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I've been known to say "The Swing IS The Turn" when I coach my hitters and most of what we spend our first few months of our program on is learning to turn faster, with more force, more often. That being said, learning to turn faster comes with a new set of problems. Invariably, when a hitter begins working with JK Whited, Steve Singleton, or myself, their swing becomes faster, but their timing is the same that they used when their swings were slower. They repeatedly roll over baseballs or reach forward with their hands to hit causing pop ups. Frustration sets in, and usually, hitters slow down their swings to hit the ball more solidly, but by doing this, they rob themselves of any chance of a powerful hit. We always work through these timing issues in varying ways, but sometimes, I feel a few lessons are 'wasted' because our hitting staff needs to find a better way to describe timing. Maybe we'll use this video:
My job is to make a hitter swing faster, but how do I make a hitter WAIT TO SWING instead of slowing down the fast turn we are working so hard to achieve?
I was having a conversation with one of my college hitters the other day and he was telling me that he felt he'd been 'early' lately and that he felt like he'd just been 'throwing his hands at the ball' and 'not using his hips like he wanted to'. So, I asked him what he'd been working on. I thought he'd tell me he'd been doing Back Leg Angle Drill and working on his Hesitation Tee Drill...but he told me he'd been making sure he was GETTING HIS FRONT FOOT DOWN EARLY so he could see the pitch.
Think about that...He was early...So he wanted to get in hitting position SOONER??? I don't know about you, but that just doesn't make sense to me. I was stunned. I told him to think about what he was saying...doesn't being early in the baseball swing seem to be the problem? Why would you want to force yourself to wait LONGER in your hitting position when you're struggling to do just that? Wouldn't getting to hitting position later solve the timing problem???
As always, when I'm stumped on a hitting idea, I headed into our video room at I.T.S. Baseball, and went to work. I checked on some of the best hitters in the game, big and small, old generation and new age, and I found a consistent process of timing. I'll use Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton (when he was doing well) to demonstrate how we're teaching timing now.
Looks like these pros are making a decision on the pitch with their front foot in the air to me. So I called my hitter back and told him to start his leg kick sooner but make it slower and higher. This change should force you to evaluate the pitch while your front foot is in the air and you're moving forward towards the pitch (SLOWLY) into your front side. He told me that my idea 'made sense' and he'd try it in his game. Here's his post-game text:
All I want you guys to do when you read Baseball Rebellion articles is THINK about what we have to say versus what others are telling you is right. I see the best players in the world evaluate the moving ball with their front foot in the air all the time. They decide to swing with their front foot off the ground, and then the turn sets the front foot down. Here's a real life drill example from one of my online clients doing a great job learning new timing and adjusting with his front foot in the air. Also, how cool is it that he gets to hit with the New York City Skyline in his background from the top of a SkyScraper!?!?
Please take note of how this hitter adjusts to the 'curve' and 'change' call his mother gave him. He sat into his front side, hesitated slightly, and then explodes into his turn. Perfect Drill Execution. I now use this drill to send as a demo to kids all over the world. Again...How Cool Is That?!?!
Now before anyone starts screaming "WHAT ABOUT PUJOLS, HE'S A NO STRIDE GUY" at the computer screen, I'll acknowledge that yes, there are no-stride hitters or toe-touch guys, but their FOOT isn't down until their HEEL is down.
Hitters toes cannot generate power or help you adjust to pitches, but driving your heel into the ground can. Think about this: You don't squat or deadlift weight from the balls and toes of your feet, you do it from the heels. Getting your heel down LATE, forces you to TURN GREAT, and makes your swing explosive and powerful.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion
PS Here's some video he sent me today. Pay attention to how long his front foot is in the air in the second swing. His leg kick is so calm and controlled, beautiful adjustment. The swing I'm talking about is the first one where the camera is still, around the 8 second mark...don't flinch!
Front Foot | Front Leg | Hitting | Timing
45 thoughts on "Should a Hitter Get his Front Foot Down Early when Hitting? Baseball Rebellion Investigates."
Another home run article Chas. thanks for all you do. Ray’s improving by leaps and bounds every day. Thanks for all you do.
Ray is getting better for sure! Whats been your favorite drill so far?
So far the most eye opening drill for us has been the hesitation drill. The drill has allowed Ray to realize just how much bat speed he can generate from creating the proper back leg angle, landing on the front foot and finally the importance of hip rotation.
You’re program is great! He’s got a couple of tournaments coming up in the next week and I’m excited to see how it all translates onto the field.
My advice for your first “After BR” games is this: Wait. For. The. Baseball!
Just like I said in the article, my job is to make you swing faster…and each time I do that…the hitter must Wait Longer! Make sure Ras Remembers that Richard!
PS, thanks for saying the Baseball Rebellion Online Lesson Program is great! We work hard at it every day.
Thanks for the tip Chas. I had Ray read your article yesterday and will pass along your message.
Mike and Jake Epstein have always said that a swing does not start until front heel plant. Good hittters will normally go to the front toe before heel plant and alot of times this can only be seen in slow motion, but 9 out of 10 times the toe will touch before heel plant. At front heel plant the body then rotates around the axis and linear movement stops and rotational movement begins. Jake has a drill in his advanced video where he has players time the forward stride or momentum in order to properly have the front foot set down in order to time their swing and recognize pitches.
As always great stuff and I enjoy reading.
As you can see I am an Epstein fan and follower, but I am also now a Baseball Rebellion fan and follower.
Mike (please leave Jake out of it…Mike has always said…) has always said that the swing does not start until heel plant…TRUE, but they miss HOW the HEEL IS PLANTED.
Thanks for following man, we’re glad to have you in the rebellion!
Chas – always creating more – Love your articles and way to go, you know how much I love the PAUSE DRILLS. If a hitter can explode from a pause, normal pitchers have NO chance. It will take a dominant pitcher just to match up with him/her. And I’m even talking about below average hitters matching up against good pitchers.
In short seasons I like to practice the pause drill every 1 or 2 training sessions or PBs and then my verbal queues pre-pitch are: relax, let it get deep, and then explode.
Your highlight of evaluating the pitch when the foot (heel) is in the air takes it to the next level. In my mind you now know whether to pause before your foot is even set during the fall.
Miss working with you every week.
Great to hear from you!
The hesitation tee drills and drills like the one in the article (HOW BOUT THAT FOR A FREE DRILL GIVEAWAY!?!?!) are GREAT for all kids to use to figure out hitting curves and change ups.
I like the cues, very nice.
Evaluate then Eradicate
Dominate your competition!
Steve, as you know, Technical Advantages at Baseball Rebellion always play.
How would this change for fast pitch softball ? It would be great to see some breakdown of wcws video. Thanks it’s a great breakdown
I’m going to eventually do a softball case study of a college hitter. Do you have any to recommend?
I hate to say it, but most girls are totally held back by their coaches. Girls are relegated to what coaches ‘think’ they can do. For instance, I have a girl who left a former All American and Team USA player (girls softball) to work with me because, after seeing my theory on hitting, the Team USA girl said “Girls Can’t Do That Athletic Swing”.
I refuse to limit girls…but also…the girls I see play on TV are mostly SURVIVING at the plate instead of attacking.
It’s hard to watch, and I think its because girls are taught to struggle to hit by the coaching they receive.
Chas, another great article! One thing I really appreciate about you guys is that you’re always willing to look beyond the conventional wisdom to really understand how the high level swing works. It takes a lot of pressure off us dads and coaches!
Thanks for the shout out. I love working with you guys (both in person and online)! Best of Both Worlds.
Any more homeruns this week?
This article has helped me so much I can’t thank you before I read this article I was hitting weak ground after I read the article I start hitting hard line drives and hard ground balls.
I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Is it really that big of a deal or is it just a useful cue for teaching. Some of my favorite hitters like George Brett and Ryan Braun seems to violate this severely.
I’d advise you to check again…
George Brett: head to the 1:28 min mark and see how long his foot is in the air while the ball is in the air… George Brett Hitting HERE
Ryan Braun: Slow Mo Doesn’t Lie…I guess we see the same thing differently… Ryan Braun Hitting HERE
To answer your question: It’s a HUGE deal. Lateness leads to explosiveness. Early is safe, but early doesn’t work. If it did…they’d all be early.
oops, sorry my comment was in the wrong place, I was watching your analysis of Puig’s swing and simultaneously reading this article, I meant to comment on youtube and accidentally placed it here, it was in response to the notion that the front heel should be parallel with the rear heal. My bad, but I appreciate you responding to my misplaced comment.
Makes more sense now! Braun overcomes his ‘bad direction’ with an extremely opened front toe.
Brett is the exception, but that proves the rule. Remember, most of what I teach is about maximizing both power and average. Brett, by no means, was a ‘power hitter’. I think he could have greatly improved his numbers and stake in the game historically, with better heel to heel direction.
On a ‘movement’ note, having your front heel out of line with your back heel as well as having a closed front foot makes zero biomechanical sense if you’re trying to ‘turn’ to hit. When generating rotational force, you must remember that the body does not care about ‘swinging a bat’ it’s trying to make the most efficient and powerful move it can. Brett, and other who closed themselves off, limited their ‘rotational power output ceiling’ and I don’t want that for my hitters. The fact that it worked for them, basically proves that it won’t work for many people, as outliers should never be emulated.
Brett’s coordination level is literally off the charts, so is Braun’s…so if closing off is the way young hitters choose to go, then they must hit the coordination lottery or they’ve got no shot.
What is the hesitation drill?
The Tee Hesitation Drill is a drill I use with my online and in person clients.
I can’t give EVERYTHING away!
When does your next come out? I can’t wait, you always bring very useful info.
It’ll come out next week, Justin’s got something coming down the pike, or we’ll have JK Whited do his article he’s been working on few a few weeks about college hitters and Power.
We generally release an article every thursday, but last week we did 2, so it depends! Check back often!
How do you execute the hesitation drill
Sorry man, I can’t give it all away, that drill is only for my private clients.
Feel free to check out our online lesson program for all our premium drills and content. If that’s not what you’re looking for, there is more than enough awesome information within Baseball Rebellion to get a ton out of the program and swing mechanics we prescribe.
Chas do you belive Jamie cavallo is wrong when he says a batter should read pitches from the cushion postion or heel down postion
I think video evidence proves that most MLB Hitters, and guys who WILL BE MLB hitters see the pitch out of the pitcher’s hand with the front foot in the air.
When I say ‘front foot on the air’, let me be clear, the front foot isn’t DOWN until the front HEEL is down. So these wide no-stride guys are still not ‘getting their foot down’ until they plan the heel with their turn of their hips. So, if the toe is down…and the heel is up…then that hitter has ‘their front foot in the air’.
Now, onto your question, I think Cevallos’s cushion is useful in ADJUSTING to any off speed pitch when you’re in fastball timing. A hitter should move forward and when the front heel gets down, the front knee should be bent. When the hitter gets a fastball, they should be able to turn INSTANTLY, but…if they get an off-speed pitch, they need to sit into the front side.
That decision on pitch type, speed and location is made WHILE THE FRONT FOOT (heel) IS OFF THE GROUND. Only then is the cushion relevant.
Chas ……I really am impressed by your knowledge of hitting and the way you can break it down> . Thou its funny that you use Jose Bautista as one of the guys who you say doesn’t get his front foot down early. because Bautista him self says, his hitting improved greatly when he started getting his front foot down early .. HE didn’t feel he had to rush anymore .You even find him some where on you tube saying this about the front foot. Do you believe this is another case of a major leaguer actually doing some thing different then he thinks he is ?
I hate to say it, but yes, Jose Bautista THINKS He gets his foot down early…but the video says otherwise. He probably even practices getting down early. In actuality, he probably just starts sooner and slower so he’s not ‘rushing’.
His feel of ‘not rushing’ is totally legitimate and real, but how he gets there is not how he says he does. I’ve seen the link, HERE IT IS about his swing change.
I love Jose Bautista, he’s quite possibly my favorite hitter, but I’d tell him that he’s starting early, moving slowly, then turning fast with a late ‘landing’ of the front heel. He would probably argue with me based on his feel, but as we know, feel isn’t real in a lot of circumstances.
When you’re front foot is down late…the hitter MUST turn GREAT!
Does it matter how far you stride in your swing?
Yes, many kids understride and many kids overstride. You want the stride to be athletic and consistent. The hitter must be able to turn effectively and with great acceleration or the stride is off.
Just as in my back leg angle drill demonstration, you must stride so your front knee is bent and over the ankle, never in front of the ankle though. That allows for the fastest turns and greatest adjustment chance.
Is there a drill to get your front knee to drive back to make the the back leg come off the ground because I’m having trouble with driving my front knee back
Of course there is! Try reading the “how to hit curveballs” article I wrote. You should be able to figure it out from there.
Also, try hitting on a downhill slope. That really emphasizes the need to push backwards!
I’m not a client but i enjoy you’re website and emails. It’s good stuff. The college player you refer to says that he’s felt like he’s “been early and throwing his hands at the ball.” It doesn’t sound to me like your recommendation is much different than the solution he came up with on his own. The problem I often see in hitters, and the one this college player was likely suffering from, is that they start their torso rotation while their front foot is still waiting to be planted. This means the bat is swinging without the front anchor being down which causes a weak swing and a feeling of “early.” Your solution and his solution both aim to get the front down before the hands start forward the only difference is that you recommend he maintains his leg kick longer by slowing it down then plant and swing. I think the main difference between the two solutions is that it takes practice and precise timing to execute yours. I think of his as the beginner’s version of the execution of the heel plant then core rotation (makes sense to start there if you’re trying to break out of a bad timing habit). Your version is the advanced execution of the same solution….like Dustin Pedroia’s massive stride, heel plant, swing. That kind of timing is impeccable but when you’re having timing issues and you try to start there you can end up being late with the heel plant which makes if feel like you’re early with the hands resulting in a weak swing. If you’re trying to solve that problem then starting with the “Pujols” and working towards the “Pedroia/Bautista” seems like a logical sequence. And the Pedroia is optimal if you’re trying to maximize bat speed and power, something Albert doesn’t have to worry about.
I understand your comment but you’ve missed one key point.
Puljols gets away with his foot down early approach due to his sheer size and strength advantages. As a reader, you know we teach the ‘optimal’ swing here at Baseball Rebellion, and while we recognize there are ‘other ways to skin a cat’ like using a foot down early approach, we think the best and most adjustable way to swing is with a longer ‘hang’ period in the forward move.
Also, The turn of the pelvis MUST start before the foot lands as if you land with your front side before you turn, you’ll be blocked off and have a two part swing instead of a one movement turn.
I hope that makes sense and I thank you for reading!
My son prefers a no stride swing where he starts toe down only with the front foot and the gets the heel down before hip turn. Are there any major disadvantages with this? Thanks for the great website.
In short, yes, there are huge disadvantages to a no stride swing.
If your son isn’t Albert Pujols sized or as fast as Mike Trout, it basically puts an instant ceiling on his upward potential as a hitter.
No stride guys have a ‘safe’ swing. They don’t like to miss, they put the ball in play. These hitters are typically very successful in middle school and sometimes in high school but their swings rarely translate to a higher level.
I hope the preference of your son doesn’t allow him to have a false sense of security and comfort. If he’s not crushing the ball, or the fastest guy in his state, then he’s probably in for problems.
PS: that doesn’t mean he’s gotta have a Bautista Leg Kick either. There are other ways.
Great stuff. Everybody who instructs should understand this. We need to destroy segmented instruction and breaking down athletes to be static and unnatural. In my opinion one of the most important things in hitting is timing and forward movement. Have to attack the ball not defend at the plate!!! As I commented on a fall forward article if timing is off and batter does not get to ready on time or rushes the ready/load part of swing the rest of swing breaks down and the pitch appears faster. I seen a comment on no striders and I would like to add they still must move forward for seperation between hips and shoulders until ready to pull trigger and be careful not to push up off the ball or sit on back leg. So if the movement is the same why remove power or teach the unnatural segmented swing. I would think not only is it less of swing but would be harder to actually achieve correctly consistently. I completly agree with Chas that a one piece stride/load for maximum power and bat speed is the natural way to go and do not feel if instructed correctly is any less safe, but is definetly more powerful. So why not go for average and power. We all hear the cue soft toe being taught. We know this is important in the stride but I dont want a hitter sitting and squishing on the back leg to achieve a soft toe. I like to use and over stress the cue “slow feet then explode”! Early slow stride achieve timing and read pitch then explode. We don’t sit or go backwards to throw! Try to put ur foot down early before you throw and hit a still target consistently with any speed at all. We dont see a pitcher doing this! Hitter has a moving target so lets teach them to attack with smooth dynamic actions and how to drive the ball! This is a game and its only fun as long as a player can hit. Infield grounders will get them leaving the game before high school.
I just left a practice and the team was working on “early timing” and “late timing”, how do you feel about that concept?
The concept is good, we do it. All depends on the execution.
Great insight! You have by far the greatest understanding of the high level swing of anyone I’ve ever come across. The reason i’m commenting is my brother recently started his senior season of high school and he’s having bad timing issues, he’s out in front of everything. I take video of all his at-bats and after reading this article I think I figured out why, it seems he’s planting his heel early and before initiating his swing. I can’t wait to try this out and see if it fixes the problem. Thanks for the help!
Thanks for the compliment, we work really hard at this man.
If you’re foot is down late, you’ve gotta turn great.
Let us know how your brother does.
When doing a higher and longer leg kick, is there a way to avoid having the ball seem to come in faster? I’ve found that when I transfer weight forward like when doing a bigger kick, it shifts my head forward as well which leads to being late on fastballs and making off speed pitches more effective. Is there anything I can do to prevent the ball appearing to come in quicker? Sorry if I’m not very clear, it’s hard for me to describe it
It all just depends on what you are doing when your making your move forward. I have obviously never seen you swing so it is hard to say why the ball seems faster to you. The movement forward is used to create more body turn and therefore bat speed. If done right, you should actually be able to see the ball longer and have more time to react than guys that do not move.
In the movement forward you have to getting your body ready and into positions to help your turn faster. Yes your head will be moving forward, it has to if your gaining ground towards the pitcher. Perhaps you are moving to late in the pitcher’s delivery and by the time your front foot should be down, the ball is already past the point of no return. Again, I am speculating because I have never seen you swing. I would ask yourself what are you doing to prepare to turn fast. Are you getting to good positions? If not then the ball may seem faster because your not really ready to swing.
Do one of bat tipping….great hall of fame players like hawk Aaron was great at that… And the scapula load like Josh Donaldson describe in his famous youtube mlb clip