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What can a Seesaw Teach us about Baseball Hitting Mechanics?

Written By: Chas Pippitt

Do you know how hard it is to find video of people using a seesaw in a normal way?  There’s tons of ‘seesaw fail’ videos on youtube…and they all involve people getting hurt.  Not exactly the funniest thing in my opinion, so I’m going to use this simple gif to show how a seesaw works.

Baseball Rebellion Hand Pivot in Turn

http://www.racemath.info/forcesandpressure/ks3_force_rotation.htm

Now, admittedly, talking about a seesaw within the baseball swing is probably a weird concept, but stay with me and it will make more sense in a minute.   Take a long look at the moving picture above.  Do you see how the ends of the seesaw move faster than the parts of the board that are close to the pivot?  How can we use that information to apply it to a baseball swing or softball swing?

The idea is simple:  If you can keep your hands still and make them the fulcrum or pivot point, then the farthest thing from the pivot (the bat head) will move the fastest.  For some reason though, people talk a lot about parts of the swing they cannot really feel, like the barrel.  I want to make sure in this article, I focus on the body.  The elbows are the ends of the see saw…and the point between the hands on the bat is the fulcrum.  Let me be clear, this is not my idea.  But the people who talk most about this…NEVER ACTUALLY IMPROVE ANY SWINGS…they just define patterns.  I want to break that mold and really show the ‘teaching’ side of hitting theory.

Question:  Do you think this looks like a baseball swing?

Answer:  At first, no.  But once you saw the movement and turn added in, then yes, it looked like what the best players in the world do.

Question:  How do you train that movement?

Answer:  By focusing on the TURN aspect of the swing.  If you focus on hand movement, then your turn must stop to support the hand movement.  As you saw in the video above, there was no hand movement across my body at any point.  The hands stayed beside my back shoulder the entire time.  Now, I realize I did not ‘finish’ the swing.  But, I showed all the parts of the swing that matter.   Now, watch the video below, and see how my hands move…AND…how the elbows do not work together.

Training a “HANDS FREE” swing:

Many people get very caught up in all the types of drills they can do to ‘hit better’ or to ‘keep more variety’ for the team’s batting practice.  There are short bats, heavy bats, long bats, flat bats, one knee drills, widened out drills…the list is endless.  At I.T.S. Baseball and Baseball Rebellion, we use 4 things to teach the swing:

  • A Standing Full Swing with Wood or Metal (Mostly Wood) Bats
  • The Rebel’s Rack
  • The Drive Developer
  • A Batting Tee (Very rarely used)

No heavy balls, no other training aids, no gimmicks.  Just real swings, and real turning.  The Rebel’s Rack helps keep the top hand in position as if you push forward, the Rebel’s Rack falls on the floor.  Clearly the Rebel’s Rack and Drive Developer bands can be used to train the strength of the turn as well as the speed of the turn.  The Half Turns and Elbow Moves I demonstrated above are very useful in my professional and college player client base in getting them to deactivate the hands and dominate and control the barrel with a power turn.  (Speaking of one of my pros, Josh Horton has been ON FIRE, check his stats here)  I have used these moves on players as young as 6 years old though…You can see how that worked HERE

Now, I could start talking about how the angular velocity of the swing I teach, when transferred to linear speed is significantly faster and more powerful than a hand dominant knob drive swing…but sometimes the physics can just get too technical.  If you really want to find out about that, watch the video below.

Now that you’ve fallen asleep…

Thanks for reading!

Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion

42 thoughts on "What can a Seesaw Teach us about Baseball Hitting Mechanics?"

  1. Steve Nichols says:

    Thanks for the article. I love all your hitting analysis, and I’ve become a fan. Unfortunately, the instructor in the linear/angular velocity lost a little credibility when she discussed the points in the circles traveling through “approximately 365 degrees.” We all know that a circle travels through exactly 360 degrees.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Steve,

      ha yes, I did notice that as well.

      Did you watch that entire video? I did once…then I tried to a second time, and I woke up 2 hours later.

      Chas–

    2. Chris Grove says:

      Hello Gentlemen,
      the approx. 365* is correct because the starting point is at 3:00 position and ending point is closer to the 2:00 position. Chas I think a good demonstration for this linear / angular velocity comparison is to twirl a lanyard (i.e. coaches whistle) around your finger, notice as the radius gets smaller the whistle travels faster. constant linear velocity, increased angular velocity

      1. Chas Pippitt says:

        Chris,

        you’re right, it did go a little further didn’t it.

        I agree on the lanyard demo. I call it the ‘lifeguard’ demo as we all know every lifeguard everywhere twirls his or her whistle in their boredom at the pool.

        Chas–

      2. Jeffrey Alan says:

        I take the concept of angular velocity a little further with some of the older kids that I work with. There is a principle in physics called The Conservation of Angular Momentum. Angular momentum is defined. In a circular orbit (i.e. the baseball swing), angular momentum (L) is equal to the product of mass (m), velocity (V) and the radius (r) of the orbit (r), stated as:

        L = mvr

        In a baseball swing, mass (m) is the weight of the bat, velocity (v) is the speed of the bat head, and radius (r) is the distance of the bat away from the center of the body.

        Angular momentum is conserved in a circular orbit, i.e. it stays the same. So if any of the three components (m, v, r) are increased, then one or both of the other two must decreased. Similarly, if any of the components are decreased, then one or both of the other two must increase.

        Ever notice how an ice skater will spin faster as he/she brings their hands in close to their body? Well the same concept applies in a baseball swing. If we keep the weight (m) of the bat the same, then in order to increase velocity, we must decrease radius. The only way to do this (without using a shorter bat) is to keep our swing well connected to the body. So when you cast your arms away from the body, and reach a Power V earlier than optimal, you are increasing the radius (r) of the swing, which results in a decrease in velocity.

        You can easily demonstrate this (without all the physics talk) by having someone sit in an office chair and stretching out their arms while holding some dumbbells. Have another person give the office chair a spin, and notice what happens when the weights are pulled in close to the body – you will actually spin faster. Stretch your arms back out to the side and watch your velocity decrease.

        Jeff

  2. Eric Williams says:

    Chas,
    Since the front elbow goes up while the back elbow goes down…. does that mean that the elbows stay the same distance from the ready position through contact?

    Eric

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Eric,

      YES! But that’s super hard for a hitter your son’s age.

      We’ll get there…

      Chas–

      1. Jeffrey Alan says:

        Chas,

        Curious as to what you think of a product that Jack Mankin (of batspeed.com) sells. It’s called The Perfect ConneXtion. See http://www.batspeed.com/products07.html.

        Seems like it would be a good hitting aid to keep forearms and elbows in synch. You can’t really hit a baseball while wearing it because you can’t follow through after contact. But you can use it to swing a bat into a punching bag, and build muscle memory up to the point of contact.

        1. Chas Pippitt says:

          Jeffrey,

          Interesting that you bring up the perfect connection. I have thoughts on that coming…

          Chas–

  3. roger johnson says:

    I found it very interesting, but would have found it fascinating if there had been a batter in the mix. Very good though, and we appreciate it a lot Chas.

  4. Ron Ross says:

    Great hitting philosophy and explanations. When the arms do extend, how much are the hands and arms involved vs just inertia and completion of turn?

  5. Matt Austin says:

    Chas,
    We are using the perfect connection with out 9u team. Is it hurting or helping them? We really want your opinion.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Matt,

      I’ll put it this way, I don’t use that with my in person students…

      And very soon…I’m going to release my bat drag fix… Get. Excited.

      #GameChanger #BRrebel

      Chas–

  6. Jamie says:

    I cannot wait to see the bat drag fix. Yes we are vary excited. My son and I have been working on curing this now for over a year. I starting to see that this swing flaw is a plague amongst the youth in our area. We have tried many different so called fixes and to no avail. Chris Oleary has some good theories on drag but the fixes require to many hand drills and I’m thinking that’s just making the problem worse by emphasizing the hands. PLEASE HELP !! The world needs a 911 bat drag fix !

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Jamie,

      I promise, now that school has started, my Bat Drag Fix product and methodology is my number 1 priority. The product has been tested on 15 different people, boys, girls, old young, large and small…

      and is 15 for 15 in ‘lessening’ the bat drag in the first 15 mins.

      The only problem is simply the product itself is not ready. The prototype works…but it also isn’t very comfortable…meaning kids don’t really like using it. I hope to have it ready for prime time by late October.

      It will be worth the wait…

      Chas–

      P.S. Justin and I have been working on 2 pitching products as well! #GameChangers

  7. Sean says:

    How do stop chopping i have tried everything i just cant seem to stop chopping what would you recommend doing

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Sean,

      The toughest part about questions like this is that the ‘chop’ action is probably due to your footwork and lack of turn.

      You ask a lot of questions, and I’m glad you do, but at some point, you’ve gotta let me see your swing…otherwise I’m just guessing.

      chas–

      1. Michael says:

        Chas,

        Do you take clients who have no future in baseball? I’m a 31-year old Math (Calculus)/English/Design Thinking teacher who has been studying baseball swings and making self-corrections since I was 8-years old. (I would watch MLB swings over and over again and incorporate movements. I also did martial arts and used those principles in my wing). Anyway, I’m now playing in two different leagues in DFW and want to get my swing as good as possible. Do you take older clients or do you only work with those who might pan out someday?

        1. Chas Pippitt says:

          Michael,

          Yes! we will take anyone who wants to learn and is doing the work. Our oldest client ever was 64 years old.

          We would love to help you on your quest to get better and understand the swing more!

          Chas–

  8. Brent says:

    I thought the rebels rack was suppose to help keep the back elbow in the correct position to prevent the dreaded bat lag and many other flaws.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Brent,

      It does. But there are always innovations and changes happening here. If we find a better way, we’re going to run with it.

      The Rebel’s Rack is awesome for many things, elbow position is one, but strengthening the turn, muscle activation through the trunk and spine, and overspeed training are more benefits of the Rebel’s Rack.

      Chas–

    2. Chas Pippitt says:

      Brent,

      Also, I’ll be announcing my ‘bat drag fix’ product very soon. Its my first ever product that you can HIT IN…

      #Gamechanger

      Chas–

  9. Jamie says:

    Hey , guys
    Just checking back to see how your coming with the bat drag fix ? Can’t wait to see it. Will there be one of your most awesome articles that I love reading over and over ( cause I learn something new each time ) that you will release on hitting theory either before or during launch of the product ?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Jamie,

      JK made some good progress the other day with a new configuration on a new drill.

      We’re always evolving, change happens daily. We embrace it so much that sometimes it’s hard to pin down what we want to release.

      Working hard…slow and steady wins the race.

      Chas–

  10. dominik says:

    Hey chas, nice article. Is this turning the Barrel more an elbow or forearm Action?

    I have some guys heard claiming it is mostly the seesaw movement while others say it is forearm Rotation around the Long axis (mostly back forearm supination) which turns the Barrel into the ball. which is correct?

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Dominik,

      Try to supinate your arm for power…

      I think See Saw wins. And the See Saw happens from the Shoulders and Back. The elbows are acted upon by the movement, not actors in the movement.

      Chas–

  11. Dawn says:

    Hi Chas,

    I have been re-reading articles again and the comments with responses. I have been thinking on this seesaw concept as it relates to a ‘hands free’ swing and getting the barrel in the way of the ball early. Is this elbow move created by a slight side bend after the move forward and just after the decision to go is made and then the turn through the ball is completed? I hope my question makes sense.
    Thanks for your articles, I keep learning as I read them over and over.
    Dawn

  12. Mike Santoro says:

    Hi Chas,

    Any update on ETA the bat drag fix product? Have a particular student I would like to help with this problem.

    Thanks,

    -Mike

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Mike,

      Made it comfortable…not I gotta produce it.

      Chas–

  13. KG says:

    I think the see-saw hand-pivot descriptor is brilliant. I’ve always known this happens and incorporated it in my own swing by copycatting the action in my favorite MLB hitters (dating myself here, but Steve Garvey, Thurman Munson, Craig Nettles). Worked as an assistant for a coach who used to describe this as “the top hand comes closer to the head than the bottom hand.” I understood this, but I found it confused the players and it had the potential to make swings too handsy. Working now with one of my high school hitters who takes otherwise sound, on-time swings, but swimgs that produce a chopping plane and deflections rather than solid contact through the path of the pitch. He took to the see-saw hand-pivot almost immediately and now squares balls up. This is a bit of a baseball life-changer for me. Thanks for all you do. -KG

  14. Derek says:

    Hey Chas, In the fall I tried to work on slotting my back elbow manually and I ended up messing up my swing badly. I was creating so much topspin and my hitting coach told me that the elbow slotting is just a movement that happens natrally if your swing is sequenced correctly and you rotate correctly from your launch position around your spine. He said that because I was trying to force my back elbow, my barrel was dropping behind the baseball way to early and that I needed to try and keep the barrel above the baseball. As a result of dropping my barrel, in the bat lag position my barrel was dropped and the knob of the bat was pointing towards the sky instead of the barrel being parallel to the ground. I worked on not trying to manually slot the elbow and my swing eventually got better and I stopped top-spinning balls horribly. Anyway the point I was getting to was how do you avoid this problem while performing your seesaw movement? It looks like you are just manually slotting the elbow? Also it looks like your barrel is dropping and that in your lag position the barrel is not parallel with the ground? Just trying to clear up my confusion. Thanks!

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Derek,

      First, I”m sorry that happened!

      Second, I’d have to agree with your coach, but, for many kids, they have no clue how the shoulders and arms work relative to the bat head. So, I was using my demo to explain the proper movement instead of the hands driven swings that most people use. We do not want a ‘flat bat’ which most people would get if they manually slotted, but you’ve got to be able to separate information and definition from creation.

      The concept of how the upper body should move is relevant, but I didn’t really get into how the lower body should drive it, as I talk lower body all the time pretty much in every other article I put out.

      Chas–

  15. Ryan D says:

    Hey Chas. What is the correct way to stay inside the baseball? I hear cues like “tuck the elbow” and they say that in order to stay inside the ball your back elbow needs to tuck close to your ribcage and stay close to it to contact. I do see that the elbow does tuck in but the “tuck the elbow” cue seems like it goes againist your hitting theory because it is telling you to use your arms. How do YOU teach your players who are rolling over pitches and arnt staying inside the ball to stay inside the ball?? Also, Ive also heard that if you use your lower half properly that you will just stay inside the ball natrally. This doesn’t make such sense to me either because I feel like its easy to use your lower half properly and still get around balls and that if someone rotates with their core and lowerhalf perfectly, its still totally possible that they extend their arms, their back elbow dosn’t tuck in, and they get around the baseball and get jammed or hit a weak ground ball to their pull side. thanks.

    1. Chas Pippitt says:

      Ryan,

      I gotta be honest, I don’t teach hitters to stay inside the baseball…

      Now, to avoid rollovers, you must avoid putting force into the bat with your forearms at contact. That drives the bat across your body, and towards the dugouts…

      Read JK’s Directional Hitting article, just published.

      That should help.

      Chas–

  16. Ryan says:

    So would you recommend tipping the bat like that as a way to load? Because I’ve tried that before, it worked because it seemed like it would help hold my shoulders back while my hips opened, and I would crush balls, but then a lot of the times my bat would get stuck in that tipped position, pointing towards the1st base dugout (I’m a righty), so I stopped doing it. Is there anyways I could keep from getting my barrel stuck? Like focusing on raising my front elbow and dropping the back maybe?

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Ryan,

      Tipping the bat is a way to sync and keep the energy flowing smoothly from the lower half/core into the upper half/bat. Seems like you have a good idea on how to create separation with your hips opening and keeping your shoulders back. The bigger the tip the more mastery of the timing is required. I did an article a little bit ago on Javier Baez. That guys has a huge DOUBLE tip move. Over time he has mastered when to start it and how to use it properly in tune with his lower half power production. I would try just tipping less. There are many forms of great tips that don’t have to be the huge Hamilton or Bautista like tips. You just have to get the barrel moving a little. Just watch some MLB games and identify the pre-turn barrel movement. The majority of those guys do something. The bigger tips just get more attention because the looks cooler.

      JK-

  17. Zekai says:

    Which tool is the better. option in training the turn of the swing making hands passive? Drive developer or Rebels rack?

    1. Gabe Dimock says:

      Zekai,

      The Rebels Rack is the best for this but can be paired with the drive developer for the best results.

      1. Zekai says:

        So is drive developer mainly a strengthening tool?

        1. Gabe Dimock says:

          Zekai,

          The Drive Developer can be used as a strengthening tool but the bands can be attached to the Rack to help with speed as well.

          -Gabe Dimock

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