Every time I work with a new hitter, I ask “How would you describe your swing to me?” I like to get their thoughts and see if they match the actions of their swings. I can honestly say most kids say, “Swinging down to create backspin.” It’s really frustrating for me to watch hitters start off hitting ground-balls and they think they’re swinging properly because they’ve been instructed that way. It’s also frustrating that coaches now want hard hit balls on the ground, instead of hard hit balls in the gap. Since when is a ground out better than a line drive?
When we think about bat path, our thought should be to get the bat direction on the same plane of the baseball. Going back to my opening few statements. If hitters swing down to a pitch that is going at a downward angle out of the pitchers hand, the ball has to be struck perfectly to create solid contact. If a hitter’s bat is flat (or slightly up) through the hitting zone, the bat will be in the zone twice as long, if not more, compared to a downward path. So as our body goes forward to initiate the swing, our hands should still be separating away from your body to get the bat to create a proper path! By creating a proper bat path hitters are working towards elite swinging mechanics. Hitters need to spend more time watching the best hitters in the world and imitate their movements.
Using Zepp labs technology the proper angles, planes, and paths are displayed. This is a sample with a player I worked with compared to David Ortiz. The green indicates proper movements, Yellow indicates acceptable, and red is improper or not within range of the goal. A 23 degree attack angle by Ortiz shows a slight uphill path. The image below of David is his approximate swing for the Zepp analysis. You can see his attack angle slightly positive which creates his bat angle to be negative at impact.
The Lower Half
When hitter’s think about using their legs in hitting usually the thought is to drive hard toward the pitcher & gain ground then rotate the hips. One of the main things you see some of the best hitters doing now is landing with an open bottom half and a closed top half. I started to work this into my own swing a couple years ago and it was created a jump off the ball I never felt. By landing closed, a hitter will not be able to get everything out of their swing. When your front side opens going into the launch position, but your torso remains square it creates a tension in the hips that causes upper body to rotate even quicker without even trying! In a sense the body becomes a rubber band that shoots after you pull it back. Quicker firing hips and quicker upper body rotation will lead to the obvious, more bat speed. By implementing these patterns into your swings and becoming comfortable with them you will create greater room for success.