by: Larry Cicchiello
Exactly when you should start your stride varies among hitters. Usually, the stride begins a fraction of a second before the pitcher releases the ball and that’s my preference. Many teach that the stride should start when you see the pitcher pivot on the rubber and the hitter can see the pitcher’s rear end. That is NOT my preference. I think it’s too early and leaves the hitter in a little bit of a “pause” mode and hinders momentum into the pitch. I like the swing to take place immediately after the stride.
Whether you stride when the pitcher pivots or a split second before the pitcher’s release is a personal preference. On the other hand, one of the better baseball tips on hitting to remember is that it makes no sense at all to stride very late and have to rush everything after that. The stride is actually a weightless step that is used for timing. You should pretend that you are stepping on a sheet of ice and don’t want to slip and fall. No transfer of weight should take place when striding. You should land on the ball of your foot. Avoid the very common mistake of landing on your heel. It can cause you to spin like a top and your entire “foundation” will be ruined. If your foundation or base is disrupted, it won’t matter how many things you do properly after that. You will have no chance of being a successful baseball hitter.
You should stride with your front foot and toes pointing straight out away from your body. If you have a tendency to “fly open,” I would highly recommend pointing the toes slightly inward. In other words, slightly back toward the catcher. This will encourage you to “stay closed.” Opening any part of your front side too early will create many baseball hitting problems. One, your head will go along for the ride and you will be looking at the baseball out of the corners of your eyes. Two, any power you have will be lost because the hitting is not taking place out by your third base coach if you are a right-handed hitter or out by your first base coach if you are a left-handed hitter. Lastly, low and away pitches will be almost impossible for you to hit successfully. Stay closed!
Always remember that the stride and the swing are two separate movements. There is a fine line between them and only a fraction of a second, but they must be separate and preferably smooth movements. The stride must be completed BEFORE the ball is in the hitting zone. The length of the stride varies from none at all to a couple of feet. The average stride is about four inches.
Some believe that the shorter the stride is the better it is. Some very good hitters take no stride at all. They simply pick up their front foot and then put it back on the ground in the same spot. My personal preference is about a 4 inch stride and it will be your shot to call on this one, as to which YOU prefer.
An advantage in keeping the stride short is that it encourages your head to “stay quiet.” In other words, a long stride may possibly cause your head to move around more and make it more difficult for your eyes to actually focus on the baseball.
Remember, one of the more important baseball tips on hitting to remember is that it is absolutely necessary to keep your weight back when you stride! “Foot forward, weight back.” Some youngsters have a hard time with this. When they stride and their front foot goes forward, they have a strong tendency to shift their weight forward also. This is NOT what you want to do.
Larry Cicchiello is the successful author of “Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away.” His VERY user friendly eBooks and CD’s cover 320 topics on playing very good baseball. ALL players, coaches or baseball parents who want to help their child will be fully equipped! Larry.s site offers some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips. Click Here http://var/web/site/public_html.LarryBaseball.com/products
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