our back that we we want to use maximally (Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, and Subscapularis) and one that we want to use less (Pec Major).

Latissimus Dorsi

The Latissimus Dorsi is a big, strong muscle on the back that plays many roles including including adduction of the back arm. As mentioned in the video of Aaron Judge  above, it is important to set up the use of our back muscles by retracting our scapula so that the adduction of the arm happens over top of these muscles instead of in line or in front of our rib cage. This can be seen in this picture:

Teres Major

The Teres Major Muscle originates on the bottom of the scapula and inserts onto the front of the humerus (Upper arm). It has many of the same actions as the Latissimus Dorsi above. As you can see in the diagram above,  the Teres Major muscle wraps around  the arm. Because of this, the back can act to adduct the arm forcefully. As with the the Lat, it is important to set up the use of this muscle by reacting the arm/scapula prior to initiating the upper body in the swing.

Subscapularis

The Subscapularis muscle is the most anterior muscle that we want to use maximally  when adducting the back arm in the baseball swing. It is located on the front side of the scapula and attaches to the front of the upper arm. As you can see from the diagrams of all three muscles mentioned those far, they show how the big strong back muscles can act on the arm to adduct it quickly and powerfully. This can be a very advantageous move for hitters.

Use Less Pectoralis Major (By Itself)

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While the Pec Major muscle isn’t necessarily bad to use in addition to the three major adductors mentioned above, we don’t want to use it by itself to adduct the arm for a couple of reasons. The first is that you simply will not generate the same amount of force when compared to adduction using the Lat, Teres Major, and Subscapularis muscles. Using the Pectorals Major muscle as the primary adductor often leads to bat drag because there is nothing to stop the back elbow from sliding forward and across the stomach. We typically see bat drag in younger kids for precisely this reason. They often do not have big back musculature yet and have little coordination and control of their scapula. Allowing young hitters to understand where their muscles are and how to use them can be highly effective in creating better movement patterns. Without the important setup/retraction move mentioned earlier, the Pectoralis Major muscle will most likely take over as the primary adductor and lead to inefficient upper body mechanics.

I hope this has helped you understand your body and your swing.

Thank you for reading.

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

 

Back Shoulder Row and the Top Level Swing

Baseball Rebellion Back Shoulder Row, Back Shoulder Row, Chas Pippitt, Scap LoadMany people teach a hands first downward plane swing.  As readers of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion know, we are not part of that group.  The truly amazing thing about the Top Level Swing (in baseball and softball) is that there are almost NO examples of players utilizing the knob pull or a downward swing and having any type of success, yet linear hands first hitting is the predominant thought taught at all formative levels of baseball and softball.

As I was going through the process of figuring out what I wanted to write about next, I kept coming back to the separation of the lead hip and the back shoulder.  The true engine of the Top Level Swing is the stretching action of the muscles of the torso, and how that action is created and maximized for a suddenly explosive and accelerated swing.  Paul Reddick, a former scout, starts his hitting product ‘sales pitch’ by saying, ‘everybody knows that hitting power is the result of the separation of the hips and shoulders’, and if you’ve read my stuff, you know I’m on board with that as well.

However, I think it’s really important that people understand that this torque creating move doesn’t just stop at a hip turn.

Arod Back Shoulder Row, Shoulder Row, Scap Load Hitting, Shoulder Row HittingRocco Baldelli Back Shoulder Row, Back Shoulder Row, Scap Load Hitting, Baseball Rebellion, MLB Shoulder RowAdrian Gonzalez Back Shoulder Row, Back Shoulder Row, Scap Load Hitting Adrian Gonzalez Hitting Mechanics

As the back hip begins the move inward towards home plate, a counter rotation of the upper gear must occur to help balance this move.  I call this ‘Back Shoulder Row’.  Basically it’s a move to help balance and increase the stretching action of the torso that creates even deeper and earlier bat speed and downward and sideways whip of the barrel into the zone.  The Back Shoulder Row forces a proper hand pivot by literally making it impossible to pull your knob forward as your back elbow is now blocked by your lat muscle and obliques from moving forward.

Once this blocking action occurs, you MUST pivot the barrel around your hands, whipping the barrel downward and backward towards the catcher and then sideways into the zone.  This move is very hard to pick up as you really need to know what to look for.  I have searched my library of videos extensively to give the best few examples and multiple views of back shoulder row during in game footage.  Look at where the back elbow goes...the back shoulder and scapular musculature are moving the back elbow behind the batter, towards the dugout.  It's pretty subtle, but it's there, and it's needed.

Etheir Back Shoulder Row, andre either hitting mechanics, scap load hitting, baseball hitting drills, shoulder rowJim Edmonds Back Shoulder Row, Shoulder Delay, Hip and Shoulder Separation baseball hitting, baseball hitting drillsAdrian Gonzalez Shoulder Row, Adrian Gonzalez Hitting Mechanics, Adrian Gonzalez Baseball Swing, Scap Load hitting

Notice that this is NOT a stiff turn of the hips that move the shoulders inward, this is a back shoulder pull, much like you’re using a rowing machine with only one arm.  Even if a hitter does turn his lead shoulder inward, like Edmunds and Adrian Gonzalez, he still rows that back elbow/shoulder backwards as his hips are beginning their inward turn.  Bonds did it too…and that guy could hit a little bit I'd say!

Barry Bonds Baseball Swing, Barry Bonds Hitting Mechanics, Barry Bonds Shoulder Row, Baseball Hitting Mechanics, Bonds Baseball SwingBarry Bonds Shoulder Row, Barry Bonds Load, Barry Bonds Hip and Shoulder Separation, Hips Lead hands, scap load hittingBarry Bonds Slow Motion Hitting, Bonds Hitting Mechanics, Shoulder Roa, Scap load hitting

Scap Load Diagram, Baseball Hitting Shoulder Row, Baseball Load Mechanics, Baseball Swing Mechanics

Most kids will try to turn their entire torso inward, showing the pitcher his or her back…That move is NOT what i’m describing, as this weird cartoon will show.

I know I said this earlier, but I can't stress it enough:  the scap load prevents the knob pulling/arm pushing swing that most of the kids today use.  Your rear elbow will get behind your lat muscle, so you CAN’T pull the bat's knob forward or push the handle of the bat at the pitcher - the hitter MUST pivot the hands and swing the barrel down and back to the catcher and then sideways into the path of the ball.

Your HIPS turn the swing into the ball, but your scap load (back shoulder row) and hand pivot turn the barrel back and to the side as your hips are turning inward.  Really watch these clips slowly, notice the bat head going towards the catcher and then ‘sweeping’ in behind the baseball from the side to make contact.  This depth in the barrel gives the longest possible contact point and the scap load makes it EVEN DEEPER than I’ve described in the past.

Click on the picture to see the movement.

This is a SUPER high level move, and most kids won’t understand this until they get a little more coordinated and comfortable being able to feel their own muscles work.  One of my huge concerns about talking about back shoulder row is that kids will try to do it and stiffen up.  Remain smooth and allow this transition to the highest level swing possible.  Remember it is going to take a period of time.  There is no get a scapula load quick scheme out there.  It takes hours and hours of positive practice.  My team at I.T.S. and the BHR are working tirelessly on how to use the Drive Developer and other tools to increase your scapula load and understanding of how it loads properly, the benefits of it, and how to make sure it’s not hurting you and stiffening up your easy smooth swing mechanics.

Chas Pippitt

Leader of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion

Certified I.T.S. Baseball Hitting System Instructor

Back Elbow Drill Face-On with resistance coming from backside:

Back Elbow Drill Backside with resistance coming from front:

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How to Drive the Ball to All Fields- Swing Direction

What is Swing Direction? 

Swing direction is one of the most vital components of a good swing. The ability to move the bat on line towards the pitcher allows for adjustability when timing isn’t perfect.

Pitchers create problems or issues with timing for the hitter. The ability to throw pitches that look similar, but in actuality are upwards of 10-15mph of difference can be very difficult for a hitter to overcome.

The more solutions a hitter has to those different problems a pitcher may create, the better they are able to put quality contact on the ball. 

How to Improve Swing Direction

For years coaches have been instructing hitters about their stride direction. With the general consensus being if the hitter strides open, they will pull off the ball and roll over with no ability to hit the ball the other way.

Vice versa if the hitter stride in towards home plate they will get dominated with fastballs in and not be able to pull the ball. However, turn on any MLB game and you will see more hitters stride in or open than they do perfectly straight.

So how can something so detrimental to amateur hitters be almost irrelevant to the games best? What if your stride direction is almost of no correlation to swing direction? So let’s look at the games best and see if something else may help determine and improve swing direction. 

The Role of the Back Elbow in Swing Direction

As we look through these hitters you will notice very different styles including stride length, stride direction, path of the back elbow, etc. But, what you will notice is how each hitter lands with their shoulders square to the pitcher and the elbow in a similar position to their back shoulder. Some may have their elbow higher at some point in the gather/load position and we’ll get to that in a second.

Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo
Juan Soto
Juan Soto
  • As highlighted in the images, both hitters land with their shoulders square to the pitcher and the back elbow below the back shoulder.
  • The importance of the height of the elbow is that it allows the hitter to rotate under their shoulders to create better direction in the swing.
  • The more "turn in" a hitter has at landing, the more the front shoulder has to open during the initial stages of the swing. 

How They Get to This Position

While both of the hitters get to similar positions in these still frames I also want to recognize that hitters move differently and while they get to these positions, how hitters get there is also very important.

Often you see hitters start with their hands/back elbow above their shoulders. Guys like Mike Trout, Edgar Martinez come to mind. Both strong/physical athletes who are considered some of the best hitters of all time. Let’s take a look at the path their back elbow takes in the stride.

Mike Trout
Mike Trout
Edgar Martinez
Edgar Martinez

As you can see, both hitters start with a higher elbow/hands position than the previous group, however, each makes a move to get below their shoulders by the time their stride lands.

The Outliers 

Just like any other part of hitting, you can find someone who doesn’t do what you’re saying. Hence the continuous hitting twitter arguments (insert eye roll).

So I am here saying that it is possible to hit in professional baseball with your elbow above your shoulder at landing. In fact, if you can do it, you probably have the ability to swing the bat at a faster rate.

Bo Bichette Jr and Javy Baez are the first two that come to mind. Both are similar athletes. Smaller players who create massive power in large part to this exact part of their swing.

Bo Bichette and Javy Baez
Bo Bichette and Javy Baez

Both guys land with a higher back elbow than any other hitter we’ve looked at so far. It is no coincidence that they both move the bat at a high rate and have the ability to hit for more power than their frames suggest. The elbow being higher at landing give them more space to create leverage and speed as they begin rotating.

Is this move for everyone? Absolutely not. If coordinated, flexible, and strong enough to pull it off, will it help? Yes. 

Importance of Shoulder Direction 

So maybe stride direction just isn’t that important. If your hitter is struggling pulling off the ball and unable to drive it the other way. Check where their back elbow/shoulders are at landing. Play around with it and see which is best for you. Take advantage of your time and make yourself the best possible version of you when baseball comes back.

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Stay at Home Drills- Week 5 

While most of our country is safe at home during this time, we wanted to give some drills that can be done easily inside. We will continue posting these drills across our various social media platforms and on our website as well. If you have a drill that you're doing at home send it to eric@baseballrebellion.com and we will highlight it in one of our "Stay at Home" series!

Ball In Back Elbow 

  • Forces hitters to support their hands in the swing
  • Increases awareness of posture
  • A better understanding of bat path to different locations

Connection Ball Squeeze 

  • Tightens the hitter’s rotation to contact
  • Improves direction
  • Forces better connection from the torso to upper body and creates better posture

Stop Swings 

Broom Turn Unders

Turn and Burn 

  • Allows throwers to engage their scap
  • Forces throwers to align their body to be explosive
  • Enforces aggression and intent

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Home Hitting Drills

Stay At Home Hitting Drills- Week 3

While most of our country is safe at home during this time, we wanted to give some drills that can be done easily inside. We will continue posting these drills across our various social media platforms and on our website as well.

Stay at home hitting drills week 2

Stay at Home Hitting Drills- Week 2

Check out the 2nd installment of Baseball Rebellion’s at home hitting drills!

Creating Better Arm Position = Better Barrel Turn

The upper body in the swing is very crucial. It is part of what's holding and ultimately delivering the bat to contact. Unfortunately, the upper body is where most hitters make the biggest mistakes.

Here at Baseball Rebellion, we have our Rebel’s Rack progression of movements that hitters can learn. As a result, this allows hitters to turn better with better posture.  Once a hitter has mastered there footwork, posture and turn it’s time to dive into the positions and movements of what your arms should do when you hit.

The Elite Upper Body Move

A lot of elite hitters get their arms in a position that resembles somewhat of a house.  As you can see there are five points of contact which makes a pentagon shape.  The main point is to help you all understand the certain angles the arms can make.

Take a look at the pictures below of Yelich, Trout, Betts, and Bonds that their "house" is shaped a little bit differently.  Just like how the architecture and shapes of the homes many people live in are also different.

Now does this something that happens every single swing? No, but I bet you that every ball these guys hit from this position at contact was crushed. A matter of fact this is something you can practice that will help you generate more bat speed and more hard contact with the ball. 

hitters house

When You Should Practice Upper Body Mechanics

First off if you're not squaring the ball up and hitting the ball hard but your footwork, posture, and turn are on point then you’re going to want to keep reading.  A lot of hitters that I have trained in the past and even now are missing the “turn behind the turn”.

This is crucial for hitters if they want to hit well. I know it looks like I'm exaggerating the movement but at high speeds, this can become a reality for many hitters. Here are some examples of what not to do.

The Knob Puller

knob puller gif

You can see in the video above I am pulling the knob of the bat across my chest.  When hitters do this they are oftentimes late on the pitch.

If they do happen to make contact it is not solid.  As a result, the ball will slice or flair to right field for right-handed hitters and left the field for left-handed hitters. All in all, this is a move that needs to be avoided. In short, this is a big no-no.

The Woodchopper

wood chopper 2.0

The woodchopper move right here is the worst you can do.  Hitters that swing straight down at the ball have no chance of being consistent.  They also will not make solid contact, this limits their ability to drive the ball.

Please for the sake of your batting average and slugging % DO NOT swing straight down! No matter what professional athletes may say.  This is a contradiction of what they actually did. Only here you can learn what they actually did.

The Bat Dragger

bat dragger gif

The bat drag is most common with younger athletes who have a tough time holding the correct arm position during the swing. Look at my back elbow during this video, what my elbow is doing is not right and is a weak-hitting position.

Also, athletes who lack upper body strength will suffer from the bat drag tremendously.  So please for your own sake do some push-ups and pull-ups to help yourself out! Our Bat Drag Buster is also a great tool to fix this problem. Along with the drills, I am showing you in this article.

The Barrel Pusher

barrel pusher gif

Pushing the barrel to contact is a tough habit to break.  Hitters will feel the turn and then at the last moment, they throw their hands at the ball.  As a result, this will make hitters miss-hit balls and they will get frustrated.

Another reason hitters do this is that sometimes hitters stand up and out of "side bend" or they never "hip hinged" in the first place!

Get In Front Of The Mirror

In my own personal experience getting in front of a mirror has always been something I liked.  For this reason, give it some time you might like the feel of mastering your arm angles. Getting to see and feel where your body has to be when you hit is crucial for your development.  Working on the angles I have talked about in this article is simple and not time-consuming.  Taking

10-15 minutes before bed or in the morning to work on your best stride, best turn and now even your best barrel turn. Those who take the time to become a master at their craft will find themselves whopping baseballs in the gap!

Upper Body Mechanics Drill #1

Mirror Halfturns with Ball in Back Elbow
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Front Shoulder Flying Open

How The Front Shoulder Flying Open is Related to the Load

Everyone talks about the hands, swing up, swing down, swing level, leg kick for power and the list goes on.  Instead of all that for now let's talk about one of the biggest power killers in a lot of hitters' swings.

The inability for a hitter to get loaded properly, causing their front shoulder to fly open too soon.

Stay Loaded Longer

Sometimes we see hitters start their swing with their front foot still in the air.  People and coaches will immediately yell “ get your foot down!” Yes, your front foot needs to get down but that is not the root cause of the problem. The importance of getting your body prepared (loaded) to hit properly is what needs to be understood. Or the hitter will never hit as well as they potentially can. Below is a video comparison that will show you what to look for and then a drill on how to fix it.

Banded Back Elbow Drill

THREE Takeaways From This Drill

1.Mind-Body Connection- 

  • Many hitters lack the ability to actually feel and understand what they need to do to properly hit the ball hard.
  • At the end of the day, your swing and ability to hit the ball will be on you.
  • By simply becoming in tune with how to move and load will you set yourself up to have the best chance to hit the ball. 
  • Once you can repeatedly load to the right position while getting to launch is when you're figuring it out. 

2.Connection-

3.Time-

  • Everyone wants to be good yet they do not want to take the time on their swing. 
  • Hitting off the tee, front toss, BP and off a machine is great! But what people don’t understand that it takes even more than all that to actually make mechanical and changes in your posture to get the most out of your swing. 
  • Those who dedicate time on the field, off the field, and in the weight room are the ones who get better. Because of this, have a chance to keep playing longer than most.

Create Resistance with a Dynamic Lower Half

Today's drill video was inspired by the super talented rookie Bo Bichette.  At 6'0 and roughly 190 pounds, Bo is not the biggest guy.  Having said that, he has one of the more dynamic lower half movements you'll ever see.  This drill is designed to capture that.  Keys are:

  1. Athletic base and proper head position.
  2. Create a pullback with the upper body.
  3. Keep back elbow pull back the entire time to feel the resistance.
  4. Practice, practice, practice.

Here is Bo Bichette performing the movement in-game.

The Bo-GO Drill

Now that we've seen how it looks in realtime, let's put it into drill form.  This isn't easy and needs to be done many times before perfecting.

Creating the Engine to Your Swing

There are two key factors that determine the exit velocity of every ball that you hit.

  1. Bat Speed
  2. Square Contact

Both of these are vital to your swing's longevity and should be trained equally.  Today we will take a look at bat speed and how to understand and feel where your swing engine truly is.

The Load/Stretch for Creating Bat Speed

All great swings start with great loading phases.  If your training doesn't start with this phase, you have no chance to create great bat speed. The keys here are:

  1. Coil
  2. Move the coil
  3. Stretch with back elbow

Watch as Javy Baez sequences these movements flawlessly.

Javy Baez Loading The Back Elbow

Javy is always a great template for this movement because it's so easy to see. All great hitters some form or version of this or else they wouldn't last at that level.

This pattern should be slow and controlled as you move especially if you have a leg kick or more vertical stance.  If you start wider and lower, it might be less pronounced but it still has to happen. All these things are used for creating the engine to your swing

The Trigger

This is GO TIME!  The start of the swing must be quick and immediate (early bat speed).  Any flaw or delay here will seriously cost you.  Pulling the "trigger" of a swing is very similar to a gun.  It comes from a very specific place that should always be the rear hip/knee.  Yes, both hips rotate but the rear hip/knee is the driver.  The front hip will clear in a passive move out of the way and then be driven back by the front leg.

Watch as Javy shows us exactly how this should be done.

Javy Baez Trigger Move

I can't stress the importance for your hitters to connect these specific parts of their bodies. If the trigger doesn't start here, the body will compensate and the swing will suffer.

The Brakes

The last action of the engine is the "slamming of the brakes".  The front leg must counter the back leg-pulling forward with an equally aggressive and quick push back. Keys are:

  1. Use the heel
  2. Drive the quad/front hip back
  3. DO IT HARD

Notice here how Javy's front knee and back knee close the gap.

Javy Baez Front Leg Drive

The role of the front leg is huge.  Don't deny it or the back leg will override the entire swing.

Like a car engine, each of these parts is essential to the performance and health of your swing as a whole.  On our site, you can find lots of ways to isolate each of these movements if one of them is lacking in your swing.  Connect with your engine, and watch how much your bat speed skyrocket!

Feeling the Initial Start of the Swing

We have talked about this before about the Initial start of the swing.  It is crucial for a hitter to understand that if they want to hit the ball harder and farther they have to get their sequence right.  Understanding the first initial moves and why you need to get your barrel slotted is crucial for success at the plate.

What is the Slot?

After reading the article that I tagged in the paragraph above we know that the swing starts with the hips.  After that, the torso and the back knee and elbow begin to move as well.  This is what will allow hitters to have the proper sequence in their swing. Getting the bat connected to a hitters turn is mandatory and if not done properly the hitter will not succeed even less.  One of the most important aspects of the swing that this helps is swing direction.  Direction starts with the proper sequence. Check out the video below for further information.

The Slot Simplifies

After hitters gain a better understanding of how to slot the barrel it will make decision making better.  When hitters get to this "Slotted" position if makes them have to worry about things.  Contact point and side bend are what will help hitter get to and through the ball much more efficiently.  Contact point gets ditched by your timing and whether the pitch inside, outside or middle. The height of the pitch will determine how much a hitter will have to side bend.  The higher the pitch the less side bend.  The lower the pitch the hitter will have to side bend more.  With the proper slot and sequence of the swing this is how hitters will be able to keep it simple and effective.

3 Things this Drill will Help

  1. Sequence- many hitters often times turn the hips, torso, and shoulder together.  This will cause an improper bat path.  As a result the barrel will come in and out of the zone.  Therefore you must pay close attention to how I do this drill so you can reap the benefits of getting your sequence right.
  2. Early Connection-  Another important part of the swing is getting the barrel connected to the hitters to turn.  This drill done properly will help hitters feel the initial start of the swing and also get their bat slotted properly. Get slotted and get connected.
  3. Swing Direction- My favorite thing to get hitters to understand better is swing direction.  It starts with the sequence but without proper slotting of the bat with the back knee and back elbow, swing direction will suffer.

The Main Thing to Avoid

This drill is simple to gain an understanding of how to find your slot in your swing. The move itself is subtle and you shouldn't try to overdo it.  The front shoulder shouldn't drastically rotate away from home plate when learning this move. The goal is to get the hips turned then letting the knee and elbow move together.  The front shoulder should move upward instead of outward.

Banded Slot Drill

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The Barrier Tee Drill

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