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In this post I am going to talk about:

  • The importance of traction when going fast,
  • A possible energy leak related to the baseball cleats, and
  • I want to hear from you…

 

The Importance of Traction When Going Fast

When a car goes around a turn, traction is required to prevent sliding.  In the following video, watch how the tire blew out, and the wheels without the tire couldn’t provide adequate traction.

 

A Possible Energy Leak Related to the Baseball Cleats

Watch the slow motion YouTube video of Albert Pujols’s swing, in the BIG video at the top of this post…

Look at the lead heel between 9 and 10 seconds. The heel slides forward about an inch, while the forefoot is stationary.

To his credit, Albert Pujols does get his lead foot stabilized just before contact.

Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters of our generation, and even with the initial sliding of his heel, he hits a home run.

Note from Joey Myers – I read an interesting quote from Dr. Gray Cook, the co-founder of the Functional Muscle Screen (or FMS), and he said that, “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.”  If the foot, especially the landing foot, loses contact with the ground during the turn, then the smaller hitter will have energy transfer issues.  A good solid foundation with the front foot is key.

 

I Want to Hear from You…

What would have happened on a softer surface?

Should we be considering cleats of different lengths for different batter’s boxes?

How does Pujols produce his linear speed in such a short distance?

Give me your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

Dr. Stanley Beekman

I graduated from Podiatric medical college in 1976 and then finished a surgical residency and a biomechanics fellowship. I have recently retired as a practicing podiatrist treating sports medicine since 1978. I also was an Associate Professor at the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine where I taught Sports Medicine. I have run marathons, competed successfully in Olympic lifting, power lifting and karate in the master's age groups. Along the way, I became a licensed massotherapistand graduated as a mechanotherapist (similar to chiropractic). They eliminated licensure for mechanotherapy, but it opened my eyes to other therapies. I have taken 500 hours of applied kinesiology and combined that with fascial therapies. As a result I treated the body as a Biotensegrity structure and reset sensors and change processing to make immediate postural and functional changes via acupressure and other manual means. I have also coached little league for the last four years.
Dr. Stanley Beekman
8 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    Joey,

    I can see a possible energy leak. Not sure what kind of shoes Pujols was wearing. He used to wear plastic molded shoes. That might cause him to slide on hard dirt. Personally, I am not a fan of shoes today. Most, if not all of them, are made of synthetic, felt like material with leather non-existent. Mantle, Aaron, Mays, and Williams didn’t have that problem. But I can’t see shoe companies making a different shoe for every type of dirt.

    Reply
  2. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    To me it appears his foot is attempting to laterally rotate after foot strike to accommodate his hips opening. Perhaps landing with a more open foot strike would negate some of that sliding as well as reduce the torque on his lead knee and hip (?)

    Reply
    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      Ryan I totally agree. You can see a lot of old Pujols swings where he’s landing closed. The “drifting” of his foot post-impact is his hips trying to create more “room”, more range of motion. Landing closed is a killer!

      Reply
  3. Garrett
    Garrett says:

    I think that some of this question comes back to some of the ideas presented in this Ted talk, “David Epstein: Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?” and how surfaces play into the transfer of energy. Also, I would ask how much energy leakage is there at foot strike into contact with the ball. After the ball leaves the bat I don’t think it matters any more weather or not his foot moves. It is probably best that it does move after ball contact and forces begin to be dissipated. This is just my humble opinion though.

    Reply
  4. Stanley Beekman
    Stanley Beekman says:

    First of all the energy leak I am referring to occurs between the 9 and 10 second mark.
    As far as landing closed vs. open, here is my take:
    1. The amount of internal hip range of motion will determine how closed the hip could be. If there is no internal rotation at the hip, then it is impossible to land closed. The two most important stretches in baseball are those that stretch the hamstring and increase internal hip rotation. I have also found that inhibition of the Pectineus (and other hip adductors) is a hidden cause of lack of internal hip rotation. Check adductor strength at varying degrees of hip flexion.
    2. If the range of motion is sufficient, then closed would be better. The reason is if you look at the swing, there are 4 parts. A. Load, B. Step/reach to toe contact, C. Heel down, D swing (when the back leg + the pelvis [spinal engine] causes the massive rotation which is the driving force of the swing.
    The key part to look at regarding this is Heel down. At heel down the leg and hip move in a direction that follows a line from the toes to the heel.
    If the foot is closed at heel down, the leg and foot move to open the front hip. This is similar to what happens with a pitcher just before the front foot lands (the pitcher develops the rotation from the lead leg, but the pitcher lean forward, so that is expected, compared to a batter who leans backwards, so the force has to come from the backside)
    If the foot is completely open at heel down (and we are talking about it coming from the hip and not the pelvis), then the leg and hip is force backwards towards the backside.
    In either case when the swing occurs the pelvis cannot be lined up (completely closed) or a shift towards the pitcher would occur instead of rotation.

    If you look at Pujols when his is sliding it causes the pelvis to close at the time it should be opening. It is a small slide or he wouldn’t be able to generate any meaningful force

    Reply
  5. George
    George says:

    This is post contact so I don’t think it matters that much. There should be energy leaks everywhere post contact in order to disapte the tremendous force created (especially from someone like him). If not his chances of injury would increase.

    Reply
    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      George, I agree. What Pujols is doing with the front foot post impact is quite normal when hitting an inner third of the plate pitch. What the Doc is talking about is the front foot coming off the ground and skipping…not good.

      Reply

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