"Using Hip Movement and Leverage to Generate Power"
By Coach Nick Dixon
When you watch several elite baseball batters hit the ball, you quickly see some common traits. The great high school, college, and pro baseball players all generate incredible power with the lower body, legs, and hips. A good baseball swing incorporates the hips and lower body into the swing. Most of the batter's power is generated by the hips and the leverage created by the front leg. How many times have you heard the following? "That batter swings with all arms, and has no power".
The amount of hip movement or turn is always determined by the pitch’s location. We all know that a hitter that "turns on everything" is setting himself up to be a victim of "soft stuff away". And a batter that cannot turn on pitches and that has problems catching-up with the fast ball will be a victim of pitchers working on the inner half of the plate.
A batter will not use the same amount of hip turn with every swing. Some pitches we hit require more hip turn than other pitch locations. The closer the pitch is to the batter, the more hip turn allowed. How do we teach a young batter to use the hips? How do we teach a young player to vary the amount of hip turn with various pitches? We teach young players to visualize that the belly button has an eye in it. The hips should always turn the required amount to allow the “eye” in the belly-button to see where the ball went when it came off the bat. The batters hips turn completely when an inside pitch is pulled. This full hip turn allows the belly button to “see” the ball go to left field. The hips will turn less when a ball is hit to center field thus allowing the batter's "belly button eye" to see the ball hit over second base. When the ball is hit to the opposite field, the hip turn is limited to allow the belly-button to see the ball go to the opposite field.
This technique is simple, but effective to teach young players how much hip turn they should have on each pitch location.
COACHING POINT: A batter's proximity to the plate can cause major problems. If a batter is too far off the plate, the other third will belong to the pitcher. If the batter is too close to the plate and the batter has limited bat speed, the inner third may belong to the pitcher. The general rule is that the batter should tap the bat on the outer black of the plate when stepping into the box to insure that all pitches over the plate can be reached. If a batter has two strikes, the batter needs to move closer to the plate so that the pitch slightly off the plate can be reached. This is especially important if the umpire has shown a tendency to call the pitch slightly off the plate a strike.