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Extension is a hitting term that refers to the arms straightening out after contact of the ball. Often, extension work involves a lot of knob pushing and is not generally the best way to practice hitting. However, having a natural extension keeps the bat head in the zone longer and allows for more contact points and a greater margin for error.
Extension DOES happen after contact on nearly every swing. The release of the barrel or “extension” as most coaches call it helps the hitter keep their bat in the hitting zone longer. Because of this, it prevents them from pulling their hands across after contact and rollovers.
This article will show you the good and the bad of extension as well as multiple drills you can use with your hitters to help them swinging better today.
While the concept of extension in the swing is correct, it is mostly taught poorly by coaches. What we see most from kids whose coaches tell them they need more extension is a very pushy swing where the arms push the barrel out towards the ball. In the video below check out how the arms of the hitter are pushed out very early. This will cause hitters to have minimal adjustability in their swing and lose power from not using their bodies.
The best hitters have their barrel release towards the middle of the field post-contact. The direction of extension is still somewhat dependent on where the hitter hits the ball. If the ball is away the barrel might be released more towards Right Center Field (for RHH). If the ball is pulled the barrel might be released more towards Left Center Field. In the video below you can see the hitter not push their arms out but instead use the direction of their turn to help achieve extension.