Effects of the forward movement of the front foot on baseball bat swing timing and speed
This study investigated the effects of the forward movement of the front foot, on baseball bat swing timing and speed. The purpose of this movement, also known as the stride, is to shift weight to the back leg. This weight shift puts the body in motion and gathers energy to be transferred into the ball. This weight shift is essential for optimal batting performance, however, execution of the stride has been shown to introduce excessive head movement, improper timing and inconsistency in some hitters. The weight shift associated with the stride can be accomplished without the front foot breaking contact with the ground or moving forward. Removal of the stride has been suggested as a method to improve batting technique by reducing the scope for error and increasing consistency. The stride has been thought of as a source of power and timing and the effects of its removal were unknown. The experiments conducted in this study were performed to quantify the effects this forward movement of the front foot had on bat swing timing and speed when compared to trials performed without this forward movement of the front foot. The subjects for this study (n = 17) consisted of baseball position players from The University of Southern Mississippi NCAA Division I Baseball Team. In order to test the effects of the stride, each batter was instructed to perform 40 consecutive swings using a stride and 40 consecutive swings without striding. The goal of each batter was to time the approach of the "pitch" with the swing of the bat. Pitches were simulated by 6 connected Intermediate Modular runways totaling 400cm in length and containing 96 lamps that lit in consecutive order, approaching the batter. Two-way repeated measures analyses of variance were used to determine statistical differences in bat swing speed and bat swing timing for the stride and no-stride conditions and speed of light presentation (pitch). The alpha level for statistical analyses was set at the .05 level of significance. Six hypotheses were designed to test differential effects of the stride and no-stride techniques on the batting skill in baseball. The data collected in this study were analyzed and the results revealed no significant difference in bat swing speed between the stride technique and the no-stride technique and no significant difference in bat-swing timing between the stride technique and the no stride technique. The results of this study, though limited due to the small sample size, suggest that a batters timing and bat speed may not be affected by the removal of the stride.