The next absolute during the forward advance is what my hands are doing as my stride foot works away. And the action that I compare this to is the stretching of a rubber band. My stride foot will move forward, while my hands will stay back. And the movement away from each other we’ll compare that to stretching a rubber band from my stride foot to my hands. That same stretching of the rubber band is what my midsection, my core begins to do, which will incorporate the torque of the swing.
When my hands go back, the position will be at launch, which will be somewhere around shoulder level, beyond the back shoulder, but not beyond on the tip of the back elbow. That 6 inch window that an adult hitter will have, the hands can be anywhere within that window to still produce whip.
If the hands land inside the shoulder, they end up becoming part of the shoulders, and this hitter ends up pushing the bat to the zone. You’ll see inside out type swings from hitters like that, that don’t really produce whip because there is no delivering of the barrel when my hands push.
Hitters that get outside their back elbow tend to arm bar or get long in the back side, and because the barrel has so much farther to go to get to the ball, will have to use the front shoulder to aid the barrel around, thus getting around the baseball and cutting their front side of the swing. So it’s very important that at the position of foot down, non matter where the hitter started: hands hi, hands low – when the stride foot lands, we’re going to be shoulder level, beyond the back shoulder, not beyond the back shoulder, not beyond the tip of the back elbow.
Next is front side alignment. Again, not mattering where I start my hands in style, when the stride foot lands there needs to be alignment with the front elbow and bottom hand. The hand will slightly inside the front elbow or even with to create a direct line of pull to the baseball, which simply allows me to slot my hands correctly to the ball, and get inside the body, inside the ball, immediately.
As I walk away in the stride, you’ll see that I walk away from my hands. My stride foot will advance forward, my hands stay back and compare that to the stretching of a rubber band between the two. When my stride goes forward and my hands stay back, that stretching of the rubber band is going to start the torque of our swing, where we get the same stretch beginning to happen on the inside oblique of my left side as a right handed hitter. That stretch I get is like the pulling back of a rubber band that when I start the swing from the ground up, stretches, so that when I do launch my hands, they come forward faster. The natural torque of the swing begins as I walk away from hands, and that’s tough to do. The upper body is going one way, the lower body is going another.
Last the easiest one to remember, but the hardest one to do. When the stride foot hits the ground, the knob of the bat will be to the catcher’s feet. As a right handed hitter to the catcher’s right shin-guard, left handed hitters to the catcher’s left shin-guard. The tip of the bat will be tilted over my head. This puts the hands in the strongest position to whip, and the fastest position to slot the barrel inside the shoulder, inside the baseball, for my quickest and shortest swing. That’s what all big league hitters have in common, the foot down position, 50/50 in center, a matter of style how you get there…
Whether it’s a traditional advance back knee with stride foot together, whether it’s stride shift into my center, or a no stride approach where my back knee advances first. Once we get to center, all hitters look the same. I walk away from my hands, the hands will be shoulder level beyond the back shoulder, not beyond the tip of the back elbow, with the knob of the bat to the catcher’s feet, tip of the bat tilted over the head.
Regardless of style and stance, all big league hitters get to just about the exact same hitting position. You see Ichiro with a narrow stance in the top left, Ken Griffey in a narrow neutral stance, Branden Phillips at the bottom being very wide or Chase Utley in a neutral stance, when they land, they’re all going to land in about the same hitting position proportional to their height.
So the width in their center position, 50/50 at foot down is going to be about 60% of the hitter’s height – that’s the major league average. You can see how each of them advance out into the same wide base at the 50/50 position, all look almost identical. The other thing that happens is they walk out, so see the knob of the bat tilting towards the catcher’s feet, with the top of the bat tilted over the head. And the hands will be in a position beyond the back shoulder, but not beyond the tip of the back elbow.
So regardless of the style a hitter chooses to use, the foot down position is a critical one if we’re going to get to the baseball on time, successfully.
So this is something that we strive as hitters to get to with consistency and timing. The knob of the bat to the catcher’s feet, tip of the bat tilted over the head, hands beyond the back shoulder, but not beyond the tip of the back elbow, in a balance centered position, with the feet being about 60% of the hitter’s height.
When talking about the hitting position, I often like to use hitters of yesteryear to show that this hitting position hasn’t changed in a 100 years of baseball. Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays on this picture, you’ll see that again, regardless of style or stance, that all of these hitters too, land in almost the exact same hitting position as our pros today. Walking Hank Aaron out, just a tad bit forward of center, but he’s still in that 60% range with his width, knob of the bat to the catcher’s feet, hands beyond the back shoulder.
Slightly different with Ernie Banks, although he’s centered very well with a good base, his bat is a little more erect.
Mickey Mantle, same foot down position, top of the bat tilted over the head, hands beyond the back shoulder, just a little more uphill in his shoulder posture.
And Willie Mays consistent with the rest, in the same hitting position that we see with all of our big league hitters of yesterday and today, centered, hands beyond the back shoulder, with a good bat angle titled over the head.