Baseball Hitting Instructions - Lower Half
Posted on May 25, 2016
This video shows instructions & baseball drills for how to hit a baseball, focusing on the use of the "lower half" of the body, using the Powercore 360 Baseball Power Hitting Hip Trainer.
The Lower Half
Conceptually, if you cut the body into two halves at the waist, the best place to start training the body movements of the baseball swing would be with the "lower half" of the body. The lower half includes the feet, legs, hips and pelvis.
Training from the Ground Up
Powercore 360 believes that the training of the body movements of the baseball swing should be taught from the "ground up".
The lower half is the foundation for the "upper half" and hands. Everything the lower half does impacts the upper half and hands. If the movements of the lower half are flawed, it negatively impacts the movements of the upper half and hands. Get the lower movements correct, and many of the upper half movement flaws will correct themselves.
Start with the Feet
Because of gravity, the feet anchor the body to the ground. When the feet push against the ground, the ground pushes back against the feet. So we start training the body movements with the feet.
Instructions for the Back Foot
- Stand with both feet a little wider than shoulder width, with toes pointing straight ahead.
- Place the weight evenly distributed 50/50 on the back and front foot.
- Now shift your weight to where 60% of the body weight is on the back foot, with 40% remaining on the front foot.
The Back Foot
For a right-handed hitter, the correct use of the back foot (the right foot) becomes extremely important for effective weight transfer and to maximize bat speed and hitting velocity:
- Position the weight of the back foot on the inside of the foot. (Imagine you had someone's fingers under the inside of your foot and you wanted to keep their fingers under your foot).
- Your right knee should now be inside of your right foot (and it should stay there as the swing occurs; don't let the knee move out over the outside of the right foot).
Load the Back Hip
The butt muscles around the hips and pelvis, the glutes specifically, when stretched or engaged affect how hard you can hit the ball.
Often times you will see players lifting the front foot way up off the ground in an attempt to load or engage the muscles of the hips and pelvis which does dramatically increase body rotational torque and ultimately bat speed. You don't have to pick up the front foot so high, however to effectively load the muscles around the hips and pelvis to increase bat speed. You just need to know how to load the back hip as you get set for the pitch.
How to Load the Back Hip Muscles:
- With the weight distributed 60/40 to the back foot and the weight on the inside of the back foot, sit back into your back hip. Move your hips backwards and to the right a bit, keeping your weight on the inside of the right foot and your right knee inside your right foot. (You should feel tension in the muscles on the outside and possible the back side of your right hip. These are some of your glute or butt muscles loading or engaging).
The Movement Sequence
The Linear Movement (of the lower half)
Weight Transfer or "Stride" in baseball terminology is important for hitting power as using the weight of the body helps improve power:
- As you start your swing, take a small step forwards with the front foot (left foot) towards the pitcher.
- When the front foot contacts the ground it can be "completely closed" (pointing straight ahead, parallel to the direction of the back foot), or it can be open 5-15 degrees (can be turned or pointed towards the pitcher).
Hitting styles vary amongst various hitting instructors, so some will teach keeping the front foot closed (pointing forwards) while others will teach opening the foot.
From a body movement perspective there are numerous factors that impact this, most important of which is the amount of flexibility in the front hip.
If the front hip is tight and the hitter keeps his front foot closed, tightness in the front hip may keep him from getting his hips completely turned through the ball. This would rob the hitter of using complete power from the hips and can lead to lower back & spine pain and injuries.
So my suggestion for a hitting who can't get his hips all the way through is to open the foot 5-15 degrees to see if that helps the hips get turned completely through. I suggest opening it just enough to get the hips through.
The Rotational Movement (of the lower half)
The turn of the hips and pelvis is the next step in a powerful properly sequenced swing:
- When the front foot hits the ground, the movement of the lower half of the body changes from linear (forwards towards the pitcher) to rotational as the hips turn fast & explosively.
- The focus should be on turning the back hip so the front of the back hip points towards the pitcher.
Back Foot Action (after weight transfer & hip rotation)
When a hitter explosively shifts the weight and turns the hips, the back foot should come off the ground and move forwards as the body weight shifts forwards towards the front leg. You will see the back heel turn to where it points up at the sky.
Firm or Strong Front Side
It's important to strengthen or firm up the front leg so maximal bat speed and hitting power can be achieved.
Sometimes a hitter will allow their front knee to bend which allows the hips, pelvis and body to slide or drift through the hitting zone. This action has a negative impact on hitting consistency, bat speed, power and others and needs to be eliminated.
Firm up the front side by:
- Straightening the front knee.
- Training the muscles around your hips, pelvis and core to stabilize (control) lower half movements.
- Improving balance by holding the "finish position" for a few seconds to train the muscles and body to be better balanced.