Front Arm NOT Staying Flexed at Times

by Todd Henderson
(Cresskill, NJ)

Bat Drag - BAD

Bat Drag - BAD

Bat Drag - BAD
Ryan Braun - Bat Lag - GOOD

Hello, my son (14), has ok balance (I think), but his swing seems to have gotten a bit long and his front arm at times seems to not be staying flexed to point of contact. I think his back arm is ok (close to the body on the swing) but his back side seems to be collapsing (I think). I attached a few pics, hope you can see them.

In the back yard when hitting off the tee and doing soft toss drills I don?t notice him doing this, just seems to be in games vs. live pitching.

One drill I started doing with him was setting the tee at a letter high level. My thinking is this would force him to keep more flex in his lead arm. Any advice/drills you can suggest would be much appreciated.

Thank you very much for your time.

Todd Henderson
Cresskill, NJ

Swing Smarter Response:
Hey Todd, thank you for your question and the pictures (so much easier to see what's happening than trying to explain it in words ;). This is something I've been working with one of my hitting students on as well.

Your describing what I like to call Bat "Drag," NOT to be confused with Bat "Lag," which is actually a good thing.

Bat "Lag" is being long with the barrel in the Impact Zone, typically starting off the back hip engaging in a long Area of Impact (AOI) through extension using mostly a palm up top hand.

Bat "Drag" is when the front elbow straightens (picture #2 above) during the Slot Phase of the swing, the back elbow travels faster than the hands, and the hands drop down towards the hips to accommodate the stiff front arm.

What should happen is...

The distance between elbows should NEVER change. Bat "Drag" is almost always caused by an over active backside, mostly the rear calf, try to push the back hip through.

You see, good hip thrust technique requires the front leg to go from a bent position in the Cushion Position (when stride foot lands), to a straightened position during Impact.

The straightening of the front leg pushes the front hip back towards the catcher, which aids in bringing the back hip through towards the baseball. The back leg doesn't push through, it whips through because of the torque build up from the upper body untwisting around our center axis.

Most of the time Bat "Drag" can be stemmed back to a negative "throw the hands" or "knob at the ball" queue.

I know, I know, this contradicts the Down & Through mantra on Swing Smarter, soon enough, you'll be seeing some changes to our UPGRADED & IMPROVED hitting 2.0 philosophy, but for now, please put D&T aside for now and listen...

What your 14-year-old needs to do is run away from the "throw your hands at the ball," and embrace more of a "throw the barrel at the ball" mantra. He needs to think about empowering the barrel, NOT the hands (or knob).

Empowering the barrel will get the big muscles in the legs see, the problem with aluminum is it's so light, our upper bodies can get away with swinging the bat, instead of the big strong muscles in our core.

A good low cost drill you can have your son do is swing a broomstick. This will activate the big core muscles to swing the stick instead of the arms because the long stick produces a ton of wind resistance and Bat "Lag," the good stuff.

This should help, please let me know how things turn out Todd :)

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An Add-on
by: Joey from

I love your description of fixing this swing issue. It's super hard to fix if we DON'T know what's really going on with the swing.

I wanted to add a something...

Jaime Cevallos talks about in the Cushion (or Load) part of the swing, the front shoulder drops creating a 20 degree angle between the shoulders and hips, while the top hand angles forward slightly in front of the bottom hand pointing the barrel towards the pitcher and behind the head.

This will keep the hands from moving too far back and keep this economy of motion seen in most Major Leaguers.

Barred Front Arm
by: Anonymous

I had this problem with one of my better hitters and it is caused by his trying to "reach" back too far with his bottom hand (Left hand on a RH batter). It's an over-emphasis on 'you have to go back, to go forward' and it causes his front arm to lock, subsequently slowing his batspeed.

I've had him concentrating on keeping his front arm flexed, his hands at his back shoulder about armpit high and instead of reaching back going straight from there to the ball. (Example; Hands at back shoulder armpit high, arms flexed in the V that has been talked about, stride, stride foot lands, hips fire, and hands go straight to the ball. Not getting to a "Power V" until well after contact.

We've done a lot of tee work and soft-toss to rebuild proper muscle memory and it seems to be fixed. He's always made good contact, but he's finally hitting the ball as hard as he should be. Good luck.

John L. Myers IV - Coach Titans (Texas)

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