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Author Archives: Joey Myers

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. The Rotational Risk Hiding In Your Players’ Swing?

    1 Comment

    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.

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

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    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.
  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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.
  6. Part-2: Dramatically Reduce Time To Impact Without Losing Power

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    How To Decrease Time To Impact By Lowering Hitter’s Hands (an Over-The-Shoulder Look at a Local Lesson)

    Here’s Part-2 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…

    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-2 lands you at #4 above.

    What you can look out for in above video

    • Talking about lowering Zack’s hands to not get above armpit line to landing – benefits of (about 1-min mark),
    • Why a “flat bat” at stride landing can feel heavier than a more vertical bat. Center mass of bat in relation to center mass of hitter (about 4-min mark),
    • Getting into a more Hunched or Hollowed Position at the start of the swing. CLICK HERE to see tips and benefits of the Hollow Hold from BreakingMuscle.com, and CLICK HERE for the Hollow Hold exercise Zack did during warm-ups (about 9:30 mark), and
    • Intro to the first time working out new hitting material, varying the “Wrist Snap” using the red ankle resistance band – THANK YOU LEE. Objective with Wrist Snap is to snap over the red band and to hit the ball as hard and as far as you can. (about 16:00 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.
  7. Part-1: Dramatically Cut Your Hitter’s Learning Curve In Half By Doing This…

    6 Comments

    Dramatically Improve HOW Your Hitters Learn By Listening In On A Local Lesson of Mine

    Here’s what I have for you…

    The above video is Part-1 of a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine.

    The objective of this video series is to share with coaches – literally – an “over-the-shoulder” look at how I do a local lesson.  More on this in a moment…

    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.

    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.

    Now, what’s in this Part-1 video?

    Let me expand on the video’s objective and how it can benefit coaches

    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.

    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.

    With that being said, swing suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.  Also, coaching suggestions are welcomed…but again, be nice.

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

    A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish (I’ve cut some parts out of this video for the sake of brevity):

    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.

    What you can look out for in above video

    • Talking about how to pick the right bat size (1-3:30 min mark),
    • Showing him Miguel Cabrera’s landing position top hand and elbow positioning on my phone after video analysis of Zack’s swing (about 7-min mark),
    • Working on Zack’s top hand Finger Pressure (about 8-min mark),
    • Switching bats – over-loading with heavier end loaded bat with goofy PRX knob (about 13-min mark), and
    • Teasing the Part-2 video where we talk about lowering Zack’s hands to not get above armpit line to landing – and the benefits of (about 15:30-min 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,
    • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
    • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.
  8. Jaime Cevallos Interview: There’s Big Pitch Recognition Benefits To Using The PitchView Training Aid

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    How To Turn Pitchers’ Bullpens Into Pitch Recognition Dominance For Hitters

    PitchView Pitch Recognition Training Aid: Jaime Cevallos

    Prototype of Jaime Cevallos’s new pitch recognition training aid called: PitchView

    I’m happy to announce the RE-arrival of Jaime Cevallos onto the hitting scene!

    He’s a good friend of mine, and has some cool stuff to share.

    He’s working on a new training aid that helps with Pitch Recognition that I think will revolutionize how that is trained at practices.

    He’s also working on a new companion book to his latest book Positional Hitting.

    We dig into quite a bit in this interview, so please let me know in the comments if you’d like us to do a Part-2 sometime.

    Jaime Cevallos Interview (1-hour, 1-min total time for interview)…here are the time-stamps of the audio interview, so you can skip around:

    • I asked Jaime, “How do you explain to people what it is you do?” Talks about his interest in movement, and how he got invited to Golf’s Safeway Open as a swing coach [about 1-min mark]
    • Talked about how Jaime’s book Positional Hitting was a fantastic transition for me from when I used to teach Down & Through. Here’s the Jaime Cevallos Four Hour Work Week Blog post featuring him titled: How I Did It: From $7 an Hour to Coaching Major League Baseball MVPs [about 3-min mark]
    • I asked Jaime, I understand you started in golf analysis before jumping into the baseball swing…what were your takeaways from golf that made a difference with the baseball swing?”  The pain from quitting baseball, made him obsessive about figuring out the swing. Importance of bent back arm impact position of good Golfers – noticed similar thing in baseball.  Comparing Ben Hogan to Babe Ruth and how similar their swings were.  Learning the “Slot Position” and spotting patterns.  [answers about 10-min mark]
    • The challenge of teaching amateur hitters to hit the ball as hard and as far as you can, and that only fixing ineffective mechanics – or not.  Teaching high level mechanics to youth hitters.  Player definitely needs to be curious about hitting, hard work not necessarily needed at a young age. How many young hitters would read Charlie Lau’s book at 12yo?  If teaching doesn’t allow hitter to not be robotic, then most likely it’s the coaching cue that’s the issue. [about 14:30 mark]
    • I asked Jaime, A question I get asked all the time is, do you believe the baseball and Fast-Pitch Softball swing are two totally different things?” Differences being reaction time and stride timing…no real difference in what you’re trying to accomplish with the swing. Understanding cricket and how golfers don’t care about Golf “Ball Exit Speed”, they care more about precision and accuracy.  [about 21-min, 30-sec mark]
    • Jaime quote that addresses those coaches that ask, “So how many Big League AB’s do you have?” Should we take what MLB hitting instructors say as gospel? Here’s Jaime’s quote I mentioned in the interview, MLB hitting coaches are motivated by keeping their job, not developing innovative principles. If they change a franchise player’s swing, and that player gets worse, their name is forever blacklisted. Word will spread that he makes good hitters bad. And regardless of how many hitters he has helped, the one he “ruined” will be the bane of his career. GMs will attach his name with money flying out the window. He can just take a seat next to Jose Canseco in the list of people who will never be offered a contract. Because of this, MLB hitting coaches develop vague hitting methods, appearing to help when the team is doing well, yet standing on no specific method when the team is struggling. It’s common for them to wait until a player on the team gets hot, and associate themselves to that player as much as possible. I’ve seen it time and time again.”  We’re in a swing instruction revolution.  The MLB hitting coaches are catching up.  [about 28-min mark]
    • If you have something of value you can offer to a professional ball player, then go and seek them out in the winter to work with them.  It doesn’t matter if you have baseball experience, if you have a passionate curiosity for finding out the swing, then go for it!  The fallacy credibility indicator of “30 years of coaching”…it’s not the year in your coaching, it’s the coaching in your years.  The willingness to take chances and experiment with your teaching/coaching young hitters.  [about 31-min mark]
    • Jaime talks about his new product the PitchView Pitch Recognition Training Aid. Biggest area of opportunity to solve a problem in a sport. Hitting is four different skills: Eye Hand Coordination, Mechanics, Strength & Speed, and Pitch Recognition.  Jaime feels eye-hand coordination is pretty much tapped out.  How juggling at a young age helped Jaime’s eye-hand coordination, however he feels it didn’t help him that much in hitting – more so in fielding.  What steroid-era taught us about the Strength & Speed category.  Swing mechanics is going through a revolution – opportunity here right now.  Pitch Recognition is untapped right now. [about 36-min mark]
    • The WHY, HOW, and WHAT of the PitchView PR Training Aid. How PR is currently being trained now.  Protecting the hitter freeing them up to actively learn how to make their PR better during pitcher’s bullpens.  Connecting release motion to flight of the ball to hitters movement (timing).  Currently working with Berkeley University baseball team as a LIVE case study.  Your team record will depend on how effective and efficient your practices are.  [about 40-min mark]
    • I mentioned Dr. Peter Fadde and his Pitch Recognition software GameSense, CLICK HERE for this written interview I did with him.  And CLICK HERE for Perry Husband in this interview about his Effective Velocity program on tracking and timing. [about 45-min mark]
    • Jaime mentions the new book he’s working on that will be a fantastic compliment to his last book Positional Hitting.  This book will talk more about feel to transition the positions of the swing.  [about 48-min mark]
    • I asked Jaime, If you could put anything on a ballpark jumbo-tron, in any MLB ballpark, what would you put on it?”  Don’t give up. What this means to him isn’t what you think. Focus on movement – perfect most important movements.  [about 51-min mark]
    • I asked Jaime, What advice would you give the beginning Positional Hitting Jaime?” He wouldn’t change much, but would tell himself not to swing as much.  He’s someone who wants to perfect the swing, doesn’t necessarily enjoy teaching.  Swing motion is pretty hard on the body especially one-sided dominant hitters.  Raul Ibanez told Jaime at 35yo to save your swings.  Jaime’s work on Gymnastics now to take care of his body.  You need to start swinging from the other side – your body just needs it, and makes your preferred swing better. GymnasticBodies.com [about 55-min mark]

    Where you can find more about Jaime Cevallos online:

    Here’s a short video of the PitchView in use:

  9. How To Crush Like Sierra Romero & Aaron Judge (Swing Analysis Comparison)

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    Your Typical Hitting Coach Doesn’t Want You To Watch This Sierra Romero & Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

    Sierra Romero v. Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

    Comparative Fight Positions of both Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge. Dang, they look good! Photo courtesy: YouTuber: Sports Gaming & MLB.com

    Let me be up front with you in this post…

    Some hitting coaches still think the baseball and softball swing are drastically different.

    I disagree…Big League.

    Human movement is human movement.  Sure there are undeniable anatomical differences in body type between males and females, and differences in reaction time from sport to sport…

    But there’s virtually zero difference in explosive human movement when the swing objective is hit the ball as hard as you can, as far as you can…consistently.

    In this video analysis, I wanted to compare the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge.  Don’t worry if you don’t know one or the other…you will by the end of this post.

    Actually, you know what, if you don’t know either of these hitters, then SHAME ON YOU!!! 😛 lol

    Kidding aside, and in my opinion, more baseball players can learn A LOT by watching Sierra Romero swing the bat than any Big Leaguer.  It’s a bold thing to say, but it’s true.

    In comparing Sierra Romero to Aaron Judge, we’ll compare the following components of an effective swing:

     

    Who is Sierra Romero?

    Besides being my favorite swing model for Fast-Pitch Softball hitters, and according to the USSSA Pride website:

    • 5-foot, 5-inches in height.
    • Sierra finished her rookie professional Fast-Pitch Softball season batting .339 in 109 at-bats with 18 runs scored, 37 hits, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI and a .397 OBP.
    • First player in NCAA softball history (at Uni of Michigan) to record 300 runs, 300 hits and 300 RBI in her career.
    • Owns NCAA record in career runs (300) and grand slams (11). Ranks fourth all-time in career RBI (305) and slugging percentage (.882) and eighth in home runs (82) and walks (225).
    • Joined the USA Junior Women’s National Team (2012), ISF Junior Women’s World Championship Silver Medalist (2012).

     

    Who is Aaron Judge?

    Besides this guy being a friggin’ BEAST of a human being!?  Here are some major talking points, according to Wikipedia.org and FanGraphs.com:

    • 6-foot, 7-inches tall, and 282-pounds (imagine the parents that had to feed this guy!!) lol
    • Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball).
    • Played at my Alma-mater, Fresno State, from 2010 and got drafted by the Yankees 32nd overall by the Yankees in 2013.
    • As of April 2017 Exit Velocity metrics, Judge clocked game batted balls of at least 115-mph SIX TIMES!!  Joey Gallo was second with two.
    • Did I mention this guy is a BEAST?!

    This video from MLB.com titled, “Aaron Judge: Burden of Proof” says it all:

     

    The Bottom Line…?

    In comparing the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge, there are many BIG WIN mechanical similarities.  They both hit for power and precision.  The softball swing isn’t any different than its baseball counterpart.  Power and precision don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Size doesn’t matter, however if you’re a beast like Aaron Judge the capability of hitting the ball farther with consistently higher Ball Exit Speeds is greater.  What is clear however, is if you move better, then you perform better.

    In the day and age of advanced technology and access to specific experts on human movement and Physics, there’s no room for coaches who resist getting educated.  If you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

  10. How You Can Teach Effective Hitting Mechanics Almost Instantly

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    “I am just curious to see what are the steps the coaches are using to teach this system?  There is a ton of great information but what have you done to break it down.  I cant throw all this info and steps at a player and expect them to retain the info.  So, what have you focused on from start to finish?  IE. Grip, Break it apart drill, Tuck front shoulder, Fight Position, Finish?  Thank you”

    – Coach Sullivan

    The legendary UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden. Photo courtesy: FunctionalTrainingPathBlog.com

    I received this on my Coaches Forum recently, which is included as part of any online video course of mine one would invest in.

    It’s a great question, and one I don’t feel the coaching community has done a good job of answering (me included…until now).

    Sure, an online hitting guru may get favorable results with their hitters, but how do they actually teach and progress the swing mechanics to get those results?

    I’m attempting to shed some light on that in this post.

    Look, let me be up front…

    There’s no perfect place to start with a player’s swing.  Every coach will have a differing opinion on this based on a myriad of factors, so please use the following as a guideline or suggestion, and deviate when necessary.

    What I do know is this,

    You can’t go wrong with scratching the immediate hitter’s itch.

    In this post, we’ll attack Coach Sullivan’s question from above in the following ways:

    • Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch,
    • Breaking down drill progressions,
    • Mindset when working on something new,
    • Transitioning practice into game swings, and
    • Player’s homework for home.

    Let’s get started…

     

    Mechanical Steps to Focus on First – Scratch the Itch

    I ask the parent of my hitters (or the hitters themselves), what part of their swing needs the most help.  Here are the questions I typically ask:

    • Looking back on the season (or past season), where did you hit the ball more…on the ground, line drive, or fly balls?  Can you attach a percentage to each?
    • Looking back on the season (or past season), where did you hit the ball more…to left field, center, or right? Can you give me a percentage of each?
    • Do you feel like there’s more lack of power or solid contact?

    To test their answers to these questions,

    I can also put the hitter on a tee, setup where they should hit the ball to center-field, and have them take 10 swings, while capturing their Ball Exit Speed with a radar gun.  Generally speaking, this will tell me where they’re hitting the ball direction-wise, and with what kind of impact quality.  And it’s not how high the radar gun goes, but how consistent and stable their numbers are.

    Armed with this data, I can now formulate a semi-solid swing plan.  The next step is confirming my assumptions through video analysis, in which I use the HudlTech or CoachesEye app on my phone.  I use Powerchalk.com for my online hitters.

    The first session is the same with all my hitters (from 7-years-old to 24-years-old), we address how to consistently get into the box, the gorilla grip, and Finger Pressure.

    After these are covered, and I can now hold the hitter accountable for them, then I dive into a swing solution that scratches the immediate itch…

    Before jumping into mechanics I make sure my hitters are moving better, so they can perform better by following this simple plan for better mobility and stability.

    If a player is struggling with contact, then I start with Footwork, Knee Action, and Barrel Path as described in The Pitch-Plane Domination and Reaction Time Mastery online video courses.

    Or,

    If a player is struggling with consistent power (radar readings are below average and unstable from swing to swing), then I start with ‘Showing Numbers’, ‘Side Bending’, ‘Hiding Hands’, and Hunched Position as described in my book and The Catapult Loading System online video course.

     

    Breaking Down Drill Progressions

    How do we teach a brand new motor skill to a budding young athlete?

    Please keep in mind, the speed of drill progression will depend on the player’s age, “trainability” as talked about in David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene, and the player’s early movement development.

    This is how to teach the teaching of the mechanics, if you will.

    So think about drill progressions as what you do in the weight room.

    What happens if you do a back squat with the same weight, 2-3 days per week, 3-sets and 12-repetitions every workout, 52-weeks per year?  Right!  You’ll plateau early on and make zero gains the rest of the year.  You’ll be wasting your time and money in the weight room.

    In the case of squatting, how do you get a body and/or strength change in the squatter above?

    By adjusting the intensity (total weight lifted), accomplished sets, amount of repetitions, type of squat (front v. back), and rest time.  Change MUST be a constant if you want the body to adapt accordingly.  These are drill variables that can drive skill adaptation in hitters as well.

    When teaching a brand new hitting technique, I move through the following swing progressions (from easy to more difficult):

    • Dry swings,
    • Tee swings,
    • Soft Toss, then
    • LIVE or front toss.

    If the hitter can produce the new swing technique eight out of ten dry swings, then I move them to tee swings, and so on and so forth.  Think of these progressions as weight-lifting for the mind.

    I will also slow things down movement-wise for the hitter by breaking the swing apart into three steps at first with the Break-it-Apart Drill (not really a Drill per se, but more of a way to drill the Drills):

    1. Getting to the landing position (Fight),
    2. Pause for a second or two, and then
    3. Swinging.

    This allows the player to slow the swing process down to focus on the fix.  So putting these drill progressions together would look something like this:

    • Break apart dry swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
    • Put swing together dry swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
    • Break apart tee swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
    • Put swing together tee swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
    • Break apart soft toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
    • Put swing together soft toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next), and lastly
    • Put swing together LIVE or front toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next).

     

    Mindset Working on Something New

    What if I timed you 10-times writing your name using all letters and took the average, then timed you 10-times writing your name in half the letters?  So for me, Joey Myers, I would write J-E-M-E-S.

    Well, the first few times writing your name in half the letters would be slower, but as your brain learned to do it after the first 2-3 times, you’d actually write your name in half the letters 1/3 the time it takes to write your full name!

    Who cares?  Your players do.

    I tell my hitters that you’ll take a step back before you take two forward when learning to do something new.

    Mindset is EVERYTHING when your players are learning a brand new movement.

    Your players MUST know that you’re grading them on the process, NOT the outcomes…at first.

    In other words, I tell my hitters that if they swing and miss, but do what I want them to do mechanically…they get an ‘A’ for that swing.  If they hit a fiery hole through the back netting of the cage, while not doing what I wanted them to do mechanically…then they get an ‘F’ for that swing.

    You following me here?

    They need to go into observe mode on outcomes, not analytical mode, in the beginning.  This is crucial especially with my online lessons because I’m not there to physically work with the hitter.  So when a mom or dad says our hitter is doing what I want them to do off the tee, but not during LIVE batting practice.  Most likely this is a mindset issue.  The hitter is more focused on OUTCOMES hitting LIVE, not solely on the process like they should be.

    A lot of times, I throw out plate discipline and timing completely in the beginning (in other words, I’m not grading them on those).

     

    Transitioning Effective Practice Swings into Games

    I did a comprehensive post on this already, so CLICK HERE for that.  Please read that first, then continue on in this post.

     

    Player’s Homework for Home

    Look parents, you can’t expect your kids to go to practice three or four times a week and expect them to get better.  Can I get an Amen from the coaches here?!

    Most times, the kids don’t even hit at practice.  And if they do, it may be once per week with the team.  And if they do hit every practice, who says the player is even focusing on their specific “new hitting process”?

    You see, for the most part, head coaches are generalists.  It’s not until High School that programs get a specified hitting coach.  And many programs at that level, don’t even have that!

    Here’s my point…

    Don’t count on organized practices to get “new hitting process” work in.

    There comes a time when a hitter MUST be accountable for their own success.  And to set the player up for success at home, here’s what I ask of my hitters:

    • Give me at least 4 or 5 days per week (team practice days don’t count), and
    • At least 5-minutes each day.

    That’s it!  Most kids play at least 30-60 mins of videos games per day…wanting 5-minutes per day for hitting homework isn’t asking that much.  Just set an alarm, and when it goes off, then the player is done for the day.  Simple.

    The hitter can put in more time, but I don’t recommend early on, especially if they’re at a lower motivational level.  Once they start experiencing success at the plate in games, they’ll be inspired to put in more time, trust me.

    I prescribe at least four or five days per week for their hitting homework because it’s based on what I’ve seen with my players.  I ask them at the start of a lesson, how many days per week they got their hitting homework in at home?  And typically, the ones sharing three days or less, we’re having to revisit what we worked on last lesson.  For most reporting four or more days, we’re moving forward with their swing.

    One last thing that fires up inspiration (good or bad) for my players is to compare  their current swing to the the last one using video analysis.  I tell them it’s our version of a quiz on how they did for the week.

    Remember in this post, we went over:

    • Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch,
    • Breaking down drill progressions,
    • Mindset when working on something new,
    • Transitioning practice into game swings, and
    • Player’s homework for home.

    Coaches, please share anything else I may have missed that has worked extremely well for your hitters.  THANKS in advance…

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