When first learning to hit, many young ballplayers (if not all of them) are taught to ‘squish the bug’ with their back foot as they rotate their hips through the swing. This may be a good way to teach the beginner how to rotate his hips. However, as the hitter matures it becomes a bad teaching tool. Why? Well let’s look at some photos of Major League hitters and see the position of their back foot at the point where they make contact with the pitch.
These are the best hitters in the game. They play at the highest competitive level for a reason. Notice how each player is on the point of his back toes. There is nothing resembling a ‘squish the bug’ movement. Why is this the case? As the hitter begins his swing, there needs to be back to front movement of the body toward the front of the batter’s box. The power and force generated is so great that the hitter’s weight is shifted entirely to his front leg. His front leg then becomes a pillar about which his hips can rotate around. This rotation, or torque, is a huge force that allows the hitter to drive the ball with power.
If the younger hitter continues to try to ‘squish the bug,’ he will have to keep most of his weight on the back leg and will lose power as a result. It is not until later in the swing that you will see something that resembles ‘squishing the bug.’ This position comes well after the hitter makes contact with the pitch. When contact is made, the hitter’s front leg is stiff and has taken the weight transfer during the swing. The only way for the hitter to stay balanced is for that weight to return to the back leg. That is when you see the hitter in the position that is pictured below.
This position is also the reason many coaches advocate ‘squishing the bug.’ When watching a player in real time, it appears that they have in fact stayed on the balls of their feet and spun the foot in a squishing fashion. But as you can see now, this is not the case. The point of contact is what we care about most. And at the point of contact, the hitter’s back foot is nearly upright with weight transferred to the front leg. It is this body position where the hitter will have the greatest transfer of power to the baseball.