For Better Hitting, Use Your Shoulder Eye
While it might sound like this is a post specifically for mutants, “shoulder eye” is a concept I came up with to help hitters stop dropping their back shoulders toward the catcher before they begin to rotate their hips to fire the swing. The premise is you want the imaginary eye on your shoulder to turn and get a look at the ball before you start to tilt into the swing.
This is an issue I see all the time, especially on low pitches. As soon as a hitter spots that the pitch is low, he/she will start dropping the shoulder to get down to the ball. That’s just wrong on so many levels.
For example, if you drop the shoulder back and down instead of bringing it forward first you lose the ability to fully adjust to pitch locations. You’re kind of locked into a zone, and if you guessed wrong there isn’t much you can do about it except swing and miss or hit a weak ground ball or popup.
If you turn first, keeping the shoulder up, you can then take a little more time (even if it’s just a couple hundredths of a second, everything helps) to see where the ball is, then tilt only as much as is needed. You can work from high to low, enabling you to cover more of the strike zone AND get a better bat angle.
Another issue with dropping back is that it tends to restrict your ability to move the hips forward effectively. All your weight is pressing down on your back side making it difficult rotate quickly and efficiently. Even if you get your hips to turn you won’t be generating much power out of them.
If you turn your shoulder eye forward first, you can unweight your back side so it can drive quickly around your front side and generate power. You can then get a proper hips-shoulders-bat swing that will help you drive balls into the gap or over the fence rather than seeing most of your contacts end up staying in the infield.
The idea of not dropping the back shoulder toward the catcher before rotation isn’t new, by the way. It’s a fairly standard instruction.
Hitters are told to land with their front shoulder lower than the back, turn a certain way, and do all sorts of other things. But they don’t always understand the instruction in a way that makes it easy to execute.
The shoulder eye concept does. Telling a hitter he/she has an eye on the shoulder, and it has to look forward before the shoulder drops, is visual (no pun intended) and easy to understand.
Originally I would tell hitters just to visualize the shoulder eye. But then one day it occurred to me – why not give them an actual shoulder eye?
A few bucks on Amazon later I had enough stickers to teach a small army of hitters. With 4,000 of them I’m guessing it’s a lifetime supply, even with my habit of giving a few to hitters who want to use them at home or at practice as well.
And why not? It’s fun and effective. Even my students who are college players like the stickers and find the concept valuable in helping them hit bombs.
So if you have a hitter who just loves to drop that back shoulder and sit on the back side, open his/her eyes to the shoulder eye. In my experience it’s a real difference-maker.