Timing the weight shift

My previous post on timing the weight shift has spurred some comments on when exactly it happens. In one of the comments, Mike suggested he would like to see what a good hitter does when he/she doesn’t swing. Is the weight shifted because the hitter committed, or is it part of the setup to hit.

I just happen to have a video shot by Coach Rich of Albert Pujols. It’s not a standard 30 fps video (it was shot on a digital still camera) so I hope it plays ok. But you can clearly see here that Pujols shifts his weight onto his front foot , as part of the stride. without swinging several times. The hit doesn’t come until the end. Also interesting is that it doesn’t look like he has much intention of hitting the first pitch. Seems like he makes sort of a token effort, at least compared to what he does later.

Full clip of Pujols hitting

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on December 29, 2008, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Very interesting clip – thank you for posting it. I downloaded it and watched it many times, pausing and playing, dragging forwards and backwards… I think I know it by heart. Pujols has a very ineresting stride. His foot goes out and at toe touch, the toe is pointing straight down towards the ground with the heel pointing straight up to the sky. I have not seen that before – obviously, with his results, can’t knock it. So, he does have a positive distance stride, meaning his foot does move foward. He also then has to move his body forward just as much, therefore, getting some momentum (not much but it is there) going forward. I still do not call this weight transfer. The majority of the weight is still on his back leg at least until toe touch. If his front leg is in the air, then the front leg simply cannot get any more of the weight on it before it touches the ground. To me, I still say the weight transfer happens between toe touch and heel plant. It is my belief that this transfer (and push from back leg) slightly aides the initial movement of the back hip forward. I have tried to copy Pujol’s stride and toe touch here in the living room and with his toe touch technique, when first meeting the ground, cannot bear much weight, at least not until I begin bringing down my heel to the ground. That furthers my belief that the transfer occurs between toe touch and heel plant. At a recent NSC clinic, Patrick Murphy, from Alabama, showed numerous toe touch drills where he stressed there is no weight on the toe at toe touch – we should be able to bring that foot back up after toe touch as easily as it went down. I recall Sue Enquist and another’s name (I believe he was from Texas somewhere) that escapes me stating the same thing a couple years ago at the same clinic. If there is no weight on the toe at toe touch, then I can’t see the weight transfer happening during the stride. Why is it important to me that it happens between toe touch and heel plant? It is because I believe that a zero distance stride (one where either the foot comes up and back down in place, or starts at toe touch with the heel up) still allows enough weight transfer to accomplish the initial move of the the back hip moving forward. I’ve tried it with my own swing and I can feel it work. I agree that using the techinique could lead to someone hitting off their back foot, but I don’t think it is much more of a risk than that happening with a regular stride (I see it happen plenty). Going back to my earlier posts for the other topic, I still believe the zero distance stride is a valid option for someone whose stride is killing their swing for a multitude of other reasons and do not seem to be able to fix it in a timely manner.

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  2. Instead of thinking of weight transfer, think more of shifting the center of gravity forward. That’s probably a better description of what is happening.Watch Pujols’ hip area, particularly in relationship to the background. It is moving forward as he strides. If you can draw a line, or place your cursor centered between his hips at his start point and then see where he is at toe touch, particularly on the last couple of pitches, you’ll see that the center of the area between his hips has moved forward. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about weight shift. The center of gravity is already shifting forward before the toe touches, and it finishes shifting forward by heel plant. At that point you’ve established a new center around which to rotate. It’s similar to what happens when you throw overhand. First you start your center of gravity forward, lifting your front foot and sliding it along the ground. You then land the front foot and finish the throw. You’re still pushing off the back leg at that point, but you’re not starting your weight shift then. At least you shouldn’t be. You can probably also transfer weight forward while throwing without striding, but would you really throw as hard? Doubtful.

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  3. Though I appreciate the analogy, I feel there is one large defining difference between hitting and throwing, and that is the timing. When throwing, you are throwing right after your weight transfer. Hopefully, if you need to hold your throw, you do so before your weight transfer – you shuffle your feet to delay the throwing process. If you were to take your step and transfer weight but hold back your throw because someone is late to a base, and then try to throw, you will have nothing on your throw except, for the most part, what your arm alone can muster. Likewise for hitting, if your weight has already been transferred when you need to hold for a change-up, then your swing will also be weaker. If you go to toe touch with the weight still more on the back leg than the front, and wait for the change-up, you still have your weight transfer available as you go to heel plant to help initiate hip rotation. We are welcome to agree to disagree, but this is how I experience it as I go through my own swing and is what I think I see in the videos I reviewed – hopefully not just what I want to see. 🙂 So using the same reasoning as above, there is no doubt, just like using the throwing analogy, that using the momentum created using a positive stride is the ideal way to create weight transfer, and therefore, initiate the hip rotation. I have never denied that, but when you have a player who cannot properly time her stride, who continually steps open, who continually commits to weight transfer due to the stride, who continually skips toe touch and goes right to heel plant and therefore slows her bat down to make contact because her stride was too early…. (all this after working on it for quite some time and never finding a fix) then removing that extra momentum in the stride is probably the best way to alleviate the issue. The negatives experienced by the above issues, far outweigh the gains a bit of momentum can achieve. Again, I agree you should try to modify the stride to make it work, but when that fails after much trying, then the stride is a negative action to the player. I am positive weight transfer can and does occur between toe touch and heel plant while simply starting with the heel off the ground or using a straight up and down zero distance stride. Maybe, maybe it is a fraction slower or weaker initiating hip rotation, but it still happens.

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  4. I think you’re seeing what you want to see. Check out some of the clips on the Englishbey Web site. http://www.englishbeyhitting.com/forums/index.php?board=17.0 The Chris Young, David Ortiz, and Richie Sexon clips have good views from the side. A few others do too. You can use the slider to go back and forth in slow motion.Watch the hips, then watch the head. Forward movement is happening going into toe touch, and is finished at heel drop. See what happens from heel drop on. The head no longer moves forward, nor do the hips. The body is rotating around a fixed point. In addition, as the hips start to turn the back foot rolls onto the toe. That couldn’t happen if the weight was back. The heel would be pointing backward, not toward the sky. Again, if you go in the correct order you’re not committed to the swing until the end, so if a changeup is thrown you can still adjust. It probably won’t be a great hit since it could be all arms (depending on the timing) but that gets into hitting strategy. Will the majority of pitches be changeups? If not, it seems to me that basing your swing on a pitch you will only see now and then is not a good strategy. If the pitcher is throwing it at least once every at bat, you might want to just sit on the change and crush it. Looking for tells (such as the pitcher slowing down her arm before release) might be a better way to handle it as well.

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  5. I am really excited after seeing the Chris Young clip. What he does is nearly exactly what we are teaching my daughter. This is exactly what I needed – even if we end up agreeing to disagree, this clip is exactly what I needed and will be showing her to study. His stride is nearly a zero distance stride – his heel goes up to where the toes are about 1 inch off the ground, and then back straight down to toe touch, though I will admit his toes come down 1 inch in front of where they started, but doesn’t cause any weight transfer nor even any momentum like other strides. I held a ruler to the front of his face and then his hip while moving the video to toe touch and his face and hips do not move forward before toe touch. During the stride to toe touch, there is no weight transfer at all. All of the weight transfer occurs between toe touch and heel plant.I have always stated that the transfer occurs between toe touch and heel plant so I agree with what you say about what happens after heel plant (though you stated heel drop, and if you mean when the heel begins to drop, then I disagree because I see weight shift occuring until the heel hits the ground [heel plant] – if you mean heel plant, then I agree) Once the heel hits, the transfer stops and hip rotation begins. The back heel does not come up until after heel plant, and therefore, after weight transfer.So regardless of what we are both seeing/interpreting/analyzing…, this is what we are teaching my daughter (though we don’t have her heel as high and her toe touch doesn’t move 1 inch forward – although she might move forward by one inch without me seeing it since we don’t yet have it on video to scrutinize like we are doing here). This is very cool – I’m adding this clip set to my favorites! I am really pumped about it – thanks for getting me there. This is a perfect example for me to show her exactly what we are doing with her and for me to feel better about teaching her to use a zero distance stride – I’ve now seen it in the majors and not just in fastpitch.Woohoo – I just saw David Wright do it too – his stride is so early (with absolutely no weight shift and no momentum) that the pitcher still has ball in hand and pointing back to center when he gets to toe touch. His stride is a few inches, but nothing moves other than the front leg. He then lifts his heel while loading and then begins weight transfer as he brings the heel down.These examples are perfect for our situation and I thank you again for showing them to me.

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  6. Sure! As long as she develops forward momentum before rotation it should work. One thing to keep in mind, though, is she probably doesn’t have the upper body strength of Chris Young or David Wright. Wright looks like he’s using a lot of upper body to drive the bat. Hard to tell from this angle, but it doesn’t look like he gets much momentum at all — which works for him but probably wouldn’t work for a youth player, male or female. Young seems more balanced in his upper and lower body. He’s probably a better example of what you’d want to see her do.In the end, it’s all about timing and delivering sufficient force at the right time. Better to get to toe touch too early than too late. You can always hold up if you’re early. But if you’re late you will be defending instead of attacking. You are correct about the terminology by the way. I said heel drop but meant heel plant. Forward momentum/movement of the body finishes by heel plant. Heel plant finishes the “stride” phase and begins the “swing” phase.

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  7. <>The majority? Try 100%. It has to be 100% on his back foot until toe touch if his front foot is off the ground. But his center of gravity is diving forward. Try looking at it again and track his belt buckle. Look how far forward his belly button has moved forward before his toe ever touches the ground. That is weight shift. Weight shift is not about how much is on your back foot versus your front foot. I can change from 100% back foot to 100% front foot without ever moving my center of gravity, and that would be zero weight shift.Oh, and while we’re at it let’s give the appropriate props. We are talking about The Best hitter in baseball here, bar none.

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  8. Although the link is to a very cool sight with some great clips, every clip I looked at was a shot from the front, which is a terrible angle to look at what we’re talking about here. Like I said, it is a poor angle, but it looks like Wright and Young may be rotational hitters with little to no linear movement. Try this link for a look at a hitter that includes linear momentum in his swing. http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2006/08/the_shifting_sw.php To me it looks like A-Rods linear movement is complete at heal touch and it’s all rotational after that.

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  9. Actually, I found a better clip of David Wright here http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2007/05/getting_wright_1.php The 2006 clip looks like the same swing as the one in the link that Ken posted. He just gets up on his toe and then drops it. The 2007 version has a leg kick in it. But in looking at the 2006 swing from the front you can see that Wright includes linear movement in his swing also, and it looks like the linear movement is complete at heal touch, and at which point the remainder of the swing is then rotational.

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  10. Showing a hitter at toe touch or just before, will always show there is no weight on the toe. The weight will always be back, because the hitter is still loaded and has not started to unload and completed the push phase.And Pujols isn’t so unusual, what he does is show his sole of the front foot with a very quick load of the back leg and hips (and the front knee stays closer to the base of the hips). Granted he does have the toe pointed down and that is somewhat of an extreme.The reason there is no weight on the toe and why someone could show this over and over, is the backside controls when the swing starts and it sets down the front foot. This is why one of the first moves is to lift the front foot and knee and it’s not so much as setting it back down. As it is getting set back down, after being lifted and it is higher afterwards then backside.The fact that in the clip, Pujols front leg absorbs the energy create by the back leg and body, should tell you something about the swing.The only time someone would stop with very little weight on the toe and keep the weight back, is if the see the pitch very early and know it’s not going to be a strike very early. Or if they can make a early adjustment.So they don’t go through or complete the force producing phase of the back leg (hips).You don’t have to worry to much about weight shift, or how much should you shift the mass forward. Because there is more to it then just shifting the weight forward. As was pointed out to me, a better way to look at is where is the center of pressure. Where is it at toe touch and where is it at foot plant? And what Pujols is doing and I watched some of the playoff games on MLB.com where you could choose your view. I watched hitter after hitter doing the same thing as Pujols. Because you prepare to swing on every pitch, letting the front leg absorb the energy is just a way of shutting it down. When you swing, the same preparation happens and the same forces that are generated starting at the back foot, although you don’t shut it down and just let the front leg absorb what happens during a stride.Usually weight shift, or any shift of the mass happens during the stride. And what happen from toe touch, to heel plant, and afterwards, is just a continuation of what took place before these points of references.

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  11. Rich and Ken,Wright does the same thing with or without a stride. I did see him use the no stride last year.Everything he does in the no stride, he does in the stride. Except, the upperbody load is different with a stride.One just has the front leg moving and the other does not.As for Wright seeming to use the upperbody, Wright has a strong coil. So as he moves forward or the hips lead, and the center of gravity moves forward. He also is creating some negative work on the back leg/knee. And actually the pitcher view shows this better then the side view. The side view shows the body mass moving forward.Since he has a stronger coil and many times the shoulders turn back as well, this can create issues with the lower body breaking down. If your timing is off, the first thing to start breaking down is the lowerbody. I would not say he completely swings with the upperbody, it’s just that the stronger the change of direction is in a hitters technique, the more often it will appear they don’t get the lowerbody completely into the swing.Someone else, who has a very strong change of direction in Miguel Cabrera. It often looks like he doesn’t get the lowerbody completely into the swing even when he hits a HR.So, just to add to the discussion on weight shift. Usually there is more to it then just shifting the weight forward. And while I believe in the weight shift, it can be somewhat like Golf, where you really don’t have to think about the weight shift. The same could be said about the swing, although there is definitely more weight shift in hitting.I like what Derenne says in his book, if you over put to much emphasis one or the other (weight shift, or rotation) it will show in the swing.

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  12. Rich, the clip of Young is from the side (after it fades in from the first part of the clip) and very clear about what is going on. He definitely has linear motion, it simply all happens between toe touch and heel plant. I have never said I was against linear motion, in fact, to me, stating I believe in weight shift verifies that I do believe in linear motion. I believe that weight transfer always results in linear motion. I don’t think it is physically possible to shift weight from the back leg to the front leg without moving the center of gravity, and therefore, move linearly. If you can do it, then you must have some freaky muscles, or I’m simply lacking muscle (which is quite possible these days). I have been trying for the past ten minutes to shift weight from my back leg to my front leg without moving forward and I simply cannot do it. There is just no way, at least for me. In Young’s clip, it is very evident to me he uses linear motion. He simply generates it all between toe touch and heel plant through weight transfer. I believe in linear motion and weight shift, never argued that – I just believe it can happen without a stride.The entire discussion began because I took away my daughter’s stride. It was causing many negative issues and we couldn’t seem to correct the improper stride. Ken is not a fan of the no-stride technique which I can accept that. Ideally a stride may be able to yield extra power, but when it is causing as many problems as it was with my daughter, that possible extra power is not worth keeping it when she can’t even hit the ball. So when Ken led me to these clips and I saw Young and Wright using this technique, I was quite excited as I now had clips of professionals using the technique that I could show my daughter. I knew of some college players using it,but hadn’t seen MLB players using it. So far using it has significantly helped my daughter’s timing which was one of her two largest problems. For now, we are going to stay with it and see if she continues to progress.

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  13. Hi Shawn and welcome to the discussion. I’m going to focus on your last summarizing paragraph. I haven’t denied that you can initiate weight shift and get momentum going during the stride. I have admitted that it may aide the transfer and yield more power. My side of it is that it can also happen between toe touch and heel plant without having started it in the stride. the question that yields is how much, i any, does that slow the process and affect the final power delivered to the ball? I think Young’s clip shows this it the best that transfer is not necessarily needed during stride. My DD’s stride has been killing her. She starts it so early AND steps open on the stride and so her swing is 10 minutes too early. She just wasn’t able to ge the timing down – maybe her load is improper like you suggested. We’ve tried to change it, correct it…but she has never gotten it right. So we finally just removed it. Now when she decides to swing, she shifts weight forward (since she is already at toe touch) to heel plant and begins rotation. I have also admitted that at some point I want to bring it back, but it has to be away from her long enough so that she forgets her bad habits and has to learn it all over. At least that is my hope. Although using a hip slide to initiate weight transfer is intriguing – though Michelle Smith’s technique seems a bit extreme, Wright’s technique looks doable for my DD. Her success so far (and I acknowledge Ken’s warning that it could be simply due to being in a cage) has been very positive. She is hitting my live pitching, not a machine, better than she ever has before – for once I was actually happy to have a screen to protect me. Before we removed the stride, she couldn’t hit the ball off of me very well, and almost never up the middle. In fact, the other day, she didn’t miss a single strike, including a few change-ups, and for her that is an incredible feat. These weren’t weak hits either, i mean line-drive shots. With her immediate success I can’t possibly have her go back to the stride right now. I will admit though that it would be interesting to video her to see if there is some sort of weight tranfer going on before she begins to bring the heel down. I may not be able to pick it up from where I am at.

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  14. Mike,I just received a video and watched it last night, It’s called the Hank Greenberg story.In it he said when he hit 58 Hr’s and was trying to break Babe Ruth’s record. He was able to stay back slightly more that year and he thought and felt like he could make a last minute adjustment. And because of this he was able to hit with more power then and in any point in his career.There are actually different styles in the no stride. What Michelle Smith is doing I’ve also seen in other hitters. I have not checked her stats, but I think I remember that in her freshman year the power she showed was a surprise for everyone. I think I remember that she never showed that kind of power on her travel ball team. And I don’t know what she has done since her freshman year.I do not like what she is doing in the clip. There is a problem with the base, the feet are to close, the knees are to close and there is to much weight “on” (or over) the front leg at foot plant.Like Wright there are others who coil and uncoil in the no stride. The there are guys like Nomar, Pujols, Young, Phillips, who keep a better base and they don’t coil to the extent of some no stride hitters (they do not get over the front leg).One hitter that gets to far over the front leg with a no stride that I’ve watched on my team, the Mariners, is Wladimir Baletien. He has shown some power, but over-all still has a long ways to go to prove himself as a ML hitter. I have video of Team USA players with the same issue in batting practice, even if they use a stride in a game. Some of them do the early stride stuff in batting practice.Back to Hank Greenberg. Hank Aaron said that you coil your power backwards, and Ted called it hip cock. During this the mass does move forward, although as Ted disagreed with the entire weight shift concept and said Lau set hitting back 20 years. He has a very valid point. All hitters don’t do it the same way, there are hitters who can be identified as having a similar style, such as what Ted did with the lower body and hips.What I’ll do is show several hitters doing it similar to Ted Williams. I’ll show Ted, Mattingley (who Ted riped into because Mattingley said weight shift helped his swing), and Hamilton.I understand your points, your concerns. I do not think about the stride anymore, I can hit no stride or with a stride and can accomplish the same thing. And now the stride feels so natural that it doesn’t matter if I stride 2 inches or 12 inches. And I believe there are reasons why the stride feels so natural and easy without even thinking about it.

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  15. Agreed Mike. If a hitter has no stride such as Young and his toe is always on the ground, then all of his momentum shift will occur from toe touch (since he is always at toe touch) and heal plant. All the hitters I look at have finished the linear move by heal plant and at that point become all rorational. If you have a stride though, a good portion of the linear momentum shift will occur prior to toe touch, but will still be complete by heal plant.Good luck with the no stride. I see advantages and disadvantages. What ever works best. That’s why we see the different approaches from hitters. Steph used a no stride for quite some time with a lot of success. She was no stride last year when she went yard at metro. She was able to produce a fair amount of linear momentum shift without a stride. That said, we have just started working with putting a stride back in and she is getting more linear move and is crushing the ball considerably harder. We’ll see what it translates into in game settings soon enough. I’ll keep you posted and you do the same.

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  16. Wow, I think this is a new record for comments. Very cool. Hello to you Shawn. You’re an old FPF guy aren’t you? I seem to recall reading a lot of your posts before the whole thing went south. If that’s correct, glad to see you’re still kicking around the whole hitting thing. I think when we look at “early” and “late” with the swing, we have to differentiate between some things. To me, there’s good early and bad early. Good early means you’ve finished the “preparing to swing” phase in time, or perhaps a little sooner than you’re ready to go on to the next phase. You’ve moved your center of gravity forward, weight has gone onto the front leg, and you’re ready to swing. Bad early is you’ve started taking your hands into the hitting zone before you know where the ball is going. Most of the time it seems like that is caused by the hands starting before the hips, but I suppose it doesn’t have to be that way. You can just get to that point too early and launch the swing too soon. Seems to me the cure for that would be to take more time going through the preparing to swing phase — go from load to heel plant slower — but I’m sure some kids have trouble slowing themselves down no matter what. For me, there’s no good late, only bad late. If you’re late you’re going to tend to rush the swing and won’t get all you can out of it. From what I’ve seen, there will also be less focus on seeing where the ball is and more focus on just getting the bat moving somewhere and hoping it’s the right place. 🙂 This is much more the issue to me than whether you stride or not. As I’ve said I’m not a fan of the no stride for other reasons, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use it if it seemed to cure a bigger issue. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when you get to live pitching. The key is whether your DD believes in what she’s doing. If yes, she can attack the ball and adjust later. If she’s unsure, all the work goes out the window. As with any hitter, confidence is king!

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  17. let me first clarify we are talking about a hitter with some sort of stride. I feel that he begins to unload prior to toe touch. Please explain the idea of “center of pressure” versus the “center of gravity (mass)”.

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