If you have not yet read through our brief post that clearly defines what we are referring to when we use the term “launch position” it is recommended you read that before reading this post.
You can read it here: Launch Position Overview
There is a lot of hitting instruction out there. Some of it is good and some of it is harmful (to say the least…). One of the most overlooked and rarely talked about mechanical efficiencies is the idea of keeping all of our body parts and bat connected.
When we begin to rotate one of the main things you should be thinking about or teaching to your team is…
If you’ve ever heard coaches use cliche terms like “stay inside the ball” or “throw the hands to the ball,” I think what many of them are referring to is this idea of staying connected.
The best way to think of staying connected is the idea of taking the three- dimensional geometric shape that we have created at launch position and maintaining that shape as we begin to attack the baseball.
In order to do this properly we want to think of the body as a unit. We don’t want the arms, legs, shoulders, or the bat to operate independently or we are causing disconnections. To generate maximum bat speed and power the swing should be a synergistic move that harmonizes all of these body parts.
Think of the Major League launch position as a super strong and powerful 3-dimensional shape in space. When we begin to rotate we want to hold this strong powerful shape for a period of time… just like Bonds in this gif.
Once we have stayed connected for about the first quarter of the swing, then we will release that powerful shape onto the baseball.
We want our arms to stay “connected” to our body, as well as our upper body and our lower body (as they should be rotating together).
*Note: the hips might start rotating a tiny bit before the shoulders because of how the kinetic chain works. This isn’t something you need to consciously think about. If you rotate hard enough, this will happen naturally. Just think about keeping the upper body and lower body connected.
If we start initiating our swing right after front toe touch (like we should be) but we don’t start using our lower half correctly… we have a disconnection! Another example is if the bat casts backwards as we start swinging… another disconnection!
Think of the classic example of a youth player who swings with only his upper body… Is this player going to have the maximum chance of hitting the ball as far as he can? No way! Disconnections are going to severely affect your swing in a negative way.
A disconnection can range from severe to minor. Some examples of disconnections are:
- Casting the tip of the bat
- Casting the hands
- Not using lower body
- Swinging with only arms
- Elbow Drag
Lets look at how the best in the world stay connected by drawing some lines…
When we get to a launch position (proper or improper) we have created a three-dimensional shape in space with our body. Here we have Andre Ethier and Robinson Cano and I’ve highlighted the geometric shape of the upper body and bat.
Three lines have been drawn: one on the humerus, the forearm, and bat. You can see we have a three dimensional shape in space (however we are only looking at the side view here in two dimensions but think three dimensions)
As Ethier and Cano begin to rotate with full force, notice how the angles of the body stay connected…
How cool is that!
This is one of the most important concepts in the swing to learn. If you can learn how to stay connected, not only do you become more efficient into the ball but your power potential goes up big time!
Below I have attached a handful of elite level hitters staying connected for about the first 25-35% of the swing.
*(Note: The shoulder tilt and the angle from the bat to the forearm will vary slightly between hitters) the varied pitch locations and vantage points can play a role in this.
Right handed major leaguers staying connected