It won’t take much to convince you that balance is critical to having a powerful, productive baseball swing. In fact, hitting is considered one of the most difficult things to do in sports, being off balance will only make hitting the ball the way you want to hit it that much more difficult.
In Baseball, Your Stride Creates Balance
Of the six phases of a proper baseball swing, the “stride” is where we see athletes get off track in regards to their balance. It’s so important to get your stride right because it puts you into the most powerful position to hit a baseball. This position is called “The Launch Position” and being off-balance at this moment, means it’s very unlikely that you’ll hit the ball for power.
Learn Proper Stride with Baseball Stride Drills
That’s why we focus on getting the stride correct so much on the stride because the stride creates a balanced foundation in which all of your other body movements are built upon. If you want to be balanced, your stride should end at 50% of your height. Meaning if you 60” tall, at the end of your stride your base (Launch Position) should be at 30”. This allows for a variety of stride lengths, long, medium, short or for some big strong players, no stride at all. You can use your bat to estimate where your stride should be ending. Many young hitters may feel like their Launch Position is wider than they are used to. That’s OK. A wider foundation (about 50% of your height) creates a more stable bottom half of your body. If you aren’t balanced, you lose power with your swing.
The Top 4 Hitting Drills for Balance
We’ve covered the importance of balance with a baseball swing, so how do you learn it? It’s important to understand that hitting drills are used to create good habits. Doing the right thing with your body movements and your swing over and over helps to translate to make your swing powerful and consistent. So with that in mind, here are the top 4 drills that we teach a proper stride and promote balance.
In this drill we’re making sure the hitter strides properly getting the correct weight transfer and getting to a good launch position.
When watching your hitter perform this drill, make sure that when they stride and get to launch position the bat is pointing towards the pitcher and not to their pull side (left field for a right handed batter). We want to make sure they’re shoulders stay closed.
So they start with the bat held in a straight line across their chest, making sure the knob of the bat is pointing straight towards the pitcher. Think about this. You go from your stance, to your stride to your launch position. When you finish your stride it should be about 50% of your height and the knob of the bat should be pointing right towards the pitcher. If your shoulders are already open and the knob of the bat is pointing towards 3rd base (for a right-handed hitter, 1st for a left-handed hitter) then you aren’t doing it right. Reset and try again. Shoulders should stay closed all the way. As hitters get more advanced they will see their shoulder staying stubbornly aligned with the pitcher and their hips and belt buckle will begin to start their swing. This is called separation. Separation is the key to power and it’s also a sign of great balance in a baseball swing.
Balance and Sink Drills
This is a drill that we’ve only seen at The Hitting Vault but and it’s the ultimate drill to work on balance as a hitter. This is a drill that is literally designed to keep a hitter off-balance so they work harder to engage and control their lower half. You’ll need for this is 3 balance discs. Back disc 3/4 full. Front and Middle disc 1/2 full, ball, bat tee, and your net. This is a normal situation where you’ll be hitting off a tee, but the discs will create difficulty during your swing and will require concentration from the hitter to stay on balance.
Controlled Fall Drill
The Controlled Fall drill is another great drill for baseball players that want to improve their balance. The hitter starts with a narrow stance, about shoulder width apart and pull their front leg up to a balance position like the photo below.
The hitter should be able to hold this moment of balance until they are told to “Stride.” From moment the hitter should make a controlled “fall to launch position. It should be a smooth, balanced, athletic movement. The key here is staying under control. When the hitter lands in their launch position, they their finished stride should be about half their height and their front foot should be open about about a 45 degree angle. There shouldn’t be any feeling of lunging or reaching and their back-side should feel strong.
Stride and Separation Drill
This is a more advanced drill for baseball players that want to feel the balance of a proper stride but start to feel the separation of their lower and upper halves of their body. This is the movement that creates more power. Start with your bat straight-up and down at your shoulder and your feet together ready for an exaggerated stride.
Then stride and focus on getting making that belt-buckle separate from your upper body.
Once we’ve done a body check to make sure everything is in the right position we’ll have the hitter reset – doing it multiple times before they are given the green light to hit the ball off the tee. This kind of repetition creates the muscle memory that we are looking for. At this point, you should feel the stride, the separation, the weight transfer and great balance as a hitter.
Balance is the Key to Power in Baseball Hitting
These are the top 4 drills for baseball players to promote proper balance in a swing. We’ve covered some of the reasons that a proper stride will help create the balance you need to generate power at the plate. If you’re interested in learning more about your stance, stride, launch position, bat path or are interested in watching videos on any of our top 4 drills for balance, you are always welcome to join The Hitting Vault, the internet’s most popular online hitting membership.