By Doug Bernier
The load is the energy behind an explosive and powerful swing. What is the “load” of a baseball swing?” In baseball batting, the load is where we gather our momentum to our backside to prepare for an explosive swing.
It’s like a snake coiling to strike, or pulling back the string of a bow and arrow.
Why is the load important? Use it as a timing device and a continuation of your rhythm. Getting your weight back helps you wait to explode on the ball.
No matter if you load with a leg kick, a toe tap, normal stride, or no striding and just picking up the heel, you have to make a move back before you can go forward. This small move helps to make your next move (weight shift) rhythmic and not jumpy or fast.
In depth description of the load:
The Starting Point. To start, our legs are distributing our weight almost evenly, between our front and back leg.
Timing. As the pitcher starts his load (leg lift) you want to start your weight shift by moving a portion of your weight on your back foot.
Weight distribution. If you started somewhere between 50/50 and 60/40 weight distribution, after loading you should be at least 60/40 (to your backside). Some hitters will get all of their weight on their back leg, cock their hips, and try to get all they can into the baseball.
Athletic Stance. But, as you shift your weight to your back leg, don’t let your back knee get outside of your back foot. Make sure your knee stays on the inside of your foot. It allows better balance, and is a more athletic position.
Hands. By pushing your weight back in your legs, your hands will also load and move back towards the catcher. This gets them to the strongest position to fire your hands to the baseball. It’s the same idea that the pitcher needs to get momentum going back before he delivers the ball, or someone trying to deliver a serious punch.
The size of this movement depends on who you are as a hitter.
Someone with a little more power may try to get a little extra weight going back before he explodes.
But a batter that hits line drives for average may use a significant smaller load so he has a shorter, more compact swing.
Direction of Movement. As you start your load, keep your body in a straight line towards the pitcher.
If you start to coil and turn your back to the ball, your swing will be more rotational and your bat will be in and out through the strike zone quicker than it should be, thus making it more difficult to consistently square up baseballs.
Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins’ AAA team in Rochester, NY