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How to Keep your front shoulder closed

Aug 29, 2023

#1 mechanical flaw every hitter deals with

Out of all the hours I have spent working with hitters, the one mechanical issue most hitters run into is pulling their front shoulder out too early. I’d argue that every hitter on the planet will eventually battle against this at some point in their career.

It’s why the best hitters constantly talk about hitting to the opposite field. 

A hitter’s approach plays a part in helping hitters keep their front shoulder closed longer.

However, today, we will discuss some of the other reasons this happens and one of my favorite drills to help combat the issue.  

What are some of the reasons hitters pull their front shoulder out early? 


Let’s start with all of the mechanical reasons: 


1.     Improper Weight Transfer: If a hitter's weight isn't transferring smoothly from the back foot to the front foot during the swing, it can cause the upper body to open up prematurely. This leads to an early front shoulder pull, as the upper body is not in sync with the lower body's movement.

2.     Early Hip Rotation: Premature hip rotation can disrupt the sequence of movements in the swing. If the hips rotate too quickly before the hands and barrel of the bat have a chance to get into the hitting zone, the front shoulder can open up too soon, resulting in poor contact.

3.     Lack of Separation: Proper separation between the hips and the upper body is essential for generating power and maintaining balance. If a hitter fails to maintain this separation, it can lead to an early front shoulder pull as the upper body and hips move as a unit rather than sequentially.

4.     Overstriding: Taking an excessively long stride can cause a hitter's weight to shift too far forward, leading to a loss of balance and control. This imbalance can result in the front shoulder opening too early as the body attempts to compensate for the weight shift.

5.     Bat Lag: If a hitter fails to maintain proper bat lag (delaying the barrel's movement until the last moment), it can cause the bat to drag behind the hands. This can lead to an early shoulder pull as the hitter attempts to catch up to the pitch.

6.     Failure to Stay Connected: "Getting long" in the swing, where the hitter's arms extend too early, can disconnect the upper body from the lower body. This lack of connection can lead to an early front shoulder pull as the upper body races ahead of the lower body's rotation.

7.     Inefficient Load: A proper load, where the hands move back and create tension before the swing, sets the stage for a powerful and controlled swing. If the load is too aggressive or too minimal, it can affect the timing of the swing and contribute to an early shoulder pull.

8.     Grip Issues: The grip on the bat plays a role in maintaining proper mechanics. If a hitter's grip is too tight, it can lead to tension in the upper body and a premature opening of the front shoulder.

9.     Stride Direction: If a hitter's stride is directed towards the pitcher rather than towards the pitcher's mound, it can lead to an open stance and an early front shoulder pull as the body's natural rotation is disrupted.


Now, let’s talk about all of the other reasons a hitter might pull their front shoulder out early.


1.     Overeager to Pull: One of the most common reasons for pulling the front shoulder out early is the desire to pull the ball for power. Hitters might think that by opening up their front shoulder, they can get the barrel of the bat to the ball more quickly. However, this often results in swinging too early and losing the ability to drive the ball to all fields effectively.

2.     Lack of Timing: Poor timing can cause hitters to rush their swing, which can lead to the front shoulder opening up prematurely. If a batter feels behind on a pitch, they might try to compensate by starting their swing early and pulling their front shoulder out in the process.

3.     Improper Mechanics: Flawed mechanics can contribute to an early front shoulder pull. If a hitter doesn't have a solid foundation in their swing mechanics, they might unknowingly open their front shoulder too soon. 

4.     Pitch Recognition: Difficulty in recognizing pitch types and locations can lead to a premature front shoulder pull. If a hitter is unsure about the pitch they're facing, they might start their swing early and pull their front shoulder out, resulting in a weaker and less controlled swing.

5.     Lack of Plate Discipline: Hitters who struggle with plate discipline might swing at pitches that are outside of their optimal hitting zone. In an attempt to make contact with these pitches, they might rush their swing and pull the front shoulder out.

6.     Fear of Inside Pitches: Some hitters have a fear of getting hit by inside pitches. As a result, they might subconsciously pull their front shoulder out in an attempt to create more distance between their body and the pitch. This can lead to poor mechanics and reduced power.

7.     Mental Pressure: Pressure situations, such as important games or at-bats, can cause hitters to become anxious and alter their mechanics. Pulling the front shoulder out early might be a result of nervousness or the desire to make a big play.

8.     Previous Failures: If a hitter has experienced previous failures, like striking out or hitting into outs, they might adjust their mechanics in an attempt to correct those mistakes. This adjustment could involve pulling the front shoulder out early, which may become a habit over time.

9.     Lack of Proper Coaching: Without proper coaching and feedback, hitters might not be aware that they're pulling their front shoulder out early. This issue can persist if not addressed through guidance and corrective drills.

Hallway Drill 

I stole this clip from Michael Earley. Michael is the hitting coach at Texas A&M and does a great job with their hitters. 

Have the hitter put their back in front of the net (Far enough away so their bat isn’t touching the net) 

Flip balls to them as you usually would straight on. 

Tell them to hit the ball up the middle and not let their bat touch the net as they finish. 

When done correctly, it’s impossible to pull the shoulder out early; if they do, their bat will hit the net.



Whenever you're ready, there is 1 way I can help you:

1. I'm starting to book hitting lessons for the fall and winter in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sign up below. 

 Patrick Jones Baseball Hitting Lessons