Softball hitting tip – adjusting to speed

As most people know, the game isn’t called fastpitch softball for nothing. Speed kills in our game, especially pitching speed. Faster pitching makes it tougher for hitters to hit.

But not impossible. One of the big keys is getting the front foot down on time. If you do that, the rest gets easier. But getting the front foot down on time varies depending on the pitcher’s speed.

There’s actually a math formula that explains it. I’m no math whiz, believe me, but it makes sense even to me:

time = distance/velocity

In other words, the amount of time you have to swing the bat is a function of how far away the pitcher is divided by the speed of the pitch.

We know that in a tournament or league, the distance is constant. Whether it’s 35, 40 or 43 feet, that will always be the same within that event. But as the speed of the pitch goes up, the amount of time goes down.

For example, let’s say the pitcher is throwing 52 mph from 43 feet. We need to convert mph to feet per second, so we multiply the number by 1.46. (The actual multiplier is a bit longer than that, but 1.46 makes it simpler.) What we wind up with is the ball moving 75.92 feet per second. We’ll assume a constant speed, even though we know the ball actually slows a bit as it travels. We also will assume she has a six foot stride, so will actually deliver the ball from 37 feet away. That means our equation is 37/75.92 = 0.487 seconds reaction time.

Now let’s assume everything else is the same, but she’s throwing 58 mph. That makes our equation  37/84.68 = 0.436 seconds. That a difference of about 5/100ths of a second. Doesn’t seem like much — it’s less than the blink of an eye. Yet in those 5/100ths of a second, if you’re timed for the slower speed the ball will go from the optimum location to hit it to deeper in the zone, likely handcuffing the hitter.

This is what your hitters have to realize. They absolutely must adjust their timing to the pitch speed or they will be late getting the bat through the zone. Not horribly late, necessarily, but just enough to turn a good hit into a weak one.

It also works in reverse, by the way. If you’re timed for a 58 mph pitch and the pitcher is throwing 52 mph, you’ll be too early and will either miss entirely or “pool cue” the ball, resulting in a weak hit.

Again, the adjustment is when the front foot lands. Get it down on time, or even a little early, and you will be better off than being late.

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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 July 10, 2011, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Your point is true in the same sense each of the men in this parable http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant told the truth. Your truth is so simplistic as to be misleading. I really believe your confidence in your own hitting knowledge is misplaced. You know I think you are one of the good guys but you really haven’t done your due diligence when it comes to studying hitting. A hitter can be early or even no stride and still not be able to deal with pitchers who throw hard and change speeds. If a hitter is too long from first move of the bat head into the zone till contact, she, or he, will have to start early enough that they will be often fooled. Do I really need to do the math on this and or write an essay or will you finally come over to Englishbey’s site and learn what you should?

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  2. Mark, your blind faith in Englishbey makes me laugh. You do no thinking on your own. You just follow what the latest guru tells you. You’ve done it with several now. You call what I do and say simplistic. In the sense I try to keep things simple, yes. I know what I do works. It’s been proven and field-tested. What have you ever contributed on your own? Except to tell people to go watch videos and go Englishbey’s site.

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  3. Sounds like I touched a nerve. Good. Not blind faith. I went through a bunch of gurus comparing them all to slow motion video of the best in the world among other tests. If your confidence in your hitting knowledge is good, great. Study Steve’s stuff and show him where he’s wrong. I started studying this stuff for the same reason. Read some guys discussing Mankin, setpro, Epstein and others. Sounded cocky and arrogant to me so I started studying everything they alluded to with the intention of proving them wrong. Changed my softball life. I challenge you to engage in the same level of study. Does your stuff work? Have you had success? Sure. Does that mean you have nothing more to learn? Perhaps your emotional response answers the question.

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  4. It touches a nerve because you come here, make a derisive comment and then offer nothing of value to anyone. If you disagree, prove me wrong. Address the points I made and say why YOU disagree. Coming here and posting is tripe is a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t bother trying to disprove the formula. I got that here: http://ceres.hsc.edu/homepages/classes/astronomy/fall97/Mathematics/sec5.html So tell us all how a change in velocity doesn’t affect the hitter’s timing. How two objects traveling at different rates of speed won’t cover different amounts of ground. That’s the premise I lay out. Show it’s wrong — if you can. Because that principle operates regardless of the mechanics you use to swing the bat. The front foot getting down on time is part of the hitter’s preparation to swing. If she doesn’t get it down on time she will have to rush the swing. That’s my contention. If you disagree, explain why — and show your work.

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  5. OK. If I take the time to engage you on this and make sense, will you spend six months of spare time truly engaging, questioning and understanding Englishbey’s stuff? I should add we aren’t going to try to eat this horse in one bite. We are going to deal with one little piece at a time and it’s going to take numerous exchanges. If you will stick with me, I’ll stick with you.

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  6. I have to hand it to you. In the history of evasive answers, that’s one of the best I have ever seen. Six months eh? Let’s put that offer into perspective. It took Stephen Hawking 212 pages to explain the nature of the universe in his book A Brief History of Time. That’s a one-week read or less for most people, and he explained it simply. I learned to fly an actual airplane in about three months. Well, really a month and a half, but at the time you needed a minimum of 40 hours flight time to go for your license. Not sure what it takes these days — that was back in 1978. But since we’re talking life and death, I’d have to say learning to fly an airplane is more complex than hitting a ball with a bat. But I get it. Steve has a system to sell, and you have to impress people that there is a secret sauce in order to get them to fork over the money. I call it the Houdini Principle. Harry Houdini used to do an escape called the Milk Pail Escape. He would be placed into a large milk pail (the kind they used to use on farms) filled with water, then locked in with chains and padlocks. As he went into the water, the audience was told to hold their breath, because that’s what Houdini would have to do until he got out. They used a big clock to keep track of the time, too. Of course, the milk pail was rigged, so Houdini would get out in about 30 seconds after the curtain was lowered around it. He would then sit and listen to the audience as it grew restless, then panicked. People would be running out of breath, of course, and would scream for the firemen on hand to break him out before he drowned. When the panic hit peak pitch he’d burst out of the curtain as if he just barely got out with his life. (Sometimes if he’d gotten out too quickly he’d have to splash water on himself since he’d dried off.) It was showmanship. If something sounds incredibly complicated and sophisticated, people often mistake that for smart. I make my living (my real living, not softball stuff) explaining complicated technologies in a simple, easy to understand way. Again, things that are way more complex than how to hit a ball with a bat. If it will take six months of intense work to understand the material, it’s way over-engineered and ought to be re-thought.

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  7. I will be happy to pay any and all fees if you will commit to truly understanding what I think you need to understand for the sake of the kids you work with.

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  8. I hope if I volunteer to pay all costs as well as engage with you here you will do the due diligence study I think you should. So here’s a little start. You are very right to focus on elapsed time available to the hitter. The lack of time available to the hitter means the time from first move of the bathead into the swing plane till contact is key. The later you can wait to commit the longer you can watch the pitch the less you will be fooled. Speaking now to your point about the importance of getting the foot down on time, that would be a necessary but hugely insufficient condition for a successful swing. This is typical of most people’s bandaid patchwork approach to swing improvement. I would say this kid gets his foot down plenty early http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis;jsessionid=8oyi3jrnz2.camel_s?p=15&n=1&m=20&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9 but this swing stinks. This hitter gets her foot down about the time the pitcher walks into the circle http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/olympic?p=0&n=1&m=24&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9 proving its not about the stride.And her again. http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/olympic?p=2&n=1&m=24&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9I’m seeing the ball approaching her here before the heel is planted http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/olympic?p=8&n=1&m=24&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9Both heels are in the air here at the same time http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis?p=10&n=1&m=20&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9 What about that?My point being tossing out tips like get the foot down early, elbow up, elbow down, tip the bat before swinging, don’t tip the bat, get on top of the ball, hands inside the ball, stand tall etc etc is a less than optimal approach to hitting instruction. I prefer to work toward the student understanding the whole swing as age and ability permits the goal being the hitter eventually becomes their own coach insulating them from the stupid stuff I’m sure we both agree gets taught by some. Agreed?

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  9. The one thing I see in all the videos is the front heel planting, regardless of stride/no stride method. You cant see the timing with the Soriano clip so I am not sure the point of it since the thread is about varying pitchers speeds and contact. Mark, you mention the front foot not coming down on time as not as important to a successful swing. What do you mean by “successful” swing?

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  10. You are right to focus on heel plant more than toe touch. Nothing I said should mean the foot coming down on time is not important. I said it was a necessary but hugely insufficient factor. That means…it IS necessary. But then my eighty year old mother and the nine hole hitter on the local little league team can get there foot down on time or early so it’s not a very descriptive hint without someone standing there demonstrating what they mean. The main point is, patching this and patching that isn’t the way to approach swing improvement imo. Analyze the swing looking for inefficiencies. That’s different with every hitter. Prescribing swing fixes (think usual common cues like get the foot down etc) without seeing the particular kid you are prescribing too is not good medical medicine nor swing medicine. Education in general about what elite hitters do works across the board. Having said all that, getting the foot down on time/before shoulder rotation and planting it with hip shift/carry is just the ticket in some cases. Astro Brett Wallace was swinging while striding last year and stinking it up. I posted the same on an Astros board with clips to back it up showing the difference between his usual swing and the swing he showed on his first ML home run. I thought he ought to go to AAA and work on it but he came out in Spring Training with the problem fixed and started out hitting very well. Don’t know what he’s doing now. Too painful to watch the Stros right now. Did watch a summer league college age baseball game tonight. Lot of inefficient swings there too.What do I mean by successful swing. Good question. That’s a different answer for different types of players. Generally I’m talking about middle of the order rbi producers when I talk about good swings. I do like versatile slappers but that’s another subject. A successful swing, judging by what I see elite hitters doing has to be quick from first move of the bat head into the swing plane till contact and that’s something I routinely measure. It has to have sufficient bat speed at contact to drive the ball at least in the gap. Those two force efficient use of the body rather than an arm swing so it covers a lot. The swing needs to drive the ball on a slight upward angle/more up for the big banger than the smaller doubles hitter. Again, slappers excepted. More tomorrow.

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  11. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. We can talk specifics instead of generalities. Let’s address the idea of tips versus a “swing system” first. I don’t disregard the need to build the entire swing. I spend a lot of time teaching the swing as a whole — during the off-season. BUT…right now we’re mid-season. You can have the best swing in the world, but if it isn’t timed correctly (i.e. you’re late getting it going) you will still struggle. I think we’re agreed on that. The original post addresses the issue of hitters not adjusting themselves to varying pitch speeds. If everything except pitch velocity remains constant, the hitter will struggle. I offer a way of understanding how that affects the hitter’s success, all else being equal, so hitters can learn to adjust. Your story about Brett Wallace confirms that, at least as I read it. The truth is even an ugly swing can produce good results. We’ve both seen that happen. It’s not the way to bet, but some people have better hand-eye coordination than others and can get away with it, at least for a while. But I am thoroughly convinced that a well-crafted swing will produce better results than an ugly one long-term, and a well-crafted, well-timed swing will do even better. We should be agreed on that point as well. So what does on time mean? It doesn’t mean get the front foot down very early. A little early is better than a little late, but too early (like a couple of the clips above) won’t produce the power you want either. What I see in working with actual hitters is when they don’t get the front foot down on time, they have to rush the actual swing and it breaks down. They panic, then they disconnect, they swing wildly if at all,then they end up back on the bench. Getting to toe touch, to me, is preparation to swing. The actual swing begins with heel plant and rotation. I believe that part should be a constant, with adjustment for pitch location and movement. (Grant me a little leeway on that statement because the reality there is a whole other subject). Now I have a propsoal for you. Rather than burying your thoughts here in the comments of this post, would you like to do some guest posts instead? There’s good information here, so if you want to do a series that takes a more holistic approach to the swing let me know. You can email me if you want to work out details.

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  12. I’m pretty good with all that. Saying the actual swing begins with heel plant and rotation should be qualified with noting the pelvis is rotating as it shifts foward before heel plant. Defining the actual swing as when the shoulders and bat start unloading would mean your sentence is right.On the guest post, that’s interesting. I’ve always viewed my role on the net as more pointing toward the information than guru. The expert I’ve pointed to changed over the years as their information didn’t hold up to scrutiny as I learned. But that’s the role I’ve tried to fill for years. I know how long it took me to separate the good from the bad and I’d like to help another parent figure it out before their kid’s brief youth career is over. I view badgering you into investigating what I think is the best information as leveraging my efforts to help parents help their kids. If there’s a kid in front of me, I can best serve them by working with them directly. If we are on the net, there is better information available than I can offer so I figure I can best serve a player or parent by telling them where I have found the best information. I’d rather talk Steve into guest posting but if I can’t do that or you aren’t interested in that, I’ll do it.

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  13. Second answer: I should add I don’t think swing tips or swing rebuild are the only two options. Epstein would be an example of one swing one way everyone does the same drills one prescription for everyone swing rebuild. I’d rather approach it from here’s your swing. Where are the inefficiencies. What constraints and drills can I use to accustom your body to moving more efficiently so you can be a little better tomorrow than you are today. If I don’t tell Brett Wallace in the middle of the season “hey, your swing stinks because you are swinging while striding so get your #$%% foot down early” but rather just say “hey, don’t think about this when you are hitting but try doing this movement pattern this way for X repetions every day and whatever seeps into your game swing seeps in” then I haven’t given the concious side of his brain something to worry about in the box. So he doesn’t become one of those hitters for awhile who are stinkin’ cause they’re thinkin’. Off season, I may give an older kid lots to think about because my long term goal is to make them their own swing doctor because I won’t be there all the time. And I’m going to arm them with the rule, “always compare anything anyone says to lots of slow motion video of elite hitters letting that be your truth detector. We all know there are resumed experts who completely disagree with each other. Average parent or kid needs some way to begin to separate the good from the myth.Arming a parent or kid with knowledge is defense. Helping them learn to move better is offense. Using constraints that force different movement is usually the best plan. An example might be the old rolled up towel between the lead arm and the chest forcing a hitter to keep the lead arm close to the chest till later in the swing.

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  14. Let’s go back to your first post and expand on something I really like. This comment: “That means our equation is 37/75.92 = 0.487 seconds reaction time.” It IS about elapsed/It IS about how much time it takes a hitter to get from first move of the bathead to contact. It’s common to measure this objectively by counting the frames in video. For instance, Lexy Bennett of University of Texas I’ve counted at 3-1/2 to four frames depending on the swing and pitch location. This is just smoking hot quick. Four frames in a standard 30fps video is .13 seconds. Let’s take a 60mph pitch to make the numbers easy. That’s .42 seconds of ball flight at your 37 feet. Lexy gets to watch ball flight for 25 feet before she has to commit. By comparison, this kid is probably a typical 7 frame swing taking .23 seconds.

    She has to commit when the ball is less than half way. To put it the other way, this hitter has to commit when the ball is 20 feet out from a 60mph pitcher. Lexy has to commit when the ball is about 11-12 feet out. Obviously the 7 frame hitter can hit the 60mph pitcher if she starts early enough and anticipates contact location well enough. But when the pitcher starts mixing spin and speed the 7 frame hitter will disappear. The awful swing I linked and the commentary on it make me cringe. To help kids avoid looking like this in their mid teens is why I bother posting on the internet.

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  15. I promised more tomorrow. I guess tomorrow is today. Here’s one more more for a good swing. From a biomechanical and physics sense, do the clips one through eight on the following link make sense to you on their common point? http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis;jsessionid=8fllcp2i01.lion_s

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  16. You said:”If something sounds incredibly complicated and sophisticated, people often mistake that for smart. I make my living (my real living, not softball stuff) explaining complicated technologies in a simple, easy to understand way. Again, things that are way more complex than how to hit a ball with a bat. If it will take six months of intense work to understand the material, it’s way over-engineered and ought to be re-thought.”And I completely agree. What takes a long time are two things. One, overcoming people’s current way of understanding and talking about the swing. Two, the difficulty of describing ballistic movements with words. This is why I try to use video clips as much as possible. Even there, the difficulty is people can only see what they can see limited by their training and current beliefs about the swing. Yeah, at it’s core, understanding what a good swing is is very very simple. Much simpler than the guy marking up the clip and commenting on the link I gave would understand. Conveying that understanding over the net takes a little longer but the part that you never stop learning on is how to get hitters to feel what you want them to do and feel.

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  17. OK, if silence means agreement, here’s the next point. Looking at clips 1 through 8 on the following link, do we have any disagreement or questions on the central point of these clips about the relationship of the swing plane to the shoulder rotation plane? http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis;jsessionid=8fllcp2i01.lion_s

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  18. Sorry, it hasn’t been silence. It’s been practice, plus a tournament that was more than an hour’s drive each way with a wedding thrown in. Just been busy. But I’ve been reading. I agree about giving hitters too much to think about in the box. They shouldn’t be thinking about mechanics there. But perhaps you and I disagree on where the core of the swing is. I think a hitter can walk into the box knowing that timing needs to be adjusted, and thus can handle a cue such as “get in motion earlier” or “get the front foot down on time.” That’s because I see the “swing” as starting after heel plant. Everything up until then is preparation to swing, like a pitcher winding up. Once the heel is down, it has to be pretty much automatic. You can have a swing thought going into the box such as “stay connected” or “keep the hands up” but once you’re actually swinging you’d better hope your subconscious has locked in on the swing thought because the conscious mind is too slow to help. I definitely agree with your comment about making kids their own swing doctors. Once I’ve worked with a kid for a while, be it on hitting or pitching, I don’t give them a lot of corrections or answers. When they get a bad result I ask them “Why did that happen?” and expect them to know the answer. And it’s for the very reason you state. I won’t be at their games, and even if I was they don’t need me telling them things. They need to figure out what to do on their own. If they understand what we’re going for to the point where they can say “If X then do Y” they’re bound to hit a lot better. Most of the time arming a parent with knowledge is a waste of time, because their kids won’t listen to them anyway. 🙂 I get calls and emails all the time from parents who repeat what I’ve told a player only to have the player wave them off. What does mom or dad know? But if they hear it from me, it’s a whole different thing. Seriously, the parents should know what constitutes a good swing and a bad one. Video is a good comparison, although there are a lot of flaws in home run videos too, especially in softball. But if the parent and player understand why we’re doing something instead of just following orders, it’s far more likely to produce long-term, sustainable results. Even the quick fixes have an underlying foundation behind them.

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  19. Totally agree on the batspeed part of it. This is something I stress to hitters I work with as well. The longer you can wait to bring the bat into the hitting zone, the more time you have to see where the ball is going. I think we’re agreed on the basic sequence: hips, shoulders, hands. I like to see some hip rotation going into the stride, and quick hip rotation after heel plant. Agreed? From there, the shoulders come forward, then the back shoulder starts to tilt in to set the swing plane. The lower the pitch, the more tilt, and even waist bend, is required. Otherwise you have to drop the hands down to reach the pitch and you lose power. I saw a girl I worked with on a team last year use the principle to crank a double into the gap on a below the knees pitch today. I see that in Siggy’s clips, which is where I came to understand that (via you, by the way). While all of that is happening, the hands are waiting their turn. They haven’t committed yet, so you’re getting a better idea of where you have to take the bat head in order to get on plane and meet/crush the ball. Kids who are slow or late have to commit their hands without this information, so it’s more luck than skill that hits the ball. The other thing this sequence of hips/shoulders/hands does is shorten the path of the bat to get into the contact zone. If there is no hip or shoulder rotation the bat head starts from further back, and thus must travel further in those five frames in order to get to the ball on time. It’s part of the “short to long through” concept as I see it. So ultimately, you have more time to see the ball and less distance to bring the bat head to it — both good things. If the whole process starts too late, though, you lose some of that time and then have to make it up somwhere, usually with a choppy, armsy swing which was my original point. One thing I always try to keep in mind when putting metrics on the swing is the athleticism of many of those top hitters we analyze. They make athletic movements better than the average person, which is why they’re playing where they’re playing and we’re typing to each other. Four frames is outstanding and five frames is the standard, but those can be a challenge to many kids. If you want to play D1 in college you’d better be able to do it. If you want to play for your local HS, it may not be as critical. Desirable, perhaps, but not critical.

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  20. No disagreement from me on this one. In fact, you’ll probably see me saying something similar in one of my responses above, and that was before really looking at the comment. When you posted this link back on the Discuss Fastpitch Forum it made sense to me then, and still does. It’s one of the things I look for — especially the shoulder angle and the bat angle matching.The only difference in the analysis and what I teach (I think) is the need for softball players to bend at the waist to get the very low pitches — whether that’s movement-driven or umpire-driven. Softball hitters often must be able to cover their shins. I don’t like the hands getting down to waist-high except under extreme conditions. Unlike the MLB players in these clips, most girls don’t have the arm strength to get a good hit through the ball by dropping their hands to get to the ball. I prefer to see them keeping the hands closer to the back shoulder, and using the shoulders to continue powering the swing. Interested to hear your thoughts on that.

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  21. If you throw clip 2 out as an anomaly due to a save after being fooled, are you good with the rest of the clips? I’m thinking that must be the one that generates your last paragraph?Yeah, agreed. Here’s an extreme tilt on a down and in pitch. Good job. Most people don’t show this much flexibility and end up dropping the hands some below the shoulder rotation line to get to this pitch. http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/olympic?p=11&n=1&m=24&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9How do feel about the lead arm staying this close to the chest and what joint movement accounts for the adjustment to the inside pitch location? http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/olympic?p=1&n=1&m=24&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9

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  22. I’m still with you. Anything on the above questions?

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  23. Yes, fine with the rest of the clips as I remember them. For me, it’s not so much about the lead arm. It’s about the hands staying close to the back shoulder until it’s time to take the bat head to the ball. I don’t see the arms doing a whole lot until then in good hitters. The flaw I see a lot is the lead arm not moving with the rest of the body. The front elbow kind of presses in against the side, and the elbows wind up pretty close together instead of maintaining the box, or the triangle, or whatever you’d like to call it. The Michelle Smith swing isn’t a particularly good one in my eyes. But it’s a great adjustment to a pitch she probably shouldn’t have swung at — very athletic movement on her part. What I see her doing is using her hands to adjust — something a lot of female hitters would have trouble with. What I’d rather see is the hitter moving into a hitting position as the ball is coming in, recognizing that it’s moving in, and getting the ball with a normal swing but more out front. If she can’t do that, maybe pull the lead elbow through to get the bat through a little quicker. But I’m not married to that if you have a better idea.

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  24. Hands staying close to the back shoulder early in the swing and the arms not doing a lot…describes what some refer to as connection. If the lead arm gets out away from the chest, then the hands aren’t staying near the shoulder. Pushing the hands forward/leaving them behind/pushing them down…all different types of disconnection. I know Right View has a different definition for connection but before they came out, connection referred to how well a hitter connected torso rotation to the bat. Same page different terminology here for you and me I think. I think the Smith swing is very good. She might have let it get in on her just slightly but if a hitter knows how, then it’s like Ted Williams said, “history is made on the inside” or something close to that. Easiest pitch to hit out if you know how.I don’t see her using her hands to adjust because that’s physically impossible. The hands can only grip. Yes, I’m being literal. I see her using her scapular movement/adduction or abduction whichever it is/the shoulder blade is sliding around the rib cage toward the spine to tighten the radius and adjust to the inside pitch. The farther out in front you hit an inside pitch, the earlier you have to start thus making you more vulnerable to the slow and away pitch. IOW, you create a bigger timing problem for yourself. Plus, the farther out in front you hit the inside pitch the more likely you are to pull it foul.People see hitters using elbow flexion but few notice the dramatic range of motion, expressed in radial degrees, of the shoulder’s ability to slide around the rib cage both toward and away from the spine.

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  25. Couple of sentences I would have quibbled with or expanded on to talk about the role of momentum and the double pendulum but that’s a good post. On your last paragraph I’d say yeah but the problem is hitters tend to be four to five frames or they are seven frames. Seven frame swings disappear quickly against pitchers throwing fairly hard while mixing speeds and spins. Having said that, a seven frame swing can have some fun in high school feasting on the lesser pitchers and getting the occassional big bang against the better pitcher. so yeah, agreed.

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  26. To add to the the point about shoulder joint movement, if I pull my scapula back toward my spine and turn my shoulder to face north, then without moving my torso, slide my shoulder away from the spine, my shoulder is now pointing east. IOW, I have about 90 degrees of movement there. That’s a LOT of movement by the time you add the length of the arm and bat. My point being this is a key part of swinging a bat but it is rarely addressed. Here’s a clip to illustrate. http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis;jsessionid=ht01mbcxx2.panda_s?p=9&n=1&m=20&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9 At the moment the bat begins to move into the swing plane, Vlad’s left scap is fully rotated away from the spine and his right scap is fully rotated toward the spine. IOW, fully loaded and ready to unload by reversing movement during torso rotation.

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  27. Interesting, but I think you’re looking a little far down the road for where most young players are. Just getting them to get a good basic load, and more importantly a good weight shift, is a higher priority to me than this type of scap loading. So often I see them push the weight back, but then come back to start instead of actually moving the body into the pitch. I also see some interesting arm movement in game conditions that I don’t see in practice/tee swings. It’s probably more mental than physical, really, but it shows up as a physical problem.By the way, I ordered Steve’s basic DVD last night. I’ll be interested to see his approach. My guess from what I’ve seen in the past is our approaches are pretty similar overall. But even if it’s exactly the same I’m always looking for new ways to explain the same things. Different kids react differently to the same instruction, so the more ways you have of explaining things the better.

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