Successful baseball and softball hitters use a concept first discovered by the earliest humans…Leverage. Here is the definition of a “lever“…“A rigid bar that pivots about one point and that is used to move an object at a second point by a force applied at a third point.” I’m not a physicist, but I’ll try to translate this definition into baseball terms.
The stiff front leg and angle of the upper body of a hitter combine like a rigid bar that pivots around rotating hips that are used to move the bat from the force of the violent rotation of the upper body. Sorry to be so technical, but the concept of leverage is rarely emphasized by hitting instructors as being one of the keys to consistent power. I’ll try to simplify this important hitting concept.
When the front foot is placed back down on the ground after a slow, powerful load, this is one of the critical points in the swing sequence. At this moment, any forward momentum of the body should come to a grinding halt. The body should now be at angle like a lever. The hitter has now successfully created a barrier to capture the energy that was generated during the load. If this barrier is not established, some of this precious energy will leak forward, which will quickly result in lost batspeed.
Take a look at the cartoon of the cavemen looking quizzically at their new invention. What if the angle of that sturdy piece of lumber was vertical instead of at an angle? They would still be able to move the boulder, but it would be much harder and it would travel a shorter distance. The same is true for hitters. If hitters fail to achieve the ideal “leverage position” like Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto (pictured above), they may hit the ball hard, but not with the same power as highly leveraged hitters. In addition, without the proper leverage, it is nearly impossible to consistently drive the ball in the air for extra base hits. Hitters who lack leverage are more likely to hit ground balls. If they do hit a line drive, it is due to the reliance on their arms and wrists. As I have written many times, this leads to reduced power and inconsistency.
All hitters should hit using leverage like a caveman or CAVEWOMAN! Below is a picture of Paige Wilson, a senior at The University of Georgia. Just by looking at this picture, you can tell Paige is an outstanding hitter. She obviously understands the importance of leverage in the softball swing. During the 2014 season, Paige hit 11 home runs and led the Bulldogs in several offensive categories, including average (.387), hits (87), doubles (18), and triples (5). She and her teammates combined for an eye-popping 93 home runs, including 25 bombs from First Team All-American slugger Alex Hugo. Many of the Georgia hitters are fun to watch because they use power hitting mechanics, including a powerful load, full extension, and a strong finish. They must have missed the memo that softball players should hit differently than baseball players. https://torque-hitting.com/2013/06/05/baseball-and-softball-swings-should-they-be-different/
Paige Wilson is a native of Wheaton, Illinois where she played her prep softball at Wheaton North High School. My wife and her siblings attended Wheaton North, so it is always great to see an ex-Falcon do well in college. Congratulations Paige!