Baseball & Softball Hitting: Loading, Launching, Slotting…. Getting a Negative Movement

IMG_0802In the last post, I described the qualities of a great batting stance or “rest position”. So, what’s next? Well, the next step is referred to by many different names, such as, “load”, “slot”, “point of no return”, or “launch”.  “Launch” is my favorite.  It connotes explosion and power. Very positive.  No matter what you call it, the point is; hitters need to get a negative movement prior to during every pitch in order to be prepared to swing. 

Here’s what it looks like:

  • The hands of the hitter take a negative move, back towards the back shoulder.  The hands should be held high at the top of the zone.
  • The hitter should keep the stride shorter rather than longer.  This has nothing to do with how high the foot comes off the ground.  Stride is relative to the distance the front foot travels from its beginning in the rest position to the end of the launch.  In this case, typically, less is more when dealing with the core strength and body control of young hitters. 
  • During launch the hands and front foot move in opposite directions, or walk away from one another.  The foot is somewhat optional.  Some very successful hitters are stride-less.  The hands however are not an option.

launch

  • Compare this to shooting a rubber band.  In order to get it to fly farther and faster, you must pull the ends away from each other. The further apart, the better, right?
  • Most importantly!!! The weight distribution of the hitter should be 80/20 at launch.  That means 80% on the back foot and 20% on the front foot.  In the stance, the hitter should have started at 60/40.  Getting to 80/20 is difficult for many young hitters.  I attribute this to poor instruction at an early age.  All to often, I hear parents and coaches tell young hitters to take a big step towards the pitcher.   Yes, we want the front foot to go in the general direction of the pitcher, but  a step will put the hitters weight distribution at 20/80. That is the total opposite of what it should be at launch position.  Years later you’ll hear the same parents and coaches telling the same hitters not to lunge at off-speed pitches.  Good luck fixing that one.

 Notes:

  • This negative movement must happen on every pitch!!!
  • This negative movement should be practiced in the on-deck circle.
  • This negative movement needs to be drilled as part of a batting practice routine.
  • Think of cue words or phrases to remind hitters of this negative movement, such as, “stretch the rubber band” or “load up”.