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 Hitting Instruction

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While there are many variables in the swing that are based upon a player's individual strength, coordination, and flexibility, there are several parts of the swing that we consider to be "absolutes."  The following photos illustrate the 5 absolutes of hitting we use at West Hempfield Legion.

Part 1; Stride to Load
Stride to load means that when your stride foot hits the ground, you have not yet begun to swing.  Your weight (and head) are still back.  This allows two things to happen:

1. You can start the swing with your hips and not your hands

2. You can wait back (start your swing later) and adjust to an off-speed pitch.

When the stride foot hits the ground, the following are absolutes, meaning they MUST occur.
1. Weight is on back leg
2. Chin stays back (over belly button)
3. Hands are approximately a fist away from your back shoulder
4. Front elbow is back at least as far as your belly button
5. Top hand is closer to the pitcher than back hand (wrists are cocked)

The following photos illustrate the stride to load sequence.  Even though the hitters use different stances, notice that when the stride foot hits, they are all in the same "loaded" position (click on any photo to enlarge).

Barry Bonds in his stance before he swings.


Barry Bonds taking his stride.


Andruw Jones in his stance before he swings.


Andruw Jones taking his stride.


Andruw Jones at stride to load.


Tino Martinez in his stance before he swings.


Tino Martinez taking his stride.


Tino Martinez at stride to load.


Part 2; Hips Start the Swing
After the stride foot hits, the first thing that must move are the hips.  There is a very brief separation, or "stretch" that exists between the time the hips move forward and the hands start to move forward.

This allows for two good things to happen:
1. More power is generated because of biomechanics.  The bigger muscles start the swing.
2. By keeping your hands back as long as possible, it becomes easier for you to adjust to off-speed pitches.

Here are some photos that illustrate the hips starting the swing.  Notice in the photos how the hitter has begun the hip turn with the hands still staying back.








Part 3; Hands Straight to the Ball
After the hips have begun to turn, the hands must go in a straight line from the back shoulder to the ball.  Doing this allows you to be quicker to the ball than if you separated the hands from your back shoulder and "came around the ball."

As you look at the following photos, notice how the back elbow stays right up against the body as the bat is extended straight to the baseball. (We extend the bat to the ball, we don't "swing" the bat)

Miguel Cabrera on an inside pitch.


Morgan Ensberg on an inside pitch.


Chipper Jones on a pitch down the middle.


Nomar Garciaparra on a pitch down the middle.


Carlos Delgado on an outside pitch.


Mark Teixeira on an outside pitch.


Part 4; Impact
At impact (when the bat makes contact with the ball) the following are absolutes:
1. You must have a tilt (back shoulder is lower than the front shoulder
2. Your back elbow should be at a 90 degree angle (this is the strongest position)
3. You must have "palm up/palm down" with your hands (this means that the palm of your top hand is up and the palm of your bottom hand is down)
4. Your chin must be drop (looking straight down at the ball) 
5. Your chin should be behind the belly button (head stays back)
6. The front knee must be locked out (axis on which you rotate)

Look for the six absolutes of impact in the following photos

Andruw Jones


Luis Gonzalez


Miguel Cabrera on an inside pitch.


Morgan Ensberg on an inside pitch.


Albert Pujols on pitch down the middle.


Chipper Jones on a pitch down the middle.


Hank Blalock on an outside pitch.


Part 5; Extension
At the point of extension, the following are absolutes:
1. The back elbow must lock out
2. The top of the bat will be pointing in the direction which the ball is hit
3. The chin must remain down
4. You must keep your tilt
5. You must keep the "palm up/palm down" relationship with your hands

*After extension, nothing matters!!!

In the following pictures, look for the five absolutes of extension

Miguel Cabrera on an inside pitch hit to left field.


Morgan Ensberg on an inside pitch hit to left field.


Chipper Jones on an pitch down the middle hit to center field.


Hank Blalock on an outside pitch hit to center field.


Carlos Delgado on an outside pitch hit to left field.


Andruw Jones on a pitch down the middle.


Albert Pujols on a high and inside pitch.