How To Put “Lightning” Into Your Baseball/Softball Swing

I haven’t posted anything for over a week because I was in Canada for my annual fishing vacation.  As I was in the boat with my son Rick, I was thinking about what I would write about next.  As he was casting for the elusive big Northern Pike or Muskie, I observed he was doing something that the best baseball/softball players, golfers, hockey  players, tennis players, and cricket players all have in common. As you can see in the picture below, his arms are almost totally extended as the lure is about to be launched.  The dramatic bend in the fishing rod shows the torque that is generated simply by extending the arms at just the right time.

Rick-Extension

During a baseball or softball swing,  both arms should be stiff, forming a “V” shape at impact with the ball. I call this the “Power V”.  Yes, everything I teach is geared toward power. Other hitting instructors teach this type of extension, but I believe few know why it is so important. The extended arms are the culmination of the kinetic energy that began in the ground. Good extension, at the moment of impact with the ball, is like a “lightning bolt”.  Bent arms at the moment of impact mean hitters are trying to guide the bat with the arms, resulting in lost power and inconsistency.

During workouts, I have two drills that are intended to produce lightning and keep it as long as possible.  The first is the “1/2 swing” drill.  Whether it is off the tee or during a front toss session, I ask hitters to stop the swing after the bat makes contact with the ball and hold this position.  The bat should be pointing directly at the pitcher and the arms should be in the “Power V” position.  When done correctly, it should be line drive in the middle of the field.   The second drill is the “2/3 swing” drill.  This is the same drill, but the hitter now stops and holds the swing past the halfway point.  The key is to keep the “Power V”, without bending either arm.  When done correctly, the ball should be driven to left center or right center, depending on the hitter.  This second drill is harder because the natural tendency is to start bending the arms or breaking the wrists immediately after impact, which inhibits total extension that produces real power. I challenge hitters to maintain that “lightning” as long as they can.  When my hitters get comfortable with these two drills, they begin hitting the ball so hard, they often ask me if they can try ½ swings or 2/3 swings in games. It is like a light goes off in their heads, finally convincing them that the kinetic linkage (between the lower and upper body) they worked so hard to perfect, really can produce power that is always surprising and exciting.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Watch your favorite professional baseball player and you will likely see the full extension “lightning” I am describing.  Unfortunately, very few fastpitch softball players find the lightning in their swings. Those who do enjoy an instant increase and bat speed and power.  Below are a few examples of great extension:

Tori-extensionCabrera

RyanOlympic extension

10 thoughts on “How To Put “Lightning” Into Your Baseball/Softball Swing

  1. Coach Moore

    Paul, as you know i use torque hitting with some of my players, but also maintain a tool box of many different ideas and theories on reaching the maximum potential of a player. I don’t use the word power, but instead use the term load. Load can mean power, but it can also mean man the manipulation of load to achieve better results. Also I spend a lot of time on load timing (which i call the timing mechanism) and picking the ball up as early as possible to increase reaction time. I love the blog, keep it up.

    1. Coach,

      It’s great to hear from you. Please subscribe to the blog, so you receive automatic updates when I post something. Stay tuned for a post about “loading” in the near future. Also, please forward the website address of my blog to others who you think would be interested.

      Take care,

      Paul

  2. Thanks for the great tips on hitting! I’m a female softball player in Toronto, Canada (glad you enjoyed your fishing trip here). I need a new softball glove. Do you have any suggestions on which make or model to get? Thanks!

    1. Julie—My favorite gloves (or mitts as we call them) are made by Wilson, especially the A2000 series. That being said, many companies make great gloves. My only advice would be to get a mitt big enough for softball. Good luck and thanks for reading my hitting posts. Let me know if the mechanics I teach are helpful.

    2. coach moore

      Julie/ the type of glove you get can depend on the positon you play, larger glove for the outfield, smaller glove for infielders/ except for firstbase and you may want to go larger there.

  3. Susie

    I know this is probably too late, but for a glove – usually infielders use a 12″ (about 30 cm, not sure how they size gloves in Canada) glove and outfielders typically use from 12.5″-13″ (32-33 cm) – a 14″ (35 cm) glove is probably too big for anyone, the ball will get lost in there!
    Also – I am not sure how old you are, but if there is a university that you are interested in, it would be beneficial to ask the coach what gloves they use/recommend. It shows them your interested in their program and it never hurts to try the same glove they use.
    Lastly, you have to try them on and throw/catch! My daughter likes a ‘softer’ more pliable glove, and I like a firmer glove. You have to go with your gut and what feels best to you.
    Good luck…and try to throw everyday!

  4. Pingback: Cabrera Launch Position - Page 3

    1. I know this is difficult for the softball community to understand, but great hitters strive for full extension of both arms at impact. As I have written, there is typically some bat lag at the moment of contact, but the arms should reach the power V as soon as possible. Hitters who have bent arms are the ones trying to generate power with primarily their upper body, which means slower bat speed. I never receive negative feedback to my thoughts on extension from baseball players, coaches, or parents, because it is part of commonly accepted sound hitting theory. If you believe softball players should hit differently than baseball players, that’s where we will respectfully disagree. Please look at all the pictures of professional hitters I have posted showing full extension at impact or immediately thereafter. Or, go on YouTube and look at the best hitters in baseball today, including the Cabrera video you have seen. I didn’t invent this concept, but I believe it is the key to real power.

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