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Hit from an Athletic Position


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This one is very simple... In any sport you play, the more often you are in an athletic position, the better you will do! Hitting is no different. This means, when we hit, we shouldn't be too narrow, nor too wide. An athletic position is somewhat unique to everyone, though it is always wider than shoulder width. The easiest way to find yours is to simply pretend you are fielding a ground ball or playing defense in basketball. The width that your feet go when you go to field a ground ball is your athletic position. You will also notice that while you are pretending to field that ground ball your chest will line up directly over your knees which will also be directly over the balls of your feet.

DeeGordonStanceMay62013

Starting out your stance in an athletic position will help ensure that your body won't have to make any quick jerky movements to get itself into an athletic position in order to take your swing. Often I find that hitters who are in slumps are guilty of straightening up their upper body such that their knees are over the balls of their feet, but their chest isn't. Then their first movement (which they are unaware of) is to throw their upper body over their knees while they are trying to stride or load causing some difficulties at picking up the ball early.

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Practice Perfect Timing... But prepare for being early.


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Over 100 years ago, baseball tried to outlaw Candy Cummings from throwing his new pitch called a curveball, but unfortunately for us hitters, they failed. Once all the other pitchers in the league found out what he was doing, they started doing it too.

Hitting coaches everywhere make mistakes when they chose their words around teaching their hitters timing. When teaching timing, we often get lost in the perfect swing and forget that real life hitting is not how it is in a batting cage. The mistake isn't the fact that if you time things perfectly, you will generate the most power you are capable of, it is also the fact that you will often not time things perfectly in a game.

When talking timing, the most debatable event is your stride. Stride early... Make sure you don't stride too early... Don't stride at all... Whatever your hitting coach is telling you... The one truth that I have found through my own experience as well as helping other hitters is simple. Though it is ideal for us to complete our stride with perfect timing (which is roughly when the ball is halfway to us), we will still be able to hit if we stride early. Striding late however is a whole different story.

Practice perfect timing so that when you are on time your body explodes on that puss the pitcher just served up, but even more importantly is to practice being fooled with your timing. Practice staying loose and relaxed when you stride early. If you partner that with keeping your body from completely drifting up over your front foot you will be able to attack even the dirtiest off speed pitches.





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Get the ball to carry.


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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

Another heavily debated topic relates to the fact that a ball which is spinning with "backspin" will travel farther. Anyone who debates that fact is wrong. They can argue how to create it, but it is a scientific fact that a ball which is spinning with its lower section pushing against the air rushing towards it will create lift, and even though it isn't much, will defy gravity.

I am now an engineer, and for a fluid dynamics experiment in college I chose this topic. The experiment was simple, me and my group took a 2-wheel machine and shot some baseballs through it. We tested three different scenarios. The first being with the top wheel spinning faster than the bottom (creating a 12-6 curveball), the second being both wheels spinning at the same speed (creating a knuckleball - don't be dumb enough to set up a machine like this and try to hit because it is very dangerous), and the third being the bottom wheel spinning faster than the top (creating a typical fastball).

For each type of pitch we ensured that the angle did not change, and we used a radar gun to make sure that each pitch was exiting the machine at ~80 mph to ensure that the velocity was also the same. The test was simple... we would measure both the time the ball was in flight as well as the distance the ball traveled. Now I am not trying to insult you but gravity works the same on every object. Unless an object is firmly resting on something preventing it from being pulled toward the center of the Earth, it will accelerate at a rate of 32.2 ft/sec2. Which means after 1 second without an upward force stopping it, any object (even a baseball being thrown 100 mph) is moving 32.2 ft/sec (22 mph) toward the ground (and falling faster and faster for every second following until it hits the ground). We also recorded the time it would take for a baseball to hit the ground if it were simply dropped from the pitching machine height.

The results shouldn't surprise anyone that the 12-6 curveball landed the earliest and traveled the shortest distance (landing faster than the baseball we simply dropped from the same height). The knuckleball landed a little farther and, though it was expected, landed in the same amount of time it took for our dropped ball. Finally the ball with backspin landed quite a bit farther than the other two and also defied gravity by staying in the air longer than our dropped ball.

All that is simply to explain that creating backspin on a baseball (either thrown or hit), the ball will travel farther. So the more difficult part of this discussion is to inform you how to do it. There are those who argue that you must swing down, others say you need to have a level swing, and others (Ted Williams included) who feel you need to match the path of the ball which is slightly upward. Although I do have a preference, all three can create backspin on a baseball. The important step is really to allow the ball travel into the zone so that you can drive through it as explained in "Make Contact in a Strong Position."

Attached below are some slow motion HR Derby swings which you will see examples of guys hitting down through the baseball, making contact more level, and guys who flat out are getting underneath the ball.






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Create Torque


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Muscles work like rubber bands... They stretch and they contract... And much like rubber bands when they are stretched they tend to want to snap back to a more relaxed position. If you think of your abdominal muscles simply as a bunch of rubber bands attaching your lower body to your upper body it is easy to understand the concept of generating torque through a process called kinetic linkage. The kinetic linkage concept is based on the coordination and specific order of movements to maximize the energy exerted at its completion.

When applied to baseball, the order of events is simple. Everything starts from the ground up. This means that the fist movement of your actual swing (not your set up/stride) would be with your lower half. For most of us this means we start our rotation with our back leg which in turn will start our hips. If our hips lead our upper body and our upper body is loose and relaxed (much like the end of a whip) we will create a little angle of separation between our upper and lower body (and if you are still thinking of our abdominal muscles as rubber bands) which in turn will generate torque.

This concept is much easier to feel than it is to see. Everything in hitting happens very fast, and though if you are really looking close you will more often than not see that the first movement from a Major League Hitter (once his stride foot is planted) is to create this angle of separation from his lower half to his upper half. However, this is one of those things which I will encourage you to try, because as difficult it may be to see this movement while looking at video, it is very easy to feel. I relate the feeling to a cartoon I once saw showed a hitter who spun their lower half around several times before he unleashed a devastating swing. As crazy as it sounds, it does feel like that. Try it for yourself.

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Nothing is more important than Solid Contact


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Imagine you had the most powerful swing in all of baseball. Imagine you had more bat speed than Bryce Harper, you were stronger than Mark McGuire, and you have the best bat money can buy. Now, imagine with all these amazing gifts, every ball you hit is off the end of the bat, or you flat out miss. How much power would you have?

There are many contributing factors to hitting the ball with power. The most important of which is typically the most overlooked. It does not matter how much bat speed you have, or how strong you are, or even the type of bat you use, IF YOU DO NOT HIT THE BALL OFF THE GOOD PART OF THE BAT, THE BALL DOES NOT GO ANYWHERE! Too many times I see hitters step into a batting cage and struggle to make contact because all they are thinking about is swinging hard. It doesn't even don on them that they just missed 7 straight balls thrown from a machine at roughly the same location and the same speed. Good contact
IS something that can be improved! Therefore, the first thing a hitter should do in order to develop power is master all the skills involved in getting the barrel on the ball more often.

I am not telling you that after you have honed your skills on making good contact you don’t need to worry about learning to develop using your body with power, but I am telling you that a player with a good swing that never makes contact isn’t a hitter by definition, and will find himself on the bench.

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Build an Explosive Lower Body


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Your body has two types of muscle fibers, and each has a different use. Slow twitch muscles are the workhorses which are very durable and reliable. They are capable of doing low to moderate activity over a very long period of time. The second type is fast twitch which is used in explosive movements. Oddly enough though baseball is viewed to many as slow paced, it is almost completely utilizing the fast twitch muscle fibers in your body. Every activity on a baseball field typically involves utilizing high intensity activities over a very short period of time.

For the purposes of building speed, we will be focusing on developing the fast twitch muscles in our lower body (though training your entire body for explosive activities is essential for a complete baseball player). Several exercises have been proven to be beneficial for increasing speed, and many can be done without a membership to a gym.

1. One Legged Triple Jump.
This exercise is intended to be measured for distance and recorded for comparison in the future.



2. Box Jump.



3. Plyometric Deadlift (One Legged Deadlift Jump).


Best Leg Exercise For Explosive Power by greenfithealth

4. Standing Broad Jump.




These are only a few examples of drills that can be done to help improve your explosiveness. Do your own research and add in your favorites.




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