How Do We Stop the Weight Shifting Too Much?
Locked & Loaded
Okay, here is an issue that was brought up from a previous thread...
We try to get a load, and try to get the students to step a little with the front foot to balance out the weight during the swing.
However, too many times the student has a tendency to shift forward with this step causing the hips to move out as well as their head?
What drills might be used to help correct this?
Swing Smarter Response:
Another good question Robert. And this is even something new for me as stated in the included link thread.
Before I talk about baseball hitting drills to correct hip and head drift in the process of the swing, I have, as a Ricky once famously said, "...Some 'Splaining to do."
We have to differentiate between what a weight shift and a load are...
Generally speaking, a hitter's weight is shifted in his stance as the pitcher breaks his hands and shows the hitter his back pocket, typically 70/30 (or as I believed until about a week or so ago), then the hitter goes into the Launch Phase of the swing (separation of front stride foot and hands pushing back).
The load is like the cocking of a gun, and the gun hammer in this case, are the hitter's hips (in Load Phase) and hands (in Launch Phase).
Now, I'm going to make a lot of people upset, but I now do NOT believe in a 70/30 weight shift, maybe not even a 60/40, thanks to an old teammate of mine at Fresno State, Anthony Acevedo (played in the Astros organization).
I'm going to do an interview with him on the subject in the next week or two and post it on SwingSmarter.com, so y'all can hear it from the horse's mouth.
For now, Acevedo, or Ace as we call him, asks the question, why an uneven weight shift? The body is continually trying to get back to balance, so the weight shift is wasted motion because it allows for the eyes (and the rest of the body) to drift and/or drop skewing the hitter's perception of the pitched baseball.
So this begs the question, where does our power come from then?
The power is in the rotation of the legs, hips, and core NOT in our body's momentum back and to the incoming pitch. Maybe we can get away with this drastic weight shift/drifting of the body in slow pitch softball where the ball doesn't travel more than 5-10mph, but not in hardball/fastpitch where our reaction time is fractionally cut down.
Jim Lefebvre discovered something way back when, when the rest of the baseball hitting world was asleep, on the issue of hip rotation and power.
In his book The Making of a Hitter, he shows pictures of great hitters, such as Hank Aaron, loading/rotating into his back hip. It's a turning of the hips inward without the shoulders twisting with them, OR without a dramatic weight shift onto the back leg...the feeling to a batter is a sort of slight pinching into the back groin or hip flexor muscles.
This increases the range of motion to a hitter's hip rotation and allows him/her increased power to the opposite field, as well as up the middle and pull.
This is a "true" load, and one I negligently looked past over the years playing and coaching. This load should happen as the pitcher shows the hitter his back pocket, then the batter shows him his.
From that point on our momentum comes from cocking the hands back as the stride foot inches forward into the Launch Phase of the swing.
How do we work on this?
The best baseball hitting drill to practice this process is using a mirror for visual feedback, or a big picture window outside of the house to look at our reflection.
It's a combination of going through the right motion while the hitter looks at their own reflection...and then closing the eyes while going through each repetition, stopping at the Launch Phase, then checking the reflection to see if they did it right. So, we're mixing feeling with what our eyes are seeing.
We don't want to get stuck on visual too much because then we'll lose a feel for the right motion. Remember to always start slow if this is a foreign concept, to build the proper muscle memory.
Once we have the technique down, then we can move into hitting fungos. My favorite drill, where a batter throws a ball up to himself and hits it (typically in a batting cage, so as to not chase baseballs and can still see flight path of the ball). Obviously, we have to keep sound "load" and "launch" sequences.
We may sacrifice a teeny tiny bit of distance on our batted baseball, but staying 50/50 will make up for it with way more consistency because the head and hips won't drift.
Thanks so much Robert for all the great content :D