Here is Hitting Key #7 (out of 8)
One of the biggest mistakes hitters make is they believe the swing is complete after the ball leaves the bat. Hitters often tell me,“The ball is already gone, so why does it make a difference where the swing finishes.” Not surprisingly, my response is all about batspeed. Let’s take the young hitter who stops the swing right after the ball is gone. For that hitter to physically stop the swing soon after the bat makes contact with the bat, he or she has to start putting the brakes on the swing BEFORE the ball hits the bat. It’s simple physics. Or, how about hitters who finish the swing completely, but the bat ends up around the waist. In both instances, hitters unknowingly slow the swing in order to finish in these less than ideal positions. They are controlling the finish, instead of letting the bat finish where it wants to finish.
I contend that these hitters actually reduce bat speed before the ball hits the bat. The only way to maintain bat speed throughout the entire swing is to allow the bat to continue along the path that began with a powerful shoulder turn and the gradual lowering of the back shoulder. By the time the bat meets the ball with full extension of the arms, the bat is on a path that should not be manually altered by the hitter.
Unless the hitter intervenes, the bat should continue on a path that ends above the lead shoulder. Ideally, the finish position of the bat should be approximately the same 45 degree angle as the initial set-up. Anything below, or even above this position will necessitate hitters to manually control the finish, which will negatively affect (you guessed it) batspeed.
Many hitters are uncomfortable letting the bat finishing high at first, because the concept of maintaining batspeed is new to them. I use the batspeed measurement device to prove to them that a high finish will result in optimum bat speed. I call this high finish the completion of the Pro Swing Path. If you analyze the swings of the best hitters in baseball, they all finish the swing high above their shoulders. They understand how important it is to “let the bat fly” without any intervention on their part. They don’t want to waste any of the power they generated from the ground up.
Finally, I ask hitters to actually pose at the end of each swing (like many professional hitters), so they know what a high finish feels like and to ensure they actually finish the swing. Often, hitters are so anxious to begin running after they feel the impact of the ball, they cut off their swings prematurely. This not only negatively affects bat speed, it affects the trajectory and force of the batted ball. Some hitters also have the bad habit of whipping the bat back toward the pitcher at the end of the swing. These hitters also lose valuable bat speed. Again, in order for hitters to reverse the path of the bat immediately after it finishes, they need to manually slow the bat at some point during the swing. It may look impressive to the crowd, but this unnecessary movement is costing the hitter precious power.
Don’t underestimate the importance of finishing the swing……..finish strong!