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

http://hittingperformancelab.com/how-to-develop-powerful-wrist-snap-like-hank-aaron/
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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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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.
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9 Comments

  1. Vince Villavicencio

    Joey,

    During games when my son hits the ball, he doesn’t get back spin, but hits a knuckle ball. They are line drives, but they die just beyond the infielders or are caught by the infielders. This doesn’t happen in the batting cages (i.e. tee, soft toss and pitching). Could this be the result of swinging up too much? Would the pitching mound be a factor?

    Thanks

    Vince

  2. Vince Villavicencio

    Joey,

    There is no mound in the cage. You given me a good place to start – more of a flat / level swing.. He started to use the wrist snap (waggle) and has really put a charge in the balls he hits (in the cage that is). I noticed that my son has a tendency to waggle sideways before he gets set to hit. After looking at the video again, you demonstrated a more golf swing style – hands above the ball. We are having a practice tonight on the field. So, I’ll let you know what we find out.

    Thanks

    Vince

  3. Vince Villavicencio

    Joey,

    So far so good during practice. Since it was Memorial Weekend, we only had 4 players show up on our team, but it was productive. We first had them throw broken wood bats in the outfield in order to get them using their core muscles. While they were throwing the bats, we introduced the waggle. Then we had batting practice pitching from the mound. The hands above the ball waggle certainly made a difference (looks like Mark McGwire’s waggle when he gets in the box to hit). My son was now getting back spin on his line drives. We’ll have some more field practices before our next game (this coming Saturday). I’ll keep you informed on his progress.

    Thanks

    Vince

    • Joey Myers

      Yeah Vince!! Great work…and yes, PLEASE, keep me updated on how this advice is affecting your hitters (good or bad). Thank you for sharing 😀

  4. Vince Villavicencio

    Hi Joey,

    My son had better success in his 2nd game this weekend. He forgot several things in the first game, but eventually put it together in his last at bat in the first game (sort of hard to tell when he got walked twice without swinging – the pitches were well off the plate). In the 2nd game, I got him to move better to the fight position with his core ready to unwind. His last two at bats were fly balls that didn’t get beyond the outfielders. I’m not sure if the waggle was there, nor the catapult techniques. It seems like he is not driving the ball and his bat seems to drop just before contact (hence why I think the waggle was not there). I also believe he hasn’t practiced enough to get these techniques down (he’s been busy outside of baseball this past week). Still, it could be that his swing is level instead of up – chasing the ball on the plane of the pitch. We’ll have to go back to batting practice using the mound to figure what is going on. He may just fix it once he gets more reps. No matter what, his swings looked a lot better during the games.

    Thanks

    Vince

  5. Vince Villavicencio

    Hi Joey,

    It turns out that my son was having the following problems:

    1. Not loading the core or spring fascia. The movements were there, but
    not the stretch. I had him start with a slightly open stance and asked him to
    move rotate his shoulders, especially his back shoulder. He said he could
    feel the core tighten and he felt like it wanted to peel his front foot up into a
    stride. This also caused him to hide his hands from the pitcher, plus do a
    shoulder row.
    2. No extension (not driving through the ball). This has been hard to understand
    for him. I tried “Chase the ball with the barrel”, but it didn’t stick, So, I tried an
    old Charley Lau drill for him to get the feel. I stayed away from knob to the ball.
    I had him open his top hand during soft toss, end his swing high and told him he
    could let his top hand slide off the bat. I didn’t tell him when he could let the
    top hand slide off the bat. He discovered when to do it himself (after contact).
    This caused him to square the ball a lot better.

    Result – 3 for 4, and 1 walk. One line drive was a shot that hit the bottom of the center field fence (300 ft). Another was out to right field. The third was a one bouncer, sort of up the middle, that shot right past the second baseman.

    In a second game the next day, he hit the ball hard, but did not get the extension that he wanted (nothing but ground balls). He felt he didn’t square the ball like he did the night before.

    So, it looks like we’ll keep doing the Charley Lau “Open Top Hand” drill and loading the core with a slightly open stance.

    Thanks

    Vince