Here is a simple tip for baseball and softball hitters that will help turn weak hits into powerful ones. STAY IN THE BATTER’S BOX UNTIL THE SWING IS COMPLETELY FINISHED!
I was recently watching game videos of one of my college softball hitters, in order to compare her batting cage mechanics and her mechanics against live pitching. After analyzing a few game swings, it was apparent that I would be unable to make any meaningful comparisons. When this hitter was in the batting cages, her swing was sound from her initial load, through her nice high and balanced finish. However, in games, her swing would start breaking down as soon as she made contact with the ball, because she had a tendency to begin running to first base before fully completing her swing. This negatively affected her power and consistency.
Although some high school and college baseball hitters are guilty of moving out of the batter’s box too early, it is an epidemic in fastpitch softball at all levels. I have asked many softball hitters why they don’t fully finish their swings in games. Most of them don’t even realize what they are doing, while others have told me they just get excited after making contact and want to get out of the batter’s box as quickly as possible. One hitter even told me her travel coach actually gets upset when she is tardy out of the box.
Here are few of the many problems associated with leaving the batter’s box too early :
- Decreased Bat Speed- It is impossible to maintain bat speed if a hitter is conditioned to begin moving out of the batter’s box just after making contact with the ball. By doing this, hitters actually have to alter their mechanics BEFORE hitting the ball, which negatively affects bat speed.
- Altered Swing Path And Finish- As I described in a previous post “Finish Strong” https://torque-hitting.com/2013/08/06/finish-strong/ , the swing path of the bat and high finish are critical to a powerful swing. Take a look at the pictures below. Notice how these college hitters fail to finish their swing before making a motion to leave the box. Each of these hitters has a very low final bat position, which is indicative of a swing lacking the necessary leverage to really drive the ball with authority.
Poor Body Rotation- These hitters never realize the benefits of the full rotation of the lower body, followed immediately by the powerful rotation of the upper body into the ball. Look how both shoulders of each of the hitters pictured above are facing the pitcher, proving the upper body failed to fully rotate.
Weak Finishing Pose- These pictures also illustrate finishing positions that are not ideal. Notice how the front foot of each hitter is actually off the ground. it is commonly accepted by hitting instructors that the front leg should be stiff and the back leg should be bent at the end of the swing. Hitters who leave the batter’s box before finishing the swing are the total opposite, with bent front legs and relatively stiff back legs.
Here are pictures of strong finishing positions:
My advice to all hitters is “pose” after the swing for a split second before leaving the batter’s box. If you finish your swing fully and powerfully after employing good hitting mechanics, you won’t not need to run out of the box quickly. There is a good chance you can just stand there for a moment to watch the ball travel far over the outfield fence.