When it comes to hitting a baseball or softball, people don’t agree on much. But one thing we can all agree upon is that the head shouldn’t move during the swing. Obviously we all want to hit the ball, in order to do that we need to see the ball, so a quite head is very important during the rotational phase of the swing. Check out these swings below to see what I mean.
What’s rarely talked about is the movement of the head and body prior to when the turn begins. Many coaches want the head to be as still as possible during the load, which makes some sense, but for every great hitter that keeps their head very still in their load, I can find two that move their head forward.
Below are a few GIFs to illustrate the variation that hitters have during their loads.
So hitters have a decision to make about what load they think is best for them. Some things to consider are, how big you are, how old you are, and how much power you currently possess. Historically hitters with plus size and strength are the ones that are most successful with minimal movement loads. Here’s a few below.
Kris Bryant – Height 6′ 5″, Weight 230 lbs
Paul Goldschmidt – Height 6′ 3″, Weight 225 lbs
Nelson Cruz – Height 6′ 2″, Weight 230 lbs
Aaron Judge – Height 6′ 7″, Weight 282 lbs
As you can see, most of these hitters don’t move much during the loading phase of their swing. This a luxury that bigger hitters are blessed with. As I’ve stated many times in previous articles, Force = Mass X Acceleration. Meaning hitters who are big, don’t have to swing quite as fast and they will still hit the ball as hard or harder than hitters with less mass. (Click here to learn more about how F=MA Applies to Hitting) Hitters that are smaller in size, typically need more momentum in their load to hit home runs. Gone are the days where the typical Major League Baseball player can get by not hitting home runs. In 2017, there was 300 hitters that got more than 250 at bats, of those 300 hitters the average number of home runs per year was 17.7 HR/yr and the median home run hitter hit 16 Homers. What does this mean for young hitters? It It means that if you want to play college or pro baseball you need to learn how to swing hard effectively. Smaller hitters many times need the momentum that their forward load provides in order to hit the ball over the fence.
Soon I’m going to write another article about converting the linear momentum of the stride to rotational force. But for now lets just say that the movement of the pelvis forward during the load/stride can increase the speed of the rotation if the hips land slightly open. The opening of the hips allows the push of the front leg into the ground to turn the pelvis around your spinal axis. Below is an example.
Let’s take a look at some smaller guys notice how much more they move forward in their load.
Mookie Betts – Height 5′ 9″, Weight 180 lbs
Trevor Story – Height: 6′ 1″, Weight 180 lbs
Jose Altuve – Height: 5′ 6″, Weight: 165 lbs
Dustin Pedroia – Height 5′ 9″, Weight 175 lbs
Javier Baez – Height 6′ 0″, Weight 190 lbs
Quiet loads can work. That said, typically I don’t recommend them unless you are big and strong. Most of the general population that plays baseball and softball can’t hit the ball far enough without the momentum that that moving forward during the load provides. With the right mechanics, the linear energy that moving forward during the load provides can be efficiently translated into rotational energy adding power to the swing. In many swings this is essential. To the production of power needed to play at high levels.
So my advice to you is to look at yourself in the mirror and ask two questions. 1) Do you hit for power currently? 2) Do you have high school size field power? Or Little League field power?
If the answer to question 1 is no, and you want to play college baseball, then you need to start working out, eating more and improving your swing movement pattern.
If you’re a little leaguer with power, you need to know that a 220 foot little league homer can be a middle school fly-out. There is also no guarantee that you will be a big high school player just because you’re currently a big little leaguer. You may continue to grow, you may not. So you should prepare to hit the ball as hard as you possibly can for the body weight you have, no matter what that ends up being when you’re fully grown. Usually that means you should move your center of mass (and your head) forward during your load since the forward momentum will help you turn faster.
Thanks for Reading!
Kurt Hewes – Director of hitting and Founder of Ignite Baseball
Worried you might be making mistakes in your kid’s development as a baseball or softball player? this would a good article for you to read. The 4 most common developmental mistakes made by baseball and softball players