The TRUTH about Hand Path in the Baseball Swing – Revisited

Written By: Chas Pippitt

Years ago, I wrote an article on Hand Path that featured the Rebel’s Rack.  If you have not read that article, or it has been a while, please visit that article first by CLICKING HERE before reading on.  It is a quick read so enjoy.

Now that you’re back and have refreshed yourself on see-saw elbow movements and hand pivot concepts, let’s talk some more about how we show hitters how to turn their body to turn the barrel and not pull their hands across their chests to hit.

There are two main drills that we have started using to illustrate the difference between a ‘hand path’ swing and a ‘body turn’ swing.  At Baseball Rebellion we want a ‘turn dominated’ body swing that uses as little arm extension as possible to generate power.  Arm extension swings eliminate timing adjustments and make the hitter much more likely to swing at changeups or curveballs.  We want a longer ‘hand path’ to be a timing adjustment not a necessity in our hitter’s swings. When arm extension is used as a timing adjustment, instead of a power generator, the hitter can hit the ball much deeper in the zone, allowing for more adjustments if late on a fastball. Conversely, a hitter can also extend to a pitch they are early on after accelerating the barrel with the turn instead of the

The first article about Hand Path (which you hopefully just read) showed how we use the Rebel’s Rack to ‘learn to turn’ and deemphasize the use of the hitter’s arms in the baseball swing.  Turn driven swings are more adjustable and faster than arm driven swings because they use larger muscles of the body to move the bat head.  Using your large muscles in your turn-dominated swing creates more power for hitters of all shapes and sizes.  Also, using the body to turn the bat allows a later decision to turn, which helps eliminate bad swings at poor pitches to hit.  Next, I’m going to show you 2 new drills we use to help hitters ‘learn to turn’ instead of ‘push’ their bat forward in the swing.

The first drill is the Ball in The Back Arm Drill.  One of my professional clients named his back arm ball “Kevin”.  Kevin goes everywhere with him and you can even see him on the field in pregame warmups as he goes through his hitting ‘feels’. 

The Ball in Back Arm Drill:

Keys to the Ball in Back Arm Drill

  • Get a ball that’s ‘rubbery’ in texture, we use a TAP ball
  • Put the ball in your back arm so it’s touching your skin, not your shirt
  • Hold the ball pinched in your back arm all the way until ‘contact’ would occur.

You can hit front toss or balls off a tee using this drill if you’d like, either finishing the entire swing or holding the ‘turn’ position with your arms like I do in my dry work.  If you take a full swing, the ball should ‘shootout’ towards where you’re trying to hit the pitched or tee ball.  It should not drop out of your arms before you hit the ball. If the ball drops before contact, you extended your arms, which shuts down the turn in the swing.

 

The Barrel Support Drill:

Another drill we use is the Barrel Support Drill which teaches hitters how to handle the ‘weight’ of the bat as they swing it.  Supporting the barrel is a MUST because as you turn faster with heavier bats, the bat itself PULLS AWAY and DOWN, extending the arms, and disconnecting the hitter’s bat from the powerful turn engine of their swing.

Keys to the Barrel Support Drill:

  • Pick a weight the hitter can handle, but still feels heavy with your arms extended
  • make sure the hitter has a strong back shoulder and biceps, but a loose backhand wrist
  • make sure the weight TURNS with the body in a full supination of the back arm
  • once the hitter can handle a horizontal shoulder turn, start to add side bend to turn to different pitch locations

These two drills have really helped our hitters both in-house and online and are staples of how we train our MiLB and MLB clients as well as our top softball players.  I’m excited to share these and update the “Look Ma, No Hands” article I wrote years ago.  Look for more updates and re-writes as needed when our information advances and changes.

Chas Pippitt, CEO Baseball Rebellion

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