Re: Initiation, Jack?
You asked, "If I initiated these with proper forces, am I correct in assuming they will continue for the balance of the swing, without need to consciously turn throughout the swing?" Yes, your assumptions are correct. This is as true for mechanics that generate body rotation as it is for the transfer mechanics that determine bat-head acceleration. Once you have fully initiated the swing, the trajectories of the knees, hips, shoulders, hands and bat-head are on auto-pilot (are self-sustaining).
The secret is to initiate the swing with the forces that will produce the desired trajectories. The mind will try to provide a motor-program to accomplish the body movements you envision. Therefore it is important to envision the desired trajectories at contact as well as at initiation. I would suggest that you envision the bat-head arcing back at the catcher at initiation and the lead-shoulder pulling the lead-hand back creating the "hook effect" in the hand-path as the bat approaches contact. These are keys to transferring both the body's rotational energy and maximizing torque.
Envisioning the "hook" in the hand-path as you initiate the swing will normally solve a batter's lunging or forward leaning problem. It is difficult to lung forward while thinking of pulling the lead-shoulder back at contact. --- It is also important to note that un-flexing the lead-elbow at contact will diminish the "hook effect." Any straightening of the lead-arm to reach outside pitches should occur early in the swing.
One last point. It is much easier to perform what you envision while working with a heavy bag. Concentrating on live balls revives old muscle memories.
THT & the THUMB Drill
The direction of force the hands apply at the handle to initiate the swing is a key difference between linear and rotational mechanics. With rotational transfer mechanics, the batter does not drive the top-hand forward at the start of the swing. They keep the hands back during initiation and accelerate the bat-head rearward in the swing plane before they direct their energy toward the ball. When the top-hand is pulling back (or just holding back at the shoulder - resistance) during initiation, the lead-arm will remain across the chest, and shoulder rotation will then accelerate the hands into a circular path. When the force of the top-hand is pulling rearward, the rotation of the lead-shoulder (through the lead-arm and hand) pulls the knob around toward third base. This applies torque at the handle that accelerates the bat-head rearward. With this early rearward acceleration, the bat-head can stay in sync with much quicker hip and shoulder rotation.
There are two keys to efficient rotational transfer mechanics. (1) Do not drive the top-hand forward at the start of the swing (2) Make more productive use of the lead-side during the swing. To help a student accomplish these keys, I have my students practice the following drill. -- The "Thumb to the Shoulder" drill works best when practiced with a heavy bag (or tire) before hitting off a tee or soft toss.
I have the student take their normal launch position - with one major change. I have the batter lift the thumb of the top-hand away from the bat and point it toward their back-shoulder. As the batter initiates rotation to start the swing, the thumb should be close to or touching the shoulder. The batter should try to keep the top-hand pulling back so that the thumb remains at the shoulder at the start of rotation. The bat-head is accelerated back toward the catcher by lead-shoulder rotation pulling (through the arm and hand) on the knob-end of the bat. The accelerating trajectory of the bat-head will cause the top-hand to separate from the shoulder as the forearm rotates and lowers toward the horizontal contact position.
Note: The top-hand is pulling back with the finger, not driving forward with the palm. Therefore, lifting the thumb away from the handle presents no problem.
In order for the batter to keep the thumb at the back-shoulder during initiation, he must pull the back-elbow back toward the third base dugout. He is now learning the basics of how to apply Top-Hand-Torque while generating a CHP.
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