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The lower body swings the bat. Many coaches under appreciate this fact. They teach hitting from the top down, emphasizing the hands, the hands, the hands — teaching lower body mechanics as an afterthought, a timing mechanism. It is understandable, then, that even the world’s best hitters sometimes describe their own mechanics in hands first/top down language. But game footage of these players tells a different story: an elite swing is a lower body movement.
Many coaches talk about the back foot in one of two ways: as an object that turns and ‘squishes the bug’ or as spring that ‘pushes’ the body forward so that the hitter can ‘get to his back toe.’ Both of these ideas are stunting or stopping the growth of power and consistency in hitters today.
Whether you teach a ‘sway’ or ‘shift’ load, where the weight moves from centered to back towards the catcher, or a ‘coil’ load, where the front hip rotates inward while the shoulders stay straight, there is one constant. The constant is that the hitter must keep the rear knee inside the instep of the rear foot and the top of the kneecap inside the shoe line. The double inside load drives the rear foot big toe and ball into the ground, creating your anchor.
Rios and Pujols, in these pictures, are anchored to the ground with the rear ball of their back feet and the rear big toe, there is not weight on the outside of either of their back foot pinky toe. Both guys’ back hip is loaded and supporting of the upper halves. This load allows lower body mechanics to work correctly and is the linchpin in allowing the shoulders to support the hands and create a whipping action of the bat around the body and around the hands.
Lower body mechanics allow for a top level swing to be supported, efficient, coordinated, and suddenly explosive. Load into the back hip with a double inside load and create the super strong support structure that all elite swings are built on. Many common misconceptions in upper body mechanics are spawned from poor and incorrect lower body mechanical teaching.
Talking about the back foot ‘turning’ or ‘squishing the bug’ is a common problem. This teaches players to turn the rear foot inward, to turn the rear knee, to turn the rear hip. Stand up and try something for me.
Load however you like, sway/shift or coil inward. Now, spin your back foot so that the shoelaces are forward facing. This will turn your knee without turning your hips…feel powerful? I Didn’t think so. Even if you kept your shoulders facing the pitcher, you never were ‘forced’ to turn the hips because the hip socket is a ‘ball’ socket giving our legs more freedom of movement. This load as a way to get the back foot to ‘turn’ does not create the needed torque for a maximum power/bat speed swing.
Many coaches teach “squish the bug” lower half mechanics because it gives kids an easy way to rotate the back foot. But what that cue causes is young hitters getting into the bad habit of putting too much emphasis on back foot & ankle activation, which can result in a more dominant role of the upper body because the hips aren’t optimally swinging the bat. As a result, the upper body has to chip in, thanks to poor hip engagement. So, we turn the hip, which turns the knee, which turns the ankle, NOT the other way around. Double inside loading and anchoring the back foot helps set the hips up for optimal thrust in the swing.
The idea that the back calf muscle does much more than support the weight of the hitter at contact is also an issue. How many times have we heard a coach tell a hitter to ‘push’ with his back foot, or ‘drive his knee to the pitcher’? If the answer to that question is more than once…then really the answer is ‘too many’. Trial two will consist of the ‘get on the toe’ position to see if we can generate rotational power
This time, after loading however you like, use your rear leg calf muscle to ‘push’ your weight forward onto your front foot while turning the hips. Do you feel strong and balanced? Did your head stay still? Are you in an athletic position? The answer to all these questions is ‘no’. Also, if you’re gaining ground with your spine in the swing motion, how are you generating any torque within the core muscles of the body?
Now: make an adjustment.
This time, either coil or sway into your load, but this time, keep the rear knee inside the instep of the rear foot and the kneecap inside the tips of your toes. This action, a D.I.L., weights the instep of the rear foot, creating a strong, immobile anchor, to allow the rear hip to turn the knee. While doing this, keep the back foot straight. You can lift the back foot heel, but do not turn the laces of your shoe. Do this without turning the shoulders…so the hips are turned, the back foot is not…and the shoulders are still straight, with the lead shoulder pointing at the pitcher. Feel that stretching torque inside your core? Congratulations, you have found the thrusted position – the first step to unlocking the powerful and explosive force of lower body swinging.
(Images 3-5 Above: These are Chas Pippitt (me) using the Drive Developer and the I.T.S. Baseball Hitting System to build and improve the load and thrusted positions within the top level baseball swing. I didn’t include a side view of my ‘Thrusted Position’ because it was blurry…so I used a slightly better player instead…)
The bottom line?
Never let your mechanics limit you. Anyone can learn this, but few take the time to understand the truth about hitting. Instead, many take the advice of people who ‘should know,’ instead of people who spend their lives researching, teaching, and theorizing about the art of hitting.
**Numerous orthopedic surgeons were consulted in the writing of this article**
**Tim Coffield, former ACC player and CSCS certified strength coach contributed to this article.**
89 thoughts on "Anchoring the Back Foot & Hip Thrust: Why YOUR Swing Won’t Succeed Without It"
hey can you please explain everything that occurs in the swing after where you left off in the article. Thanks.
The plan is to make an ongoing discussion about baseball hitting mechanics theory and philosophy over time.
Periodically, I will write a new article, and people can comment on it and send in their own questions in the meantime.
I will get to some upper body stuff in my next article very shortly. In the meantime, hold tight, we just started, and the really exciting articles are still in development.
Thanks for reading,
Great blog very informative keep them comming
Thanks for the kind words, there’s more to come! Feel free to chime in with your own questions and observations as well…Feel free to keep that encouragement coming and let your buddies know about what we’re doing!
I think some http://www.swingsmarter.com people are going to be really surprised about some of the things that Joey and I end up agreeing about.
Thanks, and have a great day!
Chas, my son has excellent power, much of which is due to lower body explosiveness as you state…however, sometimes he collapses (tilts) his backside and swings under good pitches to hit…any suggestions? Jerry
’tilt’ and ‘collapse’ are very different, so first, can we discuss what we mean.
‘Tilt’ is a spine angle issue, and rearward tilt is a GOOD thing to help generate lift and proper barrel plane with the plane of the pitch.
‘Collapse’ of the back side, means his back knee is really going downward towards the ground and is a good indication of back calf ‘push’ as if you were running to charge the mound. This ‘push’ from the back calf muscle will rocket your son’s weight forward, towards the pitcher, and onto his front foot. This can cause one of two things…his front knee to bend, which could send his barrel under the baseball, or his front leg will stay straight and he will push ‘onto’ it getting taller in his swing.
now, this is a picture of a kid…I realize that, and I want to be clear, I’m not making fun of this kid’s swing…that being said, he’s got the bent front knee and his weight is forward. after he hits the ball, i’m sure he then falls backwards and seems very off balance. Again, this kid can/would improve with proper instruction. I looked for a big leaguer doing this…and literally couldn’t find one. This may be more relevant to you however, as your son is a little leaguer.
Based on your question, I’d guess that he’s bending the front side and has a heavy front foot. Can you post a picture or video for me to see?
If you can’t post pictures on here…then email them to me, i’ll post them, and we can all learn from you son!
Hope that helps, and great question!
ryan braun tilting his spine;
Just to be clear, I was stating that it was hard to diagnose the problem based on your description…as there could be some upper body/arm/wrist problems as well. Once again, pictures or video would enhance all of our abilities to understand the issue at hand.
We at BaseballHittingRebellion.com want to help with any and all issues of the baseball swing…and softball swing for that matter.
Thanks again, look forward to your response!
Great stuff Chas, and thank you Jesse, Hess, and Jerry for the kudos and swing issues. I just want you all to know, I wouldn’t endorse just anybody to host a Swing Smarter sponsored blog, Chas is the real deal, and you guys are in GREAT hands 🙂 Please keep up the dialogue, tell your friends because there’s lots of more great information to come!
I coach high school girls fast pitch softball. To be short and to the point I face two consistent problems:
1) flying away with the front shoulder which leads
to other problems; spinning, casting of the hands
head leaving with shoulder, etc. Do you have any
suggestions or drills to help correct this?
2) width of feet; I was taught the greater the width
of the stance/stride = greater distance the bat has
to travel to hit the ball. Also because of the
wider stance the more balls we take off the
foot, ankle and shin. Am I wrong about width of
@Eddie’s two questions:
First, Thanks for the questions. I love talking with coaches and I appreciate your desire to continue your hitting education. Your players are lucky to have you.
1: With regards to your first inquiry: make sure the girls understand that the hips turn the shoulder…not the shoulder turning the hips. Imagine throwing a softball sidearm…this is usually not what you want your players do to…but if you have them LIGHTLY throw a few softballs sidearm towards the end of the cage, they’ll naturally lead with their hips and delay their back shoulder, then the shoulder, elbow and finally the hand with the ball whips through. (this is a tough drill with right handed throwers/left handed hitters as their back hand won’t be their throwing hand) Now…ask them what lead? Shoulders and hands? Or hips? Hitters in baseball and softball are taught to throw the knob at the ball…or throw the hands…and this causes them to START the hands before they start the hips. If you find a girl who can throw a softball ‘hand first’ leading the shoulder and hips…then PLEASE email me a video! I’d love to see it. Starting the hands first…or being a ‘bottom hand hitter’ can cause all of the mistakes you’re describing. Usually ‘shoulder’ and ‘vision’ and casting’ problems are all due to hips not being far enough ahead of the shoulder in the rotation of the hitter.
2: Stance: A wide base is good; a long stride can be problematic. I know we can all go online and find Josh Hamilton (yes, I know you’re a softball coach, but there’s just more video of baseball guys on the web than softball girls) with a huge leg kick and stride. But, Josh has AMAZING balance and back hip thrust…so he can do that. High school athletes struggle with long strides, and usually, a stride leads to a lean forward. Leaning forward on a heavy front foot means the hips cannot turn…and here come the hands problems again. As to your question about wider stance means longer bat path…Why would you NOT want a longer bat path? We want a long area of impact within the hitting zone, and that wide stable base can increase that. My next article is just about this very topic…so please stay tuned! If we can accelerate the bat more explosively with more balance, over a longer distance, at greater speed, with more stable control…we will hit the ball harder! Boys, Girls, Men, Women…the bat traveling at max speed within the hitting zone for the longest distance IS hitting! Lastly, hitting balls of the ankle/shin is purely a rolling of the wrists problem. There are many ways to correct this. Getting and keeping the body in a balanced position with the weight back on the back foot with the hips leading the shoulders and hands will take care of much of this. Wrist strength in girls is also a huge issue, but this, again, goes back to a downward swing that is usually taught that literally forces hand roll.
Thank you Eddie for your question, and please read the next article, it should be online very soon! Please let me know if this helped! Welcome to the Rebellion!
Chas hit it right on the head…As you may know, a lot of the mechanics on SwingSmarter.com were ala Down & Through, which will be changing soon, believe me 😉
There are just too many problems with the old stale way of hitting D&T, consistency isn’t there, and we’re swinging with smaller muscles. I used to think a longer bat path was defeating to bat speed, and thanks to my relationship with Chas, and him pulling me to the “dark side” of hitting technique, and getting me to rebel against what was thought of in the mainstream as the “norm.” I get bat lag is the way to go now.
This is the essence of Chas’s Baseball Hitting Rebellion Blog, to destroy what was once thought of as normal and true, isn’t. We need to be more progressive in our thinking, Chas is the man, “I” can’t wait for the next article!
Chas and Joey, my six yr old immediately got results in the pop in his bat from working on the hip rotation spoken of in the Lower half mechanics post. When his feet are right and the hips rotate he puts a real charge into the ball. The issue now seems to be the consistancy with what his feet are doing. When there not doing the above mentioned they are doing one of two things. Either his feet grow roots and the hips then don’t turn and then he’s just arm swinging. The orther side of the coin is he gets happy feet in the box and then his front foot bails and head turns badly. I’ve tried to verbally correct the foot placement and movement issues which usually leads to a glazed over look in his eyes. I’ve started using the bat behind the back/hip rotation drill listed on swing smarter hitting drills section. Any suggestion on how to verbalize to a six year old a solution to the issues with out getting to complicated, or any more or other drills to utilize to correct it.
Feet issues are the most common problems with kids under the age of 6…as just in terms of pure balance and coordination, they are way behind where they will be in just a few short years.
My honest advice to correct his feet is two fold:
1: Make sure that he’s ALWAYS lined up the same in the box, not just the same distance apart, but also the same line towards the pticher or slightly open, never closed…that his feet are pointed towards the opposite batters box and not with open toe’d duck feet. That consistancy is difficult to get from a young kid, but remember, ‘hitting the ball’ can be treated as an award. So…when practicing, make sure that your son is set up correctly, and only if he is, have him hit the ball (this is based on hitting off of a tee).
2: Keep his head still! Have you ever heard of the blind major league baseball player? Me neither, because clearly, he doesn’t exist. More than likely, your son swings the bat with his neck and shoulders leading on his ‘bad’ swings where he’s off balance. When hitting off a tee, make sure he never looks up at where the ball goes, and focuses on seeing the top of the tee at the finish of his swing.
Disclipline in his stance/setup and working on vision. Continue to cue his hip turn leading the feet, and over time, he will figure out most of the problems with his hips turning the rest of his body. The youngest of my students is seven, and he can do this pretty consistantly. Most parents and coaches coach symptoms of problems and do not find the real cause of the problem. Advil makes a sore throat not hurt…but antibiotics fix the infection.
We at BaseballHittingRebellion, are the antibiotics to fix the disease (problems) in your son or daugther’s swing. Thanks fo the question Tim. Have a great day!
I enjoyed the article, I am a 40 year old that is planning on getting back into the game after several years playing youth baseball through 2 years at the community college level. My question is are there some drills I can utilize with performing dry swings to keep my weight from transferring outside the rear foot and outside the front foot. I look forward to your assistance.
Welcome back to the greatest game on earth! Honestly, my first response is stretch…and stay healthy. One of my hitter’s fathers is about your age and he went back…and promptly broke an ankle…so be careful.
As far as the weight shift issue, loading and dry swinging with the help of a mirror is key, and video your swings with a tri-pod when you are hitting, even if it’s off a tee, so you can check that double-inside-load starting position and that your back hip is thrusting inward before your rear foot turns.
As far as the front foot goes, remember to push INTO the front leg…not ONTO the front foot. If you have a steep angle down the front leg, think a double black diamond ski slope, you’re ON the foot and your front foot is supporting your body weight. If you have a more shallow angle, like a bunny slope, your weight is back. If your hips are turned forward at contact position, then more than likely you had proper core rotation to pull the rear leg and shoulder though.
These tips should help you greatly in your pursuit of your best swing yet!
Double inside load? Does this refer to loading the hips and rolling the knee inside the foot? not sure. Thanks. I am working with a softball player that pushes up and rolls her wrist early. I am trying to get her to push into her front leg and not roll so early.
I’m not sure what’s not to get. Read the article listed above and the double inside load question should be answered…
Greg, what does she push up?
On wrist rolling: Greg, many times ‘wrist rolling’ is a symptom of a problem and not the real problem at all…which is probably forward weight shift.
Get her double inside loading like the players above and turning her hip first…before all other movement after the load or coil action.
Sorry, gotta keep it super simple for me…The second load is the load on the back leg with the knee inside the back foot. This helps you drive the back knee and back hip, on the swing, through the position that gets the back kneecap in front of the belly button. With this you gain more power from the lower half.
Am I close?
The D.I.L. is ONE LOAD with two parts. This load is the simplest way to get young/old hitters alike into a powerful ready position to deliver maximum power and force into a swing.
The ‘D.I.L.’ is the outside of the back knee staying INSIDE the instep of the rear foot AND the top of the rear kneecap staying INSIDE the rear foot big toe.
This load, the Double Inside Load, ANCHORS the rear foot and prepares the hips for the thrusting phase of the swing.
You are close, Greg, and doing a great job digesting the articles and critically examining them. THIS IS THE REASON WE HAVE THE BASEBALL HITTING REBELLION!!!
You are all challenging me to become better. You are improving my book, my teaching, and my computer skills!
For that I thank you all!
Hey i have a question on how you launch the hips because i learned the thrust position and now i am working on turning the hips. Would i use the bottom abs to help me level them out like in the swing smarter article. Or is there a different method of doin it without pushing off or squishing the bug.
Thanks for writing. If you’ve properly anchored the back foot, it’s impossible to rotate your back foot period. What elite hitters do is they turn their entire core, from the bottom of the pelvis to the top of the upper abdominals (including the obliques and lower back). This is such a violent and powerful turn, that it actually pulls the back foot off the ground so that the foot can turn.
If you ‘push’ forward with the lower leg and foot, you change your spine angle (usually) and create more of a downward swing. Allow the back foot only to support your weight and anchor for the core turn (thrust) so that you must turn with violence and power from your center to generate efficient power.
In the article, I don’t talk about the upper body much, but I will say that you must turn the core WITHOUT turning the back foot or the shoulders to generate the stretching of the muscles in the core to power the swing.
I will be writing more in the near future about ‘shoulder delay’ in conjunction with the lower body mechanics described above.
Using the lower abdominals, like in the Swing Smarter article about “kinked/unkinked hose” technique helps to level out the pelvic floor, which in leyman’s terms opens up energy communication between the upper & lower body through the core muscles. So yes, it would help in getting ultimate torque between the two different gears (upper v. lower body). However, just doing the unkinked hose technique will NOT stop you from rotating through the ankle first.
Thanks for the comment JB!
Hey I Known this doesn’t pertain to this article but is there any way i can get advice on a good 2 strike approach thanks.
2 strike approach depends on the hitter.
Is the hitter fast? or not?
That’s really the question. If the hitter is fast, he needs to try to put the ball in play and challenge the defense. Now, that being said…when I ask if your hitter is fast..i mean FAST!!! not ‘fast for his team’ or ‘faster than other kids’…i mean…fastest kid in the district…or as he ages…the state.
You don’t want to ruin a moderately fast kid by teaching him to ‘just put it in play’ with a 2 strike count when he goes up a level he’ll be out by a step every time.
My basic rule for 2 strike approaches is this: Why change what you practice all the time with two strikes? If widening out and choking up and getting close to the plate was a BETTER way to hit…wouldn’t hitters do that all the time? Wouldn’t they practice that all day in BP? Off Tees? Soft toss?
I remember when I was in school, we’d have 2 swings A DAY that were 2 strike approach. 2…swings…and then he’d wonder why we struck out. (this story was from UNCA. My coaches at NCSU realized pretty quickly that the guys I played with could hit the ball 450 with 2 strikes just as easily as with 0)
The best thing was…he’d have our biggest slowest guys practicing slapping balls the other way on the ground…I wonder what that leads to with runners on base…CORRECT! A double play! Also, lets say no one is on…and that hitter finds the 4 hole…now we have a runner on first that looks like he’s carrying a teammate on his back when he runs… He can’t go first to third, he cant score from second…
With kids who aren’t FAST FAST…have them take another hack and don’t worry about it
@Joe: you can get 2-Strike Approach 101 by subscribing to the Swing Smarter.com Newsletter called The Swing Architect. Lots of cool benefits for being apart of the team 🙂
Great info! Hope this question isn’t to petty? In relation to the knee cap inside the big toe; would it make any difference if the foot is flared out or Straight out (perpendicular)?
Thanks for the question and welcome the The Rebellion!
All questions are good questions, what you’re referring to, we at the BaseballHittingRebellion refer to as ‘duck feet’.
Ducks waddle and swim, with their webs (toes) pointed outward…Hitters hit with straight feet and most actually slightly pigeon toe their feet inward.
Try this for me Andy, do a ‘double inside load’ with ‘duck feet’ (toes pointed outward) and then with ‘pigeon toes’ (toes slightly inside of perpendicular). Do you feel tension in the outside of your back lower leg? If so, that is good. We want that tension or stretch in the muscle to help us ready to fire the hip.
I have a 9yr son who is playing semi competitive baseball and is struggling to get his lower body involved in his swing. He makes contact well but has no power. I started last week with the behind the back bat drill and he is still struggling to get the concept. Just wondering if there is any other way to get him to start using his hips/legs more? Also wanted to say thank you for the website. Your explanations of the swing are excellent for us parents who are trying to help are kids get better even with out knowing a ton about baseball our selves. Thanks
Chas will be able to go into more depth on this issue than me, but with my kids who have a hard time “feeling” the lower half working, they have to change their idea of what’s swinging the bat.
What I mean by that is…
They have to think more twisting with their core and hips, not turning the back foot or leg, or “squishing the bug” as I once taught. I teach my kids to NOT drive off the back leg, but to let the back leg “slot” into an ideal “L” position as the core and hips open up.
You want to check out Chas’s article on “Keeping 4 Things Deep” AND the NEW Updated “Top 5 Drills” article at Swing Smarter.com.
I hope this helps, but believe me, Chas will blow you away with his response.
Glad to hear the information is helping to teach your young hitter. This is Chas and my main goal: to clean up the confusion with proper swing technique geek speak, so parents/coaches who don’t have much hitting experience can repeat what we teach our kids 🙂
Thank you for answering my question. I will give it a try, working on it in fall ball and I will come back and give an update in a few months.
I’d say two things, first, don’t get impatient or let him get frustrated with his progress. You said it best when you said:
‘I started last week….and he’s still struggling to get the concept’
Basically, he SHOULD be struggling still! Hitting a baseball IS a STRUGGLE! That’s why it’s so hard but so satisfying when you get good at it.
2nd, Ditch the bat behind the back drill as that drill makes your shoulders turn WITH the hips instead of AFTER the hips.
Try this instead: go to my article on lower body mechanics. Look at the ‘thrusted position’ pictures, and practice going from the ‘double inside load’ position to the ‘thrusted position’ and then back to the ‘D.I.L.’ position again. Also, check out Josh Hamilton hitting in that same article. Look how far his hips are turned…and his foot has not turned yet. Joey hit that right on the head: I’m sure your son is twisting his FOOT not his HIPS.
This drill described above will teach him to move his HIPS with his ABDOMINALS instead of with his quads and calf muscles.
Hope that helps and thanks for reading!
Thank you for answering my question. I will give it a try, working on it in fall ball and I will come back and give an update in a few months.
Thank you and Please continue educating us all,
I just have a quick question involving the hands. First do the hands have any thing to do with creating thrust? Also after the double inside load what should the hands do to follow that load (for example knob to catcher?) After the load i usually get into a palm up palm down position with wrist snap. I just wanted you to see if that is the right mindset. Thanks for everything.
Anonymous? What an interesting name. Is that German?
Your mindset is right! Palm up palm down is where we want to be, but it is all about how we get there.
To answer the first question, the hands have nothing to do with thrust per say, as long they stay connected to your back shoulder. Thrust is really achieved when there is separation from our core/hips and our hands/shoulder. If our hands and hip thrust go at once, “true” thrust has not been accomplished.
Your second question about the hands and what they do during the load, such as pointing the knob to the catcher. We try to get our guys to keep the barrel tilted towards the head just slightly. When thrust is performed and the barrel is slotted into the hitting zone, this “tilt” of the barrel will help create more snap. This can be seen in a guy like Barry Bonds who seriously tilted his bat pre-thrust to create more force/snap. Be sure that you are not pivoting the barrel and driving the knob to the ball. We want to pivot our hands, which in turn is slotting the barrel to begin our snap.
I.T.S. Certified Hitting Instructor
“Your mindset is right! Palm up palm down is where we want to be, but it is all about how we get there.”
what are the steps to get there?
The best way to get to the strong palm up palm down position is with a good pivot of the hands and not the barrel. When we pivot our hands (not the barrel or push the knob) we start the accelerated bat into the hitting zone super deep. Keeping our hands and back shoulder “married” we continue the barrel through the hitting zone to contact, and eventually through extension. Most wrist and hand issues come at the pivot point like I stated before. Pushing the knob forward locks the hand and wrists in a weak position even though you may be palm up palm down. Good HAND pivoting ensures deep snap and that the barrel leads the swing NOT the knob. Which would you rather hit with???
If you take a look at the videos we posted, notice how the hand make ZERO movement forward but the barrel is slotted super early and super deep. When I snap out, the shoulder supports and hands and barrel to the contact point. The snap of the barrel is TOWARDS the other batter’s box while the body rotates the barrel through the zone. We included the ball in elbow drill to really show that the knob has NO forward push. If it did, the ball would fall out before the barrel even gets to contact. Always remember, like Chas said, the first mistake is the worst. A good lower half thrust will really help with this part of the swing. Hand and knob pressing is usually caused by a break down in lower half mechanics.
Hey chas i just have a question involving the transfer of weight. Im having a little issue in which i thrust the back hip but when it comes to turning it with my core i jump out on my front foot a little and become a front foot hitter. Do you think by trying to stay on the ball of my back foot as long as possible and letting my core pull me through will help me stay back more? Any tips or advice. I Think i might be lifting the back heel a little too much which might be making me do this…
The big thing to look at in your case is the angle of your front leg during and at the finish of your swing. Is your chest over your front leg or do you have a nice shallow angle with your chest back? Right from the start it sounds like you might be pushing but we are having trouble understanding the question. I say this because if you do generate good hip thrust correctly, you will not be up on your front side like you say you are. Please refer to the videos in the “super thrust” article in regards to hip rotation and weight.
Certified I.T.S. Hitting Instructor
Hi Chas, when you pivot your hands, does the bat point straight back or directly 90 degrees behind the batter or in-between those two (45 Degrees) Thanks!
Think about what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to accelerate the barrel of the bat into the hitting area with your hip turn and your wrist snap.
What’s the best way to do that? pointing the knob of the bat to the pitcher? or pointing the knob of the bat into the other batters box?
The key is getting to palm up/palm down position with your hands as fast as possible and that is only allowed if you point the knob into the opposite batters box. That will allow the bat not only to whip around your spine but also around you hands. you have 2 PIVOT points in the swing…the spine and the hands, and both need to be active and stable to properly get the bat up to speed as soon and early as possible within the swing.
While I have been following your stuff for only a short while, I have to say you are a bright light illuminating the sometimes confusing world of hitting instruction ;).
My question is in regards to hip thrust, what strength and/or flexibility work do you specifically recommend to help with a proper hip thrust? I work with youth and high school athletes who often present with weak and/or tight hips due to the enormous mount of sitting they do each day. I find this inhibits a good hip thrust. What do you recommend to help improve hip strength and mobility on their way to better hip thrust?
Joey Myers from Swing Smarter here…
This is my favorite subject and area of expertise. I’m currently working on a program right now for Junior High and High School baseball players and coaches addressing one of the many issues with mobility and stability problems within the swing, and how improving those will boost hip thrust and spinal tilt. And, we all know how those two crazy devils increase the amount of stand up doubles for a hitter. Please subscribe either to the BBHR Newsletter on the homepage or to SwingSmarter.com to get updated on when that comes out.
My favorite website is MobilityWod.com for free cutting edge stuff to restore full range of motion into any joint.
Typically, what we see with the increased amount of sitting with our young athletes (as you mentioned), are that those hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings get SUPER tight, and the internal core and glutes (butt) tend to turn “off.”
So, what do we do?
First, we need to slacken up the anterior chain (flexors and quads), so CLICK HERE for this MobilityWOD.com article on the Super Couch.
Second, we need to increase range of motion with the Glutes. By the way, you can use a baseball instead of a Lacrosse ball, like Kelly mentions, to iron out some of that nasty stuff in the butt, CLICK HERE for this MobilityWOD.com article.
Lastly, the problem with sitting and being a baseball player is either limited T-Spine (Thoracic) rotation and/or extreme biased rotation in one direction over the other.
We throw one-way, and for most of us, hit one-way our whole career. Rotating one-way for 150-300 reps/practice (both hitting and throwing), multiplied by how many practice/game days over a year, and you have yourself a walking nasty tire blow out at some point.
This imbalance is similar to going into the gym and doing 300 reps of bicep curls with your right arm, then going home.
So, we need to open up the T-Spine with the Brettzel. What the heck is that, you ask? This was nicknamed after Brett Jones Master RKC (aka Kettlebell bad ass), you’ll see what I’m talking about after viewing the following video:
Now, how do we strengthen the glutes and posterior chain (backside)? Learning how to do a “hip hinge” correctly, and once that is good, then the Kettlebell swing and deadlift are super great.
What about the tight hamstrings I mentioned earlier? Most likely just stretching out the hamstrings isn’t a permanent fix because they’re doing double duty, being both a prime mover and joint stabilizer. They aren’t the latter and consequently become chronically tight. The problem is the internal core isn’t activating along with the glutes. Once those turn on the hamstring will loosen.
You see, we can’t just stretch a tight muscle…we have to look at the total functional movement system (i.e. squat, lunge, step, shoulder mobility, Active Straight Leg Raise, core, and rotary stability movement patterns). If not, then you’ll be stretching out that tight muscle for the rest of your life.
This idea and a whole lot more will be included in the program I’m developing.
All the above mobility exercises you can do out on the ball field Brian, no real equipment needed. I hope this helps, and let me know how it goes!
Thanks for that awesome comment, it means a lot that people are checking us out and following us.
Keep checking back, big things are coming.
Chas, I’m confused and must be missing something regarding your theory on lower body mechanics: squish the bug. You mention that squishing the bug will stunt your hitting power and “don’t turn the laces of your shoe” I’ve been looking at a lot of photos that you’ve provided such as, Pujols, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun and I see the back foot on all these guys rolling up onto the inside ball of their foot with the heel of the ground. I can’t see how the hip can make a full hard rotation without rotating onto the ball of the back foot? I had my son try not rotating the foot and the first thing he said was he couldn’t fully turn his hip! what I’m I misunderstanding?
Great question. Ok, what i’m saying is you can’t turn the laces of the shoe BEFORE you turn the hips.
Turning the back foot is a false cue because you can stand up, turn your foot almost completely and your hips dont ‘have to’ move. Make sense?
The abdominals and lower back pull the pelvis around in a circle around your spine. if that is done fast and explosively enough, the hip socket will lock and the leg will be pulled with the pelvis by the abdominals.
I’m not saying the foot never turns…i’m saying it IS TURNED by something else.
Do you understand better now?
example. if you put your arms out by your side and spin in a circle…are your arms moving? or..are they being moved by your turning body?
answer: your arms are not ‘moving’ as in there is no activation in the triceps, shoulders, biceps…they are being moved by your legs in this instance that are spinning you around.
the lower half mechanic i describe is simlar. you support your body with your back leg, slightly shift forward because of your double inside load and anchored back foot, then the suddenly explosive hip turn happens and it can PULL your back foot off the ground. Check out the Josh horton change, and what his back leg move off the ground and slightly forward. You can’t do that with a ‘pushing’ of the back leg or a ‘squish the bug move’
Thanks for the reply. Think I get it, The hip rotation should start First, the back foot turning on the ball of the foot and the heel coming off the ground we follow the hips thrusting and rotating. Basically don’t start squishing the bug before you start your hip rotation. If I’m still not getting it let me know. Thanks again.
Close, you should never actively use your back foot to do anything other than hold your body up.
the foot turning isnt even needed, check out jim thome or andruw jones, they don’t ever turn their back foot all the way.
as long as the hips do the work, your son should be fine. Just remember the back foot ‘is turned’ by the hips. it never ‘turns’ itself.
This took me a couple of months and many hours looking at videos to understand the difference between what turns the hips. During my eval. of Jesse I couldn’t see the difference in what was turning the hips. Now I understand that By “squishing the bug” which I tought for years, he was actually turning the hips, but not creating any power, By Loading the knee, and rotating the shoulder you are creating a rubber band effect, then with the hips rotating ahead of the shoulder the bat is brought down through the plane in a whip like motion. i think I have a correct view of this, correct me if I am wrong. The shoulder Load is easier for me to teach because it is similar to motion in lat pulls on a pulley machine as scapula should pull weights before arm motion, Is there any technique to better understand and undoe previous taught mechanics ie: squishing the bug
I have been struggling with how to get my teenager to get his legs/hips more involved and correctly involved. Top half is – I think – very good. But bottom half lagging as we struggle to break him of the old “throw the hands at the ball” garbage that they taught him early on. So I love that you made your students try to get the back knee in front of the stomach and feel athletic doing it. Feeling it is everything, I can’t wait to have mine try this. Excellent!
I live in the USVI, St. Thomas and I’m just loving all this reading and information you guys have fed me. As you mentioned above, I also am constantly searching for the secrets of hitting, how to properly teach hitting, and the learning the theories on the art. I’ve read a few books, articles, and spoken to numerous individuals, however, this is by far the best information I’ve gathered in regards to understanding, explaining, and teaching the art of hitting. Very detail stuff and FOR FREE! Keep up the good works!
I really appreciate that comment. I hope you’re attending our FREE webinars as well and would consider the paid teleseminar that Joey and I are doing. You even get a few bonuses from that too!
Keep up the search, and if you find other good sites, shoot them over to me as well.
I’ve struggled with the JK clips from above. Because I truly believe that the comments from JK here are the holy grail. The early palm up/palm down position and the hand pivot are, to me what sets the few apart from the many. And JK is all over it. BUT these vids bother me and I’m not sure why so I’ll ask. To me, the early “set” (palm up/palm down) position puts you in a position to explode the barrel (not the hands) and the pivot is when, before impact the hands stop and the barrel is the last thing moving. As energy moves up from the lower body, the hips stop turning (pivot?), then the shoulders stop turning (pivot?), then the hands stop (pivot?) leaving the barrel to apply all expended energy. So IF (!) this is right I guess that my concern with these clips is that the position looks very weak and floppy. Maybe just a less than ideal way to get a proper point across. What do you guys think?
I’m gonna let JK field this one. Then I’ll throw my 2 cents in.
Great work ! My son uses a toe tap much like Prince Fielder could use explain how the D.I.L. works with this load.
I’m not a huge fan of the toe tap…but I may be warming up to it.
Your son just must remember to let his lead hip move ahead of his front foot…instead of REACHING with the front foot out in front of the hip.
that’s the toughest challenge technically that he’ll face with a toe tap.
chas do you have your hitters concentrate on early wrist snap? as well as hip thrust
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It really depends on the athlete.
until i played pro ball, I never had a hitting lesson! I was lucky to have ted williams work with me. I found teaching the wswing is harder than hitting. I am using power chalk to telestrate students swings. We are on the same page about all i have read on ur website. a big problem is to correct bad teaching of the a to c swing in contrast to getting the bat in the path of the swing early. do you have any suggestions for that and increasing bat speed. thanks, ed
Teaching the swing is an art that’s for sure!
The ‘A to C’ swing is the bane of my existence. I watch dads and coaches tell these kids what to do…then they demo it and almost fall over!
The best thing I can tell you is cue turning and swinging up instead of going at the ball. I tell people to get ‘in the way’ of the ball as early as possible. As far as bat speed goes, any time you decrease arm activation you body must increase turning speed to hit the ball farther. It has no choice.
In total agreement that attacking the ball start with the bottom half. Everyone talks about hitting against a front stiff leg. Does the front leg straighted because the back hip is firing??? My son is struggling getting off his back side (driving back hip/knee) and I want to give him a swing thought that will help drive his back side. Any ideas or drills that can help thrust his hips?
Many people ask me this question. Imagine your hands are glued to your steering wheel of your car. If you turn your car to the right, with only your right hand, your left hand ‘goes along for the ride right? Remember it’s glued to the wheel.
That is the idea of being passively moved. That means your left hand did nothing, but again, it was glued to the wheel so it had to go along.
We don’t want ‘dead weight’ in our swing, so I think it’s better to turn with the front leg actively straightening to help out the back hip coming around.
So, if you have the back leg and hip getting pulled through by your core, then your front leg can actively push the front hip away from home plate and back towards the catcher.
Now imagine your hands are glued to the steering wheel again…only this time, a deer ran in front of your car. Would you swerve with one hand working and one hand not or would you have both hands helping to steer your car?
As far as drills go, swing on an uphill slope with your front foot up the hill. Once his front foot lands make sure he straightens his leg HARD! That should do the trick.
Great articles, you describe everything so well in detail..
I do have one question that’s been bugging me for months though..
How can you tell the player honestly completed the turn, what do I look out for to notice a player really completes the turn?
I think the most important part is the acceleration phase of the swing, which happens back towards the catcher and then sideways into the zone (I’m talking about the bat head).
IF that’s done properly on a hitter’s pitch, the hitter will continue turning after pulling their back foot off the ground so that the belly button goes past the pitcher. For Righties, that’s to the SS side of 2b. For Lefties it’s the opposite.
Then, the hitter’s back will face the other batter’s box.
Hey Chas, really appreciate all of your blogs and videos, really good stuff! I have been trying to work on my double inside load and positive move and my hitting instructor has told me that I need to have a more controlled/slower move forward and quieter front foot. Just wondering how I can achieve the fall forward you talk about while still being under control. I also have seen the videos of AJ bumpass and he seems to have a very aggressive move forward. Does he do fine in games with his timing with that fast/aggressive move?
I’m glad you like the blog. I’d actually say your hitting coach is correct.
AJ did that in games for a while, but that was more of a teaching point. I wanted him to LEARN to move that way, then once he’s exaggerated it, and learned it, he naturally moderated it and calmed it down.
learn the CONCEPTS here, and find your own comfort zone. Slow and soft on the front side sounds great to me, must make sure you get your front foot open and bent front knee at landing.
Hey thanks for the response Chas. And by the way I’ve been really trying to work on my double inside load, landing with a bent front leg and creating thrust for the past few days in my basement and when I went to the cages for my hitting lesson for the first time in a couple of days I had NEVER hit the ball so hard and so consistently in my life! It was really amazing to see and to feel the difference. Thanks for sharing all of this information and I look forward to reading your future posts!
No problem man, that’s what we’re here for!
Thanks for being a part of the Baseball Rebellion!
Chas i wanted to ask how does a wide stance equal a long bat path and what do you consider a wide stance. Also i thought you wanted longer strides because in some videos your strides are pretty long and are you an advocate of the knob at the catcher ordeal. P.S. sorry for all the questions just curious.
How do u feel about mike stanton and his toe tap. Love to hear what u would say about him. I’ve studied him a lot and see him using double inside load. Toe tap he uses for timing and strides forward. His head is not in center of stance but back where is his back knee is. Looking like his weight is 60/40 what do u think?
Stanton’s swing actually makes me sad…
He’s so athletic (Like Jayson Heyward, but better) but his swing and posture just don’t measure up.
He does move forward and sometimes his back foot comes off the ground, but there’s just so much he muscles through.
He’d have a real shot to be an all time great with some mechanical changes…but either way, he’s going to make 100’s of millions of dollars playing baseball…so I don’t know why he’d change…
Unable to view the 4 videos you and jk posted, thx!
Yeah those are older videos from our first YouTube account. We will check into that quickly. Thanks for the heads up!
I know your Blackfoot should be off the ground after full rotation. I usually end up with my toes on the ground and back heel is up. What can I do to get my back foot off the ground. I have refined my swing following a lot of your techniques. Thank you!
Put a barrier down in front of your back foot that you must ‘jump over’ when you’re hitting…an old shoe, a sock, a batting glove will all work.
Make sure you ‘accomplish the goal’ of getting over the barrier. Don’t just hit.
Joe – start by using the drive developer – if you don’t have one, get one. Don’t worry about hitting – focus on the movement. Then transfer it to T work then front toss – then… you own it. You built it – it yours. Work to be great don’t just work at it.
Chas you guys are awesome, you probably know Joe but I had to put my 2 cents in.
I was just watching some HS boys and girls getting instruction – unfortunately for them it was only how to create a glass ceiling in their swings – Down and through – hands hands hands – The instructor shouted “good work” when there was solid contact and some innoculous cue when they miss hit (7 out of 10 front tosses). Oh these poor kids. I talked with one of the fathers and ran through 5 – 8 technical weaknesses in his son’s swing and of couse told him to sign up with the rebellion. Then I was able to ask the son what technical improvements he made in the lesson – None. Chas you have to get out there more, these poor kids.
Lately i have been trying to swing the bat with my core and my lower half and have been trying to not use my hands/arms much. Lately i have been getting jammed a lot and i almost feel like my hands are staying too far back for too long and that i am not using my arms enough.. I have also heard you talk about the shoulders and arms being married to each other. If i use my lower half and core properly to swing the bat will that Force my hands to stay connected to my shoulders? Or is keeping the hands married to your back shoulder a seperate movement that you have to learn along with using your core/lower half? If so do you have any drills that will teach this? I am having a hard time on how to work on this concept. Thanks!
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling.
You’ve gotta let the bat head come out into the zone. lots of people, when they first start this process, will turn their body and shoulders well, but they don’t allow the bat head to go sideways into the zone.
You’ve gotta get the bat in front of the catcher’s mitt. dont think about snapping the at head AT THE BALL…think about getting it going sideways, at the opposite dugout and then turning the speeding bat head into the pitch.
I hope that helps,
OK great thanks for the response. I actually have another question for you. I just watched your webinar on the front hip on YouTube. You talk about the front leg straightening. Is that a result from landing in the proper position and pushing through your front heel forcing that leg to straighten? Or is it a result from turning your front hip properly? Also you talk a lot about what the back hip does in your articles. I feel like if you try to turn your swing with more effort on the front hip this would create more torque as I see in any high level swing that the front hip looks like its doing more work than the back. Thanks and can’t wait to keep getting better with all of this info!
Some hitters hit from the front side, others from the back side.
Dominance of the turn can depend on pitch by pitch location and adjustment of timing by the hitter.
Both sides working together is the best.
I have a question regarding some of the photos above. If you look at the pictures of Chas above, in the third picture he is at the start of the hip turn, but I noticed that the front foot is barely open. I am wondering why that is the case if what you are teaching is an open foot at landing? I don’t mean to sound rude either, but is there something I am missing?
Nothing rude at all there, a totally fair question.
I do my best to keep my articles in tact as they were written. That picture now, would look much different, but the concept of the article is about the back leg and back foot, so I decided to leave it.
I should probably re-do the pictures, but I leave them up to show our evolution at Baseball Rebellion and to prove that we own our mistakes.
Thanks Chas. That is a fair answer as hitting is always evolving, and we are always learning more.
Chas, I have a question about the back leg. My son’s Epstein hitting instructor claims that the back knee should drive toward the front knee during the turn. Epstein actually has two drills (the wall drill and the carpet drill) to teach this movement). I have also read elsewhere that the rear knee drives both forward and downward which helps with the hinge or tilt. My question is simple: Is the rear knee a “mover” in the sense that the hitter “moves” it forward or, like the back foot, is the rear knee simply along for the ride when the rear hip turns and thrusts forward?
Your question is a good one. But I know you know what I’m gonna say…If you’re pushing or driving with the back leg…you’re killing your swing.
We have many many Epstein instructors who send their kids to us looking for a better turn.
Enjoyed the article. Very well written and it is a shame that this isn’t implemented regularly across the board. Would you agree that this is like a pitcher to some degree at release where they have not released that back leg to come through?
Good stuff man. Keep it coming.
I really enjoy reading your articles. I coach my son’s league, all-star, and travel ball teams and have used and learned a lot of new information that was not given to me when I was a player. Thanks for all of the helpful information.
Do you do any camps over the summer
Sometimes we do, but not often. Mostly we focus on our Online Instruction for out of town clients.
Where are you located?