There is no universal consensus among baseball coaches about what constitutes proper swing mechanics. But the reality is that hitters need understandable, actionable information they can put into practice.
For this reason, it’s often important to teach movements rather than mechanics at lower levels. That’s especially true if you have a diverse roster of players with a wide range of skill levels and abilities.
Swinging with the Eyes
Keeping a batter’s eyes on the ball is one of the most challenging tasks in the sport. It requires a perfect convergence of both eyes, depth perception, and speed of visual processing.
Eye-hand coordination is also required, requiring the ability to focus on a specific point while still maintaining awareness of what is going on peripherally. Developing and enhancing these skills through sports vision training is an excellent way to prepare players for hitting the ball successfully.
We evaluated horizontal head movement and eye motion during a fastball task with a wearable eye-tracker (Pupil headset, Pupil Labs GmbH, Germany). Horizontal head direction (thhead) and gaze direction (theye) on the global XY plane were determined using scene camera images mounted on the participant’s head.
Swinging with the Hands
The hitter’s hands play a vital role in the swing. They must be aligned correctly to help create the bat speed and power necessary to drive the ball.
It’s important to understand that the top hand is used for control and the bottom hand is used for drive. In order for both hands to work properly, they must be lined up with the door-knocking knuckles of the top hand in between the big knuckles of the bottom hand.
Most coaches and kids think that it’s OK to roll your top hand over your bottom hand at contact, but this is a big mistake. It will prevent you from taking full advantage of the power that explodes through your wrists at contact and can cause your bat speed to decline.
If you leave your lower hand behind until the last moment before delivering the bat head to the ball, you will be able to develop “bat lag”. This will allow you to get a significant amount of bat speed which will translate into powerful hits.
Swinging with the Bat
The bat is the most important tool a batter can use to hit the ball, and coaches should spend time teaching how to swing with it. This includes how the hands, eyes, and legs are all connected to the bat, how a batter is positioned and rotated throughout the swing, and how he should approach each pitch type.
A hitter should try to stay in a palm up/palm down relationship with the bat during the swing. This keeps the barrel of the bat on the same plane as the ball and helps keep the hitter’s head stable through contact and extension of the swing.
Coaches should also teach a hitter not to roll his top hand over his bottom hand until well after contact is made. This premature roll causes a change in the path of the barrel and removes the bat head from the hitting zone. This reduces the power of the swing and results in fly balls and weak grounders.
Swinging with the Hips
Hip rotation is one of the most overlooked components in a player’s swing. It is important for a swing to generate power and be consistent.
The best players in the world use their hips perfectly and consistently. However, most amateur players struggle to properly rotate their hips and produce speed at the plate.
This is because most of them are taught to have a back shoulder and back knee oriented swing. This leads to too much upper body rotation, causing them to struggle to get their hips rotating and generating power.
The good news is that it is very easy to fix this problem and generate 40% more power in a hitter’s swing simply by changing how they think about their hip movements during the swing. The team at Athletic Golf Motion showed a hitter this new way of thinking and in the space of just 38 swings his numbers improved drastically.