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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
41 thoughts on "Keep 4 Things in the Swing Deep, and Watch the Balls Fly!"
Is the back knee moving to this position a result of good hip turn or does the knee position allow better hip rotation? Does a hitter drive the knee to this position or rotate the hips more to get there? Keep this stuff coming.
Is the back knee moving to this position a result of good hip turn or does the knee position allow better hip rotation? Does a hitter drive the knee to this position or rotate the hips more to get there? Keep this stuff coming.
This is the best question that I have ever received at BaseballHittingRebellion.com. My answer is going to be literally…thousands…of words…so i’m going to write an article on this question in the coming months (hopefully month…but again, this is a huge answer and a KEY to the I.T.S. Baseball Hitting System’s innovative way of describing hitting.
Please hang in there and wait for it…It will be worth the wait.
Did you ever follow up w this?
I really do appreciate the time and effort you have put in to put your thoughts out on the web being overseas it has been very helpful. These articles may be turning my thoughts, books and other things I have read and heard on there ear. It is interesting to see things I have said in the past to my son and wonder why he can’t do it instead of letting him swing naturally which appears to be a NIKE Swoosh.
Wish I could translate all of these for his local team coach to understand and quit trying to correct things they don’t understand why it is good or bad all they know is what they were told by their coaches and what they think they see on the local Major league play.
FYI, using your articles and what I know of the ITS for improvements we are practicing less but he has moved from 6th in order to 1st in the last month, not sure if he is getting better or just other getting worse 🙂 But moving to next level in end July where he will be one of the youngest and smallest.
So keep them coming.. Thanks again for a fresh look.
Glad you’re digging the look inside of Chas’s hitting brain, this is why I chose him to write for the Blog (or he chose me??), I think he has so much great knowledge to share with the online world!
About your frustrations with coaches “doing their own thing…” This will be an ongoing frustration because this information is so counter to what coaches teach and believe unfortunately. These same coaches will be doing what they can to change your son, a lot of times, away from Chas’s system. I want to tell you to stick with it, there’s always a way around it…just be cordial and respectful to the coaches because as you know, they’re writing the lineup.
Keep tuning in brother!
I’ll let Chas answer that one, and oh boy, you’ve opened up a can of worms with those questions 😛
Enjoy the information. I’m glad to help. We at the Baseball Hitting Rebellion are totally committed to being the best at what we do and describing and teaching the reality of hitting.
Hey Chas, written and talked to you on the phone about my 6yr old. He’s a lefty(lucky kid) but mid way thru his first season last year he started on his own batting right handed. Through out his second season this year he progressed dramaticaly becoming one of his teams best hitters even though he was the youngest on the team. When his mechanics were on his swing was pretty to watch. The issue has been the consistancy of his mechanics. Long story short baseball season is over for him is over and now he has decided he wants to go back to lefty his natural side. I’m all for it, the thing I have noticed over the last several weeks working with him is that his lower half mechanics are not only more consistant, but seem to naturally look like the the pictures you pick to illustrate the topics you write about. My wife (former college softball player) thinks we should continue to develop his hitting as a switch hitter. I feel hitting like pitching takes a lot of consistant repetative development of mechanics and motion. So I guess I fall on the side that he should stick with lefty which is his natural side and which he seems to have more of a natural consistancy of mechanics and motion. At this age it has been hard at times to communicate at his level without overcomplicating things and confusing him which happened a few times this season while batting righthanded when his swing mechanics got a little out of kilter. So oh Sage of Hitting , develop his switch hitting ability or stick with his decision to move back his natural side of lefty?
Generally, I always tell people to focus on one side and roll with it. Think of it this way, your body can only take so many swings in a day…we’ll say 200 for this response…so you can take 200 all righty…200 all lefty, or 100 each side…does that mean you’ll be ‘half as good’ from each side?
So, as a rule, i’m not a huge fan of switch hitters…HOWEVER…due to your son’s age, i have a different opinion.
I ran this by J.K. Whited, my other hitting instructor and the only other person certified and trained in the I.T.S. Baseball Hitting System, and we were universally in agreement that you son should switch hit.
One reason is this: most people who are ‘trying to learn’ to switch hit…are righties trying to be lefties…the problem with this is the percentages…
Why would a righty want to hit about 75 percent of his at bats from his ‘weaker’ or ‘off’ side? As most pitchers are right handed, the righty who learns to switch hit greatly hurts his own chances of being successful in my opinion. This is NOT the case for lefties, who as a rule, have a ton of trouble from same-side pitchers and can greatly increase their chances of success by turning around to hit righty off a left handed pitcher.
You also eliminate the ‘coach who plays the matchups’ from taking you out if you learn to switch hit…and opportunity is the most important thing in baseball.
Based on his age and natural ability left handed, hitting righty against left handed pitchers just won’t happen that much until he gets older.
As we discussed before, there are hitting aides that are specifically designed to help hitters learn to switch hit and that could help your son’s overall body coordination and muscle balance (Joey’s field) as well.
Bottom Line: You have time to make him into an awesome switch hitter, but you all have to commit to it…no batting lefty against lefties…EVER…no matter the situation. Only then is your son truly a switch hitter.
as far as ‘confusing’ him goes, make sure you only use words like ‘back foot’ and ‘front foot’ instead of ‘right and left’ when talking about hitting for him. He will know intuitively that his ‘back’ foot is closer to the catcher…no matter which side he’s batting from.
Using the correct verbiage should really lessen his confusion and allow him to become the player he can be.
P.S. Chas, forgot to tell you I’m a life long Cubs fan. Which makes me either an eternal optomist or a glutton for punishment. Anyways you mentioned in a post your friendship with Tony Campana. As a fan I am thrilled to see players come to play everyday with that kind of desire and level of skill when it come to doing the little things that make this the best sport in the world. He reminds me of why I love watching college baseball, and why I wish the pros was not so dominated by big mashers. The game will be better because of players like Tony,hopefully the Cubs too. Ha ha. By the way can we get him to do something about put his hat on straight. Ha ha.
Can’t help you on the hat straight issue, I think it’s a Lefty thing…
Another big thing to look at even though Bautista is lunging forward he rides his front knee well. The angle of the eyes to the front foot has a lot to do with the mechanics of the swing. If you look at that in the pictures I think you may notice.
Rides the front knee huh, that’s interesting, can you explain this concept a little more in depth for us all?
Yes sir, I’m fairly new to the concept myself. I’ve currently been working on it in m hitting. It is hard to tell because this is after POC but. My assumption is that the ball was off speed so naturally he was early. But by keeping his hands back and hips closed he slowly rides his front knee kind of shifting weight but keeping the back side strong waiting for the ball when the ball is there to hit he can start his swing still giving him power, and the push from the back side (if you’ve ever watched Alex rodriguez early on an off speed pitch it almost looks like his back knee touches the ground, that’s because he rides his front knee so well.
I gotcha now, I call that riding your BACK leg, but it’s all just wording at this point.
I have a great video of Manny doing that, but I can’t seem to find it…I’m going to look for it in my library and post it if I find it.
When I talk about hitting, mostly I talk about the ‘perfect swing’ meaning, swings where the hitter is not fooled and just hanging on to survive. That’s what makes Arod and Manny different from the rest of us is that they can ‘ride’ their legs without being hard on the front side. This allows them to start their hips properly even if they are fooled, as you stated in your post.
How old are you Joey and how long have you been working on this part of your game?
Yes sir but working on that helps when you get fooled and your perfect swing has to go out the window. Haha I just turned 18 and I’ve been working on it for about 8 months to a year now.
its always good to work on things like riding the back leg or front leg, whichever you prefer.
I wish you the best of luck
I coach LL baseball. Much of your stuff here seems a bit too technical for those kids to grasp – even me, to be honest with you. My kid seems to have a handle on this naturally, thankfully, but I’m often running into kids who are putting too much weight on their front foot for their swing. I like recommending the “squish-the-bug” technique because it helps get their hips rotating. I also like the bat-behind-the-hips drill and have them rotate their hips to hit a ball off of a tee, which is another drill to demonstrate where the power comes from. But if these drills are hurting these hitters rather than helping them, I’d rather stop. But what drills do you recommend for these younger (9-12 yr old) hitters to keep them from putting all their weight on their front foot? Any help would be very appreciated.
Thanks for your email. While some of my stuff is too tough for little leaguers to grasp outside of private lessons, most of my early articles on Loading, Vision, and Depth are quite easy for kids under 12 to get.
To address your specific question about your drills and the push forward onto their front foot I’d tell you that instead of highlighting their ‘foot move’ of ‘squish the bug’ i’d highlight a back leg ‘non-move’ of ‘staying bent’
Meaning, most of these kids probably have a straight back leg as they push forward to reach towards the pitcher to hit the ball. By asking them to swing with their back leg BENT, they can’t both push forward and keep their back leg bent. Put the tee deeper in their stance to force them to keep the back leg bent in order to hit it off tee drills. In soft toss, toss the baseball at their belly button or back hip not at their front hip or in front of their body. Also, the bat behind the back drill is ok, but it can promote a shoulders first type of turn but at the ages you’re talking about in a team setting, it’s a very easy drill for the kids to understand. Just make sure they have their heads still and looking down towards the hitting zone (home plate area) when they do the entire move.
Thanks for the question, and go and check out my earlier articles for some tricks for the kids like the head right head light drill and some key phrases like ‘keep your nose behind the ball’ that can make more sense to kids than ‘eye on the ball’.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks Chas. Just to be clear – the “squish-the-bug” drill can be detrimental if the kid is understanding it as a leg movement. But if I emphasize that the foot movement is a RESULT of hip movement, then it’s OK? And, yes, I see the leg bent drill as a first step, seeing the ball deep, then moving towards a “squish-the-bug” drill to develop that hip movement. We’re keeping our belly button above our back kneecap. Again, this is for younger players 9-12 years old.
Correct, if you emphasize the movement of the hips then it’s a solid drill for young kids.
I love that you are trying to implement this stuff into your teams.
A little update. 2 weeks and 2 practice sessions later, the kid who was hitting off his front foot has a totally different swing! Whereas he was constantly grounding the ball to 2nd base – literally 90% of the time – today he was hitting flies and drives to shallow to mid outfield, with occasional grounders. I’m so proud of him, and proud that my coaching could make a difference. And I’m thankful for running into your site. In fact, his hip initiation was so good today I noticed that my son’s wasn’t happening enough, so I worked on his too. Now, if I can keep him honest through the season, the front hitter has a chance to make the 12 year-old All-Star team. That would blow his mind. So, I thank you. You’re making a difference for this kid.
Thanks so much for the update. I can’t tell you how much stuff like that means to Joey and to me.
The fact that you have trusted us with your team and your son’s hitting is a big responsibility and we don’t take it lightly.
Keep reading and asking questions, the only dumb question is the one that goes unasked!
Hi Chas, My 19 year old son (ss at a local JC in Sacramento) and I have been working on this technique for almost 2 years, we first learned a lot of it from a great hitting instructor who just passed away. We have studied Positional Hitting, by Jamie Cevallos, and numerous slow mo of modern as well as older pro hitters. (check out 2011 homerun derby slo mo on utube)
We film his swing all the time, tee, cage,etc. It has been an amazing learning experience! I am consumed with learning and trying to learn and teach this technique, so I understand your enthusiam!
I surf the web trying to learn from others that have this passion also, so I am glad I found your site.
Please think about this question which I have about a segment of this swing that is not clear to me.
After the hip starts should the hands find a line directly to the ball and at the same time the back elbow pulls down to the side and then catches up to the hip and rotates/stays connected to contact? Thank you, Erc.
Honestly, The hands should NEVER go ‘directly to the ball’.
Maybe I’m not understanding your lingo, but when you say ‘hands to the ball’ i think knob pull and push of the handle…and that’s bad.
I want the SWEET SPOT to go to the ball, and if the hands are moving towards the ball…then that’s impossible.
Can you post a video of your son or give me a video to look at that demonstrates ‘hands to be ball’
Thanks for reading, I look forward to your reply
One thing i’ve been talking about with my hitting instructor in regard to lower body mechanics is opening the front foot at toe touch. This allows more torque, and if you land with a soft/bent knee, hip thrust comes more easily. As the front leg straightens, the hips turn and thrust forward. What are your thoughts on these few details to maximize power?
I’ll be asking plenty of more questions because I love the principles these instructions follow.
I think it all depends on what you use to open the front foot. If you’re turning your leg inside your hip socket only, that’s no good.
The key to torque and power is the angles of the pelvis and the shoulders. You want the pelvis angle to begin opening much sooner in the swing while the shoulders delay and stay towards the pitcher or even rotate inwards. This counter rotation creates strong potential energy in the obliques and lower back and allows for a super fast thrust.
Hope that helps,
My son takes batting lessons and his instructor works on this approach and I work with him at home on it. I think his best analogy is that your back hand is basically punching through – he now realizes that his hand has to be out in front of his elbow and he no longer drags the bat. Have to be patient and in some instances forgot alot of what they were previously taught. The transition was well worth the effort.
I work with hitters at the High School and 18U level and see a ton of players that never get into front heel plant. This front heel never touches the ground during the swing and they basically spin off everything. Do you have any drills or anything that will reinforce getting into the proper hitting position? Thanks I love the website and just finished my playing career and am interested in how to coach these things!!! Sometimes it’s easy to do and hard to coach!!!
Robert, you pull the knee through with the obliques and the turning of the pelvis.
Think about how you run, you pull your leg through and then the hamstring fires and propels you forward.
Re-Read the superthrust article and let us know if you have more questions.
Thanks a lot guys for all of this great info and for responding to all of our questions.
No problem man, we enjoy it.
I noticed in the article that you go from talking about the “knee to knee” drill that resulted in having you athletes stand straight up on their front leg then you have your first picture and then jump into this sentence “What happened was an efficient hip…” I’m not sure if I’m not understanding the paragraphs correctly or is there a small part where you introduce the drill they did to correct the issue? If you did presented could you rephrase it for me?
Caleb, Looks like this old article is in need of a re-vamp…
How bout this, check back later this week/next week for an update.
Hi Chas. Thanks for the great information. My question is about keeping the weight back. When you slow down a video of the swing of almost all major league hitters, you can tell that there is either zero or no weight on the back foot at the point of contact. While the center of gravity of these hitters is not directly over their front foot, their front foot is either solely or almost solely supporting the body at that point. What cues, instruction or drills do you use to insure proper weight transfer to the front foot while also keeping the hitter’s weight deep and his body from lunging forward?
You are absolutely correct. In almost all major leaguers have no weight or very little weight on their back foot at contact, (Napoli is one who does keep most of his weight on his back foot that I can think of off the top of my head) but I’d still say their ‘weight is back’. What I mean by this is simple. If the back foot didn’t touch down when it does…would they fall back or would they be able to stand on their front leg? I’d argue that neither foot is supporting the body, but that the body is only ‘in the air’ due to the momentum of the forward move or turn.
The body must ‘lunge forward’ in the load because this move allows for the power turn we provide in our instruction. Back Leg Angle Drill has been demoed numerous times in the site, not sure where it is, but its on there. from there, simple lean drills allow the hitter to figure out how to move the back foot (leans are also on the site and on youtube).
Should I be worried that when my back foot comes off the ground it lands almost close to my front knee
Think less, play more.
Ok im slightly confused on what keeping weight deep means. Does it mean keep your weight back? But doesnt’t the hitter need a good move forward before the turn? So a hitter gains forward momentum toward the pitcher, then turns. If the hitter moves forward to gain momentum, how does he keep his weight back, when he moves forward?
The weight stays behind the ball in the turn of the body. It all depends on where the ball is when your talking about moving forward and staying back.
To create maximum force, the hitter must move their body forward but when the front foot strikes the ground, the hitter’s axis is created and the hitter then turns. There is no more going forward at this point (most of the time). The hitter is still “back”, behind the ball at the point of contact rather than drifting forward more after the front foot plants.
Chas, did you ever post the response to Greg? His was the first one in this post. I know its old but Id like to read what you think happens here with the hip and knee.