Every coach, instructor or parent that has ever worked in baseball has dealt with a hitter ”spinning off”. If it’s so common and has been dealt with so often, why is it still around? Here is what no one is saying about “spinning off”.
The ability for an athlete to rotate in proper sequence allows for maximum speed gain throughout rotation. The first step in this sequence is proper hip/shoulder separation. Oftentimes in rotation, the first mistake is the worst mistake. Learning to properly disassociate pelvic rotation from shoulder rotation is key in creating bat speed.
There are so many different functions including vision, timing, power production, adjustability, etc. Sometimes one of these functions has to be sacrificed to allow another to bloom.
While that last sentence is true, it’s also very disingenuous to believe that all of these functions provide equal value. For example, if a hitter has elite-level power production (bat speed, max acceleration, smash factor), but isn’t able to recognize different pitches, their production will suffer.
But, that player is granted more opportunities than the guy with elite bat to ball skills but no juice. Power production doesn’t just rely on home runs. If you don’t have the ability to attack the gaps and create extra-base hits, there is becoming less and less value. Whether right or wrong this is evident in today’s game.
Power production gets you in the door, the ability to hit keeps you inside. With that being said, hitters have to create a swing that is able to produce some sort of power. Through efficient and explosive movement patterns a hitter has the ability to create more bat speed.
A hitter's ability to utilize the kinematic sequence through rotation to create proper speed gains allows them to create “effortless” bat speed. This can be accomplished through dedicated movement work completed outside of hitting. Examples of this type of practice can be seen throughout the sports world and can often get overlooked and ignored in baseball training. Check out the examples from Karate, Football, and Basketball below:
The sequence in which the body begins rotating allows energy to transfer up the kinematic chain and create proper speed gains. This is where hip/shoulder separation comes into play.
The ability for an athlete to begin rotating their core/pelvis outwardly towards the opposite side infielder (RH hitter: second basemen, LH hitter: Shortstop), while simultaneously resisting that rotation with their upper body, creates tension that allows for faster rotation.
This is often difficult to feel and train during the act of hitting. However, when trained and cued in the right environment, proper movement patterns can be obtained.
The technology system K-Vest, allows this to be tested by applying sensors to different parts of the body (Pelvis, torso, upper arm, and hand). These sensors relay not only when a segment of the body begins rotating but also how fast it is accelerated.
Not every hitter needs to be in a perfect (Pelvis-Torso-Arm-Hand/Bat) sequence to be a good hitter. However, if a hitter is struggling to produce the speed and power needed to perform at their level or give themself an opportunity to continue their career at whatever the next level is, this is a great place to look.
While K-vest is a great resource to have, I also understand not everyone will have access to that technology. K-vest is great because it catches what the naked eye doesn’t. However, here are a few cues to look for on video to see whether or not your hitter is creating proper hip/shoulder separation.
What you’ll notice in these screenshots is both hitters are beginning to rotate their back knee down to initiate hip rotation. While this is occurring the shoulders are remaining parallel to the path of the pitch allowing them to maintain their vision and their direction.
From a front-facing camera, the key point switches from the back knee to the belt buckle. Both hitters are beginning to turn their pelvis to which their belt buckles are now pointing at the off-side infielder.
The range of motion in the hips and pelvis will differentiate from hitter to hitter and will show up in how far open the pelvis can rotate.
By utilizing the rack, you give your hitters the ability to work on improving and developing their movement patterns without overloading them while hitting. The rack is useful while teaching separation because of the construction of the wings.
This allows the player to engage their scap and other upper back muscles to help the shoulders resist the rotation of the pelvis. This is what makes the rack so unique.
Take the frustration of learning something new away. Create awareness for your hitters of what exactly is trying to be accomplished so they can practice on their own and create their own thoughts and feelings for what is happening.
Knowledge is power. Don’t be scared of creating smart hitters. Anyone can get someone to listen to them for 30 minutes, but to get the most out of athletes they have to be learners, not just listeners.