Barrel Turn and Hand Pivot: Training The Best Upper Body Movement in Hitting

Written By: Chas Pippitt

Learn How a See-Saw Can Teach Us Proper Hitting Mechanics

Years ago, I wrote an article about hand pivot or a ‘see-saw’ action of the elbows that turns the bat. Last night (April 30th, 2019), there was a demo of someone improperly using a Balance Bat, a great product, and I commented on it. Video of comment and tweet here:

In the tweet above, the person says “...Is getting the hands to snap, this way, ok?  Notice how my elbow is still up…” That is the entirety of the audio in the tweet. Since commenting, my phone still hasn’t stopped buzzing and it’s 9:15 pm the next day. Because of this, I thought it would make sense to revisit that old article and clarify how we turn the barrel. Also, I wanted to list and demo the products we use to create the deep barrel turn in our hitters.

Turn the Body First

First, before you do ANYTHING with the upper body, the lower body and torso must rotate properly. That means the stride needs to be correct and the focus is preparing to turn the body and time the ball with the turn. Once those things are completely correct, we turn the focus to the upper body and hand path that creates deep barrel turn.

Creating the Turn of the Bat

The Turn Behind The Turn Drill

The main idea we use when teaching players to turn the bat is that the hands don’t move in the swing. We explain this with the “Turn Behind the Turn” drill.

This drill clearly eliminates knob drive and teaches the hitter to deliver the barrel with his body. If the hitter can successfully get the bat head to the net without hitting his elbow or knob they have done the drill properly. Also, the hitter can learn about keeping their spacing and maintaining his or her posture through the turn.

Bat Drag Buster with the White Band

To help with the ‘feel’ of the elbows staying apart and being the ends of the see-saw, we use the white band of the Bat Drag Buster. The Bat Drag Buster was originally created to eliminate a racing back elbow of pre-pubescent hitters. What has happened, however, is it has become one of our favorite training tools of our college and professional hitters. They can feel the weakness when they break their wrist angle and let their elbows get closer together. Because of this, the Bat Drag Buster allows the elbows to get stay apart and work in harmony inside the swing for the first time ever.

Clearly, after watching the video above, you can see how weak and unsupported the bat would be with a pure wrist barrel dump. Real hitters feel this weakness if they attempt to turn the barrel with their wrists.  The Bat Drag Buster helps hitters maintain their spacing and deliver the barrel in a more forceful way. Because of this, the bat is also more supported as the hands stay closer to the body.

Follow Thru Bat

The last way we talk about the depth of the turn is by using a FollowThru Bat for the sound it makes. When swung properly, the bat head can be ‘directed’ or ‘released’ directionally.

DId you hear ‘where’ the clicks were? I spoke about this a long time ago as well in a past article.  What’s interesting about the Follow Thru Bat is that it teaches proper barrel zone entrance and where the bat should be fast. Too fast and too early on an inside pitch will cause rollovers. Conversely, if you’re too slow too long in the swing, you’ll be late and slice balls backside.

The Baseball Rebellion Truth About Training Barrel Turn

These are the tools we use and how we use them to create a correct upper body pattern in hitters. We do NOT do random ‘feels’ and ‘ideas’ on our hitters. We teach them to feel the correct move, slowly at first, and then fast in the game. This is very different than others on twitter who use made up and unsupported junk that doesn’t exist in a swing. Before you blindly trust a coach because of who they were/are or who they work with, please look at the body of work online. Do they have a facility? Do they have a long term track record of training players of all ages and ability levels? Do they have a real basis of knowledge or did they attend a weekend clinic? Do they create original thoughts (and/or products) that are proven to work? If the answers to these questions are ‘no’, perhaps its time to evaluate if they’re the right hitting person to follow. It’s not just your swing that matters, it’s your team’s, players’ or kids’ swings that suffer if you’re wrong. Avoid the snake oil sold by a ‘feel teacher', man. Instead, look for movements that make sense, taught by real teachers, man. 

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Frank Durand
Frank Durand

Great stuff and even had some humor at the end!