Hitting Mechanics Part 3 The Upper Body
In the last 2 podcasts, I talked about the importance of the feet and then the hips or the core in an effective swing. On this episode, I will talk about the contribution of the upper body or the shoulders, arms, wrists and head to ensuring that the power generated actually gets to the right place at the right time.
We are going to talk now about how the actions of the upper body are critical in making sure that you have as much power on the ball as you can, while remaining balanced enough to get to first base after the swing. As we talked about, the swing starts with the feet. The hips and core then rotate or begin to generate the bulk of the power before the upper body finishes the task. After the hips and core rotate, the shoulders are next, then elbows, then the extension of the arms and finishing with the snap of the wrists snapping the bat head onto the ball. Just like throwing, it is the last part of the swing just at the contact point of the bat and ball. The follow through then leaves you in a balanced position to push off the front foot to first base.
Here is how it works. The eyes are actually what will determine the direction and angles that the body will take depending on the path and velocity of the ball on its way to the plate. The hips will be rotating in the direction where the ball will be contacted and that will give a path for the shoulders to follow and then the arms and finally the wrists.
The elbows will come through the strike zone toward the ball and then the wrists will come through finishing with a snap through the bat onto the ball. I like to refer to it as sort of a hammer move. The reason is that if you think about hammering a nail into a piece of wood, you would not leave your wrist unbent for lack of a better word, because it would take you forever to get the job done. That snap of the wrists is like the hammer head hitting the nail. Try it using a tee. Try to hit the ball with power without snapping the wrist and then with the snapping of the wrist.
The effectiveness of your swing is dependent on the ability to read the path of the ball. You need to get your bat to the right place at the right time and snap the bat head directly to the ball. If the ball is high you snap the bat higher in that direction, if the ball is low you do that just like if it was to the left or right. What often happens is the batter will raise or lower their hips to the ball. What can happen then is the bat will stay at the same height and the ball will be missed or hit poorly because the hips are at the right height but the bat is not. I know that some have said that this method is not effective but if you imagine throwing your hands at the ball, the bat will follow.
Hitting can be a complicated skill, or it can be simplified with the 3 steps that I have talked about. Step, turn your hips and swing. If you just focus on the ball, the rest will take care of itself. In my opinion, the worst way to approach a swing is with the idea of a home run. That’s going to mess up your swing right from the start because you are tense and the huge swing is most times a miss as you are trying to score that run rather than get on base. By focusing on the process and the basic mechanics of swinging and getting a base hit, you are more likely to have a good hit than a miss with intention.
If there is anything I would want you to remember about hitting, is the simple 3 steps and snapping the bat onto the ball. There are many moves that sometimes occur before the actual swing that are not necessarily a part of the swing. Those are referred to as idiosyncrasies. Or pre skill actions that might happen that have nothing to do with the execution of the skill itself. Things such as lifting the leg, moving the bat handle in small circles or stepping back and then forward. There is nothing wrong with these actions as long as they are not considered to actually be contributing to the actual swing. But that’s just my opinion.