This weekend I worked with a professional hitter Zack Esquerra, from the San Diego area, who was recently released after a couple years in the Diamondbacks organization on this very topic.
In this post,
We'll go over how easy it can be to drive the ball by simply changing the position of the back leg during the Final Turn. We'll use Adrian Beltre's swing as a model and go over:
- Adrian Beltre: pitch-plane mastery,
- Role of back leg during the Final Turn, and
- #1 drill to fixing a faulty back leg angle…
Adrian Beltre: Pitch-Plane Mastery
Adrian Beltre is a great example of a smaller hitter (5'11”, 220-pounds) having to do it right to compete with bigger ones. Here's what he does so well:
- Gets low,
- Back leg angle (stays low),
- Barrel is short to plane of the pitch, and
- Barrel stays on pitch-plane…
Interesting to note, Adrian Beltre is below average with his ground-ball and strikeout percentages, and above average with his home-run to fly-ball ratio. Most of the hitters I first see – Zack included – have this reversed! Here are a few of Adrian Beltre's key offensive Metrics:
Check out this slow motion clip of Adrian Beltre (different clip from the main video above)…look how he almost “snipes” the catcher's glove!
Role of Back Leg During Final Turn
Homer Kelly says this in his book The Golfing Machine:
“The slant is up in the direction of a straightened Knee. The slant of the Hips affects the degree of the Hip Turn. Actually, the primary function of Knee Action – as with Waist Bend – is to maintain a motionless Head during the Stroke.”
Homer Kelly's statement has as much to do with hitting as it does with the golf swing! During the Final Turn, Adrian Beltre uses his flexed back knee (and straightened front one) to slant his body up towards the downward traveling pitch. This was an immediate challenge with Zack's swing, but once we quickly corrected it, we saw ball flight go from knee level line drives and in the ground, to head level line drives and driving the ball in the gap.
#1 Drill to Fixing a Faulty Back Leg Angle
CLICK HERE to view this post to learn more about the Art of Variance. Here's how to do the Back Foot Variance Drill:
ONE FINAL NOTE: Adrian Beltre stays on the plane of the pitch so well during the Final Turn, I think he does it to a fault. You've seen the pictures of him sometimes finishing with his back knee on the ground (pictured above)? This can be caused by trying to stay low on the pitch-plane with too wide a base. In other words, his back foot doesn't follow his front much after the stride, resulting in his feet being too far apart. He would be more efficient if he “skipped” the back foot forward a little bit during the Final Turn and maintained more of a bend (90-100 degrees) in the back leg.