Do NOT Do the Chuck-It Drill For Hitting
Swing instruction in baseball sure is a peculiar little nitch. What I've observed in my twenty years of working in it, is that if something is novel and neat at the same time, it's likely to get a lot of people implementing it to improve their hitting. Whether the philosophy behind it makes logical sense doesn't seem to matter as much. If it's interesting, people seem to automatically assume it's also effective.
The Chuck-It drill in baseball is one of those ideas. I don't know who started this fad, but it's ruining swings at an astonishing pace. It seems many people online are crediting Doug Latta for inventing it.
Basically, it goes like this: A throw is not a swing. Seems obvious. Why WOULD a throw be just like a swing? I mean, they are different tasks altogether. And therefore the mechanics required are going to be different. In the throw, you have the object that you are sending forward and you release the object. In the swing, you don't have the object you are sending forward and you only make very brief contact with it to send it forward.
Shouldn't this be obvious? I mean, the mechanics are going to be different when the objectives are so different. In swing instruction it apparently isn't very obvious, since the chuck-it drill is gaining in popularity. It seems, as long as it's novel, anything goes in today's swing instruction.
Here's specifically why practicing a throw move for your swing is bad: In a throw, the ball is released when the object releasing it is bent backwards - the object either being your hand and forearm or the chuck-it tool. So when you throw a ball, your arm and hand are still bent backwards when the ball leaves the hand. But in a swing, you actually want the object hitting (the bat) to be bending forward at contact. This forward bend applies a tremendous amount of speed or slap to the hit. Therefore, if you practice a cadence that times contact when the bat is bending backward, as the chuck-it drill does, then you will be timing a swing in which the bat is bending backward. This results in very little power and consistency.
You may be wondering how I know that you want to have the most possible forward bend of the bat prior to contact. In the early 90's, Dr. Larry Noble, doing work for Easton, discovered that the bat bends forward prior to contact, contrary to what most assumed at the time. And, he also discovered that this forward bend contributes to the overall force delivered to the ball, and so having more forward bend (all else being equal) will deliver more force to the hit.
That's why the Chuck-It drill for baseball is a big problem. Instead of moving toward having more forward bend through contact, you are training yourself to have backward bend, the exact thing you don't want.
In the video above, you see Doug Latta doing what he thinks is a bad swing but it's actually good, and then you see him doing what he thinks is a good swing, and it's actually bad. And it's not my opinion that he has it wrong. It's fact. All you have to do is look at the video evidence of the greatest hitters of all time.
We have to stop giving equal value to all comers in swing instruction. Some ideas are not worth the paper they're written on and shouldn't ever be promulgated at all, much less viewed and followed by thousands of hopeful hitters. The bottom line is that Doug Latta has simply not done very much study when it comes to the baseball swing. Not trying to be a jerk here. If you think I am, just google "Career OPS+ Leaders," then subtract the hitters who took steroids. This will give you a list of some of the baseball swings of all time. Then google all the names that you see plus "swing." Look at their swings. Do any of them look like Latta wants you to look?