We wanted to do a hitting follow up about another important essential when it comes to the best hitters. Like we’ve have said, what we like to do when it comes to figuring out the proper swing is watch the people that are the best at it. The two hitters that we am going to use as an example for this article are Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey…they are dudes.
We have heard a lot of hitting people talk about the importance of loading into the heel of your back foot, in order to store the energy more into your hip. After messing around with it ourselves, and teaching it to some players that looked like they could benefit from it, we have turned into a big fan. Too many hitters load more into the ball of their foot, which ultimately creates more of a push move to the baseball. When hitters do this, we see many things: 1) hip drift, 2) a hitter that is reliant on one speed and doesn’t give himself the chance to have adjustability, 3) balance issues (inability to maintain a centered/balanced/strong position), 4) feet that are not grounded in a position to use the ground as leverage, 5) inconsistent posture. The comparison we use are starting blocks for track runners. These blocks put the runner in a position to explode off the ball of their foot…in hitting, we don’t want that. We simply want to put ourselves in a position where we land in a strong athletic hitting position (see our last hitting article) so we can be in a centered position to explode our back hip to the ball, with a tight turn to the baseball.
How we load/store energy into our back hip is essential in getting us into this strong athletic hitting position consistently. The main concept of this that we think is very important is being able to maintain the shape of our back leg from when in our batting stance, all the way to when our front heel plants after our stride and separation…likewise, also maintain a knee angle in front of our back foot during this process as well. The Pastime Athletics channel on YouTube is perfect for searching videos of Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey. Take some time to watch some swings of Cabrera and Posey.
When Cabrera and Posey start their load, they get into their back heel which helps them feel the energy stored into their back hip. This action helps them maintain the shape, and angle of their back knee. When they make their forward move and the front foot is down and into the ground, you then see the back knee form a further angle away from their back foot as their head stays in the middle of their body thanks to a strong front side, this is the start of the “ground, up” swing. How they load helps this process take place.
There are several things that “loading into the back heel to maintain back knee shape and angle,” helps create: 1) a strong/balanced hitter, 2) a hitter who is better able to control their forward move, 3) a hitter that can land in a consistent hitting spot at front heel plant, 4) a hitter that can maintain posture, 5) a hitter that can create a ground up/directional/explosive swing. These hitters have a backside that works.
Many young hitters are sway loaders, where their hips sway back as they attempt to store energy (the back knee gets over or behind the back foot), and then they sway forward to get their front foot down. This makes it really tough to be consistent.
In conclusion, the best hitters consistently get in a good spot to hit. How they load their energy directly impacts their ability to be in a good spot to hit. Loading into the back heel, so we can maintain bend in the back knee, and our knee to foot angle, seems to be an essential aspect for some of the best hitters in the world.