The Ultimate Guide to “Squish the Bug”
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This The Ultimate Guide to “Squish the Bug” article was excerpted from our new book The Ultimate Hitting Fundamentals, Techniques, and Strategy Guide (click for book details).
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Building Rome Series (Roman Theme) Introduction
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 benefiting 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.
Next on the docket, Senators examine the validity of an “ancient” Roman edict, “Squish the Bug.” Squish the bug is a way of introducing core rotation (see Pillar VII: Core Rotation) to younger players. The hitter pivots on the ball of the rear foot. As they do so, they push the ball of the foot into the ground, thereby squashing the bug. This action has the effect of turning the hips.
Roman Senators separate into two different “parties” based on how they believe successful hitters implement core rotation:
Party 1 – Squish the Bug
Squish the Bug (also negative attack angle)
One cluster of Senators proclaims weight never transfers forward; instead, hitters swing with at least half of their weight remaining on the rear foot. Just like MLB Barry Bonds, hitters hit off their back foot, not their front foot.
A coach of young Roman citizens is the first to speak:
“The weight transfer is from back to middle. The back foot remains in solid contact with the ground. The hitter must not let the bug escape before he squashes it!” (Anonymous, Hitting Forum, 2012)
Now a Major League Baseball Hitting coach:
“First the lower half. The back knee will start to press and turn inward once the swing is started. Many young hitters try to extend the back knee, which is wrong. “Squash the bug” is a good saying, because it makes the hitter use his back knee to transfer the power and weight to the hands. A hitter never wants to be out on his front foot. He wants to have his weight balanced throughout his swing.” (Major League Hitting Philosophy, n.d.)
Party 2 – Un-weight Rear Foot Instead of Squish the Bug
A boisterous group of Senators asserts “squish the bug” causes hitters to:
- Hit with substantial weight on their rear foot.
For a hitter to forcefully engage their hips into the swing, weight must come off the rear foot. The forward transfer of bodyweight (during the approach phase) coming up against a firm front side enables un-weighting the back foot (see Pillar V: Firm Front Side). When this happens, core rotation (see Pillar VII: Core Rotation) can occur smoothly without resistance.
- Lose the energy built up during gather and approach.
The energy built up by the legs working against the ground must be transferred smoothly to the rotating hips. When squish the bug turns the rear ankle, which turns the back knee, which turns the hips, this breaks the chain of energy created by previous kinetic links (see Stone XXI: Kinetic Links). Just as the driver who “rides the brakes” while pushing the gas pedal, squish the bug acts as a “brake” to core rotation.
Senate Ruling on Squish the Bug
Squish the Bug Easily Misperceived
Whether the hitter turns to toe or pivots on the ball of the back foot can be challenging to identify when viewed at game speed. Body mass rebounds off the firm front side very quickly, bouncing the hitter into a squish the bug position during the follow-through. But with the advent of clear, slow motion video, great hitters can be seen transferring nearly all of their weight to the front leg during their approach. With few exceptions, the rear foot becomes un-weighted by contact.
A small minority of professional and college hitters have a squish the bug position at contact. With experienced hitters, this is usually the result of a “pure” rotational strategy where there is little or no forward (linear) movement of the torso during the hitter’s approach. At least half of bodyweight remains on the rear foot at contact.
Yes, Barry Bonds hit off his back foot. He also used CHP and THT and BHT and Circular Extension techniques to generate tremendous bat speed (see Pillar XIII: Lead Shoulder Opening Strategies, Pillar XXVI: Rotational with Circular Hand Path, and Dome XVII: Outside Pitch with Circular Hand Path), thus compensating for the lack of linear translation of body weight into angular velocity. Barry’s hitting style was and still is unique in many ways.
Squish the Bug – Final Thoughts
Over 95% of High-Level hitters transfer nearly their entire body weight to the front leg at the moment of impact.
Un-weighted Rear Foot at Contact (Universal)
The hips leading rear ankle and shoulders followed by a pivot to toe is one of the defining techniques of the High-Level swing. It is notable, golfers, quarterbacks, pitchers, tennis players, and many other athletes also release or make contact with nearly all weight on the front foot.
The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click the link for details about our new drill book):
- Tool XIV: Universal Leg Drills, Drill IV – Rear Knee Hinge Drill.
- Tool XIV: Universal Leg Drills, Drill VI – Un-Weight Rear Foot Drill.
Other Hitting Debate Articles You May Find Interesting
Click the links below for further free articles:
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
Click on Building the High-Level Swing Series to learn more about our new book series containing 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!