The Myth of Extension in Hitting
So I'm sitting here watching ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and
listening to Terry Francona and Orel Hershiser go on and on
about Mike Trout's extension at the Point Of Contact and
completely ignoring the fact that Mike Trout shows
little to no extension at the Point Of Contact on his
In fact, one reason why Mike
Trout is hitting as well as he is is because he is rarely at
extension at the Point Of Contact.
I was introduced to the concept of Extension (at the
Point Of Contact) by my dad. He read Charley Lau Sr.'s Book
The Art of Hitting .300 and saw the pictures of George
Brett demonstrating what Charley Lau Sr. thought was the ideal
position at the Point Of Contact.
Extension and the Power V
at the Point Of Contact
Notice the level swing -- the barrel level to the ground at
the Point Of Contact -- and the full extension at the Point Of
Consequently, he taught me that I needed to look like that at
the Point Of Contact. While I couldn't make that swing work, I
assumed it just meant that I wasn't meant to play baseball at
the higher levels.
However, as I coached my sons and their friends and taught
them what I had been taught, I gradually realized
that what I had been taught didn't seem to work for anybody. As
a result, I
started looking around to see what the best hitters actually
What I found was very little extension at the Point Of
Contact -- at least on home run swings -- and lots of swings
that I originally assumed showed a hitter being jammed but,
over time, learned were the norm for the best swings on
balls down the middle of the strike zone.
You can see the same thing in video clips of Albert Pujols'
Notice how Albert Pujols doesn't reach full extension until after the Point Of
Contact. At the Point Of Contact, Albert Pujols' back elbow is
If you Google "home run swing" and look at the results that
come up, you will see many swings that look nothing like the
picture above of George Brett and that look like the
pictures of Albert Pujols.
Allen Craig is a good young hitter who very rarely is at full
extension at the Point Of Contact on his home run swings.
You can see the same lack of extension at the Point Of
Contact in the swing of Bryce Harper.
Speaking of Mike Trout, you can see the same pattern in the swing of Mike
To bring this full circle, and back to Charley Lau Sr.'s book
The Art of Hitting .300, what's interesting is that,
with respect to this picture of Al Kaline...
...Charley Lau Sr. has the following to say about it...
For this to be a good swing, Al would have had to
hit the ball more out in front of the plate. As it
is, I think he may have been fooled a bit on the
pitch. When he realized the ball was low and in, he
had to go down to get it. And to do that he had to
pull his left arm in, making it impossible to get
Of course, in truth the picture above of Al Kaline shows him
hitting a home run.
Given Charley lau Sr.'s prominence and the way he talks about
the pictures of George Brett and Al Kaline in his book, it's not
surprising that people have spent so many years believing in
extension at the Point Of Contact. However, I hope that I have
shown you that most of what people say and believe about
extension isn't backed up by pictures and video clips of the best hitters.
Just Because You Can Find Pictures of Hitters at Full Extension
at the POC...
I have a correspondent who occasionally sends me pictures of hitters at full
extension at the Point Of Contact, I assume thinking that, by
sending me these pictures, he will persuade me to change my
views. Instead, all he does is demonstrate an all too
common lack of sophistication in his theory of hitting.
As I have told him multiple times...
Just because you can find some pictures of hitters at full
extension of the Point Of Contact, that doesn't mean that it's a
good idea to try to hit every ball at full extension.
The problem is that, and as I learned when my dad used
Charley Lau Sr's book to (try to) teach me to hit, by telling a
hitter to trying to hit every pitch
at full extension, you are limiting their ability to adjust to
Of course you can find pictures of good hitters at full
extension at the Point Of Contact. Those are pictures of them
making an adjustment. However, you simply will not find
a good hitter who is at full extension at the Point Of Contact
on every pitch.
Mark Reynolds and Extension
Mark Reynolds is a major league ballplayer who has a problem
with Bat Drag, which
forces him to hit most pitches at or near full extension. I
would argue that it's not a coincidence that, while he shows
occasional flashes of power, he is also a strike out machine.
The problem is that, because he has to hit pitches at full
extension, his ability to adjust to pitches is severely
Extension and Batter's Shoulder
Aside from the problems with adjustability that I discuss above,
the other problem with trying to get to full extension at the
Point Of Contact, getting full lead arm extension, and letting
go of the bat with the top hand is that it can lead to a
 I know they are talking about
extension at the Point Of Contact because they showed, and
talked for a few moments about, a still frame at the Point