If you’re even mildly acquainted with baseball, then you’ll know that one of the most impressive and crowd-pleasing parts of the game is the satisfying crack of a baseball bat against a baseball.
It’s truly a spectacle to watch the ball fly inhuman distances while the batter runs from base to base.
Achieving this batting prowess requires more effort than you’d think at first glance.
It’s not enough to have a powerful upper body that twists and swings the bat with full force; you also need a powerful lower body and a batting technique that exploits your legs and core to provide even greater momentum.
Let’s have a look at the lower body factors that make home runs possible.
Lower Body Fundamentals
Have you ever heard of Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch?
It’s a famous demonstration of the legendary martial artist’s control over his body, in which he’s able to deliver a punch that can destroy a wooden board or knock the wind out of an opponent, over just a one-inch span.
Many people believe that the one-inch punch was only possible because of Bruce Lee’s impressive upper body physique.
However, the real ‘secret’ to the one-inch punch is the masterful technique that transmits punching power from the hips to the arms.
While the travel distance of the punch might not be very long, the huge array of muscles that are engaged, from leg to hip, shoulder to arm, all provide a punch with tremendous momentum.
The same principles apply to your baseball swing.
The extra lower body energy for your baseball swing is provided by your hips. A quick, snappy rotation of the hips delivers additional momentum to the arms, giving your baseball swing even greater strength.
Storing this energy and delivering it in the most efficient way possible requires you to do two things: start from the correct stance, and maintain good form while you swing.
The batting stance requires both feet to be planted firmly on the ground.
It also requires your form to be very strong, yet relaxed. You want to maintain your balance from the moment you swing until your follow-through, and you also want to be able to respond quickly to the pitcher whenever they throw.
With the proper stance, you start with your weight even on both feet.
Don’t keep your feet too close together or else your balance will be off, and not too far apart that you won’t be able to swing your hips properly.
Seven Points Of Alignment
With your stance, you need to have your eyes on the ball, and your shoulders, torso, and knees facing the pitcher.
A quick rule of thumb for building a good stance is to imagine that your two eyes, two shoulders, belly button, and two knees have ‘eyes’, and each of these seven ‘eyes’ must see the pitcher if you want to stand a chance of hitting the ball.
‘Loading’ Your Stance
Then, you enter the ‘load’ phase, where you shift your body weight slightly towards your rear leg.
As the name suggests, by shifting your body weight, you are ‘loading’ your payload of swing energy onto your back leg.
When you’re in the load phase, you shouldn’t shift your weight too much––a good distribution of weight at this step would be 60% back leg, and 40% front leg.
As you move your weight, ensure that your back knee does not point outside your back foot for maximum balance.
Raise your hands and the bat’s handle over your rear shoulder. At this point, you’re ‘coiled’ up and ready to strike the ball. This is the stance you need to maintain when watching the pitcher.
Lower Body Movements
The actual swing is where many beginners falter.
They often just uncoil their arms and strike the ball, neglecting their hips in the process.
Even if they do follow with their hips after they’ve struck the ball, they’ve already lost the momentum advantage that they’d prepared down in their lower bodies.
To ensure that you’re able to unlock the force in your hips and deliver it to your arms, make sure that your power initially comes from the back leg first, your back knee going towards your inner thigh.
Your front hip should then rotate to deliver energy into your swing, while your back foot rotates on the home plate.
You should be moving on the ball of your back foot, with the power going up into your hip and then transmitting it to the ball.
Besides knowing what body movements are right, it’s also important to identify and target the wrong moves that you’re making, so you can consciously erase them from your form.
Feet Not Kept Parallel
When you’re in your batting stance, you need to keep your feet firm and parallel to each other.
This not only improves your balance but also increases the coverage range of your batting, making it easier for you to swing at the ball when it comes flying at you.
With the parallel stance, your body is also pointed in such a way that you get a better field of view, which allows you to keep your eye on the ball no matter how it’s pitched.
Bad Bat Positioning
If you aren’t keeping your bat above your back shoulder when you set up your stance, then you run the risk of your arms not being able to extend fully.
In this case, you’ll have a weaker swing that won’t hit the ball as far, and you’ll be slower and less responsive when the pitch comes.
Read more on the best baseball bats for youths here.
Stepping Forward When Swinging
The entire lower body movement when you swing your bat is an explosive hip rotation and strong extensions and knee pinches of your legs.
You’re not supposed to take a single step forward or backward, which is a mistake that many overeager batters tend to make.
Stepping forward will throw you off your firm stance, causing your hips to drift and reducing the available energy that you’ve kept in the load phase.
Your head and gaze will also drift as you move your body, which will affect your ability to keep your eye on the ball.
Moving Arms Before Hips
Your arms alone will never be enough to make the most out of your swing.
If you extend your swing with your arms before you move your hips, you won’t be able to unload the energy gathered in your hips.
When the time comes to hit the ball, you need to be moving your hips before your arms.
Also, a baseball gloves would really help you with the grip!
A proper lower body technique isn’t just a way to ‘enhance’ your swing––it’s a fundamental part of it.
Learn to recognize the connection between your lower and upper body, and practice the flow of your stance by engaging your hips as you swing.
Follow these steps and you’ll be knocking it out of the park in no time!