It’s very difficult to overstate the value of a good hitter. In fact, in professional baseball you even have designated hitters. That’s all they do. And to be a good hitter, you need to perfect each and every aspect of your batting swing including your swing extension. If you are working on improving swing extension, here’s the perfect guide for you.
What’s a Swing Extension?
When you’re trying to get a hit, at some point you will have to extend both your arms. This is the swing extension we’re talking about.
Of course, that’s not technically true if you’re bunting. But bunting is a limited option. While it may be good enough to advance a runner from 1st or 2nd base, when you bunt you tend to get called out at first base. And sometimes that just isn’t enough. Bunting can’t get you a home run when you need it. You can’t even get some in scoring position to score.
But the swing extension is what gives your swing the power you need to actually get a real hit. With enough of an extension, you can get extra-base hits or even a homerun.
When Do You Extend Your Arms?
This has been the subject of some debate among several coaches. Some people have studied the matter extensive, and have concluded that you don’t have your arms extended at the moment you make contact with the pitched ball.
Why not? The simple reason is that when you’re already extended when you make contact with the pitched ball, you absolutely don’t have any power to drive the ball forcefully. It’s a limp way of hitting.
Instead, what you need to do is to make your swing, and then you make the extension as you follow through. Your arms are full extended, in the position called the power “V”.
The bat at this point is pointing where you want to direct the ball. So if the pitch is down the middle of the strike zone, you power through and you end up with the bat pointed towards the pitcher when your arms are extended.
It’s a bit like how some boxers are trained to hit the face of the opponent “behind” the head. When they’re punching a bag, they try to act as if they want to hit something behind the bag. So when their glove makes contact with the bag, it doesn’t snap back right away. It continues to push through during the motion.
It’s the same way with hitting. Your arms are still a bit bent when you make contact. Applying the extension after you make contact thus gives the additional push you want so you can generate more force on the ball.
Finish the Swing
Afterwards you roll over your wrists and you end with the bat at your back.
- The top and the bottom hand should roll over.
- Your wrist should then collapse.
- Your hands should finish right at or just below the shoulder.
- The head of the bat should wrap around your back.
You can actually practice to improve the extension of your swing. With drills, you can commit the movement to muscle memory, so you don’t have to consciously think about the movement during game time. It’s all automatic. Here are a few drills you may want to do:
Arm Extension Drill
This drill is a good way for you to get swing arm extension.
- Hold the bat only with your lead arm. If you’re right-handed, that means you grasp the bat with the left hand.
- You need to choke up quite a bit here. This means your left hand is right at the top of the handle.
- Place your top hand open right on top of the lead hand. This means that your right hand is like as for “high five”.
- You make your swing by pulling with the lead hand.
- You then extend both your arms straight while you push your weight forward with your rear hip rotation.
- Keep your chin on your back shoulder as you finish.
As a bonus, you also learn how to transfer your weight properly, and you practice keeping your head steady.
This is another way to help you finish your swing properly.
- Take your normal swing.
- At the end, you have to hold your finish under balance, with your bat on the home side of home.
This forces a complete turn of your hips while staying back. You also learn to extend your arms to full extension, and you also make a habit of your head on the ball through the contact.
Resistance Band Follow Through
This is a more deliberate way to practice improving your extension.
- Get two tees and place the balls on them. These should be a little over a foot apart.
- Then get a resistance cable to use. These should be in good condition, because you absolutely don’t want them to snap while you’re using it.
- Put the resistance cable over your top hand (your right hand if you’re right-handed).
- This is a “slow” drill. The goal is to imagine hitting both the balls while you overcome the resistance band. Your swing should be able to get to both the balls.
- Then you follow through completely, while you still have the resistance cable to overcome.
The way this drill works is that you get a feel of what it’s like to charge through the two balls. Since this is a drill, you need to keep doing this until you get it ingrained in your head that making contact doesn’t signal the end of the power.
You have to power through after the initial contact. This is the most crucial point of all. When you’re used to overcoming the resistance, then it should be easier to power through when you’re not using the resistance cable.
There are two facts that you have to always keep in mind if you’re working on improving swing extension:
- The extension happens after you make contact with the ball.
- You have to power through after you make contact.
It’s swing extension that gives you the power. Keep improving your swing extension, and you can get more power to your swing so you’re not limited to legging out singles all the time.