Instructional: The Leg Lift

 In Instruction, Stories

Are you wondering if your son should be using a leg lift?

with Clint McGill

It is enticing, right?  Many of today’s big leaguers such as Mike Trout and Jose Altuve utilize a big leg lift to generate incredible amounts of power. Even Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista have all turned themselves from fringe major leaguers into all-world super beasts by switching to the leg lift.

It seems simple:  leg lift = more power.

But some aren’t a fan of the leg lift.  Detractors say that the leg kick is a big movement, and hard for kids to repeat consistently. In addition, the leg lift is much higher maintenance than a traditional small stride.  It’s too easy for something to go wrong and throw off the timing and mechanics of the swing.

And you know what?  They’re not wrong.

When my son and his teammates were just starting out, their strides were terrible – lunging, stepping out, it was ugly.

So we constantly told them, “Keep your feet still!” and the lack of stride did wonders for their contact rate.

But boys don’t stay five forever.

We want them to get to the next level of their development, and how can a kid ever gain the ability to control athletic movements if we never ask them to perform athletic movements?

This is why I believe it is very important for every young hitter to begin experimenting with the leg lift.

It has just too much potential to not at least test it out.

Will the leg lift turn everyone into super beasts?  Probably not.  But don’t be the parent who just up and decides what works best for their kid.  Experiment.  Observe.  If it doesn’t seem to be a fit for your son, then hey, now you know.

Here are three keys to correctly implementing the leg lift:

  1. Don’t get taller.

Too often a young hitter will sort of stand up or straighten out their back leg when they use the leg lift.  The back leg should keep the same bend – or even get a bit deeper.  Head and shoulder height should also stay the same or drop slightly.  Stay in an athletic position.

  1. Keep weight on the *inside* of the back foot.

In order to stay strong and explosive, the hitter must be strong in their back leg by keeping the weight on the inside of the back foot (also called keeping a firm backside).  If the weight transfers to the entire foot or even the outside of the foot it will simply cost the hitter time for the weight to transfer back to the inside of the foot to initiate the swing.

  1. Stride with the foot, not the body.

When Charlie Culberson was learning the leg lift in the minor leagues, he literally put a cinder block in front of his foot to keep him from over striding.  Allowing the head and body to move with a long stride will leak the power out of the hitter’s backside.  Stay back, stride out and let it rip!

So give it a try!  With these tips and repetition your son may just be the next hitter to skyrocket his success with the leg lift.

Best of luck!!

Clint McGill was a former player in the Houston Astros organization and the founder of Baseball Notes website.  Clint is also the host of The Baseball Notes Podcast- where he speaks with current and former players and coaches about their secrets to success.  Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Clint is married with three children and is kept busy with coaching his son’s 8U baseball team.

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Story by Eric Kaufman – Baseball Youth | Twitter:  Baseball Youth

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