Hitting position is a fundamental common to every good swing. The stances may vary, the styles may vary as much, or more, than the individual fingerprints of each and every batter, but HITTING POSITION IS A FUNDAMENTAL
A batter who gets to hitting position EVERY PITCH, no matter where their stance starts, makes for a consistent hitter. It’s important and it’s vital, and it’s simple. Hitting position consistency is key to being a consistent hitter. The best hitters in MLB get to hitting position every single pitch.
What is hitting position?
Hitting position starts the moment the stride (front) foot hits the ground. If you freeze frame this moment, this are the factors necessary for a proper hitting position:
- Eyes level.
- Front arm square or about at a 45° angle.
- Stride foot landing of ball of foot and with a solid “stick” to stop forward slide of body. Outside of foot should be facing the pitcher.
- Bottom hand stays in loaded position (at back shoulder level and over the back foot no more than 6 inches away from shoulder) with no lift of slide forward as weight shifts forward with stride.
- Bat at 45° angle, do not wrap bat behind head.
- An imaginary line drawn from the left foot to the neck to the right foot and back to the left foot should form a nice, isosceles triangle, indicating a balanced body.
In order to swing with a quick and powerful hitter’s swing, the body and bat needs to be loaded properly. Technically, it is a plyometric, pre-stretch of the muscle groups which allow for an explosive muscle fiber contraction and a quick, powerful swing. I tell hitter’s in my coaching sessions that it’s like shooting a rubber band at your sister. Do you take that big, thick, Sunday morning paper rubber band and only pull it back an inch before firing it in the direction of their beloved sister? Heck no! You pull that rubber band back as far as you can so you can fire it at that beloved sibling with explosive speed and power.
A baseball swing is just like this, and with a bonus. You can not only hit the ball hard every time at bat, but you can sleep well knowing that sister is not planning late-night revenge upon your person. Win-win situation.
- Loose, relaxed grip on bat from a loose, relaxed body.
- Bouncy – Athletes move on the balls of their feet, not flat-footed or with weight on the heels.
- Hitter’s rhythm – rock side to side, when one heel comes off the ground the weight shifts to the other heel on the ground. Hitters should naturally rock with this rhythm almost unconsciously, even when just standing around. (It’s how we find each other in the crowd…look for the guys rocking back and forth in hitter’s rhythm).
- Load – When weight rocks to back foot, the hands load to the back shoulder and lock into place. The rubber band has been pulled and now you are ready to stride and stick the perfect hitting position.
The great thing about these simple drills is the young hitter can perform them over and over and over again in front of a mirror from the comfort of the house all winter long without fear of breaking the new lamp or swinging a bat into the family’s new 52” HD television in the living room.
- Bouncy Feet vs. Flat Feet – feel the difference between athletic feet (on ball of feet) vs. Coach Hays’s fat, old man feet (flat feet) as you hop 10 times with each style. Then do 10 side-to-side hops with each style.
- Rock and Rhythm – a relaxed back and forth movement to train body the quiet weight shift of a hitter.
- Rock, Rhythm and Load – check for proper load position, especially with lower hand to back shoulder.
- Load, Stride, Freeze – check yourself for proper hitting position in the mirror.
Hitting Position Breakdown of Eric Hosmer
Here are a front and side freeze frame from the Vine video of Eric Hosmer’s home run in the 12th inning in the ALDS against the Angels. Hitting position. I froze the video when his stride foot hit the ground. Almost perfect. He naturally loads his bat a little further back than his shoulder, which runs a fine line between his compact swing when he’s hot and if he loads the bat even an inch or so further back. The further back a hitter loads, the straighter his arm becomes in the load beyond 45° the longer and slower his swing.
He is also shown here landing on the ball of his stride foot. As he swings and opens up the weight shifts back to his heel. His style, but one thing Hosmer does when he’s in a slump is land more on his heel than ball of his foot. When he does that his back shoulder dips, his arm straightens and his swing is long.
Right now, he’s money. Right now, he’s sticking his hitting position.
Hitting a baseball is not rocket science.
But, hitting with a fundamentally sound, consistent hitting position is the science of hitting rockets.