Understanding Launch Position in Baseball and Softball
Launch position in baseball and softball is one of the most misunderstood in the game today.
If you’ve spent any time around the baseball or softball field, you’ve probably heard a few phrases thrown around like:
“Wow, he or she has a launch angle swing.”
“If he didn’t have a launch angle swing, he wouldn’t have popped that pitch up.”
Spoiler alert: There’s no such thing as a “launch angle swing,” but there is such a thing as launch position! And having “a great launch position.” By the end of this post, you will be able to understand what exactly launch position is, why it’s important, and the best drills in the Hitting Vault to help improve your launch position.
Where is Launch Position in the Swing?
The exact moment the front heel hits/plants into the ground. NOT when the toe touches. Toe touch, is toe touch. For a lot of kids they might look good at toe touch, but then break down by the time their heel hits, which is what we don’t want.
Why is Launch Position Important?
Think of it this way… If you were trying to shoot a rubber band as far as you could would you stretch it two inches or six inches? Six inches! That’s because as you stretch it further, you are creating what’s called potential energy. And if you’re not a physics guru, that’s okay! It basically means, building up power that can be released.
Knowing that, wouldn’t you want to have the most amount of “stretch” in your swing that you could? Your answer should be yes! BUT you don’t want your rubber band to break, so there is a limit to how much separation you have before it’s a detriment to your swing.
Having a good launch position not only helps you create more power, but it also sets you up to be able to adjust to different pitches! This means fewer strikeouts and more doubles and home runs! If one or more areas of your launch position are off you could be very susceptible to a certain area, up, down, in, out or even off-speed.
The Launch Position Checklist
Here’s a list of all the different parts that are important to having a good launch position:
- Distance between your feet should be 50-60% of your height
- Front shoulder lower than back shoulder
- Knob to the catcher
- Body weight centered
- Eyes, nose, chin lined up
- Bend in your front knee
- Front heel firm into the ground
- Long back leg with some bend
- Torso tilt/hip hinge
- Hands close to your back shoulder, and above your back foot
Some of these areas vary depending on the hitter, but these are what the majority of elite hitters do:
- Hips opened some (some hitter’s hips are closed)
- Front toes open 30-50 degrees (some hitter’s toes are pointed toward home plate)
- Striding in a straight line towards the pitcher (some hitter’s step open 3-4 inches, and some step closed 3-4 inches)
How to Work on Launch Position in Baseball and Softball
Start by taking some video of your swing, pause your swing right when your heel hits the ground after striding and see what improvements you can make.
Mookie Betts is a great example of a powerful launch position. If you see something that looks very different in your own swing, that’s OK! Not all hitters are exactly the same, but this is a great reference about where your body should be at launch position.
If you’re currently a member of the Hitting Vault we have our SwingBuild program and several other hitting drills to help you reach the perfect launch position in your swing.