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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. How Much Ball Exit Speed Does Pelvis Contribute To A High Level Swing?

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    Controversial Swing Experiment Video: What Happens To Ball Exit Speeds When We Eliminate Use Of Lower Half?

    Do you consider yourself an open minded coach?  If not, then this post MAY NOT be for you.

    Do you consider yourself a coach willing to try new movements before criticizing them?  If not, then this post MAY NOT be for you.

    Fair WARNING…this video will make most feel uneasy because it strikes at the heart of their teaching.  I believe the quality of our lives and the success we experience in it, depends solely on the questions we’re willing to ask our-self.

    In this video, the Backspin Tee Gardner Brothers (Taylor & Jarrett Interview here) recently did a small thought provoking swing experiment that looked at how much value the pelvis contributes to the swing.  Most popular hitting instructors treat the pelvis like a JoBu shrine in the movie Major League.  Don’t get me wrong, the pelvis has a role, but I disagree on the importance most put on it.

    Using the Scientific Method…

     

    Question

    Backspin Tee Swing Experiment on Not Using Hips

    Taylor Gardner doing a Jumping No Hips Swing

    They looked at how much value (measured in Ball Exit Speed) the pelvis contributes to the swing by restricting its movement.

     

    Background Research

    Taylor read my book The Catapult Loading System: How To Train 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, and it got him thinking about how much the pelvis actually contributes to power compared to the shoulders?  Earlier I mentioned how much the movement of the pelvis in the swing is worshiped by so many hitting coaches.  “Fire the hips!” “Hip Thrust baby!” Sadly, the torsional forces are taken to the point of being unhealthy for a young hitter’s low back.

    Consider what Charlie Weingroff, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist and trainer in New York City said this:

    “Only your thoracic spine (which consists of the 12 vertebrae in your upper and middle back) is designed to rotate significantly — about 40 degrees in each direction, according to Weingroff — when under compression. The lumbar spine (lower back) should rotate no more than about 12 degrees.”

    Let me give a clue, coaches want better separation, torque, lag, etc. in their hitters right?  We see that a high level right handed hitter’s pelvis starts rotating counter-clockwise at the start of the turn, leaving the shoulders temporarily behind, this is the essence of “lag” or “torque”.  But what coaches aren’t seeing is what’s happening before the ‘hips lead the way’?  The compression and tension forces happening in the torso beforehand, to make that move possible.

    If hitting coaches would do their homework on basic bio-mechanical locomotion and function of the spinal engine as a whole, then they’d find they’re missing  60-70% of the performance puzzle (as you’ll soon see), and quite possibly wearing a hole in the lower backs of their hitters.

    I constantly see well intention coaches posting videos on Twitter of their young hitters savagely twisting the pelvis and low back (lumbar), in addition to the hyper-extension of the lower lumbar.  Quite frankly, it’s painful to watch.  CLICK HERE for an exercise to correct this.

    Did you know there’s a much safer way to achieve those high BES numbers and more?  Some books to get you started on the right track:

    By the way, Dr. Serge Gracovetsky is a Physicist and Electrical Engineer.  He said the Spinal Engine can operate in space without Gravitational Forces.  His research shows arms and legs aren’t necessary for locomotion, they’re an improvement.  Please read that sentence again because it’s important to understand locomotion.

    Can explosive high level athletes perform without the aid of Gravitational Reaction Forces?  Check out the following videos:

    Derek Jeter makes jump throw…

    Jeter is jumping up and away from his target, taking his momentum in the opposite direction of first base. This should put him at a disadvantage, but it doesn’t hurt him too much, as you can see.

    Big air motocross freestyle jumps…

    Notice how these athletes use the head to control their body.  No Gravitational Reaction Forces to help here either.  But man can these athletes put a big smile on your face while watching this video!

    Don’t seek the footsteps of others, seek the footsteps they sought.

     

    Hypothesis

    The Gardner brothers thought this mini swing experiment would show more of a minimal role of the pelvis in the swing, compared to the “pelvis worshiping” hitting coaches out there.

     

    Experiment Setup Details

    • 4 different hitters (Taylor – High School level hitter College Track & Field athlete, Jarrett – professional pitcher, Rookie in pro ball, home-run record holder at Div-1 college)
    • Took Full Swings prior to experiment swings (the Control group), so they could compare to when the lower half was restricted
    • Backspin Tee used on all swings (I know, shocker!)
    • Chair used to hit ball while falling
    • Pocket Radar to measure BES
    • Used 2 judges for checks and balances
    • Goal was to eliminate use of lower half
    • Every one used the same metal bat, a Copperhead C405 34 inch, 30 ounce (-4)

     

    Data Collected

    Based on control swings, this graph shows average BES as % of the control swings, Highest BES as %, & Lowest BES as % of each of the four hitters. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

     

    Graph shows top BES per hitter on control swings, when Stationary No Hips, when Jump Float No Hips, Falling Float No Hips, Lead Leg Only No Hips, and Avg. BES. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

     

    Data Analysis & Conclusion

    Small sample sizes can cause a lot of problems, so there definitely needs to be more data points to make a conclusive decision.  However, with the data we have, the fact four different hitters participated on all swing experiments, in looking at the last graph, you can see that when the lower half was restricted, Ball Exit Speeds were around two-thirds of top exit velocity of control swings (normal swings).  Think Jeter making his jump throw!  So from this small sample size, we can say the pelvis contributes about one-third to the Exit Speeds of these four hitters.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.  Be nice, be respectful.

  2. How To Give 100% Of What You Have Right Now To The Next Pitch

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    Here is a Method Helping Mike Trout Stay Calm Under Pressure (Dr. Tom Hanson Interview)

    Tony Robbins has said that success is 80% psychology, 20% mechanics.  Certified Hypnotist and creator of the cartoon comic strip Dilbert, Scott Adams, has said humans are irrational 80% of the time, in his recent book: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.  We’re only rational when deciding on things like which soap to buy!  He adds that we make decisions based on emotion, THEN we rationalize.  Not the other way around.

    The best athletes in the world are better at controlling the mental part of the game, and their emotions.  They focus on controlling only what they can control.  Which leads me to this interview with Dr. Tom Hanson…

    I stumbled onto a first edition of Heads-Up Baseball back in 1995 when I was in High School.  It helped clear my mind of all the hitting mechanical books I was reading at the time that left me more confused than when I started.  I owe a lot to Drs. Hanson and Ravizza for helping me play 4-years of Division-1 baseball at Fresno State, tuition free.

    Without further adieu, here are some time-stamps to help you navigate the interview:

    • About 2:30 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about his experience coaching baseball at UVA and D3 Skidmore College. It’s a challenge to find someone who has a PhD in psychology and experience coaching the game at the college level.
    • About 4:30 minute mark, I talk about how I stumbled upon the first version of Heads-Up Baseball, and how the information helped me cut through the white noise at a time when I felt overwhelmed with hitting mechanics, reading every book I could get my hands on.
    • About 6:00 minute mark, what were the top two or three things you and Dr. Ken Ravizza changed in the 2.0 version of Heads-Up Baseball?  One was this idea of changing “Trust” to “Compete”. The purpose of a routine is to compete.  Give 100% of what you have right now to the next pitch.  Problem right now is players are coming to college with a “showcase” mentality.  The importance of hitters being patient AND being aggressive.  Thoughts on including quotes and anecdotes from fresh coach and player faces in the book.
    • About 11:30 minute mark, if you could direct coaches to two concepts in the book, what would they be and why?  I liked the “Heads Up Practice” Chapter, but Dr. Hanson suggested “Chapter 2: The 3 Levels of Learning to Compete”, Know it, Do it, Own it. He also recommends reading Mike Scioscia’s Introduction of the book.  The Goldilocks Golden Rule, what’s right for the hitter right now (or today – know yourself).
    • About 18:00 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about the importance of having a model to explain the questions that come in about the mental game.  He goes into the RAMP-C model: Responsibility – the ability to respond, choose what you focus on, great question to ask: “How did you choose to respond?”  Awareness – being conscious of and how you typically respond under pressure or when you’re hitting well, extrovert/introvert, how are you feeling right now.  Dealing with “yellow” or “red” lights.  Mission – what would you like to have happen, purpose or swing intention.  Preparation – what can I do to get myself to feel a “green” light, training in the off-season, what am I going to prepare for the next pitch or season.  Compete (changed from “Trust”) – give 100% of what you have right now to get to win the next pitch.  Nobody on the Cubs felt like they had a “green” light for Game 7 of the World Series when they win it.  Control, Plan, Trust changed to Control, Commit, Compete
    • About 30-minute mark, what have you found most valuable utilizing information in this book with your own kids while navigating the craziness of travel baseball, son C.J. is 14yo and daughter Angelina is 11yo.  First edition of Heads Up Baseball was before kids, now 20-year reflection period to version 2.0.  Before 13/14yo Dr. Hanson wanted to create an environment of fun for his son.  Helping kid fall in love with sport.  Not constantly picking the kid apart.  It’s all about Relationship building.  No matter the message, if the relationship isn’t there, then the message doesn’t have its optimal effect.  Joe Maddon talked about building relationships as his priority in first 3 weeks of Spring Training with Cubs that first year, was building relationships with players.
    • About 39:00 minute mark, can you be a coach that can stretch out of being the best at conceptualizing and doing, and get more into understanding relationship.  Knowing your players, where they are in life, and how to relate is huge with players.

    Unfortunately, the phone recording app I was using cut off another 20 minutes of the interview.  Here are some nuggets that were inconveniently left out:

    How to change an athlete that has an emotional “red” or “yellow” light from his book Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players to the Next LevelUsing the ABC model:

    • Act Big,
    • Breath deep, and
    • Compete.

    Dr. Hanson shared a conversation he had with Reggie Jackson, where he asked Reggie if he was confident all the time.  Reggie responded with, “Heck no!”  Reggie said he faked it a lot of the time.  Act Big.

    Dr. Hanson shared a conversation between Mike Trout and Dr. Ken Ravizza.  Mike Trout likes to finish his exhale before getting in the box.  If he gets in the box without doing that, he steps out and finishes it.  That’s Breathing deep.  Mike Trout also said he likes to stride slow to the plate in order to slow down the moment.

    We also talked about where you can find Dr. Hanson online and the socials:

     

    Book Resources Mentioned in the Interview…

  3. College Recruiting: How To Improve Your Athlete’s Chances (Help!!!)

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    Can You Help Take The Headache Out Of College Recruiting?

    College Recruiting Athletes: NCSA

    College Recruiting Athletes: NCSA. Photo courtesy: PGF-Recruiting.com

    Do you consider yourself a generous person?  Yes?  Good.

    Recently, I received the following college recruiting ask from one of my avid readers, Alan Rudy:

    “Hey Joey, I don’t want to step out of bounds but recruiting is wild and woolly.  Jack Renkens was invited to give a presentation at East Lansing High School where our oldest plays ball. There was a great deal of really good info in his talk and, at the end, he strongly encouraged us to join and use NCSA.  By contrast, coaches at the HS – and people like Paul Reddeck – have suggested that the NCSA can become a very expensive means of getting access to too many, too expensive meat markets/showcases that rarely pan out.

    These people say that Aiden should ask himself where in the country he wants to go to school, what size of school and kind of degree programs he is interested in, what kind of social life/college culture he wants and to explore schools where he’d be likely to get on the field before he’s a junior… and then to contact coaches at those schools with introductions, links to stats and videos, sending emails from HS and travel coaches, etc.

    I can’t remember seeing a post from you in this topic. If you have one, could you help me find it? If it’s less trouble do you have someone who’s approach you like that you’d be willing to share?”

    Honestly, the topic of college recruiting isn’t in my wheelhouse, and is not where I put my energy.  Here was my email response:

    “Alan, I appreciate you reaching out about this. I haven’t done a post on it, and haven’t really spent a ton of time researching this. Back in the day companies like NCSA were a competitive advantage, now everyone does it, so that’s why the price you pay can be ridiculous for what you’re getting. Supply and demand. That aside, I’d still work it because you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. I’d get in touch with area scouts and get an honest opinion from them as to Jack’s current evaluation. That way you know where to focus training efforts. But here’s the reality, your son cannot be ignored if you’re working the process to get to:

    • At least 90 to 95-mph Ball Exit Speeds,
    • At least a consistent 15+ degree Launch Angles,
    • Above average OPS numbers on the field, and have a…
    • Sub 7.0 sec 60-yard sprint time wouldn’t hurt either.

    Not to mention a 3.5 GPA in school! These five things make it real easy for his current coach/scout to recommend him, and a college/pro coach/scout to look at him as a reasonable prospect. In the weight room, I’d work on getting him to a 400 to 500-lb dead-lift, that would help A LOT of things on the field. CLICK HERE to see what this training would look like. 

    Maybe I’ll do a post on this in the future, asking for advice from other coaches out there that are doing this and are successful in promoting/recruiting players and what they’re looking for.  I hope this helps brother. I really appreciate your continued support, so whatever I can do to help you out. Happy Holidays! – Joey”

    Also, I forgot to mention Brian Domenico’s National or International Power Showcase – CLICK HERE for a post I did on that.  After my attempted response on college recruiting, Alan added:

    “If you do the post on recruiting, would you see if you can get stuff from coaches at DIII and II as well as I? Just as you’ve insisted that most players aren’t Albert Pujols or Giancarlo Stanton, I think too much recruiting material focuses on “IF YOU WANT TO PLAY DI!!!!!” kinds of hype and it feeds the exploitative side of your business. It is so clear that you care about the guys you work with however they end up finding success in life… but it is also clear that a lot of guys are too much in it for the glory and money.
    I’ve loved the last few blog posts!”

    College Recruiting: The Ask…

    I’ve heard that if you want to get, you have to give, and it is the giving time of year.  To those coaches, Academy owners, instructors, and/or parents out there, can you offer any advice no matter how small, to parents like Alan?  A million THANKS in advance for your generosity… (please REPLY below in the comments)

  4. How To Quickly & Easily Get Your Hitters On-Time With The “Snap Drill”

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    Matt Nokes Reveals Ways to “Lean In & Compress Ball”, Swing in Same Direction of “Swing Motor”, & Quickly and Easily Get On-Time

    I don’t give much of my time to others’ hitting instruction online…

    And it’s not because I think I’m God’s green gift to baseball and softball.  Actually,

    Since January of 2013, I took a needed break learning hitting mechanics from others in the field, no matter how popular.  I wanted to shed the hitting “BEER GOGGLES” that have stubbornly held this industry back for decades.

    People ask me if I know anything about Tewks, Epstein, “Teacher Man”, etc.  I don’t.  And that’s the honest truth.  I see their posts on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t give them anymore thought.

    Matt Nokes Snap Drill

    Matt Nokes talking about “leaning in and compressing the ball”. Photo courtesy: Matt Nokes’s YouTube channel

    The main reason?  I’m still learning my own system!!

    Besides, everyone has a different approach, view, and style.  As you probably know, the language can get quite confusing.

    Back in 2013, I decided to stick to resources on Bio-mechanics, Physics, Psychology, etc.   Because THIS is where the answers are.  It’s not opinion, or someone’s theory or philosophy based on playing or coaching experience.

    My #1 rule is to digest information that is validated by science.  Don’t seek the footsteps of others, but seek the resources the “others” sought.  In other words, don’t just take my word for it.

    That being said, there are a couple hitting coaches I do listen to, and one is Matt Nokes.  I think he has an unmatched passionate curiosity for hitting, authentically wants to help hitters, is open to new ideas (can’t say that for many online gurus), and gets dramatic results with his hitters in a reasonably short amount of time.

    As always, I’ve taken video notes for you, so you can skip around to what interests you most.  Some of the things you’ll learn in the video are:

    • Swing intention: what Matt Nokes means when he tells his hitters to “lean on it and compress it” (this will upset the ‘bug squisher’ coaches out there),
    • Why hitters MUST swing in the same direction as their “swing motor” (and it’s not what you think),
    • The “Snap Drill” that will easily and quickly get your hitters on-time (an Ah-ha moment for me!), and
    • Much more…

    Enjoy!

    • About 1:00 minute mark, Matt didn’t think about Bat Speed when he was playing, he was trying to “lean on it and compress it”.  He calls this “directional force”, in which he says it takes 8,000 pounds per square inch in one direction, to hit a ball 400-feet.
    • About 2:15 minute mark, Matt talks about how hips, knees and feet are the base, core is the motor, and arms are swing levers.  What happens when swinging off the plane of the core motor.  Swing in same direction as swing motor.
    • About 3:30 minute mark, Matt distinguishes between keeping the barrel above hands as a cue versus what really happens.  Don’t miss this.  He uses this oftentimes blanket-used-coaching-cue to get the hitter flattening his/her barrel to the pitch plane.  Barrel MUST match shoulder plane.
    • About 5:30 minute mark, Matt defines an approach as summing up what you’re trying to do mechanically into a one or two word cue.  Ever changing because getting new info, new feelings, new observations.  Talks about 2-3 minute “priming” movements before heading into battle.
    • About 10:15 minute mark, great hitters don’t “keep their hands inside the ball” in a way that creates what Matt calls slack.  He refers to the Fence Swing Drill that exaggerate swinging down.
    • About 12:00 minute mark, Matt talks about transferring force with a bent landing knee, comparing to a Pole Vaulter’s pole when it sticks into the ground before propelling the athlete up.  Landing bent allows for adjustment.  “The front knee isn’t straightened, it gets straightened.  The back leg doesn’t turn, it gets turned.  The core moves the legs.”
    • About 14:45 minute mark, Matt breaks down how to “flatten” the swing.  Tells hitter minimal movement from lower half swings, just focus on moving shoulders, hands, and bat.  Matt gives limited parameters, and let’s hitter learn the lesson…in other words, he doesn’t map out step by step how to move the way he wants the hitter to move.  Gives hitter an outcome and allows them to fill in the blanks.
    • About 16:30 minute mark, Matt talks about swing approach like what you’d do to chop down a tree.  You wouldn’t think about how did I swing the ax yesterday.  You’d just start swinging it!  Finishing low with the hands and following the line of impact. I call this driving the big nail (Matt’s bat in the video) flush into the wall.  At about 20:00 minute mark, Matt adds to this and tells hitter to “lean on this” and “compress it” (referring to his bat).  He says that he just gave hitter permission to hit the crap out of the ball.
    • About 18:30 minute mark, compares big picture hitting cues to Fence Swing Drills.  The latter being ineffective as a default way to hit.  You have to hit with big picture in mind of what you want to do to the ball.  Swing intention.
    • About 21:00 minute mark, Matt begins to talk about timing.  Timing is a distance, and to make it simple by synchronizing timing from release to contact.  Matt talked about how he took a guy hitting the ball 360-380 feet to hitting it 480-feet in 2.5 months…over the fence, 400-feet off a tee.  “Feel” contact…stay sideways and feel contact by leaning and compressing the ball.  Matt talks about the “Snap Drill”. This is golden!  He also talks about the “Ride” part of “Ride & Stride” that Matt promotes within his system.

    If you remember one thing from this video, it’s from the 21st minute on… 🙂  Golden.

    Unlike most MLB players and coaches, Matt Nokes has an intuitive sense of the swing.  He can explain it from a “real” point of view, and transition that into “feel”.  His system seems to fill in the blanks that I’ve always had about the swing.  The good news about his principles is they’re very simple and easy to implement.  Matt has a very common sense approach to hitting.

    Thanks Matt!

  5. What Do Joe Frazier, Tai Chi, Headspace, & Ted Williams Have In Common?

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    Want To Move Better? Simple Adjustments To Move Like Today’s Best Hitters

    Tai Chi Combat's Master Wong: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

    Watch Tai Chi Combat’s Master Wong in point #4 below: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility. Photo courtesy: Master Wong, from his YouTube video Tai Chi for Beginners.

    What Smokin’ Joe Frazier, China’s Tai Chi, the Headspace meditation app, and Ted Williams have in common will become clear moving through this post, I promise.

    But first, here’s the glue that connects all these seemingly random things

    I recently stumbled onto a post titled, “Want to Move Better? Use These 5 Simple Adjustments to Start Moving Freely” by Ryan Hurst, who’s co-founder of GMB Fitness (Gold Medal Bodies). They focus on Gymnastic type movements.

    The first time I read through it, I thought, well this could help hitters…

    The second time I read through it, I thought, dang, this could REALLY help hitters

    And then the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times, in my head I screamed, “DUDE!!”

    Which is WHY I’m bringing it’s information to the attention of my coaches.

    Here’s what I have for you…

    • Some quick notes from each of the five main points of the Ryan Hurst GMB Fitness post above,
    • Supporting videos that help put the ideas into “hitting” terms, and
    • A few resources I think are becoming more popular in helping hitters control their breathing (VERY IMPORTANT as you’ll soon see).

    ENJOY!

     

    1. Slow It Down for Instant Awareness

    • Being mindful is really the key to better movement.
    • Pay attention to how your hips are moving, your weight distribution, your eye gaze, and your breath.
    • Slow down your movement and you’ll be able to pay better attention to the details.

    I’m not sure on the name, but I once heard boxer Joe Frazier used to practice a super slow motion punch that would last 20-minutes!  Talk about slowing it down for instant awareness.

    Here are swings from different angles to practice specific movements in slow motion…

    2. Use Your Hips for Instant Power

    • Hips are your body’s center of mass.
    • The better you can initiate motion from this point, the more efficient your movements will be, as you’ll move with less wasted action.
    • With any stepping motion, rather than your feet propelling you forward, you want your hips to lead.

    Yes, I agree with Ted Williams when he said the “Hips Lead the Way”.  But even before the pelvis begins to turn for a hitter, the front hip MUST lead the way during the stride.

    Watch this short 1-min Justin Turner slow motion swing video I put together for you, and key in on how his front hip initiates his pre-turn movement in the stride…

    3. Use Visual Aim for Instant Control

    • Head is hardwired to follow your eyes, and the body is hardwired to follow your head. Basically, the body will follow the eyes.
    • If your eyes are not gazing in the right place, you won’t be able to control your body properly.
    • If you want to move better, think of it this way: your eyes should always be pointed where you want your spine to be.

    This is WHY hitters who “pull their heads”, go chin to chest, back ear to back shoulder, or nose to sky at impact is not good.

    My good friend Matt Nokes at Hitting Solutions calls this “swinging across your face”…this cue will help correct pulling the head.  The best hitters “keep their head in the fire”, as Nokes says.  Control the head, and hitter controls the direction and “squaring-up” of impact.

    Watch this head movement modeling video of a few top MLB hitters…

    4. Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

    • The correct transfer of your weight is the beginning of a smooth and controlled motion.
    • While side stepping (or lunging) to your right, notice that you shifted your weight to the left a split second before you went to the right? It’s a natural loading response that you do without even thinking about it.
    • With any movement, if your body’s natural weight transfer mechanisms are not working properly, it will hurt your balance.

    This is natural weight transfer behavior coaches!! If any hitting coach tells a right handed hitter to NOT shift their weight towards their right leg before striding to the left, then RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!

    Watch the following three-in-a-half minute video from Master Wong, founder of Tai Chi Combat (over 1.4 million subscribers to his YouTube channel!!), performing a beginner’s Tai Chi movement.  Notice the split second weight shift one way, in order to go the other way…

    5. Breathe for Instant Poise and Calm

    • Difference between holding the breath and bracing during movement…for skill-based movements holding your breath isn’t going to help.
    • Breath holding and hyperventilation are signs of anxiety, but in that wonderful body-mind connection loop, it can also create anxiety.
    • Poor breathing creates feelings of anxiety, anxiety, creates tension, and unmediated tension causes poor movement. Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.

    This is “bigly”!  The leading resources for this are the following guided meditation apps:

    • Headspace (I’ve been using this one for the best 3 years), and
    • Calm

    I can’t speak for the Calm app, but Headspace is not Eastern “woo-woo”.  It focuses on controlling the breath, being aware of the breath, and the use of visualization practice.

    These are second-to-none resources for reducing rapid breathing during competition or any other signs of anxiety.

    I think this quote bares repeating because it’s VERY important for hitters:

    “Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.”

  6. Sybervision Swings: How We Learn & Assimilate Skills And Behaviors From The Observation Of Others…

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    Watch Perfect Action Over And Over, Subconscious Mind and Muscle Memory Will Start To Incorporate The Actions…

    (Disclaimer: my swing isn’t perfect, so please be nice in the comments.  However, 95% of it embodies what the best do, and is a sufficient representation of what we talk about on this blog)

    I had heard of Sybervision back in the early to mid-1990’s, when someone told me about a Baseball With Rod Carew instructional VHS hitting video you could watch over and over of him hitting, and “magically” you’d start moving just like him!

    At least that’s what I thought about it at the time, but there actually is some merit to it.

    Some call Sybervision the Neuropsychology of self discipline, and has a basis in visual modeling — how we  learn and assimilate (neurologically, psychologically, and cognitively) skills and behaviors from the observation of others.

    Sybervision Swings

    Ichiro from the Head Movement video using Sybervision.

    It is based on research conducted by Steve DeVore, and Dr. Karl Pribram, a brain scientist (who postulated the holographic brain theory) at the Stanford University’s Neuropsychological Research Laboratories.

    One of the grand-dads of two hitters I worked with this past summer, Paul Rosemont, said this of Sybervision:

    “The Sybervision concept is that if someone watches perfect action over and over, their subconscious mind and muscle memory will start to incorporate the actions. It’s ideal to view it before practicing but just viewing it is still supposed to work. The system was used years ago on college and Olympic level athletes.”

    By the way, Paul took the time to have my swings edited into the above video we’re sharing with you today, using the Sybervision technique.

    Along the same lines, utilizing shorter clips of Big Leaguers, and without the different views, one of my online lesson dads Victor Canseco made the following two videos using the same Sybervision concept.  They’re cropped to specific aspects of the swing, to help his son Harrison get the concepts we were working on with him…

     

    Back Foot Skip

    Please CLICK HERE for the Back Foot Variance Drill I use with my hitters.

     

    Head Movement & One-Joint Rule

    Please CLICK HERE for the One-Joint Rule Drill I use with my hitters.

    Thank you Paul and Victor!

  7. Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun Swing Analysis

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    The Anatomy Of A Game Winning Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

    To be honest with you…

    I MISSED watching the Justin Turner walk off homerun LIVE!!

    My excuse…?

    Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

    Justin Turner walk off homerun photo courtesy: DodgerBlue.com

    For those of you who can remember when your kids were 2-5 years old, you might recall the Disney channel being on almost constantly in your household.

    When I turn on baseball, I get “Why are we watching this…?” from my 5yo.  And not after 30-mins of it being on…no…RIGHT AWAY!

    He could be drawing, watching a kid’s show on his Kindle, or playing with his NERF gun, and he knows when the channel is changed.  It’s like he knows it’s going to happen before it does.  That’s another talk for another day.

    But I digress…

    I did get to see the replay of the game winning dinger via Twitter…

    And, I DO know this, Justin Turner’s walk off homerun was a thing of beauty.

    As many of you know, I get a lot of Fixed Mindset knuckleheads claiming this system doesn’t work at the higher level on the socials…in baseball and softball circles.

    I blame the lenses they look at hitting through, which – let me tell you – are far less effective than picking up a bar fly with “beer goggles”.

    Seriously though, here’s some context to put the dinger in perspective, before getting to the info in the video above…

    In this Justin Turn walk off homerun swing analysis, we’ll go over…

     

    What’s he IS NOT Doing

    I know, shocker for a select few out there.  I do define some of the above terms in the video, so make sure you watch that before commenting.  I know some of the cues can be used with the right framing of it.

    So let’s see…

     

    What he IS Doing

    • Catapult Loading System principles: globally flexed spine, hiding hands, showing numbers, and
    • Pitch Plane Domination: knee action, back foot skip, early barrel on pitch plane, barrel stays on plane for long time, great spine angle at impact.

     

    The Catapult Loading System Kindle eBook Giveaway

    Just FYI, on this Friday, October 20th, I’m giving away free Kindle versions of my new book The Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet…but here’s the catch, this giveaway is for 5-days ONLY!  Last time I did this, over 1,300 coaches and parents downloaded the ebook.  And you don’t have to have a Kindle to read the book, just download the Kindle app on your mobile device.  If you’ve already downloaded it, then I’d appreciate it if you could let a friend know.  Literally hundreds of coaches across the States are getting the same results – if not better – with their hitters (literally THOUSANDS of them!!) using this system, than I am with mine.  I’ll make the announcement over email and Facebook, so please look out for that in a couple days…

  8. How To Motivate Athletes To Commit To Training Consistently & With Intensity…WITHOUT “Burning Them Out”

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    “It’s not about how many swing you get in a day, it’s quality deep practice swings that matter.”

    I had the honor of being interviewed by Coach Daryl Weber who’s the founder of the website:

    Attack Style Wrestling

    AttackStyleWrestling.com

    Coaching principles transcend ALL sports. Yes, a wrestling coach and a hitting coach CAN speak the same language. Photo courtesy: AttackStyleWrestling.com

    Yes I know, he’s running a coaching blog about wrestling and this is a hitting blog,

    BUT…

    The principles of coaching transcend ALL sports.  

    As always, I’ve tried to make this 46-minute audio easier to digest, so I’ve included time stamps you can fast forward or rewind to.  In this interview, we went over the following:

    • About 1:20 min. mark, where it all began for me when I started teaching hitters to “swing down”. Dark time for my hitters then, and they weren’t getting consistent results.  My knowledge stagnated at the time. Where everything turned around for my hitters and my system.  Book resources included.
    • About 5:00 min. mark, how to debunk conventional teaching cues using today’s technology to test and compare swing mechanics such as Zepp, SwingTracker, and Blast.
    • About 8:00 min. mark, what is a “sticky coach?” Taking a hiatus from hitting industry teachings, the challenge is translating information from coaches that are very technical to the end user. Can the information be taken from the expert to the coach to the player?  The more effective teaches are the ones who can do this.  If we can effect the coaches, we can exponentially effect more players.  Coach Daryl talks about how doing coaching clinics can be REALLY powerful when it comes to effecting more players.  The book we were talking about was: The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.
    • About 14:00 min. mark, this interview started when Coach Daryl asked me to answer the following question, which he included in the following blog post: Do you have ONE TIP to help coaches and parents motivate athletes to commit to training consistently and with intensity…WITHOUT “burning them out”?  Read that post because he polled other effective coaches and they gave their responses as well.
    • About 15:00 min. mark, how to apply the Minimum Effective Dosage model (MED) to young athletes. 4-5 days per week, and 5-mins per day of hitting homework practice.  This is outside of organized practice time.  Be happy with 5-mins per day.  It’s not about how many swing you get in a day, it’s quality deep practice swings that matter.  And when you’re dealing with a demotivated hitter, set them up for success with the MED model.
    • About 19:00 min. mark, Coach Daryl likes to remind his athletes that it’s okay to fall off the wagon, if you don’t get the MED practice time in.  Life happens.  Set yourself up for success, by starting small and don’t overwhelm yourself early on.
    •  About 21:15 min mark, I talk about Karen Pryor’s book Don’t Shoot The Dog, using positive reinforcers to inspire athletes to put the work in.  I shared the story of the Professor lecturing students 10-mins every day, who didn’t turn their homework in…changed to positive reinforcement, and went from only 1/3 of students turning in homework, to three weeks later, 3/4 of students turning homework in.  Praising hitters for the days they DO get in, motivates better than lecturing on the days they didn’t get in.
    • About 24:00 min. mark, Coach Daryl shares about his weigh-in struggles with his wrestlers.  Coach would tally up weigh-in numbers before practice, get frustrated, and proceed to negatively lecture his wrestlers at the start of practice.  This wasn’t good, so Coach had his coaches report weigh-ins to him AFTER practice, which freed him up to give a positive motivating speech at the start of practice.
    • About 26:30 min. mark, how to keep youth athletes from leaving the sport after only a couple years. Coaches “bullying” players. Encouraging athletes to open up communication lines with coach about playing time at the High School level on up. 12u on down is in the parent’s court. Dealing with coaches who teach hitting based on conventional wisdom. Using the “bobble-head” strategy.  Ask your players at the end of a session: are there any questions on what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it?  If players understand what they’re doing, then contrasting information at practice won’t confuse them.  They’ll be more prepared!
    • About 36:00 min. mark, talked about the approach a D1 softball player was going to use with her hitting coach, who has a professional baseball background and teaches conventional hitting wisdom.  She interned for me this past summer, sitting in and helping out on my hitting lessons, and we worked one-on-one about a half dozen times.
    • About 43:00 min. mark, coaches have to start asking more questions.  Question what they’ve always been taught.  Question what they’re learning now. Question ME because I don’t mind.  The quality of your coaching is directly connected to the quality of questions you ask.  Gain knowledge and test.

     

    What is the Science of Sticky Coaching?

  9. The Sooner You Know ‘Swinging Down’ Is A Disaster The Better

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    How To Use Knowledge To Help Hitters Reach Their Full Potential

    (Before getting into this post, I have to pre-frame it with the fact that cuing a hitter to ‘swing down’, ‘keep barrel above hands’, and ‘get on top’ can be helpful for hitters whose barrel paths are extreme upper cuts or for non-productive fly ball outcomes.  Other than that, these cues ARE NOT conducive to scoring A LOT of runs for teams) 

    Jake C.: Swinging Down

    One of my HS Frosh hitters swinging down at the beginning of one of our first lessons together. We’re using the RopeBat to fix this. Photo courtesy: ME

    The objective of this post is to persuade those who disagree with the title, to see hitting through cleaner sharper glasses.

    Kudos to Sean T. Plouffe on Twitter for posting the above Tweet…

    Seeing this post on my Twitter news feed dang near stopped me in my tracks.

    That was actually ME in the above video!

    This was a two tee drill video I did a long time ago for my old site SwingSmarter.com, between 2008 and 2010.

    Unfortunately for my hitters this was the Dark Ages of my teaching, when I regurgitated swinging down on the ball because it was what I was taught during my playing days.

    It felt like looking back at old High School pictures when you were fat and had more craters on your face than the moon 😛 lol

    Apparently, I’m not alone in ‘teaching what I was taught’ after my playing days were over…

    We’ll discuss:

    • ‘That’s what he was taught’,
    • The journey that led me away from conventional wisdom, and
    • The bottom line… (how to fix)

     

    ‘That’s What he was Taught’…

    Take this email I recently received from one of my readers, Bryan Nugent:

    “Good morning,

    My predicament is that over the last year or so I have been working with my son using your style  (catapult loading) from your book. My son is like a night and day difference when he doesn’t load like you point out. Some of my cue words I tell him are tuck, hide, see and drive.

    • Tuck – for his shoulder
    • Hide – his hands
    • See – keep his eye on the ball
    • Drive – hit through the baseball

    Ok, now to the issue his baseball coach is trying to get him to have a different approach, stance and pretty much a different swing all together. From what we have been working on. How would I or what is the best way to approach the Coach and tell him to leave his swing alone in your opinion?”

    And here was Bryan’s response after I emailed him a couple questions…

    “Thank you for responding to my email. My son is 10. This past Saturday morning before our first pool play game we went back to the cage and got back to doing what we have learned from you. His results were outstanding including a solo shot that the opposing coach told him he hasn’t ever seen a 10 yr old hit the ball that far before.

    The coach is young(23) just graduated from a local college where he played baseball. Not knocking him in any way but when talking to him he states ‘that’s what he was taught’ quite a bit. So maybe since this is his first time to coach young boys he is trying too hard, if that makes sense.

    I did talk to him a little bit and told him I would bring him your book so he can see where we are coming from. Hopefully he will see there are 2 ways to skin a cat to get the same result. Which is to be able to get the kids to reach there full potential. Thanks again”

    Thank you Bryan for sharing and for your continued support.  And yes, I asked his permission before sharing with you coaches.

     

    The Journey that Lead Me Away from Conventional Wisdom

    I can honestly say that I was where this young coach is when I first started teaching hitters.  And I know many of you coaches out there, if you’re being honest with yourself, can relate.

    I had stopped seeking knowledge about the swing…stopped reading…stopped asking questions.  My mindset was VERY fixed.

    Needless to say, I came to the realization that my hitters weren’t getting better.  At the time, my local lessons weren’t growing.  I was teaching what everyone in my area was teaching.  There was zero differentiation.  And you know what Mark Twain once said,

    “When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect”.

    It wasn’t till about 2011 that I started asking questions, and bought Jaime Cevallos’s book Positional Hitting (who’s a good friend of mine).

    Then met Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, and helped him develop an online presence in 2012.

    This was a good start, but there were still A LOT of unanswered questions that I had.

    You see, I found a passionate curiosity for corrective human movement science back in 2005.  I got educated by gathering a large wicker basket full of alphabet soup certifications.  In a short time, I was training athletes and non-athletes by helping them troubleshoot their mobility and stability issues to improve performance or quality of life.

    This led me down a rabbit hole that went pretty deep.

    When my son was born at the end of 2012, I had an epiphany after reading a couple highly influential resources.  I digested the following books over and over, using them to reverse engineer the swing from a human movement principles validated by science perspective:

     

    The Bottom Line…

    If you’re a young coach – or more seasoned – who still teaches swinging down on the ball, squishing the bug, and that the hips are where the power is at…I know how you can feel married to these because you’ve put a lot of time, effort, and emotion into them while coaching and/or playing.

    Believe me, I felt the same way.  Looking back now, it was a form of collective wisdom brainwashing that runs rampant in baseball and softball circles.

    Here’s what I found teaching young hitters to apply human movement principles that are validated by science to hitting a ball:

    • My hitters see and feel productive outcomes within a reasonably short amount of time (huge for getting them to ‘buy into’ the system),
    • The online and local lesson part of my business has increased 5-fold (the word is getting out!),
    • The coaches that learn this from me are getting the same productive results with their hitters – if not better (and their hitters are raising the eyebrows of other coaches), and
    • The best news is, the knuckleheads on social media have a VERY difficult time arguing the true science of the swing!

    My recommendation is this:

    • Educate yourself like I did with previously mentioned books,
    • Question very things you teach by asking, “What don’t I know?”
    • Do swing experiments like I do to see if a hitting mechanic is inferior or superior to its counterpart (CLICK HERE for a post on how to do this), And…
    • Above-all, be big enough to swallow your pride, regardless of how many years coaching or playing, or if you had the privilege to coach or play at the highest level, and admit you may be wrong.  Because let me tell you, many are, so you’re not alone.

    Rest assured, if I can change, then so can you.

    Believe me, your hitters will THANK YOU.  Learning can start when ignorance admits its ignorant. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?  Well, now you do 😉

  10. How To Train A 2-Year-Old To Hit A Moving Ball

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    If You Can Train Two Pigeons To Play Ping-Pong, Then YES You Can Train “Normal” Young Athletes To Step Sideways & Hit A Moving Ball

    This is a follow up to the post I recently published titled,  “WHY ‘Squishing The Bug’ Is So Dumb”.

    I had a couple coaches reach out over email and social media,

    Saying although they agreed with not teaching older hitters to ‘squish the bug’, they disagreed that it’s okay to teach younger hitters.

    Let me be clear, I don’t typically get into weight transfer with hitters less than 7-years-old.  HOWEVER, it can be done, and that’s what this post is all about.

    So, is it the young hitter that’s incapable of learning how to do what the best do?

    OR…

    2 Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

    Two pigeons were taught to play ping-pong using primary and secondary reinforcers. Photo courtesy: LiveLeak.com

    Is the instructor incapable of teaching what the best do?

    The answer will become clear in following.

    We’ll discuss:

    • What science of learning says, and
    • Regression to progression models for teaching.

     

    What Science of Learning Says…

    One Facebook reader shared that he has 12-years in the child development field, in addition to having 8-years of coaching at different levels.

    He agreed with the aforementioned ‘squishing bugs is dumb’ post, but said what he’s seen in child development research is that the majority of 6-year-olds are incapable of shifting their weight and hitting a pitched ball.  He added that only the top 1% of kids can.

    He also referenced a kid with what he called “no athletic” ability as an example.

    This is an interesting comment coming from someone with his professional background.  And I asked myself, okay, what am I missing because my experience has been much different.

    First of all, to reference the bottom 1% of kids in “train-ability” throws up a yellow flag for me (“train-ability” was referenced in the book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science Of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein in the Heritage Study).

    Since this gentleman is convinced “normal” 6yos can’t be taught to weight shift and hit a ball (exclude mutants and bottom 1% from the equation), then…

    I asked if he’d read The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Made.  It’s Grown.  Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle.  And what his thoughts were on Daniel Coyle’s findings of the following athletic “hotbeds”:

    • 3yo females learning gymnastics in China?
    • 3yo females learning tennis in Russia?
    • Young females learning golf in Korea?
    • Young boys learning baseball in Curacao?
    • Young boys learning soccer in Brazil?

    He responded with, well it’s different in Russia because they’re more disciplined.

    Wa??!

    I said oh, so if the kids practice, then it’s possible for “normal” athletes?

    No response from him on that.

    I then went on to talk about how the International Youth & Conditioning Association, which I am a certified member of, shared their own child development research that children between the ages of two to five years old should developmentally be able to run, hop, jump, forward skip, and sideways skip.

    Weight shifting, like in a stride, is very similar to side skipping.  Think about throwing a Frisbee as far as you can.  And, Pitchers do this all the time, in addition to first baseman when stretching to receive a throw from an infielder (okay, this is more of a front step, but you get the idea).

    This gentleman said although this may be true, normal kids cannot side step AND hit a moving pitch.

    We’ll get into the progression I used with my own boy when he was 2-years-old, at the end of this post.  But hey, maybe he’s part of the top 1%…I dunno 😛 lol  You be the judge.

    Back to the child development expert, I mentioned the following book to him Don’t Shoot The Dog: The New Art Of Teaching And Training, by Karen Pryor, which is about using positive and negative reinforcers in behavioral conditioning.  Basically, it’s a dog training book (worst title ever by the way!!), but the info is just as applicable to humans, horses, dolphins, and any other thing that has flippers, 2-4 legs, and breathes air.  Also, this is what was used to train the two ping-pong pigeons in the video above.

    PIGEONS!  I’ve also read somewhere, might have been in the Don’t Shoot The Dog book, that a scientist once taught a chicken to turn the pages of a book…a CHICKEN!!!

    Let that sink in for a moment…

    Here’s what I took away from the conversation with Mr. Child Development Expert…

    The brain and eyes have a contract with each other…the eyes are only suppose to look for what the brain wants to see.  You can read about that in the book Stumbling Upon Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.

    And this child development expert was biased towards information confirming his belief that “normal” 6yos cannot side step and hit a moving ball.

    BREAKING NEWS!!

    I’m biased too!  But on the opposite side of the spectrum.  I operate from the perspective that if the young athlete isn’t getting what I want him or her to do, then I’m NOT doing something right.  Not the other way around.  I find a way, and look for information validated by science to support my claim.

    So which coach would you rather work with?

    Let me repeat,

    Teaching hitters to ‘squish the bug’ has NOTHING to do with what the best do.  And an instructor that defaults to this when teaching young hitters is like a grade school teacher teaching his 1st Grade students that 2 +2 = 5, because they’re incapable of learning that the real answer is 4.

    Look, some of you may be thinking that ‘squishing the bug’ is about “getting the hips through”.  My good friends Matt Nokes AND Homer Bush dispelled this myth in the following posts:

    I was told this is a BOLD statement…to say teaching ‘bug squishing’ is WRONG.

    It is wrong.

    You may feel I’m judging you, but I’m not.  I have an issue with what you’re teaching and WHY.  NOT with you.

    I think you’re better than that.  It’s not personal. 

    But be honest with yourself.  It’s not what the best do, but I do understand you’re frustrated working with these younger hitters.

    …And may have a solution…

     

    Regression to Progression Models for Teaching

    I’m not going to get into how to teach side stepping in this post.  If your kid can side skip, or side step, then they’re fully capable of a weight shift.

    The question is how to get them to hit a moving ball.

    And before I get there, I wanted to share a quick story I read in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, that highlights the learning process.

    Remember this scene in the movie Terminator 2…? (video should start there, but watch at about the 5:00 min. mark)…

    In the book, Arnold discussed how he learned to load a shotgun with one hand, while riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and at the same time shooting the padlock off a chain-link fence.

    According to him, this was his process:

    • NOTE: He spent time in the Austrian Army as a tank driver in his younger days, so he knew how to shoot a weapon beforehand.
    • He spent many repetitions loading this particular shot gun with one hand, seated on the Harley.
    • He spent many repetitions loading the shotgun, seated on the Harley, shooting a small target.
    • He spent many repetitions loading the shotgun while riding the motorcycle.
    • He spent many repetitions loading the shotgun, riding the Harley, and shooting the target.

    His whole thing was “reps, reps, reps”, until the action he practiced became second nature.

    This is also what Josh Waitzkin calls “making small circles”, in his book The Art Of Learning: A Journey in Pursuit of Excellence. Josh was a young chess prodigy, and his life was the basis for the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer”.

    How did I teach my 2-year-old son how to hit a moving ball?  Here’s the process:

    • Starting at about 1.5 years old, we practiced hitting different sized balls off a little tee with a big plastic blue bat,
    • A few months before he turned two years old, I started throwing a big beach ball at him while he hit it with his big plastic bat,
    • We then started slowly shrinking the ball down until after a few months past his second birthday, he was hitting baseball sized whiffle balls with his big plastic bat, and then
    • We shrunk the bat down to a conventional yellow whiffle ball bat, so at about 2.5-3 years old, he was able to hit a baseball sized whiffle ball with the slim yellow bat.

    Truth be told at 3yo, he wasn’t hitting every pitch I threw at him, but he was hitting the ball harder more often, other than just ‘tipping it’ or totally swinging and missing like most his age or older, who didn’t have the prior progressions.

     

    The Bottom Line…

    Coaches,

    If 3 year old girls are learning tennis in Russia, golf in Korea, and gymnastics in China, then your hitters can learn how to step sideways and hit a moving ball.  If discipline is an issue, use the Minimum Effective Dosage Rule, practice only 4-5 days per week, for only 5-mins each day.  It’s not about length of time, but frequency of reviewing the material.

    If you can teach a chicken to turn the pages of a book, and train two pigeons to play ping-pong, then YES you can train “normal” kids to step sideways and hit a moving ball.

    If you cannot, then the fault most likely falls – I know this may be hard to swallow for some – with the instructor, not the child.  Set the ego aside.  Every day, ask yourself the question:

    “What don’t I know?”

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