One of the most important aspects of human performance that I don’t believe most hitters or for that matter most hitting instructors/coaches understand is called “The Kinetic Chain”. Simply put the Kinetic Chain refers to a sequence of events that takes place in order for an athlete to execute a particular skill. It also refers to how the body functions, meaning that dysfunction in one area of the body has an effect on the body as a whole. From a hitting standpoint I use the Kinetic Chain idea to allow my hitters to understand how what they do or adjustments they make in one area of their swing has an impact on the entire swing as a whole.
Unfortunately nothing is isolated. What I mean is that a hitter can’t make a simple change to one area without experiencing a change in another area of the swing somewhere down the line. Historically however most hitters and coaches have performed “patch jobs” on swings hoping to cover up or correct a particular flaw without giving any thought to how that might impact the rest of the swing. We’ve learned to accept that every hitter has holes in their swing and hopefully your “natural” ability will allow you to succeed enough to reach higher levels of performance. Can’t hit the inside pitch? Then move off the plate or open your stance. Trouble staying back? Put more weight on your back leg, that should help. Is your stride too big? Then widen your stance. We hand out these bits of information hoping they help without giving any thought to how it may impact the rest of the hitter’s swing.
Putting more weight on the back leg for example may provide the hitter with the feeling of staying back however it rarely creates the desired result. In addition, this minor mechanical correction has a tendency to create a host of other issues. It compromises the hitter’s posture causing them to collapse the backside, lengthening out the swing, and forcing them into a weak position at the point of contact.
The point is hitter’s can’t expect to make simple mechanical changes in their stance or swing and not expect something else to impacted. So what’s the answer? It’s important for hitters that are truly committed to reaching their maximum potential to dig deep and figure out the real reason behind the dysfunction. Is is something mental, in your stance, or in your stride or load? Whatever the case might be hitters need to look at making adjustments with an eye on how the adjustment they are going to make will impact the entire swing. Hitters can’t just say to themselves, “I struggle with the high pitch so I’m going to raise my hands in my stance.” A hitter needs to first ask themselves the question “If I raise my hands in my stance how will that affect the rest of my swing?” Asking these questions will allow the hitter to gain a greater understanding of their swing as a whole and as a result figure out the true cause of any issues they might be experiencing.
Understanding the Kinetic Chain is crucial in order to maximize your abilities as a hitter. Understand that everything you do has an impact on everything else you do. Once you have this understanding then you’ll be more selective about the changes you make and the advice you take. You’ll think deeper about the real issues that are inhibiting your performance and ultimately reach your potential as a hitter.