How Does Breathing Affect Power in the Swing?

Written By: Eric Tyler

How Does Our Breathing Affect Power?

As we as a society constantly remind youth athletes to take advantage of their time off, I as an instructor, like many other coaches and instructors around the world, want to do the same. So earlier this week I joined a zoom meeting set up by Texas Rangers Hitting Coordinator Cody Atkinson involving multiple MLB hitting coaches. During this Q & A session, I took away many thoughts and notes. But one stood out more than the rest, and I had to share it with you guys.

San Francisco Giants Hitting Coach Donnie Ecker mentioned how human nature and how we are wired as humans can affect our swing. As he continued it began to make more and more sense.

Rib positioning. Not a phrase you hear a ton about when it comes to hitting.

This is a topic that I hadn’t dove into too much but unbeknownst to me was something I saw every day as an instructor.

How Hitters Are Robbing Themselves of Power

One issue I often see with young hitters is the extension of their stomach/core during contact. Like the photo below.

Rib Positioning in Young Hitters

This could be described as a thrusting motion that I attributed to a lack of core strength in young age athletes.

I continued to notice that this would significantly affect how the hitter decelerated and stopped their rotation.

I’ve spoken on deceleration and its importance to the swing before.

However, with the issue in my mind being attributed to a lack of core strength, there weren't a ton of solutions to this issue for hitters. The more the hitter extended the middle of their body, the less they were able to engage their core and properly decelerate rotation.

These hitters often had a hard time adjusting to off-speed or velocity up in the zone. The image below is a great example of the issue at hand. You can see the curve in the spin and the extension of the stomach.

Ribs Up

Stomach or Ribs? 

When Donnie first mentioned rib orientation in hitters I realized it is something I had never dove into and looked at. However, the more he talked the more I realized I was seeing the issue but had never put two and two together.

We as male humans want to look big and be powerful. Our chests stick out and our chins are held high. It’s human nature, and for smaller athletes, the desire to look bigger is even greater.

So, when an athlete wants to be strong and put force into an object their chest/ribs rise to look bigger. However, this is where I was seeing the stomach/core extend. I thought it was a core issue where in reality it was human nature/ribs rising through the rotation. I saw the issue but wasn’t looking in the right place for the solution.

The Solution

After leaving the meeting and diving into a video of hitters I work with currently and some of the best hitters in the world, the evidence was there.

The best hitters are able to keep their ribs down during the exhale involved with the swing. Their ability to keep their ribs down allows them to engage their core and decelerate rotation more efficiently.

While lack of core strength or little man syndrome may play a factor, teaching the hitter to inhale and exhale with their ribs down, will help them decelerate rotation better and in turn, accelerate the bat.

The image below is Buster Posey demonstrating how he is able to keep his ribs down through rotation allowing him to decelerate better.

ribs down image

Use This Time to Your Advantage 

Coaches/instructors, if we are going to ask our players to keep growing and getting better during this time, we have to be willing to walk the walk. I am very fortunate to be able to join that Zoom meeting and took away much more than what I mentioned in this blog.

Use this time to get better and improve your craft. Make sure to come out of this quarantine better than you went in.

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Phil Buckley
1 month ago

Interesting article Eric, and something I had never thought of either. Reading it immediately made me think of the photo of Joey Gallo (https://www.cncmsbl.com/hitting/launch-angle-for-dummies/) where he looks just like the kid in the first photo. I’d like to hear your take on how core strength, or lack of, impacts this particular piece of the equation. For example a player with poor core strength, average or above average. It’s one of those things that I’m sure Joe Dimaggio ever really thought about, but I’m sure Mookie Betts spends half of his workout on his core.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil Buckley

Phil,

I’m glad you enjoyed the article! It is definitely something that I never thought of before, but now realize how often I see it. Core strength is obviously a massive component of any rotational movement. Any lack of core strength can cause compensations in other factors in the swing. Like you said it’s not likely that any hitter realized whether they have adequate core strength or not, but instead create compensations unknowingly. The stronger the core, the less compensations and the more efficient the hitter can move.

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