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Controversy of swinging down, level and extension

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  • Controversy of swinging down, level and extension

    I think many of us are on the same page concerning these three, but we talk about them differently. Here are my observations after vieotaping hundreds of kids and working with them by comparing their swings to the mlb'ers.

    1. Swinging down. All major leaguers take their hands down and forward in an initial movement toward the pitch. Most kids drop their hands first. Some older kids force their hands ahead of their body. This is also no good (in an opposite way). See below where I have created a green shelf where these 4 mlb'ers started their hands. I stopped the video seven frames later, in which all of them initiated their hands down and forward toward the ball (some more than others based on pitch location).

    Jake Roberts 05-09-2008 0001.jpg



    2. Level swing. Here is where we mean the same thing, but talk about it differently. The mlb swing is mostly level...maybe slightly up at contact, once again depending on pitch location. I did not say the bat is parallel to the ground, which would be nearly impossible. What I am saying is the swing path of the barrell is moving parallel to the ground or slightly up at contact. Look at the below picture where I have indicated the tip of the bat coming through each swing...first it goes down, then level or slightly up into the ball. Are their bats parallel to the ground?. NO. but their swing plane is very level to slight up at contact.

    Jake Roberts 05-09-2008 0002.jpg

    3. Extension. Look at where I stopped the video in the above picture. Each of these mlb'ers hits "through" the ball. They get off the "merry-go-round" and extend through. This adds tons of power. We can all teach rotational mechanics, but then we need to add this type of extension to the equation. Many of the videos posted here of young hitters never get here....and they need to.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
    1. Swinging down. All major leaguers take their hands down and forward in an initial movement toward the pitch. Most kids drop their hands first. Some older kids force their hands ahead of their body. This is also no good (in an opposite way).
    I have come to believe that a better way of thinking about this is that major leaguers turn their hands with their back shoulders. That is what we mean when we talk about connection.


    Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
    2. Level swing. Here is where we mean the same thing, but talk about it differently. The mlb swing is mostly level...maybe slightly up at contact, once again depending on pitch location. I did not say the bat is parallel to the ground, which would be nearly impossible. What I am saying is the swing path of the barrell is moving parallel to the ground or slightly up at contact. Look at the below picture where I have indicated the tip of the bat coming through each swing...first it goes down, then level or slightly up into the ball. Are their bats parallel to the ground?. NO. but their swing plane is very level to slight up at contact.
    I disagree.

    What is missing from your diagrams is the hand path. What happens is that the head of the bat fairly quickly gets below the level of the hands. This would be clear if you graphed it.

    In most pitches the barrel of the bat does NOT move parallel to the ground.


    Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
    3. Extension. Look at where I stopped the video in the above picture. Each of these mlb'ers hits "through" the ball. They get off the "merry-go-round" and extend through. This adds tons of power. We can all teach rotational mechanics, but then we need to add this type of extension to the equation. Many of the videos posted here of young hitters never get here....and they need to.
    What many (most?) people teach is premature extension.

    By that I mean extension THROUGH the point of contact. What actually happens is that on most pitches (pitches way outside being an exception), most of the extension happens AFTER the point of contact.
    Obsessed with Pitching Mechanics.

    Comment


    • #3
      After through a bunch of Little Leaguers this season I have come to the conclusion that the problem with the cue swing down to the ball is that too many kids interpret this to mean the hand/wrist muscles move first. And even when you tell them to move the lower body first, the fact is they watch you and they see the hands moving because the body turns and interpret that hand motion to be hand muscles moving the bat.

      And swing down to the ball only looks right if your lower body doesn't move.

      (Amazingly, I have one kid on the team who never took a formal batting lesson and keeps his hands still.)

      I think the swing down to the ball cue causes too many problems. I think using "Keep your hands still." or something like that is far better. Having the hands stay at the shoulder until the arms/hands snap achieves the same thing as the cue swing down to the ball but with far less misinterpretation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Each kid is different and needs a different approach -- that is the key to teaching in my mind. I have some who drop their hands and barrell initially....they need to be told to use their hands forward and down...to get to the correct position.

        (regarding Chris's observation) Which hitter would anybody rather have on their team:

        1. The one who turns his hands with his shoulders
        2. The one who drives his hands forward and down with his shoulders

        And it is not my opinion that the path of the bat (prior to contact) is level to the ground and sometimes slightly up through contact.....just look at the pictures I posted. I could choose 4 different mlb hitters and the evidence would be clear with those also.
        Last edited by Swing Coach; 05-09-2008, 10:30 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
          (regarding Chris's observation) Which hitter would anybody rather have on their team:

          1. The one who turns his hands with his shoulders
          2. The one who drives his hands forward and down with his shoulders
          #1, just like the boys in MLB do!

          GaryB

          Comment


          • #6
            Swing Coach,

            The one who drives his hands forward and down with his shoulders


            This IMO isn't an accurate discription of what great hitters feel and perform . I see this approach with hitters that aren't aware of the body's rotation and linking the hands and arms up to get the barrell to whip around to the ball. This could be from some coaches fixed ideas about the swing. I know you can develop this motion you desribe but being a hitter this IMO opinion is a fixed approach that's less productive. I don't see this being natural. I guess If it get's the big hit that wins the game or a base knock who cares.



            EL,

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
              (regarding Chris's observation) Which hitter would anybody rather have on their team:

              1. The one who turns his hands with his shoulders
              2. The one who drives his hands forward and down with his shoulders
              .....neither.

              I want a kid who:

              1. Knows how important an on plane release of the bat head is.
              2. Understands that at, and through contact, the bat must be vigorously
              releasing but also connected to the mass of the body......otherwise it's
              a powerless release.
              3. Has learned how to utilize the flail priciple by NOT interfering with it by
              any sort of "locked down" connection at the begining of the swing.
              4. Understands that the bat must go to a specific place in order to crash into
              the ball. The HANDS MUST have a dominant role in going there, but all the
              while NOT TAKING CHARGE of creating the speed or momentum.

              There is simply not enough time to constrain the hands and arms.... then turn them loose to find the ball.
              They must be allowed to "steer the bus" from the beginning.

              The "tipping" movements from the other thread have a definite roll to play in fulfilling this requirement, though you guys don't get just how.
              Hint- clean and jerk.
              email [email protected]

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tweenarock View Post
                .....neither.

                I want a kid who:

                1. Knows how important an on plane release of the bat head is.
                2. Understands that at, and through contact, the bat must be vigorously
                releasing but also connected to the mass of the body......otherwise it's
                a powerless release.
                3. Has learned how to utilize the flail priciple by NOT interfering with it by
                any sort of "locked down" connection at the begining of the swing.
                4. Understands that the bat must go to a specific place in order to crash into
                the ball. The HANDS MUST have a dominant role in going there, but all the
                while NOT TAKING CHARGE of creating the speed or momentum.

                There is simply not enough time to constrain the hands and arms.... then turn them loose to find the ball.
                They must be allowed to "steer the bus" from the beginning.

                The "tipping" movements from the other thread have a definite roll to play in fulfilling this requirement, though you guys don't get just how.
                Hint- clean and jerk.




                3. Has learned how to utilize the flail priciple by NOT interfering with it by
                any sort of "locked down" connection at the begining of the swing.
                4. Understands that the bat must go to a specific place in order to crash into
                the ball. The HANDS MUST have a dominant role in going there, but all the
                while NOT TAKING CHARGE of creating the speed or momentum.

                There is simply not enough time to constrain the hands and arms.... then turn them loose to find the ball.
                They must be allowed to "steer the bus" from the beginning.

                The "tipping" movements from the other thread have a definite roll to play in fulfilling this requirement, though you guys don't get just how.
                Hint- clean and jerk.



                good post!!!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
                  And it is not my opinion that the path of the bat (prior to contact) is level to the ground and sometimes slightly up through contact.....just look at the pictures I posted. I could choose 4 different mlb hitters and the evidence would be clear with those also.
                  You're choosing 4 different MLB hitters hitting the same pitch.

                  How do they adjust to different pitches?
                  Obsessed with Pitching Mechanics.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Limits Of The Level Swing

                    Can someone please check my logic here.

                    My problem with the idea of the level swing is that it is based on a very big assumption.

                    That every pitch is a belt-high fastball.

                    By way of evidence that that assumption holds, whether it is recognized as an assumption or not, I give you this diagram...



                    You also see the same assumption at play in this illustration of Ted Williams...

                    - http://www.mikeepsteinhitting.com/images/upswing.jpg

                    I will grant you that the assumption that every pitch will be a belt-high fastball holds through tee-ball, coach-pitch, machine-pitch, and the first few years of kid pitch.

                    However, I would also argue that the idea of the level swing does not scale. At some point, pitchers learn to throw curveballs and to keep the ball down in the strike zone, and at that point a level swing hitter is SOL.

                    How do they adjust?

                    Most of the time it's by lunging at pitches, which isn't how the best hitters in the world adjust to breaking balls and to balls up and down in the strike zone.

                    In Williams' case it was probably by being extremely selective, but what did he do when he was behind in the count and had to protect the plate and swing at the ball down (and away)?

                    Can someone please tell me that I'm not crazy for thinking this?
                    Last edited by Chris O'Leary; 05-09-2008, 02:12 PM.
                    Obsessed with Pitching Mechanics.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
                      3. Extension. Look at where I stopped the video in the above picture. Each of these mlb'ers hits "through" the ball. They get off the "merry-go-round" and extend through. This adds tons of power.
                      How could this possibly add power since it happens AFTER the point of contact?

                      I have all the respect in the world for Charley Lau Sr., but he got the timing of extension TOTALLY wrong when he said it happens AT the point of contact and that this is the desired posture AT the point of contact.



                      Because in most cases extension happens after the point of contact, extension is the EFFECT of a powerful swing, not the CAUSE of a powerful swing.
                      Obsessed with Pitching Mechanics.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                        Can someone please check my logic here.

                        My problem with the idea of the level swing is that it is based on a very big assumption.

                        That every pitch is a belt-high fastball.

                        By way of evidence that that assumption holds, whether it is recognized as an assumption or not, I give you this diagram...



                        You also see the same assumption at play in this illustration of Ted Williams...

                        - http://www.mikeepsteinhitting.com/images/upswing.jpg

                        I will grant you that the assumption that every pitch will be a belt-high fastball holds through tee-ball, coach-pitch, machine-pitch, and the first few years of kid pitch.

                        However, I would also argue that the idea of the level swing does not scale. At some point, pitchers learn to throw curveballs and to keep the ball down in the strike zone, and at that point a level swing hitter is SOL.

                        How do they adjust?

                        Most of the time it's by lunging at pitches, which isn't how the best hitters in the world adjust to breaking balls and to balls up and down in the strike zone.

                        In Williams' case it was probably by being extremely selective, but what did he do when he was behind in the count and had to protect the plate and swing at the ball down (and away)?

                        Can someone please tell me that I'm not crazy for thinking this?
                        Chris, I think most of us are all on the same page, just seeing the low ball adjustments a little differently. I too subscribe to the shoulder tilt theory being part of the formula for making the adjustment, but where we differ is that I feel that the hitter angles (not throws, i.e. stays connected) his hands to the ball and the shoulder's tilt is in response to the input from the angle of the hands, not leading them.

                        This is why when the pitch is up the the strike zone as in your Tejada photo his hands are almost level and in the Soriano picture someone posted, his hands are approaching almost vertical when swinging at a pitch down in the zone. In both of them the shoulder adjust to the position of the hands, also aiding in getting to the ball.

                        I submit this as that the smaller, fine, instantaneous adjusts required as the ball moves, are made by the much quicker, fast twitch muscles that control the hands rather then the larger, slower muscles of the shoulders. Similar to when something is thrown at you unexpectedly, your body's first response is to attempt to block it with your hands (fast twitch) as your shoulders start to turn away after that (slower twitch).

                        This is why in “hiddengem’s” video of Gordon in the other thread; it can be seen that just before contact the hitter’s hands accelerate faster to the ball then the shoulders do, as he torques them to contact to make a last, fraction of a second height and timing error adjustment.

                        If the hands follow the shoulders then you would not see hitters pull them in to “turn on” the inside pitch or extend them at the last fraction of a second to battle off the outside two-strike pitch, which I know you have seen in your video work.

                        That’s my take on it and what I had been trying to communicate to you earlier, but it seems like we got of on the wrong foot and I apologize for that.


                        Not looking for agreement, just giving you my take on it, hope it makes sense.

                        MV9
                        Last edited by mudvnine; 05-09-2008, 03:58 PM.
                        In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Facts (which can only be ignored if you already know it all): The video I originally posted showed 4 major leaguers picked at random hitting pitches in three different locations......they are all swinging down and then level to the ball and then slightly up. They all get great extension after making contact. Major leaguers also talk about taking a downward approach to the ball (not through the ball) and they talk about the importance of hitting through the ball and getting extension (just ask HG about both of these). He will tell you the same, which he has on other threads.

                          And it is common sense that extension helps power..a lot....or the pros wouldn't get there. And I've seen too many kids who had no extension work on their swings to get extension...and they hit the ball much, much harder.

                          I could pick the next 4 pros in the software and they would get the same extension power v after contact....so it happens....believe it. I have no agenda.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tweenarock View Post
                            .....neither.

                            I want a kid who:

                            1. Knows how important an on plane release of the bat head is.
                            2. Understands that at, and through contact, the bat must be vigorously
                            releasing but also connected to the mass of the body......otherwise it's
                            a powerless release.
                            3. Has learned how to utilize the flail priciple by NOT interfering with it by
                            any sort of "locked down" connection at the begining of the swing.
                            4. Understands that the bat must go to a specific place in order to crash into
                            the ball. The HANDS MUST have a dominant role in going there, but all the
                            while NOT TAKING CHARGE of creating the speed or momentum.

                            There is simply not enough time to constrain the hands and arms.... then turn them loose to find the ball.
                            They must be allowed to "steer the bus" from the beginning.

                            The "tipping" movements from the other thread have a definite roll to play in fulfilling this requirement, though you guys don't get just how.
                            Hint- clean and jerk.
                            Good post. I would like the same players.
                            "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                            - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                              How could this possibly add power since it happens AFTER the point of contact?
                              Because you are continuing your swing the entire way through and not cutting it off prematurely. Obviously if you are cutting yourself off at any point, your bat has to slow down in some capacity. Extending through the ball prevents this.

                              Comment

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