Imagine if I asked you to take a ride in my 2-year-old son’s favorite sports car and ultimate luxury vehicle, the Lamborghini Aventador…cherry red.
Costs about $400K, has 720 horse-power, and goes zero to sixty-mph in 2.8 seconds. I’m drooling just thinking about it. What if I also told you it had no brakes. The manufacturer just “forgot” to install them. If you know I have a lead foot, then would you still want a ride?
I tell my hitters that someone like Matt Kemp or Ted Williams are using both rotational and anti-rotational systems during the swing.
Think of them as acceleration and braking systems, and both are important to a friction-free swing. Our focus today will be optimizing these systems during the stroke. We’re going to highlight:
- The science of accelerating & braking systems,
- Matt Kemp & Ted Williams (who has the more efficient braking system?)
- How to tune-up your acceleration & braking system.
The Science of Accelerating & Braking Systems
Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains talks about 9 different fascial lines found throughout the body that inter-weave and inter-relate during human movement. We’ll be highlighting one in particular called the Functional Lines (pictured right). CLICK HERE for a brief background on springy fascia.
Thomas Myers says that Functional Lines mainly come into play in the following athletic events:
- Shot Put, Javelin, Discus, and Hammer Throws,
- Golf, and of course
- For hitters like Matt Kemp & Ted Williams
Thomas Myers says,
“These lines enable us to give extra power and precision to the movements of the limbs by lengthening their lever arm through linking them across the body to the opposite limb in the other girdle.”
Imagine a big “X” painted on your chest and back, connecting the right shoulder to the left hip, and vice versa. Thomas Myers refers to them as Front Functional Lines (FFL) & Back Functional Lines (BFL). He uses a couple different examples to illustrate the braking system in action:
“Pitching a baseball or bowling a cricket are perfect ways to engage these lines: the wind-up involves a shortening of the BFL and a stretching of the FFL, while the pitch itself reverses that process, shortening the FFL and stretching the BFL. In the final act, the BFL acts as a brake to keep the strong contraction along the FFL and the momentum of the arm from going too far and damaging joints involved in the movement.”
You still following me? It’s okay if not. We’ll simplify in the next section…
Matt Kemp & Ted Williams (who has the more effective braking system?)
I want to compare Matt Kemp to Ted Williams because they have similar body types, according to Baseball-Reference.com:
Simplifying the acceleration/braking systems, we can just follow the front shoulder to see who is being more efficient with their Functional Lines. Consider Ted Williams:
Now, check out the difference with Matt Kemp:
That’s right, Matt Kemp finishes with his left shoulder up! Not convinced? Check out the photo of his finish at the beginning of this post. He’s not being very efficient with his braking system. Matt Kemp is leaving repeatable power on the table (which is scary!)…to polish, he’d have to:
- Get more downhill shoulder angle before landing,
- Show more of his numbers to the pitcher, and
- Focus on finishing “barrel down” with his top hand release.
How-to Tune-Up Your Acceleration & Braking Systems
There are a couple quick exercises and stretches that Thomas Myers recommends to tune-up both Functional Lines:
- Engage BFL (Alternating Supermans) – 2 sets X 12 reps each side. Focus on moving the body as a whole. Arm and leg are to be lifted at exactly same time. Head stays in line with spine. Don’t arch head back like in video.
- Engage FFL (Alternating Supermans) – same as #1, but do Alternating Supermans on your back.
- Stretch BFL (Triangle Yoga Pose) – Hold position on each side for a deep breath count of 5-10.
- Stretch FFL (1/2 Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch w/ Rotation) – hold position on each side for about 60-seconds. Keep the abs and “down knee” glute contracted during stretch.
Do the above four 1-2 times daily for 3-weeks.
I’ve spent 11+ years in the corrective fitness industry, and have too many alphabet-soup certifications to bore you with.I also played four years of Division One baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003.
It’s NOT how you study, but what you study that counts.I apply human movement principles (or rules), validated by science, to hitting a baseball and softball.
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