Timing the Upper Body Load with Your Stride

Written By: Garrett Gordon

Create Better Timing by Creating More Rhythm

Understanding False Separation

Most hitters are trying to time their load and stride just by pushing their hands back. This is detrimental to many young hitters as it teaches them "False Separation". Just because hitters 'keep their hands' back as they load does not mean they are preparing correctly to turn as fast as possible.

Seeing False Separation

Below are examples as what I would describe as “False Separation”.  As a kid growing up the phrase “you gotta get you hands back” is something that rings in my ears to this day.  A lot of coaches and instructors use this phrase but yet never truly explain why this move is important.

I use this phrase as well but in all reality, it has very little to do with your hands, but everything to do with your shoulder and back arm. The gif’s below will give you insight and understanding of why you’re not consistent with timing and your overall body control.

Hands Straight Back

AAA hands push gif

This move is very common for hitters of all ages.  This is what I was talking about earlier about getting your hands back.  Sure, in this gif I get my hands back and farther away from my body.  But as a result, I have created the armbar with my front arm which will only create more problems in your swing.

Hands Never Load Back

new gif hands never load back

When the hands are not loaded back by pulling the back elbow and shoulder back your hands and bat never stay back.  Therefore makes hitters have a steep path to the ball, resulting in inconsistent results.

The Chicken Wing

new chicken gif

I like to call this move the chicken wing because of the drastic movements with the elbows.  As you can see my elbows flare up without my hands getting pulled back by my shoulder and back elbow.  This also will result in mis-hit balls and steep barrel path.  Two things you don't want as a hitter

Hands Push Towards Home Plate

AAA hands push gif

This is similar to the hands going straight back but now the move of the hands is going straight towards home plate.  This does not create a strong and prepared upper body when we go to swing.  This move disconnects the bat from the whole body and results in a slow turn.

The Panic Load

Panic load gif

I know I look like I'm really exaggerating this move but this is what a lot of hitters look like even hitting off of front toss.  In regards to timing and rythm, they lack both therefore abruptly shoving their hands back and striding out a way to fast.  The pullback of the back elbow, shoulder and stride should be slow and early versus late and fast.

The Robot

robot gif

Good hitters have to have some flow when they load and stride out.  As you can see here I'm striding out then pulling my hands back.  This isn't what you want because the whole body has to flow together to become prepared properly.  The drill I'm going to show you later in this article will give you more insight on what you need to do

Real “Separation” is Simple and Repeatable 

When getting the body prepared to hit an incoming pitch there are many ways hitters prepare to do that.  But the best hitters do a lot of things similar. They have the ability to re-create the same move when they load.  The upper body, pelvic load, and stride all move in a smooth rhythmic pattern.

This is what allows good hitters get the most out of there body and in result the most out of their swing.  Being able to time your upper body move with your pelvic load and stride is key to creating consistent results in batting practices and games.

A sif gif
AA p chase gif
AA peter gif

If you pay attention closely to the hitters I have showcased above they all pull their elbow back as they load.  This is called the "Scap Load" and is crucial when hitters prepare to hit!

On top, we have a 7-year-old, in the middle, we have a 12-year-old, and on the bottom, we have a 16-year-old.  Each hitter has great success at the age level they play at.  This is a move that can be practiced and learned. If taking the time to do so.

A Simple Drill to Practice a Better Load

Banded Front Foot and Top Hand Tempo Drill

Final Thoughts

My goal as a hitting instructor is to help hitters get better, plain and simple.  But at the end of the day if you are truly trying to take your game to the next level you have to put the work in on your own.  Hitters that take time to break down their swing themselves or get help from an instructor will truly start to understand how good they can be.  For more insight on upper body mechanics  and much more check out the articles I've tagged below

The Hitter's House

The Back Elbow

Hip Hinge For More Power

Mastering Head Position

Get Better Swing Direction

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