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Maintaining connection to launch

Ken Krause

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May 7, 2008
3,474
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Mundelein, IL
There are all kinds of pieces that are involved in developing a quality, high level swing. But one of the toughest to achieve, from what I've seen is something called "connection." That's the proper name for the concept of tying the hands to the back shoulder in the early part of the swing and keeping them there until launch.

This is a very important factor in developing a "high level" swing. It's something all great hitters do. But it's easier said than done.

What often happens early in the swing is hitters will push their hands back as they begin their positive move forward. When that occurs, the hands have become disconnected from the back shoulder, and now have to cover a lot more ground to get to the contact point. The act of pushing the hands back will cause the front arm to "bar out" (a fancy term for getting straight to early), creating a long, slow swing. It is also one of the leading causes of bat drag, the condition where the elbow on the top hand gets ahead of the hands during rotation.

Unless you have a lot of experience it can be difficult to spot whether connection is being maintained or not during the swing. Here's where video can be helpful. Shooting video from the side will allow you to walk through the swing, frame by frame, and see whether the hands are getting behind during the swing.

So what can you do if they are? One good drill is to use only the bottom hand to swing the bat to hit a ball off the tee. Have the hitter hold the bat at about the top of the tape with her bottom hand. Her arm should be bent, creating a V. Then have her move through her normal swing -- negative move, postive stride/weight shift forward, rotate the hips and then shoulders, then pull the bat through the hitting zone, getting to extension and finish. Many hitters who lose connection do so because either the bottom hand pushes back, or it is weak coming through the zone. This drill will help them feel what it's like to keep the bottom hand in place, and use it to get the bat moving properly.

If access to a gym or space is limited, another thing hitters can do is grab the back shoulder of their shirts, then go through their swing holding it until it's time to get to the contact zone.

Yet another good drill is to hold a Frisbee with the bottom hand, and with the hands at the back shoulder. Then go through the swing. As the hands come into the contact zone, the hitters throw the Frisbee directly forward. Just make sure they don't wind up with their hands way to the back before bringing them forward.

Here's a link to a good example of a hitter maintaining connection. You have to have Quicktime to view it. If you need to download Quicktime, click here.

More...
 
May 12, 2008
2,217
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I think Benyi, Rivera and Smith are better examples of connection. Fastpitch

As for arm barring, walking away from the hands, pushing the hands back during the stride/momentum development/shift/forward move, well that depends. I can show you plenty of high level fp and MLB hitters who do load moving their hands back and loading their scaps/shoulder complex as they shift forward. OTOH, Benyi does just as you describe. Whatever gets you to a good loaded launch position on time.

As to barring specifically, Griffey tends to bar. But then again he struggles with the inside on the hands pitch. Still, he's done OK. I'd say barring is creating a longer radius giving away a little quickness for a little bat speed. Depends on your gifts and goals. ML hitters get paid a lot for home runs. I'm more than pleased with a parade of doubles from a fp team. Different goals.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,474
48
Mundelein, IL
What I find with the arm barring or walking away from the hands is the hitters I work with who do it tend to wind up with some level of bat drag. The lead arm straightens out because the hands push back, then they start pulling the back elbow. It gets ahead of the hands and all you know what breaks lose. Maybe MLB hitters can get away with it. The average 12 to 18 year old female cannot, in my opinion.

As for the clip, from what I can see I'm not a fan of that swing. Not only does the arm bar, but in frames 16 and 17 the bat starts casting out. The pitch appears to be on the outer half of the plate, but the hitter dead pulls it, suggesting to me he hit around the pitch instead of keeping the hands in and hitting it where it's pitched. Again, just my opinion
 
May 12, 2008
2,217
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Maybe your results indicate young females' limitiations or perhaps you are missing a piece of the puzzle. (said in respect since we all are)
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,474
48
Mundelein, IL
Perhaps. When I'm seeing bat drag, though, it seems like the hands pushing backward is a part of it. The key is once they go back, in the hitters I'm seeing, they stay back there instead of the bottom hand pulling.

Maybe it isn't so much the pushing back, but the staying back. Either way, once that front arm locks, the back elbow seems to get ahead. I'm open to alternative explanations, though.
 
May 12, 2008
2,217
0
I find the way rotation is initiated and bat drag to most times be related and probably causal. Fan open the front leg from a vertical spine position rather than more of a dead lift position, use the hands and arms to line up the bat and ball and then drag the bat through the zone behind the elbows. I think it has to do with motor learning patterns used to solve movement problems starting with the first time we reach for the sippy cup. I suggest questioning Englishbey on the subject.
 

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