What's the Upper Body's function Pre-Down & Through?
by Chris Walpole
(Mahopac, NY USA)
I would like to hear more on your thoughts about upper body function in hitting( separation,hand position, bat angle,etc.). I 've read the top hand bottom hand drills and three ball extension drill all great). Can you touch on a little bit before that?
Swing Smarter Response:
Hi Chris, thanks again for your kudos about the site in your original email Chris, it was totally what I needed...sometimes I get caught up developing more content and forget why I'm doing it, and readers like you remind why to keep fighting the "good fight." :)
Anyway, to answer your question about the function of the upper body:
Here's an article I did on Conquering the Stance Phase of the Swing
My Fresno State teammate is featured in the photos. Simplified, I believe in 5 phases to a good swing: Stance, Load, Launch, Down, & Through
In your question, you're referring to load and launch. I get a majority of my hitting influence from Jim Lefebvre (book: The Making of a Hitter) in these phases. I believe loading into the back hip is crucial to a hitter's opposite field power, along with adding power to the other fields.
The launch position is what separates the men from the boys, hands push back and the stride foot inches out in the opposite direction, or separation like what you called it.
The vital piece of the puzzle is keeping the eyes from moving at all during the transition from stance phase, to load, to launch.
The bat needs to be at a 45* angle behind the head...I guess the reason I don't have any articles up on this is because I don't really believe in anything contrary to what's been written on it in bookstores.
There's this new craze on people hyping "Positional Hitting," which are the key positions a hitter has to get into to be successful AND the load and launch phases are just that.
The only difference I talk heavily on, and agree wholeheartedly with Lefebvre, is the need for a load...a lot of Major League endorsed hitting DVDs, websites, and books fail to cover this, which is a big part of a hitter's full range of hip rotation and power.
(You can do a site search on SwingSmarter.com for "loading into back hip" and it will come up with quite a few articles I've mentioned how to do this in)
Here's a recent article I did on evaluating Tony Gwynn evaluating Barry Bonds' home run swing (Got all that? ;). Very cool to hear one of the titans of industry weigh in on those two phases...
Tony Gwynn weighs-in on Barry Bonds home run swing
I love to hear from hungry coaches/instructors looking to get the most out of their kids.
Thanks again for spreading the word on SwingSmarter.com, your good praises don't go unnoticed. Please subscribe to The Dugout Newsletter for updates on new articles on Smarter Hitting, and to get on the early bird discount list of NEW interactive products coming available as soon as the end of the year...
Happy hitting brother!