For years I have believed in one knee hitting drills. Today I am going to break down why hitting drills off of one knee are so important for understanding rotational mechanics.
Watch this video through once, then watch it again. Pause the video at Pedroia's point of contact. This picture you are looking at looks exactly like the one knee hitting drill I have all of my players execute daily. The goal of the one knee hitting drill is to focus on getting your back hip and shoulder squared up to the baseball.
The reason one knee hitting drills are so important for amateur players to execute daily is because it teaches you how to turn. Like I said in the last article, most 21st century hitters completely disconnect their arms from their lower half which produces slow, all-arm swings. The goal of hitting is to get your back hip, knee and shoulder squared up to the baseball. When we get our back hip and back knee squared up to the baseball we are using the big muscles in our body to produce bat speed.
Watch the Pedroia video one more time. Take a look at his frontside at the point of contact. His frontside is completely locked and solid in the ground. This solid frontside is what allows Pedroia to turn his back hip, back knee and back shoulder around to get them squared up to the baseball.
The one knee hitting drill is crucial for understanding how to turn and stay connected throughout. The back elbow should naturally tuck to the body for a tight turn. Figure skaters are a great example of how to stay connected throughout a turn. When competitive figure skaters are turning slowly, their arms are extended. When they want to get a high score or win a competition, they tuck their arms close to their body and can now spin a whole lot faster. The same is true in baseball. The back elbow must tuck to the body in for a tight, efficient turn to the point of contact. Take a look at the examples below. Stay connected so centrifugal force does not force you to just throw your hands.
When on a knee, hitters will find that if they just throw their hands they will produce no bat speed. After 15-20 reps off a knee, most amateur players begin to feel what rotational hitting is like. Usually amateur players start out by rolling over the first couple reps because they are used to going to get the baseball with their hands instead of turning their body as one. Variations of the one knee drill include just using a top or bottom hand.
The analogy I give all of my students is that of a boxer. A boxer's punch, if fully extended, is no where near as powerful as a jab (close to the body). I tell all of my players to let the baseball travel to "throw the jab". The power in hitting, just like in boxing, is close to your body. The farther out we reach to punch or swing, the less power and bat speed we will have. One knee hitting drills teach hitters to let the ball travel because if you go out and hit the ball with your hands you will have a 'ground ball' type round.