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Re: extension and bottom hand torque

Posted by: tom.guerry (tom.guerry@kp.org) on Fri Dec 15 13:12:45 2000

some questions for guys i respect:
> tom.guerry quote:
> "the rotational baseball swing does not work well with wrist snap, it requires continuous application of torque from launch to contact."
> question 1.
> what is the difference between wrist snap and the bottom hand torque that jack promotes?
> comment: in jack's video i was very impressed by the demo with brian taped up and sitting in the chair. on the last swing into the bag, jack asks brian to use a little more pull on his bottom hand. in two frames (the last two preceeding contact with the bag) the wrist's torque and the bat appears to travel at least 2 to 3 feet. don't you consider this a snap? is this wrong? should the torque be applied over more frames?


The difference is that you need to apply torque from initiation to contact in the baseball swing to be able to get full plate coverage(similar swing for all locations),and have a short enough(circular handpath in close to body bat stays on plane) quick enough(rapid acceleration)swing.

Let me approach this from a comparative swing point of view.I play golf,played and coached baseball up to college level in 70's(small ball era,I could never figure out how to hit or coach for power)and more recently have been trying to figure out what the heck it is that girls/women's fastpitch hitting coaches are trying to do.When I read Jack's stuff,I finally was able to figure out how the power swing worked in baseball. I may still know just enough to be dangerous so don't let respect for me cloud your judgement.This is long,but you asked for it!

In golf,you have the advantage of a still ball and infinite reaction time.You have the disadvantage of having to control the clubface on the end of the club.The preferred way to swing for power(driver)is to have a circular handpath and as long a swing radius as possible.You keep the front arm extended and use a long club.You also use a long backswing and separate the upper and lower torso as much as possible(80 degrees for Tiger)with the club still going back as the lower body is turning forward.

You do not apply torque as the down swing progresses.Instead,you keep the wrists cocked,then snap the wrists to extension just before contact and keep them extended without rolling through contact.The wrists snap together.There is no push pull applying opposing forces on either side of a point on the grip between the hands.An overlapping grip is used with a small diameter grip held in the fingers.Keeping the wrists extended through extension before rolling usually requires ongoing acceleration at contact(clubhead not at maximum speed yet.If you look at Jack's tape,they act mostly like the steering wheel knob creating a hinge to transfer centripetal force to turn the bat with fine tuning of the plane of the swing and the timing so that the clubhead is stable and accelerating through contact.This is not whipping because the torso and front arm keep rotating instead of stopping.Tempo of the swing is really the most important factor to consistency-that is smooth acceleration.One of the ultimate tests is to swing a golf club that is hinged in the middle.A great swinger can swing this club with almost the same result as with the stiff shaft.The feel in the hands wrists is important to control this.

Now in the swing Jack documents that the best in baseball are using,the hitter has to get to maximum speed fast with the bat onplane,but you don't have to worry about controlling a clubface,just getting the sweetspot on the ball.As with Jack's golf drill on his video,top hand torque applied at the top of the golf backswing accelerates the club rapidly.Early in the swing the opposing force is provided just by the front arm pulling the bottom hand forward in a circular path.In hitting you need to continue this application of opposing forces about a point between the hands to keep the bat on plane and accelerating.The top hand has to rotate smoothly in the plane of the swing and allow some slippage of the bat to keep applying opposite force.The bottom hand keeps a fixed grip.The best grip is more in the palms is not overlapping and has to allow this smooth rotation of the top hand or "wrist bind" will get the swing off plane and slowed down.Once you get the palms level(with respect to the swing plane which is perpendicular to the upper torso with the plane set by time of launch by posture adjustment)you can apply torque with the back shoulder pushing the top hand forward and the front shoulder pulling the bottom hand back.There is more and more emphasis on bottom hand torque/pull back as the pitch location gets more inside.To apply this torque when the hands are level and the bat is approaching contact,it helps to have the back shoulder blade pinched(horizontal adduction of the scapula,usually accomplished when the back elbow comes up before the swing) and the front shoulder blade UNpinched(which it usually is because it is fixed to the torso early on). Near contact,Pinching of the front shoulder blade can then assist pulling back the bottom hand as unpinching of the back shoulder blade helps drive the to hand forward.This is a completely different action than in golf.If you use a golf grip(overlap and/or in fingers as much as possible and/or especially start with the second knuckles lined up)it is very difficult to apply tophand torque at initiation.This is especially so if the back elbow is not up and then coming down at initiation.If the top hand grip does not allow slippage,it is hard to keep the swing on plane.This is why having a loose top hand and releasing it after contact works well(but is not necessary-just a teaching method like resting the bat against the shoulder as another example).It allows you to keep applying torque and keeps the top hand from causing pre-extension and early wrist rolling/cutting off the swing.

I would call the first example(golf) wrist snap and the second(baseball) torque and they are very different.There are several in between variations in baseball.Not too many players overall take advantage of tophand torque.They keep the grip fixed and then can do one of several things near contact.Most apply bottom hand torque for middle/in pitches because they have learned a good bottom hand pull back keeps the pulled ball fair.Other locations use more wrist snap.Middle/away locations may cast the bottom hand away from the body which stops the bottom hand at extension and lets the top hand whip the bat around it.This is a really bad power swing if the casting happens early as in the typical girl's fastpitch swing(can still work as a placement swing for certain pitch locations).Alternatively,you can keep the bottom hand in a circle and let the top hand catch up as in golf(bottom hand in golf since you start with club down not up as with bat) or as in releasing the top hand earlier than desirable.

As far as Brian in the demo,the taping prevents extension/straightening of the hand path,but I think he could still do a little torquing.

> tom, your quote again:
> "in a few cases there can be some casting/extension through the ball (starting slightly before contact) after maximum batspeed is reached and the bat pulls the bottom hand away from the body. ...in other words, extension is late enough that it doesn't significantly degrade the swing..."
> question 2.
> do you think full extension at contact is bad?
> comment: watched the tape of "the science of the swing" and was simply captivated. quote by mcguire: "i worked so hard to get total extension on my swing. a lot of young kids come up today and they hit like this... (here he demonstrates leaning backwards while swinging).
> i used to be one of those hitters when i first broke in. a high fly ball hitter. the ball would just fall over the wall. now, my ball is...(he demonstates a rocket shot with his hand).
> george brett then comments on mcguire: "everytime he swings now he takes that top hand off and he's swinging through the ball. he's not swinging to it and falling backwards like he used to.
> and that's why he's hitting the ball 650 feet rather than 450 feet."
> maybe the point is - extension is ok at contact if your not simultaneously falling away from the ball. your rotational adjustment is on a somewhat tilted axis to put the swing on the same plane as the pitch (slight upswing). many things can result from this position and full extension -- back shoulder dipping, back leg collapsing, etc. these things decrease the power of the swing, but perhaps putting full extension INTO the ball is what mac is talking about. something that would be very difficult to achieve, but very rewarding.

Ray- I guess the extension question is mostly a matter of getting maximum batspeed and keeping the sweetspot on a collision plane/course as long as possible to maximize the contact zone.Wrist roll is too late for sure.Hitting at extension is near the last part of the suitable contact zone and not as likely to give solid contact as being in the middle of the contact zone.Thinking about extension or guiding the swing motor program with the swing thought of extension may be very successful regardles of how near to extension the actual contact is.
> major dan - your quote to me:
> "full extension of the arms before contact reduces power as well."
> question 3. how about full extension AT contact?
> question 4 for jack. should bottom hand torque be applied at full extension?
> question 5 for jack. on sat., dec. 9 you asked the forum 4 questions, got a variety of responses and left us (or at least me) hanging. what are YOUR answers to your question?
> post script:
> tom.guerry - your paragraph on "pre-extension" in the golf post to chuck was crystal. made an impact on my son.
> major dan - your post at dave's on pontificating experts was stirring.
> thanks,
> ray porco


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