Separation is the most important part of hitting for power, yet it seems to be the biggest problem I see at the youth level. Amateurs of all ages struggle to get proper separation in their swing. The reason that so many amateurs have difficulty with the concept of separation is because they are taught wrong from a young age. Separation is a natural rhythmic movement, not forced.
Separation in hitting is defined as the position we are in when we get our front stride foot down. Separation is vital to create torque. Without it, we literally are losing over 40% of our natural power as hitters. When our front foot hits the ground, our hands should be slightly below our shoulders. Our hands should never be higher than our shoulders when we are in our separated position. This is the most powerful position in hitting.
When we get our front foot down, the common myth is that we force our arms and hands backwards to create separation. Separation should happen naturally. What do I mean by naturally? By simply walking forward, our hips will naturally be slightly open. When our hips are slightly open, rotational mechanics take over which allows us to generate all of the natural separation we need.
The key to separation is to stay on your backside! When we stride forward and our front foot hits the ground, our hips should not move or drift forward at all (look above at Griffey Jr.'s hips).
Take a look at Ken Griffey Jr. in the video above. You could draw a straight line up and through Ken Griffey Jr.'s body after his front foot hits the ground. By simply walking forward and keeping his hands back, he is in the perfect separated position (He does not need to force his arms back to create separation). His front shoulder and oblique will then pull his backside around. The natural pull from his right oblique and front shoulder is what made Griffey Jr.'s swing so smooth. Griffey Jr. does not have to force his hands back. Instead they separate naturally because he is not lunging forward with his weight on his stride.
If our hips drift forward even an inch, this means that we now have to force our hands back unnaturally to create separation. This unnatural push back of our hands is what most amateur hitters call separation. Remember, separation happens naturally. Forcing our hands back to create separation will throw off our timing and rhythm.
The reason I believe so many amateurs cannot create natural separation is because of their weight distribution. Almost every hitting coach will tell you that the weight distribution when the front foot hits the ground should be 60% on the backside and 40% on the frontside. Throw this equation out of your head.
A 60%, 40% weight distribution will 100% of the time have you out on your frontside. Drifting forward on your stride will eliminate all separation and bat speed. The way you go forward with your stride should feel like you are dipping your big toe into a pool. The real-life, MLB weight distribution is 80% on your backside, and 20% on your frontside when your foot hits the ground.
Take a look at the picture of Mantle above. His front foot looks like he is testing the temperature of the water at a pool. Now, you tell me, does Mantle look like 40% of his weight is on his frontside? Of course not. Mantle's weight distribution is a lot more like 80-85% on his back side and 15% on his frontside.
The stride is controlled and smooth. When our stride is controlled and we do not drift forward at all, this puts our obliques in the optimum position to pull our backside around (torque).
Go out hitting today and try striding by dipping your toe into the imaginary pool. Watch how much quicker you are to the ball, and how much stronger you feel with your brand new natural separation.
CSB Key Point : Remember 80%, 20% weight distribution for maximum, natural separation!!!
Keep the questions coming!!!