Baseball Swing Mechanics

Well, once again I’ve noticed a trend with baseball swing mechanics. A couple of years ago it was all about rotational hitting and almost no weight transfer. Recently I’ve been receiving emails from various instructors that teach, no coil and falling forward as part of the stride. Not that this method doesn’t have rotational fundamentals, but the weight shift is a big difference. Part of what I’ve seen advertise is that a coil or going back before going forward is a bad thing.

Struck by the general reference to professionals who hit in this fashion without using a coil before the stride. Big deal, I can find a bunch of big league hitters that use a coil and are very successful. In this post, I’m not going to discuss rotational hitting vs. linear hitting. Instead, address the issue of whether you should teach players to coil or not coil.

So, should you teach a player to use a coil before the stride?

The answer is not as black and white as some of these hitting experts would have you believe. For me, the use or non-use of going back before going forward depends on what the hitter prefers. Below are my feelings on the issue and some things to consider when helping a player to coil or not coil.

Baseball Swing Mechanics - Illustration from MIKE SUDAL

Illustration by MIKE SUDAL

 

The Perfect Baseball Swing Mechanics

The coil is a movement that allows a player to get into an excellent position to stride. So once a pitcher starts his wind-up or is at a certain point in the delivery of the pitch, the hitter will move his weight to the inside of the back foot to put himself in a good athletic position to stride. He will also close his front side slightly and get his bat in a good launch position.

Baseball Swing Mechanics – What can a coil do for you?

  1. Timing is critical for a hitter and some hitters movement during the coil will help with timing. Rather than standing instead still waiting for the pitch, the coil can be synced with the pitchers wind-up to put the hitter in the correct position at the proper time.
  2. Often it is easier for a hitter to stay relaxed if he is moving rather than staying still. Relaxing muscles are quicker when swinging the bat, and many hitters will be more relaxed using a coil.
  3. In your batting stance, having the correct weight distribution when you start the stride is vital for balance and quickness. The coil, if executed correctly, can put a player’s weight in the correct position for the stride. Without a coil, the player must hold the position longer and may not be as quick reacting to the pitch.

Proper Baseball Swing Mechanics

Less movement before the pitch can help players be ready to stride without having to sync the stride to the pitcher’s delivery.
A player’s view of the pitcher will stay the same throughout the wind-up and delivery of the pitch. Some Baseball Swing Mechanics could cause players to take it to far and turn their head which can have a negative impact on seeing the ball.
While some players will find they are more relaxed with a coil, others will feel the opposite and can stay comfortable with the basic baseball swing mechanics.

Conclusion

True aspects of hitting, each player is different, and you can’t mold every player into a particular way of hitting. How many of you would take an 8-year-old Ichiro and say he’s doing it all wrong? What about Jeff Bagwell with his wide stance? Or Kevin Youkilis with his narrow stance and big leg kick?

The point is that each player has individual strengths and weaknesses and that is only part of the equation. They also have a comfort zone for what feels right. If they are struggling, then look at where they are before the ball is released and where when they complete their stride and then work back from there. Don’t assume that a coil or non-coil is the issue. Again this is true with many parts of the swing. Work with each player on developing a hitting style that works for them rather than trying to mold them into how you think every player should look.

If it isn’t broke

I try to have young players reduce the amount of movement if I feel it’s causing them problems. If a kid is hitting great, don’t change him to change him into the way you think a hitter should look. I had a coach one time that told our team, “If you can hit .300 standing on your head, I won’t change you.” He helped when it was needed, not before, and it gave all his players confidence that they could try things out, experiment and improve without being forced to hit in a certain way.

Final note

Whether a player is back in their stance or moves back during the coil, make sure they don’t go too far and end up with their weight on the outside of their right foot. You can check this by looking at the position of their right knee to their right foot.