Understanding the Importance of the Whip Effect in the Baseball Swing
I see whip effect in the baseball swing. When you crack a whip, there has got to be a deceleration to make the transfer of energy to the tip of the whip. The arm has to decelerate to crack a whip.
We need to understand how energy is transferred to the bat head in a swing in order to address the rotational obsession being taught in the baseball swing today. One way to illustrate proper transfer of energy could be to take a bucket of water and throw the water in the bucket at someone. If I should rotate my arms with the rest of my body and not stop its rotational movement (or decelerate the arms), the water would mostly miss my target and would mostly fly in a circular path to my target and all around my body even behind me. The water in the bucket would not have received the energy in such a way to directly and fully hit my intended target. The transfer of energy from the thrower to the water in the bucket never did occur with the rotational pattern of the throw.
In order to get the water out of the bucket and to hit my intended target with full force, I have got to brace my arms (decelerate my arms) in the direction of my target. There is a bracing effect that occurs, and then transfers from my body and then to the bucket, the bucket braces and the water is ejected toward my target.
What you see with what I teach, and what you see what biomechanists teach in golf and other sports but you don’t hear much about in baseball, you have got to understand this cracking of the whip idea. Our goal is not to rotate. Our goal is to deliver energy to the bat head to deliver to the ball. The goal is not rotation.
When you hit a baseball, your legs should create a forward momentum transferring energy to the front leg, with the energy working its way up from the larger base segments up, just like when throwing the water out of the bucket. When you make that transfer from back leg to front leg in your baseball swing, your body should brace to let the energy transfer to the hands and bat.
The hands and the bat are the equivalent of the water in the bucket. The body braces and the hands and the bat are ejected. We are not trying to hit the baseball by rotating our body through contact of the baseball. We should not be spinning through contact of the baseball. It doesn’t look good, but yet many coaches are talking about hips, hips, hips and spin your back foot and are giving that sort of baseball instruction.
Understanding whip effect, will help you understand the natural move, the natural swing, the way it happens in all other sports that require a throwing action. Think about it and name another sport where your goal is to spin your back foot. Many baseball coaches are teaching their students to spin their back foot to get rotation through the player’s hips. Name any other sport where you see this type of instruction or this type of throwing pattern.
In tennis, golf, shot put, throwing or hitting any ball, we are transferring our energy in a straight line shift toward our target. You do not see spinning on the back foot in any of these sports or any other. This rotational hysteria is taking over baseball, but does not exist in any other sport. With batting in the last decade or so, coaches are teaching and we are seeing an epidemic of spinners.
Rotation does happen in the swing. There is no question about that. However, it happens as part of a straight line move of the back leg. It is a lateral driving of energy in a straight line at your target. If I throw a baseball and I spin my back leg, what would that do to the force my leg creates and to the direction of the ball? Rotating the back leg in a throw would compromise your back leg drive and it would send the direction of the throw away from your intended target.
Instead, if you drive hard in a straight line toward your intended target when throwing a baseball, your hips will naturally rotate after the drive of your legs in a straight line direction toward your target. Your hips will rotate much faster when you throw without trying to rotate.
The water out of the bucket is a big concept. We are decelerating and transferring energy and working in straight lines. Rotation will occur naturally. The hips will rotate and pull the upper torso. The rotation will happen without trying to spin.
We should be working in straight lines when attacking a baseball to hit it. The front leg will block the transfer, then fire the hips open from the front. As our body parts begin to naturally and sequentially rotate after the straight line shift, and we learn to decelerate our body parts just before contact, the huge force of energy will flow to our hands and then to the bat and then to the ball.
This is why you hear pro hitters talk a lot about hands. They might not understand biomechanically why they talk about hands, but they talk about hands because the hands are all they feel moving through contact of the baseball.
For great hitters, at the moment of truth at contact of the baseball, all energy has been funneled to the hands.