The Baseball Swing 2: Load

The load provides the coiled tention that is essential to an explosive, powerful baseball swing.
How to have a better baseball swing

Load – stage 2 of the baseball swing.  The load is the energy behind an explosive and powerful swing. Image by Ed Wolfstein

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.

Finally!  Baseball Hitting Drills for a Batting Tee is now available, and includes 20 FREE VIDEOS with purchase.  Whether your working with little leaguers or more advanced athletes, you’ll find out why these 20 batting drills are still used by Major League hitters and how they might help you.  Also includes the Personal Drill Helper to help diagnose common swing problems and recommends the appropriate drills for addressing those problems.

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.

  1. Separation (The Baseball Swing, Stage 3)
  2. Weight Shift (The Baseball Swing, Stage 4)
  3. Decide and release (The Baseball Swing, Stage 5)
  4. Different Batting Stances
  5. Best wood bats
  6. Guide to Metal bats

Or, return to the hub page for Batting

About Author

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 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger's AAA team the Round Rock Express. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

7 Comments

  1. Great information I have one question for you. When you are hitting, are you conscious about taking the back hip to the baseball or do you think hands to the baseball?

  2. Way to word everything different and make everyone think your on to something.
    1 Keep your eye on the ball.
    2 preload (aka) step and swing. EVERYONE knows that.
    Don’t know what 3 is but should be step into the ball and strike it

  3. I watched the video and was very impressed by the presentation. I have an 11 year old that has been very successful and has one of the prettiest swings I’ve seen. We’ve travelled through the west and come across so many compliments regarding his swing but there is one problem, he arm bars and his barrel is starting to lag behind. I know that there has only been one baseball player to succeed with this type of swing and he was probably one of the greatest hitters ever, Griffey Jr.
    I am going to take this video and try to refine without making huge adjustments because I still think that at 11 making changes can affect his confidence.
    Thanks again for the info.

    • Jason,
      I wouldn’t worry too much about the arm bar. There are actually many MLB hitters that have had that problem and still do to an extent. They are forced to make some small adjustments because the pitching continues to get better and the velocity picks up. You will find that if his arm bar is really drastic he may have trouble hitting an inside pitch but he will handle the outside pitch very well. It is better to be able to handle the outside pitch since about 70% of all pitches are outer half. I would work on in batting practice hitting low line drives the opposite way to make sure his top hand stays strong throughout his swing. This will help him to not “lose his barrel” as he is delivering it to the hitting zone.

      Have him continue to work up the middle and let him know its ok to get jammed. The best hitters in the game get jammed and you are more likely to get a hit by getting jammed then hitting a ball off the end of the bat. Staying up the middle will give him the longest amount of bat barrel in the hitting zone possible. Pulling the ball will eventually come. Remember the top hand is important, don’t make him think about it but if you see him start hitting weak fly balls to the opposite field or fouling a bunch of pitches straight back, he is most likely losing his barrel and having a weak top hand. Get him back to where he needs to be by having him hit ground balls and hard line drives to the opposite field. This should help. With him being only 11 I don’t like to get technical, his swing will naturally get more efficient as he gets older, stronger, and faces better pitching.

      Doug Bernier

  4. Young hitters when they load will pull their hand back barring the front arm and creating a sweeping. The Front shoulder also remains open when they do this.Is their a specific drill you can do develop the proper
    loading technique?

    • Hey Tom. Sorry we missed this comment from back in March. We always love hearing from you and you’ve been with us since the VERY beginning of PBI, so we want to send you a complimentary electronic copy of our new book Baseball Hitting Drills for a Batting Tee, which also comes with a free video for each drill. I’ll have Sarah send it to your email. Here’s more info if you’re curious Baseball hitting drills

      To answer your question, check out these drills in the book:

      Help to keep the shoulder closed/square – Drill #’s 3, 6, 9, 10, 15;

      To help with arm barring, there isn’t a specific drill in the book, but Drill #10 the Separation Drill might help. I have some additional ideas, so I’ll get back with you if my research pans out.

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