The load is a very important and often overlooked aspect of the swing. The load is a small movement with the hands when the stride foot begins forward. The load is important because it gives the body the an eccentric contraction in the upper body prior to the hands starting forward. This contraction is necessary to maximize muscle performance in the upper body. Think of stretching out a rubber band and letting go. The “stretching back” of the rubber band produces the power when you let go. The same is true in hitting.
Secondly, the load allows the hitter to get the bat in good position to perform the proper bat path needed. Many times the importance of the load is ignored and as a result there is breakdown somewhere later in the swing.
As you can see from the video a good load involves the hitter moving his hands both up and back. It’s important that the hitter doesn’t move their arms straight back causing the arms to straighten out. In order to maintain a good downhill bat path it’s important that the hitter maintains some bend in the arms. The easiest way to accomplish this is for the hitter to use the top hand to load the bat. If the hitter uses the bottom hand it has a tendency to push the bat straight back, straightening out the arms. This will cause the bat to drop and loop as the bat comes forward.
Another important aspect of the load is that the front shoulder does not roll inward. Again, if the hitter uses their top hand to load this should prevent them from rolling the front shoulder inward. If the front shoulder does roll in it will have to roll out again before the bat gets to the hitting zone. This will cause a “lengthening out” of the swing, causing the barrel to drop.
A great way to work on the load is to have the hitter stand in their stance in front of a mirror. In front of the mirror they can take their stride and their load and look at what the front shoulder, arms, and bat are doing. They will be able to feel what a proper load is supposed to look like and over time they will be able to load the bat without looking. This will go a long way in power production and helping them achieve mechanical repeatability.