The kinetic chain is a fundamental concept that is the greatest source of misunderstanding in coaching hitters. Basically, this is how the body sequences movement to produce acceleration and plane of the barrel. Naturally, the answers always go back to my foundational questions about hitting; what’s the purpose and what matters? Regardless of where you are in your development hitting the ball harder and with more consistent launch angle should always be the goal.
Foundational Ideas of the Kinetic Chain
- There is an identical sequence of speed or energy generation for all great hitters. They may look differently in how they start or even how their swing looks, but functionally they are all the same. That sequence is lower body first (more specifically creating force into the ground) hips or pelvis acceleration second, arms third, and the bat/barrel last.
- Each segment of the body builds on the previous segment, increasing speed up the chain.
- Each segment of the chain slows down once the next segment begins to accelerate. This is due to the next rotating segment pushing off the current rotating segment. This causes a sequential deceleration or stabilization of the segments (which is why “pushing” through contact is such a terrible thing). Imagine a child jumping off their dad’s shoulders in a swimming pool. As the child jumps, the force rapidly slows down the dad’s energy. Fundamentally speaking as the hips are slowing down the shoulders are speeding up.
- Size and/or different styles may have no effect on your ability to generate a proper kinematic sequence. In other words, Julio Franco, Jose Altuve, and Barry Bonds can all have the same kinematic sequence.
Breakdowns in the Chain
Two main things have been shown to create kinetic sequence breakdowns:
- Poor alignment and positioning of the body during the swing.
- Physical limitations
This is why it is imperative to give all of your athletes a functional movement screen to identify inefficiency in their movement along with starting with and focusing on a proper hip hinge and foot shoulder alignment in the swing action.
Hitters and swings have to be taught and evaluated from what the hitter does and how he moves not what from the outcomes it produces. Using video to assess movement patterns and positioning along with the Diamond Kinetics Swing sensor to measure acceleration and swing plane allows the hitter to grow and understand their swing movement individually. Everything after launch is irrelevant and should be treated as such because the outcomes are completely outside of the control of the hitter. Move Better; hit better.