Out of all of the hundreds of hitters that I have worked with, there is one thing that leads to most of the flaws seen in swings. That is posture. Get too upright and we lose power and hinder bat path. Get weight too far forward we lunge and impair bat path. Stay too far back and we limit power and so on. Most flaws in swings begin with a postural cause. Of the many different posture issues seen with hitters, one of the most common is an inability to get into a hip hinge position. Today we will discuss what a hip hinge position is, why it is important and how we can fix it.
WHAT IS A HIP HINGE POSITION? Think about the body hinging at the hips, the position of a basketball defender, a dead lift position, etc. The hallmarks of this position are the hips behind the heels and the head out in front of the feet. Watch this quick clip of Pete Alonso getting into and maintaining this position from launch position through contact.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? The hip hinge is important for three reasons.
1. Power generation In short, the hip hinge loads the biggest strongest muscles of the body right before we initiate the swing. Think about a deadlift. For most people who have good form and are injury free, the deadlift should be the most weight an athlete should lift in the gym. Why? The deadlift, which utilizes a hip hinge position, uses the hamstrings, glutes and other muscles of the posterior chain. These muscles are extremely big, powerful muscles. When we hit, getting them loaded is essential for power generation.
2. Covering the entire plate Take a look at this video of Cody Bellinger hitting a home run against the Mets. The biggest take away should be where he strides. Hitters are always taught not to step in the bucket. So how in the world can he reach outside pitches and hit them extremely well? Look at the position of his body when his stride foot hits the ground. Hips back, chest forward, head out in front of feet. This allows him to get closer to that outside pitch and cover the entire plate.
3. Proper Bat Path Every good hitter at high levels moves the bat on an upward plane. In order to achieve this, the back shoulder must drop. Beginning in a hip hinge allows this to happen and make it easier for the bat path to follow the plane of the shoulders by keeping the upper body tilted over home plate. Take a look at the video below.
HOW TO WORK ON THE HIP HINGE The first step in getting into a strong hip hinge posture is to know what that position feels like. Below is a drill to feel the position.