By Eugene Bleecker
(For pieces 1-4 click here)
5. POINT of CONTACT (PoC): Looking closely you will find at the major league level that PoC is the second point in the swing where ALL HITTERS are almost exactly the same. When making contact with the ball we want our swing to be at a certain point and our body to be in a certain position. At the PoC we want our lower half turned into the baseball with our back knee in between our feet driven into the ground. This is a result of using our lower half and core properly. We want a locked out front leg and our weight over the center of our bodies. Our bat should be making contact with the middle to bottom third of the ball and our hands should be “palm up palm down” on the bat. Our back elbow should be flexed allowing for extension after the PoC and our eyes should be on the ball. I encourage all hitters to videotape themselves swinging and take a look at their position at PoC. Getting to a quality position at PoC is extremely important and something every hitter should work on.
6. EXTENSION: This part of the swing is extremely important in getting distance with all of that solid contact you are making. Think about this, if you swung as hard as you could and then stopped your swing at the PoC the ball wouldn’t go too far would it. Extension is the key to getting distance and power into the ball. After making contact I tell my students to think about not hitting one ball but hitting three balls to the field that the pitch dictates so they continue to follow through. At PoC as I previously explained, the back elbow is slightly flexed and now you must push through or extend through the baseball. Extension is often seen as the “snap” through the ball right after PoC. Having proper extension turns those week gapers into stand up doubles and those balls off the wall into homeruns. Many young hitters have poor extension and don’t even allow them to extend through the ball because they were already extended at PoC. Again I encourage you to check out your swing on slow motion to see if you extend through the ball properly. If not, there are a number of drills used to fix this so consult with a local hitting instructor or send us an email.
7. FINISH: The finish is the last part of the swing after extending through the baseball. Some hitters prefer finishing one-handed while others choose to keep both on. As long as both hands are on the bat through extension it is ok to release one afterwards, BUT ONLY if they stay on through extension. You don’t want to become a one handed hitter or get in the habit of releasing too early. As far as the rest of the body is concerned it is ideal to have your back shoelaces, back knee, beltbuckle, chest and outside ear facing towards the pitcher while remaining balanced and continuing to focus on the PoC. That 5 point check will force you to be fully rotated through the ball without over rotating.
8. BALANCE: In my opinion balance is the most important facet of the swing. If a hitter does not remain balanced through the swing, they will never be successful. So many players worry about generating linear power by transferring weight and stepping into the ball. What these hitters fail to understand is that balance is the most important aspect of hitting. A pitchers job is to throw off a hitters balance and timing and if a hitter is always transferring weight and timing one specific pitch he will not be able to remain balanced. If you ask most Major League hitters they will tell you they swing at 75-85% effort most of the time. I encourage everyone reading this article to go to a batting cage and take swings at 100% max effort and then to slow it down and concentrate on the fundamentals. What you will find is that a quality fundamental swing and the speed the ball is traveling is more than enough to be a consistent and efficient line drive hitter.
The greatest advice I ever got from a coach was stay within yourself and don’t try to do too much. As a hitter if you remain balanced you are able to react and hit ALL pitches efficiently.