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Baseball Batting Mechanics Science To ‘On Path Bottom Half’


This is Part-1 of a 3-part baseball batting mechanics video series coming straight out of the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course…

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In the baseball batting mechanics video, Backspin Batting Tee inventors, Taylor & Jarrett Gardner are going to dive into…

  • Anatomy of ‘on path bottom half’
  • Why are pitchers taught to keep the ball down in the zone? And,
  • How to train hitting the bottom half…

CLICK HERE for an interview post I did with Taylor Gardner in 2015.


Anatomy of ‘On Path Bottom Half’

Baseball Batting Mechanics: 'On Path Bottom Half'

Should the barrel be level to the ground during the swing?  Should it be down to the ball?  Should it be up to the ball?

Baseball pitchers stand on a mound (if regulation) set up to 10-inches.  If we have a 6-foot pitcher with an overhand release, let’s say his arm adds another foot-in-a-half, then we have about a 8.5 foot above flat ground release point.  In addition to the target being a squatting catcher between 45-60 feet away.

The imaginary line connecting the pitcher’s release point to the catcher’s glove is what I like to call the Pitch-Plane, or plane of the pitch.

In fastpitch softball, the Pitch-Plane isn’t quite so drastic, but because of Gravitational Forces, the ball has to travel in an arc nevertheless.

Our objective as coaches is to get baseball batting mechanics to match the plane of the incoming pitch with the barrel.

You can also see from the graphic that linedrives and productive balls in the air are hit using the bottom half of the ball.

Why are Pitcher’s Taught to Keep the Ball Down in the Zone?

Baseball Batting Mechanics: Backspin Tee

This baseball batting mechanics chart illustrates the importance of backspin on a batted ball. The higher the degree, the more backspin being created. Photo courtesy:

Pitchers keep the ball down in the zone to get hitters striking the top half of the ball.  And to create an element of deception.

Pitchers know that ground balls are outs 95% of the time in High School.  In college and professional baseball, ground balls are outs 98-99% of the time.

The reality is, a 90-mph fastball drops 4 feet before it gets to the catcher.  This equates to about a 5-degree downward trajectory.  To the hitter, the ball may seem “flat”, but Gravitational Forces are instantly at work pulling the ball down after the pitcher releases it.

That’s only a fastball.  In baseball, we can see up to a 20-degree downward pitch plane when the pitcher throws a breaking ball!

The other thing that’s happening immediately after the pitcher’s release, is the ball starts to slow down because of a myriad of factors, a couple being Gravitational Forces, and the humidity (or lack thereof) in the air.

In other words, the ball may be leaving the pitcher’s hand at 90-mph, but by the time it reaches the catcher’s glove, it’s lost maybe 4 to 6-mph.


How to Train Hitting the Bottom Half

Baseball Batting Mechanics: Backspin Tee

The Backspin Batting Tee photo courtesy:

Taylor Gardner told me a story about when his hitting mentor Matt Noakes was telling him of when Hank Aaron, shortly after retiring, was ‘touring’ MLB ballparks taking batting practice and playing home run derby.

Hank Aaron wound up crossing paths with Matt Nokes, where a young Nokes asked him what he was trying to do when he hit.  Hank Aaron shared that he was always attempting to hit the bottom half of the baseball.

Traditional batting tees can promote baseball batting mechanics that hit the top half, especially with younger hitters, because they generally fear hitting the tee and knocking it over.

This can have a cascade effect, mechanically speaking, causing a hitter to swing down on the ball.

The BackSpin Tee turns the traditional tee upside down…literally.  Try and swing up or down on a BackSpin Tee and you’ll hit the rubber tee cone, miss the ball completely, and/or get a weak result.  Instant feedback.  Ineffective outcomes.

The BackSpin Tee promotes ‘On Path Bottom Half’.

I’m offering a %15 OFF discount to the next person to order a BackSpin Tee at Just enter the discount coupon code at checkout: MSJK5P6H6ZTC

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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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14 replies
    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      Hey Vito! A couple things, did you copy and paste the following coupon code exactly as this: 75OFFBACKSPINTEE And also, the discount won’t show until just before clicking the order button to charge your card. Please watch the last video in the post on how to apply the code. Please let me know if you have anymore troubles.

  1. Larry
    Larry says:

    If you aim for the top of the ball you hit a ground ball,If you aim for the bottom of the ball you hit a fly ball.It isn’t the tee,it is the mechanics.

    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      You’re right Larry! The mechanics play a key role in elevating. However, we’re driven by external cues. And a young hitter who’s mechanics aren’t optimal for hitting of this tee will show. So by creating a different external cue, the mechanics may fit to get the outcome of the hitting aid, in this case the Backspin Tee. I totally agree with you on the mechanics though, big lessening of the learning curve by making those more effective.

  2. Bob
    Bob says:

    Good bit of info Joey. Thanks … I read somewhere that teams that players that elevate the ball generate as much as 12 times the runs that ground ball players score. Flies are more productive than ground balls because you eliminate the double play and you can still run on a tag up. Ground balls are what some youth coaches teach because the young one’s can’t field well enough to eat you up – but that changes!

    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      I agree Bob, and great bit of info. We as coaches must teach for the next level (the big field), and not for the current one. It’s difficult to break out of the ‘winning’ mentality in Little League and 12U fastpitch. We MUST be vigilant with our focus on development at those levels, and not compiling trophies. Young ballplayers will get enough of the WINNING mentality in High School on up, and rightly so.

  3. Djura
    Djura says:

    It amazes me that people tell kids to contact the ball downwardly to hit line drives…It amazes me that some batters haven’t picked up on the fact that the ball comes down to them… If you don’t notice that the balls are coming down than I wouldn’t worry about my mechanics… I would worry about the fact that these batters are not taking the time to understand or feel the game… You will not succeed if you don’t pay attention or make yourself aware of the simple things…this is not some breakthrough… It should be common sense… Swinging the bat and having the bat make contact and everything in between should be noted by the batter… Every batter should mess around and swing the bat in all directions and notice what the bat is doing and how it’s moving…it’s the batters only tool given to hit… Know how it works and know how the ball is coming in from all directions…just mess around with swings but pay attention to the details…The bat goes where you want it to go but it’s path depends on how you use it…The ball comes down (usually)…Im just amazed on how many people want to hit the top of a ball (bat actually moving down through contact) already moving downwardly…remember a mass changing directions while moving in an arc does some special things…. Great article Joey. Later….


  4. Djura
    Djura says:

    Joey…. External cue! Yep… That’s exactly what happens.

    If you don’t mind I’ll put it another way that makes sense to me but usually makes people look at me funny…

    Tees are weird!

    Now this tee you are displaying makes me want to try it out… This tee isn’t weird to me or at least it doesn’t have that look to me. You can approach the ball without changing anything because of how it’s being held…

    Still, tees only provide the batter with a fraction of the swing… So batters must be mindful of what a tee provides them…To me a tee is for advanced hitters… The hitters who having given some thought to hitting… If you go up to a tee and hack away your missing the point…


    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      Totally agree Djura! What coaches have to make sure their hitters are doing when working off a tee is to change the location of the pitch after EACH swing. Either up or down. Inside or outside. A tee is worthless otherwise. And with the Backspin Tee, changing pitch location is super simple.

  5. Dwight Malloy
    Dwight Malloy says:

    There is a lot more to it ten telling a player to get on plane of pitch or coaches telling players to hit top part of baseball. The plane of the hands needs to be on top part of the ball because the barrel is slightly below the hands with body tilt. Also telling players to get on plane of pitch causes many of them to never get proper weight transfer to front side and leaves them hitting off their backside which creates weak swings or hands/arms swings and casting. Getting on plane too early against high level pitchers with late movement on pitches, doesn’t that create a bad swing thought? It should be said to get on the plane of where the pitch will be. The way things are said and told to players has to be watched and adjusted. Every player is different and the way they are taught needs to be adjusted to their way of thinking and reacting. Depending on their strengths and weaknesses. If a player uses correct body positioning to create ground force energy and hip shoulder separation they should produce a good powerful swing to drive the ball to the best of their ability. I have just found that if you are coaching or instructing you cannot fall into the trap of trying to convey a message the same way to every player. It doesn’t work that way. Take a group of players and ask them to all come up with a math problem with an answer of 14, everyone might give you a different problem with same answer. They are all correct, but how their mind thinks and the way their mind tells their body to arrive at the same answer in hitting can all be different. It may take 10-15 different ways to explain the same thing, like the saying keep your hands inside the ball. As opposed to hands being on the outside of the ball when you hit, that would hurt a whole bunch. Just food for thought. I love hearing new and creative ways to attack the same problems, sometimes things are said to players as a teach that is trying to get them to do the extreme opposite to actually get them to the correct position. I enjoy the website and the comments are fantastic, keep working and helping players out, it is a great game.

    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      Dwight, I totally agree with you. Part of the problem is matching coaching cues with player learning styles. I’m doing a bunch of research into this now and have been coming up some interesting things. One thing for you to check out is Neuro Linguistic Programming. It’s what Tony Robbins bases most of his training on. It’s legit. That’s where great coaching will move. Just remember I said it here. 😉 And I always say don’t be quick with the hands, be quick to the pitch plane, but I like how you drill down even further to: “get on the plane of where the pitch will be.” Bam! You nailed it. Josh Donaldson says this quite a bit on Twitter tagging hitting gurus who preach massed practice on a low pitch approach. Yes, the majority of pitchers are taught to keep the ball down, but they also go up in the zone…outside…and inside. So our training should reflect this variance and seemingly randomness. Great thoughts brother, thanks for sharing!

  6. Don Ervin
    Don Ervin says:

    The article and ball diagram above are very interesting, but to make contact at any of those parallel lines drawn on the ball a batter would have to swing level/parallel to the ground which is detrimental to taking the barrel down into a level plane with/into the downward flight of the incoming ball.
    Great Base Ball-N
    Don Ertvin

    • Joey Myers
      Joey Myers says:

      Don, I see what you’re saying, but you can achieve impact with those lines if the barrel was level with the plane of the pitch. By the way, I editing out your email address to keep the SPAM bots away from your inbox 😉

  7. Matt Helke
    Matt Helke says:

    To hit a moving ball, the batter must quickly assess information that not only includes ball flight characteristics, but also the motion of the the pitcher.

    Known fact: A ball hit off a tee has zero pitch speed and zero pitch spin.

    Scientifically proven fact (What is omitted when telling you to lean to hit a ball with backspin).
    When the bat makes contact with a ball, the ball obviously goes in the reverse direction toward the field. But contact also changes the ball’s spin. While there is ample research on this, here is just one.

    Mont Hubbard and colleagues at the University of California, Davis modeled all the forces on a batted ball and found:

    • A fastball arrives at the plate with backspin. Once hit, it leaves with topspin.
    • A curveball arrives at the plate with topspin. Once hit, it leaves with backspin.

    So how can a batter hit a ball with back spin off a batting tee? Simple physics. The ball isn’t rotating. Therefore when a batter hits a ball off a batting tee just below mid-line, the friction of the ball and bat colliding created at contact causes the ball to leave with back spin.

    But of course in a game, batters hit a moving ball with different speeds, spins and trajectories. Using the Anatomy of ‘On Path Bottom Half’ displayed in the article, hitting a fastball at the “optimal” location will not produce back spin. It will possibly reduce the top spin or produce a knuckle ball at best. So the spin of the ball is actually dictated by the type of pitch thrown.

    Whether you’re a high school, college or pro baseball player there is no way a batter can control hitting a baseball with back spin constantly or predictability. So don’t worry or waste your time trying to do it. Not to say back spin won’t possibly help with distance – just that back spin is pretty much out of a batter’s hands. A batters focus needs to be on getting on time with the pitcher, early pitch recognition, hitting the ball square, not cutting the ball or intentionally trying to hit to create backspin.

    The issue with batting tees in general. Although there is ample scientific research, here are just four examples why:
    Location Alone Doesn’t Determine the Type of Pitch Nor the Type of Swing Needed to intercept the pitch.

    The motor system responds in real time to the environment, rather than following a previously simulated prediction. (1) In other words, when a batter swings a bat in response to a live pitch (real time to the environment), the movement doesn’t really follow the practice or training he/she did swinging at a stationary ball off a tee (the simulated prediction).

    Research (2) shows goal directed movements (e.g. swinging a bat to hit a ball) are organized via perceptual information that is relevant to the movement situation. (Movement being the operative word. No ball movement off a tee)

    Perceptual and motor skills involve spatial awareness which is being aware of the space occupied by your body and how to position and maneuver your body in it. Batters need to train to moving objects in order to develop their spatial skills. A recent study showed spatial recognition, such as the ability to shift attention between near and far targets, were associated with fewer strikeouts. (3)
    (This includes Coincidence Anticipation which is the ability to produce a response that accurately coincides with the arrival of a moving stimulus. For example, being able to hit a moving ball accurately with a baseball bat.)

    A recent study(4) found the location of impact for intercepting a moving ball is the result of the assessing variables such as type of pitch (e.g. speed of ball, trajectory , etc), therefore, the impact location for a particular flight of a pitch cannot be one specific point (e.g. training on a batting tee) in hitting a moving ball. Impact locations in hitting a moving ball do not actually reflect the mental representation of a batter’s movement learned or practiced off a batting tee.

    (1) Fink, P. W., Foo, P. S., & Warren, W. H. (2009). Catching fly balls in virtual reality: A critical test of the outfielder problem. Journal of Vision, 9(13), 14
    2) Katsumata, Hiromu (October 17th 2012). The Examination of Cortical Dynamics for Perceptual-Motor Processes in Visually-Guided Cognitive/Motor Task Performances, Advances in Clinical Neurophysiology, Ihsan M. Ajeena, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/50263
    (3) Burris, Kyle, et. al. (2018) “Vision, sensory and motor testing could predict best batters in baseball: High scorers on computer tests spent more time on base, had more walks, fewer strikeouts.” Duke University Medical Center, ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2018.
    (4) Katsumata, H., Himi, K., Ino, T., Ogawa, K., & Matsumoto, T. (2017). Coordination of hitting movement revealed in baseball tee-batting. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35(24), 2468–2480. doi:10.1080/02640414.2016.1275749