The two most important priorities of hitting – Part 2
In Part 1, I showed and discussed what I feel is hitting Priority/Procedure #1 (Get your body to maximum athleticism when your stride foot lands). If you have not yet looked at that post, please do because I also gave some insight into the difference between procedure and technique.
Today’s post is (mechanical) Priority #2 and it involves where the hitter is at the point of contact. Here are more photos of the players shown in Part 1 with some added players thrown in as well. Once again, see any similarities?
At the point of contact, all of the hitters above are doing the following:
- Their head is still between their feet
- Their back foot is rotated and on the toes
- Their back knee is driving towards their front calf
- Their face is directed at the ball
- Their back shoulder is lower than their lead shoulder
- Their elbow (on the top hand’s arm) is in close to the body
- The top hand on the bat, if opened, would face the sky
- The hips have rotated
- They are hitting against a stiff (or mostly stiff) front leg
Each hitter may vary slightly on the degree of each of the things listed above but every hitter basically gets to the exact same spot at the point of contact. Even the very “unorthodox” Hunter Pence. That is Priority #2:
Apply maximum energy to the ball at the point of contact.
All the things listed above are where the human body parts need to be in order to accomplish Priority/Procedure #2. How they get there is their technique. Line-drive hitters may take a shorter, less loopy bat path to the contact point. Power hitters may take a more loopy path in order to get more lift. Some hitters may have their head closer to their front foot. Some have it closer to their back leg. Some keep their front foot flat at contact. Some roll it over a little. That’s all technique.
My beef with the explosion of private instruction is that too many of us focus way too much on the techniques of hitting and way too little on these two procedures of hitting. If a hitter follows both of these procedures –
- Get your body to maximum athleticism when your stride foot lands, AND
- Apply maximum energy to the ball at the point of contact
– then the technique really doesn’t matter. Focus too much on technique and there is no guarantee the hitter will follow the procedure.
I have played with and against many players from poor, developing countries like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Most of them never had any private instruction growing up. However, even though many of their swings included techniques that we would never teach, many of them hit the crap out of the ball because they followed the two basic procedures. In contrast, I have seen a huge amount of heavily instructed American swings from batters that have pretty looking technique but barely get the ball out of the infield. That’s because they never follow the two most important procedures of hitting I have outlined in these posts.
Evaluate the procedures first. If they follow the two main procedures, leave them alone. Just let them hit. If they are not following the procedure then start tinkering with technique to better help their body get there.