Since the beginning of baseball, I'm sure some coach has been saying, "Get your foot down early." But what does that really mean? Does that mean your front toe or front heel should be on the ground early? And what is the definition of early? Is early before you launch your bat? When the ball is 2/3 the way to home? Half way to home? At release? I heard a coach say the other day for a hitting to get his front foot down before the pitcher releases the ball. Huh???
Does this make any sense? I've been involved in baseball for 50 years and I have yet to see a hitter swing with his front foot off the ground so is this even a problem? Well I investigated and here is what I came up with. THE FOOT DOWN EARLY APPROACH IS A NON-TEACH!
I looked at video from both pro and college hitters and low and behold every hitter, no matter how they get there, puts their front heel down roughly four frames from contact (assuming a 30 frame/second video). You can look at hitters from all time periods like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Rod Carew, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, it doesn't matter. They all set the front hell down at about the same time with little adjustments depending on swing time. That's it! Different styles, different mechanics, different loads, different strides, it doesn't matter! They all put the front heel down at roughly the same time. Why?
It's simple really. Because you can't stop the kinetic chain otherwise you lose everything you have built up to that point. A hitter instinctively knows this! You can't start, stop and start again. It doesn't work. Can you imagine if you told your pitchers to kick up, stride, get to landing, stop then start again? What kind of pitch do you think he would throw?Kinda ridiculous right. But that is exactly what we tell hitters to do. Amazing. No wonder they end up late on fastballs and can't adjust to off-speed.
Coaches, Stop doing this! The foot will come down when it's ready to come down depending on the hitter's mechanics. Keep you hitter athletic and if he is having trouble timing up a fastball, get him in an overclocking situation hitting against a machine with above average FBs coming at him. Let him figure it out. He will, I promise you.
Coaches, "foot down early" cues will absolutely kill your hitter's adjustability. Don't take away your hitter's athletic ability. Just Stop It!