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
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 issues...it 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 Smarter.com 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 :)