21st Century Hitting Model (Part 3)

By Rob Crews

Softball Junk

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21st Century Hitting Model The Kinematic Sequence

The Kinematic Sequence

Thanks for reading the SWAG 101 column. We are in our 3rd communication of this multi-part series called the 21st Century Hitting Model. I am focused on the cognitive process because there are so many styles and philosophies of hitting and how to get it done that I wanted to concentrate more on the the parameters that are universal. These are the things that every hitter must do, no matter the swing style.

In this particular essay, we will focus on the Kinematic Sequence – a necessary process for executing the proper sequence, rhythm, and speed of body movements for maximum efficiency of transfer of energy and power. This energy or power transfer happens from the ground up – that is, through a hitter's feet into the hands or barrel.

With 200 foot fences, juiced up bats and a pitching shortage, we should be hitting more homeruns. Right? I mean we are enrolled in speed, agility, and strength classes and getting so much stronger now. It all comes down to power -or the lack thereof. Power is about mechanics, the speed and sequence of how the body moves is what drives barrel efficiency. So if you take a team (with a poor kinematic sequence) to the weight room and I take a team (with a good kinematic sequence) to the batting tees (and skip weights), I will hit more homeruns than you every time. Why because power is nothing without the execution of it. Therefore, we need a combination of both. I am finding there are so many strong bodies who never realize power due to lack of knowledge or movement sequence necessary to execute it!

So let's take a look at the back foot of your hitters. For the lack of power or the lack of executing power properly, is mainly due to the direction of the back foot during the approach to the ball. The spinning or turning of the back foot is what causes the front hip, front shoulder, front elbow, hands, head, and ultimately the barrel to fly open either too much or too soon. Basically, if your hitters are still “squashing the bug” or flipping their shoe-laces toward the pitcher, then you are hitting in the 20th century. Spinning causes leakage -leakage of power.

So what should the back foot actually do if it shouldn't spin? We really want to encourage our hitters to drive the back knee toward the pitcher. This movement positions and supports the proper direction of the back foot. When everything happens in this order and moves in this direction we have promoted a more efficient, effective, powerful swing.

Proper Kinematic Sequence for Hitting

Big Toe (backfoot) Pushing not spinning
Knee Drive into Front Foot
Back Elbow in the Power L Slot
Proper Bat Lag- Hands Lead the Barrel in the palm up -palm down position
Extension thru the ball

In order to promote power, we need our hitters to push from the big toe. If the back foot spins, it becomes difficult to execute parts 2 thru 5. When certain parts of a hitter's body are moving in opposite directions it can cause take away from the natural process of directing energy and power into the ball.

Timing, Pitch Interpretation, and Decision Making, all mental processes, actually occur during this physical kinematic process of hitting. In fact, this physical process has an extraordinary effect on the mental process. And in the reverse, the mental process can have an effect on the physical process.

For example, when the back foot spins, the front hip naturally wants to fly open. However, we know that in order for proper timing to happen, the back side of the body needs to be in motion before commitment. Back foot spinners are usually so far open with the front hip so soon that puts the hands in an impossible position to drive a dropball, outside pitch, or change-up with any real authority.

However, when the back foot allows the back knee and big toe to initiate and direct the torso we get efficiency. We get better movement sequence and direction, combined with proper tempos and speed. With everything going in a the right direction, we are naturally stronger, more balanced and coordinated. We have power. With this swing, the weight-room becomes relevant.

Remember that the understanding of the science of how the brain functions and how the body moves should be incorporated into how we teach the various aspects of the game.

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Rob Crews Rob Crews is based in Southern New York, and is one of the most sought after hitting coaches in the country. He is the Author of the book, Complete Game: The Emotional Dynamics of In-Game Focus.Rob provides consultant services for hitting coaches and develops hitting models for professional, olympic, and amateur softball and baseball programs. He served as the hitting coach for USSSA Pride (NPF) in their 2010 championship season, along with Tim Walton (UF), and Beth Torina (LSU).

As a consultant to companies like SKLZ, AXIS Bats, Bratt Sports, and MicroGate USA, Rob is continually developing comprehensive accelerated training systems that involve modern sports psych, neuromechanics, and visual strategies for efficiency in recognition and tracking.

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