MLB.com Digital Academy Instructional Tip of the Week
Hitting Debate: The Arm Bar
By Kyle Wagner
Baseball culture and specifically hitting culture uses some terms that can be misinterpreted. One such term that has been misconstrued by hitting coaches is the “arm bar.” Many hitting coaches ask kids not to straighten their front arm because it promotes a long swing in their mind. A long swing is a result of the barrel of the bat not taking a direct path to the ball. But, make no mistake, having your lead arm stretched across your chest isn’t a bad thing.
A question needs to be asked to illustrate this point. Why do they make golf clubs with different length shafts? Why not make all golf clubs the same length? Simply put, it is because a longer shaft creates a longer lever and potentially more club head speed at the point of impact.
So, does the term “arm bar” have zero relevance to hitting instruction? Is it something that baseball people simply have missed the mark on? Not necessarily. The “arm bar” was coined as a way to illustrate a hitter’s inability to adjust to a pitch. In other words, although we’d prefer to keep a stretched lead arm through our swing, a pitcher’s ability to move the ball in forces hitters to be flexible with their lead arm. Consistently swinging the bat with a stretched lead arm would make the inside pitch extremely difficult to get to. When working with our younger hitters we tell them we want a driver in your hand as long as possible until you’re forced to go to a pitching wedge.
It is important to understand that an “arm bar” only refers to a player’s inability to adjust to an inside pitch. It does not refer to a player’s ability to create a leveraged position at launch position.
Treating a stretched lead arm as a bad thing is going to rob young baseball players of their serious power opportunities that a long lever provides.
Kyle Wagner is the founder of GoWags hitting facility in Central Pennsylvania, where he features his Green Light Hitting System. After playing catcher for 4 years at Wake Forest University he was drafted by the Angels. Kyle is rooted in helping athletes understand the value of “intent preceding content” and that the “process” is more important than the “result”.