You can’t go to a baseball field, a hitting lesson, or a game without hearing:
“Stride, hands back.”
It’s one of those conventional wisdom phrases that has been around for decades.
Back in the day, when hitting coaches started analyzing pictures and video of hitters they would see what appeared to be the front arm barring out when a hitter took his stride. From this they concluded that the hitter was extending the hands backwards causing the arm bar.
The pictures and videos created a an optical illusion. It looks like the hands travel back and that’s what caused the arm to extend, but it’s not what happens.
On the very best hitters, the hands don’t move at all.
If you look at some of the best hitters, especially older hitters (not hitters who were instructed to do ‘stride, hands back’), you will see that their hands stay back and usually over their back foot.
Now, because a lot of players have been instructed to hit with ‘stride, hands back’, you’ll see players do it, but it’s actually counterproductive to hitting.
#1) It Kills Power. You’ve probably heard of the kinetic chain or kinetic energy links. When the stride foot hits the ground, energy starts up through the body, and loads each body part, one body part at a time. It loads ankle to knee, knee to hip, and so on up the body…
When the hitter is taking his stride, the energy is still in the lower half of the body. If a movement is initiated in the upper half of the body (taking hands back), it scatters the energy that should be naturally flowing up the body. The best players in baseball knew this instinctively, and that’s why their hands stayed still.
When we started analyzing hitters, we thought we saw something that great hitters were doing. What we really saw was an optical illusion. You could see right here:
#2) It Makes The Swing Longer. It takes the hands further away from the ball and makes the swing path longer. It tends to create a longer swing, as you’ll see the kids having to pull the bat through the zone rather than swinging the bat through the zone.