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The TRUTH About Hand Path in the Baseball or Softball Swing: Look Ma, No Hands!

Written By: Chas Pippitt

Hitting a baseball (or softball) is truly an art.  But, with the more recent developments in technology, hitting is becoming more science as well.  There are clearly defined ways to gain more power and more consistent success levels at the dish like:

  • Gaining more separation between the pelvis and the shoulders, and
  • Turning more of your mass with Super-Thrust.

This makes this article probably my most important article to date, as I think we can really show ‘hand path’ to the ball ISN’T actually a “real” thing.

How is this possible?

Well, hear me out on this, and I think you’ll figure it out.

The term ‘Hand Path’ and the things supposed to promote a proper hand path to the ball are telling the brain to do the wrong thing.

We’re all sitting at computers right now, so if I say ‘use your hands to grab the mouse’ what actually happens?  Assuming you’re sitting at a chair with your arms on an armrest or with your hands in your lap, you’d activate your ARMS to move you hands over to the mouse.  First the shoulder would lift your arm up, then your triceps and front deltoid would extend your arm out towards the mouse before lowering the hand onto the mouse.

What did your HANDS actually do?  NOTHING!

We at the Baseball Hitting Rebellion want people to have the most accurate ways to talk about, think about, and practice hitting possible.  Why waste time thinking about things counter productive to your real results?

Hands driven terms and teaching points are major problems with how hitting is taught today

The second a coach says ‘throw your hands’ or ‘hands to the ball’ or ‘knob to the ball’ the brain activates the ARMS.  Arms are swing poison…and their use is deadly to the hitter’s chances for success.

Notice how Cabrera’s hands ARE MOVED by his shoulder turn, not by his arms.

Notice how Cabrera’s hands ARE MOVED by his shoulder turn, not by his arms.

 

Activation of the front arm triceps leads to arm bar, slower rotation, and makes it much more difficult to hit the inside pitch.  Also, this action delays the ‘snapping’ of the barrel until much too late, so the barrel is NOT fully powered and sped up before contact and by the time it does speed up, the bat head is out of the hitting zone.  For a righty, that means the top speed of the bat is headed towards the 3rd base dugout.

Not a good recipe for success in my book.

So many of the kids who walk through my doors use their arms in their swings.  And ALL of my Righty Thrower/Lefty Hitters pull so hard with the front arm triceps…I just had to figure something out to correct this problem.

Look at the angle in Hamilton’s back arm, it NEVER changes. How can he throw his hands at the ball if his arm stays locked?

Look at the angle in Hamilton’s back arm, it NEVER changes. How can he throw his hands at the ball if his arm stays locked?

 

 

 

 

This brings me to my newest, and best, fix yet for the toughest problem I’ve encountered teaching hitting: Arm activation in the swing.  This breakthrough is called The Rebel’s Rack.

The Rebel’s Rack can help eliminate front arm barring and triceps activation, back arm shoulder push, improve wrist flexibility and barrel direction, as well as teach the hitter to gain more separation between the pelvis angle and the shoulder angle.

The Rebel Rack Test Group

We put our test group in the Rebel’s Rack and ran them through a few movement drills, some using Drive Developer bands and some just pure movement and barrel manipulations.

The Results were startling…

One college hitter, who was drafted out of high school, went from hitting the ball 86 to 88 consistently, to 89 to 92 with a new high of 93 that he hit 7 times.  Usually this kid hits about 10 balls out of 100 over 90mph in a session.  This day, he hit over 40.  It was stunning.

Another kid, who’s had lessons from me for over 2 years increased his max exit speed 9 mph the first day.  his average during his test, of 75 mph, was 6 mph higher than his previous max.

Another kid, who had lessons at a competing facility about an hour away, from a former professional player, improved his Max Speed by 10 MPH.  He has had 2 LESSONS in the Hitting Rebel System and only 1 using the Rebel’s Rack.  His mother’s direct quote was:

“Thanks Chas! After seeing what you have done with his hitting in only 2 lessons I cannot wait for more! Not only has his hitting improved but his confidence as well. Love it!!”

Video Proof:

(Dont Forget to LIKE the video and Subscribe to the channel to get EMAILS when I update the page with a new video or drill.  This is Chas Pippitt’s OFFICIAL YOUTUBE CHANNEL.  Please check there for the newest swing breakdowns and further videos on hitting from pros and my current students alike.)

Numerous kids (boys and girls) of all ages improved over 6 mph the first day they used the Rebel’s Rack.

Did they get stronger?

No, they got more efficient.

Wasted and misdirected energy is the problem in most swings…The Rebel’s Rack, if used properly, can solve this issue.  By deactivating and de-emphasizing the arms in the swing, the obliques, lower back and front abdominals take over to turn the pelvis before the shoulders.  Rocketing the shoulders into the swing more with impressive and amazing power.  This then accelerates the barrel of the bat instead of the knob, creating the deep Nike Swoosh bat path and instantaneous speed needed to maximize a hitter’s potential for power and average.

I am very excited to bring this breakthrough in my own teaching to the masses in short order.  Get excited because the Rebel’s Rack Drive Developer attachment is going to help your son or daughter get more separation between the pelvis and shoulders, de-emphasize the arm use in the swing, and learn to turn the barrel sideways into the hitting zone instead of at the pitcher.

Thanks for Reading,

Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion.

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54 thoughts on "The TRUTH About Hand Path in the Baseball or Softball Swing: Look Ma, No Hands!"

  1. Tim Mitchell says:

    Great post Chas. I can tell you that as I try to teach my sons what I learn from your blog and webinars, I first try to physically reproduce what your talking about myself. There are many things I have learned from you, but two that stick out prominently are 1st) Teaching a 5 and 7 year old has its own set of challenges but the language/terms/vocabulary I use has often been a struggle. I often try to utilize terms you use in your posts. However I sometimes am stuck using the same old terms or phrases that I grew up with because my education in your approach to hitting is incomplete. I will be glad to dump “throw your hands at the ball” or any of that other nonsense that gets spouted all the time. The 2nd thing is I started to piece together things about the hands by studying your other posts at length. Having been exposed to a number of D&T preaching coaches when I was growing up playing, I can tell it was the hardest thing to overcome in my own swing. It took a lot of DD usage. The rack news seems extremely exciting. Thank you for the reeducation in hitting, and the continued development of terms/vocabulary that actually makes sense.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Tim,

      Thanks for your kind words. You are a true Hitting Rebel!

      I feel your pain when trying to reproduce my teachings in my own swing. I can demo any drill well, demo hip movement, arm-deactivation…but then someone flips me a ball and the same old knob to the ball happens!

      SUPER FRUSTRATING! However, recreating the feel, even at half speed, can be huge for a dad or mom trying to explain these terms to a young kid. I’m glad you are all in on the movement towards reality in hitting.

      Chas–

      1. ded says:

        as there any way to fix hands and front tricep activation without rebel rack, i have the drive developer

  2. Nathan says:

    Chas,

    Great news about the Rack. Recently purchased the Drive Developer for my 12yr old and 9yr old. Have been a knob to the ball guy my whole life, and taught my kids that technique.
    Your hitting philosophy makes so much sence. The boys are struggling with the phrase accelerate the bat head earlier from the start of the swing. (( which makes so much sence, because your swing gets on plane so much earlier in the swing. I hope that I am right about that concept…)) The Rack, in my opinion will help them with that.
    The boys are punching and snapping away and on there way to a great swing.. I Enjoy your website and your articles about hitting. Thx.

  3. Pat Custenborder says:

    Your comment about right hand thrower/left hand batter rings so true. My 13 year old struggles with barring….can’t wait to try the rack!

  4. Tim Mitchell says:

    The video clip of Josh Hamilton shows really well I think what your talking about with the hands being brought around with and by the shoulders. The question I have about the clip is in regard to the amount of hip and shoulder separation during his swing. I’m still learning how to analyze a swing on video. The other day I saw a video analyzing Tim Lincecum’s pitching motion. The video and the commentary of it allowed me for the first time I think to understand what you often refer to as having that 2nd gear. The video clip showed his hip completely open upon the landing of his front foot which then lead to an explosion of the rest of his upper body and shoulders rotating. Am I on the right track? If so what is your assessment of Hamilton’s hip/shoulder separation in the above clip? Or is Lincecum truly the “Freak” and a guy of Hamilton’s build is just not going to have that kind of separation? This is ultimately what causes the explosion of the barrel through the zone correct?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Tim,

      Hamilton, in that clip, doesn’t have as much separation as we’d like to see, but again, he’s a MOOSE and doesn’t need the separation the way a Cano, Bautista or Pedroia must have it.

      Hamilton, CAN get separation like that, but as you age its less and less. Vlad Guerrero was a great example of someone who separated his hips from his shoulders less and less as he aged.

      Chas–

  5. michael says:

    Great stuff Chas. The way your breaking the swing down has made it easy to understand and easy to teach. Are you having any day long camps this summer? My 8 year would love to get some first hand instruction from you. We are out here in eastern NC so a day long deal would be awsome.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      The camps that we are planning at I.T.S. Baseball are geared towards the Super Elite high school kid. We’re going to bring it top strength and conditioning guys as well as arm care/rehab guys next summer for an awesome camp.

      Young camps aren’t really our forte. But if you’re looking for personalized instruction, you know I can do that for your remotely. Your son would greatly benefit from some online lessons and I know he’d think it was really cool to watch me coach him on screen and then get the personalized drills we provide.

      You could always give that a shot, I think you’d really be surprised on how much your son would enjoy it (based on the feedback I get, these kids can’t wait to get the videos) and how much that he’d improve.

      Save the gas and the time! But if you wanna come up, I’ll make room for you this summer for a couple hour block.

      Chas–

  6. JP says:

    This is exactly what I been trying to stress to both my boys with their hitting. Can you go in depth about the top hand taking the barrell of the bat to the ball…I am tired of hearing coaches saying swing level, instead of keeping your shoulders and hips level and your head still.

    Lastly, can I get close to the same results by using a towel as with the Rebel Rack? Thanks fo your time.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      JP,

      There’s a lot to respond to in this question…

      First, the shoulders can’t stay level in the swing…the barrel must be on the same plane as the shoulders at contact. If the shoulders stay level, and the barrel planes the pitch, you’re by definition disconnected from your power source, the torquing move on the hips and shoulders.

      The shoulders must angle inward towards home plate on every pitch below the belly button so the barrel can be correctly supported.

      To your last question, no, a towel or any non-rigid tool, cannot create the scap load of the rebel’s rack nor the strength to support the overspeed and underspeed training capabilities of the Rebel’s Rack.

      Thanks for reading!

      Chas–

  7. Reggie says:

    How can i make sure that I dont tilt the barrel?also how can i convince my hitting instructor that this is the right way to hit?
    Thanks

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Reggie,

      If you’re PAYING a hitting instructor…and you still feel the need to read my site and ask me questions…

      FIRE YOUR HITTING INSTRUCTOR!

      Chas–

  8. John says:

    What do you think is more effective the drive developer or rebels rack?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      John,

      Well, honestly, the answer is both together.

      The Drive Developer was, is, and will be a great way to strengthen the wrists and prevent wrist rolling. It helps with deep snap of the barrel as well. Changing the bands allows you to work on balance, leans, superthrust…it’s a very versatile tool.

      The Rebel’s Rack is and will be a great way to influence the body’s willingness and ability to turn and separate the pelvis angle from the shoulder angle, greatly increasing the amount of torque in the midsection and therefore, power in the swing.

      Both are effective, both are used daily in my teaching and in my building.

      Perhaps part of the Rebel Rack’s success is the foundation the Drive Developer built, I honestly don’t know, as every single kid who’s used the rack (other than a few) has had many months to years of DD training in their back pocket already.

      I will say this, the Rebel’s Rack has greatly changed my understanding of movement and the importance of the Back Shoulder Row has never been more clear to me.

      If you only get the Rebel’s Rack, you don’t get resistance bands though…so the combo is really the best way to go.

      Chas–

  9. Ivan says:

    Chas,

    Great article and webinar! Interesting how difficult it is to talk to people about the hand and how it is over emphasized. It is something they learned so it is ingrain into their mind, much like squashing the bug emphasizing the ankle turning the hip not the other way around.

    As you know we (me and my son) analyse all things stated to understand completely. Much discussion lately around my area about the use of a heavy wood (6oz over game bat weight) bat causing a loop in the swing? Any falsities or error with that concern or thought? When using the rebel rack and a wood bat does that help eliminate the concern?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Ivan,

      Remember, most of the people you talk to will have no real understanding of a successful swing (even the minor leaguers or pro guys in japan) and will talk to you about hands dropping or a ‘loopy’ swing.

      There are NO concerns with you and your son’s swing getting long (I see the swing on video, so I know what he does and where he’s headed). The wood bat and the Rebel’s Rack will give him the opportunity to have a ‘long’ swing…a ‘long swing’ in the hitting zone…which is what we want.

      You’ll never hear me talk about ‘shortness’ of the hands/swing. You’ll hear me talk about shortness to the PATH of the ball.

      If someone says Titus’s swing is long…think ‘thank you’ as long to them means great to me.

      We just need to make sure Titus doesn’t extend his arms to shape the swing. The Rebel’s Rack should take care of that totally.

      Chas–

  10. John says:

    Is the back shoulder row the same as pinching the back muscles back so you can hit with youre body? Ive tried to swing with my back muscles pinched back but its hard to sat loose and relaxed in that position.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      John,

      Similar yes, but more than likely you’re activating the wrong muscles…

      Remember, when you’re making a change…if it feels ‘normal’ or in most cases ‘good’ its not really a change.

      Chas–

  11. Mac says:

    Ted williams supports this perfectly. He has, in my opinion the most obvious swing with large muscles like shoulders. I noticed that his hands are low when he swings. What do you think about swinging with youre hands low?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Mac,

      Hand position in the stance is really just for show. When it’s time to ‘go’ most guys hands are at or below the top of the back shoulder.

      Chas–

  12. manny says:

    Does the left hand just snap the bat into the zone. How much do you, if at all use the hands. Also,I know you have written about this but what are the main things that get you to generate good bat speed again?
    Thanks

  13. James says:

    can you explain deep barrel turn without arm activation, and maybe apply it to a video of someone hitting.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      James,

      have you read my ‘look ma no hands article’?

      Click HERE to get to that article, great videos, should explain it.

      1. James says:

        i read the article. however, i am wondering if we are supposed to actively supinate the top hand wrist, or does it just happen?

        1. Chas Pippitt says:

          James

          Think about the ‘supination’ of the wrist in the same way that you think about the movement of the arms…

          The arms are acted upon by the body’s turn. The wrists supination happens when the pivot point at the shoulder socket is done correctly.

          High level question, but try not to talk to hitters about ‘supination/pronation’ type things, get them in the feel with laymen’s terms and then define what they do.

          Chas–

  14. jerry says:

    HI chas >>>>>>> will the rebels rack alone teach that rowing motion you are talking about?.the reason I am asking I see that rowing motion or what others call scap loading when you hook up the rebels rack to the drive devolper and stand futher away from the wall .I

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Jerry,

      The Rebel’s Rack teaches the load and strengthens the ‘turning’ muscles we use in our style of hitting.

      You are seeing it correctly.

      Chas–

  15. Mitch Schoenman says:

    Chas,

    First of all, I want to say that I think it’s awesome the way you are teaching hitting. I get fed up with the down and through teachings, because it obviously doesn’t make sense to swing down at a downward traveling object. However, I do want to get your view on something. With your rebel rack, what is your view on extension? I believe that getting through the ball is very important in creating a good consistent hitter to all fields. I love the rack until after contact. What is your view on post contact?

    Mitch

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Mitch,

      I get the Rack ‘after contact/extension’ question alot.

      If you swing right, there is ZERO ‘extension’ through the ball.

      This means, your front deltoids and triceps are NOT PUSHING TOWARDS THE PITCHER…what’s happening is the bat is PULLING your hands forward because you’ve empowered the barrel with so much force that you CAN’T HOLD IT BACK.

      We want ‘extension’ to be present in our hitters, but not if it’s from a ‘push’ effect from the arms/shoulders.

      The Rebel’s Rack creates the Scap Load/Row and the sideways barrel entry into the zone needed to create the illusion of ‘extension’ as its commonly taught.

      Chas–

  16. Brad says:

    How do you stop from at the baseball I alwasy try to deactivate my arms and hands as much as possible how would go about fixing this problem?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Brad,

      Do you have a Rebel’s Rack? Most of my kids have great success with that as you can’t push you arms out AND hold the Rack in place at the same time.

      Chas–

      1. Brad says:

        No I don’t have the rebel’s rack what would reccomend for me to do as a substitute for the rebel’s rack?

        1. Chas Pippitt says:

          Brad,

          You obviously love baseball and want to get better at hitting. I created the Rebel’s Rack to speed up the process of learning. My advice would be to substitute something else and sacrifice to get a Rack so you can have the best way to train a new move.

          Chas–

  17. Darin says:

    Does it matter where you start your hands at is it better when your hands are high to start or low to start?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Darin,

      I usually do not adjust hitters hands unless they’re causing problems. If I get a young kid and I can ‘build’ their swing, the top of the top hand is even with the top of the back shoulder.

      Chas–

  18. Sean says:

    Just got rebels rack what a difference it makes I used to chop and activate my arms but no longer thanks so much for creating the rebels rack

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Sean,

      I thought that order was for you.

      I’m glad you like the Rack.

      Chas–

  19. Sean says:

    When your foot lands on the ground where should the bat be high with your hands or right near your shoulder

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Sean,

      As your foot lands, your hips are opening and your bat is flattening out and accelerating back towards the catcher’s head.

      Chas–

  20. Paul says:

    Chas what is the importance of your wrist angle? I have heard people like jaime cevallos talk about maintaining your wrist angle and not activating them because you will lose power but does not activating them also allow you to stay inside the baseball? I have noticed that if i turn while trying to keep my wrists cocked the bat seems to stay close to my shoulder which would mean im staying inside the baseball. Also, i have been working on swinging with my turn and it feels better but i get jammed a lot and i dont get very good extension. I feel as if i need to swing more with my hands a little bit and when i tried this i was actually hitting the ball harder and more consistently. I was just wondering if you ever have to tell any of your players to be a little bit more handsy in their swing? I know the swing is all about the turn but i feel my swing is almost too rotational. Last year i was working on connection with my back shoulder and my swing got very tight and slow because i tried to force the angles of my arms as i know staying connected requires your front and back arms to maintain their angles through rotation. And i ended up having not so great season. Thanks!

  21. Paul says:

    One last question. When i look at guys like bryce harper, yasiel puig and pretty much any major leaguer i see as they make their positive move their front arm angle gets bigger almost barring in harper case. And then they turn. Im just wondering how on earth they stay connected with their turn when they have that action. I have tried to walk away from my hands like that and my swing got so badly disconnected i got jammed on eery pitch because my swing got so long. How to those guys stay connected so well??? I was wondering if staying connected is a byproduct something else they do in their swing really reall well. I just dont understand how bryce harper can land with an almost barred front arm and still have connection when he turns. I feel like their has to be something more to the concept of connection then just maintaining the feont arm angle through rotation. Thanks again!

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Paul,

      2 really good comments, nice job.

      learning this stuff on your own can lead to the slowness you’re talking about. I hope at some point you try out online lessons as they’d identify your issue and fix it very quickly.

      To your arm bar question, many kids, like yourself, arm bar themselves into disconnection. Honestly, Harper is disconnected sometimes in his turn and must calm down some of his arm movements if he wants to rival Mike Trout any time soon. The strength in his upper body is at a phenomenal level and he can bar, then re-bend his arm in the swing if needed.

      power/bat speed are not things he lacks.

      Chas–

  22. Bobby says:

    Can you please elaborate more on the separation between pelvis angle and should angle thing you talked about? What is that and how does the rebel’s rack help with the movement?

    1. Bobby says:

      Or is it just another way of saying hip and shoulder separation?

      1. jkhittingrebel says:

        Bobby,

        Correct. Chas is talking about the separation between the pelvis(hips) and shoulder angle. The Rebel’s Rack will help the player de-emphasize the hitters arms to more accurately feel that separation. The hands and arms are the last thing most hitters need to spend time on.

        JK-

  23. Bobby says:

    I have a very important question…If players were to swing without use of the hands,How would they get on plane with lower pitches.Great concept just really wanted to know

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Bobby,

      Thanks for the question. The hands do play a role in the swing but not in the way that most coaches talk about it. Just do some homework on our site and you’ll see that the shoulder plane adjusts so that the bat gets into the plane of the pitch. High pitch = High shoulder rotation, Low pitch = Low shoulder rotation. The hands simply turn the bat, they don’t create speed or create angle.

      -JK Whited

  24. Jason says:

    Awesome tool, got an eleven year old into baseball and he brings me back to my playing days. First and foremost great hitting tool. Matches hitting philosophy coach instilled in us. One distinct drill we used every day was very similar. Coach wanted us to elevate every pitch, no ground balls…ground balls equal outs at the highest level. Also, wanted pitchers to fear our hitters and you do that by dominating fastballs up and in.

    We used a large bouncey ball (sorry for the description), this did much of the pelvic drive you are talking about (back hip driving through the ball). Also, kept the hands on plane following the inside half of the plate, away from the body and back shoulder drove straight toward a gap (left center or right center depending on pitch location). He wanted us to drop and drive (maintaining a 90 bend with the back knee) and press forward on the ball with the back foot at impact. Last but not least the FINISH. He wanted the front shoulder staying in through contact. The only way to do this finish high with the hands and bat flat down the back (or as close as possible).

    I never saw anyone with a hitting philosophy close to this until I see your product. I would literally be gassed after 5 swings because I used my entire body and literally never thought about my hands. Then I learned I could start earlier and slower and my timing improved and balls started jumping off the barrel.

    Got a question before I buy your product (again I love the lower half activation I see)… do you agree or is there a way to modify to do the same thing, but keep the hands away from the body. Also, is there a way to keep the front elbow out front of the body to simulate a pitch up and in?

    Thanks

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Jason,

      Don’t think of the Rack as a “hitting tool” think of it as a “movement improvement tool”. Use it as directed, get a set of bands with it so you can do the resisted, assisted and overspeed drills, and the ball will JUMP as your body will choose more efficient turning movements and generate more speed and power.

      Chas–

  25. Joe Goodbody says:

    I’m watching the LLWS between Korea and Japan. Former major league players are doing a GRAVE disservice by talking about “throwing hands to the baseball”. Actually so far some of the kids have a great lower body move and shoulder turn to get their hands into the zone. Also drives me crazy that so many former players talk about “quick Hands” when they imply that the hands are critical to power. I am a 72 year old fart who learned from some of the guys who coached Ted Williams as a youth. We learned that “quick hands” were used to get the bat at the right time, place, position, angle and the last “POP” at the last nanosecond.

    1. Admin says:

      Joe,

      Ted Williams’s book “The Science of Hitting” is a great resource even today for what actually happens in a swing. I love that you see the problem with how announcing is hurting baseball swings and I’m excited to see the continued instructional growth of baseball and softball hitters into the future.

      Chas–

      1. Joe Goodbody says:

        Somewhere around here I have an original autographed copy. Of course growing up in rural San Diego County in the 1950’s, Ted Williams was a hero to all of us kids.

        1. Admin says:

          Man I’d love to see that Joe. wow!

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