Avoid These 5 Swing Clogging Moves

Written By: JK Whited

I often get my hitters to envision the flow of energy in their swings as water flowing through pipes.  If the pattern of a hitter’s swing is precise, the energy, or “water”, will flow smoothly without friction.  When this happens the player will squeeze every drop of potential power out of his or her body.

However, there are certain movements that prohibit the flow of our energy.  I call these “swing clogging” movements.  This article is going to break down five common swing clogging moves.  All of these moves are easily identifiable and should avoided in your son or daughter’s movement practice.

Closed Off Stance

closedoffstance

A closed off stance can be seen in many hitters today.  More than likely this will be a preset position that they feel comfortable in and get acquainted to rather quickly.  The closed off stance will be done usually for two reasons.  One, the hitter is scared of the ball, plain and simple. The hitter will close his or her body off for protection purposes.  There is no quick fix for fear except for time and probably getting hit a few times to realize it is not that bad.    Two, the hitter feels a since of FALSE power by pre-closing off the shoulders and the hips.  By turning inwards, the brain feels what you might call a “load”.  The batter believes he or she is in a “cocked” like position ready to fire.  Again this is a FALSE feeling of power because there will be no resistance created between the pelvis and shoulders.  The load or “cocking” phase of the movement will need to be done during his or her forward move.   This is common in our hitters as they’ve been constantly told to ‘stay closed’ with their feet and hips to stay ‘on the ball’ longer.  

BE CAREFUL! Young batters will most likely get away with these mistakes for a while but ultimately, pitchers will begin to pick apart these types of hitters.  Once that hitter reaches a level where the pitchers can spot a fastball and the field grows (MIDDLE SCHOOL) it will be much more of a struggle to have the type of hitting success that makes the game fun.  To learn more about stances, click here!  

Chas Note:  JK’s exactly right.  The closed stance and foot angle JK is demonstrating leads to bad direction in the stride.  As you’ll see later, closing off in the step is a huge problem that hurts and erodes the turn quality of the hitter.  If you close off the shoulders/stance, the first thing that moves will be the front shoulder up and out to start the swing.  The hitter will FEEL separation between the hips and shoulders, but once the front shoulder starts to fly out early, the hitter has committed to the swing.  Not a good plan.  Another thing people don’t realize is kids need to be TAUGHT how to get hit by pitches and protect themselves from getting hurt.  Hitters who close off the stance due to fear ALWAYS step out and open their bodies to injury.  Think about it:  Would you rather get hit in the back or butt or the face or cup?  Due to the closed stance, the hitter must pull off earlier and open their bodies up to the baseball.  OUCH.

Stepping Across the Body

thestepacross

This “swing clogging” maneuver has been called many things and there have been many ways coaches have tried to fix it.  In the pictures above, you can clearly see my front HEEL has gone from being in line with my back HEEL, to  across the orange line.  The inward stride can will have an immediate effect on the rest of the swing.  Why?  Because this is the first move the hitter makes!  There is no coming back after this mistake has been made.  By doing this, the hitter’s maximum degrees he or she can turn is cut off, therefore cutting off pelvis/shoulder separation. In turn, cutting off POWER.  Can you still get hits?  Of course, but your potential for maximum power will drop and decrease your chances for getting on base.

To maximize our ability to turn or rotate our pelvis, keeping the HEELS in line when the stride foot lands is a huge part of the puzzle.  Heel to Heel Stride Direction will also keep our posture and body weight moving in a straight line for optimal vision.

Closed Front Foot After The Stride

closedoffstride2

We already know that stepping in across the batter’s box will have negative impact on our power generation.  The next movement to avoid is stepping or not stepping with a closed front foot.  This move, like the stepping in, can doom your power swing from the get go.

There is some discrepancy among coaches about how far, if at all, the front foot should open.  The answer is actually pretty simple.  How efficient do you want to be?  If the hitter’s goal is to maximize hip/shoulder separation, bio-mechanically the front foot has to open.  Once the front leg is grounded, it will act as the “brake” stopping the forward momentum.  At this point, the front knee will drive the front hip back very suddenly.  The front side knee MUST be in the correct position for this to happen.  The front leg will also provide the hitter with the ability to adjust his or her swing to off-speed pitches. You can learn more about this here.

On another note, leaving your front foot closed will increase the possibilities of front knee injuries.  Over time, the aggressive rotation against a front closed knee and hip can put some serious wear and tear on knee cartilage.  Simply put, an open front foot, knee, and hip allows for higher quality turns that are not only faster but safer.

Chas Note:  Not only knee injuries are an issue if you keep your front foot closed (RYAN HOWARD…) but also Front Leg Hip function is deteriorated.  Will Fox, our Director of Performance, has proven that turning on a closed front foot dramatically decreases muscle function in the hips of a hitter.  This decreased function leads to extra stress on Ligaments and Cartalidge (passive structure) and can lead to CHRONIC hip and knee pain (Chase Utley…)  Man those Phillies seem to be unlucky…maybe it’s their hitting instruction…maybe that’s why they have new coaches…

The Lean In

theleanin

The next two movements that we will discuss are less obstructive to a power swing than the previous three.  Why you ask?  These moves happen from the waist up.

The “lean in” move is where the batter will tilt his or her spine angle over the plate during the stride.  This is another move that may feel powerful to the hitter but will do a number of things to minimize power potential.  To the hitter, the extra counter rotation/close off of the shoulders will create more separation between the pelvis angle and shoulder angle and therefore, more bat speed.  I see many of our guys with strength in their upper bodies perform this move than any other body type as they are stronger in their chest and back than our skinnier, weaker hitters.  Unfortunately for upper body dominant players, this creates too much rotational ground to make up, especially in a game.  Remember, all you really need is the hips to go first and the front shoulder to stay on the pitcher.  There is validity to a back shoulder row motion to help resist the urge to open the front shoulder too quickly.  You can learn more about “rowing” here.

You can also see how changing my spine angle drastically changes my eye level.  Any movement that changes the plane of a hitters vision needs to be carefully looked at.  There are positive types of head movement but this is not one of them as I am ‘zooming in’ towards the contact point.  The head can move forward and down in the stride (it always does if you move athletically forward in the load) but once the turn starts, you need that perspective and distance between the head and the contact point to stay the same for barrel accuracy and to help maximize hard barrel to ball contact.

The High Elbow/Hand Raise

elbow:hands:shoulder raise

Hitters will often times feel and recruit power from their hands/arms.   Here you see my back elbow and hands raised way up above my shoulder.  Where this does feel strong in a chopping wood kind of way, this is not a power hitting move.  As you can imagine, the higher the hands get away from the strike zone, so does the barrel.  Also, hitters will “wrap” the barrel around there head creating a much longer distance back to the ball.  Once the hitter has put themselves in this type of position, it will take serious coordination, timing, and strength to get the barrel back down and around to the correct plane.  Inevitably, most hitters who stride to the position in the pictures will use what they feel (their arms) to get the bat up to speed and into the zone.  Arm use from this high position will usually equate to lots of ground balls and glancing types of contact where the ball fades towards the back side foul line.

It is not impossible to hit from this position.  Professionals like Jose Bautista will perform a move like this.  Here is a picture of Jose.

bautista

Chas Note: Remember, Bautista has near perfect upper body mechanics and, along with Bryce Harper, the most explosive lower half in baseball history.  Bautista almost always turns the barrel with perfect SeeSaw/Hand Pivot mechanics so his hand raise works for him not against him. Can your son or daughter do this?  Absolutely. They just better be ready to practice this high level move of fusing the shoulders, arms, hands and barrel, again, again, and again.  To learn more about barrel movement and See Saw Mechanics, click here!  Again, this Hand/Elbow Raise is only a mistake if you have ‘knob driven’ upper body mechanics that promote a downward swing to the baseball.  If you swing properly, the hand/elbow raise can be a benefit.  It’s all in HOW and WHY you do it.

Final Thought

The majority of us will not be the size of the men we see on T.V.  You can watch Miguel Cabrera step across his body and still hit the ball 4oo feet.  Nope, it’s not fair.  That is the benefit of being the big kid on the kick ball field.  For those of us that will not be 220 lbs or larger, we must to be great at the little things to maximize our power.  Avoiding the 5 mistakes outlined above can dramatically help in our quest to produce maximum and consistent power in the most adjustable way possible.

JK Whited and Chas Pippitt – Leaders of The Baseball Rebellion

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Sean
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Sean

When you stride with your front foot open when you land does the heel have to be in line with the other heel or just in line with the the back foot?

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Sean,

it’s ok if you are midfoot of your back foot and front heel but it’s BEST if you’re heel to heel.

Chas–

Elton
Guest
Elton

So does stepping in a bucket slow down the swing? Or is it ok as long as the shoulder stays pointed at the pitcher?

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Elton,

Good to hear from you! I would say it’s not ideal, but it does not slow the swing. Shoulder in and you’re pretty much good.

Chas–

Blane Cannon
Member
Blane Cannon

What are things to do to cute a lean in because it is pretty hard to do a row without curling your shoulder or leaning in?

Derek
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Derek

Where should your barrel be ideally when your heel plants.

Travis
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Travis

Jk, very nice. 110% on board with this. BUT I am wondering if I’m just not understanding the spine tilt part.. If we are thinking of two different things. I know pretty much all hitters have a spine angle slightly forward..bonds, griff, Sosa all the great hitters get to a position I call spine angle. I happened to find a video explaining this.. Check this out and let me know if we are talking about two different things! http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=plpp&list=PL4F47DC5D0D944921&v=DrifXlKuNr4

Great article!!

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Travis,

See my reply to JON

Thanks!

Chas–

travis
Guest
travis

jk, i dont know if ive got the wrong idea of the Sping angle part, IF were on the same page..all the best in the world have a spine angle slightly over the plate. (bonds, griffey, sosa) they create this move during the swing..espically bonds..ive actually found a video on the sping angle position i am talking of and its actually a great video..just check it out and let me know if your talking about a diffrent kind of spine angle as ive got in mind…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrifXlKuNr4&list=PL4F47DC5D0D944921&index=18 btw you guys do a Great job with the articles..in no way am i… Read more »

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Travis,

see my reply to JON.

Thanks!

Chas–

Jon
Guest
Jon

I feel like the earlier you can get your tilt completed, the earlier you can set the height of your head. If I want my head to stay still from heal plant on, I better get tilted as early as possible.

I appreciate the opportunity to share thoughts and learn new ideas from everyone.

Beau Butler
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Beau Butler

1st of all, I would just like to say thank you. I am a senior in high school, and I have watched many of the baseball rebellion videos on youtube , and have read various articles on this website, and applied the mechanics/philosophy to my swing. I have seen dramatic improvements, and can not wait to complete a full season with my new and improved swing. I am sure this topic has been addressed many times, however I just can’t seem to locate it. I have always heard from coaches to stride soft, or land soft on the front foot,… Read more »

David
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David

Wouldn’t the high elbow/ hand raise allow hitters to reach and square up higher pitches? I see Harper and Bautista do it all the time. Do they do it to prevent pop ups? Its seems to me that starting with the hands under or next the back shoulder would cause popup trying to reach the higher pitches. If not, what is the true cause of pop ups?

jay
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jay

hey guys love the site; you guys are awesome. Only question I have is the back elbow; it seems that the back elbow is up at toe touch in miguel’s swing and a lot of mlb guys? Just wanted to hear your guys thoughts. Here is a link to a slow motion swing on youtube. thanks again guys!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VyT4DWqJuk

travis
Guest
travis

Chas and or JK, could you guys do an article or just a response would be satisfying on the benefits of kids swinging wood ALL the time. Could a 12u/13u player benefit from swinging wood during games long term. Of course the stat sheet wouldn’t look as good. But for long term purposes could it help? And how? Why is wood that much better for kids to start using at a young age. I’m coaching two kids right now that are 12. Very high level kids. Both hit with power and consistency.. I’ve recently suggested they start using wood in… Read more »

Zekai Geier
Member
Zekai Geier

Got 2 questions. You talk about the “rowing action during the forward move which is the hitters back elbox move back and out, you also talked about a moving barrel before the swing. Are these two movements yhe same thing? Is the rowing move that keeps the barrel moving?
Also, on low pitches, the hitter never drops his hands, he has to adjust his shoulder angle, in order to do that to match the low pitch, dont the hiiter have to have almost like the sideway tilt/bend over the plate?

Travis
Guest
Travis

Are you guys saying the back elbow should not raise in the load? That’s if you start with the elbow down..Jose Bautista starts with the elbow up..javy Baez lifts the elbow ear high. I’m just confused on this one..I’m pretty sure almost all big league hitters back elbow lifts during the load

eddiebecker01
Member
eddiebecker01

My 12-year old son and I have been butting heads because I keep telling him that he his loading his arms too much instead of loading his hands. This (in my opinion) is causing some inconsistency in his swing and causing him to cast or spin-out too often. Does this make sense, and if so, anything I can work on with him to help eliminate these habits? I keep telling him that some of those ‘dinkers’ that fell for base hits on the 70 foot diamond are going to be routine outs on the 90 foot diamond.

Thanks

Brian
Guest
Brian

If you want to be a homerun guy with a ton of strike outs and crappy average I would recommend hitting like this. Only certain people can hit like this and be successful, it is not for everybody

Ron
Guest
Ron

HEY Jk… good info here…. my main issue is my spine angle is too vertical and I am too upright during my rotation. I am actually trying to get that bend forward over home plate now, do you think I should approach this in a different way? Thanks

Matthew Hallal
Guest
Matthew Hallal

Roundly disagree with you on the idea that stepping with a closed front foot is bad. opening the foot *can* create scenarios where hitter leaches power as it can (though not always) cause hitting to open hits too early (unless hitter is able to keep hips closed while opening foot). The real reason this is flawed though is because it flies in face of what hitter should be doing, which is ‘twisting’, e.g. hitting (or throwing) is all about loading and unloading. If the front foot is closed it creates a counterpoint energy to the explosion of the hips. So… Read more »

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Matthew,

Thanks for the reply and I’ll check that article out for sure!

Obviously, you’re a reader of ours, so you know when it comes to generating POWER in the swing there’s literally no one better than we are, so don’t worry about losing power w the open foot or pelvis.

Chas—-

Jason
Guest
Jason

What’s the best way to correct a bad habit of striding in? My son has tried the bat in front, even wearing tension bands. For some reason, his body keeps drifting forward. His hand path is solid, but he’s losing power.

Admin

Try attaching the tension band on his stride foot and to an immovable object direct behind him so that the band is pulling his foot “in the bucket”. The purpose of this is to feed the mistake and force the hitter to correct it on their own instead of it being corrected for them.