This is the third part in three part Why Your Balance Fails (Not What You Think) series about balance.
I’ll be discussing a not so well known way to improve balance, posture, and technique. I'll be talking about:
- Tim's story,
- Tim's problem,
- How-to fix Tim's problem, and
- How does this relate to hitting…
Tim was the strongest kid on his small college football team. He was 22 years old, 6′ 2 and 200 pounds of solid muscle. He wanted to improve his power clean, so he came to the gym to see what he could learn.
At the time I was 48 years old and weighed 165 pounds. I watched as he power cleaned and advised him that he could keep his back tighter. As we lifted and as the weights got heavier, I noticed his confidence grew.
When we were at 90kg (198 pounds) and he was ready to lift, he gave me a look that said, I am going to beat you! When we got to 105 kg, he missed the lift, as the weight was too far in front to rack. I went up to 107.5 kg and told him that was all for me today.
The harder he tried, the worse the more in front the bar ended up. He started growling before the lift, and that didn't work. He finally gave up.
Tim's problem was that he didn't maintain his fine balance and let his weight drift back on the heels during the lift. Even though this is a stronger position, (as in a dead lift), it is not an athletic position.
Keep in mind that as long as Tim's weight is somewhere over the foot (gross balance) he will not fall over. Fine balance is the ability to position the weight at an an exact point over the foot.
How to Fix Tim's Problem
A lot of coaching cues used for Jim's problem are:
- “Finish the pull”,
- “Pull the bar closer to the ankle”, and
- “Make sure the elbows move straight up”.
The best coaching cues have a greater positive impact and don't result in other issues. In this case, the best way to fix Tim's problem was to have him feel for the weight on his feet.
In the power clean it is best to feel that the weight is just behind the ball of the foot. When this is felt, the weight can only go straight up.
How does this relate to hitting?
In hitting, the best way to stride forward is to be balanced and to push off the entire foot. If you are on the ball of the foot, the Achilles tendon will absorb some of the force of the stride.
However if the weight is too far back onto the heel, you will stride angled away from the plate and the heel will not come off the ground to allow rotation.
The most athletic way to start the stride is with the heel lightly touching the ground. Body weight will be just behind the ball of the foot. In this starting position, it allows for the best push, but also enables you to get on the ball of the foot.
(Joey Myers comment: when we look at efficient v. inefficient movement mechanics, I don't like striding and landing on the toe, pausing, then swinging because we don't take advantage of Gravitational Forces to turn the pelvis for us naturally. And like Dr. Stanley says, landing toe first (without the pause), the Achilles Tendon will absorb – instead of exploit – some of those forces as well. Practice the following experiment Dr. Stanley prescribes below and ingrain it to second nature.)
Practice your stride feeling for the weight on your foot. Try it at various places and see where you feel the most efficient and straightest stride:
- Weight on your toes, so the heel is off the ground
- Ball of the foot
- Just behind the ball of the foot
- Middle of the arch
- At the Heel
After you find the best way for you to push off repeat this frequently to ingrain this pattern. Keep in mind that with any technique change, with enough proper repetitions, the change will become habit and you will not have to think about it.
CLICK HERE for a BONUS Part-4 post to this series titled: What Do Pyramids, Dancers, and Mike Trout Teach Us About Hitting For Power.
In case you missed Parts 1 & 2, here they are: