That Strange Move You See Hitters Do in the On Deck Circle
I know you've seen it. That move where hitters artificially hold the angle of the bat with their wrists and arms after contact. It's completely unrealistic to think you're going to be able to do this in a regular, full speed swing. You have to earn this positioning at (what I call) the delivery position. And you earn it by feeling the right movement at the very start of the forward swing.
At the start of the forward swing, you want to feel your front arm straight and compressing against your chest. That way the redirection of the bat happens more "behind" you rather than in front. If redirection happens in front, then two bad things happen - 1) the bat never bends far forward at contact and 2) you can a short distance that the barrel is square through the zone. In a nutshell, this means low levels of power and consistency.
Exactly ZERO other swing coaches are talking about point number one - the bending of the bat. But it's something that in the very near future will be talked about a lot. Dr. Larry Noble, professor emeritus at Kansas State University, worked with Easton in the early 90s, to discover a better way to make a bat. Trying to find ways of improving performance by altering equipment is a subject that doesn't interest me at all. After all, anyone can just buy the bat and become a better hitter. What fun is that. What challenge is that. (The Axe Bat comes to mind). My interest is in enhancing your TRAINING to become a better hitter. Nevertheless, Noble discovered that the more the bat is bending forward, the more slap was put on the ball. What he failed to notice is that the greatest hitters have more forward bend of the bat at contact than everyone else. This is because the redirection of the bat happens well behind them, and therefore the backward bending of the bat has plenty of distance to rebound and turn into forward bend.
Here is an illustration of a bad forward bend and a good forward bend. The amount of bend you see in the bat is exaggerated to show the difference.
Notice that redirecting the bat more "behind you" allows the bat to bend much farther forward through contact.
As for consistency, increasing the distance that the barrel is square through the zone is something I wrote about in 2009 in my book Positional Hitting. I call it the "moving fulcrum effect" and regard it as the most important system in the swing of great hitters. Again, it is created by having the redirection of the bat happen well behind you, so that the barrel fires into the zone while the back arm is still well bent. The more extended the back arm, the closer the swing is to being over. Therefore, by getting the barrel to fire outward while the back arm is still well bent means you are getting the barrel into the zone early, and allowing it to stay there for a long time.
While it's only a little bit, notice that redirecting the bat with a straighter, more compressed front arm allows you to get a few more inches of the bat being square through contact. A few more inches over the course of season equals many more points on your batting average. It's the difference between a .270 hitter and a .350 hitter.
Please let me know what you guys would like me to address with regard to the swing. It's my mission to help coaches, parents and players evolve their understanding. At some point, we all need to get on the same page with regard to what positions and movements are favorable, and which ones are detrimental. At some point it won't be opinion.