Weight shift is a very delicate part of hitting mechanics. Get too far out front and bat path and timing get messed up. Keep too much weight back and we can screw with bat path and limit power. Weight shift is unlike most flaws seen in swings. Where with most flaws most hitters tend to fall on one side weight shift is different. I probably see just as many players who stay back too much as players who shift too far forward. Today I want to review why we weight shift, what it should look like, implications if we are at either extreme, and how to work on it.
What should weight shift look like?
Counter movement: The initial phase of weight shift is loading back onto the back leg. This helps to load the muscles of the back hip to transfer energy.
Weight shift: The weight shift occurs as soon as the lower body begins to move weight forward. For most hitters, this phase begins right around the time of ball release.
Stabilizing: The final phase is when the front leg absorbs the force of the weight shift and no more linear (forward) movement occurs. In high level hitters this is seen right when the heel of the front foot is planted in the ground.
Why do I need to shift my weight?
Simplest answer is power. Lets follow the way that high level hitters transfer weight. In phase 1, the energy in the lower body is transferred to the muscles of the back hip. From here, that energy is transferred to the front leg. Once the front leg stabilizes (stops moving forward), that energy is sent back up through the body as the body begins to rotate. Without a weight shift, the swing would lack the energy to generate maximum power.
Now, lets take a look at what happens when we get too far to either end of the weight shift spectrum.
Sitting back (not shifting enough weight forward)
What it looks like: Head stays over back leg. No forward shift. Back shoulder drops too soon
Lack of power: As discussed earlier, the primary reason for a weight shift is to help energy transfer in the lower body to generate maximum power. Sitting back also causes the upper body to unload too early leading to a lack of stretch through the middle of the body which also limits power.
Impaired bat path: Check out this article from a few years ago. To summarize, the more I lean back, the more natural it is for the bat to move up through the zone, and vice versa. The more a hitter sits back and doesn’t transfer weight, the more the hitter is inclined to move the bat at too steep of an incline through the zone.
Drill: Dowel dry swings
Get into stance
Feel the wight load back and shift forward so that the head is in the middle of the body with stick pointing down the baseline.
Lunging (shifting too much weight forward) Full Article on Lunging Here
What it looks like: Heavy landing on front side. Head over front leg. Too upright
Problems with Lunging
Impaired Bat Path: As discussed above, the body position is a key factor in a correct, slightly inclined bat path. When a hitter gets shifted too far forward, the hitter loses the ability to drop the back side and move the bat up through the zone. This causes hitters to either swing level or down and try to create the proper path with just arms. Many times hitters who lunge will create hard ground balls to the pull side and weak fly balls to the opposite field.
Timing Issues: The biggest key to timing is having the ability to keep the upper body back in the most loaded position until the swing fires. This is nearly impossible to do when too much weight gets shifted onto the front side.
Lack of power: Many times, hitters who lunge limit power because they don’t have the strength or stability on the front leg to absorb all of the force being place on it. Without the final phase of the weight shift, energy cannot be redirected back through the body and into rotation. This causes an energy leak and limits how much power can be created.
Drill: Deep Tee Drill