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Re: drill to help lead leg extension at contact

Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Sun Aug 14 21:28:34 2005

>>> Hi Jack, excellent site let me say first. My question is I am so used to swinging my own way (wrong way obviously) that I can't seem to train my muscles so that my lead leg is extended at contact and i get full rotation from my hips. Is there any drills that I can do that will help me?? thanx for your time. <<<

Hi Dave

What you describe in your swing is common with backside dominant hitters. They attempt to bring the bat-head to contact by transferring their weight forward and driving the top-hand past their bottom-hand. Their lead-side remains fairly dormant and they rely mainly on bringing the backside forward during the swing. In fact, most were taught to “keep the lead-shoulder in” as they fire the hands.

I understand that for decades we were told that opening the lead-shoulder too soon caused the batter to pull off the ball and etc. However, it still never ceases to amaze me how a player (or coach) could study clips of the best hitters and not note that their lead-shoulder starts its rotation as the swing is initiated.

I think one of Mike Epstein’s most important contributions to baseball is when he asked players and coaches “Do we actually teach what we see?” At http://www.youthbaseballcoaching.com/swings.html , there are 50 or so clips of some of the best hitters in baseball for you to study when the lead-shoulder starts to rotate.

Dave, you are probably wondering what rotating the lead-shoulder has to do with you finishing your swing with the lead-leg still bent. Maybe I can best explain it by referring to the following clip of Bonds http://www.youthbaseballcoaching.com/mpg/bonds600.mpeg . --- One of the main reasons hitters like Bonds are so successful is because they make as efficient use of their lead-side as they do the back-side. In other words, as the swing is initiated, the rotation of the lead-shoulder is causing the bottom-hand to pull on the knob end of the bat (forward) as the top-hand is pulling rearward (THT).

This rotation of Bonds shoulders continues during the swing to where just before contact, his lead-shoulder has rotated around to where it is now pulling the bottom-hand (and knob) rearward as the rotation of the back-side is driving the top-hand forward (BHT). Note how Bonds uses the extension of his lead-leg to aid in driving his lead-shoulder rearward at contact.

Batters that are mainly concerned with using the backside to drive both hands forward during initiation are more likely to stride forward to a posted lead-leg or leave the knee bent at contact. To guard against relying too heavily on the back-side to swing the bat, I have my students concentrate on getting the lead-shoulder to be pulling rearward (105 degree position) at contact. After practicing this mental image for a while, most just seem to naturally shorten their stride and use the extension of the lead-leg to accomplish it. It is difficult to lunge forward while thinking of pulling the lead-shoulder rearward at contact.

Jack Mankin


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