The Front Arm- The Bent Front Elbow & the Arm Bar

The Arm Bar & The Bent Front Elbow

There is a lot of talk about across hitting platforms about the front arm position and if it should be bent or straight throughout the swing. While you will certainly see both across Major League Baseball, I want to talk about both and show you what we believe to be the most efficient. But first, let's talk about the bat path and the correlation to the front arm.

When I hear most hitting coaches and players talk about swing path, they often talk about the back shoulder and the hands. While these are important aspects to consider when working on the proper swing path. There is another often forgotten component that is essential to the back shoulder and hands working well, the front arm.

Front Arm and Swing Path

Before we get into how the front arm helps hitters obtain an efficient swing path. Let's take a second to identify what an ideal swing path looks like. Ted Williams was one of the earliest proponents of the upward swing path that we teach.

He reasoned that since the ball travels towards the catcher at a downward angle. The hitter can put themselves in the best position possible by starting the bat down towards the catcher behind them followed by a slight upswing in the direct path of the pitch. This should all be common knowledge at this point. However, we are STILL arguing about what swing path is more efficient. Here is an image depicting this idea.

Ted Williams Description of the Proper Swing Path
Ted Williams Description of the Proper Swing Path

The Front Arm Positions in Major League Baseball

Arm Bar Hitters

In the two videos below you have two unbelievable power hitters in Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ronald Acuna, Jr. They both demonstrate a lengthening of the front arm very early in their turn. While this has been written about as being a very powerful swing move, which it is. It is very hard for MOST hitters to adjust to different pitch speeds and pitch locations by barring their front arm early.

Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Ronald Acuna, Jr.

Early Front Arm Length

The early lengthening of the arm in younger hitters is very prevalent. It mostly comes from a lack of upper body and core strength. Because of this, the hitter will try to activate their swing by engaging their chest and arms, resulting in an arm bar swing.

This becomes a one plane swing very quickly, especially for the inexperienced hitter. Guys like Griffey and Acuna have been able to overcome this and be in the Hall of Fame (Griffey) or a potential 2019 MVP (Acuna). This isn't to say that if you or your hitter's arm bar early in their swing they are hurting themselves. There is just a more efficient way for lesser (and by lesser I mean anyone who isn't a professional) experienced hitters to have a solid swing path that is both fast and adjustable.

Bent Front Arm Hitters

The best swing path is the result of the back shoulder dropping. The back elbow working down into the slot near the rib cage, and the hands staying high and working the knob up.

This is where the use of the front arm becomes vital. Every hitter that I have ever seen at any level naturally drops their back arm as they swing. This means that in order for the knob and hands to remain at chest height, the front arm has to work upward during the turn and maintain this upward path through contact.

When it does not, the bat path tends to flatten out or even work downward causing the chances of a mis-hit to increase. The dropping of the front arm or failure to turn the front arm upward can also lead to bat drag. This can cause an excessively long barrel path that does not create deep and sustained acceleration through the path of the pitch. Check out some other MLB hitter's who keep their front arm bent longer in their swing.

Christian Yelich
Christian Yelich
Mike Trout
Mike Trout

Youth Hitter vs. Big League Hitter's Front Arm and Swing Path

We talked about the importance of getting the barrel going backward and back up towards the ball. Check out how Anthony Rendon and one of our in-person hitter's uses their front arm to help achieve that.

Front Arm Position at Heel Plant
Front Arm Position at Heel Plant

You can see both hitters' still have a good angle in their front arm. This will allow them to get the knob working back up and keeping the hands high in their turn. Because of this, the barrel will 'fall' back towards the catcher which gives us time and space for the bat to work back up to the ball.

Front Arm Angle at Barrel Turn
Front Arm Angle at Barrel Turn

Now both hitter's bat is turning behind them and towards the catcher. This is setting them up to have their fastest bat speed BEFORE and AT contact. Not after. Hitter's who bar their front arm too early have a tendency to swing flatter at the ball, making their bat speed up it's fastest AFTER contact. Which doesn't help any hitter.

Front Arm Angle Difference at Contact
Front Arm Angle Difference at Contact

Front Arm Difference

This is the first time you see a distinct difference in the angle of the front arm. Rendon (on the left) still has maintained a sharp bent angle with his front arm, while the youth hitter (on the right) has added some length. There could be two reasons for this from the youth hitter:

  1. The hitter has recognized that his turn is early and this lengthening of the arm is a timing adjustment he is making to ensure that he is hitting the ball. This is why keeping the front arm bent as long as possible is so important. It allows us an extra timing mechanism (along with our front leg) in our swing when our timing is not perfect.
  2. The hitter lacks the upper body strength to keep the bend in the front arm as he is swinging the bat around. This is a very common flaw with younger hitters and for the most part, it isn't their fault. Whether it be puberty or genetics most young hitters just don't have the strength (yet) to support a full bend of the front arm all the way to contact.

Front Arm Thoughts

Regardless of your opinion on the front arm, you can see that there are different ways that hitter's swing the bat to be successful. One thing that remains constant however in all good hitters is their ability to use their whole body in the swing. Any time the arms are dominant in the swing we are not setting ourselves up for success. We will see slow, long swings that aren't conducive to hard contact in games.

Drills to Help Focus on the Front Arm and Bat Path

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Four Indoor Hitting Drills

We put together four of our favorite indoor hitting drills that you can do in your garage, back yard, and even your living room. Don't let your training fall behind by trying these four indoor hitting drills today.

1. Front Arm Constraint Drill

This drill specifically forces hitters to turn the right way due to their front arm being held still.  This will make hitters feel how they have to initially work behind the ball. This promotes more power and a quality bat path.

Click here for the full article.

2. Directional Jump Drill for Front Leg Force

As a hitter, you must have a strong base. Part of that base is your legs. Not only the strength of your legs but also how you produce force with them, specifically the front leg. Depth jumps are a popular drill on social media right now and rightly so.

Click here for the full article.

3. JK Drill 2.0

Learn how the barrel is supposed to turn in the swing and have you can create a more consistent bat path.

4. Rack Bat Drills

Get Consistent Hard Contact with Side Bend

Remember, proper side bend cannot happen without first getting into a hip hinge. The posture change from hip hinge into side bend is best practice with the Rack Bat. If you want to start driving balls farther and over the fence, get to practicing your side bend today.

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Online Pitching Lessons Available Now!

Sign Up Today for Online Pitching Lessons with BR Director of Pitching, Kyle Wormington.

PITCHING DRILL INCLUDED!

If you're looking for online pitching instruction this off-season, we have slots available now! Kyle pitched collegiately at Division-1 program, Valparaiso University before continuing on pitching professionally in the Frontier League. He was named our Director of Pitching in September of 2019. Following Julio Valdez, who is now a pitching coach with the Texas Rangers.

Since then he has been instrumental in changing our pitching program into a more modern, velocity-based program, while still teaching the fundamentals that help throwers stay healthy.

Kyle is available to work with pitchers from 9U-Professional (ONLY 25 SPOTS WILL BE AVAILABLE) and for the month of January, we will be offering one-time pitching evaluations for only $10 (Normally $20)

Online Lesson Video Packages:
-One-Time Mechanics Evaluation: $10! (Sale ends January 31)
-Bronze Package: 3 Videos Each Month: $79/month
-Silver Package: 6 Videos Each Month: $119/month

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Not sure about online lessons? Check out a sample video of what you can expect from Kyle.

Sample Online Pitching Lesson Video

Like what you see? Sign up for a one-time pitching mechanics evaluation today!

Sample Pitching Drill Video- Connection Ball Drill

Along with getting a video breakdown of your mechanics, when you sign up for online lessons you also will be given a new drill each video you send!

Check out the Connection Ball Drill video below to get an idea of the kind of drills you can expect from Kyle, alongside BR Pro, Zack Littell:

Connection Ball Drill

The drills allow throwers to focus on hip and shoulder separation while maintaining a shorter arm circle by staying connected. Many throwers I see have a tough time not only creating hip shoulder separation but maintaining that separation through footstrike.

I have throwers start with a stride and stop in order to check their posture, make sure the throwing elbow is in line with their shoulder plane, and ensure they have created good separation. 

Once, throwers are able to stride and stop properly we move into the stride and throw portion of the drill. I use a variance of weighted plyo balls from 5oz to 1lb depending on what I am trying to get the thrower to feel. The main focus of the throw should be to get both the plyo ball and the connection ball to hit the plyo board, what you want to avoid is the thrower pushing the ball.

3 Things this Drill Helps Pitchers With

3. Hip/Shoulder Separation

 

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A hip/shoulder separation is how throwers create tension across the leading to the ability to produce higher velocity.

2. Arm Connection

 

 

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Staying connected to the body leads to higher velocity, better timing, and consistency of throws.

3. Posture

 

 

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Maintaining good posture (explained in the first video) simply leads to better overall mechanics, young throwers tend to lean back early which affects the entire throw.

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Creating Extension in Your Swing

What is Extension?

Extension is a hitting term that refers to the arms straightening out after contact of the ball. Often, extension work involves a lot of knob pushing and is not generally the best way to practice hitting. However, having a natural extension keeps the bat head in the zone longer and allows for more contact points and a greater margin for error.

Extension DOES happen after contact on nearly every swing. The release of the barrel or “extension” as most coaches call it helps the hitter keep their bat in the hitting zone longer. Because of this, it prevents them from pulling their hands across after contact and rollovers.

This article will show you the good and the bad of extension as well as multiple drills you can use with your hitters to help them swinging better today

Push to Extension?

While the concept of extension in the swing is correct, it is mostly taught poorly by coaches. What we see most from kids whose coaches tell them they need more extension is a very pushy swing where the arms push the barrel out towards the ball. In the video below check out how the arms of the hitter are pushed out very early. This will cause hitters to have minimal adjustability in their swing and lose power from not using their bodies.

Push to Extension

'Release' For Extension

The best hitters have their barrel release towards the middle of the field post-contact. The direction of extension is still somewhat dependent on where the hitter hits the ball. If the ball is away the barrel might be released more towards Right Center Field (for RHH). If the ball is pulled the barrel might be released more towards Left Center Field. In the video below you can see the hitter not push their arms out but instead use the direction of their turn to help achieve extension. 

Barrel Release for Extension

What to Look for in "Good" Extension

True, But Not Too Much Backspin

The hitter is generating more true backspin on the ball instead of sidespin. This is because the bat is getting behind the path of the ball earlier and staying on it longer allowing the barrel to ‘square’ up the ball better.

 

Good Direction

The hitter is getting to extension or release of the bat in the direction that the ball left the bat. And they are not pulling off the ball too early.

Topspin

Topspin balls to the outfield are okay too. Most people think topspin is bad but topspin shows that the hitter still swung up to contact, got extension, but just hit the top part of the ball.

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Top Baseball Parent Articles of 2019

To end the calendar year we wanted to highlight our top hitting articles of 2019. We have been putting out content since 2011 and this year was our best year yet. And we have you to thank! This top five list features the most read articles by baseball parents in 2019.

My oldest son, Bryant, is now playing his first year of Little League baseball. He’s almost six, so he’s in machine pitch and loving every second of it. We’ve had some funny conversations and happenings already in this season, and I wanted to use this platform to share those with you.

On his second practice, his team decided to ‘rent out’ a ‘really nice facility in Durham’.  So in walks 12 five to six-year-olds for practice. Bryant is obviously super pumped that practice is at ‘Baseball Business’ and can’t wait to start.

They decided to do some catching and throwing first, and Bryant decided to catch with his face and not his glove. Thankfully, that was the only blood flowing injury of the day. He was back out there three minutes later after we cleaned off the blood in the bathroom.

First Cup

It is a little league rule that all players must wear a cup. I was trying to explain this to Bryant and I could tell he was more than confused. I told my wife I’d take him to get a cup when I got off work. So of course, she went ahead and took him to get a cup herself...

To read the full article click here. 

My First Year Little League Dad

What Motivates You?

As a player, ask yourself why you play the game.  As a parent ask yourself why your kid plays the game, do they play because you make them? Is their goal to someday play in the big leagues one day? Or just wants to play once or twice a week because their friends do?  The bottom line is taking ownership.

Find what motivates you and then plan your goals accordingly. If you don’t want to put in the extra time then you’re not allowed to be upset about your poor performance.  If your goal is to have fun, I can assure you that if you practice and get better you will have more fun.

The Initial Work

Let’s say you’re trying to take your game to the next level by learning our movements, getting in-person lessons, online lessons, or maybe you’re just out on your own trying to turn better.

When hitters get introduced to the Rebel's Rack for the first time, there usually is slight hesitation. "How can a red bar teach me how to hit?" I'm sure is the first thought that crosses their mind. But once they buy-in and learn the movement progression, something awesome happens...

Click here to read the full article. 

 

Take Ownership of Your Commitments

When Actions Don't Match Ambitions

This past weekend, Tyler Zupcic and I were fortunate enough to be at the Baseball Youth All-American Games in South Carolina. The event has players from all over the country playing with each other over a weekend tournament. It’s a fun event! Part of the ‘festivities’ is a Home Run Derby.

Our booth was happened to look right out to the Home Run Derby field so we got a first-hand view of all the hitters. One hitter, in particular, stood out, but not for a good reason.

Loud Words and Bad Reactions

Every other hitter got their names announced before they went to the plate. Johnny Smith! Tyler Johnson! Sammy Miller! But this one 10u hitter didn’t get his real name announced, he simply went by “Big Dawg”. I was cracking up. This kid had swagger. He was also one of the bigger kids in his age group so he definitely lived up to the name.

Unfortunately, Big Dawg stepped up to the plate and laid an absolute goose egg. Zero home runs. He struggled to make contact. It was objectively and subjectively not a good round for Big Dawg...

Click here to read the full article.

The Accountability Paradox Copy

Youth Parents This Article is FOR YOU

In my years as a Private instructor, travel ball coach and even as a player, "politics" in sports is something that is unavoidable.  Although this is a part of most teams, is this really why your child isn’t getting the playing time they and you think they deserve?

We hear it from parents a lot here at Baseball Rebellion that their child isn't playing because of 'politics' on the team. Well, today you're going to learn ways to help your child break the barrier and get themselves on the field. Here are some reasons why your child isn't playing and ways that they can improve that.

"Daddy Ball"

Most travel ball teams are coached by volunteer dads who have minimal playing experience or none at all.  These parents give up their free time to help manage the team when they play and practice and should be appreciated no matter what...

To read the full article click here. 

Earn More Playing Time

Coachability is More Than Just Listening

Over the years I have found that many young athletes lack the ability to be coachable. Not only is this important for an athlete's career but in life itself. "Coachability" is being able to take what is being taught from your instructor or coach and applying it to yourself.  It is having a mindset that there is always room for growth physically and mentally.

Athletes must understand that they have to be able to accept constructive criticism. This creates an environment for success. Being coachable is a tool that can be applied to anyone who is willing to listen, learn, and apply new ways to help them unlock their full potential as a hitter.

Being Coachable Allows Your Talent to Grow

Natural talent ability will only take you so far before you or your players begin to plateau or becomes outmatched by their competitors. If your goal is to play beyond high school, the time is now to lay the foundation of skills and mechanics to do so...

Click here to read the full article. 

Being Coachable

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Top Hitting DRILL Articles of 2019

To end the calendar year we wanted to highlight our top hitting drill articles of 2019. Our most-read content day in and day out are hitting drills and we wanted to provide you with our top five drill videos of the year. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Often times hitters are hampered by the inability to rotate in the proper sequence. Whether their lower body rotates too far, or their upper body stops too soon, the fear of missing the ball causes poor body movements. In order for the body to accelerate properly, the hitter’s hips must decelerate and stop in time for the upper body then bat to accelerate into contact.

If the hips never stop rotating, the upper body and bat are not able to build up speed and in turn drag around the rotation.

This drill is different than med ball drills we've shown in the past as it forces the player to stop their hips while allowing the upper body to rotate past...

Click here to read the full article.

Angled Medicine Ball Throw

This week's installment of my Winter Series is brought to you by a good question that I received on my last post. Last week I did a video about isolating the coil and then feeling the separation created out from the coil.  Here is the question that I got from Mike about that video about the stride and separation.

article question

This was a good question and a good opportunity to show you how it works with a stride and separation. I choose to film this from the behind the plate view...

Click here to read the full article. 

Stride to Separation

The use of the tee in baseball swing development has become quite the conversation piece in the world of #HittingTwitter over the last year or so. Some coaches believe that hitters should not leave the tee until they have an “elite swing pattern.” Others are so anti-tee that they have publicly denounced tee-work as a whole.

As with most things in the development of high-level athletes, I believe in the gray area. The following contains some of the warning signs for bad tee work and processes that I have found work the best in creating a tee routine. We wanted something that helps the player prepare for the ultimate goal: in-game performance...

Click here to read the full article. 

Off Season Tee Progression

We have talked about this before about the Initial start of the swing.  It is crucial for a hitter to understand that if they want to hit the ball harder and farther they have to get their sequence right.  Understanding the first initial moves and why you need to get your barrel slotted is crucial for success at the plate.

WHAT IS THE SLOT?

After reading the article that I tagged in the paragraph above we know that the swing starts with the hips.  After that, the torso and the back knee and elbow begin to move as well.  This is what will allow hitters to have the proper sequence in their swing...

Click here to read the full article.

Back Hip Load

When training youth hitters, exaggerated drills are often needed. Drills that can help get the hitter to understand just how dramatic of an adjustment they need to make. As we post these drills we often get negative comments on social media about how "nobody hits like that".

Completely ignoring the context of the drill being an exaggeration to help a hitter. Usually, this includes an exaggeration that forces a hitter to swing on a more upward path than they have before.  However, this week I ran into a youth hitter that struggled to keep the bat moving up properly through their swing path.

Whether it be a lack of strength or understanding of how...

Click here to read the full article.

High-Tee Drill

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Barrel Turn and Swinging Up

A negative or downward swing path. Even talking about 'level' swing paths makes me want to cringe. It's 2019 and we have autonomous cars yet the baseball world still wants to teach a swing path that has been PROVEN to be suboptimal. It's time we talk more about barrel turn and what it actually means.

The barrel turn is simply the action of the hitter turning the bat behind them towards the catcher, and then back up through the plane of the pitch. Just like this hitter is below.

Why is it important to turn the barrel and swing up? Check out the green line in the video above. That is the 'plane' of the pitch. The ball is traveling on that line and as hitters, we want our bat traveling on that long as long as possible. So if the ball is traveling down, we must match the plane by swinging up. This ensures a maximum window for contact depending on our timing.

Can't Get Your Hitters to Barrel Turn Correctly?

Thank you to the coaches, parents, and instructors out there who are teaching kids to NOT swing down. You are the real heroes in the baseball world. However, if you are one of the people I just mentioned but can't quite get your hitters to be consistent with barrel turn and swinging up. There could be one MAJOR reason why.

Spine Angle and Barrel Turn

If you are regular readers, you have heard us write a lot about spine angle. But how does that correlate to swinging the bat up? Most hitters land too far forward in their stride, like this:

Head and Torso Too Far Forward Relative to the Lower Body
Head and Torso Too Far Forward Relative to the Lower Body

When hitter's land like this they must either move their head and spine as they turn to create space or push down and forward to create space. Neither of these solutions is ideal for power or swing path.

We want hitters to move forward but to land with your head closer to the back hip. This creates the space for the barrel to turn deep and to enter an upward motion earlier in the swing. This helps players achieve ideal launch angles. Check out the comparison of two hitters below.

Hitter on the left has his rear ear inline with his rear hip. This allows for a deeper barrel turn and a more pronounced upward swing path.
Hitter on the left has his rear ear inline with his rear hip. This allows for a deeper barrel turn and a more pronounced upward swing path.

How to Get The Head Back To Turn The Barrel Up

"Stride with the Hips"

If the hitter is working getting their hips out from underneath their shoulders during their stride they will set their spine angle and head position back into a strong, loaded position. It is a cue that should be taught and practiced OUTSIDE of the cage first. Then once the hitter has established a strong, controlled stride forward with their hips outside the cage, they can then move to practice it while hitting a moving ball. If done correctly it will look like this:

This hitter leads their stride with their hips, not their foot, allowing their head/chest to stay back over the back hip.

The Wall Drill and Striding With The Hips

This drill is super effective for teaching hitters how to properly stride forward. They must use their hips to stride in this drill and not just their front foot. The goal is to get the hitters lead hip up against the wall before anything else (Quad, Foot, Knee, Ankle) touches the wall. Check out Eric demonstrating this drill and how you can apply it to your hitters today.

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Need help understanding the recruiting email you just got? Check out 3 different types of emails coaches send and what they mean for your recruitment.

 

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How Deceleration will Increase Your Exit Velocity Mostly, anti-rotation training and deceleration training are taught in the weight room. However, baseball coaches can also take control of their hitter’s ability......

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2019 MLB Playoff Special

Check Out Our Top Major League Baseball Articles of 2019!

In honor of the 2019 MLB playoffs in full swing, we wanted to give our readers a look at our top MLB articles on our website. Inside this content, you will find swing breakdowns, drills, humor and much more. To get started, check out our top 5 Major League Baseball Articles of 2019 below:

bellinger

What is one move that is helping Cody Bellinger to an MVP season & helped Babe Ruth to the Hall of Fame? The best part is after you read this you can tune in to watch Bellinger apply this move in the MLB Playoffs!

Mike Yastrzemski Homer at Fenway Park

Check out Mike Yasztremski's first career home run at Fenway Park and how his swing compares to his Hall of Fame Grandfather, Carl Yastrzemski.

Recasting 'Major League' with today's MLB Players

Check out BR's take on recasting the characters of the great baseball movie, "Major League" using today's MLB star players. You will get to see some of these players (and announcers) in the playoffs this year!

Christian Yelich Posture

In this video you will see how Yelich is able to position himself to 1) Rotate extremely fast, 2) Work the barrel up into and through the pitch plane, 3) See the ball better and crush the low pitch. So if you are a taller player who likes to start tall in your stance, there's a good chance this will work for you too.

cjabrams

Even though CJ is not a big leaguer, yet, you will no doubt see him donning an MLB uniform here soon! He is also a great guy. Go check him out on social media and be sure to watch his development on the way to the show!

Have You Heard?

We recently launched our Rebel's Rack Movement Progression Certification Course. We've included 40+ lesson modules that make up the Rebel's Rack Movement Certification Course. For each part of the progression we break down: why we teach, how we teach it, and the good/bad things to look for from your hitters. We leave no stone unturned! Get more information by clicking the button below!

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The Importance of Side Bend in the Swing One of the biggest mistakes hitter's make is not getting in the correct posture before they start their swing. One move that...

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