Sparky’s Fence Theory
Teaching quality hitting mechanics is like building a fence!
In hitting you have core principles that are all dependent upon each other in order to be successful, and like a fence, these pieces all need to be assembled together in order to maximize the hitting process.
In order for any player to be “completed” as a hitter, the four principles have to be established. And like the fence posts, the better they are set the stronger they will be.
The fence posts represent the four core principles of hitting:
Hips lead the hands
Once the principles of hitting are set, the remaining pieces have to be assembled. You cannot, and will not, be successful if you are lacking in anyone of these areas in the hitting process and is precisely why Ted William’s said that hitting a baseball is the single most difficult thing to do in any sport.
Great hitters don’t always look good at the plate and my fence theory helps explain why. Take one element away and see what happens to the swing. Remove a section of the fence or set the posts improperly and the result are less than favorable.
Having good hitting mechanics is not the same as being completely dialed into every pitch, and is only a part of the whole. Oftentimes, a player who has excellent core hitting mechanics can be struggling at the plate and even look awkward. If you look at the examples of Sheffield, it is obvious that he is clearly in a much better hitting position in the photo on the left then he is in the photo on the right, but it doesn’t mean that he has poor hitting mechanics. Instead, something else in the process is slightly off. By applying the fence theory you can begin to analyze what is happening, or what is not happening, in the swing process and begin to really analyze what is off or not working.
Here is an example of how I would analyze what is happening in Sheffield’s swing using my theory. His core mechanics are fine, but his rhythm, timing and tempo are off and he is definitely chasing the pitch. Now, I realize I don’t know the count and it could definitely be a two-strike approach, which would explain it very well, but if it wasn’t a two strike count you would have a solid foundation to work with and the conversation could then be pin-pointed.
By-the-way, there is not much you can do when you have two strikes on you except let the ball travel as deep as it can get and put your bat in the path of the ball.
Build strong fences, build great hitters!
It all starts with the core mechanics and then expands from there. Every element is necessary to maximize the swing process. When a player is taught improper core mechanics or if core mechanics are not firmly established, hitting problems are exacerbated greatly!
Blake Gibbs, as a senior at Newport High School, has been working with me over the past year and is taking his game to a whole different level and it is based on building strong fences.