There are about a thousand things that go into hitting. You will find guys that make millions of dollars swinging a bat that do certain things in completely different ways. This is what makes coaching hitters fun. Finding what works for each hitter’s unique make up to help them have the most success. However, among all of these potential areas of uniqueness, there are 2 things that I have seen across every successful hitter that I have ever worked with. Today I want to discuss what these are and why these are so vital to success at the plate to the point that I am not willing to bend from them.
1. BAT PATH
Probably the area that I get the most questions about and the most initial pushback is the way that the bat moves through the hitting zone. I have written a ton on the subject of bath path with some articles you can check out here and here and here. Essentially they all sum it up in one point, the bat needs to move up through the hitting zone. Why? Every pitch in baseball moves on a downward trajectory of somewhere between - 5 and -15 degrees. This means that in order to have the best chance of squaring the ball up and help hitters best with their timing, the bat needs to move up somewhere in this 5 to 15 degrees. Without belaboring the point, the whole topic is best summed up by Ted Williams in this graphic from his book.
2. KINETIC SEQUENCING Before I get into number 2, it is important that you understand what the kinetic chain is. Check out an article explaining it here.
Every great hitter that I have ever studied begins and ends their kinetic chain in the same order. Essentially, the hips begin rotating first, then the torso then the arms and hands last. Why is this so important? 2 main reasons.
Number 1: It allows the hitter to generate power. Without going into a lengthy discussion, the way that the body generates power in any rotational movement, such as hitting, is the same. in order to reach max power output, the body must sequence in this order.
Number 2: Sequencing in the correct order allows the hitter more time to see the baseball by keeping the hands from committing too soon. This gives the hitter more time to recognize spin, speed and location before committing to the ball.
Check out this slow motion clip highlighting the body sequencing with the hips first and the hands last.
As I stated earlier, there are an infinite ways to swing a baseball bat. However, among all of these things, 2 things must be seen for a hitter to have maximum success: upward bath path and proper kinematic sequencing.