The Perfect Baseball Swing: Developing Leg Drive
When younger and less experienced baseball players begin learning the mechanics of the perfect baseball swing, a few very common errors often creep into their technique. Some of these can be ironed out with a sustained series of carefully monitored baseball hitting drills, but the best way to prevent these problems is by introducing baseball hitting drills early in the process that can help players develop instinctive balance and targeted strength in the necessary areas of the lower body.
Baseball Hitting Drills: The Glide Step Drill
In a classic example of one of these negative habits, younger baseball players tend to square their hips and balance their weight correctly right before the swing. But as the swing begins and the rotational force moves up through the lower body, the hip on the back side tends to tilt downward, and the player seems to sit, or fall, in place as the swing follows through.
Ideally, this shouldn’t happen. The hips should stay level with the ground and should glide forcefully into the motion of the swing. The front leg should form a stable base and should accept the entire weight of the body transferred onto it. When the hips stay under control and square, they deliver all of the force of the swing up into the core and through the arms. When the hips tilt and the baseball player sits, much of this force dissipates and is lost.
Baseball coaches, especially youth coaches, should keep an eye on how force is transferred in the lower body during the swing. If coaches see too much of the sitting motion, they can introduce the glide step drill to iron out this problem and help players add force, strength and control to the leg drive portion of the perfect baseball swing.
The Glide Step: Setting Up the Drill
This baseball hitting drill will require a ball, a bat and a set of Kbands resistance training bands for each player. Pitches can be provided by a tee or partner. Once each player has attached the Kband straps in place around the upper legs just above the knee, the band with the correct level of resistance can be selected from the kit and clipped to the straps. The long band should be attached to the rings in the front, and the short band should be attached in the back.
The Glide Step: Technique during the Swing
The purpose of this drill is to over-exaggerate the force of the stride leg during the baseball swing. If this motion is extended beyond the typical distance, especially with the added resistance of the Kbands in place, the adductor and abductor muscles will experience a higher level of tension. This will increase strength and control in the targeted areas of the hip and upper legs. This drill can help baseball players:
1. Keep solid weight on the inside legs 2. Maintain power in the legs during the swing 3. Drive through 4. Explode out during the final motion of the swing
Players should start the motion by keeping the feet together and keeping the weight inside the back knee (as mentioned in previous drills, player should feel as if they are holding an inflatable ball between their knees). When the swing begins and the rotational force is generated in the lower body, the baseball player will take an exaggerated step with the forward leg. (Note in the video how the player’s step is extended, forcing the hips to follow the motion in a forward direction.)
As this happens, the following things will take place:
1. The hips will glide forward 2. The upper and lower body will explode out during the swing 3. The upper muscles of the stride leg will experience targeted tension 4. The body will move forward
The Benefit of the Kbands during the Glide Step Drill
Since the Kbands naturally draw the legs inward, the outward pulling muscles (adductors) will experience tension as the front leg lunges forward. Also, the body will have to work hard to stay stable and in control against the forward motion of the leg. So when the bands are ultimately removed, the body will feel as if it’s gliding forward and following the forward leg on its own.
The Perfect Baseball Swing: Sets and Reps for the Glide Step Drill
Because of the unconscious training and alignment taking place in the body during this drill, the sets and reps should be carefully observed. The glide step drill should happen no more than ten times in succession, and each swing should follow immediately after the last one. This set of ten reps should be repeated two to three times with 10 to 30 second breaks in between. As always, players should place maximum effort into the swing and should focus their full attention on technique. As soon as fatigue begins to creep in and compromise body position, players should stop and rest. Here’s a quick summary of the key points for the drill:
1. Ten reps 2. Two to three sets 3. Ten to thirty second breaks in between 4. Max effort in each swing
Between each of these sets, baseball players can complete a set of five un-resisted swings, with the resistance bands unclipped from the Kbands straps. Keep these guidelines in mind during these portions of the drill:
1. Five quick drive sets with resistance in place 2. Maintain power throughout the swing 3. Drive through 4. Watch out for signs of fatigue
Additional Tips for Coaches
To make the most of this drill, baseball coaches can visit KbandsTraining.com and review the set of videos on the site that detail the mechanics of the perfect baseball swing. If you’re a coach, this core knowledge can inform your observation of your athlete (or athletes) and ensure that neither of you are missing the small details and alignment issues that undermine the power and accuracy of the ideal swing. The site can also provide additional training tips to help your players build balance, control and coordination during other aspects of the game.
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