Appendix A – Baseball Terms
1Backside – Is the part of your swing that drives or pushes through the zone. It includes the back foot, back knee, back hip, butt, and back shoulder. All of these parts combine to make the backside of your swing.
2Backspin – When a ball has front to back spin. This spin will make the ball travel straighter and further. Similar spin to a pitchers fastball.
3Base – Is used interchangeably with “bottom half”. Everything beneath your waist: Both feet, both knees, both legs and hips.
4Bottom half – Is used interchangeably in this book with the term “base”. Is everything beneath your waist: Both feet, both knees, both legs, and hips. This is sometimes referred to as “lower half”.
5Bottom Hand – This is the hand of your lead arm. It is also the closest hand to the knob of the bat. For a right-handed hitter, the bottom hand is his left hand; and for a lefty the bottom hand would be his right hand.
6Cast barrel – Also “casting your barrel;” Is when the barrel of your bat gets away from your body too quickly or enters the hitting zone too soon. The goal is to keep the barrel inside the baseball11 as long as possible, if the barrel gets outside the baseball you are casting your barrel. This will slow your bat speed down considerably and you will see a lot of weak ground balls to the pull side.
7Center line – The center line is an ideal imaginary axis line which is drawn through the hitter’s body during the baseball swing at the point of contact. The line should be drawn through the hitter’s head, body and back knee, ending at the ground at the midpoint between your feet.
8Collapsingbackside–This term describes what happens if any part of your back side (Back foot, back knee, back hip, butt, and back shoulder) fails to stay strong, tall and level. If one of these parts doesn’t stay level, it will cause the batter to have an uppercut swing. If the shoulders remain level and the swing is level that is a good indicator that your backside is strong and is not collapsing.
9Front shoulder in or Front shoulder closed – This is keeping your front shoulder as still as possible as you start your swing. Hitters that over swing tend to assist their legs by pulling with their front shoulder, opening up their body too early making them susceptible to pitches on the outer half of the plate.
A good key is to start with your chin on your front shoulder and keep it there until you know the location of the pitch and start to swing (also see Drill #15 – the Kick Back Drill).
10Groovetheswing–Is another way of saying a hitter can successfully repeat his swing in games as well as in practice. As former MLB All-Star Albie Pearson explained in his introduction, “it takes time and many thousands of swings to craft an effective baseball swing, and to make that swing so second-
nature that your body will react with good mechanics when you face live pitching and split-second timing in a game.” When you can regularly take your “A” swing into the games, you have successfully grooved your swing.
11Inside the Ball – This term can be used in either of the following two ways:
- to describe the place on the baseball where you ideally want to make contact. If you took a vertical axis and stuck it through a baseball, the half of the ball closest to you is the inside part of the ball. Hitting this area on a baseball gives you the best probability of hitting line drives and driving balls with the proper backspin; and
- “Inside the baseball” can also be used to describe the area between the baseball and your body. In a mechanically sound baseball swing, you want to keep your bat and hands inside the baseball. This means keep your hands and the entire bat in the space between the ball and your body as long as possible. This is the ideal path to the baseball, and it is the opposite of the term “casting your barrel.”
12Elbow in the slot – This is when your back elbow is tucked tightly into the side of your body. This is an important part of your swing for several reasons. It helps you keep your hands inside the baseball and it keeps the barrel of the bat on the proper bat path. If your elbow is “in the slot”, then it will keep your barrel above your hands until it reaches the hitting zone and then allows the barrel to level out as it goes through the zone. This is a better bat path to make contact with the baseball consistently and avoid the dreaded “swing and miss.”
13Flat Bat – This refers to when the bat is going through the hitting zone and your hands and the barrel of the bat are level. This should happen just before contact, at contact, and just after contact.
Note: Sometimes people use this to refer to your set up and holding your bat so its parallel to the ground.
14Jammed – From time to time, you may hear the common baseball phrase “getting jammed.” This happens when the baseball makes contact with the bat too close to the batter’s hands, or in other words, somewhere between the ideal contact on the barrel and the batter’s hands. It usually happens on a sinker or fastball in, or if the baseball swing was a little late. Often the result is a broken bat or vibrating stinging hands.
15Launch position – This is your body position after load and separation20; it is the moment you begin to fire your bat at the baseball. While separation20 is getting into a strong position to hit, the launch position is the point where you start your swing. Your front foot is down, hands are back somewhere between your back shoulder and ear height.
16Linear movement – This term should NOT be confused with the Linear Method of Hitting. The word “linear” means in a line (as opposed to spinning or rotating), but this should not be confused with the Linear Method of Hitting, which takes the concept of linear motion to its extreme. It should be noted that even highly rotational swings often have some elements of linear movement in them. This book reflects the idea that the best baseball players use a combination of linear and rotational motion in their baseball swings.
In baseball, linear movement simply means moving toward or transferring the weight from your backside to your front side.
Linear movement is done with a firm front leg so your body can stay behind your front foot. This is done with your bottom half4 so your head can stay still and see the ball clearly. Linear movement in a baseball swing is beneficial for several reasons: (1) It keeps the bat in the hitting zone longer and increases your chances of making solid contact with the baseball; (2) Keeps your body motion and bat path driving through the baseball instead of pulling off toward third base (or toward 1st base if you are left handed hitter).
17Losing the barrel – Is when the barrel of your bat dips below your hands. You want the barrel of the bat above your hands as long as possible until it levels out just before the point of contact. This is easier to see from a side view (ex. 1st base side when watching a right handed hitter). Losing the barrel creates extra length in your swing making it slower and less efficient.
18Palm up / Palm down – Is the strongest position you can be in with your hands and bat at the point of contact.
If you were to open your top hand30 at contact it should be facing up. If you were to open up your bottom hand at contact it should be facing down towards the ground.
A common problem happens when hitters lose this power position because they roll the wrist over too early in the swing process.
19Rolling over the wrist too early – A common problem happens when hitters lose this power position because they roll the wrist over too early in the swing process. The ideal and most powerful hitting form is to be in the palm up/palm down18 position at contact.
20Separation – Is a power position achieved when your front foot strides away from your hands and makes contact with the ground. When done correctly you will feel a tightness in your front side (oblique area). This position resembles a stretched rubber band before its let go. This stretching of your body produces bat speed and power. Separation is getting into a strong position to hit.
21Short to the ball – See shortening your swing22 (below).
22Shorteningyourswing–Is taking out unnecessary movement in your swing up until the contact point. This never-ending project allows you to wait longer to swing. The goal is to make every move count in your swing from the setup to contact.
23Space – In this book, space refers to distance necessary for the bat to build up speed and make contact with the baseball in the optimal hitting zone/angle. The phrase “create space” or “creating space” refers to the bad habits a hitter can fall into when his timing is off and the ball gets too deep into the hitting zone.
When this happens, the natural tendency is to fall back onto our back leg to create more room to hit the ball without getting jammed14. These actions usually do more harm than good. If you are late with your swing and feel like the pitch is beating you, you should still hit through the ball even if it means you may get jammed.
24Square to home plate – This is when your feet and shoulders are in a straight line towards the pitcher. Your stance26 is neither open nor closed. Your body, belt buckle, and knees are facing home plate. Also referred to as “square stance27”.
25Squash the bug – This term has been used to teach hitters to rotate on their back foot. Rotation is good but when you spin on the ball of your back foot there is a negative tendency for your swing to produce an uppercut. Your bat will be in and out of the hitting zone too quickly. Instead of rotating on the ball of your foot, think of rotating by getting your back foot on its toe. This will help flatten and keep your bat in the zone longer which is ideal.
26Stance – also “batting stance” or “hitting stance.” This refers to your body position and feet placement when you are ready to hit and before your baseball swing begins.
Commonly used terms include “open,” “closed,” and “square24”. An open stance is when your front foot in your hitting stance is further away from home plate then your back foot. Alternatively, closed refers to when your front foot is closer to home plate than your back foot.
A stance may also be referred to as narrow or wide, which refers to the distance between your feet. Naturally, a wide stance will be a lower one. Click to read more about the pros and cons of different types of stances.
27Tight – Is the term used to describe your hands staying close to your body as you deliver the barrel of the bat to the baseball. Your hands will stay close to your body right up until contact where you will throw your hands in the direction of the ball.
28Tightening up – See Tight. It’s not the opposite of staying loose and relaxed with your swing. This refers to eliminating unnecessary movement from your swing, keeping your hands close to your body as you bring the bat to contact. This is also known as making your swing more efficient.
29Topspin – When a ball has a back to front spin. This spin makes the ball fall to the ground quicker and it doesn’t travel as far. Similar spin to a pitcher’s curve ball.
30Top Hand – May also be called the rear arm. When you grip a bat it’s the closes hand toward the trademark (the bottom hand would closest to the knob). A right-handed hitter’s top hand would be his right hand. A lefty’s top hand would be his left hand.
31Whip the bat – Is a term meaning quick bat speed. Don’t swing hard – this uses big muscles, slowing your swing down. Instead, swing quick. This lets your big muscles start your swing but you will finish with your hands, quickening your swing.
32Hooking line drive – If you play golf, you may already be familiar with the terms “hook” and “slice.” These refer to balls hit in the air that are not flying straight. Rather, they are curving to the right or the left. A hook curves toward you, and a slice curves away from you. In other words, if you’re a right handed hitter, the hooked ball is curving to your left (toward you) and the sliced ball is curving toward your right (away from you). And before you stop reading because you thought this was a baseball book, just hang with me a bit longer.
A hooking line drive is a one that has topspin and ends up curving in the air toward you (as opposed to flying straight. If you’re a righty, that means it’s curving to left field).
Now why is this a problem?
When you hit the baseball and see it is often or consistently hooking, it should be a big red flag for several reasons:
- Your bat path is off. You are getting around and outside of the pitch, which is a much weaker, slower bat path that does not spend as much time inside the strike zone as it could… which makes it much harder to hit the ball.
- It means you hit the ball with top spin, and top spin will limit your power at the plate. With top spin, your hits will be weak ones that barely make it over the infielders’ heads, instead of the powerful line drive or homer you really wanted.
- It’s a symptom that generally means you’ll have trouble hitting off speed pitches and pitches that are on the outer part of the zone.
So, if you want to hit home runs or powerful line drives, and you want to have a good batting average, and you want to have good plate coverage… pay attention if you start to notice a pattern of hitting hooking line drives.
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