Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed a trend in a few of my clients that has caused them to get away from the basic fundamentals and has created a dip in performance. One of the things that I stress is the importance of getting the front foot down early. It’s generally thought that hitters can wait until the pitch is released and then stride and swing while the ball is in the air. This belief is due in part to players watching hitters at the major league level and assuming that they are striding and swinging in one motion.
Unfortunately what we see on tv can be very misleading. Primarily because the speed at which a major league pitch is delivered is so fast that it causes the viewer to see things that aren’t really taking place. Players at every level don’t have the time to see a pitched ball, just what and where it is and then stride and swing to hit it. In addition striding too late causes the hitter to drift their head which inhibits their ability to see the pitch and causes the hands to drift slightly forward which diminishes power and causes the bat head to drag.
Ideally a hitter should be LANDING their front foot when the pitcher gets to the release point. This simplifies the swing and puts the hitter is a good position to hit every pitch. The head is stabilized and the hitter can see and read the pitch more effectively and it gives the hitter more time to execute the rest of the swing mechanics. Which allows them to execute a proper bat path, to be in good posture at contact, and to get full extension through the hitting zone. In addition when a hitter faces a faster or harder throwing pitcher the natural reaction is to try harder and speed up the swing. Unfortunately this causes muscle tension, swing breakdown, and the end result is a slower swing. The easiest way to “get around” on faster pitching is to simply get your front foot down a little earlier.
I can’t stress enough how important this small adjustment is. The stride foot starts the swing and if it hasn’t landed at the appropriate time the rest of the swing is severely effected. Hitters will search far and wide for the reasons behind a dip in performance when many times all they need to do is get the foot down earlier. The beauty of this adjustment is it’s not necessarily something that needs to be worked on but rather the hitter just needs to make the decision to get the foot down earlier. This allows hitters to make this adjustment on the fly in the middle of an at bat or game to drastically improve performance.
Finally many hitters worry about long layoffs and worry about timing being effected. In order to combat this a hitter can simply get their foot down extra early to give them more time to see the pitch which allows them to perform even if their timing isn’t where it should be.
The stride foot starts the swing and as such it’s the first place I look if one of my hitters starts to struggle. If you notice a dip in performance during a game or tournament or if you haven’t had an at bat in a while take a look at when you’re getting your front foot down. Make the adjustment to get it down earlier and I’m sure you’ll see improved results.