Does a Short Swing Equal a Quick Swing?
Baseball and Fast Pitch Softball
This Short Swing Equal Quick Swing article is excerpted from our new book The Ultimate Hitting Fundamentals, Techniques, and Strategy Guide (click for book details).
Our dedicated Roman Senators are back in session. Rome’s citizens much appreciate the Senate members due to their ability to keep an open mind and make well thought out rulings benefitting all levels of ability. Senators comprise a group of respected players, coaches, and sports scientists elected by the Roman citizens. The purpose of the Roman Senate is to review and debate contending hitting strategies and viewpoints. The Roman Senate seeks to raise knowledge to beget increased success. After each debate, the Senate issues a ruling. The ruling contains recommendations, proclaiming increases in power or productivity.
Many Roman Senators are opposed to swings with more prolonged movements as required by the significant contributors to early bat speed (listed in the previous Pillar).
“The number one thing to realize is that hitters must use their hands to hit the baseball. Their legs do the dirty work, and the hands put the bat to the ball. The quicker the hands are to the ball, the more time a hitter has to react to the pitch. Guessing is not a good method for a hitter’s approach. Reacting to the pitch is what is best, and the more time one has, the better the hitter. Quick hands give the hitter ample time to react. Being quiet with one’s swing is the key to having quick hands. Any sudden movements with the lower half to try to generate more power will be detrimental. The hands do the work.” (Major League Hitting Philosophy, n.d.)
Components of a Swing
Let’s first look at the components that make up a “short” or “long” swing:
- Time required for the movements from stance to launch to execute.
A more aggressive rear weight shift, bigger stride, longer approach, front side in, loading hands further rearward, and increased barrel travel distance takes more time. The hitter adjusts the timing of movements to begin slightly earlier (synced with the pitcher or ball travel) to compensate.
- Time beginning at launch (swing commitment) until contact.
The time to contact metric (provided by bat sensors) measures the time, beginning when the barrel starts to move towards the hitting zone (at launch) until the bat reaches the ball. Time to contact is affected by the degree of early bat speed, the swing arc radius, and where contact occurs, inner zone (deep) vs. outer (out front).
Time to contact is the primary indicator of quickness.
A Short in Distance Swing Usually Takes Longer
A commonly accepted concept of a “short” swing, especially in youth baseball and fastpitch softball, includes a set of mechanics where:
- The hands load in front of the rear shoulder (outside the toe line).
- Hands hammer the handle directly forward to an out-front contact point.
- Minimized gather, stride, and approach movements.
- The stride foot gets down early to avoid being late, promoting out front contact.
Here are the actualities:
- The time to contact is longer since contact is out front. The further out front, the earlier the hitter must commit – they are more often “fooled” by off-speed. Striving to hit the ball out-front gives the pitcher a considerable advantage.
- The time to contact is longer since bat speed is slower early in the swing. The arms are thrusting the hands forward instead of letting the legs, core, and shoulders utilize accumulated (conserved) momentum to quickly speed up the barrel.
- There are issues with swing plane (attack angle) and swing patterns (pulling) that affect productivity.
The techniques involved in generating early bat speed teach kids how to create bat speed before their hands travel forward. The ability to start the swing without committing allows kids to be aggressive. It is what the best hitters do.
Other Hitting Debate Articles You May Find Interesting
See Building the High-Level Swing for a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!