One key to maximizing power at the plate is loading to our Back Side (not to be confused with the “backside”). Booty, bum, buns, fanny, behind, glutes, buttox, derriere etc. are all typical interpretations of the term backside, but as hitters we want to max1m1ze our power by understanding the importance of the Back Side. The Back Side when hitting may seem a little, well, twisted. The half of our body closest to the catcher while in the hitter's box is our Back Side (right side for right-handed hitters and left side for left-handed hitters). The Back Side has nothing to do with the anterior (front) or posterior (back) sides of the body but everything to do with our body relative to the playing field.
As hitters, when we understand how to most effectively utilize our Back Side, we can increase both power and consistency. When beginning our swing, we want to “load”. I like to think of loading as similar to shooting a bow and arrow. When shooting a bow, we insert the arrow, pull the bow string back and then let it fly, right? What if I insert the arrow, barely pull the bow string and let go? That seems crazy because we would simply shoot a dud of an arrow!
Trying to hit without loading is almost as ludicrous as attempting to shoot a bow and arrow while barely moving the bow string. When shooting the bow, pulling back hard on the bow string creates what scientists call potential energy. Potential energy is energy that is stored up but not yet moving. Just as pulling back the bow string creates potential energy waiting to be released through the arrow, loading before we start forward in our swing stores up potential energy and power that will be released as we explode through the ball.
Loading in the box means shifting weight to our Back Side (right or left toward the catcher, not the conventional thought of front verses back). As hitters, we want to load toward the catcher in order to explode through the ball. Exploding to contact is like releasing the bow string and igniting all its stored power/energy.
Some hitters do not load much at all, while others may load completely out of control and off balance. A strong, balanced load is essential to maximizing both power and consistency as hitters.
An undisciplined load can take several forms. Some hitters shift their weight back so far that the upper body leans back and the shoulders tilt backward, as well. This posture predisposes hitters to pop-flies and fly balls. When the back shoulder drops, the hands typically follow, making it difficult to hit line drives consistently. Hello can-o-corn. Goodbye high batting average. If habitually leaning back is an issue, hitters can picture a pole going through the body, from the top of the head, down the middle of the body, extending all the way to the ground. They should work to stay tall, strong and balanced, like the poll, throughout the entire swing. Some tilt is completely acceptable. This will happen naturally, though. If the hitter focuses on feeling tall, strong and balanced, better results usually follow.
Other hitters load backward so far that the back knee actually moves over and outside the back foot. We are strongest and most balanced when our knees stay between our feet. If hitters concentrate on keeping their weight on the insides of their feet, this keeps the knees in tight and creates a strong, balanced center of gravity.
Try it! Round 1: Stand in the typical hitting stance, with weight evenly distributed over the middle of both feet. Now, load aggressively back toward the catcher as if preparing to swing.
Round 2: Re-set the hitting stance, and then shift weight to the insides of the feet. If there was a kickball positioned between the knees, it should not fall to the ground. This may feel a little strange or uncomfortable, but over exaggerate shifting the weight to the insides of the feet. Now load again, as if preparing to hit. Round 2 should feel much stronger and more balanced. This creates a solid base and some serious lower-half leverage!
The Back Side is immensely important. After loading, it is critical to then drive through the ball from the Back Side while engaging our actual backside. Driving from the Back Side rather than pulling forward with the Front Side is crucial. If our first forward movement begins with the Front Side (front shoulder, elbow or leg), we end up pulling away from the hitting zone. We also usually create tension in the upper body. Tight muscles are slow muscles.
When we start from the Back Side, we can trust our hands, keeping them quick and smooth. Our legs do the hard work. Once we load toward the catcher on the Back Side, we then want to drive with our backside (our gluteus maximus, ba-donka-donk, junk-in-the-trunk, derriere!) through the ball. We actually want to think of driving our back butt cheek through center field. This focus will help maximize the drive of the lower half (increasing power).
It will also keep the body balanced and driving through the ball, rather than falling backward or pulling away (increasing consistency).
Load to the Back Side and explode with the backside to maximize both power and consistency!
|Charity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.Charity is the founder of Exceed Sports, LLC, and of the I Heart Fastpitch Campaign Join Charity On: Twitter, and on Instagram|
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