Master the King of All Exercises

Deadlifting Secrets 101

Everything you need to know about this complex exercise.

Free Video Training

Name:
Email:* 
The High Performance Handbook

The High Performance Handbook Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen Before...


Hip Extension and Rotation in the Baseball Swing

Written on January 5, 2013 at 7:33 am, by Eric Cressey

Today’s guest blog comes to us from Jeff Albert, one of the bright minds in the world of hitting instruction. I’ve enjoyed Jeff’s stuff for years, and I think you’ll like it, too.

Hip extension is a getting a lot of attention in the fitness world these days. Eric Cressey was asking us to get our butts in gear back in ’04, ESPN recently made a Call of Booty, and we now have our very own glute guy, Bret Contreras. Kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, deadlifts, and squats are staples of exercise programs for athletes for good reason: they make the posterior chain stronger and more explosive. This, in turn, makes it easier for athletes to do things athletes are supposed to do – like run faster and jump higher.

But how is this going to help with your actual skills? What is the role of hip extension in the baseball swing?

EMG studies in both baseball (Shaffer et al 1993) and golf (Belcher et al 1995) report highest muscle activity of the primary movers of the posterior chain – the hamstrings, glutes and low back – happens during the beginning of the forward swing. The exercises listed above are often programmed because they target the same muscles. Very conveniently, those muscles are also responsible for creating rotation in the swing.

Here’s the key point: good hip rotation has an element of hip extension!

This is what it looks like from the front and side in the swing:

Check out the belt line as the hitter transitions from landing with his stride foot to making contact. This is the actual unloading of the hips during the forward swing. You should be able to see how the hips (belt line) lower into flexion (load) and then actually come up a bit as the hips extend (unload).

Unfortunately, the baseball EMG study only measured muscle activity on the back leg. The golf EMG study, however, measured both legs. An interesting point from this golf study is that in the initial forward swing (from the loaded position to horizontal lag position), activity in the quads (vastus lateralis was measured) of the lead leg was higher than the posterior side (glutes, biceps femoris, semimembranosus). This makes sense because the front side is accepting some shifting weight during this time. But, when the club is being moved from the horizontal lag position to contact, the hip extenders again become more active. Baseball instruction commonly refers to having a “firm front side”, but we haven’t talked much about how that happens. This golf EMG suggests that extension at the hip, rather than knee, is more responsible for creating this effect.

Keep this in mind if and when you are working on the lower half in your swing. Very often players can show a nice, powerful hip rotation and extension pattern in the gym (throwing medicine balls, for example), but look much different when they pick up a bat in the cage. Differences in terminology that you’ll find between the gym and the batting cage can often be a cause of this, and sometimes players just don’t make the connection between their physical conditioning and their actual swing.

If you do struggle with rotation of your lower half, give some thought to the hip extension and rotational work that you do in the weight room and pay attention to the patterns that you’re developing there. First of all, make sure your hip extension and rotation are good in the first place, and then see if you can repeat the movement pattern when swinging the bat. The whole point in creating strong, explosive hip rotation in the weight room is so you can actually use it to create more power when you finally have the bat in your hands.

Happy Hacking!

About the Author

Jeff Albert is a CSCS with a MS in Exercise Science from Louisiana Tech University. Jeff is entering his 6th season as a coach in professional baseball, now serving as a roving hitting instructor in the Houston Astros organization. He works with players of all ages during the off-season in Palm Beach, Florida and can be contacted through his website, SwingTraining.net, or follow him on twitter (@swingtraining).

References

1. Bechler JR, Jobe FW, Pink M, Perry J, Ruwe PA. Electromyographic analysis of the hip and knee during the golf swing. Clin J Sport Med. 1995 Jul;5(3):162-6.

2. Shaffer B, Jobe FW, Pink M, Perry J. Baseball Batting: An Electromyographic study. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1993 Jul;(292):285-93.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!

Name
Email
  • gord

    Mr. Cressey
    I have just subscribed to your newsletter and found great information that our team is using RIGHT NOW.
    The article and videos on hip extension and rotation drills were excellent.
    Thank you and have a great day.

    Gord

  • http://www.morrisonsofttissue.com Greg M

    HI Jeff and Eric, We’re talking about internal rotation of the rear leg in the swing correct? Any good strength exercise to develop that? I saw the med ball work in the video. Thanks!

  • http://michaelzweifel.blogspot.com Michael Zweifel

    Eric,

    Do you also do a crossover step in front, or do you just stick to step behind?

  • steve morgan

    Like this article. So what drills translate into better hip rotation? Two handle medballs, medball throws, medball on rope, other?

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Greg,

    We’re talking about hip external rotation on the trailing leg, and internal rotation on the front leg.

  • James

    Great article! Question for Jeff/Eric.

    Working with baseball athletes, and given the transfer of forces from back to front leg, would it be more beneficial to the athlete to train this hip extension with unilateral or bilateral work? I use both, but curious which should have the most focus.

    Thank you for your knowledge guys!

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    James,

    In my experience, some of both is the way to go.

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Steve,

    For me, it’ll always be regular med balls. Less inhibition from the athletes.

  • Ed

    Do you think that this research/info is applicable to track & field throwers (especially discus)? I have been following your articles on baseball power/rotational power and it seems like it would…Great info…makes me think! Thanks!

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Hi Ed,

    Yes, track and field throwers can definitely borrow a lot from the baseball world (and vice versa).


Cressey Performance
Individualizing the Management of
Overhead Athletes

Sign Up and Get Access to This Free 47-Minute Presentation

Name:*
Email:*
New Balance

Featured Product
Assess and Correct

YouTube Twitter Facebook