Do the Hips rotate first? What About the Weight Shift?

Jeff Kent (San Francisco Giants) in the Slot Position - Hips Initiating the Swing and the Hands Following Behind

Jeff Kent (San Francisco Giants) in the Slot Position - Hips Initiating the Swing and the Hands Following Behind

Hi Joey, had a question re: my 9 yr old son who is a right handed batter...

I keep hearing about how the hips are the first thing to move forward in the swing, and the hands are last to move towards the ball.

How do you teach a kid to start rotating his hips first? Have any drills that help teach this?

Also, I've had several coaches tell my kid to keep his weight back when he swings, but the other day I read something about the weight actually moves forward (about 60-40%). What is really meant when they say, "Keep your weight back is to keep your hands back!" Does that make sense to you?

Just trying to help my son out, he is very athletic and a great fielder, although, he is struggling with the bat. He doesn't seem to make solid contact with the ball. He usually hits a weak pop-up or is hitting the top of ball which drives it down into the ground for a weak chopper.

He is very good about loading up and getting his front foot down, and he also get the the concept about keeping his hands inside and going short to the ball and long through it.

Thanks for your help.

Swing Smarter Response:
Sorry to hear your 9 year old is having some swing sounds like you're on the right track with the hips starting and driving the swing, while the upper body is, for the most part, along for the ride.

Drills on how to teach getting the hips, legs, and core to initiate the swing instead of the upper body taking over?

Have your son use a broom stick without the bristles. This long stick will create a ton of wind resistance making your little hitter rely on his big core muscles to swing it. This is a fantastic cheaper non-impact alternative.

If you're into investing in a baseball hitting aid, then try the HeavyBat. The difference between swinging the broom stick and the HeavyBat is, you can hit live baseballs.

About keeping the weight back in the swing...

This is because your son is probably lunging at the ball or out on his front leg too much during the Impact Phase of the swing. I do NOT believe in keeping the weight back anymore because the body always wants to get to a balanced state, hence, it will lunge forward on a big weight shifting hitter to get back to balance. This causes the eyes to drift and/or drop, which is NOT good for consistency and power.

I now subscribe to more of a 50/50 or 60/40 (50-60% front side), similar to what you heard. The bent front leg in the Slot Position will act like a trigger (Positional/Rotational Hitting philosophy), and straighten, throwing the front hip back and bringing the back hip through the Impact Zone.

"Keeping the weight back means keeping the hands back," is a poor way of saying your son needs to develop a trigger with his hands to initiate the top portion of the swing, NOT the act of pushing the weight distribution to primarily on the back leg. Check out the book Positional Hitting: The Modern Approach to Analyzing and Training Your Baseball Swing
by Jaime Cevallos (he's also inventor of the MP28/30).

Hitting weak popups and chopping ground-balls is a tough one. It depends on pitch location, but if I were to take a guess, with all the information you've provided, I'm assuming he's not waiting on the ball long enough and not letting it get deeper into the ideal Impact Zone.

Weak popups to the opposite side of the diamond may be him over-compensating for a collapsed backside and/or bad wrist position...weak popups to the pull side may be the same out-in-front contact we talked about with the chopped ground balls.

I don't subscribe to the Down & Through method 100% anymore, my philosophy on hitting has shifted more towards a Jaime Cevallos' Positional Hitting style (not 100% there either). Not that I don't think D&T works, because it did get me four years of paid-for Division 1 college baseball experience, but I think Positional Hitting is a perfect blend of power and consistency. It's hard to be real consistent with Down & Through.

I have some real exciting stuff coming to Swing real soon (end of this week, beginning next week), so please subscribe to the RSS feed and to The Swing Architect Newsletter today. You won't be disappointed, and it will definitely help your 9 year old get ready for the next level :)

Comments for Do the Hips rotate first? What About the Weight Shift?

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@Arhian - hips rotate too early
by: Joey from

The hips can open early. Watch Josh Donaldson of the Oakland A's swing. His pelvis opens 5 slow motion frames before his front foot hits the ground. The question is, do you "block" your shoulders and show your numbers to the pitcher even though your pelvis might be opening soon? The shoulders should stay blocked until the front heel hits the ground.

by: Arhian

I have kinda the opposite problem, my hips are opening up too early is there any drills you recomend ?

Visual perspective
by: Max

I found what helped me (being a visual learner) was to watch videos of Mickey Mantle. You can see him open his hips up and swing with incredible consistency. (I chose Mickey because I'm a switch hitter)

Clear up weight shift
by: Joey from SwingSmarter

@Coach Mike: So once the front heel hits the ground a timing signal goes up into the pelvis to start rotating open. The same signal continues up the spine into the shoulders, telling them to counter-rotate the pelvis. This is why when we walk, our opposite leg and arm swing forward.

This is the same with the baseball or softball swing. When the hitter lands, the pelvis will start to open, but the hitter MUST show their numbers to the pitcher at this point. Doing this is bio-mechanically sound human movement.

Coach Mike, check out my most current information at my new video blog

Looking for advice
by: Mike

Hi. My name is mike and I coach a travel softball team. I believe my hands get to around my core before my hips open. Thus as this is happening my weight is shifting to my core as well. I feel my back foot turn a bit. But it seems like it's the weight shift not the hips turning Keeping my hands inside the ball. Then I want to throw my hands then my hips explode thru the ball. I feel when ur hips lead u have lost maximum power. And u pull off the ball to early. I just want to be able to help my kids. So if u could clear up the things I mentioned I could share them with my team. Tks

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