Batter Stance Putting it All Together from A to Z
So we’ve talked a lot about stances and where we should be and what we should be thinking. That’s right and we haven’t taken a swing yet. Well let’s get to it. In this segment I want to call it staying connected. We’re going to talk about what actually happens with our swing, how it happens, what starts our swing. Let’s recap. My weights evenly distributed, my shoulders are square, my head is square, my hands are back, I’m now loaded and I take my stride. At this point my back side is going to initiate, starts with my back foot and my knee. My foot is going to rotate, not slide, not kick out, it’s just going to rotate. My back knee is going to drive towards the ground creating an L with my back leg.
My hips from here are going to rotate and explode. This is where our power is generated from. It’s our back side. My front hip’s going to clear the way, so my back hip can drive right through. This is an explosive movement. This is where bat speed comes from. My shoulders, I want them to stay square as long as possible. My front one will start to leave when my hips come through and my back one’s going to point down at the ball. My head is staying square. Be careful with this. We always tell kids to keep their head on the ball. The reality is, keep your eyes on the ball. By keeping your head on the ball, it causes leaning sometimes. Keep your eyes on the ball. We’re coming through, our eyes are doing the moving, not our head.
My feet are square. My front foot is staying square as long as possible. After the stride, we don’t want it coming open too early. This is going to cause our hips to leave open. We’re here. We’re driving through, our back side coming all the way through the ball. My hands are now at contact, my top hand, palm facing up, my bottom hand, palm facing down. My elbows are flexed until after contact, but at contact we want them flexed and now we’re going to come through and finished. Now you can see right here I’m balanced. I’m standing here. Yes I feel tension in my legs, but I’m balanced. You should be able to finish your swings each time and be balanced. When we’re hitting off a tee, when we’re inside a batting cage, we should be able to take these swings and be balanced. We’re getting through. I should be able to stand here. I like to tell them, hold your pose. That’s what my hitting coach with the New York Yankees, Kevin Long, would always tell me. Hold your pose. When you can hold your pose at the end of a swing, you know that everything worked well. If you don’t get that back side through and we just come through, we’re going to fall over. You’re not going to be able to hold your pose that way.
Lastly, now whether you want to release or hold on with two hands, it’s not going to make me one bit of difference. Some hitters like to release. They think it helps them stay through the ball longer. Me personally, I wanted to keep two hands on the bat the whole time. This is a comfort thing for you. For me, I felt more compact and tight together when I had two hands on the bat. If you prefer to release with one hand, that’s fine. Just make sure you’re doing it from a good stance and then that back side’s getting through. That is our power source. I can’t say it enough. This is where it happens. This is where bat speed comes from, not how hard I try and do it up here. It takes place right here. The harder this drives to the ground, the faster your bat’s going to come through, the more pop you’re going to generate, and let’s be honest, we all want to hit balls in the gap. I’m not looking for the little weak ground balls to second base. I want to see balls driven in the gap. Use that back leg. Drive that ball from your good stance, stay connected and have a great game.
In the batter stance the hitter swings and there are a lot of moving parts which need to stay connected. Lets take a look at it.
1. weight: should be evenly distributed
2. hands: should be off the back shoulder
3. wrists: slightly cocked
4. body: feet, knees, hips and shoulders should be in line
The lower half begins to fire creating the torque and explosion of the swing.
1. back foot: rotates and turns, without sliding forward or away from the plate.
2. back knee: drives down toward the ground creating an L with the back leg
3. Hips: rotate and explode in unison. The front hip clears the path for the back hip to drive through it. Hip torque is the source of power and bat speed in the swing
4. Front leg: Snaps straight as the hips explode giving the hitter something to hit against.
5.Front foot: The front foot should remain closed or slightly open until contact. It can spin but not until after contact.
6. Elbows: The elbows form a triangle and remain flexed until the swing begins at which point the back elbow slides into the slot off the back hip where it remain connected until contact. The front elbow straightens out upon contact while the back elbow maintains some flexion. It is important to remember that the hitters elbows stay close to the core and not get away from the body.
7. Hands: The hands are cocked and ready, the palms remain perpendicular to the ground and the back of the lower hand is pointed at the pitcher. As the swing begins the hands flatten out until they are parallel with the ground at point of contact. The palm of the bottom hand is pointing down and the top hand palm is facing up. Don’t let them get away from the body the more they get away from the body the greater the chance of a roll over.
8. Shoulders: Keep them square as long as possible. The front shoulder will start to open as the back shoulder points down toward the ball when the hips hands and feet fire at the ball.
9: Head: Keep the head turned toward the pitcher so the eyes can track the ball. The head should stay in place with minimal movement and not slide forward toward the ball.
10. Down and Through: Work down and through the ball during the contact phase. Working up and off will affect bat angle and adding length to the swing.
11. Balance: Balance and a strong backside takes place from the ground up. Without balance from the ground up the swing cannot work properly or consistently. He hitter should be able to swing and hold their pose after their swing consistently in practice. This will help create the necessary balance. If the back leg and hips do not rotate the swing will pull the hitter off balance. Balance is the tell tail sign that the swing worked properly.
12. Finish: Most people don’t care so much about the finish because the ball has already been hit or missed. But the finish will tell us a lot about went right or wrong on the swing based on the pitch. The back leg should be in the shape of an L. The hands can finish with a one or two hand release. Either way there are always two hands on the ball a contact. The one hand release should not take place until the swing has passed the front shoulder. The one-hand release can help hitters stay on the ball longer. But the two-handed finish will help the hitter stay more compact at contact. A high or low finish is going to be dictated primarily by the height of the pitch. The head and eyes are locked at the point of contact until the finish is complete.