Hitting

The Difference between your swing and the swing of a pro

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In baseball, everybody talks about hitting mechanics and what it takes to have a great swing. If you tune in to a live broadcast of a Major League Baseball game, chances are at some point in that game, the analyst (usually a former big leaguer), will comment on swing mechanics. But it’s shocking to me how many of these “experienced players” have no idea what’s going on with the swing.

 

A few of the comments that drive me crazy:

“He has great/strong hands”

“Look at that extension through the ball”

“Look how he stays on top of ball with his barrel above the hands”

 

None of these cues are what makes that hitter successful. In fact, anyone who starts off talking hitting mechanics by using the word “hands” can be totally discredited. I’m not saying you don’t use your hands to swing a bat, but that’s not where you start. Not even close.

The details of swinging a baseball bat in an efficient and effective way comes from a specific sequence of events. Inefficiency then comes when muscles are activated too early, too late, or not in the correct order. This is called the kinetic chain, and is the major indicator of how efficient the body moves in all sorts of athletic movements. Throwing, hitting, jumping. They all have a correct kinetic chain for reaching maximum velocity, maximum bat speed, and maximum vertical height.

 

Where the swing starts

The swing starts from the ground up. I don’t care what anyone says about hands, bat path, or contact point. When it comes to creating an efficient swing, it starts from the ground. “Ground reaction force” is the single most important element in creating an explosive and efficient swing. If you have a problem with anything else throughout your swing, chances are it’s a lower body issue. And here’s where I have an issue with how players are being developed from a swing mechanics perspective.

Coaches are all about keeping things simple. And although I understand the logic behind it, I disagree with the tactic. Instead of helping the player correct his swing by starting from the ground up, most coaches go straight to the hands. “Be direct with your hands,” they’ll say. The problem is it’s a band-aid. It’s a quick fix because the coach is either too lazy, too impatient, or doesn’t know how to fix the root of the problem.

The swing is a complex movement! To get the most out of your swing, you need to embrace that complexity and understand how it can help you in the long run. Your goal should be to help your body feel what its like to swing efficiently and have everything working together. Each movement is creating momentum for the next movement to pick up where the previous one left off. When you understand the kinetic chain and how it can benefit you, you will see huge improvements in your swing mechanics, and ultimately your results.

So next time a hitter hits a towering 400 foot home run and the announcer says, “wow, he has to have strong hands to do that”, you’ll smile and shake your head. Because the bottom line is there was a lot that went on before the ball was hit that allowed him to hit the ball that far. He moved his body extremely efficiently in order to create maximum bat speed and power.

The difference between him and you? Most likely, the kinetic chain.

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About Brian Hamm

My name is Brian Hamm and I am all about "Baseball Development". Through my journey as a high school and college player, I always felt that a competitive advantage eluded me. I constantly researched and discovered new resources, ideas, and theories that have shaped how I coach today. It’s my goal to work relentlessly in order to give my players, clients, and coaches the biggest competitive advantage that will allow them to reach their full potential. My mission is to spread my knowledge to baseball players around the world and help change the developmental process forever.

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