How Does the Hitter’s Front Side Effect His Swing?

Written By: JK Whited

In baseball, we talk a lot about the backside.  We insure our students keep their weight back, turn their back hip, and thrust their hips from the back side.  Whether it is hitting or pitching, I would say 90% of power conversations are all back side induced movements.

What happened to the front side?

Sometimes as instructors we have to catch ourselves and remind our students we need to use our front leg, or “side,” and not be afraid of it.  That being said, trouble occurs when our body mass is pushed up onto our front side.  If you have read anything on this blog, you know this is a BIG no no.

We know that where a hitter starts his swing can mean everything.   Most People get caught up in what Mike Epstien calls ‘Style’ or the stance of a hitter.  Kevin Youkilis stands in the box flinching and twitching with a huge gap in his hands.  Then, just before his forward swing starts, his hands come together, his stride foot hits, and he’s in perfect Double Inside Load Position.

Kevin Youkilis Stance, Baseball Rebellion, Kevin Youkilis hitting mechanics, youkillis baseball swingKevin Youkilis Baseball Swing, Kevin youkilis Batting Stance, Kevin Youkilis baseball mechanics

Once the hitter has loaded his or her weight to the “double inside load,” it's vital the hitter then begins to transfer some weight back to the front side or hip, much like a pitcher with a good hip set to the front.  Now in these moments of shifting, we'll have slight head movement forward towards the pitcher, but remember this is NOT a push.  I like to refer to this as “riding out” the back leg.  Think of it as leaning into a steal of third base.

Front Side Baseball Swing, Robinson Cano Batting Stance, Front Leg HittingYou start your body momentum in a forward direction, but the majority of your power will remain back and coiled.  The hitter’s head, shoulders, and hands will remain back.  Any forward hand press at this moment will cause a serious loss in power because the hip thrust has not started yet.  This is illustrated very well here in Robinson Cano, who I believe is one of the best at this on a consistent basis.  He combines timing, momentum, and coiled power all at once.

The important thing to remember here is once the front foot is down and the shift to the front hip is done, there is a back angle created and there is ZERO head movement into the swing.  This allows a few very crucial points in a great swing.

  1. The backward body angle is created to keep the deep parts of the swing.
  2. We now have stored energy to help slightly turn the front hip back ensuring a power back hip thrust inward towards home plate and around the pelvis.

An important thought here is the front hip does go back a little but is more used to turn against or around.

Ken Griffey Jr Baseball Mechanics, Ken Griffey Jr Curveball, how to hit a curveball, baseball rebellion, front side adjustments baseball swingHere is when we have the powerful back hip thrust, pulling the back knee and foot forward.  Lastly, the strong front “hip set” allows the hitter to make the last split second adjustments to off speed pitches.  Think of it as a tap of the pause button while the hands and shoulders stay back in the stretched position and then violently explode into the turn.  We see this clearly here with Ken Griffey Jr.  on a curveball.

You can see Griffey’s front knee bend as the weight shifts to the font hip and he uses that energy to help pause and then thrust the back hip inwards towards home plate.  This reinstates we do not want to sit and spin on the back side.  Hitters that use the “sit and spin” method will be hard pressed to advance once the word is out they can’t hit off speed pitches.

When your player is working on his power hip turn, be sure to include the front side.  Now, when we see players with extreme push OVER the front foot through the swing, we have to fix that immediately.  Remember, once the correct spine angle is created from the front foot to the head, the player is back and should proceed into the turn of the hips, then the shoulders.  Sometimes we see players continue to go back as they go into the turn.  Teaching the player to get back to the front side will help adjust this move.  Just like we do not want players pushing forward as they try to swing, we also don’t want a player falling back.  Losing ground to the pitcher is also head movement and will result in a swing using all arms and wrists.

Learning how to get weight shift back to the front hip will ensure that the player continues to have a power hip thrust and stability.  Along with more power, the hitter will have the “pause button” ready in case of unexpected off speed pitches.

---JK Whited is a full time hitting instructor at Baseball Rebellion

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Megan
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Megan

Hey Jobin… great job 🙂

Dan Somoza
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Dan Somoza

Sometimes you see hitters with their front knee slightly bent and then it firms up at contact but I see a lot of hitters rise up when they try to firm up which causes some problems. Would it be better to keep the front knee slightly bent yet still a firm front side so the hitter doesn’t pop up out of his legs? Also then be able to adjust to offspeed better?

Thanks
Great work!

Warren Mills
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Warren Mills

Dan, Not speaking for the guys here, but this is my opinion. I believe this goes back to whether the big muscles are moving the small ones or vice versa. The point is to land the front leg with a bent knee that is facing @ 1st base as a right hander. If your mass is centered between the feet, this will allow your front thigh (big muscle) to assist in hip rotation. This is how the knee gets strait. It is, however, important for the student to understand what the front leg is supposed to do with all the… Read more »

Andrew Rando
Member
Andrew Rando

Hi JK love this type is awesome information!, Can you explain what you mean by “hip set”? Also, do you think rolling the back ankle in and keeping the front knee bending while staying square to plate before the turning of the hips & straigtning of front knee for an off speed pitch explains the “pause button”?. Or am I missing the boat?

Andrew Rando
Member
Andrew Rando

Thank You Very Much! Now I got it!
Hope you don’t mind me asking another question. When answering Dan’s question you said that the core starts the turn, now does the hips turn next in squence, then the shoulders correct? This is obvious to me but want to make sure. Thanks!

Bill
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Bill

I want to understand the proper way the push back from the front foot should be executed. Just as you explain the double-load of the inside ball of back foot…. does the front foot push mostly come from the inside ball of foot? Jaime Cevellos gets into 60/40 heel/toe thing but it seems that snapping straight of front leg should initially and primarily come from ball of front foot…. is that correct?

Rob
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Rob

Can you please go over the proper mechanics of the double inside load? Thanks

John
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John

You guys should do an Albert pujols,Adrian Gonzalez, and Jose bautista swing analysis. That would get so many people to know about this website.

John
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John

I meant to say on youtube

Rob
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Rob

Can you write an article on how to perform the leg raise like a pitcher?

Chas Pippitt
Editor

I’m not sure the ‘leg kick’ is article worthy, we think it’s pretty self explanatory. Just lift and go.

Chas–

John Rugen
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John Rugen

Hi.
I was wondering about the front foot or stride foot. My son is 15, and his front foot lands on the ball of his foot, and spins open before heel plant. He is leaking power, I believe, because the result of that opens his front hip too soon. Any ideas appreciated….. Thanks

Chas Pippitt
Editor

John,

Landing on the ball of your foot is fine, but you have to drive the heel down into the ground in order to properly turn your hips and body in the swing.

Land with softness on the front side…but strength in the heel plant. He is trying to use his arms too soon (that’s why he’s swinging before heel plant) which is a huge problem.

Good luck,

Chas–

Brett
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Brett

For some reason my foot comes off the ground without my front knee driving back how can I fix that?

Chas Pippitt
Editor

The problem isn’t the back foot coming forward, it’s that you’re not stopping your face from coming forward and straightening your knee.

You must straighten your leg to stop your chest and face. Focus on that side of your swing, not the back foot. It sounds like you’re working on the wrong thing.

Chas–

Troy Ericson
Member
Troy Ericson

Can you explain the move on your Puig swing analysis(during the first 2 minutes of the video) when you say notice how he doesn’t shift much weight back but see how he straightens his back leg so his body can come forward. My son tends to reach with his front foot on his stride so he has too much weight on the backside when he plants. Therefore, he gets to the inside of his back foot and his front shoulder is higher than back shoulder at landing. Any help here would be great before he goes to college practice in… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

When are you supposed to straighten the front leg because I’m having a hard time straightening my front leg any drills or advice you could give on helping this problem?

Troy Ericson
Member
Troy Ericson

jk, I would love to have my son work with you or Chas online. I am going to email Chas since his article triggered me. I have plenty of video I can get you guys. The thing that is strange is he has no problem with this in bp, as the weight comes forward fine and he doesn’t reach with his stride foot. But in games, it seems he reaches to buy time because he realizes he is going to land early so he tries to keep weight back while his stride foot reaches. So, basically he would be early… Read more »

Stephen Black
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Stephen Black

JK and Ron – JK as always – looks like you are right on the money and succinct. I’ve been talking with more than a few hitters and coaches about how to be DOMINANT – not just show up and avoid nerves. First Ron – Call today and start! I think it takes three things to be dominant without any one of these three you lose. I’d love Chas and JK to add details as they see fit: 1) Timing – in order to time the pitch you have to SEE IT EARLY. The human eye focuses on a moving… Read more »

Dino Balos
Member
Dino Balos

Hey JK, during today’s White Sox/Mariners game, we noticed that Robinson Cano was holding the bat while bat head pointed toward the Pitcher before the Pitcher got set for his delivery. Is this a type of timing mechanism? Adam Dunn also seems to do the same. Thanks

DEAN
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DEAN

DO YOU HAVE AFEW DRILLS TO GET TO A FIRM FRONT SIDE. MY 17 YEAR OLD SON COLLAPSING KNEE A BIT SEEMS TO LOOSE POWER OR DRIVING THE BALL.