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Re: Re: Re: Back Elbow Down

Posted by: Joe Hernandez (coach2hit@yahoo.com) on Tue Jun 27 20:05:59 2006

> >> I read the "Back Elbow Down" topic and I am still unclear. Are you recommending the back elbow remain down? Last year my son hit very wellwith the back elbow down. This year his coach taught him "back elbow up" and he has not hit as well. May I have some clarification?
> Thank you,
> Mike Vick <<
> (Joe)
> >>> Getting the arm up is the number one hitting myth of all times. If there was a hall of fame for "wrong advise" this would win hands down (no punt intended). It has a life all of it's own. But the fact is that it's entirely wrong.<<<
> Hi Mike & Joe
> If having the back-elbow elevated was a flawed mechanical position, then almost every great hitter that has ever played the game initiates his swing from a flawed position. At - http://www.youthbaseballcoaching.com/swings.html there are over 50 clips of some of the best hitters. If you view those clips frame-by-frame, you will note that they either have the elbow already elevated in their stance, or they elevate it just before initiating the swing.
> There is a very positive reason why these great hitters initiate their swings with the elbow elevated. They can generate greater power and bat speed from that position. With that being said, I do not have my students start with the elbow elevated. As Michael states in his post, the productive use of an elevated elbow requires the use of an advanced mechanic.
> Regardless of whether the back-elbow is up or down, the key to a good swing is to NOT drive the top-hand forward (away from the shoulder) as you initiate rotation. However, the natural tendency of most hitters is to do just that initiate the swing by driving forward with the top-hand. Having the elbow raised only adds to that problem.
> To correct this, I tell the student to start with the elbow down and concentrate on keeping their top-hand back at the shoulder and use the pull of the lead-side to accelerate the bat-head first back toward the catcher. As the tendency to extend the top-hand subsides, I allow them to raise the back-elbow. Why because they can keep (or pull) the top-hand back toward the shoulder stronger with the elbow elevated than with it down at their side. Plus, the lowering of the elbow aids in pulling the top-hand rearward during initiation.
> They are now learning the principle of applying top-hand-torque (THT). The mechanic exhibited by the best of the best.
> Jack Mankin

Hi Jack(!),

I don't see where we disagree with regards to the "correct" biomechanical movement of the elbow during the swing. I was referring to keeping the elbow up and staying there through the entire swing. As far as I'm concern, a hitter can start his stance on his head with his elbow's crossed and his palms on his face as long as he is able to be in the "correct" mechanical position as the hitter approaches his phase of the swing. Look at a Julio Franco for a case in point. Yet despite his unique batting stance, he manages to be where he needs to be prior to his swing. Despite his rear elbow near the top of his head and the bat pointing towards the pitcher, he is able to, when he launches his swing, to bring and keep his elbow close to his body...from that moment on, most of his mechanics are almost identical to all great hitters.

Each player has their own style that works best for him. For most youngsters, keeping the elbow (and leaving it there) up does not allow a hitter to be able to tuck his elbow as he begins his swing...what happens then is that the hands are forced away from the body because the rear elbow, having been kept up, extends prematurely.

All great hitters "slot" their rear elbow "tight" against their body. Doing so allows the hitter to elevate their front elbow, which facilitates him to get on the plane of the pitch. You will also notice that all great hitters stabilizes their weight on the inside of their rear thigh which further allows him to match the plane of the pitch.

My concern is when we are "dispensing" advise to younger players (the initial question refers to a youngster). The younger kids tend to "copy" the hitters they see on MLB. This is good but it can also be bad...they see a good hitter with his rear elbow way up, not realizing that most ML players can make last minute adjustments or how they make it on a consistent basis. They are also the best. Their exceptional talent also allows them to get away with certain quirks in the pre-swing. Some like Gary Sheffield, with his lightning fast hands, allows him additional time to get his swing started.

Bottom line is this...if a hitter is able to keep his elbow up in his stance and is able to "tuck" his rear elbow by the time he reaches the launch position, then leave him alone. Just understand the difference between the elbow up during the pre-launch phase and where it needs to be during the actual swing.

Whenever I work with youngsters I try to keep it as simple as possible...respect the hitter's style as long as the the "technique" is correct.

My Best,

Joe Hernandez


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