Row Til You GO, Back Shoulder Row and More Bat Speed

Written By: Chas Pippitt

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.

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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!

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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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Andrew Rando
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Andrew Rando

What I tried today with a 11 year old that worked very good was to take elbow back and then elbow yourself into your backside rib cage 4 times then do 4 more but right before let your hips move your rib cage out of the way so the rib cage does not get hit and then everything flowed perfectly with the second set of 4 he did. It worked for me also. The bat went down rearward then hit the plane of the pitch from the side without me ever mentioning what I wanted the bat to do.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Hey is there any wrist flick in this swing??… because i was swinging off a tee and was hittinhg my best yet because of this brilliant technique. I realized how wrist flick isnt as crucial as focusing on really turning your core and having that tilt in your swing. I was pretty much pivoting the barrel backwards and my hips were turning the barrel into the ball…Am i right?? thankss

Tom
Guest
Tom

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…. when you say “inward” do u mean when the hips go in for the coil or when they start thrusting in the first gear of the swing where the core goes first. The word inward is confusing me a little as to where the scap load starts Thanks!

Cliff Redmond
Guest

Chas,

You’ve been great keeping up with all your responses. But you should take some time off today and enjoy the holiday.
Your are the best in what you are doing.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Greg
Guest
Greg

When does the back (top) arm enter the slot position? If you enter the slot to soon, can this cause “bat lag”? Is there some correlation with the slot position and the hand position to produce the best swing? I am trying to fix this with a softball player.

chas
Member

Greg, the main issue you’re probably having (total guess as I’ve seen no video) is your daughter’s back elbow is getting stuck on her hip or pushing in front of her hip and then beside her body before her hands. The elbow cannot lead the hands, that causes bat DRAG. what I like to talk about when people ask me about the slot position is getting the hands in ‘palm up palm down position as early in the swing move as possible. so you’ve loaded, your front foot is down, your hips are beginning to turn inward towards home plate… Read more »

Keith
Guest
Keith

Hey Chas, Keith

My question on that since I do body build, it looks like similar to a dumbell row.

Just thinking I have naturally big traps and shoulders anyway darn genetics.
anyway just want your thought and input on that am I right or is that wrong.
Still working on my swing but I think since I lift heavy weights, I think i normally
feel stretch in the lats anyway. Let me know.

Joey Myers
Guest
Joey Myers

Hey Keith, yes it’s a similar feeling of a bent-over dumbbell row except you’re standing upright. I like to tell my kids to feel like they’re getting ready to punch someone REALLY hard and feel how that elbow moves behind and loads the Scap. It doesn’t have to be a high elbow either, I find that by relaxing the back shoulder and upper trap, the back elbow tends to do the motion naturally.

Remember, shoulders are ear poison…if the traps get over-active with this movement, it won’t feel smooth.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Chas,
what exactly is “The full wrist snap and extension” and at what point in the swing does it happen? (during or after contact?). How do you teach/explain it.
Thank you, Fred

Greg
Guest
Greg

Good stuff…I think she is not getting the palm up/palm down position soon enough, or she is taking a longer path to get to that position. This makes her late more often than not. Like a lot of kids, she sees others moving the bat a lot before they move to the ball, but the good hitters always get their hands back to the best starting position before moving to the ball. This position is nearly the same for all hiiters. I hope I can get in on the video lessons after Christmas, then you can tell me!

JB
Guest
JB

Hey chas in the leap of faith day 3 webinar i heard you talking about how you and this kid did drills on the drive developer where the bands attached where acting as the pitcher. You said the kid got it right away(whatever you guys did) and felt the right hand pivot. You said he was crushing balls after. Would you be able to release some of those drills. Thanks!

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

Chas:
Are you still looking to post the videos and the Row/Hand Pivot and Barrell Tilt? Very much enjoyed the two webinars you and Joey have done but have some questions and think the videos may help resolve some. On JK’s video clip on hand pivot it seems like he casting his hands early. Full video would help. Thank you.

chas
Member

Jamie,

In short…yes. But this video has been a bugger to get right.

One day I dont like the angle, next day I do it wrong (i’m not a great hitter…I just know a lot about hitting) so my demo isn’t good enough to post.

Working on it, sorry for the delay.

Chas–

Gary
Guest
Gary

Guys, Just curious. I always felt like the idea of starting the swing backwards-towards the catcher, was confusing/misleading. But also correct (batspeed.com is a big proponent). Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the flattening of the bat during your “bat row” stage ( which I LOVE – thank you) will cause a natural swing directly onto plane without thinking of which direction to swing. When flattening gets you on plane with the shoulders then all you have to do is get the shoulder tilt correct and turn hard, and importantly, stay connected. All I’m saying… Read more »

chas
Member

Gary, terminology can be tough for anyone in a new style of hitting. The idea of getting the bat to go ‘Backwards’ is something that JK and I struggle with daily. Really, we want to keep the MOMENTUM of the barrel moving. Notice all these guys in the article have a constantly moving barrel once they start their load. We dont want to stop the barrel and then restart it. THAT move, the stop and re-start creates lots of ‘pull/push’ from the arms. We want the barrel to enter the hitting zone from the side, towards the opposite batter’s box… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Chas, In Ted William’s swing, often used as an example of rotational hitting, I have always been perplexed when noticing something in his bat movement, which seemed to be ignored by people when describing “how he does it”. For lack of a better term, I’m referring to the “transition wobble” of his bat as his bat transitions from backward and down direction, to more horizontal and forward. It seems that the backward row establishes a separate rotational plane (vertical), whose angular momentum and gyroscopic characteristics must be brought into alignment with the torso’s rotational plane (horizontal). 1. Is the the… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

If we are performing a back shoulder row how is the pre launch torque or angling the bat to the catcher supposed to happen.

Calvin Baxter
Guest
Calvin Baxter

Hi Chas, I a currently trying out for the Gettysburg college team. I am a 5’7″ outfielder with 80+ batspeed becuse my hitting instructer teaches mostly everything you do. It feels great to know that peopel actually study hitting like I do in my spare time. Anyway, I read in one of your articles about how lefty-hitting-righty-throwing batters always pull very hard wit htheir right tricep. And believe it or not, I have that same problem! I still have surprising power to the middle and pull sides for my size (hit a 300ft double yesterday), but I have trouble against… Read more »

Calvin
Guest
Calvin

hey Chas, I’m pretty sure I just read a comment I posted about torque from last january: i’m coming back for more! so more about torque: I developed a leg kick last summer from watching Jose baustista and Sadaharu Oh. There were a lot of interesting angles involved. When their legs reached their highest points, they had crossed their back knee. I thought that was interesting, and what was more interesting was that the motion of the leg coming up moved the back shoulder/elbow to create the “row” you talk. I understand the concept of the row and that ut… Read more »

jerry
Guest
jerry

HI chas …I notice from the back that you demonstrate 5 back elbow rows . in the first 2 the tip of your elbow stays more hrizontial in the next three the tip of your elbow drops. was this done on purpose ?is it the start of the elbow slotting?

Bobby Craig
Guest
Bobby Craig

Chas, I just revisited the shoulder row post. I am getting more involved with youth athletic conditioning and have an exercise you may or may not know about that may help hitters (especially younger hitters) get a feel for the scapula moving. It is definitely beneficial to develop strength around that area as well as along the spine, strengthening the core (and we all know how important that is to a hitter). Start in the push up position. Instead of lowering the arms to move the torso, keep them straight and lower and raise the body (it will be a… Read more »

Derek
Guest

When does the shoulder row occur in the swing?

Sean
Guest

I’m not sure when the shoulder row occurs in the swing?

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

I just stumbled across your site and wanted to say this is awesome. I have never heard anyone mention this in any teachings, breakdowns, or hitting philosophies. I can’t wait to get after it in the cage tomorrow and incorporate this into my hack. My only concern is that I will bury my hands too far back and have trouble finding my elbow slot. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think. Thanks. Awesome site

Sean
Guest

Is the shoulder row a arm movement or a whole body movement because I’m on my rack and I cant quite figure it out

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

Wanting to purchase the rebels rack / drive developer. One question , does purchase of the two come with access to all the drills and videos at drive developer . Com ?? Those currently require a member log in ..

colin
Guest
colin

Hi chas,
What exactly is the wrist snap in the swing? and from my understanding aren’t we supposed to keep our wrists locked until extension after the turn? Thanks

JK Whited

Colin, Chas is out of town this week so I will answer your questions. We promote deep barrel acceleration so that the barrel enters the path of the ball early and at high speeds. What is early? As close to the catcher’s mitt you can get without extension of the arms. In order for this to occur, the wrist snap or “flail” ideally needs to happen as soon as possible to get the barrel in line with the lead elbow. This will shoot the barrel sideways and into the path of the ball. Here is when the wrists will lock… Read more »

David
Guest
David

What the best way to scap load? Is it while being literally being conscious of your scapula and contracting the muscle? Or by pulling your hands directly back by extending your arms? I see Griffey jr’s and Hamiltons swings and it look like they pull their hands back, which seems to work as a more relaxed way to contract the scapula. But at the same time it pulls the hands back ( which is my concern)

Don Ervin
Guest
Don Ervin

Chas, Great site.
Shoulder row as you explain it is simply Hip to Shoulder separation, letting the hips, rotate, lead the way prior to shoulder rotation, two separate movements. Hip rotation, then simultaneous shoulder rotation.
Now the explanation and proper execution of proper shoulder tilt comes into the equation.
Great Baseball-N to all
Don Ervin

Derek Lefebvre
Member
Derek Lefebvre

Hey Chas you talk a lot about eliminating arm activation which confuses me. One of my flaws is that I get long and my hands don’t catch up with my rotation and as a result I get jammed a lot. I feel I need to use my hands more so they can be caught up with my rotation. How do you eliminate arm activation while still being in sync with your rotation? Thanks!

Danny
Guest
Danny

So one reason we shouldnt be twisting our whole torso back wards is because of vision right? Our head can only turn so far to actually see the ball as its coming. The other reason is because it cuts off our front hip/foot from being able to land in fair territoryBut lets say humans had elastics necks and elastic hip sockets. Would the torso turn/load be super powerful? Because that sounds like some good deep oblique stretch to me.

Danny
Guest
Danny

Should the row be done as soon as possible as you rock back into the Double inside load, or as late as possible right before foot strike?

msreckovic12
Member
msreckovic12

Chase,
What are some drills that can help me practice and incorporate this load into my swing?

Chris
Guest
Chris

I gotta say guys, your site has validated a lot of what I thought but never really followed because of the coaching I received when I was younger. In my opinion I feel like kids probably follow some of these queues naturally prior to coaching because of the bat weight (gets them on plane) but most of them don’t understand the role the lower half plays in the swing. I actually still play ball in a local men’s league (just cant go full softball) and your site has helped me find some kind of swing consistency in my mid 30s… Read more »

JK Whited

Chris,

That is awesome that you still play and continue to look for better information. We actually work with adult men’s league guys online and in-house and they love it for the same reasons you do.

The answer to your question is yes. The back shoulder row is the stretching or “loading” part of the forward move. With the opening of the hips the backside shoulder will slightly row back away from the front side, creating the stretch.

JK-

Chris
Guest
Chris

Thanks for the quick reply JK. Now if I can only conquer the awkwardness I feel with the forward move. Probably ingrained from all the years of hearing it’s bad all these years. Keep the good fight.

Thanks again

Aaron (Los Angeles)
Guest
Aaron (Los Angeles)

-Chas I tried out the (back shoulder row) at the cages and the results were amazing. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I missed a couple balls at first and I noticed my body still felt loose/strong vs. nasty/stiff. The barrel felt way faster like a sling shot or catapult to the ball with less effort. Thank you for sharing your insight! I started playing ball at 5, I’m 30 now. In those 25 years I unfortunately never had a coach/instructor teach me to incorporate a move like the (back shoulder row). In fact I vaguely… Read more »

keith church
Guest
keith church

i love listening to all the theories on hitting.. it’s really interesting to me.. but it seems to me that most all the hitting techniques by the hitting “experts” out there fail to mention the one thing that is most important to being a high level successful hitter.. that’s quickness and simplicity.. what i see most out there no matter what camp your a fan of is so much stuff that is really scientifically backed and actually works.. in a cage.. the bottom line is that high level hitting requires natural quickness and mental ability.. everyone kills it in the… Read more »

Gabe Dimock
Editor

Keith,

I’m sorry you feel that way. We obviously would disagree on many of your points above based on the success we have had with our hitters. Best of luck to you.

-Gabe

JK Whited

Keith,

Simply not true. All elite hitters share many of the key principles that makes them who they are. That includes players from Babe Ruth to Mike Trout. The majority of kids in athletics can’t just watch them and become an elite hitter. Dedicate some time to actually watching thousands and thousands of swings and you’ll see it too. Good luck.

JK-

coachbrown1978
Member
coachbrown1978

Chas, i am rereading the blogs to keep my mind fresh to help my high school guys. I was watching a video of mickey mantle and it looks like he started in the row. I’ve tried it out and it looks as though it simplifies coordination issues. is this a good way to implement the row, or should it actually be a move into it?

Pete
Guest
Pete

Do you guys still teach the row?

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Hi, thank you for your site. I am working on my swing and have been implementing the row in order to create hip shoulder seperation at the start of the swing. My problem is that my back elbow is continuing to stay stuck at my side until after contact. I also am not understanding the movement to pivot the hands and swing the barrel down and back to the catcher. My hands don’t seem to get into the proper position of the hand pivot until later in the swing. Your help would be greatly appreciated as I am stuck on… Read more »

JK Whited

Jessica, Thanks for questions! We’ll tackle these one at a time starting with your back elbow. The fact that your back elbow is getting into that “slot” or as you say stuck in your side is a good thing. However, if it is getting into that place to early or too late, that can cause issues. When training you want to create instant barrel speed so when your back elbow goes down, so should your barrel. You must force your back elbow to stay really up for a very long time until the last possible moment. Once the ball is… Read more »