Get a rhythm

One of the things you’ll often see with hitters, no matter whether they’re hitting off a tee, soft toss, a machine or even live pitching is starting from a complete standstill. They stand like statues, and as the pitch comes in they move forward toward it.

While you can do that, it’s not ideal. You’re better off moving backwards first then forward — what is often called a negative move. The reason is simple physics.

Newton’s first law of motion says an object at rest will tend to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. That means in order to get it moving, a certain amount of energy has to be expended. This energy doesn’t contribute to the swing, so it’s essentially wasted.

Think about a freight train starting from a standing stop. There is a lot of noise and fury but not much movement. It takes a while until it really gets going. But if it’s already moving, it’s easier to get it to go faster. All that early energy is being used to overcome inertia.

The same happens with the swing. If you go forward first, or start with all your weight back already, you’re going to use a disproportionate amount of energy just to get your body moving. But if you push back a little first, before the swing really occurs, your body will be in motion and can slingshot off of that momentum to make a quicker and more powerful forward movement.

That’s what to do and why. But what about how? The best way to think of it is like a dance movement. A small but rhythmic sway backwards usually works better than a stiff movement. Practice in front of a mirror until it looks smooth and natural. When you can do that you will be ready to apply it to your swing.

As Johnny Cash said, get a rhythm. It will do wonders for your hitting.

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