It is somewhat common to see struggling hitters who have batting stances in which their posture is very upright. The knees are bent a little, but they have virtually no hip hinge. In fact this was something that my DD had struggled with for a very long time. A while ago, I had discovered that she tended to be very much quad dominant in her pitching mechanics (discussed here) and slowly I have begun to see how hip hinge and hip extension were almost non existent in her athletic movement patterns. Yes, her rear hip would eventually extend, but it was BEING extended, not DOING the extending and thus was not explosive.
I now see how hip extension via the glutes, is the primary propulsion/explosion agent in countless athletic movements from sprinting, jumping, throwing, pitching, hitting, etc. In order for one's hip to be explosive (again via the glutes), the hip must be initially hinged. If you are not hinged, your glutes aren't going to do much for you. The taller you stand, the more inefficient the glutes work and also they start to battle against tight hip flexors and further lose efficiency.
For those who see a hitter with this upright posture, I made the collage below to show how critical hip hinge for hitters. I compiled a ton of coiling postures from all the athletes that I found on the HI clips site (from the letters A-K). In every case, the high level hitters achieve a moderate to excellent amount of hip hinge. Even hitters who tend to stand tall like Cano and Braun have moderate hip hinge as they coil (I could use more recommendations to analyze).
Here are a few observations that I have in regard to coiling with an upright posture. I am open to and would appreciate other view points on this as this isn’t something that get much press.
Coiling with upright posture:
1. A tall posture into coil does not have much hip hinge (hip hinge being the angle between the rear femur and the upper torso)
2. A tall posture when coiling tends to pull the upper torso away from the plate (this is noticeable at the back shoulder peeling off the plate)
3. Tall posture seems to degrade coiling force. I observe that upright postures tend to result in a diagonal (upward and back/around) force as opposed to mostly around force. I notice this in the scap pull back. See the arrows that I’ve added to your DD’s photo above.
4. The high level swing requires a snappy rear hip, and a snappy rear hip is a result of the glute muscles interacting with the back (a one legged scap pullback will generate a hip response).
5. Rotation from the rear hip is critical. If you don't have a merry-go-round to go with your pin wheel, your pin wheel will have to supplement and will result in a barrel pull.
6. Glute muscles are leveraged when the hip is hinged. When the hip/femur are straight, the glute is not efficient at turning force into rotation.
7. The glute muscles (hip extenders) and the hip flexors are at odds with each other. When the hip is hinged deeply, the hip flexors are weak and this is a prime position to get full power from the glutes. However when the hip hinge is shallow (upright posture with femur/upper torso straight), the glutes are much weaker as they have to overcome tightness in the flexors.
The "tells". Here are some signs that there might be an issue:
- Is the upper torso mostly vertical when coiled?
- Is the belt line horizontal (might be bad) or is it tilted (buckle side tilted down) which is good?
- Is the athlete coiling too far back and losing sight of the pitcher?
- Does the athlete continue to struggle with pulling the hands around (maybe the hip isn't bringing them around)?
Sorry if all this sounds like jibberish. This is something that I have been studying a great deal. Key phrases for these issues are “quad dominance” and “glute activation”. This topic is becoming more popular online, but with regard to “fixes”, I’ve found a tremendous amount of bad information. We have spent (wasted!) years working on theories for improvement with marginal results. Only the “hyperarch” training has produced noticeable results.
I think this entire topic is generally overlooked for a couple of reasons. A-level (and beyond) athletes generally do not have these issues and therefore traditional training works well for them. B-level (and below) athletes tend to wash out of sports early mostly because traditional training is not effective for quad dominant people and thus the divide between them and the "athletes" grows significantly. It tends to come down to speed and studliness. Studs make the cut, but for non-studs, at least if you are fast coaches will make a spot for you. Sadly, if you are quad dominant, you are not fast and no level of traditional training will make you fast. Again, hyperarch training appears to be the only hope of resolving quad dominance.
If anyone is interested in learning more about hyperarch training, I have documented it in the link at the top of the page.
Long story short, here is my recommendation for people who suspect a posture issue:
1. Really compare your DD's coiled posture to the collage. Does she lack hip hinge?
2. Determine if your daughter tends to be "quad dominant". This test (link
) seems to be decent. In general pay specific attention to how she changes levels. Does she use quads to lower or does she naturally hip hinge to get low? If she is quad dominant, seek HA training immediately.
3. Next hitting session, play around with really exaggerated hip hinge angles and see how it effects her coil and snappiness.
Note: For quad dominant people, "exaggerated" hip hinge tends to be low-to-moderate hip hinge for athletes, so you might need to also try "really exaggerated" hip hinge...