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Creating Stretch (Like Betts or Acuna)

What makes Ronald Acuna and Mookie Betts the best hitters on the planet? Well, a lot of things. However, today I want to focus in on one of the biggest things that these 2 (amongst hundreds of other high level hitters) do to create power: loading the hands to create stretch. Loading the hands is something that many players are either taught not to do or are taught incorrectly. Today I want to discuss why loading the hands is important and how it should be done.

What is "Loading the hands?"

When we discuss loading the hands, we are talking about getting the hands to reach their furthest point back at the moment the lower body is producing the most force into the ground (ideally, when the front foot lands in the ground). For those who have trained at Elite Diamond Performance, this point would be the "launch position."

Check out this video of Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna and Ken Griffey Jr. loading the hands.

Notice how the hands have reached their furthest point back at the moment the front foot is planted in the ground. The way that we like to have hitters view this is to picture a rubber band tied from their hands to their front hip. Notice how that "stretch" reaches it's max as the front foot lands in the ground.


In order to create power, the body must sequence rotation in the correct order. The kinetic sequence in any rotational movement should be as follows: hips, torso, front arm, hands. In an efficient, powerful swing, energy will flow up the chain in this order.

When talking about loading the hands, we are really discussing the link between the torso and the lead or front arm. In order to transfer energy between these 2 segments, the hitter must stretch the biggest muscles in the upper body : the lats. The lats are the biggest muscle in the upper body and connect from the arm pit to the pelvis.

When a hitter stretches this huge muscle, energy can be transferred from the torso to the front arm and eventually into creating maximal bat speed. This loading of the hands rearward as the body moves forward is how a hitter gets this muscle to stretch.


Many hitters are taught to keep the hands close to the body and not load the hands. Some are taught to load the hands back but are missing a key component of this mechanic: timing. The timing of when the hands reach their max stretch is vital to power generation. Notice the point when the hands reach their furthest point back: when the front foot lands in the ground. This is vital for 2 reasons. First, the closer to firing a stretch occurs, the more energy can be delivered. Second, this is the point when the lower body should be contributing the most to power generation. If the hands get back too soon or begin to move forward as the front foot lands, the hitter cannot use that energy they are obtaining from the ground.

The goal of loading the hands to create stretch is to have the hands back at their furthest point when the front foot lands in the ground.

How to train loading the hands

Foam Roller on wall to Launch


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