It is commonly believed that a hitter’s swing should conclude with the same finish every time. Whether a hitter completes their swing with a one-handed follow through, two-handed finish or anything in between - each and every swing should have the exact same finish. Right? Wrong.
The most influential factor of how and where the hands finish the swing is the location of the baseball, with or without contact. No matter the age or competition level, baseball or softball, a hitter’s follow through is dependent on the pitch they are attempting to hit, respectively.
A player attempting to hit a low and outside off-speed pitch to the opposite field, shouldn’t be expected to produce the same follow through as they would on a fastball they are trying to turn on. Quite simply, the physics don’t make sense.
If an athlete obsesses over a perfect follow it might look good in a still shot photograph; however, it is completely counterproductive to the task at hand - hitting the ball with authority in regards to the pitch type and location.
Even the legendary Ken Griffey Jr., widely renowned as the owner of baseball’s most beautiful swing, capped off with a picturesque follow through, didn’t complete every swing with the same finish. It all depended on the pitch type, location and to some degree, his approach at the plate
This is not a reference to a player being fooled on a pitch and reeling off an ugly swing. Which is okay, because it happens to even the best hitters. We’re talking about a quality swing on a pitch in the strike zone.
A player should consider this as they are training on the tee, with soft toss drills, and in a live batting practice situation. There should be a number of follow through options that a player is comfortable with depending on the pitch.
The follow through is important to a player’s success and their ability to stay healthy. An athlete who is insistent on completing their swing with the same finish, with no regard to the location of the ball, is putting themselves at risk to suffer an injury. A neck? A back? A neck and a back.
It’s important to remember that the swing mechanics leading up to the point of contact should be conditioned and repetitive. This developed muscle memory is essential to a hitter’s long-term success; however, this does not include the follow through! We are athletes for Pete's sake - not robots.
Try to tell a classic “bad ball hitter” like Vladimir Guerrero or Nolan Arenado to finish every swing the same. Those guys epitomize a differentiated finish in the batter’s box, yet they are both destined for Cooperstown. The proof is in the numbers and it doesn’t always have to be pretty. As coaches often say after a swinging bunt or a blooper for a base hit, “That’s a line-drive in the box score.”
A well-trained hitter should have a number of follow through options they feel comfortable and confident with, depending on the pitch type, location and their approach. This will present a hitter with the best opportunity to succeed and will keep them healthy in the process.