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About Joey Myers

I’m a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). I’m also a HUGE supporter of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). I’ve spent 11+ years in the corrective fitness industry, and have too many alphabet-soup certifications to bore you with. I also played four years of Division One baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003. It’s NOT how you study, but what you study that counts. I apply human movement principles (or rules), validated by science, to hitting a baseball and softball.
  1. Discover The “Paradoxical Intention” Secret To Making Adjustments

    5 Comments

    Here’s A Quick Way To Help Hitters Make Outcome-Based Swing Adjustments (you don’t have to be a rocket scientist!)…

    In this video, we’ll discuss:

    • Man’s Search For Meaning, by Dr. Victor Fankl and his theory of “Paradoxical Intention”
    • Making “horizontal” hitting adjustments,
    • Making “vertical” hitting adjustments, and
    • Making adjustments to the point of impact.
  2. Help Discover The Opposite Field Hitting Secret

    33 Comments

    How To Teach “Pull Happy” Hitters An Opposite Field Approach

    I Need Your Help…

    But before I get to the “BIG ask”,

    How to Hit to the Opposite Field: Jim Thome, Mark DeRosa, & Lauren Shehadi

    Mark DeRosa and Jim Thome helping Lauren Shehadi of MLBNetwork to hit to the opposite field. Photo courtesy: MLBNetwork YouTube Channel

    I want you to watch the video above, where Mark DeRosa and Jim Thome help teach Lauren Shehadi how to hit the ball to the opposite field (she claims to be a chronic pull hitter).

    It’s a fun video with some cool sticky coaching stuff in it.

    In the video, please pay particular attention to the following:

    • What are some of the things either Thome or DeRo offered Lauren that didn’t work?
    • What were some of the things either Thome or DeRo offered that did work?
    • What did Lauren do when she didn’t understand a concept “Don’t bail out”, and then what did DeRo/Thome do or say to clarify?
    • Notice the use of positive reinforcement when she did something right…more on this at a later date, I’m currently reading a GAME CHANGING book for coaches called Don’t Shoot The Dog that goes more into this.  Sorry, only paperback version available on Amazon.

    Now, here are a couple “BIG asks” (you don’t have to answer all)

    • What are the top two mistakes you see coaches make teaching pull happy hitters to hit to the opposite field?
    • What are your top two drills, sticky coaching cues, and/or hitting aids that consistently help pull happy hitters hit “oppo”?
    • If you had only 4 weeks – and a million dollars on the line – to train a pull happy hitter to hit with power to the opposite field, what would the training look like?

    Pull happy hitting is going to be a MAJOR challenge as hitters climb the playing career ladder.  Extreme shifts are becoming a reality nowadays.

    Great baseball minds like Homer Bush said in his book Hitting Low In The Zone,  that in order to hit .300, hitters MUST be able to lift the low pitch AND hit the ball to the opposite field.

    Consider this quote from Justin Turner, who at the time of this writing is hitting .364 with 11 HR’s and 19 2B’s (a little over halfway through the season):

    “Today, with the way defenses shift, you’re out.  Especially if you don’t run that well.  You don’t beat the shift by hitting around it or through it, you beat the shift by hitting over it.”

    Someday your hitters will face a shift, and if they aren’t prepared, they’ll fail way more than they have to.  Be proactive coaches.

    THANK YOU in advance for YOUR comments 😀

  3. A “Flat Bat” At Landing May Be Dangerous To Ball Exit Speed & Decreasing Time To Impact

    4 Comments

    Zepp Swing Experiment: Here’s a Quick Way to Fix a Flat Bat at Landing (and WHY!) 

    Question: How Does a Flat Bat at Landing Effect Bat Speed, Ball Exit Speed, & Time To Impact?

    Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app and Pocket Radar Ball Coach, I wanted to employ the Scientific Method to analyze how a hitter’s “Flat Bat at Landing”, or toe touch,  adds or takes away from key swing performance metrics including Bat Speed at Impact, Time To Impact, Attack Angle, and Ball Exit Speeds.

    Let me define what I mean by ‘Flat Barrel’ versus a ‘Vertical Barrel’…

    • A ‘Flat Barrel’ at landing is anything less than a 30-degree angle (like Cargo in the above video as an example),
    • A ‘Vertical Barrel’ at landing is anything more than a 30-degree angle.

    Now that we’ve defined the parameters, let’s look at the…

     

    Background Research

    Notice where the “dot” is drawn on the two static images left side, and where it’s drawn on the two dynamic images right side. Photo courtesy: GymSmartsCommunity.com

    My background research is more experiential, rather than academic.

    I have hitters do a mini-experiment by holding the bat in their bottom hand, laid flat (parallel to ground) over their back shoulder.  And then ask them to hold the bat, using the same hand, but vertical.  I then ask them which bat position is heavier/lighter?  Of course they say the vertical bat is lighter.  I then ask WHY?  And I get a few different answers…

    What is the answer?  Because we’re not adding or taking weight away from the bat by doing this…

    It has to do with center of mass of the bat in relation to the hitter’s.  A ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ pushes its center of mass behind the hitter’s. A human’s center of mass is generally around the belly button.  To find the bat’s center of mass you can balance it between your thumb and forefinger.

    I’ve also observed when adjusting a hitter’s ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ to a more ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’, there’s a bump in Ball Exit Speed, which I measure at the beginning (before instruction is given) and end of a hitting lesson.  My hitter’s also share they feel quicker to impact, have a little more ‘pop’, and that it’s easier getting the ball in the air.

    It’s also interesting to note that I see quite a bit of early barring of the front arm when the hitter lands with a flat barrel.  I also see the hitter “wrapping the bat” around their head.  In my opinion this is a compensation to manipulate the shifted center mass of the bat from behind the hitter.

    CLICK HERE to watch this video on how to fix a ‘Flat Bat at Impact’.

     

    Hypothesis

    Carlos Gonzalez & Cody Bellinger Illustrating Flat versus Vertical Bat at Landing

    Look at the difference in bat angle at landing between Carlos Gonzalez (left) – “Flat” and Cody Bellinger (right) – “Vertical”. Just because a Big Leaguer does it doesn’t mean it’s effective or optimized. Oftentimes they succeed despite ineffective mechanics. Photos courtesy: MLB.com

    In support of the Background Research above, I’m hallucinating that we’ll see a bump in Bat and Ball Exit Speeds, in addition to a reduction in Time To Impact.  I also think that we’ll see a more positive move in the barrel’s Attack Angle.

     

    Flat Versus Vertical Bat at Landing Experiment

    Equipment Used:

    Setup:

    • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length…I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent.  One was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
    • Backspin tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
    • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
    • I broke each swing down into a couple steps: 1) Get to landing, 2) Pause for 2-secs, and 3) Swing.  The reason for this was to control the bat either flat or vertical at landing.
    • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
    • The objective of ‘Front Facing Swings’ was to start the ‘belt buckle’ pointing at the pitcher, and to minimize pelvic movement.
    • Experiment Day-1 on 7/5 we completed 150 total swings (75 ‘Flat Barrel at Landing’ & 75 ‘Vertical Barrel at Landing’).  Experiment Day-2 on 7/10 we completed 50 swings (25 ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ & 25 ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’).
    • We had to break the 200 total swings into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later, because of time constraints.

     

    Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App & Ball Exit Speed Readings):

    ‘Flat Bat Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

    Flat Barrel at Landing swing averages of the averages: 76-MPH Bat Speed at Impact, 26.5-MPH Hand Speed Max, .209 Time To Impact, -32* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 8.5* Attack Angle.

    ‘Vertical Barrel Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

    Vertical Barrel at Landing swing averages of the averages: 76-MPH Bat Speed at Impact, 27-MPH Hand Speed Max, .206 Time To Impact, 30.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 8.5* Attack Angle.

    CLICK HERE for the Ball Exit Speed Google document.  The findings?

    •  Flat Barrel at Landing AVERAGE Ball Exit Speed = 79.01-MPH
    • Vertical Barrel at Landing AVERAGE Ball Exit Speed = 81.08-MPH
    • Difference = 2.01-MPH Ball Exit Speed bump with more Vertical Barrel at Landing

     

    Data Analysis & Conclusion

    Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

    • We saw NO change to Bat Speed at Impact between the two swings,
    • We saw a 0.5-MPH boost to Hand Speed Max when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
    • We saw a .003 second reduction in Time To Impact when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
    • We saw a +1.5-degree increase to Bat Vertical Angle at Impact when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
    • We saw NO change to the Attack Angle between the two swings, and
    • We saw a 2.01-MPH increase in Ball Exit Speed when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’.

    Based on the above Data Analysis it looks like my Hypothesis was proved right when it came to a boost in Hand Speed Max and Ball Exit Speed, and decrease in Time To Impact, but wrong when it came to Bat Speed at Impact and Attack Angle.  I think the increase in Ball Exit Speed can be attributed to the decrease in Time To Impact.

    When we see ineffective movement at the Big League level, we have to understand that these high level hitters are succeeding despite ineffective movements, not because of them.

  4. Cody Bellinger Hitting Analysis Reveals Ways To Consistently “Hulk Smash” The Ball

    4 Comments

    Cody Bellinger Swing Dissection: How To Get “What’s Real” Out Of “What’s Feel” 

    Thome on Bellinger – MLB Tonight

    “His hands are absolutely electric.” – Jim Thome on Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Cody Bellinger

    Posted by MLB Network on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    I have a treat for you (and it involves the swing of hot hitting rookie sensation Cody Bellinger)…

    …an analysis of an analysis if you will! lol

    I’ve been licking my chops over the past week, to share the above video that multiple reader-friends asked my opinion on.

    This was a perfect opportunity to discuss the “real” versus “feel” debate that confuses many new coaches.

    Cody Bellinger Swing Analysis: Jim Thome

    Look how well Cody Bellinger uses Knee Action to consistently “get under” the ball. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

    And here are interesting Jim Thome talking points from the above video (watch this first, don’t jump ahead to the video below):

    • “Hit through the middle…not hook the ball”.  Not letting top hand get out in front at impact…wanting to keep “bat flat” or flush at and through impact (about 1-min & 3:00 mark)
    • Want wrists to come through impact towards the pitcher, Harold Reynolds using terminology “stay inside the baseball”, Thome saying “stay through the baseball”…Thome makes comment that this game will tell you what to work on next (about 2:00 min mark)
    • About Cody Bellinger’s swing: “Hands are absolutely electric”, back leg is straight (during stance), knob points down to back foot, back foot has a little bit of turn in it…allows hips to get through? Everything stays straight (he mentions “level” later in the video) to the baseball with shoulders and pelvis, hands are above the baseball (about 3:30 mark)
    • “King of the Mountain” Drill…down to the baseball means level to the baseball, barrel flat and level with the baseball, hit middle to a little bit below. Hit middle of the ball, not bottom or top. Hands above the baseball.  (about 4:50 mark)
    • Load slower and control my breathing…”diving steep”, not falling forward committing too much weight forward.  Good drill for controlling forward momentum (about 6:50 mark)
    • Straight back leg, turning the back toe slightly forward toward the pitcher.  Creates torque in the back hip. (about 8:15 mark)

    I was just going to do a post and ask for your thoughts on this Cody Bellinger swing analysis, but some of the talking points fired me up, so I couldn’t help myself with the following analysis of the Jim Thome analysis… 😉

    Yes, I know, the video is a bit long, but there are MANY gold nuggets in there I think Jim Thome touched on, EVERY coach can learn and share with their hitters.

    Here’s a list of my talking points (in this order)…

     

    Addressing Jim Thome Comments of Cody Bellinger’s Swing

    • “Hands electric”,
    • Back Leg Straight,
    • Knob points down at stride landing,
    • Back foot turned slightly in towards pitcher (Supple Leopard book by Dr. Kelly Starrett), and
    • Shoulders/Pelvis should be straight or level.

    And,

    Jim Thome General Swing Comments

    • Hit through middle – “flat” or flush with impact,
    • Game tells you what to work on next (Golf Flow book by Dr. Gio Valiante)
    • Load slower, control breathing (CLICK HERE for this Jose Bautista video that discusses “load slow and early”,
    • “Diving deep” cue,
    • Swing down, and
    • Barrel above the hands.

    Please share any comments, questions, or criticisms below… 😀

  5. A Simple Way To Test “Hips Lead The Way” That Works For Ted Williams

    2 Comments

    Zepp Swing Experiment Attempting To Put Value On Role Of Pelvis In Swing

    Question: How Much Does Pelvis Add to Bat Speed at Impact?

    According to InnerBody.com, the pelvis is a sturdy ring of bones that protects the delicate organs of the abdomino-pelvic cavity while anchoring the powerful muscles of the hip, thigh, and abdomen. Several bones unite to form the pelvis, including the sacrum, coccyx (tail bone), and the left and right coxal (hip) bones. Photo courtesy: OrthoInfo.aaos.org

    Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to employ the Scientific Method to analyze how much turning the pelvis (some refer to this as the hips) adds to Bat Speed at Impact.  The ‘Front Facing Swings’ are an attempt to isolate out the role of the pelvis in the swing, so we can analyze how much the pelvis adds to swing performance.

    Just a heads up, the “pelvis” and “hips” are not the same thing.  The hips are a small part of the pelvis.  However, most coaches refer to “hips” when instructing the swing, when most likely they mean “pelvis”.

     

    Background Research

    For those coaches with a Growth Mindset that want to find out more about the science of locomotion.  I’d recommend reading the following technical books:

    If working through the weeds isn’t for you, then you can click the following HPL posts that synthesize the information contained in the previously mentioned books:

    I’ve done two swing experiments revealing the role of the shoulders in the swing that tested the value of ‘Showing Numbers’ versus ‘NOT’.  These showed an average increase to Bat Speed at Impact – Showing Numbers – of between 5 to 6-mph.  In addition, one of the experiments showed an average increase to Ball Exit Speed of over 9-mph ‘Showing Numbers’! That’s between 38 to 48-feet of ADDED batted ball distance by ‘Showing Numbers’:

    This Zepp swing experiment is attempting to put value on the role of the pelvis in the swing.

     

    HypothesisThe Science of Hitting by Ted Williams

    Ted Williams, in his book The Science Of Hitting, said the ‘hips lead the way’.  This observation is irrefutable when watching slow motion video of elite hitters.  A majority of coaches teach primarily a ‘hips only’ strategy, which I disagree with.  I feel ‘firing the hips’ is over-taught and over-valued, while the role of the shoulders is under-taught and under valued.  The objective of this experiment is to see what benefit the pelvis (or hips) add to swing performance.

    I predict ‘Regular Swings’ will have a substantial increase in Bat Speed at Impact than the ‘Front Facing Swings’.

     

    Performance Benefit of Pelvis Swing Experiment

    Equipment Used:

    Setup:

    • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length…I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent.  One was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
    • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
    • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
    • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Front Facing Swing’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Regular Swing’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
    • The objective of ‘Front Facing Swings’ was to start the ‘belt buckle’ pointing at the pitcher, and to minimize pelvic movement.
    • Experiment Day-1 on 6/19 we completed 75 total swings (25 ‘Front Facing’ & 50 ‘Regular’).  Experiment Day-2 on 6/26 we completed 125 swings (75 ‘Front Facing’ & 50 ‘Regular’).
    • We had to break the 200 total swings into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later, because of time constraints.

     

    Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

    ‘Front Facing Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

    Front Facing Swing Averages

    ‘Front Facing Swing’ AVERAGES for the following metrics: 77-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 30-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.177-secs Time To Impact, -24.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 3* Attack Angle.

    ‘Regular Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

    ‘Regular Swing’ AVERAGES for the following metrics: 81.5-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 33-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.130-secs Time To Impact, -28.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 0* Attack Angle.

     

    Data Analysis & Conclusion

    Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

    • 4.5-mph INCREASE to Bat Speed at Impact in ‘Regular Swings’,
    • 3-mph INCREASE to Hand Speed Max in ‘Regular Swings’,
    • 0.047 DECREASE to Time To Impact in ‘Regular Swings’,
    • -4-degree DECREASE to Bat Vertical Angle at Impact in ‘Regular Swings’, and
    • -3-degree DECREASE to Attack Angle in ‘Regular Swings’.

     

    Notes

    • The increase in Bat Speed at Impact and Hand Speed Max confirmed my hypothesis, and didn’t surprise me since the first piece of The Spinal Engine to interact with Gravitational Forces is the pelvis.
    • It’s also interesting to note, that you can see from the side-by-side video of the swing, that I wasn’t able to keep the “belt buckle” ‘front facing’ as much as I would have liked to on ‘Front Facing Swings’, so possibly the pelvis could have added a bit more.  I was feeling inside right knee tightness when forcing pelvis to stay facing forward.
    • The DECREASE in Time To Impact with ‘Regular Swings’ could have been due to the increased step and/or unfamiliarity with the movement, while doing ‘Front Facing Swings’.
    • In past swing experiments testing ‘Down Shoulders’ and ‘Showing Numbers’ I increased my Attack Angle – in the positive.  I think the 3-degree increase in positive Attack Angle for ‘Front Facing Swings’ was due to better execution of those elements.
    • We were testing Ball Exit Speed in the beginning but had equipment malfunction (batteries went dead).  I was too many swings in when the equipment was fixed, so we threw BES out in this experiment.  I’d love to see BES measured in a future review of this swing experiment.
    • One last thought, because my pelvis inwardly turned toward the catcher – drastically – on ‘Front Facing Swings’, we saw quite a drop-off in production.  Does this give evidence that an inward turn before the swing may be inferior to keeping the pelvis in neutral (or belt bucket facing plate)?
  6. The Rotational Risk Hiding In Your Players’ Swing?

    3 Comments

    Little Known Way To Optimize Bat & Ball Exit Speeds By Rotating “Under Load” (not what you think)

    In today’s video, you’ll learn how to fix your flat feet

    …(insert record scratch sound effect)…

    “Wait a cotton pickin’ minute, so you’re showing me a video on how to correct ‘flat feet’?!  How is this suppose to help my hitters?”

    …Someone somewhere might be saying 😉

    The above video will be a game changer for the progress of your hitters.  It may even improve bat and ball exit speeds over time.  It may even fix some of the hitting faults you’re having a challenge correcting right now.  The content in the above video will improve both the rotational effectiveness and efficiency of your hitters.

    Strength & Conditioning Coach Naudi Aguilar understands and applies Thomas Myers’s springy fascia principles in Anatomy Trains, and that’s WHY I follow him.  I highly recommend you CLICK HERE and “Subscribe” to his YouTube channel FunctionalPatterns and look into the courses on his website.  He already has  183,942 YouTube subscribers!

    Oscar Pistorious Blade Runner

    Oscar Pistorious (the Blade Runner) won 3 Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympics. Photo courtesy: DailyMail.co.uk

    He’s a locomotion expert, and by the way – he talks really fast!  Here are a couple notes I took while watching the above video:

    1. Naudi talks about how the body doesn’t need lower leg to sprint at the highest level. Don’t believe me, CLICK HERE to watch this video of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious who won 3 Gold Medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (about 0:45 minute mark).
    2. Relationship between pecs, lats, and glutes – anterior and posterior oblique slings, highly neglected part of training and carries a bigger influence on efficient movement (about 1:45 minute mark).
    3. Leg and knee should land as close to neutral as possible when running or walking with effective rotation.  If deviation occurs, then most likely there’s a deficiency in either the anterior and/or posterior oblique slings (about 3:05 mark).
    4. The idea of rotating “under load”. Using feedback mechanism – the resistance band – to “feed the mistake”.  Click to get WODFitters Pull Up Assist Bands on Amazon. (about the 4:45 mark).
    5. Practice functional movement patterns, walking, running, or hitting while using the feedback bands (about 8:30 mark).

     

    In Application…

    About point #1 above, as most of you know, I’ve been promoting a spine driven swing for the past 4+ years.  If you read Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine and Thomas Myers’s Anatomy Trains, then you’ll discover that the legs aren’t necessary for locomotion, they’re an enhancement.  CLICK HERE for a post on this titled, “The Swing Does Not Start From The Ground And Move Up?”

    About points #2 & #3 above, some experts call this the “Serape Effect”, “Power Slings”, or Thomas Myers labels these a combination of Spiral, Functional, and Lateral fascia lines.  Hitters, both young men and women, will have a deficiency here. Since a majority of hitters DO NOT take the same amount of swings and throws from the opposite side, there will be an imbalance created that MUST be addressed.  Diversifying in other sports does help, but most likely, there MUST be correction.

    About point #4 above, Naudi Aguilar uses a band that’s much longer than the one I use at home, so you may not need to wind it around the mid-section as much as he does in the above video.  For me (I’m a right handed hitter/thrower), to correct dysfunction in rotational locomotion, I wrap my band over my left shoulder, then around my middle back, and then loop the end around my left leg.  You’d do the reverse to enhance rotation for a lefty.  I put this on at least 5 days per week, and wear it for about an hour while doing my morning routine.  I’ve found the tightness in my right foot, Achilles, and inside part of my right knee almost vanished within 3-4 weeks of doing this.

    Also, CLICK HERE to learn where I talk a little more about “feeding the mistake” using Reactive Neuromuscular Training, or RNT to correct ‘stepping in the bucket’.

    About point #5 above, Naudi mentions rotating “under load”.  Coaches, I’d advise having hitters experiment using the feedback bands while hitting, and recommend they wear it at home too, as a recovery tool.

    These bands are a great way to counter-balance the imbalanced movements baseball and softball inherently promote.  If your hitters move better, they’re perform better.  Swinging smarter by moving better.

  7. “Shorten Swing” Like An Elite Hitter (Not What You Think)

    2 Comments

    How To Shorten A Swing Like Kris Bryant…

    Ask any “self-proclaimed” hitting coach what a “short swing” is, and you’ll get many differing interpretations.

    I think the problem is found in the debate of feel versus real.

    If you ask professional and MLB hitters what they’re trying to do, and they’ll use phrases like:

    • “I’m trying to stay short to the ball”, or
    • “I’m trying to be compact”...

    The challenge is these examples are so vague, they’re widely open to interpretation.  And give coaches that kind of slack, and they tend to “hang” their hitters.

    For instance, take the following swing example of Kris Bryant:

    Some coaches will say his swing is too long, and that ONLY Big Leaguers can have swings like this.  This is an EXCUSE.

    Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark McGwire have been quoted as saying they swing/swung down on the ball.

    You see, what elite hitters are feeling, and what we’re actually seeing on slow motion video (what’s real) can be two totally different things.

    So how do we get our hitters to “swing shorter”, like Kris Bryant…?

    …without using hitting aids,

    And using effective external coaching cues, which science says are far superior than internal ones (CLICK HERE to read this post about that).

    Without further adieu, here’s the…

     

    Shorten Swing Path Drill

    In the above video we discuss:

    • Drill Objective: to help fix “casting”, “long”, or “bat drag” type swings.
    • Define “Long” versus “Short” swing
    • Finger Pressure for “connection”
    • Hitting the “catcher’s glove”:
      – “Ferris Wheel” versus “Merry-Go-Round”
      – Throwing barrel “sideways”
      – Using Variations
    • Ropebat as a supplemental hitting aid.
  8. Using Batting Weight On-Deck May Dangerous To Bat & Ball Exit Speed?

    20 Comments

    Scientific Truth Every Coach Ought to Know About Using Batting Weights To Warm-up In The On-Deck Circle

    This post may blow the minds of those that didn’t get the memo…

    Chris Dozer, who’s father to one of my 10yo online lesson students, sent the following Wall Street Journal article titled: “Watching Your Weight Before Hitting Plate”.

    Weighted Bat Swing Comparison

    WITH weighted bat warm-up, hitter barreled the ball LESS often. Photo courtesy: SportsScience YouTube video

    You can read the article in full by clicking the previous link, but I wanted to include important bullet points from the article and Sports Science video above:

    • “Studies conducted over several decades have concluded that the ritual popular among professionals and emulated by amateurs doesn’t increase bat speed.  It may actually slow it down…’the best is your own bat'”
    •  According to the Zepp app, average professional bat speeds range from 75 to 90-mph, average High School and College bat speeds range from 65 to 80-mph, and average youth bat speeds range from 40 to 70-mph.
    • PLEASE NOTE: there are other batting weight studies with small sample sizes (ranging from 7 to 60 players) comparing High School, College, and recreational hitters in laboratory settings (not LIVE batting practice).  Adrenaline or others batter’s routines could have influenced performance in these. Basically the variable wasn’t properly isolated…that being said, a study with 20 college baseball players found “their performance was statistically unchanged.”
    • Dr. DeRenne, found using a 28-ounce batting weight changed the balance point of the bat and slowed down bat speed.
    • In Sports Science video above, a college hitter in 2008 hit 10 machine pitched balls WITHOUT using a batting weight before, and had an average bat speed of 69-mph, and routinely connected with the sweet spot.  After using the batting weight, then taking another 10 swings off the same pitching machine, his average bat speed dropped to 68.3-mph, and on each swing he missed the bat’s sweet spot by several inches.
    • The above video talked about how because the hitter swings the bat at a slower pace using a batting weight, more red slow twitch endurance muscle fibers get recruited, thereby decreasing the amount of white fast twitch muscle fibers which fire two to three times faster.  Warming up with batting weight in on-deck circle is actually priming the wrong muscles before stepping in the box. 
    • The experience of a single batter can’t be generalized to others, but the results resembled other studies.
    • “People are always looking for an edge,” Dr. Szymanski said, “but just because a professional athlete does something doesn’t mean it’s good or helpful or right.”

     

    The Bottom Line?

    Now, a 0.7-mph drop in average bat speed doesn’t seem like a lot, but as you saw, it makes a BIG difference in barreling the ball.  As retired Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan says:

    • If ball hits bat 1-inch off sweet spot = then 1 to 2-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 4 to 8-feet less distance!)
    • If ball hits bat 2-inch off sweet spot = then 2 to 3-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 8 to 12-feet less distance!)
    • If ball hits bat 3-inch off sweet spot = then 3 to 4-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 12 to 16-feet less distance!)

    So, not only are hitters losing bat speed using a batting weight on the on-deck circle, but by barreling up the ball LESS OFTEN, they’re losing batted ball distance as well.  Aside from swinging the hitter’s own bat, I’d say swinging a lighter bat – faster – would help the body recruit more of those white fast twitch muscle fibers before stepping in the box.

    Your thoughts?

  9. How To Turn Good Hitters Into Great With These Pitch Recognition, Plate Discipline, & Timing Hacks

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    Get Rid of Pitch Recognition, Plate Discipline, & Timing Challenges Once and For All 

    Photo courtesy: News.Missouri.Edu

    In this post,

    I answer the following three fan questions:

    • How do you practice picking up the pitch early?
    • Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched? And,
    • Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

    The following is a compilation of resources I wish I had when I was still playing.

    Coaches, if you aren’t taking full advantage of these, then you’ll be slowly losing ground in games over the next 5 years, that I can assure you.  Get out ahead!

    Onward…

     

    How do you practice picking up the pitch early?

    Check out the feedback software you can use to work on getting GREAT at pitch recognition.  Dr. Peter Fadde calls this ‘video occlusion’, which allows a hitter to focus on pattern recognition for the first 10-20 feet of ball flight.  CLICK HERE for a blog interview I did with Dr. Fadde for more information on the benefits of his ‘video occlusion’ training.

    As Jaime Cevallos said in this interview, “pitch recognition” is an untapped area for players these days.

    The greatest thing about the GameSense software, is that coaches can keep track of their players’ use of the software with real numbers.  What’s measurable is manageable.

    As a player, I would’ve eaten this up when I was younger.

    And yes, it requires a subscription, and the pricing plans differ depending on usage.  On the homepage, GameSense is offering a free trial, so you can check it out and see if it’s right for you.

    CLICK HERE to grab your FREE trial of the GameSense app that focuses on pitch recognition training…i.e. picking the ball up early out of the pitcher’s hand.

    By the ways, gS Pitch-IQ was named one of the best products at the 2017 ABCA convention in Anaheim!

     

    Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched?

    I’m not sure I’d ever let hitters swing at everything during batting practice.  Everything we do at practice, as coaches, MUST have a purpose.  And that purpose MUST prepare our players for the game environment.

    CLICK HERE to watch YouTuber Trevor Ragan compare the benefits of training “ugly” in a post I did showing how to EFFECTIVELY transition grooved batting practice swings into game ones.

    Here’s why swinging at everything in the cages DOES NOT translate into games…motor skill learning in a competitive environment MUST follow these three steps:

    1. READ – i.e. pitch recognition and spin
    2. PLAN – i.e. timing
    3. DO – the swing

    You see, when a hitter swings at everything in the cages, most of what they’re working on is in the “DO” portion.  There’s very little READ or PLAN present, which is required in a game environment.

    “Massed Training”, as defined by SchoolOfThinking.org, is said to be a far less effective strategy for retaining knowledge or developing skills. In other words, practicing the same thing over and over again WITHOUT a break and evaluation period is inferior to spaced and/or ugly training.  CLICK HERE for my Hitting Outcomes Evaluation Checklist.

    So what does being selective in the cages look like:

    • After every 5-swing round, the hitter is asked, “How many strikes did you swing at?”  (and they’re affirmed or corrected based on their answer)
    • You can also do what I call is a Reverse Strike-Zone round.  This is where they MUST swing at “balls” – within reason, you don’t want them throwing their bat in the cage – and taking “strikes”. WHY would you do this?  It helps define a hitters strike-zone/hitting zone, and offers a better variety of body movement which the body’s springy fascia LOVES!!  This will melt their brain by the way 😛 lol
    • CLICK HERE for this post I did on plate discipline – splitting the plate up into 2/3’s and 1/3 is another great way to teach your hitters to be more selective.
    • This answers the second part to the reader question above…you can also turn on READ, PLAN, DO by limiting what parts of the field you want the hitter to hit to, OR limit certain elevations you want the hitter to hit at, regardless of pitch type, location, and speed.  Addressing the former…you can setup targets out in the field preferably in spots where you don’t find any fielders (gaps/down the lines), and hitter has to hit the target as hard as they can.  Addressing the latter…I’ve seen some coaches place shagging screens about 30 to 50-feet from the batter’s box creating a barrier to hitting ground-balls, and the objective is to hit the ball hard over the screens.
    • Random pitch type rounds – an example of this is randomly throwing either a 2-seam fast-ball or a curve-ball, and having the hitter stick to seeking out one pitch over the other for one 5-swing round.
    • 2 or 3-plate drill rounds – where the hitter moves from different plate distances between or during 5 swing rounds.  The plates can be placed about 3 to 5 feet apart.  This is a GREAT timing drill.
    • Doing situational hitting rounds…hit-and-runs, move runner over, and bunts/drags/pushes.

    I’m sure other coaches have cool deviations of the above, so please SHARE in the comments section below.

    The point is, hitters should have a purpose when taking batting practice, NOT just swinging at everything, IF they want to match the game environment.

     

    Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

    Totally.  I tell my hitters that the most effective mechanics in the world don’t mean a thing if they can’t get on-time.

    Surprisingly, some hitting instructors don’t think timing can be taught?  I disagree.

    Now, let me clear up a common misconception…do you know the difference between timing and reaction time?

    I got the following demonstration from my good friend Taylor Gardner, co-inventor of the Backspin Tee.  Do this with your hitters…

    Tell them to stand in front of you, and hold a baseball/softball an arm’s length away from you at about the height of their head.

    Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball at a random time…try varying the times you drop the ball, and you’ll find it’ll be a challenge for them to catch it.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of reaction time.

    Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball after counting to 3 (no tricks here coaches)…count to three, then drop the ball.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of timing.  And as you may guess, this will be much easier to catch for your players.

    Timing can be taught with the right methods.  Here are my top three:

    1. The TWO or THREE plate drill mentioned above,
    2. Switching bat sizes and weights between or in the middle of 5-swing rounds, and
    3. Switching ball types at random…using baseballs, softballs, whiffles, golf whiffles, racket balls, Smush balls, and tennis balls.

    Thank you Mike Ryan from Fastball USA for the last two.  A hitter will have to re-calibrate their timing between swinging a longer heavier bat than a lighter shorter one.  The different balls mentioned will fly through the air at different speeds making for a perfect off speed practice environment.  This can be really challenging for the hitter, and a lot of fun.

    But be careful coaches, slowly layer in the difficulty, don’t do ALL three above at the start.  Some hitters excel quickly, while others take more time.

    Do you see how important training beneath the READ, PLAN, & DO umbrella is?

    I hope this helps coaches!!

    Please share any other effective methods you do with your hitters that improve what was talked about above.  THANKS in advance!

  10. Part-3: How To Develop Powerful Wrist Snap Like Hank Aaron (Is Devastating Against Pitchers)

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    Where A Higher Batting Average Can Be Cultivated AND How To Get It (An Over-The-Shoulder Look)…

    Here’s Part-3 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…Over Shoulder Look: Hank Aaron Wrist Snap

    I get questions every week on how I’d run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

    In case you missed the background information of Part-1,

    Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We’ve had about half a dozen session together in total.  And what I like about Zack is he asks a lot of really good questions during our sessions.

    And before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

    DISCLAIMER about the video:

    • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t like some of my other videos.
    • We’re at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

    Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I’m asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter’s swing, it’s about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

    Swing and coaching suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.

    Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD…again!

    A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish:

    1. Dynamic warm-up,
    2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
    3. Record and analyze current swing,
    4. Lesson, and
    5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

    Part-3 lands you towards the end of #4 above.

    What you can look out for in above video

    • Training something new should feel goofy, that’s normal…if they feel no change in movement at the beginning stages of motor skill development, then they’re repeating the same old thing (about 0:45 mark)
    • The arch and hollow (hunched) positions in Gymnastics.  “Hunch” can have a negative connotation, but reality says it’s a VERY SAFE position for a twisting spine to start in. CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that looked at the benefits of a “Hunched” spine. (about 1:55 mark)
    • Playing around with wrist snap variance using the target ankle resistance bands.  It’s NOT a roll over, it’s like a “waggle” that golfers use pre-swing.  Great defender against off speed and breaking pitches, AND increase BA by controlling the barrel.  Keep main objective in mind: hit ball as hard and far as you can.  (about 3:45 mark)
    • Working the Wrist Snap Variance Drill on the open field hitting targets. Hank Aaron was really good at this.  Watch Hank Aaron video below and watch his wrist action at impact… (about 6:15 mark)
    • The Frog Tape bat…barrel awareness.  Focusing on hitting a certain part of the barrel AND hitting it in a specific direction or target. (about 11:20 mark)
    • Discussing how switching bats between rounds forces a hitter to focus on adjusting their timing. Heavier/top heavy bats have to start sooner…lighter/balanced bats can start later.  (about 15:30 mark)
    • Zack made the observation that Finger Pressure makes the Wrist Snap Variance Drill easier to feel.  (about 17:30 mark)

     

    Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

    • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
    • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
    • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
    • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
    • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
    • Don’t make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
    • Chunking certain movement together, so they don’t seem like separate pieces,
    • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
    • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

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