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Why Baseball Hitters Lift Their Leg When Hitting

If you’ve ever watched a professional baseball game, you’ll likely have noticed how different batters have different swings, but the one thing that is consistent across all batters is they lift their leg when hitting. If you don’t know why the players are lifting or swinging their legs, it can be confusing. Why do baseball players lift their leg when hitting?

Baseball hitters lift their legs while hitting to generate more force into their swing and to help with timing the pitch. Lifting the leg helps create momentum, which allows more force to be fired from the back leg during their swing. As a result, the hitter can hit the ball with more power.

A Yankees hitter in the batter's box lifts his leg to prepare to swing at the pitch. The text reads "Why Baseball Hitters Lift Their Leg When Hitting"

Keep reading to learn more about how baseball hitters produce power through their legs when hitting. I’ll also have a detailed look at how they add power with their legs and what muscles are working when swinging at a baseball. By the end of this piece, you’ll better understand how and why baseball hitters use their legs to help them bat.

How Lifting A Leg Generates More Momentum

We know that baseball hitters lift their legs when hitting to assist them in gaining power for the hit. Additional power into a hit vastly increases the chances of a home run as the ball has a better chance of passing outfield. But how does lifting your leg help you add power to a baseball hit?

Lifting a leg before hitting helps batters develop momentum as their front leg swings down, which can be transferred into the hit. This initial phase of a hitter’s swing is usually referred to as the “loading” phase because the hitter is preparing to shift their weight to help create momentum in their swing.

Lifting and then lowering the front leg will also shift the position of the hips and knee to the back leg, which allows the hitter to create extra force.

When hitters lower their leg after lifting, they drop it quickly. This has a pendulum effect on their body. The hitter can then push off their back foot as their front foot reaches the floor. This enables hitters to strike the ball with more precision and force.

Some batters use the leg lift as a way of timing when they need to swing. This helps improve contact with the pitch and reduces the chance of a strikeout.

As a result, many professional baseball hitters will lift and drop their front legs when batting. This technique enhances the power in their swings which tends to result in more base hits when they hit the ball.

Leg Kicks Help Hitters Use Additional Muscles

Hitters lift their legs before hitting so they can generate extra force through the lower half of their bodies. But lifting their leg is how they get started with their swing. Once a baseball player lifts their leg to swing, they are allowing themselves to more easily activate other muscles during their swing. What muscles do hitters use when hitting a baseball?

Some of the muscles used by hitters when hitting a baseball include:

  • Triceps 
  • Deltoids
  • Infraspinatus 
  • Hip rotators
  • Lats
  • Pecs
  • Hamstrings 
  • Glutes 
  • Wrist pronators 

When a baseball hitter takes a swing at a pitch, they use a number of muscle groups throughout their abdomen, arms, legs, back, chest, and shoulders. Swinging a baseball bat like an MLB hitter is a full-body exercise.

While several muscle groups are used to swing at a baseball, most of the power and the momentum come through the hips, which are connected to their legs. So, when people start learning to play baseball, they’re taught to swing at their hips to help improve their batting abilities. The first step to better utilizing your hips during your swing is to lift your leg.

Benefits of Adding a Leg Kick to a Baseball Swing

We know that adding a leg kick to your batting technique can help you produce more momentum throughout your swing, but what are the specific benefits of adding a leg kick to a baseball swing, and how do hitters implement leg kicks in their swing?

Adding a leg kick to your baseball swing allows you to step towards the baseball as it’s heading towards the strike zone. This movement enables hitters to attack the ball with more force as the ball approaches. Leg kicks also allow hitters to improve their timing of hitting as their leg kick assists in predicting the speed of the pitch.

Leg kicks can also decrease the chances of called strikes. Pitchers like to throw the ball at different tempos throughout the game, with the intention of catching hitters off-guard by throwing an off-speed pitch when a fastball is expected. However, when using leg kicks, hitters are in control of their swing and they don’t have to commit to swinging at a bad pitch.

Hitters tend to be better at judging an incoming pitch with a leg kick because they have more ability to adjust to those off-speed pitches.

The leg kick can also help some hitters with running to first base, as they’re able to leap from the batter’s box immediately after their hit. The quicker you can make it to first base, the higher the chance you have of being safe.

While there are several advantages to adding a leg kick to your baseball swing and most baseball players utilize a leg kick, not all professional players use this method to swing. Some players choose alternative methods of swinging that don’t require a leg kick, and some of them do it successfully.

Final Thoughts

Baseball hitters lift a leg when hitting a baseball to help them maximize the power of their swing. Lifting the front leg allows hitters to generate additional momentum, which encourages more powerful hits. As hitters move through their swing, their back leg will allow them to give an extra push.

Hitters also lift their legs when swinging to allow them to time the incoming pitch effectively. This increases the chances of them getting on base from their hit, which has clear benefits for the team.

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Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball in an adult baseball team in the surrounding area. Read more about Steve Nelson.

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