Why a Short Stroke Swing Is Better

Mississippi State head baseball coach Ron Polk explains why a short stroke is a more efficient swing for a hitter than a long stroke swing.

When someone says that a hitter has a short stroke swing, what do they mean by that?
"It means your leverages are short, everything is right to the ball - hands stay above the ball, the barrel is above the hands. In other words, it is compact, it's crisp, and it doesn't have that long loop to it. If a guy lets his hands get away from his body, he is going to have a loop. If you keep your hands inside, your stroke gets shorter.

"When you have a long stroke, you can be pitched to easier because you have to start your swing earlier and you don't have much bat discipline, you can't check swing. If you have a long stroke your timing has to be perfect, your eye site has to be unbelievable, and the pitcher has to be very average. The shorter the stroke, the more productive a hitter is."

Do you always shorten the stroke of all of your players when they first come in?
"If they have a long stroke and they hit the ball well, leave them alone."

Does shortening the stroke reduce the power of a hitter?
"Some guys, when you shorten their stroke, they have more power because it gets more backspin on the ball. There are a few guys in the big leagues that have long swings but sometimes they shorten up and they find out they have more power."

Who are some of your long stroke hitters?
"Jeff Flagg was a long stroke guy, but he's made some adjustments. Tyler Moore is a long stroke guy. Generally, the long stroke guys are the big, strong guys. In T-ball and coach-pitch they hit home runs and they just carried that stroke with them to junior high, high school and sometimes into college. But they have to make adjustments because the pitching gets so good - the velocity picks up, there are different velocity breaks in regards to vertical or horizontal breaks. If you throw a curveball, it breaks into two planes. If you have a long stroke you have to be very lucky to hit it."

What kind of strokes did Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro have?
"A lot of people thought that Clark had a long stroke, but he had a short stroke and finished long. He went right to the ball, but he then had that long follow through. Palmeiro was more of a line drive hitter. When he missed, he hit a line drive or ground ball. When Clark missed, it was a fly ball. Clark's home runs went this way (high up in the air), but most of Rafael's home runs were like a plane taking off."

What kind of stroke does Brandon Turner have?
"He has a very short stroke, but he struggled his first fall here (batted .140) because his stance was very unorthodox.

"The key with hitters is keeping the bat in the strike zone for a long time. When they do that, they can be late, on-time and early. In Brandon's case, he stays in the strike zone a long time. But a guy with a long stroke or loop in his swing, there is only one point where he is going to hit the ball well."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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