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Are Bad Looking Hitting Mechanics Always Due to Bad Mechanics?

Rick Johnston

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| Feb 20, 2014 9:26:00 AM

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Theory: If any player were to meticulously heed to the optimal biomechanical principles of hitting they will be successful, correct? 


Certainly following these principles will maximize the chances that a hitter has put the bat on the right path of a pitched ball with maximal force (if there is intent to match), but it certainly does not always equate to success. If it were that easy, then few hitters would ever fail at the rate of over 70%, like they do now.

So, the presence of a good biomechanical approach is wonderful, but this alone does not tell hitters where to swing, what to swing at and when to swing. It simply shows how to swing. The average person can swing a bat or a golf club fairly well pretty quickly (under no pressure of course), but does that mean they will hit well or score low? No way and that is a definitive NO WAY. 

The underlying problem that occurs when one believes biomechanical principles equal success is this…everyone looks for the quick biomechanical "fix" when things go bad. Well, it usually doesn’t work that way. In fact, most swing issues have little to do with the swing, but more to do with the other components that now AFFECT the swing…In other words the cause and effect theory. There is a cause that has an effect on the swing. Hitters, when struggling, look for instant fixes with areas…the hands, the feet, hips, front shoulder, etc…all with the same goal - to produce a much more successful swing. However, more often than not, failure in the swing has less to do with swing itself or the biomechanical principles one is exhibiting than it does other factors. There are numerous principles that ger overlooked that have an extraordinary effect on a hitter's biomechanics.

Let's look at two of the most common problems that arise with hitting mechanics and try and work through the Cause and Effect Theory and then decide. Let’s also consider that hitting is largely dependent upon timing and all biomechanics, in any athletic endeavour, can be interrupted by timing issues. With most timing issues the hitter is either too fast or too slow. One of the pitcher's responsibilities is to keep the hitter off balance and that is done by changing speeds and frankly changing speeds and throwing strikes. It is the hitters that get themselves out by being off time with the actual pitch.

So here we go:

Hitter Fooled Out FrontHitter gets fooled on off speed pitch, body out in front, head flies out, swing gets loopy: (This is what the hitter is being told by coach, dad, teammates, etc.)

Here is what could be happening 

Poor visual tracking 

Over anticipating a FB 

Body too fast 

Poor concentration and focus 

Poor recognition 

Hitter not relaxed, too anxious

Hitter has abandoned the game plan and approach

Failure to recognize pitcher tendencies

Strike zone awareness


Hitter Sawed OffHitter late on FB, gets sawed off, breaks bat: 

Here is what could be happening 

Poor visual tracking

Body too slow

Looking for off speed 

Under estimating FB velo

Poor pitch recognition

Abandoning the game plan

Not sitting on hitter's count

Strike zone awareness

Are any of these possible causes biomechanical? No, they are not. But where do we so quickly go when wanting to "fix" a hitter's issues? That's right - biomechanical fixes. Almost like a gag reflex that's evolved over 10,000 years, it can happen without any thought. But it is not correct - at least not always. Let's forget the fact that it is very hard to "fix" a biomechanical issue quickly anyway. It is just usually not the issue RIGHT NOW. Most hitting issues that LOOK biomechanical have more so to do with the above elements. It is also safe to say that all hitters will not follow the biomechanical model of swinging a bat anyway, and in fact they may totally infringe on one or more principles. Yet through better visual skills, knowledge, a better game plan or other, we can help hitters - and hitters can help themselves - with less emphasis on the biomechanical model of efficiency and more focus on the mental and tactical areas of hitting that, when disregarded, will manifest in what LOOKS like a biomechanical issue.


Rick Johnston, Head Coach & Instructor - The Baseball Zone


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Topics: hitting tips, hitting instruction, Hitting plan, hitting strategy, hitting approach, hitting, baseball coaching, pitch recognition, vision, hitting mechanics

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