Over the last few months Zach (my fellow youth pastor) and I have been out and about in our community sharing time and thoughts with various squads and teams in our local schools. This has been a great time and a great experience. I have enjoyed spending time with these athletes as they prepare and play the games. I am such a fan! I love yelling, encouraging and pretty much being a kid. It’s the least serious thing I get to do.
Well today I was able to spend some time helping the county high school softball team during their batting practice. We were talking about weight transfer. This is the process of moving weight from the back leg to the front leg, while swinging the bat on plane. When done correctly it is poetry in motion.
Keep Your Weight Back!: What That Really Means
One of the things that was said over and over by the young ladies was that they were told that they had to keep their weight back. And in an of itself that is true. You are supposed to keep your weight back…until the moment of impact. You can’t hit the ball squarely or keep your shoulders, hips, hands and head in alignment if you keep your weight back as you swing. In golf this is called the “Reverse C” position as seen below.The weight is not moving forward through the ball, but is moving away from the point of impact. Keeping your weight on your back foot will not allow your body to work with gravity and your muscles will actually be working against themselves. Your shoulders and knees end up behind your hips instead of in line with each other. The object of the game is to smoothly transfer your weight to maximize power and efficiency AND minimize alignment issues.
Weight Transfer is the Key to Power
Here is another set of pictures from two great power hitters–Gary Sheffield (left) and Albert Pujols (right). Even though they are not vertical like the picture of the golfer above, there is a straight line from their head to their knees as they swing and make contact with the ball. This is a power position.
Look at their back foot. Their are completely off the ground at the point of impact. This is a sign that their weight has completely shifted from the back to the front. While this is somewhat exaggerated in their individual swings it shows that your back foot is not as important in executing a powerful swing as weight transfer to the front foot is at the moment of impact. The weight transfer will actually keep your swing on plane and give you a better chance at making solid contact.
Here is another example of weight transfer from one of the greatest hitters of all time, Hank Aaron. His back leg is completely off the ground!
Here are a sequence of pictures of Albert Pujols swing. (Click on the Picture to see the sequence.) Notice how if you were to draw a line from the top of his head to the ground he actually rotates around that line as the weight transfer takes place. His head barely even moves.
I want provide a final thought about this idea of “Keep your weight back.” This is great advice for young ball players. It helps them to remember not to move too much or too quickly while they are learning to hit. The problem (as I see it) is that this is only half of the equation. Hitting is all about two kinds of timing. First, you time the pitch. Second, you time your weight shift. When these two events happen and meet at the moment of impact you increase your chances of solid contact and increase your chances of getting hits. You have to learn to develop both. Simply keeping your weight back will create some bad habits.
- You will drop your back shoulder, creating a undercut swing rather than a flatter swing.
- You will drop your hands, wasting time and loosing power potential. (None of the examples above drop their hands. They DRIVE their hands too the ball.)
- You will leave your weight on your back foot, relying on your hands to create power–which isn’t the best way to do it–instead of the large muscles in your legs.
- You will tend to flip the bat at pitches rather than hitting the ball. This is just counter productive.
Here is one more example of what weight transfer should look like. Don Mattingly was one of the most consistent hitters during his time in the Major Leagues. He has some simple insights into this concept of weight transfer.
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