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As an instructor, one of the hardest things to do is increase a hitter's power and stability at the same time. Normally in the process of growing a young hitter, these two traits will get better over time but not always at the same rate. Coming into the program, some players will have tremendous amounts of power or turn speed but have very little control over their bodies once they reach top speed. This particular guy or girl will show flashes of great power when they actually get the barrel to the ball. Their strikeout numbers will be high and will get frustrated with the lack of consistency. The other type of player will have great body control and get the barrel to the ball quite often but with limited to no power at all. This player will rarely strike out, but will still suffer in numbers because they just can't seem to get the ball out of the infield. Once the fields start to grow this type of player really struggles to keep up. There are then, of course, the players with neither aspect who will really suffer once they reach the "kid pitch" level of play, dooming them to a short career in baseball.
I am sure the paragraph above describes a lot of you or your player in some way or another. Wouldn't it be nice if there was one drill or move that could help with both of these issues?! Good news...THERE IS! The Glute Bridge is one move that can really help a young or veteran hitter have a much more aggressive hip thrust and at the same time help keep them on their feet during and after the swing. The Glute Bridge can be found in varying levels of workouts all over the country. You can add weight to it for an intense lower body and core workout or use it as a warm-up every day before practice and games.
A Glute Bridge is a basic, fundamental movement that is essential for the completion of a successful baseball swing. The glutes not only function as power generators, but they also provide control and stability at the end of the swing, allowing the body to effectively finish the turn. Mastering the Glute Bridge is a great start for any young player looking to add translatable power to their game swing.
Here is how the move is done from the exercise perspective.
Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Place pressure on your heels to prepare to lift the pelvis.
Lift pelvis into an aligned position between shoulders and knees. Lock in this position with use of the glutes and core muscles.
For an additional exercise and core stability training, try to lift one foot out and hold for two seconds. Then switch to the other foot, all the while trying to keep the pelvis in the "bridge shape". This exercise is a great way for a hitter to warm up before a hitting session, as well as a great way to train strength and stability in the Glute and core muscles.
Let's take a look at how a glute bridge can help you or your player's swing. Remember that a glute bridge is a movement into a strong holding of a position. Here are two of my clients who are excellent in turning and thrusting into a really good glute bridge position and then holding it through their finishes. What is really nice about these two young ballplayers, is that they are both undersized compared to other kids their age and grade. Ryan and John out-swing the bigger kids because they are biomechanically more correct when they attack a pitch. I have highlighted in yellow both players moving into and then holding the glute bridge position. Let's take a look at our two guys, Ryan and John.
Ryan is an awesome kid to work with. He always brings in a great attitude and an incredible understanding of how the swing works for such a young player. For a long time, Ryan had to fight against not only size but the fear of missing the ball. Along with implementing more powerful mechanics, we had to develop a little "anger" in Ryan's swing. As you can see from the pictures above Ryan has no problem taking full hacks now.
I highlighted Ryan's glute bridge position with a yellow line in the pictures above. We can see that right before contact, Ryan is not quite there but is really close and will continue to work on that. The picture on the right shows us that upon turning more, he gets to the glute bridge position and then some! This is an exaggerated move for most but for Ryan, he must find ways to make up for his size. The exaggeration shows up after contact, but because of this, he is much stronger, faster, and more supported before and at the contact position. Without the glute bridge, he would not be nearly as supported throughout the swing. Furthermore, this move has tremendously helped Ryan swing up on plane with the ball. Another great reason to incorporate this move into your swing mechanics.
John has been coming in to see me in person for a number of years now. He is a very loose and free swinger, to say the least. One thing that he has always had is his ability to turn fast, almost to a fault where he would spin around and lose total control of his feet. Because John is and never will be the biggest guy on his team, losing any power from his turn is a huge problem. Implementing a solid glute bridge hold has been the missing link for John and his swing.
From the pictures above, you can see how he gets full hip rotation before contact with the baseball. This is much harder to do than most people think. John has learned to control his core, feet, and therefore have very little loss of energy transfer through his body during his turn. With a strong glute bridge position, John can very effectively and efficiently maintain a strong core all the way to the finish with limited balance issues and hardly any loss of power. Pound for pound, John is one of our hardest hitters.
From left to right in the pictures above, we have Yasiel Puig, Joe DiMaggio, and Josh Donaldson. All three of these elite swingers instinctively get to a strong glute bridge position right before and sometimes after contact if they can hold it. This move will happen very late and very suddenly during the swing because it can only be done in an explosive and athletic manner. Here lies the problem that most young players have, the lack of natural athleticism to instinctively make this happen. Therefore, a proper glute bridge must be introduced and taught to young players who lose their core during a swing.
Again, incorporating a glute bridge into your exercise routine and swing is not the end all, be all of movement enhancement. From numerous amounts of video evidence, all elite hitters have a strong supported line of connection from the shoulders, hips (core), and front foot, even if just for a moment during contact. For a lot of my guys and girls, this idea and alignment change has been able to increase power and stability at the same time.