I was sitting with our Director of Hitting Evan Klugerman yesterday and he brought up a great point regarding efficient sequencing and mechanics when looking at K-Vest data. While collecting data for our high school guys, he was surprised at how many inconsistencies there were in sequencing from swing to swing within the same player profile, as compared to the MiLB guys he had been testing last year with the Orioles. I thought it would be a great quick blog.
Having tested athletes of all ages at our facility from High School to MLB, this was a familiar scene. As an athlete matures and strength/mobility levels improve, so does stability. This in turn helps set up “mechanical guardrails” that allow the athlete to move more consistently through the swing.
Stability can be defined as the resistance to both angular and linear acceleration, or the capability of a structural system to transmit various loadings safely to the ground. This is basically swing mechanics from load to contact.
Strength can be defined as the capacity of the individual elements, which together make up a structural system, to withstand the loads that are applied to them.
In other words, stability is simply a state. Your level of stability is constantly changing based on environmental factors, external influences (such as strength and balance), and your positioning. These two critical issues are experienced daily from the moment that an individual is born.
Crawling on all fours of support proves to be a very stable situation for quite a long time. But, in order to get to a more unstable upright position, the structural system must develop to the point that the individual elements of the system have acquired sufficient strength to create better balance and stability.
This is no different than losses of posture in the positive move to contact causing a “back-heavy” swing or poor lead leg blocking. In each of these situations the structural system, has reached the limit of its strength, and the kinetic chain is only as strong as the weakest link.
We see this all the time with young athletes who possess limited strength resulting in inconsistent sequencing, which negatively impacts their ability to adjust to pitches with higher velos and out of the zone (especially away).
A breakdown in mechanics can occur when the larger and stronger muscles are forced to over-compensate for weaknesses of the smaller muscles in the chain. We first must assess and address the mobility and functional strength limitations that may break down the body and cause inefficient motor patterns in the swing (or the throw for that matter), prior to trying to make big changes in swing mechanics.
Sorry, I know working on strength and mobility doesn’t sound that sexy, but simply trying to fix it with hitting drills alone continues to ingrain poor movement and swing patterns making them worse.
Remember, athletes get good at what they practice, and simply putting a bat or a ball in your hand is not the fix-all solution.
See ya’ in the gym…
By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
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