If any of you were watching the homerun derby the other night no doubt you were impressed with Adrian Gonzales and the show he put on. Adrian’s swing has always been one of my favorites. His effort levels are perfect, his bat path, hip separation, and extension are some of the best in the game. His mechanics allow him to get into a very strong position at the point of contact, stay through the hitting zone for a long time (which gives him greater room for error), and generate a ton of backspin. His effort levels allow him to repeat his mechanics giving him the best opportunity for consistent success. He was always hitting close to 30 homeruns a year at Petco Park which is considered by many as a poor hitters ball park. Which further backs up my theory that if a hitter has great mechanics the ball park doesn’t matter.
What struck me the other night however was his incredible ability to keep his head stable even with his high leg kick. The leg kick in his swing has always been the one aspect that I’ve disagreed with. It’s used as a timing mechanism and the problem is most athletes have the belief that it helps him generate his power. Unfortunately they’ll begin to copy players who have a leg kick not realizing that the leg kick makes it incredibly difficult to execute proper mechanics.
Let me first say that the leg kick in no way, shape, or form helps the athlete generate power. The power comes from hip separation, a sound bat path, and the generation of back spin. That being said I was amazed at Adrian’s ability to keep his head perfectly stable with his leg lifted in the air. This is crucial for him to be able to execute his mechanics. Imagine getting into your stance and trying to lift your front leg up in the air and not move your head at all during the process. Not a very easy task. For that reason I never recommend that a player tries to perform a leg kick. The amount of balance and athleticism it takes to be able to consistently execute proper mechanics with a leg kick makes this movement very difficult. This is without even considering the fact that hitters that have a high leg kick must make sure that they get their front foot back down in time to time the pitch perfectly which only adds another layer of difficulty to hitting.
Since head stability is so crucial in being able to read the pitch, maximize bat speed, and execute mechanics a leg kick shouldn’t be added to your swing in the attempt to add more power. Always keep in mind that hitters like Adrian are phenomenal athletes to begin with and have tremendous balance and control over their bodies. They are able to be successful despite the leg kick not because of it.