“Activity Does not Equal Productivity”
According to Webster:
• Activity– The state or quality of being active.
• Productivity– The efficiency with which work or output is produced.
Being active, does not mean we are efficient or productive. This principle applies in life, business and… you guessed it, hitting!
As hitters, we can generate impressive power and exert what feels like tons of energy, but many times all that hard work can be in vain. Increased activity does not necessarily lead to increased productivity.
To clarify, simply swinging hard is not maximally effective. We must learn to focus our energy to intensify our power. Maximizing pop begins with our front leg, the leg closest to the pitcher while standing in the box. When our front leg stays strong, the energy, drive and torque generated from the drive of our back side and the turning of our hips will efficiently drive through the ball. This focus allows even smaller, weaker hitters to discover power they did not know existed. Power to the weaklings!
However, if the front leg “breaks down,” much of a hitter's power will “leak out”. These are terms I use with hitters on a regular basis. We relate our power and drive to the visual of a high-powered laser. A laser beam is concentrated light focused on a very small spot that produces power with both accuracy and intensity. Light is typically not harmful, but when concentrated and focused, light in lasers can cut even heavy-duty metals like warm butter. On the other hand, a 12 volt 100 watt halogen flood bulb flashlight is bright, flashy and impressive but does not possess the ability to cut through a single sheet of paper.
As hitters, do we want the diluted power of a flashlight or the intense precision of a laser?
Many hitters swing like high-voltage flashlights. They are expending ridiculous amounts of energy, but that power is diffused and leaking all over the place. This leaking of power can cause strongly built hitters to consistently encounter struggles with their pop. To maximize our power, we must learn to be accurately and intensely laser focused.
As previously mentioned, the front leg must stay strong. Signs of a weak front leg include: excessive bend in the knee at the point of contact, jumping or lunging forward toward the pitcher, standing up on top of the straight front leg after follow through and finish, weight on the front foot rolling to the outside of the foot, the front toe opening away from home plate at more than a forty five degree angle or falling away from home plate at any point during the swing with weight on the heels.
In each of the scenarios above, power is leaking out away from the Power Line. Our Power Line is an imaginary line from the back tip of home plate through center field. Generally speaking, we want to keep our power and energy moving through the Power Line. This line changes slightly for inside and outside pitches, but driving the ball up the middle is typically positive.
Pressure Points is one of the most effective drills I have discovered to help hitters feel the firm front side and stay focused through the Power Line. Place a kick ball between the upper thighs. The stance may need to be narrowed slightly, but feet should stay wider than shoulder width. Hold the ball by squeezing the knees in toward the center of the body, and feel the pressure at both points where the ball pushes against the inner legs. Then, swing and drive hard with the lower body, while the kickball stays in place. The ball will feel awkward, at first, but do not hold back when swinging. The goal is to feel the back leg, thigh and knee drive into the firm front leg, thigh and knee. If the front leg bends or the front foot opens, there will be less pressure felt against the front side. The focus: driving from the back side through the kickball and into the front leg. The object is not to rotate around the ball, but to apply great pressure to the ball by driving the back side into the firm front leg.
Gradually drive harder and harder with the back leg and hips and through the progression feel the front leg staying stronger and stronger. The harder the drive with the back side, the stronger the front leg must be to keep a laser focus on the Power Line.
Hint: keep the weight of the body distributed on the insides of the feet. This keeps a strong center of gravity, which promotes good balance and the ability to effectively drive through the Power Line. This also keeps the kickball securely in place. If the weight shifts to the middle or outsides of the feet… splat. The hitter lays an egg!
After feeling the pressure against the front leg and mastering the weight distribution on the insides of the feet, remove the ball and feel the same pressure against the front side without the ball present. Imagine driving the back side through the strong front side. As efficient hitters, we do not simply transfer our weight to our front leg; we must drive all power and energy with laser focus through our front leg.
Truly maximized power is not flashy but laser focused.
|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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