As women are strengthening their upper bodies and the bats are changing, the home run is more a part of the game than ever before. Now what can you do about the biomechanics of the swing to contribute to the effect of the bat and stronger upper body? Here it is……
The hips and the core are it! As we know, most everything in sport that is not a water or air sport starts with the feet. In basketball the feet give you balance by their placement on the floor as you are moving down the court with the ball or defending an opponent with the ball. In Volleyball the feet begin the drive upwards to block a spike and in soccer the feet do everything.
In hitting, the feet actually begin the swing and will have a great impact on the direction of the ball after contact, the amount of force produced in the swing with the drive from the back foot and then the ability to get out of the batters box after the swing. In the force production and drive of the swing, the feet begin the “uncoiling” if you could call it that, of the body. the explosion forward into the ball that is going to send it as hard and far away from home plate as possible.
The beginning of the uncoiling is that first slight step forward beginning the hip rotation which then pulls the hands and the bat through the strike zone. This is a critical part of the force production. The simple way to remember it is….. STEP……TURN YOUR HIPS……..SWING.
The step with the front foot is a very slight movement forward no more than about 6 inches. It is important not to lift the leg in stepping as it brings the whole body up and will interrupt the flow of energy which you want to all go in the same direction…. forward. If you can imagine, putting your foot on ice to see if it is thin or will break, its essentially the same thing. Almost like sliding it forward rather than stepping forward.
The hip rotation is done using a pivot of the back foot with again the heel remaining close to the ground. It used to be referred to as squish the bug so you may hear that term still. To emphasize this you can put a tennis ball by the outer heel of the batter and ask them to hit the ball backwards with their back heel as they are pivoting. The reason you want to use a tennis ball is because it is small enough that if done correctly the batter will hit the ball rather than bringing the heel up over the ball. If the batter lifts their heel over the ball then they are actually pushing their body up rather than forward which takes away from the direction of the force which should be all forward.
To emphasize rotating the hips, have the batter put a bat behind their back inside their arms resting in the bend of their elbows with the bat head on the batting side. put a ball on the tee or hold it out for the batter and ask them to hit the ball with their bat using the pivot and hips only. You will be amazed at how this demonstrates to the batter exactly what you are talking about when you tell them you want to drive with the hips.
A common error is that the batter will drop their back knee in the hip rotation. this lowers their body and takes it out of alignment with the ball that was first sighted at the original height and it will also take away from the power driving forward as there is now a downward movement of the body. If you were to draw a line through the hips of the batter and then have them swing, their hips should not move above or below this line.
The hands come through quickly as if to be throwing the hands at the ball. This ensures that the bat will not be prematurely moving towards first or third base (depending if they are a right or left handed batter), sending energy in another direction again. You want it moving forward. This also makes the batter susceptible to inside and low pitches. A good drill for this is to have the batter stand facing a fence and use the bat to determine the distance they should be. Using whats referred to as an inside out swing, the batter attempts to swing the bat and not hit the fence. If done correctly the bat will come through and forward flawlessly with power. And when mastered the batter will say…. cool.
So…. what direction do we want all of our energy moving in??? Did I already say …. forward. Exactly! The more force production in the same direction the more power will be unleashed on the ball and the more likely the batter will be perhaps on second base, maybe a home run or at least on first base as a result.
This is a hitting game. HIT the ball with force and unleash the power on the ball. This is not a nice sport and nice swings will not get the same productive results as a real swing with purpose and intent. Lawn bowling and bocci are nice sports. Really they are. and Enjoyed by many. But a sport like this which entails striking an object and the desired results being determined by how hard you strike that object does not call for being nice.
These principles are useful for all levels, ages and men and women in softball.
Now go out their and play hard 🙂