“What is the most important part of the Kinetic Chain in hitting? EVERYTHING, when the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.”
Dennis Tiefenthaler, Co-Founder, Seam Readers
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Seam Reader’s fifteenth blog of all time. Each week presents new opportunities, challenges, disagreements, apologies, intrigue, new friends, excitement, and joy. A myriad of emotions from a couple of videos and a few chapters of a controversial baseball topic in a blog. Love it! Continue to keep us in the conversation and thank you so much for your patronage and dedication. All Glory to God for each.
Last week we discussed linear and rotational hitting mechanics. We also named some aspects of each one. We came to the conclusion that most everything “linear” happens before the swing, making the rotational aspect of the swing a larger part of the “Kinetic Chain.” Both, though needed for sure to have a quick, consistent powerful swing. This leads us into our topic for this week. Is there a Kinetic Chain when it comes to hitting a baseball or softball? According to physiopedia.com, kinetic chain is defined as an engineering concept to describe human movement. It is used in a wide variety of clinical conditions, including orthotics, sports medicine, etc. The concept was introduced by Franz Reuleaux in 1875. In 1995, Dr. Arthur Steindler adapted his theory and included the analysis of human movement and sport specific activity. Through their work and development into this area, it has opened up and filtered into the world of sports. He suggested that the extremities should be thought of as overlapping segments in a series of movements and he defined the kinetic chain as a combination of several successfully arranged joints constituting a complex motor unit. Dr. Steindler hit his mark for sure in knowing that the body is a “complex motor unit.” A common theory in this area of expertise is that the kinetic chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So with this as our guide, Seam Readers will attempt to apply this theory to the mechanics of the swing as we see it.
Keeping in mind that every part of the body has to be used in the “Kinetic Chain” and since science says the measure of it has to be from the ground up, we will continue to proceed kinematically to the baseball. For Seam Readers, it all starts with the eyes and the brain reading and recognizing a good pitch to hit and directing or allowing the hips to start the swing. The back hip starts the rotation process by picking the back heel off the ground, as the ball of that foot rotates in the ground as the back knee is thrust forward and down. Instantaneously, the front foot, knee, hip, elbow, and shoulder start their rotation towards the ball just as the front knee becomes firm and straight allowing for the arms, wrists, and hands to throw the barrel to contact with the ball. If contact is not made, then the process starts all over again. We feel we need to examine another aspect where it was said that the “Chain” was only as strong as our weakest link. Remember, it was said that every part of the body had to be used in the study. Seam Readers believe that if the back foot is lifted off the ground, or moves forward at contact, then there has been a weakness or leakage of power. If stepping with the front foot open, instead of a closed-step, where your toe is pointed to the pitcher, then you have weakened your front-side, instead of letting the hip rotation turn the foot-out. If you create a hole in your swing by letting the hands drop the bat head backwards as the arms and shoulders try to catch up to your bottom half, you may have weakened your position by not getting to the ball on “time,” without even knowing it. If the hips slide forward to the middle during your step, you could also be weakening your position to be on “time,” as well. When your brain knows when to go, but your body will not allow you to get there.
In conclusion, would these weaknesses be considered universal? No, not to everyone. Would these weaknesses we just described be enough to derail the Kinetic Chain of the swing entirely? If the most important body part is “Everything,” then the only answer, is yes. Have a great week!
At home drill: The drill this week is all about power and using the kinetic chain to its most potential. You will need a tee a basketball or kickball and your bat. In the drill we are going to hit the basketball or kickball as far as we can. Should be a fun one!