Periodically, I will post a message on a popular softball hitting discussion board. My comments are usually in response to a parent or coach who has posted a video of a player’s swing seeking input and advice. I restrict my posting activity to one comment, because these discussion boards are filled with people who just want to argue or who enjoy protracted debates. It seems there are a few people on this particular discussion board who enjoy criticizing my thoughts on extending the arms at impact with the ball. Some have even gone to the trouble to post what I have written on this site about extension, along with pictures of the hitters I have used as illustrations, in an effort to discredit me and my ideas. I know it makes these “experts” mad when I choose not to engage or defend my ideas, but arguing would be fruitless.
For those of you who have read my post on this blog about extending the arms during the swing https://torque-hitting.com/2013/06/16/how-to-put-lightning-into-your-baseballsoftball-swing/, you know that I believe one of the keys to bat speed and great power is to extend the arms as much as possible at impact with the ball. Unfortunately, in the greater softball community, this is a relatively new concept. Softball hitters have historically been taught to keep their arms close to the body and to throw the knob of the bat at the ball, creating too much “bat lag”. These hitters look like they are pushing the bat into the ball, with the bat at a severe angle (perpendicular to the arms) at impact. The result is a slow bat and very little power. Here is what these hitters looks like:
I could post dozens of pictures of professional baseball players with full or nearly full extension of the arms into a “Power V” at impact. I could also post many pictures of professional golfers, tennis players, and even cricket players, who all strive for extension at impact to increase their power and consistency.
I have referred to this full extension as “lightning”, because lightning bolts hit the ground or an object with incredible force in a relatively straight line. The same is true for the most powerful baseball or softball swings. Great hitters will build-up “electricity” in the body from effective rotational mechanics, which will be transferred into the ball at the moment of impact like a bolt of lightning.
Some of the angry people from the softball discussion board will post pictures of professional or college hitters that have some bend in their arms (bat lag) before impact in an attempt to disprove my theory. I do believe some bat lag at the moment of impact is inevitable and acceptable. However, the key to real power is to achieve full extension as soon as possible, and hold it as long as possible.
It is rare in professional baseball to see good hitters who don’t achieve full extension during the swing. Unfortunately, it is rare to see high school and college softball hitters with swings who exhibit good extension. Softball hitting at the high school and college level has evolved nicely over the past few years, but old ideas continue to restrict the real potential of women to hit with power and authority, like baseball players. I believe strongly in equality for women, especially “hitting equality”.
*** One hitter who is achieving hitting equality is Sara Kern (pictured above). Sara plays softball at the University of Missouri St. Louis. Notice in the first picture how she is nearly fully extended at the moment of impact with the ball, after generating rotational power from her lower and upper body. In the second picture, her arms are fully extended immediately after impact, and they remain extended as long as possible to ensure the “lightning” in her swing doesn’t dissipate. Sara enjoys bat speed (swing speed) over 80 mph, which is as fast or faster than most baseball players her age. That’s equality!
Here is previous post on baseball-softball equality– https://torque-hitting.com/2013/06/05/baseball-and-softball-swings-should-they-be-different/