Stride - When should front foot/heel drop?

by Billy
(East Setauket, New York)

Miguel Cabrera Heel Drop

Miguel Cabrera Heel Drop

Watching good hitters with their pre-swing mechanics they start their stride before the pitcher releases the ball and they drop their front foot/heel when the pitch has travelled about 75% to the plate depending on speed, pitch.

Major League hitters with big leg kicks ala Bautista start leg kick on pitchers break of the hands. Hitters with small leg kicks appear to start when pitchers hand starts forward.

Assuming that dropping the front foot/heel initiates the swing when should the front heel drop? Please explain proper "pre-swing mechanics."

Also, should the front heel hit at the same time for a fastball and a breaking pitch (and just adjust keeping hands back for breaking pitch).

Swing Smarter Response:
Billy, it sounds like you've done your fair share of video swing analysis and research on the proper "Major League Swing" for both power and consistency.

There is debate as to whether it's the heel dropping or the front leg straightening that initiates the swing. I'm a believer in the latter.

I agree with Jaime Cevallos's Positional Hitting philosophy that we cannot initiate hip rotation until the front heel drops, so why not set it down and use the front knee as a Cushion for making our adjustment on breaking or off speed pitches?

The Cushion uses bigger muscles and can make a better adjustment to off speed and breaking pitches than using the heel to initiate a one flavor swing, in other words, the heel drop (which Epstein promotes) doesn't allow us too much room (or time for that matter) for error.

I describe to my kids, the heel drop to initiate hip rotation is like the financial position of putting windshield wipers on our front headlights (ala Volvo). All they are are another expense when they break. Plus, what the heck do we need windshield wipers on our headlights for anyway?!!!

Anyway, why not put the whole foot down, get the extra milli-second for pitch recognition and adjustment, and put our mental energy focusing on the straightening of the front leg to initiate hip rotation? Which I think is way more important. See below...

Check out from 7-11 seconds of this slow motion video of Chase Utley hitting, one can clearly see it's not his heel drop initiating the swing, it's his front leg locking out.

Also, watch what happens to Utley's front hip when the front leg starts to straighten, it moves back towards the catcher. As this happens what's the opposite and equal reaction to the back hip?? It pushes forward to the pitcher, initiating hip thrust!

Great thoughts Billy! :)

Comments for Stride - When should front foot/heel drop?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Stride/Cushion Sets up the Whole Swing
by: Joey from

I agree with you Chris, the stride sets up the entire swing, and without a good Cushion, or stride, Position, then the Slot and Impact Positions will NOT be effective. A swing should be effective when we're hitting a boat load of stand up doubles. Any size young hitter can hit those :)

Stride will make or break your swing
by: Chris fron Mahopac

Hitting is timing. I'll take a bad swing with good timing than a good one with bad timing. the stride is our timing device for hittng. It gets us into a powerful positon to then go to a pitch we can drive and allows our front leg to accommodate a forceful weight shift from the back side.

It provides a stable post to hit into providing leverage in the swing. ( Lau : Swing from a firm back side into a firm front side)The front side should merely put the body in a good closed and loaded position to then hit from the backside of the body.

The stride is a timing mechanism that should be short, soft and landing on a closed big toe. When heel drop occurs, the top hand elbow should simultaneously move toward the ball.( A good drill is to imagine a rope attached to the stride foot heel and back elbow. When that heel drops the back elbow fires inside the ball.

I believe by sticking the stride foot out there too early we kill power and momentum in the swing. We become to mechanical. 'A body in motion tends to stay in motion'. A good rythmic swing with a short, controlled stride will relax the hitter, allow them to keep their head still, eyes level and track the the ball efficiently, while allowing the hitter to hit from a strong, loaded and athletic position to open that closed front side with a powerful backside of the swing. Just some thoughts ! Thx.

Heel Drop Initiates
by: Ron Sullivan

Nice article.

I do think the heel drop initiates the swing. After all it is the "initial" movement that starts the rotation. The stiff front leg, locking out, is the result of proper mechanics.So telling someone the goal is to lock out the front leg so that you can initiate rotation is as detrimental to the swing as the "quick hands" cue.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Interactive Swing Training Lessons.

CLICK HERE to Boost Batted Ball Distance by 48-Feet