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The bane of many hitting instructors is preventing hitters from lunging forward at the pitcher during or before the swing. Many attribute this to the immaturity and impatience of hitters who are taught at such a young age to ‘hit the ball’ they just can’t wait to do it! I contend while much of the time, most hitters’ main goal is to ‘hit the ball’, they can recognize the difference between a tapper to the pitcher and a double in the gap. However, many hitters are not equipped with the knowledge to understand the ‘why’ of their results.
While at lessons the other day, I had a few of my hitters do a drill in which the goal of the swing was to ‘get the back knee in front of their belly.’ All of them could do this, and do this easily by pushing off the back foot and onto the front leg and bringing their knee up after they swung almost like a fighter throwing a knee during an MMA event. Many coaches call this ‘knee to knee’ drill as they are trying to get the kids to thrust properly, but in essence, the hitters are jumping forward at the pitcher either during or after contacting the baseball (both actions are bad).
I let them do this motion once or twice, then asked them, “so, does that feel like a real swing?” The response was ‘no’, because of course it did not. The players were almost in a standing position on a totally straight up and down front leg.
What happened was an efficient hip thrust with great back shoulder delay, with no head movement or body weight shift forward onto the front foot. But…the hitter was early. Why could this be? I stopped the lesson, and asked him what he thought the problem was with his hitting. Now, keep in mind, this hitter is a good hitter who has had over 100 lessons with me in the I.T.S. Baseball Hitting System. His response, ‘Chas, when I stay back and swing this way, my hips are faster in the thrust. Also, I am not forward at the pitcher, so I’m about 6 inches deeper at contact. I just need to wait for the ball and I’ll be crushing it.’ (Like These Guys Do!)
Quite an answer from a rising freshman don’t you think??? Needless to say, he was correct. He made the simple timing adjustment and began CRUSHING balls to the back top corners of the net. Smoked rising line drives with perfect balance and head placement…This kid is a good player already, but even I was impressed and his dad was speechless. This hitter was holding his ‘finish’ position in a ‘back knee in front of the belly position’ as well which makes the drill much harder on your back leg, but forces the hitter to check himself by his own ‘feel’ within his muscles.
I decided to do this drill with my next lesson as well, you guys know him as ‘Carl’ from the drive developer write-up at the starting lineup store. ‘Carl’ had been cutting off his thrust and due to that, getting out on his front foot a little bit and pressing his hands forward to hit the ball.
We worked on having a ‘4 back’ or ‘quad deep’ swing…and he’s got 5 bombs in his last 4 games (2 to the opposite field and including a 3 hr game!)…up to 8 on the legion ball year. More proof that a deep efficient swing IS your results! Baseball, unlike any other major sport, is less based on athleticism and more and more based on pure technique and efficiency of motion.
The 4 components of a swing that must be deep are:
Weight, Hands, Eyes, and Point of Contact. I talked about the most of these in my Lower Body Mechanics article as well as my Down and Through article.
Now I will say this: Sometimes, it is possible to hit a ball ‘out in front’ at the point of contact and still be ‘quad deep’. When I say ‘4 back’ or ‘quad deep’ I mean that at the earliest possible strong contact point, the weight, hands went through that super power point that many elite hitters get through on a swing by swing basis. And as long as they PASS THROUGH that point, their eyes and point of contact can go outward, as they release the barrel towards the pitcher and hit a driven ball into the outfield, into the gap, or out of the park.
The problems arise when this point is ‘bypassed’ like in a Down and Through swing or a swing where the weight shifts to the front foot due to poor lower body mechanics.
Here is Jose Bautista, possibly the best hitter not named Bonds alive right now. He has passed through the 4 deep point to continue to a ball they crushed. On balls that are inside, your vision and point of contact can leave your ‘deep’ position, but this is ok, as the ball needs to be pulled. Jose has as a great visual of this ball…and it ended up in the 2nd deck…so I think it worked out ok.
Thanks for reading, and keep those questions coming!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion