Paul is back as the hitting coach at Wheaton College in Chicago, and I know him pretty well. He works with both softball and baseball players to maximize their power from the ground up.
Here are a few excerpts from one of his torque hitting blog post, entitled “Hitters Should Never Be Satisfied”:
“As a hitting coach, it is difficult for me to observe the “real” swings of my hitters until they are in the batter’s box in live games. The goal of every hitter should be to use the same hitting mechanics in games as they do in the batting cage. Unfortunately, many hitters struggle with this.”
- Don’t be content, even if you are leading your team in hitting.
- Continue to search for small ways to generate extra power by using your body more effectively.
- Strive for more consistency by continually working on perfecting every hitting key, which will lead to a repeatable swing.
- Transfer your batting practice swing to games.
- Never be satisfied!
Here are 4 of his torque hitting hitting keys….
Even though I can objectively prove to my hitters with a swing speed radar that by merely moving the hands back toward the catcher a few inches, bat speed will increase dramatically, some don’t trust this advice in games.
They move their hands in towards their body in an effort to be “quicker to the ball”. This only leads to a slower bat and less power. I’m convinced that most hitters don’t want to accept this very simple fix to their swing, because they want to look “cool”. They see professional hitters with their hands and bats in all kinds of crazy positions before the pitch is thrown.
What they don’t see is how all professional hitters move their hands back toward the catcher at some point before the pitch is thrown. They can get away with some pre-swing bat movement, but amateur hitters cannot!
Hitters who adopt a leg lift that is slow and powerful will enjoy both increased power and consistency. Hitters who decide not to lift the front leg at all will be at the mercy of pitchers who are able to effectively pitch on the corners of home plate. They will have to reach for outside pitches and will be forced to swing earlier than necessary for inside pitches.
I tell my hitters that hitting success begins with a slow and powerful leg lift (load). Without this important hitting key, the entire swing sequence is negatively affected. In my book, Hitting With Torque: For Baseball and Softball Hitters, I detail why lifting the front leg is imperative to be a complete hitter.
Back Elbow Rotation
The most common cause of inconsistency in hitters, especially fastpitch softball players, is the collapsing of the back elbow as the swing sequence is initiated. When hitters move the back elbow close to their bodies as the swing begins, the bat quickly loses the important 45-degree power angle.
This angle is critical for consistent hard contact with the ball. The back elbow should be totally still as it rotates around the body. This rotation without lowering the back elbow will ensure the angle of the bat is maintained until the arms move toward full extension at impact with the ball.
In practice, I encourage my hitters to let the bat finish where “it” wants to finish, which is high and away from the body. Average hitters will often manually change the path of the bat (higher or lower) before the swing is fully completed. Not only does this affect the flight of the ball, it also decreases bat speed and power.
Some coaches and hitters erroneously believe that where the bat finishes is not important. They contend the ball is already gone, so it doesn’t matter where the bat finishes. I believe the velocity and trajectory of the ball off the bat has everything to do with the path and finish of the swing.
Ask any professional golfer the key to a successful swing. They will always point to a balanced, powerful, and high finish to the swing. When hitters focus on the end of the swing and trust the rest of the swing sequence, the results are typically very good!
Both baseball and softball players alike can take a ton away from what Coach Petricca is saying here….and best of luck to Paul and his Wheaton team this upcoming season!