In this series of short articles and video analyses, as a part of assessing our hitters, I will be going over different components of baseball hitting mechanics, while Nunzio will help highlight potential issues and correctives both inside and outside the nets. Today’s topic on hitting mechanics is Sway, and it starts at with the stance and set up…
What is Sway?
In the Stride Phase (linear), we look at the hitter’s weight transfer in his negative move. This excessive lower body lateral movement “away” from the pitcher allows for the hitter to:
- Gain efficient energy from the ground
- Better balance weight on the back foot/leg
In turn this helps create a better hip coil and which helps initiate a better back leg drive during the Stride Phase – Set-Up / Stance (linear) move.
How do you identify it?
Viewing video from the side, if the hitter transfers his weight on the outside part of his back foot, in other words, if his back-knee crosses over the red line, then the hitter is swaying back. This movement also negatively affects the ability to have consistent timing in his lower half.
Image on the left below shows a hitter keeping his weight transfer inside the red line, compared to image on the right where the hitter is “Swaying” back.
What physical deficiencies cause it?
There could be several reasons that contribute to this. So, let’s go over some potential contributors and correctives both outside and inside the nets on how we address this.
Lower Body Strength and Stability – Limits the lower body strength especially the glutes and abductors which make it difficult for an athlete to efficiently coil into the back hip. Using an exercise such as an SLDL (single-leg deadlift) will help train the hip external rotators as well as give us some good unilateral training.
Limited T-spine Separation – The ability to separate the upper body from the lower body allows the back leg to better stabilize while the upper body is rotating. While there are many factors involved in creating good hip/shoulder separation, being able to disassociate the pelvis from the spine is a great place to start. Enter Cat/Camel…
Limited Back Hip Mobility – Limited internal rotation of the back hip will make it extremely difficult to rotate into that hip without utilizing a “sway” to help stabilize the back leg. We use bowler squats as a warm up before getting into the cage in order to groove the proper pattern.
( Bowler Squats)
What type of drill can help it?
There are several drills that help create better stabilization on your back half in baseball hitting mechanics. One drill we have been using with great success is one we got from Justin Stone. It really emphasizes forward motion in the linear phase of the swing and lets the athlete get moving without the ability to get stuck back when loading. “Feet together, step and hit”
Here are instructions on how to perform the drill…
- Standing in an upright position with his feet together, where his upper body/hands are set in a comfortable position.
- From this tall position, the hitter begins to create space by getting into a proper scap load while at the same time getting his center of mass to begin moving forward. This helps the athlete feel the need to stay more on the inside of the back leg instead of the outside in order to get moving
- As the center of mass begins to move forward, coaching the athlete to “load while moving” will help him better feel back glute load as well
It is important to focus on not “falling” into the front leg, rather more weight should be on the back side.
Conclusion – There is no one definitive way to fix a mechanical issue in baseball hitting mechanics. It’s the combination of multiple factors that allows for a complete analysis of a proper action plan. Video and bio-mechanical analysis, tech, physical correctives, and hitting drills, all should be considered for a successful and deliberate practice.
By Evan Klugerman (BA, Director of Hitting at RPP) and Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS)
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