Now I'm sure you've heard your coaches tell you this before ("level swing" or "you're dipping your back shoulder"), but you never thought to question if there was anything wrong with that. Well guess what? There isn't! Dipping your back shoulder is a natural part of hitting a baseball. How do you think Major Leaguers hit the ball out of the ballpark? They sure as hell don't keep their shoulders level when they're swinging a bat.
A Baseball Travels on a Downward Plane
When you really think about it, a baseball is usually always being thrown on a downward plane. So if you keep your shoulders level, what is going to happen? You're going to hit a ground ball. No, not a line drive or a deep fly ball, but a measly ground ball! It's simple physics - The ball is traveling downward and you're bat is not meeting the ball on the same plane if you're swinging with your shoulders level. So how are you ever going to hit for POWER if all you're doing is hitting the top of the ball and continuously producing ground balls? Well you NEVER will, and you'll be extremely frustrated because you listened to your ignorant coaches' WRONG advice!
Don't Swing Down or Uppercut the Ball
Now when I say that you need to dip your back shoulder to crush a baseball, I'm not telling you to swing up, or uppercut the ball. That's the last thing you should do, and you definitely shouldn't be swinging down on the ball either. Because of all your past baseball social conditioning, that may be what you think I'm telling you to do, and that's NOT it at all.
So what AM I saying to you then? Ok, well first of all I'm saying that it's alright for you to dip your back shoulder when you're swinging a bat, and you really need to get that into your head. But you might ask, "Why, I've been told to swing level all of my life?" But if you just stop and think for a second, what does "level" really mean? From what frame of reference can you define your swing as "level?" Now this is where things get interesting!
So what you really want to do is swing in line with the plane of the pitch, or "level" with respect to the baseball's path, and not with the ground. So what this means is that you need to always be adjusting to where your pitch is coming in and how it is thrown.
You MUST Adjust to EVERY pitch
So if you see the ball coming in on a downward plane at your knees, you need to adjust and get your swing in line with that plane. Once you do that, what path is the ball going to take? The exact same, but opposite path that the ball takes to get to you, or a slightly upward path. And if you're lucky, that may be a path directed straight towards the seats.
So now that you're starting to understand this a little better, would you want to be dipping your back shoulder for a high pitch that comes in on a level path at your letters? NO way, because then you'd only be setting yourself up for a Major League pop-up.
So the next time somebody tells you to stop dipping your back shoulder, stop and think about whether what they're saying has any TRUTH to it. In the case of a high pitch, you may want to heed their advice. However, most of the times you NEED to have a natural dip in your back shoulder to really DRIVE the ball to great distances.
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