Re: Coach Jack, what about the shoulder shrug?
Can you explain the purpose/importance of the shoulder shrug? I feel my swing has become long over the past four games. The bat head feels slow, and my hips don't seem to be the engine behind my swing. I think the shoulder shrug could be what I am doing wrong. Thanks for your time.
We normally associate shoulder rotation as occurring from the rotation of the body. However, the way each shoulder is hinged allows each to rotate about 90 degrees (60 inward - 30 rearward) independent of torso rotation. As the batter extends the hands back toward the back-shoulder to set up the launch position, the lead-shoulder rotates inward about 60 degrees from its straightaway position. I have referred to this inward rotation as the inward "shrugging" of the lead-shoulder.
One of the key differences between average and great hitters is how they "un-shrugg" the lead-shoulder (rotate it back too straightaway). In the average swing, little or nothing is gained from the un-shrugging of the shoulder. The shoulder returns to the straightaway position as the batter drives the lead-elbow back toward the pitcher. He then extends the hands toward the ball by un-flexing the lead-elbow. This produces a longer and straighter hand-path with little or no "hook" pattern, which results in the bat-head just trailing behind the hands well into the swing.
The great hitters do not drive the lead-elbow toward the pitcher as they initiate their swing. They keep the elbow at a fairly fixed angle across their chest and allow the un-shrugging to work with, and add to, body rotation. The lead-shoulder is pulling the lead-arm and bottom-hand around toward third base to induce a force on the knob-end of the bat that is perpendicular its length. The bottom-hand pulling on the knob is one of the opposing forces that induce torque (THT). The top-hand pulling rearward provides the other opposing force. THT aids in generating the rearward acceleration of the bat-head we see in the swing of a great hitter.
As the best hitters prepare to launch the swing, they can almost rub their chin on the shoulder. (In fact, Matt Williams does just that as he waits for the pitch -- he also has a habit of licking his jersey shoulder). It is very important that the "shrug" remain in the shoulder during initiation. If the batter fires the elbow and hands forward, the shrug will come out of the shoulder and the lead-arm will be forced away from the chest too soon resulting in a loss of linkage (or connection) to body rotation.
As the swing proceeds, it is the rotation and un-shrugging of the lead-shoulders (back to the 105 degree position) that powers the CHP hand-path, creates the hook in the hand-path and generates BHT at contact. However, as I pointed out above, this can only take place if the hands remain back and allow shoulder rotation to accelerate the hands at initiation.
Post a followup: