I want to break down a part of the swing that most hitting coaches never talk about. What happens after we make contact with the baseball is extremely important for our overall power as a hitter. What I am referring to is extension and a high finish after contact.
Many of my students ask me, how can I smooth out my swing? The answer I usually give involves a high, natural finish and extension through the baseball. At Core Savvy Baseball™, we teach our students to be "short to the ball, and long through it". Lets break down what the phrase means.
This video depicts exactly what we at CSB™ teach. Both Griffey and McGwire are extremely short to the ball and long through it. After contact the barrel of these guys' bats do not decelerate. Neither of these guys cut off their swing with a low finish which allows the barrel of the bat to keep accelerating up and through after contact. This is the reason their swings look so long and smooth after contact. (Another thing to notice in the video is both their wrist positions at the point of contact. The wrists are square to the baseball).
The natural finish in the rotational swing is high, as seen in the video above. Players who finish low tend to come around the baseball or hook it. The reason a flat finish at the end of a swing will cause a roll over ground ball is because we are essentially taking the barrel out of the zone too early.
As Ted Williams talks about in the science of hitting, the natural plane of the better pitchers is downhill. So, to compensate for the downward angle of the pitch, our swing must be a slight uppercut. When we uppercut slightly, the natural way our bodies want our arms to finish is high, as seen in the pictures of Griffey and Bonds below.
Both Griffey and Bonds are letting their core, hips and torso work naturally to bring the arms up and through the baseball after contact. This allows them to create a tremendous amount of backspin and get inside the baseball with ease. The barrel of their bats' stay in the zone a good amount time because they are so long after contact. Again, when we let our bodies work naturally like these guys, we end up accelerating up and through after contact. Oppose to that, when we are short after contact, we swing around our bodies or "spin off" the baseball which leads to a ton of groundballs.
Hunter Pence is an example of a guy who does not keep the bat in the zone long enough after contact. He hits a lot of ground balls to his pull side and misses a lot of pitches he should hit. The reason for this is because after contact, his barrel immediately leaves the line of the baseball. His finish is very low and around his body. At Core Savvy Baseball™ we call this mechanical flaw leveling off too early. When we level off too early, getting inside the baseball to create backspin becomes very difficult.
This is what we do not want our finish to look like. While Hunter is a phenomenal athlete and can get away with pulling off the ball after contact, most of us cannot. When I see a kid who has a low finish like Pence, we immediately start changing his swing plane to an uppercut to create backspin.
Pence's swing after contact should look more like Mr.Williams in the picture below. After contact, Williams' swing plane stays high which allows him to get inside the baseball. At Core Savvy Baseball™ we classify players who spin off the baseball like Pence as East-West hitters. We want to work North-South with our swing plane like Ted is showing us below.
So remember, extend and finish high if you want to hit the baseball like Griffey, or any MLB player.
Readers, please keep the questions coming: CoreSavvyBaseball@yahoo.com