Our hitting philosophy is based off of a rotational axis concept. The main goal is to minimize head movement and to maximize bat speed. In order to do that, we must make every hitter properly balanced on the ground throughout their swing. We tend to teach a pretty similar stance to young players as they are not usually advanced enough to process motions that include toe taps and open stances. We do this to eliminate any unnecessary motions which may cause error in their mechanics, creating a bad habit and or bad result. We want to keep the swing simple. We do not teach every hitter to swing the same exact way. Each player is different with athletic ability, some and usually very few are more advanced. Advanced hitters may experiment the open stance or toe tap as previously stated. We instruct the average hitter to use a stance similar the pictures seen in the photos. Notice how each hitter appears to be in a strong and well balanced position ready to explode in to the ball.
Here are a few unorthodox batting stance’s. Some people will say, these hitters hit this way because it is what is comfortable to them. In reality, yes it is comfortable them. But why? It’s because they have been doing it for so long. If you made a change and they practiced it for a few thousand swings, it would work as well. In fact, it would probably work better if the changes made are the correct changes and the player learns to accept them, this tends to be easier at an earlier age. Some players are not coachable and it is nearly impossible to change anything with their swing. These players restrict their limitations and prevent themselves from really becoming the best they can be. You may notice one or two of the players in the photos and think, they were a good player. In fact one of them played 10 years in the big leagues and has a career average of .281 with 150 home runs. That’s not bad, however is it possible he could have hit .321 with 300 career home runs if he didn’t have such an unorthodox stance. Yes, definitely. In fact, there are very few super stars in the big leagues with an unorthodox stance. Simply because it comes with so many flaws and mechanical errors, that it prevents the hitter from reaching their full potential. Certain statistics have become acceptable in the big leagues and as long as they put up certain numbers, they remain in the big leagues. But why not be better? Why can’t you be better? The answer is simple. You can. Learn to accept change and practice it repeatedly.
The end result is to get every hitter to the same contact position as seen in the photos. There is really only one correct contact/power position that should be taught when hitting, with the exception of the contact point being slightly deeper (changing the bat angle) in the zone the farther the pitch is away from the hitter. If you see anything else that is much different from the photos, it is incorrect. Even if a hitter may get a hit with a different contact position, it does not mean they meant to swing that way. It is most likely the result of getting fooled on the pitch or not being able to time the ball. There are some hitters out there that don’t hit for power that are successful. The reason they are successful is because of a great mental approach. They are confident, swing at strikes, hit the ball where it is pitched, etc. They also have God given ability, such as great vision, strength and good eye hand coordination. Even so, many hitters that don’t hit consistently for power still launch extra base hits now and then and they are usually right around the same contact position as seen.
Want to see some bad mechanics? Check out the pictures below. Some of the best hitters in the world will swing poorly quite often due to not timing the ball. Again, most do not actually try to swing that way, it is just a normal reaction when getting fooled on a pitch, especially with two strikes to avoid striking out. Always remember, that just because you see a professional baseball player hit a certain way and get a hit, does not mean that is the correct way. A few pictures below are of the same hitters above.
In the photo you can see Lucas Duda on the New York Mets hit a homer while being out in front. The swing was clearly a bad swing but then again it only takes a bat speed in the upper 70’s to hit a 90 plus mile per hour fast ball out of the park. Is a bat speed in the upper 70’s good? Not at all. If a player maintains that bat speed and continues to hit the ball in other areas of the field, the fielders will more than likely field the ball and throw them out. In fact, most of the time they will probably not even be able to catch up to the faster pitches with that slow of bat speed. The goal is to maximize a hitters bat speed, so even if they get jammed on the handle, the ball can still find its way over the third basemen for what we call a texas leaguer or bloop single. A great professional bat speed is 100mph and greater. Rotational Axis hitting will allow you to achieve that feat. Power comes from bat speed and every hitters goal should be to maximize bat speed.
With age, players are able to listen better and obtain more body awareness and coordination, at that point we can experiment with mechanics such as an open stance or toe tap. Advanced coordinated players can typically start to experiment with these type of mechanics at around 12-14 years old and average coordinated players experimenting from 14-17 years old. If the hitter can’t land with their feet even or close to it on contact, an open stance will not work. If a hitter has trouble getting their front foot down in time, a toe tap might not work. It all comes down to body control. See the picture below of what a good open stance might look like. Keep in mind, it only works if he closes up as he starts his load and goes in to his stride.
In addition we would like to add that YES a players goal is to drive the ball in to the outfield. You don’t get paid the big bucks in the big leagues to hit the ball on the ground. However, there are differences on what your goal may be and what you may try to actually do while in the batters box. Trying to do something can be totally different than your end result (goal). Trying to lift the ball in the air is not a great approach. Major Leaguer, Josh Donaldson, has said that hitters should try to hit the bottom half of the ball and try to elevate it. Other hitters like Chipper Jones would strongly disagree with that statement. If you pay attention to a major league baseball game and you count how many swing and misses there are under the ball, how many pop ups in the infield, how many fly balls to the outfield and how may pop fly’s in foul territory there are, you would be amazed. All come from hitting too low on the ball. Now on the other hand, ground balls are also hit frequently as well, but that is usually because of rolling the top hand over, which is a mechanical adjustment not because the hitter’s goal was to hit the top of the ball…which means: not because of the hitters approach. If a hitter tries to hit the top half of the ball and keeps his top hand palm up, he is very likely to drive through the center or slightly below the center of the ball. Of course every time a player shows up to the ball park it is also their job to make adjustments, sometimes a bat path may just be off. I mean after all, you can’t have your bat going downward towards the ground on actual impact because you will beat the ball in to the ground. Pay attention to your results and if they aren’t what you want to get, try and adjust what you are TRYING to do.
Below you can see a picture of a pretty decent bat path. However he may be a little too extended on the contact point as your arms want to be a little bit more bent where they are stronger.
In most cases when we have new players come in to our facility to seek hitting instruction, they come in with bad habits and a swing they are used to. It is a swing they are most comfortable with. So with that, anything that is changed by an instructor is going to seem very uncomfortable at first. No matter what it is, it will seem discomforting but in time we will create new muscle memory. The new muscle memory will mold to the hitters body and become natural over time. We generally tell a hitter that in about 8-10 sessions (once per week), they will eliminate most of their bad habits and create a new and improved swing. A few players don’t really enjoy the first session and therefore object to coming a second time. Those that come back for those 8-10 sessions will be glad they continued as they will start to see better results. Remember, kids have to be pushed if they want to achieve their longterm goals.