Bat Torque (Ancaster Baseball)

PrintBat Torque

Written by Paul Petricca  

Five years ago, while observing people taking batting practice at the "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa, an idea hit me. I immediately picked up a bat and without actually taking a swing, knew that I had discovered a way to help hitters at all levels generate more power with amazing bat control.

Typically, power is associated with free swinging hitters who are also usually the largest players. Conversely, good bat control is normally associated with contact hitters who hit mostly singles and doubles and are usually smaller physically than power hitters. By using my new technique, that I call "The Torque", all hitters will immediately increase their power, hit more line drives, and strike out less. The best part of this breakthrough in hitting is that a hitter can become proficient using it almost immediately.

WebBall neither supports nor critizes this alternate approach to the bat swing. The biggest problem we see is the potential to really, really confuse a kid - if you teach this approach one season and his next coach tries to undo it.

We ask all coaches to use their own best judgment - don't try to correct a player who's got something that works well, just because YOU have a different theory. 


H I T T I N G   T H E O R Y

THE TORQUE TECHNIQUE
Torque Fundamentals

Comfortable Stance

When the pitcher is about to release the ball, the last thing hitters should be thinking about is the position of their feet. The hitter should be concentrating on the ball and nothing but the ball. Some hitters may choose a slightly closed stance, while others my prefer a slightly open position. Either is acceptable. Likewise, the distance between a hitter's feet should also be up left to the personal preference of the hitter. However, hitters with a wide stance should still have room to stride as the pitch is being delivered and the hitter with a narrow stance should be careful not to over stride. The key is comfort because comfort leads to confidence.

Rock Solid 

To determine whether a hitter has a solid stance, a coach, instructor or fellow teammate should firmly push the hitter in the shoulder area in an attempt to knock him or her off balance. If the hitter actually takes a step or two backwards after the this friendly nudge, then it should be apparent to the hitter that the stance is not yet solid. This exercise should be repeated until the hitter stays relatively stationary. Martial arts instructors would equate a solid hitting stance to students finding 
their "center" which is where they believe power begins. Remember, good pitchers can usually identify good hitters just by observing their stance. Psychologically, this fact should work to the advantage of the hitter. In addition to a solid stance, good hitters will always stand on the balls of their feet before, during, and after the swing. Hitting is very reactionary. If hitters are flat-footed, they will have more difficulty adjusting to the flight of the ball and will also sacrifice a significant amount of power.


Launch Position

To generate as much power as possible at the point of impact, hitters should to be in a position to shift their weight from the back foot and leg to the front foot and leg. I call this the "Launch Position". The launch position is the point where the hitter has a comfortable, solid stance, and a good portion of the hitter's weight is on the back foot and leg. Good hitters only use their front foot and leg to keep their balance before the pitch. It is also important that both knees be bent enough to effectively harness the precious power in the hitter's legs. While striding towards the pitcher and into the ball, hitters should feel the power of their lower body exploding forward. 

Head Still

No matter how much body movement there is during the launch and the swing, it is critical that a hitter's head remain as still as possible. Try moving your head at a slow rate of speed back and forth. If you pause for a moment before moving the other direction, you will find that your eyes will not completely focus until the movement of your head has completely stopped. A hitter will not be able to completely focus on the pitched ball until the head is still.

Pick up Pitch

Practice how and where to pick up the ball as it is pitched. The longer we stare at objects, the less we are able to maintain a high level of concentration. A hitter should not look at the pitcher's release area until just before the ball is released. I recommend that hitters keep their eyes on the pitcher's throwing shoulder prior to the pitch. When the ball is about to be released, the hitter's eyes should then quickly shift to the pitcher's release point with the eyes focusing on the center of the ball. This same technique can be used for fielders and pitchers who throw to targets. 

Torque Position 

Historically, what is the one instruction all little league coaches give to young hitters? "Take the bat off your shoulder!." For some unknown reason, probably due to the respect children are taught to have for adults, very few have questioned this advice. If they had, The Torque may have been invented years ago. 

In my opinion, the bat should not be waved in the air like a flag twisting in the breeze or held close to a hitter's chest like a soldier carrying a flag. In order to generate power and maintain bat control, the bat needs to be an integral part of the body. With The Torque the barrel of the bat should be pressed on the hitter's arm. Specifically, the bat should be positioned on the arm where the bicep muscle meets the shoulder muscle. When I say pressed, I mean the hitter's fingers should apply pressure on the bat against the arm to insure that the bat remains attached to the arm as long as possible during the swing. The reason for this is quite simple. If a player is truly hitting with his or her entire body, then the bat will be the last to come through the hitting zone. By placing constant pressure on the bat against the arm during the launch, hitters will generate a greater amount of torque (hence the name) than traditional hitting techniques and this will immediately increase a hitter's power. In the Torque position, the bat should be positioned firmly on the hittter's arm and the upper body is turned slightly or coiled like a snake in order to add even more torque to the swing. It has been my experience that in order to achieve a level and powerful swing, both elbows should be the same height and ideally, should be even with the bat. Also, the hitter should grip the bat with only the fingers on each hand. A more flexible grip gives a hitter greater bat control and allows the wrists to come through the hitting zone at a higher speed, resulting in more power.

As the pitch approaches, the hitter should begin the swing by rotating the back shoulder towards the ball. Assuming the hitter is keeping pressure on the bat, by initiating the swing with the body instead of only the arms , the path of the swing will remain on a level plane. The torque created from a combination of the 'launch' of the lower body and the rotation of the upper body will ultimately force the bat away from the arm and into the ball. The result will be a swing that creates as much power as the hitter's body can generate along with bat control historically enjoyed only by contact hitters. When the lower body is in "the launch" position, and the upper body is in The Torque position, the only task left for hitters is to keep their heads still, focus on the 
ball, and hit the ball hard.

Torque Benefits 

Consistently Level Swing

Due to the fact that the swing start and ends on the same level plane, there is a greater probability that the swing will stay level through the point of impact with the ball, especially if pressure is being maintained on the arm of the hitter. With the traditional baseball swing, the bat starts high and as it descends into the hitting zone the hitter loses a certain amount of control over the path of the swing . The result is often a downward chop or an uppercut as the body tries to adjust to the pitch without full control of the bat. Players who use The Torque have found that they hit more line drives and fewer fly balls.

Increased Power

If bat pressure is maintained on the arm of the hitter, then it is virtually impossible for hitters to complete a swing without using their entire body to generate power. Even the smallest player on the field will enjoy a power surge that will mean more extra base hits.

Greater Bat Control

When the bat feels like it is attached to the hitter's body, hitters will be less likely to chase pitches out of the strike zone because their bodies won't physically let them. If a pitch is over the batters head, the only way to hit this pitch using The Torque is to release the pressure on the arm. However if the pressure is maintained, the hitter can easily lay off the pitch. The same logic also holds true for low pitches. 

Breaking Ball Sucess

One of the most difficult things for hitters to do is hold the bat back after being fooled by a breaking ball or an off-speed pitch. With The Torque, if the hitter is fooled, only the hands may come through, but the barrel of the bat will not because it'll still be attached to the hitter's arm. The umpire cannot call a strike on the hitter. More importantly, because the barrel of the bat did not enter the hitting zone, the hitter still will have an opportunity to hit the ball hard.

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Printed from ancasterbaseball.ca on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 8:59 AM