Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Three Part Series: Load, Stretch, and Fire



Linear Hitting: Load, Stretch, and Fire

As the days pass toward the first day of practice in February, it is important to implement your program’s hitting philosophy for freshman to start incorporating. In the next three-part article, I will present our style of swinging the bat. Hopefully, this information can be useful as the season approaches.

My ideas were greatly influenced by Dr. Chris Yeager, formerly of the University of Southern Mississippi. Currently, Dr. Yeager is employed by the San Diego Padres as a member of their player development team. Dr. Yeager conducted several swing breakdowns of different minor league ballplayers. His hitting theory involves the use of momentum, lead arm extension, and a series of pushes by player’s lower body. If you are interested in learning more about his method, please visit his website at www.baseballscience.com. He has a DVD that is the best hitting instruction I have ever seen either by college or pro hitting instructors.

From Dr. Yeager I formulated my own version of his teachings to accommodate the 15-16 year old players compared to his professional athletes. The method uses three oral cues: load, stretch, and fire. The players love the easy language and the hitting style allows them to use their whole body during the swing. Below, I will describe the first stage in the hitting philosophy entitled,” The Load.”

At the top of the article, George Brett is loading the back leg. As you can see, his entire front foot comes off the ground and all of his weight is placed on the back leg. By just picking up the leg, Brett has transferred all his weight backwards. When a hitter gets total weight transfer on the back leg, they have only two places for the weight to go when the stride foot comes down. The hitter could simple put his foot back to its original position or the hitter could push their weight forward toward the pitch and attack by gaining ground from the stride foot’s original position. We teach our hitters to attack during the stride and this is an idea Dr. Yeager touches on during his hitting DVD. But, to understanding “The Load” phase of the swing, we teach our hitters to maintain balance and take their whole foot off the ground and transferring all their weight to the rear leg, just like in the illustration above. We think it is the easiest way to teach hitters to load their backside.

In the next section, I will discuss “The Stretch” phase of the swing and provide an illustration to help paint an accurate picture of what we are teaching our players to do during their swing.



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