Immediately after the spine begins to rotate back toward the catcher, a short timing step with the front left leg begins to occur as seen from across home plate in Figure 2-21.
In Figure 2-21 above, we see that as the player’s body has turned back and away from the pitcher, his left foot has come off the ground signifying the beginning of this timing step. Some players may raise their foot higher than this while others may still keep their toes in contact with the ground.
Some will even get to turn their front thigh inward a little more to facilitate the cocking of the hips which we will talk more about in the next section. See yellow arrow in Figure 2-22. This inward turning of the front thigh is usually a technique used by the big league hitters but as you can see in the figure below, this is not a part of our batter’s technique here.
But however high or low the timing step is, the first effect of it is to force the back leg, the leg closest to the catcher, to carry the player’s weight also seen above in Figure 2-22.
And since his center of gravity remains in relatively the same place during this process, which for the most part is still along the midline of his body, and perhaps more importantly, in front of his back foot as seen in Figure 2-23a below, the natural tendency once is this position, will be to fall forward, thereby creating valuable momentum in the process during the launching phase. See Figure 2-23b.
Another effect of the beginning of the timing step is that it also places additional load on the big muscles of the back leg, thigh and buttocks. Compare the stance position in Figure 2-24a with that of 2-24b and you can see this additional load develop in the back leg as the player’s position ends up squatted down a little more when the front foot comes off the ground.
The first group of muscles that gets further loaded during this movement are the hip extensor muscles which consist of the Gluteus Maximus, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus and the Long Head of the Biceps Femoris. The location of where these muscles act can be seen by the yellow line in Figure 2-25.
The hip extensor muscles can be seen more specifically in Figure 2-26.
The knee extensor muscles are loaded as well in this position and that includes the Quadriceps muscle. The location of where this muscle acts can be seen by the yellow line in Figure 2-27.
The knee extensors can be seen more specifically in Figure 2-28.
The last muscle group that is being loaded here are the Ankle Plantar-flexors, or calf, muscles which include the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles. The location of where these muscles act can be seen by the yellow line in Figure 2-29.
These muscles can also be seen more specifically in Figure 2-30.
Now besides creating momentum and loading the powerful muscles of the back leg, another purpose of the timing step is to cock the hips which will be the topic of the next section.