Should a Hitter Get his Front Foot Down Early when Hitting? Baseball Rebellion Investigates.

Written By: Chas Pippitt

Chas Pippitt, Front Foot Down Early, Front Foot Down LateI'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:

...Maybe not...

The Question:

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???

The Answer:

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:

Chas Pippitt Online Hitting Lessons, Baseball Rebellion Hitting Lessons

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!

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Richard
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Richard

Another home run article Chas. thanks for all you do. Ray’s improving by leaps and bounds every day. Thanks for all you do.

Aubrey Coker
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Aubrey Coker

Chas, 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… Read more »

Stephen Black
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Stephen Black

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… Read more »

mr.vargas
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mr.vargas

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

Charles Sherrill
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Charles Sherrill

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!

Sean
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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.

Hit Man
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Hit Man

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.

Hit Man
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Hit Man

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.

Dave
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What is the hesitation drill?

Jack
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When does your next come out? I can’t wait, you always bring very useful info.

Randel
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How do you execute the hesitation drill

jerry
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jerry

Chas do you belive Jamie cavallo is wrong when he says a batter should read pitches from the cushion postion or heel down postion

jerry
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jerry

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… Read more »

Larry
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Larry

Does it matter how far you stride in your swing?

Derek
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Derek

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

Bill
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Bill

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… Read more »

Justin
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Justin

Chas-

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.

Jeff
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Jeff

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… Read more »

Brandon Mikell
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Brandon Mikell

Hi,

I just left a practice and the team was working on “early timing” and “late timing”, how do you feel about that concept?

Anthony
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Anthony

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!

Jim Hamilton
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Jim Hamilton

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

JK Whited

Jim, 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… Read more »

ronald fernandez
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ronald fernandez

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