I always try to find new and more simple ways to explain the swing. In this article, we will look at where the hands actually go in the swing. This topic is going to “grow” over the next few posts as we look into different angles, positions, definitions, etc. Overall, I want to help more people see the swing in a different light.
So with that said, where exactly do the hands go in the swing? We constantly see a swing demo that looks like this:
This is a minor league player with the Twins. I don’t know who he is and it doesn’t even matter who he is. Look at what he does. It reminds me of what Giancarlo Stanton does on deck.
Should their hands get to the “front side”?
In these demo swings, the right handed batters are moving their hands from the right side of the body to the left side of the body. Many people would consider them to be taking a short path and getting the hands “out front”… But what is the front side?
Let’s create some objective definitions about the hand positioning throughout the swing process.
First, most hitters believe the hands will start on the “back side” of their body. In the demonstrations above, the hitters are working their hands from their back side toward the front side. This means the hands are working away from the right side of the body.
I prefer to think of the hands starting on the right side of the body for a righty, not the back side. (Obviously for a lefty, the hands will be on the left side but we’ll stick with righty terminology for now.)
Here’s a look at the same image above with the different wording:
The problem with the swing demos above is that the hands need to remain on the right side of the body during the initial part of the swing when the hitter is starting the barrel path. They also need to stay on the right side when a pitch is away or even down the middle.
Check out where Pujols is at contact on an outside pitch:
On an inside pitch, the hands will work toward the middle:
But not after “staying back” on the right side during the load:
If a hitter takes their hands to the left side to initiate the swing, they have no chance to drive the ball to the opposite field!
The Hands and the Real “Front Side”
When we look at the hitter from the front or from behind, we can see the hands are set up on the “front” of the hitter. The hands are not “behind” the hitter from this view either.
Let’s see what that looks like from behind home plate:
When the hitter gets to contact, the hands will still be on the front side of the hitter. The hands can stay very close to the body or they may end up reaching out depending on timing and pitch location. Here are two pictures showing deep contact and contact a little further out.
If extension happens, it isn’t to the left side. It is to the front of the body. Again, if the hitter starts their swing to their left side like those swing demos at the top, this can’t happen!
So the Hands Stay Front/Right and Finish Front/Right… Right?
We just established that the hands of a righty hitter will start on the right side of their body and in front of their body and they will finish on the right side (unless way inside) and on the front side.
So if they start front/right and finish front/right, where are they going??
This is where the beauty of the elite pattern really shines through. When you start seeing how the hands aren’t pushing forward, you can begin to look at how the hands work to create a barrel path. We’ll dig into this more soon! For now, refer to the above video of Pujols hitting the high/inside pitch for clues.
Another huge aspect of this concept is also tremendous value it provides to a learning hitter. When they realize the hands stay on the right side and don’t need to pull or push across the body, it allows them to achieve the whole “keep the hands back” part of the load more easily. It is just wording, but the words allow the hitter to paint a different picture in their head of what should be happening.
Pick up a bat and experiment with keeping the hands on the right side of the body (or left side if you are a lefty). If you are working with hitters, test out this swing cue. In the coming articles, we’ll look at other hitters and isolate the loading portion of the swing.
Feel free to leave comments. I have a travel day tomorrow (Wednesday) so I’ll most likely get another post up on Thursday.