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I've been known to say "The Swing IS The Turn" when I coach my hitters and most of what we spend our first few months of our program on is learning to turn faster, with more force, more often. That being said, learning to turn faster comes with a new set of problems. Invariably, when a hitter begins working with JK Whited, Steve Singleton, or myself, their swing becomes faster, but their timing is the same that they used when their swings were slower. They repeatedly roll over baseballs or reach forward with their hands to hit causing pop ups. Frustration sets in, and usually, hitters slow down their swings to hit the ball more solidly, but by doing this, they rob themselves of any chance of a powerful hit. We always work through these timing issues in varying ways, but sometimes, I feel a few lessons are 'wasted' because our hitting staff needs to find a better way to describe timing. Maybe we'll use this video:
My job is to make a hitter swing faster, but how do I make a hitter WAIT TO SWING instead of slowing down the fast turn we are working so hard to achieve?
I was having a conversation with one of my college hitters the other day and he was telling me that he felt he'd been 'early' lately and that he felt like he'd just been 'throwing his hands at the ball' and 'not using his hips like he wanted to'. So, I asked him what he'd been working on. I thought he'd tell me he'd been doing Back Leg Angle Drill and working on his Hesitation Tee Drill...but he told me he'd been making sure he was GETTING HIS FRONT FOOT DOWN EARLY so he could see the pitch.
Think about that...He was early...So he wanted to get in hitting position SOONER??? I don't know about you, but that just doesn't make sense to me. I was stunned. I told him to think about what he was saying...doesn't being early in the baseball swing seem to be the problem? Why would you want to force yourself to wait LONGER in your hitting position when you're struggling to do just that? Wouldn't getting to hitting position later solve the timing problem???
As always, when I'm stumped on a hitting idea, I headed into our video room at I.T.S. Baseball, and went to work. I checked on some of the best hitters in the game, big and small, old generation and new age, and I found a consistent process of timing. I'll use Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton (when he was doing well) to demonstrate how we're teaching timing now.
Looks like these pros are making a decision on the pitch with their front foot in the air to me. So I called my hitter back and told him to start his leg kick sooner but make it slower and higher. This change should force you to evaluate the pitch while your front foot is in the air and you're moving forward towards the pitch (SLOWLY) into your front side. He told me that my idea 'made sense' and he'd try it in his game. Here's his post-game text:
All I want you guys to do when you read Baseball Rebellion articles is THINK about what we have to say versus what others are telling you is right. I see the best players in the world evaluate the moving ball with their front foot in the air all the time. They decide to swing with their front foot off the ground, and then the turn sets the front foot down. Here's a real life drill example from one of my online clients doing a great job learning new timing and adjusting with his front foot in the air. Also, how cool is it that he gets to hit with the New York City Skyline in his background from the top of a SkyScraper!?!?
Please take note of how this hitter adjusts to the 'curve' and 'change' call his mother gave him. He sat into his front side, hesitated slightly, and then explodes into his turn. Perfect Drill Execution. I now use this drill to send as a demo to kids all over the world. Again...How Cool Is That?!?!
Now before anyone starts screaming "WHAT ABOUT PUJOLS, HE'S A NO STRIDE GUY" at the computer screen, I'll acknowledge that yes, there are no-stride hitters or toe-touch guys, but their FOOT isn't down until their HEEL is down.
Hitters toes cannot generate power or help you adjust to pitches, but driving your heel into the ground can. Think about this: You don't squat or deadlift weight from the balls and toes of your feet, you do it from the heels. Getting your heel down LATE, forces you to TURN GREAT, and makes your swing explosive and powerful.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion
PS Here's some video he sent me today. Pay attention to how long his front foot is in the air in the second swing. His leg kick is so calm and controlled, beautiful adjustment. The swing I'm talking about is the first one where the camera is still, around the 8 second mark...don't flinch!