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Re: Down to the Ball

Posted by: ballguy (ballguy@not.com) on Fri Dec 4 15:31:05 2009

My post and thoughts here merge into the post above that raises the tired "down to the ball" arguments. My thought has always been -- both sides are missing the point, on both of these points.

Yes, Jack is absolutely right, the head of the bat starts out toward the backstop in an ideal baseball swing (home run or not). Is that a product of hand action -- "top hand torque"..?

Respectfully .. I say, no. Rather, it's a product of being on the right swing plane. The examples in the video of the young batter dragging the handle forward (ie, no THT) is a video of a batter initiating the swing plane from ABOVE the desired plane. In golf, it's called "swinging over the top" and it robs power and control. A golfer/batter doing this can occasionally crush one out hard to the left, but more often hits weak fading shots straight or to the right.

Think of the correct swing plane as a disk, one chord of which is laying directly on the path of the pitched ball. The disk then tilted up through the batter's center of rotation. The batter needs to tilt back away from the pitcher a bit, and lean down over the plate even more, to place himself in the center of this disk and with his torso at right angles to it. He's the axle of this imaginary wheel/disk.

Now, the proper swing is a matter of turning the torso powerfully in a circle, holding the bat flat on the disk. He hangs on to the bat with a nearly rigid front arm and a back arm that tucks in tight at the elbow.

That setup and turning action RESULTS in the bat starting back toward the backstop instead of being pulled forward over the back shoulder. It's not the top hand doing this -- the top hand isn't strong enough. The forearm rotation (supination) Jack notes in the video is caused by the bat pulling the hand around, not by the hand pulling the bat.

The top hand hangs on for dear life, and the TORSO turn launches the back backwards along the disk so it can come whipping around the bottom of the disk and into the ball.

How does this relate to "swing down to the ball"...?

OF COURSE we swing down to the ball. After all, the ball is "down there" and the bat is "up here"! The issue is the PATH we take to the ball. Poor hitters come down to the ball rather directly, and over the top. Good hitters come down to the ball by taking a circle route that keeps the bat on the plane/disk -- and it starts by going backwards! This also results in them coming UP into the ball, as all good hitters do, even those who *think* they hit down on it.

I figured this out by watching video and reading Jack's stuff. But it really came together when I took a golf lesson. I ran home, got my 11-YO son to swing *on plane*, hitting off a tee. It took all of 15 minutes to get him to do it. I have a swingspeed radar unit that measures bat barrel speed from behind the tee. He went from swinging at 42-45mph to swinging at 50-52 mph in 15 minutes. To verify, we took the tee up to the ballfield. His longest ball this fall in a game or BP was 190' (we have a 200' fence). His longest ball off a tee was about 165'.

He bounced the very first ball he hit off the fence. He eventually hit a couple over. A 4'10" 6th grader hitting 200' off a tee -- that is a HUGE improvement in his bat speed, and done with one simple change to his swing. And he's doing nothing with his top hand to manipulate the bat. Just turning his body and doing nothing with his hands or arms.


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