Softball Hitting Mechanics Part 2 The Hips
Last time I talked about the feet or, the starting point of the swing. As promised, this time I will talk about how the core and the hips are critical to adding as much power as you can to the swing. As I mentioned, the core and the hips are essential in maximizing power in the swing. If you think about swinging without the hips, it could almost be enough to actually throw you off balance. I talked last time about the feet and how important they are in beginning the energy transfer into your bat and then to the ball. They are also the key to stability during the swing and the race to first base after the ball is contacted. If you think about the softball swing, how do you get the shoulders and hands to rotate around quickly without the hips. If you try it, you will find that it can be difficult to do without using your core.
Of the 650 skeletal muscles in the human body, the hips are where the largest muscles reside. For this reason, if you leave out this element of the swing, you are leaving a lot of power behind. The rotation of your hips in the direction of the swing after the initiation through your feet, will bring your shoulders and hands around most effectively. To add the power contribution of your hips you need to drive them to the ball using your back leg maximizing their power. It’s important though that you don’t just push them forward on their own but as a part of the rotation of the entire body.
Use a batting tee to experiment with hitting and using your hips. Try it without and then with the rotation and drive. A good indicator of the involvement and drive is the distance that the ball goes and the velocity of the ball. If you want to isolate the hips in the swing using a batting tee, simply cradle the bat behind your back in the bend of your elbows with the bat head facing your back leg in your stance, stand in facing the tee so that the bat will reach it when you turn, and turn your hips to hit the ball. This will require a pivot from the back foot to allow your hips to turn. You can also notice by doing this drill if the batter stays level or dips the front leg on the rotation which is a common error. By keeping the hips at the same height through the swing as they are in the ready position, you are ensuring maximum power in the direction the energy is all going forward and not down or up.
To give you a visual of this motion, try to imagine a line going through your body from the top of your head directly down to the ground, this will allow you to actually see the rotation and how it works in getting the bat to the ball. If you can imagine the rotation of the body during a swing, it can simply be broken down into an easy to remember order. When I was working with young softball players, from 7 years old, when talking about hitting, I would say, step, turn your hips and swing. That’s all. It’s simple and easy to remember. You would be amazed at the success they had.