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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: squashing the bug again

Posted by: Major Dan (markj89@charter.net) on Thu Apr 26 08:03:54 2001

>>> I understand that you do not think that weight shift and rotation are incompatible. Neither do I. I think we both agree that you don't do both at the same time - shift then rotate, or just rotate, but no shifting during rotation (moving axis - either lunging or back foot sitting and spinning).
> I see the point you are making. I can't answer either of your questions with certainty. I need to look at some more clips to see if I can find examples of hitters using no weight shift. Can you give examples of power hitters with no weight shift?
> Shooting from the hip (sorry, I couldn't help myself), I would say that there is more energy available to the body to convert to rotational/angular momentum with a weight shift/hip slide than without one. Theoretically, a player with very strong, very quick legs could torque them from a standstill and generate considerable power / batspeed. It is not inconceivable for a Bagwell-type player to hit a ball 450'. But I think it would be harder and less efficient to do that.
> As far as golf, I am not a golfer and haven't taken lessons. Maybe its folklore, but the Happy Gilmore style does seem to produce more power. Not too good on the accuracy or consistency of contact however. And given the nature of the long, light golf club and the consistency and aim requirements of golf, players may get the best output (consistency with much but not all possible power) from a stable axis and a long swing radius.
> The nature of a baseball swing, due to reaction time, is to generate batspeed quickly while seeking a moving target collision. The pre-powering of the hip torquing motion with a hip slide/weight shift is non-committal and loosely coupled with the actual swing timing, i.e., you can use the same shift and hit a fastball, changeup, high pitch, low pitch, inside, outside, etc.
> Having the body 'loaded' with energy when the quick swing motions begin should make it easier to torque the hips, allowing for faster bat acceleration with less brute force muscling and the accompanying tension involved in forcing/powering/exploding.
> I guess, to sum up, I think many or most players use weight shift/hip slide as a tool to generate the rotation you advocate. While not, perhaps, essential, it is very common even among the elite hitters. My guess is that done correctly it is more optimal than a no shift swing. I am beginning to think of this hip motion (torso and thighs) as the key power producer - the engine that drives the rotation, if done correctly.
> You said "Many good hitters (stride or no-stride) set their axis angle and come to full balance (linear momentum at rest) and use both legs to generate rotate around a stationary axis."
> Help me understand your thinking here. Are you saying there are players who stride and then have no linear momentum at rotation time? Is this the equivalent of the "stepping onto thin ice" cue? Is this balance static (dead stop) or dynamic? Can you point me at a player example of this? <<<
> Hi Major Dan
> This is the type of discussion I envisioned when I added the discussion board to the site. Major Dan, I find your positions well thought out and persuasive. We will probably find that the major differences in our positions are more a matter definition than of substance. This is not only true for you and I, but the same can be said for many that come to the site. Frank and open-minded discussions can help provide clarity to all.
> One of the problems I have noticed with this discussion is a clear definition of when the swing starts. Grc seems to be saying the swing starts when the batter starts his stride. Others may think it starts at foot-plant. My definition is that the swing starts when the hands are accelerated by shoulder rotation. This is when the batter is pretty much committed to the swing. I consider the stride, the slide and some opening of the hips to be part of preparing the launch position.
> So, when I am asked if the hips slide forward during the swing, my answer is – not if the batter rotates around a stationary axis. There is some forward movement of the hips if the batter takes a more aggressive stride and has a firm front leg at foot-plant. This causes the hips to rotate around the front leg (back to center) instead of the spine. It is difficult to complete shoulder rotation through contact with this mechanic. -- I think one of the keys to developing great bat speed is to have a lot of flex in the lead knee at foot plant.
> I would agree with you, Major Dan that most (but not all) good hitters have their hips sliding forward right up to where rotation begins. There is a very fine line between a batter coming to full balance (hip and axis slide have stopped) or continuing to slide until rotation starts. A few years ago when I was charting swings, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. were my Poster Boys for batters who came to full balance 1 or 2 video frames before rotation. I will tape a few games and see if I can find a few examples in this era.
> I still think most coaches place far too much importance on the mechanics of hip rotation as compared to stressing shoulder rotation. Remember, nothing below the armpits has a connection to the bat – only the shoulders have that link. Lower body mechanics can only effect bat speed by how much they contribute to shoulder rotation.
> One last thought – I have often pondered why it would be more efficient to push off with the back leg and slide the hips forward and then convert some of that momentum into hip rotation. Why is that more efficient than just using the push off to turn the hips from the get-go. --- Just wondering.
> Jack Mankin

If you define the swing start as when the hands accelerate due to shoulder rotation, then I agree that the axis is already set and the hips should not be moving.
The topic of launch, swing start, etc. definitions has come up here, at Setpro and, I'm sure, in other discussions as well. There are multiple phases of the swing and numerous 'points' in the swing sequence that have been named in various ways by various people.
IMO hitting is the task of
- generating significant batspeed
- in a short time period
- with an uncertain starting time
- timed to intersect with a fast moving object
- spacially located to intersect with a fast moving object
The body is tasked with being able to release significant energy very quickly. Part of the trick is to build up a bunch of energy in the body before it is needed but to have that energy 'waiting' for the right moment to be used. Since energy doesn't literally 'wait', it must either be stored as potential energy or be created and moving (kinetic) but loosely coupled with the actions that follow.
At your 'start of swing' the trajectories of ball and bat are known, energy has been delivered to shoulder rotation and the whole process is accelerating to its moment of truth. Precision of outcome is critical here and moments of timing and fractions of inches of location determine success.
Lower body actions that precede your swing start create and move energy around but with must less necessity for precision. Lower body energy creation and transfer has two requirements:
-the energy is available when needed for shoulder rotation (not too late)
-the transfer is not so early that it affects upper body precision/timing
In other words, there is a window of success in lower body energy creation timing, not a precise moment.
The farther from contact, the bigger the window, the more imprecision allowed. This area also allows more gross motor work (stronger, less precise muscles) and thus more energy creation available.

You asked: "I have often pondered why it would be more efficient to push off with the back leg and slide the hips forward and then convert some of that momentum into hip rotation. Why is that more efficient than just using the push off to turn the hips from the get-go."
my response - an analogy - why does a high jumper (or basketball player) run forward to jump higher? Why not just bend the knees and jump straight up? How can running forward add to vertical leap? In fact it is harder to bend the knees as much from a run, so it should result in less vertical leap. But it does not. The running start is energy in the system. It can be redirected/converted. If it is directed upwards, there is more energy for a running leap than for a standing leap, therefore you can jump higher with a running start.
The hip slide (stride or no stride) is the runnning start. The front leg redirecting the energy is the same as the jumper's jump - both convert linear momentum into something else. The jumper redirects it in another linear direction, the hitter redirects it into rotational/angular momentum.
The hip slide/weight shift happens before the torquing pushes that turn the hips. The sequence of hip slide then hip torque is more powerful than just hip torque with the legs.
A player with very strong legs and explosive quickness in those legs can probably generate more than enough energy to transfer to the bat to hit the ball very far, but not as easily.
An additional consideration- the body has its own properties. Elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. plays a role in hitting. The plyometric response ('stretch, then contract' gives a greater contraction than just 'contract') is a significant contributor here. Simply pushing with the front leg is not as strong as loading the front leg, then pushing the load back. It is the equivalent of jumping from a static knee bend vs. the usual quick bend the knees and jump that we all do.
If you take the exceptionally strong legged man and have them hit starting from a statically bent front knee and then from a flex-then-straighten front knee, the latter will produce more power, due to the plyometric response.
In fact, the latter movement is best accomplished by sliding the hips forward to put weight on the front leg, then pushing back with the front leg quads. This internal weight shift loads the front leg with a window of about .5 seconds response time (use it within .5 or start losing it). This is the imprecise timing needed to time a pitch from the lower body perspective.
This line of thought questions what is meant by ‘balance’ or ‘full balance’. If balance means coming to a complete stop and the body’s system giving up its energy, then all that motion is in vain/wasted. I doubt that a Griffey or Bonds is that inefficient. I suspect that in that ‘balance’ is a dynamic state where large muscles are being deeply loaded in order to unload more forcefully. The ‘delay’ is both the timing window and internal body workings to best redirect the built-up energy into rotation.
I have questions about what many consider balance and would be interested in responses concerning whether it is considered dynamic or static and the consequences of each.

Jack, I hope the above is clear enough for further discussion. And I hope I have answered what you asked me. To be continued….


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