How Rhythm Affects The Load and Stride
The definition of rhythm is a STRONG, REGULAR, REPEATED pattern of movement or sound. One thing you hear over and over in baseball and softball is that “good hitters have good rhythm/tempo” at the plate. For hitters, the term rhythm is applied to the load/stride (step 1) and swing (step 2).
What we want to see is more time allotted to the load/stride and less to the swing. In other words, the load and stride will be slower and take longer, while the swing will be faster and take less time. In golf, most professionals have a 3:1 ratio of the club going back vs forward (there is no stride in golf except for Happy Gilmore). The same principle applies in bowling. They take the ball back much slower than it comes forward. By loading slower, we are allowing the body to build up kinetic energy for the increase in speed that takes place once the front foot hits.
Consistency – by having proper rhythm, your swing will naturally be more consistent which leads to more consistent, positive results.
See the ball better – If you can achieve the proper ratio for the load/stride vs swing, there will be much less body and head movement and your swing will be more relaxed. This results in seeing the ball more clearly.
Faster Bat Speed – Proper rhythm allows a hitter to build up more kinetic energy to be released when the front foot lands. Remember, the body goes in two different directions (away from the pitcher, towards the pitcher) during the swing. The more speed we put into going back for the load, the harder it is to reverse that speed and get the bat going forward.
Better pitch timing - All too often we see younger players that start their load too late causing them to load and stride too fast (poor rhythm) to catch up with the pitch. Players that have learned to create the proper rhythm during the load and stride have a distinct advantage because they can recognize the type of pitch and ball location/direction during the load and determine when to stride for the best results.
VIDEO 1 COMMENTS:
In this instructional video, we are going to show you a drill to help create the proper rhythm during the load, stride, and swing. This drill will help the hitter to slow down and teach them how to use their upper and lower body correctly. The most important things to make sure of are that the bat path is correct and the tempo of the load and stride is slow and under control.
You will want your hitters to use a lighter bat than normal. We typically recommend 5 ounces lighter than their game bat. We typically use a smaller bat because of the volume of swings the hitter is going to take. A heavy bat can lead to bad habits (incorrect swing patterns, casting) because of the multiple repetitions. Using our swing path trainer will ensure that your bat path is correct and players will generally need little supervision other than the initial explanation. Try starting with 5 swings working up to 10 as the hitter gets more comfortable. You can perform this drill with our dry swing tee topper. Once a hitter is performing the drill correctly and confidently, you can have a hitter perform the same drill while hitting balls. More detailed instructions can be seen in the video.
VIDEO 2 COMMENTS:
In this video, we have a PSUSA student performing the Rhythm Drill.
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