The Baseball Swing

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How many different ways are there to describe a baseball swing?  The sweet swing.  The perfect swing.  The professional swing.  The major league swing.  Whatever you call it, know that all hitters strive for the same thing….perfect contact, solid line drives, dingers, rips, etc.  Call them what you will, but as a hitter, there is no better feeling than the barrel squaring up a round ball and then listening, watching and seeing your rocket fall harmlessly out of reach of a sprinting fielder…preferably outfielder.  Or better yet, seeing that outfielder turn around and watch, hopelessly, as your rocket clears the outfield wall by a country mile.  Several coaches have actually said they live by a simple, yet effective, rule.  And that is, “if you hit, you will play.”  Everybody wants to be a great hitter and most kids dream of one day raking like two time All Star game MVP Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, Bryce Harper, or anyone of a number of major league stars!  Of course, major league hitters have practiced – the right way - for years, to develop the proper muscle memory to hit a 95 MPH fastball…and they continue to work on their baseball swing all the time, with batting practice, tee work, soft toss, dry swings, etc.  This is to ensure their swing maintains the deeply ingrained muscle memory built into it over the course of a lifetime, and allows them to forget about their swing and concentrate solely on hitting the ball in game time situations.  They’ve been working on their swings for so long and doing it the right way that they literally just see the ball and hit it. 

Image Courtesy of Christine Beck, ChrissyBeck Photography, Chesapeake, VA

Image courtesy of efastball baseball,, and used with their express written consent

However, not every baseball swing will result in a 500 foot homerun or a gapper, as there are too many things outside the batter’s control to ensure this.  But keep in mind that baseball is a game of failure, and a pro hitter who fails 7 out of 10 times at the plate is a likely Hall of Famer.  That’s why this article is important as it provides the steps to ensure you can become, with great – and proper - practice, fundamentally sound in the mechanics of the swing so you will have the best opportunity to be successful as a hitter.  I am a huge fan of the rotational baseball swing, as my years of research have led me to believe it is more powerful than a linear swing in baseball and softball….and these following steps are fundamentally geared towards the swing with a circular hand path and a rotation around a fixed axis.  So here are the proper mechanics of the best swings, broken down into steps.  It will be up to you as a player to do the work and practice necessary in order to correctly perform this swing to the point of proper muscle memory.  Work hard, practice, do drills and you will be on the fast path to successful “failure”. 

Since I have been coaching baseball, I have had the privilege of working with some great organizations and coaches.  Currently, I am lucky to be part of Kojack Baseball Academy – - in Chesapeake VA, working with Phil Kojack and Dave Beck.  Before that, I spent several years with Seven Cities Sports and was able to participate in their annual clinic called Hitting with the Stars, a clinic with the Upton Brothers, Michael Cuddyer and Tim Hummell.  That is where I was introduced to the rotational baseball swing and rotational hitting philosophy which are the basis for the steps I am going to write about here.  I have since studied rotational hitting in great detail and have analyzed it as well, and am an enormous believer in it as the best way to hit.  Recently, MLB Network has run a series of commercials leading up to the All Star game Homerun Derby, and the commercial has a montage of the participants swinging the bat hitting a homerun.  They take a few frames from each hitter to build one entire baseball swing, and it is remarkable how each of the great hitters do the exact same thing, outside the stance of course.  See this article on Rotational Hitting for more details.

Steps to the Perfect Baseball Swing

Step 1 - Stance. Look around all levels of baseball and notice something about every batter you watch. No one stands exactly alike. So while the stance is an element of the baseball swing, it is not the most important. As long as you can get into a proper load position and use other elements of the swing the way they are designed to be used, the most important thing to say about the stance is that the batter should be comfortable and in an athletic position so he can get in to a proper load.   Even grips are different, with some being advocates of aligning the knocking knuckles and others advising to just be close enough with the knuckles to get palm up palm down at contact. The general consensus, however, is to grip the bat in the fingers and not squeeze too tightly with the palms.

Images courtesy of efastball baseball,, and used with their express written consent

Step 2 – Load The load provides the energy necessary for a mighty and forceful baseball swing.  It is where momentum moves to the backside to prepare for an explosive swing and allows for a more fluid movement forward when you actually swing.  While there are different types of loads it is essential that you make a move back before you can go forward.   As the pitcher starts his delivery, you will want to move your weight to the inside of the back leg while turning in your shoulder, hips, and front knee.  You also want to move the bat near the launching position with the knob pointed at the catcher.  When the inward turn is complete you are in the correct position to stride.

Step 3 - StrideThe stride DOES NOT start the baseball swing.  We stride then swing, not stride AND swing!  Contrary to what you think you are seeing when you watch a ballgame on television, the stride foot is down when the ball is halfway to home plate – perhaps 2/3 of the way.  But because a professional pitcher throwing 90 plus MPH from 60 and a half feet gets a ball across home plate in 4 tenths of a second or less, there is a TV misconception that the stride foot goes down as the player starts his swing.  If this was the case, hitters would not stride on a pitch they take.  But they do, so the stride foot is down early enough to make a decision to uncoil and start the actual swing.  However, it is critical to note that the stride does what it is intended to do, and that is to create separation between the movement of our hands and our stride foot, which creates torque and a balanced yet powerful launch position.  Separation is essential for bat speed, and bat speed directly translates into power and distance…similar to how smaller golfers on various tours routinely hit the ball 300 yards or more! 

The stride is more important than many people think.  We load to time the pitcher and stride to separate and time the pitch.  A good stride will be no more than 12 inches, with the foot landing perpendicular – not open or closed so as not to restrict hip motion - softly on the pad near the big toe.  The hands move and stay back in launch position.  Do not lean or lunge and do not let your stride knee go ahead of the foot.  If your weight gets too far forward, your head will also, and you will have trouble with anything off-speed.

Swing Through, Not At

Step 4 – Attack. This is the power move. The pitch is on the way, you've coiled and taken your stride – you have reached perfect separation, and now you're ready for a powerful baseball swing. We start the baseball swing from the ground up, with our legs and hips. The launching of the hips is the beginning of the torque phase of the swing. The hips and legs are moving one way, while the upper body remain stationary… coiling against each other to create the powerful torque necessary for a powerful baseball swing. The key points to launching the hips include the hitter firing the rear hip forward toward the pitcher while not moving the head forward. From here, everything rotates under the head around a fixed axis. While the hands move a little naturally, they do not intentionally move forward, the rear elbow starts to tuck to the hip, which directs the knob of the bat toward the ball and barrel to the catcher; and most of the player's weight remains on the rear leg with some weight moving to the firming front leg. From here on, things will move incredibly fast primarily due to the hip rotation.

Step 5 - Contact. Steps 4 and 5 of the baseball swing occur practically simultaneously, and the contact step is where the primary action of the swing is naturally changed to the hands.  By naturally, I mean the uncoiling of our hips leads to the rotation of our core and shoulders around our fixed position, and that rotation of the core and shoulders gets the hands moving. In the attack phase above, after you’ve decided to swing, your back shoulder and back elbow come down together, with the barrel of the bat moving back towards the catcher.   Every person who has ever hit a ball does so with a lower back shoulder, but starts with a lower front shoulder, so in order for the shoulders to switch vertical positions, the back shoulder has to drive downward a little which also gets the bat on the proper swing path. When this happens, your bottom hand will drive the knob of the bat toward the baseball. DO NOT drive your hands linearly towards the ball in a position over or near the plate.  As the batter turns the hands do as well, which results in maximum bat lag and NO bat drag, that is, bat speed!  Once your back elbow gets into the body, your top hand, the power hand, will start to take over and will throw the barrel of the bat toward the baseball.   In essence, we aren't just swinging the bat...we are driving it and firing it hard through contact. As you make contact with the ball, your hands are in the palm up and palm down position, indicating you haven't rolled your wrists, since wrist roll must occur after contact, lest you will hit a weak roller. Once you decide to swing and fire your hands at the baseball, swing hard and in balance, and hit through the ball. A swing and miss is not always the worst thing that can happen to a hitter. Nor is a strikeout!

Since you have already fired your hips in the previous step, and the upper body is lagging, the key points to launching the hands to contact include:

  • Drive the knob toward the ball coming out of the pitchers hand
  • The Large muscles of the core and upper body rotate and the bat swings
  • Leveling occurs, with the bat matching the plane of the pitch
  • The wrists snap the barrell to contact
  • The top hand is in a palm up position while the bottom hand is palm down
  • The front leg is firm and creates leverage to swing around
  • The head stays quiet and still

This article on the rotational baseball swing will describe a term called leveling, and its significance in a great swing!  This article will compare the rotational swing with the linear swing!

Image courtesy of efastball baseball,, and used with their express written consent

Image courtesy of Christine Beck, ChrissyBeck Photography

Image courtesy of efastball,, and used with their express written consent

Image courtesy of efastball,, and used with their express written consent

Step 6 - Extend. There is actually debate on what happens next with a baseball swing as some believe you’ve made contact, so what happens next is virtually irrelevant. But studying and analyzing video of the baseball swing shows the greats do have some things in common after contact which allows them to hit with authority.   As two of the all-time greats, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine once said, “chicks dig the long ball”. And while contact is important, accelerating through contact is ultra-important. Some key points for proper acceleration through the ball:

  • Hands extend to the pitcher and DO NOT roll over!
  • Actions of the hands pull the arms into extension with physics powering the bat head through the zone.
  • The front leg firms up and creates leverage for the bat to swing around.
  • The player's chin is over his belly button and his head looks directly down the 'V', chin down.
  • The force generated by bat head during the super-fast body rotation will cause some players to lift their back foot off the ground. This is great because it shows a clear weight transfer through contact. DO NOT squish the bug.

No Need to Hit the Gym!

Step 7 – Finish. As we take our sweet baseball swing towards the follow through, or finish, we continue extension with the bat swinging across the body and back shoulder rotating forward to replace the front shoulder. It is not until this happens and the bat is pointed at the same side dugout that the hands finally roll over. Then the bat can finally wrap up and around the batter, and the batter can hopefully watch his line drive heads towards a gap, or better!

Remember, don't decelerate the bat after you've made contact. Continue powering through the ball and let the bat wrap around your back before it stops. When you do all this, you won’t have to hear the other teams, or your own coaches yelling at you to “hit the gym” as one of your best struck, deep fly balls dies harmlessly in the outfielders glove just short of the warning track.

› Baseball Swing

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