One of the most difficult parts of learning rotational oscillation is developing and understanding what almost all instructors call “staying connected”. Ten years ago, hanging around the baseball and softball fields, this term was a virtual unknown to most coaches and instructors.
So what is connection? Why do I need to stay connected as a coach? As children we grow up and our intuition tells us that when we take something, whether it’s a fly swatter, a garden stick, or even a little toy hammer like dads and swing it, we take our hands towards the object we are hitting. It’s a natural instinct for all young humans. Even though it’s the coffee table, we just left a mark and mum and dad don’t have a happy look on their faces. The learning connection is counterintuitive to what we all learned as children.
In the world of the swivel connection, there is the motor which drives the ball with force. You will hear all kinds of talk on blogs and websites about linear and rotary typing methods. Even among the purest in rotation, there is debate over the best method. None of those more pure debates about connection. This is probably the one thing they all realize has to happen in the spinning swing.
So how does the connection work and how do I know if I am connected in my swing? When the batter settles into his stance, let’s assume he’s in a good athletic stance and has the bat in position ready for a swing. They are tilted forward in their position with the knees slightly bent. The bat is positioned at a 45 degree angel in their hands or through the ear hole of the helmet. In short, cut the helmet in half if you are looking at them from their back side of the arm. Or the sight of the batter’s catchers.
Depending on where you are as an instructor with that particular batter, they may or may not take a step. One of the first things I do to a new student who comes to me is stop the stride for a while. I’m doing this to help them develop better methods of swing rotation. Most of the students who come to see me suffer from what my good friend calls “rotation deficit”. If you take the stride off and teach them how to turn first, you’ll see immediate results in terms of speed and power on the ball. This, in my opinion, applies not only to spinning strikes, but also to linear strikes. Having taught and used both methods, I feel quite comfortable with this statement.
Now I have a hitter who has good hitting posture and decent spinning skills, but is disconnected from the ball. Disconnection takes many forms when rotating. I’ll cover them a bit later in this article. For now, I’m going to say that the disconnect is a leak that breaks the rotary motor. He’s bleeding with the current.
When the batter initiates the swing towards the ball, he focuses on the first point where he will see the ball. I’ve heard a lot of state coaches look hip. This view is the first point to have a good clear look at the ball. As they start the swing, they touch each other’s toes. This creates linear motion towards the ball. At the same time, the hands move back towards the receiver.
(I’m talking about an advanced student in this example) At the foot, plant the hip taillights (as I’m teaching) against a bent leg on the firm front side. The bat button then initiates bat movement as the hips and core of the body begin to rotate. The core of the body is now driving the swing. It is THE engine of the rotational swing. When the back arm begins to move with the rotation, the arm begins to move in the lunge. The arm should be away from the body and the hand and forearm are stacked on top of each other. If viewed from the front with a tee in front of the batter, the back arm would be parallel to the tee. It would be as described by another typing instructor who is a good friend of mine. When the bat becomes parallel to the ground during the swing, this is the Bat Lag position.
At this point in the swing, the button of the bat should be directly perpendicular to the center line of the batter’s spine. If I stop the swing right there and take a pencil and place it over the button on the bat pointing at the batter, it should be aligned with the navel. This defines a CONNECTED swing. The arms do not move but simply hold the bat, letting the rotation of the core cause the swing to make contact. The other key here is to maintain this position for as long as possible during the rotating portion of the swing in contact. The barrel and the weight of the bat force the wrist to disarm, creating a whip effect through the strike zone in contact with the ball. The spin motor combined with the connected hitter and wrist disarm is how the world’s best hitters drive the ball hard in today’s game.
Disconnection – Motor circuit breakers
There are a lot of things that can happen during the swing that will cause a batter to disconnect or break the box as some instructors call it. The “Box” being the angle of the front arm which maintains a “Set” position with the bat on the shoulder. Seen from the batter’s front, it would appear that he has a box formed with his arm and the bat.
- Take hands with the ball.
- Drop the back elbow inward (close to the body) as a first movement creating Bat Drag.
- Drop hands then go to the ball.
- The stick is not parallel to the shoulders on contact with the ball (created by all of the above)
- Throw hands.
- Open the front shoulder too early.
Hope this article has given you a better idea of what the term connection means in the context of the rotational swing. I strongly suggest that you see a qualified hitting instructor to help you better connect with your swing so that you too can learn to drive the strong ball over all parts of the court. This is what the connection is in the spinning swing.
This picture shows an example of a connected swing. The arms are in the power position L and are driven by the rotation of the core. The bat in contact is on a slightly upward swing plane.