6 - Step Through Drill
6 -STEP THROUGH DRILL
Why it helps:
- More bat speed & power (improving separation and proper use of legs)
- Bat path (fewer swings and misses; better launch angle)
The biggest thing I like about this drill is that it develops good habits without having to think too hard or get too mechanical.
It's about developing a feel for the proper movement so that our bodies can actually, successfully take that motion into our real game swing.
The Step Through Drill is useful if you feel stuck on your backside. Like many other drills, the Step Through Drill is creating an exaggerated motion so you can develop a feel for something specific. In this case, the drill will help you feel the linear movement you need in your swing. It forces you to use your backside and legs together to finish on your back toe (or even slightly off the ground).
This drill also helps you get to separation20 (important for power) and feeling your hands work. You will feel your body step away from your hands thus getting into a strong separation when your front foot hits the ground. Your hands will be back and you will feel tension in your front side.
Obviously, you won’t hit like this in the game, but doing this exercise will help you get off your backside (if you collapse or sink and spin) or at least get your weight to 50/50 before you start your rotation.
Once you have grasped the feel of separation, linear movement, using your legs, and proper weight distribution, you can incorporate these important aspects into your real swing in a more subtle (but powerful) way.
(1.) This drill is important because we hear many coaches say, “stay back.” Many people have a hard time explaining or understanding what that even means, but it can get interpreted as “squash the bug25” (spinning on the back leg without any linear forward motion16 ). We want to rotate on our back leg and finish on our toe, while getting through or even off of our backside1. This is where our power comes from, and this drill helps us feel the proper linear movement16 we need during our swing (which keeps our bat in the zone longer and improves our odds of making quality contact with the pitch).
(2.) This drill also helps with developing rhythm. Hitting needs a rhythm to keep us in motion. It is easier to start a swing if we have a little movement than from a dead stand still. If we get too mechanical our rhythm is the first thing to leave our swing. Having rhythm keeps us relaxed longer, and when we are relaxed longer we can whip the bat31 quicker.
Keeping your muscles tension-free prevents putting your body into a “crisis management mode that forces the bulkier muscles to take over. Though the bulkier muscles are important in a motion, if they dominate, the motion will look, and be, forced and awkward." (Yellin and Biancalana, 2010, p.16). The bottom line is, tense muscles are slower – slower to react to the pitch, and slower in overall bat speed (i.e. less whip = less power).
(3.) If you are having problems achieving proper separation20 or getting your hands back, this drill helps. You will feel your hands get back into a strong position, once your front foot hits the ground you will feel tension in your front oblique. From this position you are ready to swing. 30
How to execute this drill
1) Setup - Set the tee up for a pitch down the middle of the plate. Instead of getting in your normal stance26 back up a foot or so (in the direction of the catcher). Face home plate.
2) Step right – (If you are a left-handed hitter, you’ll start by stepping with your left foot). Start by taking a step with your back foot and place it in the batter’s box in the same place you would dig in for an at bat. Make sure your back foot is square24 to home plate.
3) Step left - Now take your other leg and stride into a hitting position.
4) Swing - Use the rhythm you have created with your legs to finish your swing.
5) Follow-through - After you swing your follow through should allow for your back foot to either be off the ground or on its toe (Optional Ending 1). Make sure you finished balanced with your chest finishing towards the pitcher.
Step while thinking about your bottom half (see appendix if you don't know what I mean by that).
At the same time, keep your hands relaxed and once you take your stride you should be able to feel your hands get back into a strong position.
Variation of the drill: For hitters that are still having trouble feeling the linear movement16 that is necessary in a swing, or can’t get away from “squashing the bug25,” add this extra movement to the end of this drill. This will force you to over exaggerate getting off of your back toe, forcing you to throw your back leg at the baseball.
Once you have made contact and are starting your follow through, take your back knee and drive it up towards the pitcher (Optional Ending 2). Get the knee up to waist height.
This over exaggerated movement will force you to use your back leg with a linear movement16 and learn to stay balanced while driving into your front leg. 31
1. Hit line drives up the middle.
2. After you finished your swing, see if your back foot was in the air or on its toe at contact.
3. Make sure you finish with your chest towards the pitcher; this will show you are getting off of your backside1 properly.
4. As you are striding, your hands are getting into the strong position. This should happen automatically during this drill. You want to feel your hands working together with your lower half, just remember to keep them relaxed.