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Hitting - How to Start Your Swing

Introduction

A common and big problem with young hitters is poor timing and one of the causes of poor timing is excessive movement either in the stance or during the stride. Drifting is a term used to describe a hitter who as he strides, he allows his weight to continue forward during the stride. If the pitch is an off-speed pitch, then the drifting will result in lunging after the ball with little hip turn and little chance of success. In our last lesson we discussed how to keep our weight back as we stride forward prior to swinging. That puts us in a great position to not drift as the ball is released but it can still happen if you're not clear on what starts your swing! By knowing and gaining a feel for what starts the swing we will be in a position where it will feel wrong to drift forward when we haven't started our swing.

Key Points to Remember:

1. Once you complete your stride, your weight should stay back until you drop the heel to start your swing.
2. Heel of your front foot and the knee of your back leg should initiate the swing.
3. Lower body starts the swing - "Hips lead the hands".
4. Make a decided effort to not pull with your hands to start with the swing. We are going to use our hands and arms later to generate bat speed but we will actually be slower if we start our swing by pulling with our arms.
5. You won't be able to initiate your swing from your lower half if you don't start from a balanced and athletic stance.
6. You should stay balanced throughout the entire drill.

Notice in the second frame below how the hitter has his weight back and strides to the inside part of his front foot. In frame three we see the heel has dropped and the back knee has turned in to initiate the swing. Notice that the hands have only moved forward slightly as they are being moved by the beginning of the rotation. The hands DID NOT start the swing by pulling forward!

start swing example

Activity

Take some time practicing the front heel down, back heel up drill used in the video. Pay close attention to the back knee. Try the drill a few times without moving your back knee and then start using the knee with the heel drop. You should feel how the combination of movements produces an effortless hip turn to start your swing.

Make sure you are balanced throughout the drill. If you are losing your balance while performing this drill then you most likely are not starting out in a balanced stance.

Practice

Take some time practicing the drill on your own. Remember to just let the arms come along for the ride at this point. We want to build the habit of the lower half starting the swing and if you're a player who used to pull with his arms, we need to break that habit now.

Remember to:
1. Stay Balanced - we want to start balanced and end balanced. In the past if you had a problem lunging after pitches then you may be used to getting your weight too far forward as you swing and follow through. We'll work more on this in the next lesson but for now try to have your weight slightly back and then move it slightly forward as your heel comes down, but don't let it continue forward so you end up with most of your weight on your front foot.
2. Take your time!!! This is an important concept for you to get the feel for. If you haven't done this before to initiate your swing, then it may feel strange. We need to keep working on it until it feels natural to start your swing in this manner.

What to watch out for:

One of the biggest problems I see with young hitters is the desire to swing harder by pulling with the hands to start the swing. This can be a difficult habit to break, so as your practice in this lesson make sure you don't pull with the hands. Let them come naturally forward with your hip turn.

Conclusion

I cannot over emphasize how important it is to develop a strong lower half. In order to have a combination of quickness and power you have to generate force from the lower half up.

Next Topic

Swing: Hips Lead the Hands


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