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Alex Gordon: Top Out Bat Speed By Striding Closed?

 

Alex Gordon VIDEO: Avoid This Stupid Mistake?

Alex Gordon Game 7 Double in 2014 World Series, striding open photo courtesy: MLB.com

Question: Does Striding Front Leg Closed Increase OR Decrease Bat Speed?

I was taught my whole playing career to stride front foot closed.  Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether striding with the front leg closed will have a positive or negative effect on bat speed.

Background Research

Here are a couple posts to further your understanding of spinal engine mechanics, as we move to discover what effect striding with a closed front leg will ultimately have on bat speed…

Also, CLICK HERE to watch this video from ZenoLink’s Chris Welch on stride principles.

Hypothesis

Based primarily on my research and study of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine, I believe landing with an open front leg – like Alex Gordon – will result in increased bat speed and farther batted ball distance.  Landing closed with the front leg – like Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (who popped out to end the 2014 World Series) – will result in an inefficiency to hitting inside and high pitches.  And will allow other compensations to occur such as rolling over, pulling the head, and the front shoulder flying open.

Alex Gordon: Striding Open/Closed Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers = my bat length, plus two baseballs
  • Distance from plate = end of the bat touching inside corner of plate, and knob of bat touching my mid-thigh
  • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • Forward momentum was eliminated in this experiment, and I hit from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • First 100 baseballs hit I was striding with a CLOSED front leg
  • Last 100 baseballs hit I was striding with an OPEN front leg
  • There was about 15-30 minute break between both Alex Gordon & Salvador Perez Experiments

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Alex Gordon: Top Out Bat Speed By Striding Open?

First 100 balls (striding CLOSED), last 100 balls (striding OPEN)

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Observations from the Zepp Baseball app screen capture above:

  • Striding OPEN added 1-mph of bat speed on average
  • Interestingly, striding CLOSED added 0.024 “Time To Impact” on average

Not much change there…but the devil’s in the details…

Alex Gordon Closed/Open Stride Experiment

Breakdown of Alex Gordon Striding Closed Experiment (swings & bat speed)

  • Striding CLOSED shifted bat speed downstream into the [< 69] to [70-74-mph] ranges
  • Striding OPEN shifted bat speed upstream into the [75-79] to [80+ mph] ranges
  • Striding CLOSED top out bat speed was 81-mph…80-mph (once) and 81-mph (twice)
  • Striding OPEN top out bat speed was 83-mph…80-mph (6-times), 81-mph (3-times), 82-mph (3-times), & 83-mph (once)

 

Notes

Alex Gordon: Top Out Bat Speed By Striding Closed?

Salvador Perez never had a chance striding closed against Madison Bumgarner photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Striding open with the front leg definitely increased top out bat speed (83-mph v. 81-mph).
  • There was a better chance to maintain higher bat speeds with striding open.
  • During the Alex Gordon Experiment, when striding front leg open, my front foot was at a 45-70 degree angle.
  • I also felt that I had an easier time accelerating the barrel down (towards catcher’s glove) when my stride leg was open, which helped keep my bat speed more consistent.  I felt like I had to pull across my body (or chop down) striding with a closed front leg, which made my bat speed more erratic during the first part of the Experiment.
  • I purposely eliminated forward momentum from the Experiment because I wanted to isolate how much striding closed took away from bat speed.  In addition, I wanted to preserve accuracy in execution with the two different mechanical scenarios.

 

The Bottom Line?

Spinal engine mechanics drive all human movement, according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky.  When we do things to hinder efficient spinal engine mechanics, reciprocal inhibition takes over depressing a hitter’s ability to maintain higher bat speeds over longer periods.  In addition, striding with a closed front leg will cause a hitter to be inefficient getting to inside and higher pitches.  A great number of coaches teach hitters to stride with the “front foot closed”.  This is the very reason the following compensations occur that these coaches waste their time trying to correct!!

  • Front shoulder flying open,
  • Head pulling out, and
  • A shorter hand and barrel path to the ball, resulting in the
  • Barrel having limited time on the plane of the pitch, which increases mis-hits and strikeouts.

This is why I think Salvador Perez had a hard time handling Madison Bumgarner.  MadBum kept busting him up and in.  Because Salvador Perez strides closed I believe this stunted his chances of knocking in Alex Gordon from third at the end of the game.

Does Miguel Cabrera Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #3 (of 4)…

 

Miguel Cabrera REVEALS Torque Timing

Photo courtesy: MLB.com

The third installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, stars 8-time All-Star & 2-Time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.  I’ll show you how hitting instructors get torque timing wrong, causing reciprocal inhibition to occur in reverse.

In this Miguel Cabrera video, we’ll look at:

  • Why walking mechanics hold the key to repeatable power,
  • Whether we should land front foot closed or open?  And
  • Why the timing of torque is important.

Thanks to Bob Hall from Canada for the subject of this video blog article.

 

Walking Mechanics: Key to Repeatable Power?

The following “compression signal” sequence is according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s spine engine mechanics:

  1. Left front leg heel strike – compression signal travels up the leg into the pelvis telling it to open to the right,
  2. The signal continues up the spine into the shoulders, telling them to counter-rotate (left), and
  3. This is why your opposite arm and leg come forward at the same time.
Walking Mechanics

Photo courtesy: WalkezStore.com

Land Front Foot Closed OR Open?

Ryan Braun Front Toe Open

Photo courtesy: OnMilwaukee.com

Big guys like Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera land closed (less than 45-degrees). Small guys such as Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista tend to land open (more than 45-degrees).  Which way is the right way?

4 reasons to keep the front toe open (minimum of 45-degree angle):

  1. Joint Connection – Toe closed? So is knee and pelvis.  The compression signal travels fast after heel strike, so pelvis must be in neutral (or parallel to the plate) in order to open without friction,
  2. NO Separation – If toe, knee, and pelvis are closed after compression signal, then front shoulder has to compensate by flying open the same time as the pelvis.  This doesn’t engage our elastic energy systems.
  3. Compensation is Inevitable – We find the closed toe in hitters like Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera just end up peeling or jumping open anyway at or shortly after contact.  So why not get the toe out of the way to begin with?
  4. Pitchers Land Open – And also if you look at Olympic Throwers and Shot Putters, they all land open before they throw or “put” their objects.

 

Why the Timing of Torque is IMPORTANT

Jose Bautista Front Toe Open

Photo courtesy: OttawaLife.com

Torque timing in the swing, also known as shoulder-pelvis separation, is often cued wrong.  Instructors often yell, “Fire the Hips!”  In high level swing mechanics, we find the hips (or pelvis) does fire first.  But, the timing coaches cue on is all wrong.  Shoulder-pelvis separation occurs before the front heel touches down, NOT after.

If you missed the following parts to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series:

  • CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #1 featuring Ryan Braun
  • CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #2 featuring Adrian Gonzalez

Stay tuned for Common Mistake #4, where we debunk whether the friction-free swing is pushing or pulling the backside through