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hitting for power

May 17, 2008
Hello everyone,
I am having an issue in games that I could use some help with. During practice, I hit very hard with someone pitching to me. When it comes to a game, I can identify the pitch location and take the same hard swing that I do in practice. However, the hit and the swing do not match. I swing hard, but yet have a weak hit. I know two things that I do are; hit the ball off the end of the bat or let the ball get too deep on an inside corner pitch. Any ideas of how I could correct either of those? Thanks
Oct 29, 2008

It is not an uncommon problem. And there are different causes of these kinds of timing issues. It could be as simple as the fact that opposing pitchers change speeds to deceive batters, and BP pitchers do not. Certainly, that is a factor in your problem, because it is a challenge for any hitter. But my guess is there is more.

Diagnosing this without seeing a clip is risky. However, MOST of the kids I have worked with who have this problem - which to at least SOME extent is most of the kids I have worked with - lose their mechanics in a game because they TRY to swing too hard IN THE WRONG WAY. Usually, by using the arms more. In other words, their arms get out of whack with the rest of their body, and they lose "connection."

What makes this really insiduous is that really emphasizing the arms often FEELS to the hitter as if she is swinging harder. And then the ball goes nowhere, so she tries to use her arms even harder to swing even harder yet. Downward spiral. Because the "feel" is a bad data point. Trying to uise the arms in a way that is out of whack with the body actually decreases swing quickness (elapsed time), which degrades the ability to time the pitch. AND, the same thing typically reduces bat speed as well. All while FEELING like you are swinging OK (hard and powerfully).

Try this experiment in batting practice, then in a live game - try to swing harder by concentrating on turning the hips as hard as you can. Don't think about the arms. In fcat for now, de-emphasize them. Let's see what happens.

Again, just a guess about what your problem is, but a reasonably well informed one. If you have the technology to post a clip, lots of people will be happy to assist you more accurately and specifically.

Best regards,

May 17, 2008
Hello Scott and group,
Thanks for the insight on feeling what is going on at the plate. What I feel when I am at bat is 1. my hands begin the motion (hands inside) and 2. the rest follows. You are right, what I don't feel probably as much as I should is the drive from the hips during the swing. I feel pretty consistently that my swing begins with my hands going toward the ball.
Being a pitcher (having experience with fast pitch) I am very aware of when I throw hard, the drive is from the hips and legs. The arm is there to get the ball from point A to point B. By feeling, I know when I don't use my legs and hips correctly when I throw. I am thinking the the same applies to hitting. So, what I am thinking is, as you said, to be more aware of the drive from my hips and legs as similar to fast pitch, when I am hitting. I have the ability to hit hard, but I do run into timing issues especially on the inside corner pitch. Thanks for your help.
May 7, 2008
San Rafael, Ca
fastpitch pitchers historically are often great hitters, less so more recently because of overspecialization.

they are often the best athlete on the team and have learned how to power a motion with the whole body/hips leading.

the windmill motion is also very much like the classic "2 plane" golf swing with the arm circle resisting the turning open of the hips to get a "connected" swing such that the body parts/levers add up/sum up sequentially and efficiently ("addition" in rightview terminology) to produce power and bathead control.

the similarity between the hip and body action and weight shift are big advantages to carry over from pitching and golf to hitting, but there are also important differences which is why the overspecialization these days tends to develop pitching skills at the expense of hitting.

the hitting swing is also very similar to the arm action of a good overhand throw, so to rebalance the overspecialization of windmill emphasis, it pays to specifically work on the mechanics of the overhand throw which, for example, is the basis for the Slaught/Candrea/Enquist/Rightview if you can throw you can hit approach to learning.

another good way to carry over the body action to the swing without disconnecting is the series of Epstein hitting drills with bat on deltoid.

Jim Hardy (golf instructor) on overspecialization:

Plane Truth Blog - Swedish PGA Teaching Summit Experience

Posted By: Jim Hardy on 5/17/2009
In March 2009, I was invited to be the lead speaker for two days at the Swedish PGA’s Teaching and Coaching Summit. First let me say that I had a wonderful time in Sweden. The people there are terrific, warm and generous hosts. They are also enthusiastic about golf. The professionals are very knowledgeable about both teaching and playing the sport. They are eager to learn and are completely open to hearing new ideas. Too often instructors become closed to thoughts that are different from their own and become very defensive. They unfairly criticize anything that doesn’t conform to their notions and close themselves off from learning. This is very much not the case in Sweden. The total membership in the Swedish PGA is around 600. There were over 400 in attendance at the Summit. That is a statement to their earnest desire to learn and be the best. It is easy to start to understand why such a small nation has such an impact on international sport. They want to be the best they can be in any endeavor.

It is to this notion that I am writing. The Swedes have a very different system of youth development than we do in the US. I think they have the right idea and it is one that I would certainly encourage that we as golf instructors should take note of and introduce into our junior programs. Their idea is to first develop the child/youth as an athlete and then encourage them to specialize in a particular sport. This makes tremendous sense to me. We do not learn great athletic ability from just one sport or endeavor. It is a combination of different sports that teaches and develops in us such things like strength, speed, ability to plant, pivot and throw, hand/eye co-ordination, reaction, trust in ourselves, balance, footwork, and many other traits I could name. The children/youth of Sweden are exposed to golf, hockey, soccer, skiing, running, throwing, hitting, catching, etc. They do not weed out a player from a sport just because at that time in the youth’s development they do not seem to have a talent for that particular endeavor. Instead they keep them in the sports and encourage and develop their skills. In this way the child develops in all athletic areas and doesn’t drop out of the ones that he/she is not good at initially. It develops the athlete first and then the specialist second.

Golf is a plant, pivot, throw sport where strength, speed, quickness, hand/eye co-ordination, reaction, nerve and steadiness in the face of adversity are all necessary. All these are athletic skills that are often better and more quickly learned from other sports. I, without even realizing it, have followed this program with my now 12 year old daughter. Virtually since she was three years of age she has participated in gymnastics, swimming, soccer, golf, basketball, softball, volleyball, track and field. She is currently on a select soccer team, plays varsity basketball, volleyball, and runs track and field for her middle school. She also shoots archery, rides horses, white water rafts, hikes and competes at golf. I do not know what sport/sports she will eventually excel and specialize in but I do know that she is an athlete. I made a conscious decision to do these things because of how turned off I was with the junior golf program in the US. We get children specialized in golf way too early. It is not an especially fun game for children as there is not a lot of running, shouting and laughing going on. In fact I am always shocked at how funeral-like the atmosphere is at junior tournaments. When I am there with my daughter I encourage her to laugh and have fun - even to skip down the fairway and to not take the whole thing that seriously. I know I am in the minority of parents with this attitude. The Swedes call early specialization the Russian method. As that is what that country did for so many years. In my opinion as well as the Swedes, it just doesn’t produce great athletes or, in my mind, well balanced children.

I want my daughter to compete in big junior tournaments....when she is 16, not 12. She, even at 16, will not be a touring junior golfer, competing every week all over the country. There is a season in our life for such things. If we get into the specialization too early, not only do we damage our child’s chance to develop as an athlete, we also risk seeing them face burnout from too much instruction, competition, pressure and specialization at too young an age. This is what they found out in Sweden. They certainly have gone the other way and have the record in international sports to prove they are right.

In closing, the Titleist Performance Institute has studied the Swedish model and agrees with it. They have spent a good deal of time over there. As a result of that and along with their own study, they have put together a junior golfer training program that is absolutely the best. It is a how-to-guide to run a junior program. It includes a large number of other sport disciplines that help train the juniors to become better athletes. They have a kit that professional instructors can order from their website that gives all the know how to run such a program. I could not recommend it any higher to all professionals running junior programs. It keeps the juniors attention, it is fun, interesting, challenging, athletic building and easy to do. Your junior programs will become a joy for you, the juniors and their parents.

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