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Extension is a very common hitting cue. You hear it at all levels in both baseball and softball. But is that phrase even the best to use? In a previous article, I wrote about how the hitter creates top barrel speed and where the acceleration happens. In this article, I'm going to discuss what happens next, EXTENSION. Or to use an even better term, 'barrel release'.
Barrel extension in a swing has been cued the same way for a long time. Like many of you reading this, I had dozens, if not hundreds, of hitting lessons growing up, and apparently did not know the information I know now. Having said that, one cue I remember hearing a lot was "get to extension" or "get extended." Anybody who studies a high-level swing knows that the arms become extended. Below is a picture of what 'extension' or 'barrel release' looks like:
My problem with extension is that it does not happen the way it is being taught to many of our young players. What I mean is, in a high-level hitter, extension is ACTUALLY the "release" of the barrel, not the act of extending the arms.
Hitters are usually taught to "push" or "punch" through the contact of the ball. The problem is that pushing or activating the arms, will dramatically decrease the speed of the bat and encourage straight arms at contact, or 'Power V' position. Let's assume the hitter moves properly into his front side during his load, and his hands stay up and back while he's slotting the bat.
If the hitter's arms engage AT the ball and actively "extend" in the attempt to get to "extension," the connection between the batter's power (body movement and turn) and the barrel is disconnected. This 'bench pressing' of the barrel, instantly sucks all the power out of the swing.
Check out our medicine ball series that help hitters feel the release of the bat using just a med ball:
Going back to my last article on early acceleration, (which you can read here), bat speed must be created early for the barrel to release properly. Remember, problems at, or after contact, will always be created early in the swing. Your first mistake is always your worst mistake. Fixing extension must first be addressed at the very beginning of the batter's movement.
No matter how hard you try, you will never push the bat as far as you can throw it. Remember, correct body movement and footwork are the keys to a good release. Once the footwork and turn are established in your hitter, work on feeling the release. The hitter should just ALLOW the barrel to continue onward and upward, without the use of their arms. In the video below, is Josh Hamilton actually driving his hands (arms) down to this pitch, with "A to C" mechanics, like the All-Shores Academy video? If so...how does he do this?