Thursday, January 18, 2018

Power – Why It Is So Hard To Attain

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Vol #2

“There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”

-Tommy Lasorda

Why is hitting with power so hard to do? That is a great question and one that I get asked all the time. Hitting is one of those areas that is inundated with professional instructors that all claim to have the answer when it comes to power, but the truth of the matter is that very few understand the true essence of power. 

Power is broken down into two primary parts; the velocity that the bat is traveling around the body and making contact at the ideal impact zone. One without the other and power takes a nose dive. Add the biggest, heaviest and longest bat in a players hands without diminishing bat speed too much and you will increase their power even more.

Bat speed is a biggie and one that is the easiest to identify, the problem is how we generate it. Rotational mechanics teach pull with the big muscles (Core), linear mechanics will stress the hands to the ball and an upper body approach (quick hands). There is a difference and all you have to do is slow down any video of a major league ball player swinging the bat and you will see that they are using the big to pull the small. It is kind of like two boxers fighting, the one that delivers the biggest, strongest blows usually win. Similar to a Mike Tyson upper cut with the force and energy of his entire body behind it versus a rabbit puncher that likes to throw the jab. Let the big muscles come to the party.

It is this notion of using your core to turn to the ball that linear coaches fail to recognize. In order to utilize this force, the back shoulder has to dip, the front elbow works up and around the body and the bat has to work rotationally around your body the same way Tyson delivers a rib busting body shot that can send his opponent to the canvas. Let the big pull the small! 

The second and equally important element power is the contact point between bat and ball. Many of you have read this from me time and time again, but it is so important that it is worth repeating. Ideal contact occurs when the bat and the ball meet at a 90 degree angle. This is a critical area and one that players struggle with all the time. Letting the ball travel deep enough that when contact is made it is done so at the power threshold called the “wheelhouse”. Out of all of the players that I have ever worked with, none of them knew how truly important the impact zone was to their swing and why it is vital to their success. 

Test yourself, take at bat and get yourself into a good contact position. You will need to use something to resist against the bat like a door jam or someone’s hand. I like to use a heavy bag (punching bag) so it gives a little. Once you are set up at the ideal impact zone brace into the object representing the ball. Make sure not to extend your arms, just simply brace and apply pressure into the object. You should feel your entire body connected behind the ball. Now, adjust your contact point so that it is out in front of you a bit just outside of the 90 degree mark. You will feel your brace power move from your body to your arms. This is what I refer to as being disconnected and power drops off drastically. It is this concept that players need to absorb and one that is so frequently omitted. 

The combination between the two is what sets off the “bomb sirens” and when a player is dialed into these two critical power elements it is a beautiful thing. 

If they can swing a bigger, heavier bat, let them, it will only increase their power. A small, light bat is like bringing a knife to a sword fight. Bring the SABER!!! 

Newton explains how the velocity of an object changes when it is subjected to an external force and that Force = Mass x Acceleration.

Which means, if a player can swing more mass with similar acceleration then more force will be generated and more force is more power.

Take for example two vehicles traveling at each other, a Mini Cooper (the ball) and a Toyota Camry (the bat) at impact the greater force will be transferred onto the other. In this scenario, the Camry being bigger will apply greater force and impact on the Cooper. Now, lets swap out the Camry and replace it with a Ford F150 or maybe a F250, now what kind of force will be transferred? Even if the truck was traveling at a slightly slower rate then the Camry, it will still create a greater impact.

So, if I can get a player to swing a little heavier and longer bat without jeopardizing their acceleration rate 

Mickey Mantle

734 feet (5/22/63, Yankee Stadium Façade* – Pitcher: Bill Fischer, Kansas City Athletics – Left-handed)

656 feet (3/26/51, Bovard Field, USC – Exhibition Game. Pitcher: Unknown – Left-handed)

Coaches are a major contributor to the development of their players and the ones with the foresight, knowledge and integrity to challenge what is being taught in regard to hitting is an absolute gift to your players.

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