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Re: Re: Hey hitting guru

Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Fri Jul 25 10:54:41 2003

>>> You said awhile back that taking off top hand gives greater extension like Lau method but I wasnt clear: is this good or bad? Thanks

Releasing the top hand for greater extension is good. But it may not be best for everyone. A lot has to do with your stance and how close you are to the plate. Most hitters who apply this Lau technique step slightly towards the plate. In doing so, most of them start out somewhat away from the plate and dive in to a degree. For whatever reason, this dive does not work for those who keep both hands on the bat. (Probably because without the top hand extension the hitter cannot adequately reach the pitches.) For those who wish to use the Lau principles who are close to the plate (square or open stance) they must stride forward and not dive towards the plate in order to maximize their swing. <<<


Below is part of a thread from the archives that may add to your discussion.

Jack Manklin

RE: Top hand release - Charley Lau Jr.

Hi All

This is a discussion on “Releasing the top hand” brought forward from January.

>>>If you look at the Skeleton of Big Mac at the web address posted by Shawn under the hip rotation 2 thread, Mac is letting go with the top hand after contact. This seems to keep the bat on plane and allow the shoulder to keep turning back instead of breaking down the front arm. Do you think there is any advantage to this or intending to do this? Does this accentuate the pull back/bottom hand torque or keep things on plane better/longer? <<<

Hi Tom

>> First of all, I would like to make a couple of commits regarding the “Skeleton” action they showed (http://www.biokinetics3d.com/hitters.htm). -- I was curious as to why they showed the two forms in different time frames. They showed Mac’s skeleton starting at initiation, shoulders starting to rotate. Whereas, they had the “Amateur” starting with his stride and his swing initiation (shoulder rotation) starting about 4 frames later.

It was also interesting to note that the mechanics of the Amateur generated greater bat- displacement (about 85 degrees/ frame) coming into the contact zone than did Mac (about 45 degrees/frame). Maybe the Amateur was using a -10 bat (just kidding).

The last 2 or 3 years, Mac has moved slightly away from the plate and sets up to treat most pitches as being middle-out. This means he plans to use a lot of top-hand-torque well into the swing (forget the Skeleton for a minute, Mac develops great early bat speed). This also means he will have less hip and shoulder rotation and the back arm will be more extended at contact. These mechanics will cause a wider hand-path and a fuller extension of the back arm occurs while the bat is pointing in the direction of the first or second baseman. With the bat sweeping in that direction, the lead elbow cannot break down-and-in. Therefore, it would require a sudden change in the direction of the bat’s momentum (hard jerk to the wrist) if he attempts to keep both hands on the bat. Releasing the top hand and allowing the bat to coast out in a wider arc will eliminate this.

Most batters can attain full shoulder rotation for pitches on the inner 2/3 of the plate. The lead elbow will then break down-and-in and their back-arm will not reach full extension until the bat is sweeping past the pitcher. Here the bat’s momentum is directed more toward third base and the batter will have no problem keeping both hands on the bat.

Note: The release of the top hand normally occurs well after contact and therefore has little impact on bat speed.

Note: Batters who limit hip and shoulder rotation by casting to much weight forward onto the front leg may also find it necessary to release the top hand.

>> Jack Mankin

Jack- What is the function of the top hand precisely after contact? I would also like to learn how the top hand and when it pushes in the swing? When the top hitters' bat speeds exceed 90 mph, when should the top hand decide to push?

Charley Lau Jr.

Hi Charley

Welcome to the site. – The ball is only in contact with the bat for about 1/2000 of a second after contact (bat moves forward about ¾ of an inch). Therefor, any forces applied to the bat (or bat speed gained) after contact has no effect on ball flight. The batter should practice batting drills and develop mechanics that that will generate greater bat speed prior to contact. After contact the main role of the batter’s mechanics is to relax and allow the bat’s energy to coast out.

During the swing the top hand is constantly applying force to the bat in the direction the bat-head is accelerating. At initiation the bat-head accelerates back toward the catcher. So, the top hand is pulling with the fingers back toward the catcher. --- A little later the bat-head will be sweeping past the catcher and the pull will be more toward the first-base dugout. At this time the back elbow will have lowered to the batter’s side and the palm of the top hand will start to roll from palm-down to palm-up. So it would be about this point where the batter starts more of a pushing action (instead of pulling with the fingers) with the top hand. – It is important to remember that the top hand is being driven forward more from shoulder rotation than from extending the elbow. This is especially true for inside pitches.

Charley, as I stated earlier in this thread, releasing the top hand after swinging at outside pitches is not only OK, it is more of a necessity. But I do not think it is a good practice when swinging at middle-in pitches. --- Letting go of the top hand on outside pitches allows the bat to expend its energy harmlessly in a wide arc. The batter’s lead arm will usually finish high and the bat will threaten no one. But if the batter releases the bat with the top hand on an inside pitch, the bat will be sweeping past the pitcher as the top hand releases. Under these conditions, the lead arm can swing back to a point where the bat can strike the catcher with a good deal of force. – I have seen this happen too many times.

Jack Mankin


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