Here are some of the many questions:
How long should it be?
What direction should it go?
Would it be best to eliminate it?
One thing is for sure: The stride, done poorly, will often do more harm than good. Here are some of those issues: Over-striding, stepping the bucket, and not getting the foot down in time.
One might think, let's just eliminate the stride. Or let's just put the front foot out, with only a little weight, and keep the rest of the weight back.
In all of our years of studying baseball hitting tips for research and development of the Super 8 Hitting System, we looked for answers to those questions.
I am a hitting purest, meaning that if the activity is not necessary, then we don't do it. In other words, economy of action, doing only the absolutes with no wasted motion is the way to go. So should we eliminate the stride? Many coaches teach this in their clinics and camps using many baseball hitting drills.
My belief is that while no stride is ten times better than a bad stride, a good stride is better than no stride. Against a good velocity pitcher, a hitter must have quick hips. He must be able to turn quickly, clearing his hips and getting his hands out in front for contact. The stride is an asset for this. It provides a continuation from linear to rotation for the fast ball and for transfer of weight through the ball.
Here is the timing factor:
Fast Ball: Stride – Stroke
Off Speed: Stride – Pause – Stroke
Think of the top that young people used to play with. With all of the electronic games of today, the old "top" has been sort of put away on the proverbial shelf. But the top used to be a favorite toy for youngsters. It's a rounded object with a pin on the bottom. They would wind the string around it, toss it forward holding onto the end of the string.
When the pin of the top hit the ground, the top would change from linear direction to rotational. It would spin, and spin until it lost its momentum and flopped over.
If the top were merely dropped straight down vertically, this would create a very loose rotation, if any, and it would almost immediately drop over on its side.
So what's the point? Like the linear action of the top gives it the force that it needs for strong rotation, so does the linear action of the stride provide a good rotation of the hips toward the ball.