Baseball Training: 3 Easy Steps To More Barrel Time On Pitch Plane (Dylan's Case Study)
I've heard during baseball training a thousand times, “Be short to the ball!” If I put a nickel away every time I heard that, then I'd have my 3 old son's first year at Stanford saved up. A barrel on pitch plane longer means:
- Higher BABIP (or Batting Average on Balls In Play), AND
- Cutting down on strikeouts.
In this baseball training video, we're going to lengthen barrel time on pitch plane by tweaking these THREE things:
- Importance of landing gear (setting the stage),
- When does the barrel accelerate? (enter pitch plane early), AND
- Timing of Power-V (stay on pitch plane)…
Difference in pitch plane between baseball and fastpitch softball? Yep! Pitch plane is an imaginary line from the pitcher's release point to the catcher's glove. In baseball, the pitcher's release point is raised 10 inches (by regulation). In fast-pitch, a pitcher's release point is at about the pitcher's hip, while standing on flat ground. So there's not as distinct a downward pitch plane in fast-pitch softball, as there is in baseball.
Importance of Landing Gear (setting the stage)
Foot work is pretty high on my action item list in sitting down with a new hitter. Initial baseball training boils down to getting on the plane of the pitch by bending the knees:
- Fight Position – at landing front knee should be bent and stacked over the ankle.
- Final Turn – front leg straightens while back leg bends to about 90-105 degrees.
Consider something Homer Kelly said about this in his book The Golfing Machine:
“KNEE ACTION – Knee Action is classified on the basis of (1) combinations of bent and straight conditions and (2) the Reference Points selected at which these combinations occur. The combination and the Reference Points selected will determine the slanting of the Hips during the Pivot. The slant is up in the direction of a straightened Knee. The slant of the Hips affects the degree of the Hip Turn. Actually, the primary function of Knee Action – as with Waist Bend – is to maintain a motionless Head during the Stroke.”
When Does the Barrel Accelerate? (enter pitch plane early)
“Be short to the ball!” is one of those cues that gets misinterpreted. Most baseball training pro instructors, players, and coaches preach being short to the ball. But what they should be saying is be quick to the pitch plane with the barrel. Because of the following natural factors…
- Gravitational Forces,
- Conservation of Angular Momentum,
- Centripetal Forces (center-seeking) AND Centrifugal Forces (center-fleeing)…
…A barrel CANNOT efficiently accelerate, being pushed by the hands to a moving ball. Watch/read these other Hitting Performance Lab posts for WHY:
- Youth Baseball ALERT: Hitting Fix For Bat Drag, and
- Does Chris Davis Hit Backwards? Common Mistake #4.
Timing of Power-V (stay on pitch plane)
The last baseball training piece to boosting BABIP and reduce strikeouts is to keep the barrel on pitch plane. “Power-V” is another misinterpreted coaching cue. Hitters are sometimes told to be at extension with both arms at impact. This is false. The Power-V should be achieved 3-9 inches passed impact, depending on pitch location and speed. This ensures maximum inertial force transferred from body to barrel to ball.
The bottom line?
The #1 baseball training MISTAKE to increasing BABIP and cutting down on strikeouts is to “be short to the ball”. What you want the hitter to do is:
- Set plane early by landing with a bent front knee,
- Maintain plane during Final Turn by straightening front knee and bending back one,
- Be quick with barrel to pitch plane, and
- Stay on plane by getting to Power-V passed impact.