Adding more power with the back forearm?
As we learn more about each of the Super 7 angles at launch position, you should start to understand that each one has its own importance. In this post I will be talking about the importance of the back forearm.
Angle #4: back forearm level to the ground, and perpendicular/open to the line of the pitch.
*The pitch creates a line in space. (Not a plane like many coaches say)
Back forearm – top view
The reference point we will use will be the line of the pitch. By doing this we can measure how far open or closed the back forearm is relative to the line of the pitch.
Left: Forearm open
Right: Forearm closed
There are going to be two different parts I will refer to in this post regaurding the back forearm horizontally:
- Forearm open (pointing away from pitcher)
- Forearm closed (pointing toward the pitcher)
Understand: The leverage point is at 90 degrees or perpendicular to the line of the pitch…
- If your forearm gets closed from this point forward you lose leverage and your power potential goes down big time, the swing becomes more of a punch…
- If your back forearm is at least perpendicular or open… you gain leverage. Your swing becomes more of a “swing.”
You can test this out for yourself, try a swing like “Swing #1” and then “Swing #2” demonstrated in these gif’s…
Which swing feels more powerful?
(No judgements on the swing itself please) 😉
Back forearm – side view
Swing #1: Back forearm closed.
Notice how the back elbow is outside of the hands from the side view at launch position.
Swing #2: Back forearm open
Notice how the back elbow is inside of the hands from the side view at launch position.
If you answered forearm open you are correct!
By teaching baseball through geometry we very rarely talk about what the swing should “feel like,” however in this scenario it should be pretty obvious which swing feels more powerful.
If you don’t get the back forearm to at least perpendicular you are doing yourself a disservice.
Is it a rule that your back forearm must be perpendicular to the pitch at toe touch? No, but this is where most elite level hitters end up.
Our goal is to be able to get into a most loaded position possible where we can maximize our odds for power and contact.
• Note: Some players in the big leagues have a closed forearm (Tulowitzki, Batista and Kemp are a few right off the top of my head). Generally speaking the players with the elbow outside the hands tend to be bigger, stronger guys, who can make up for this inefficiency with size and strength.
Back forearm – view from behind
Left: Forearm hangs down = flatter barrel
Right: Forearm is level = steeper barrel
Another aspect to the forearm we should keep in mind is the angle of the back forearm viewed from behind.
Generally speaking: The more the elbow hangs down, the flatter the barrel will go, the steeper the forearm the taller the barrel.
Reason being, the geometric shape we create at launch position with our upper body can either get flatter or steeper… because everything is connected.
The most common angle you will see will be around a 5-degree tilt on the back forearm, think elbow level with the knob. Again, I will usually just say level to the ground just to keep things simple.
Remember, there is an upper and lower threshold with all the different angles at launch position. A handful of major league hitters will have their back forearm hanging down quite a bit. Ideally we are able to keep the forearm a little closer to horizonal because it is more likely to keep our barrel up. Having a good bat angle is one of the most fundamental elements to having a good swing, because it allows us to easily swing on plane with a low and in pitch (the steepest swing plane).
When our forearm hangs down we are more likely to go flat… making low and in pitching more challenging.
Left: Upper threshold
Right: Lower threshold
Remember: Being able to keep your back forearm level to the ground and perpendicular/open to the line of the pitch is vital to the success of the hitter. Learn to hit the ground at launch position with the back forearm in this position and watch the ball fly! Whether you tip the bat forward like Gary Sheffield or start with the bat flat like Buster Posey… elite level hitters hit launch position with the back forearm consistently close to level with the ground and perpendicular/open to the line of the pitch.
Row 1: View from behind
Row 2: View from back side
Row 3: View from side view