The key to hitting a baseball with power is staying connected to the body's rotational energy. Body rotation is powered by the larger and more powerful muscles of the legs, hips and torso. For a batter to hit the ball with maximum power, his swing mechanics must stay connected and make efficient use of these larger muscle groups. This article discusses the important steps needed to produce a swing that transfers the body's rotational power into hitting power.
Step #1 - Acquire a Powerful Launch Position
Staying connected to the body's rotational energy starts when the hitter steps into the batter's box to prepare the launch position. To acquire a powerful launch position, the batter's upper body and shoulders must rotate to a fully loaded position. An inward turn of the upper torso and shoulders stretches the muscles of the upper body and pelvic region. Some refer to this as loading. With good transfer mechanics, the contraction of these muscles combined with the energy of hip rotation is converted into angular acceleration of the bat-head. The video below shows, and discusses, a powerful launch position.
Step #2 - Initiate the Swing Correctly
There is a very important Biomechanical Principle that pertains to the initiation of the baseball swing. The principle states: "A ballistic motion, once initiated, produces trajectories that can only be changed at its margins." This means, the forces applied to the bat during initiation produce trajectories that will set the tone for the entire swing. If the swing is not initiated correctly - little can be done to compensate for it.
To stay connected to the body's rotational energy, it is very important that the first movement of the hands is not directed toward the pitcher - or inline with the incoming pitch. The batter should keep his hands back and allow the rotation of the body against the lead arm to accelerate the hands. The first movement of the hands will then be propelled more perpendicular to the flight of the incoming ball. This will induce the greatest amount of angular displacement to the bat and propel the hands into the most productive path.
Below is an overhead view of a good rotational swing. We have plotted the path of the hands and bat-head. Although the video discusses plate coverage, note that: (1) the bat-head accelerates rearward (back toward the catcher) about 140 degrees before it swings around toward the pitcher (2) the first movement of the hands are more away than toward the pitcher.
Step #3 - Use Swing Mechanics that Stay Connected
As stated, to hit a baseball with power, the batter's swing must stay connected to the powerful muscle groups. However, far too many batters are taught mechanics that use the arms rather than rotation to initiate the acceleration of the hands and bat. Using the arms to fire the hands ahead of rotation disconnects the swing from the larger muscles and hitting with maximum power is lost.
To learn more about swing mechanics that keep the batter connected to rotation, read Drills that Increase Bat Speed. Also, Batspeed.com's Instructional DVD, "The Final Arc II", contains instructions and drills that help batters develop these mechanics