Cocking of the hips refers to the backward rotation of the hips away from the pitcher and toward the catcher, and as just mentioned in the previous section regarding the beginning of the timing step, it occurs right along with it.
Now looking from behind home plate in Figure 2-31a, we can see this backward rotation of the hips develop. As the front leg comes off the ground both hips rotate backward, toward the catcher, and now the front side of both hips are visible as seen in Figure 2-31b.
Now looking from across home plate we can see that the cocking of the hips is driven by the momentum created by the backward movement of the shoulders and arms, the backward rotation of the spine, and a shift in weight to the back leg. See Figures 2-32a and 2-32b.
The cocking of the hips can also be further facilitated by the inward turn of the front left thigh, though again, that’s not part of our batters technique here. See yellow arrow in Figure 2-33.
Now since the back (right) foot remains in contact with the ground during this time, it is forced to plant firm. This creates a pivot point around the back (right) hip (Figure 2-34a) for the weight of the entire upper body to rotate (Figure 2-34b). As a result, the rear thigh is forced anatomically into medial or inward rotation. See Figure 2-34c.
Now this is a small movement and may not be readily observable in these images, but as the right thigh resists the upper body from any further backward rotation, the net result is that it stretches the powerful external hip rotators in this same rear hip. See Figure 2-35.
These external hip rotators are located in the buttocks region on the back side of your body and if we take a look down the third base line seen in these next few images, we can start to appreciate their purpose a little more.
As the player rotates back and away from the pitcher and his weight ends up on the back leg, the external hip rotators located where the yellow arrows are in Figure 2-36a get stretched in the process as seen by the displaced yellow arrows in Figure 2-36b.
This stretching puts them in the best position to powerfully contract during the launching phase. Now the names of these external hip rotators are Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Maximus, Superior Gemellus, Inferior Gemellus, Piriformis, Obturator Internus, Obturator Externus and Quadratus Femoris. They can be seen more specifically in Figure 2-37.
Again, if we focus on the right hip and buttocks in the progression of images shown in Figures 2-38a through 2-38c, we can start to visualize the stretching of these external hip rotators.
The stretching of these muscles is the primary effect of cocking the hips, it’s what its all about.
Some of these muscles, as you have just seen like the Obturator Internus and Obturator Externus, are not very big, yet as a group they are super strong muscles that can store an incredible amount of elastic energy that when timed properly, can be released or contracted during the launching phase to help carry out a very powerful rotational bat swing. See Figures 2-39a through 2-39c.
And one final note here, this cocking of the hips is really exaggerated by the big league hitters. Some of them can really rotate a lot further back toward the catcher than our athlete seen here and some actually take a stance that favors this positioning. The reason is simple: the further they can get their body to turn away from the pitcher, the greater the stretch that occurs in these muscles and the greater the stretch, the more power they can generate. These muscles therefore, play a critical role in your rotational hitting technique. This is why these are the muscles everyone needs to target as part of their training to swing the bat harder and faster!
In the next section we will talk about the fifth and last noticeable movement during the loading phase which is. the cocking of the wrists, and identify the muscles involved with it.