Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Watch Albert Pujols talking about how to teach swing drills off hitting tee, place hitting outside pitches to opposite field vs pull, and keeping the hands inside out for baseball, slow-pitch, and fast-pitch softball players.

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics Video Talk

 

 

In this Albert Pujols hitting mechanics talk, some questions Pujols and Harold Reynolds answer:

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols & Harold Reynolds Interview, MLB Network 30 Clubs in 30 Days. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Hitting ball off same spot off tee or vary?
  • Dangers of a purely opposite field approach…
  • When is using ‘hands inside the ball’ okay?
  • Hit top part of the cage of the back?
  • How many swings until you should take a break to reflect?
  • Inside pitch barrel path: is it different than away?
  • Should hitter get “taller” to hit a high pitch?

Make sure you watch the 8-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Albert Pujols interview on grooving his swing, before diving into my notes.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:10 second mark,  tsk, tsk…notice Harold Reynolds isn’t following the 4-foot social distancing rule!! (for those watching this well after the craziness of the Coronavirus has passed – lol).  
  • At the 0:30 second mark, interesting Pujols talks about building a consistent swing, hitting off the tee in one spot.  He references variance training with some hitting coaches moving the ball up and down, in and out.  I do agree with him, but it depends on the end result.  If you’re just introducing a new hitting mechanic, then keep the tee in one spot.  If you’re looking to deeply embed a well worn hitting mechanic, then variance or chaos training is key.
  • At the 0:45 second mark, Albert Pujols talks about setting tee up slightly off center of the plate towards outer part.  He likes to work gap to gap and not force or push the ball to right field.  He mentions if he focuses too much on right field, then he gets under the ball too much.
  • At the 1:30 minute mark, Pujols dispels the myth of “staying inside the ball”.  He says of course you’re inside the ball…you don’t see hitters EVER getting their hands outside the ball.  ‘Hands inside the ball’ can be a great cue for those hitters doing the opposite – casting barrel early.  It’s not a perfect cue, but may work in some cases.  Then to throw gas on the fire, he mentions ‘knob to the ball’.  Real v. Feel.  There’s a reason you keep hearing this kind of stuff from guys like Pujols, A-Rod, and Bonds.  It has to do with top hand dominance and pronation.  We call it the “wrist snap”.
  • At the 2:00 minute mark, Albert Pujols talks about working on the liner, not trying to hit the top part of the cage. He picks a spot in the cage he wants the ball to travel.  External cue.  He wants the ball to come off the bat as high as the tee is set.  Harold brings up that some people are teaching to hit the top of the cage (I used to be one of them!!).  But Albert plays the politician and comments that he doesn’t want to say what those coaches are doing is wrong, but that he wouldn’t teach that.  And right now, I’d agree with him.
  • At the 3:00 minute mark, Harold asked Pujols if there’s a rhythm to working on gapping the ball, and Pujols says he tries to hit 3 or 4 in a row, then take a break to reflect on the feeling.  He tries not to rush when working out.  He tries to take his time.  Process what he just did.  Great advice!
  • At 4:00 minute mark, Harold asks Albert about his inside approach.  How to hit the inside pitch.  Watch how Pujols demos his barrel path to get to it … barrel above hands?  This Adam Eaton video reveals the same thing.  Interesting huh?  We call this knocking the “belly button” catcher’s glove off.  He says he’s just reacting to the inside pitch.  Typically, he’s looking out over the plate.  He doesn’t try to focus on one area of the plate.  He looks middle, then adjusts in or out from there.  Definitely works for Albert.  And Mike Schmidt also talked about it in his book the “Mike Schmidt Study”. Only downside is when pitchers start using EV tunnels Perry Husband talks about.  It’s easier to cover middle in/out/up/down (50% of the plate), based on pitcher’s pattern.  Obviously, this is more effective the better the pitcher is.
  • At 5:00 minute mark, in the above Albert Pujols hitting mechanics video, Pujols talks about keeping his shoulders “square” or keep front shoulder pointing at “400-foot” mark in straight center.  Not to close shoulders off.  Albert never really did ‘show numbers’ much, but he does a lot of other things right.
  • At 6:00 minute mark, Pujols talks about not getting “taller” to get to the pitch up in the zone, but to stay sink down and use hands to get to it.  Again demonstrates keeping barrel above hands.  We talk about getting shorter and staying shorter.  And middle in, middle up pitches are addressed by knocking off belly button catcher’s glove or telling hitter to keep barrel above hands.  Real v. Feel.  Now, this isn’t actually what’s going to happen.  The result of this hitting cue is a tighter, shorter, more compact barrel path.  Much needed closer the ball is to the hitter or the eyes.  He talks about using his legs to get to pitches down in the zone.
Brandon Moss

Discover how to hit slow pitching, improve batting timing and rhythm mechanism, and STOP swinging early.  For beginner baseball and softball players.  Learn simple drills and tips for better more on-time hitting…

Brandon Moss Swing Analysis REVEALS Slow Pitcher Timing Secret

 

Brandon Moss REVEALS Slow Pitcher Timing Secret

Brandon Moss photo courtesy: Zimbio.com

This Brandon Moss analysis comes from a conversation I had with Coach Justin Karr and his 12-U Bakersfield Sliders Black team.  Thanks Coach Karr, I hope this helps your troops!

I want to compare what Brandon Moss does differently hitting a slower pitcher, like knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays, to a hard throwing “King” Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.  We’re going to:

  • Make the complicated, uncomplicated,
  • Learn how-to adjust to slower pitching according to Brandon Moss, and
  • Discuss what a hitter can do to adjust timing.

 

Make the Complicated, Uncomplicated

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Brandon Moss photo courtesy: MLB.com

First of all, executing flawless hitting mechanics mean nothing if timing is off.  I love how Dr. Kelly Starrett describes learning complicated movements (or strategies) in his book Becoming A Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance:

 “When it comes to learning complicated movements efficiently, the key is to make them uncomplicated.  We do this by breaking them down into precise, manageable steps.  Then we emphatically encourage like-your-life-depends-on-it focus in performing each step.  This is the path to a tight learning curve.  It’s the foundation required for optimal performance.”

We focus on one aspect at a time.  In respect to the calibration of timing, we have to forget swing mechanics and focus solely on adjusting the timing.  Making in-game adjustments, timing is THE most important priority.  We teach three possible swing adjustments with our seven hitting strategies.  We refer to these as the three dimensional hitting adjustments:

  1. Timing – is hitter out front or behind?
  2. Vertical (Launch Angle) – did hitter hit popup or ground-ball (or line drive?), and
  3. Horizontal (Barrel Path) – did hitter get jammed or hit ball off the end?

Which one of these after an in-game swing, if tweaked, fixes the other two?

How-To Adjust to Slower Pitching According to Brandon Moss

In the video, I compare and analyze two 2013 home-run swings by the Oakland A’s first baseman Brandon Moss:

  1. 77 mph knuckle-ball from R.A. Dickey Moss (left-handed) hit over the center field fence (418 feet*), and
  2. 93 mph fastball from “King” Felix Hernandez Moss hit over the right-center field fence (387 feet*)

(*Home-run distances according to the ESPN Stats & Information Group)

CLICK HERE to revisit a video blog article I did, featuring Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout, where I went over:

  • When does a swing start?
  • Leg kick or slide step? and
  • How to practice timing?

For an average velocity pitcher, each hitter MUST figure out at what point in the pitcher’s delivery that they start their swing.  Then experiment starting the swing at a later point with a slower pitcher.  This will be slightly different for every hitter as the Josh Hamilton article shows.

The main point is, the hitter has to make a a conscience effort to change their timing.  They can’t just use the same timing for every pitcher.  Hitting is a game of inches…being one inch ahead or behind can mean barreling the ball or not.

What’s the best way to practice this? The 2-plate drill shared in this article, and home run derby??  Using the 2-plate drill and throwing seated from 25-30 feet away (under or over hand front toss).  The thrower will be literally lobbing the ball to the hitter as they take two swings and switching plates.  Six swings per round.  The slower the throw, the better.  In our system, this is hitting strategy number 4.

Also, if the whole team’s offensive numbers are suffering against a slower pitcher, then the adjustment DOES NOT necessarily have to be a mechanical one.

One more interesting point…notice how far Brandon Moss cranked the Dickey knuckle-ball?  418 feet!!  “King” Felix?  387 feet…a pitcher’s velocity doesn’t dramatically contribute to batted ball distance.  It’s bat speed that does.  According to a forum at eFastball.com, for every 1 mph of added pitching velocity, 1 foot of batted ball distance is the outcome.  BUT for every 1 mph of increased bat speed, 4 feet of batted ball distance is the result!!  Don’t let low velocity pitchers slow your bat speed down hitters!

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Josh Bell hitting analysis on how to improve attack angle and what is the ideal home run launch angle for baseball and softball players?  What’s the difference?  Discover how to build a faster, flatter, and more powerful bat path to fix choppy and uppercut swings.

Line Drive Hacking With Josh Bell Swing Breakdown

 

Josh Bell Swing Breakdown

Photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this Josh Bell swing breakdown, we cover:

  • Size,
  • Interesting metrics
  • DeRo analysis
  • 2018 RCF Homer: 5/31 83-mph breaking ball/SL, down/away VERSUS 2019 LCF Homer: 7/3 96-mph FB, mid/up
  • Some interesting things in swing analysis: Float, Fall, Barrel Path – CB down/away v. FB mid/up (and late), how well he matches plane of pitch (tube)

CLICK HERE to view the size and metrics data on FanGraphs.

In looking at the Josh Bell image, it’s interesting to note how Josh Bell’s barrel path line intersects the plane of the pitch line.  Hitters that match the plane of the pitch line better will inevitably have higher batting averages and less strikeouts.

We teach our hitters to match the “tube”.  Imagine the pitch being thrown through a tube, and the hitter’s goal should be to hit the ball back through the tube.  Based on pitch height.  If the pitch tube is set at four-feet off the ground, then the ball must come off the bat four-feet off the ground.  If tube is set at one-inch off the ground, then ball comes off bat one-inch off ground.

If the hitter doesn’t hit it through the “tube”, which the best in the world miss the tube 80% of the time (league averages: 20% line drive rate, 38% fly-ball rate, and 43% ground-ball rate), then they make adjustments using the principle of paradoxical intention.

Consider the following…

Baseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

Check out this Barry Bonds swing training to get more power video for baseball and softball hitters.  Learn how to use swing plane barrel turn versus hands tipping* drill.

Baseball Hitting Tips Video: #1 Long Ball Secret

 

…we’re going over howBaseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

  • To use the body – not the hands – to get “on-plane” with the pitch,
  • Barry Bonds makes hitting the long ball look easy, and
  • Most young hitters get the #1 long ball secret wrong (and how to correct it).

A few weeks ago I worked with a 12-U Little League team from Bakersfield California called the Sliders.  They recently came to Fresno for a tournament and DOMINATED.

One of the moms Sheri – her son is Alex in the above video – emailed me a testimonial:

“The boys won first place! Ben, Paul and Dylan hit their first home runs ever! They went undefeated for entire tourney! We’re going to round table pizza to treat all the boys!”

The three young men who hit their first home-runs had worked with me for the first time, a week before the tournament.  Now, this wasn’t all me, but wasn’t a coincidence either.  Before I worked with them, all three boys naturally had a little forward momentum working for them.  And, Sliders Coach Justin Karr has been working the baseball hitting tips system with his team for over a year now.

In the baseball hitting tips video, Barry Bonds gets on plane with the pitch very well by lowering his body.  He does this by creating an “L” with his back leg to and through contact.  Whereas the moment Alex’s front heel hits the ground, he ‘stands up’ causing ball flight to be low.  Alex would have to get “on-plane” with his hands, which is very inconsistent.

Snapping Towel (Lean) Drill Setup:

  • NEED: light exercise band with handles, AND decent sized carabiner,
  • Loop exercise band handles to carabiner, then to chain link fence, OR
  • Parent/Coach holds exercise band handles, and finally
  • Have hitter loop band under armpits.

In the baseball hitting tips video above, I mentioned breaking the swing apart into two steps:

  1. To the Fight Position (landing), and
  2. The Final Turn.

You’ll see Olympic Hammer Throwers lower their backside as well.  This enables the release of the hammer at an optimal forty-five degree angle.  CLICK HERE to watch a World Record holding Hammer Thrower lower his backside while rotating.

*On the hands tip drill…  As my dad always told me growing up to not jump for the bells and whistles of a new car because it’s another thing to go broke and you have to fix it.  Just the bare essentials.  Consider this AthleticsNation.com post titled: “Josh Donaldson: Changes in approach and mechanics”, where they compare his 2013 to 2014 seasons.  The conclusion as to why his 2014 numbers were down versus 2013 was because of the barrel tip (over-emphasized in 2014).

Sure the hands barrel tip can get momentum going, but I have yet to be convinced that the risk is worth the reward.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Do ONLY strong baseball, fast-pitch, and slow-pitch softball players hit farther home runs?  And how far?  Can an “average” person hit home runs?  See how 14u small slugger Hudson White beat BIG slugger Blaze Jordan in the Power Showcase home run derby.  Learn Sadaharu Oh lessons on how to hit the first homer.

Sadaharu Oh: 5’10” 173-lbs, 868 Dingers Over 22-Years – How?

 

 

Sadaharu Oh: 5'10" 173-lbs, 868 Dingers Over 22-Years - How?

Sadaharu Oh photo courtesy: rnishi.wordpress.com

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the “Barry Bonds” of Japanese baseball, Sadaharu Oh:

  • Is 5-foot, 173-pounds, and
  • Hit 868 homers in 22 years (that’s almost 40/season!!)…

How did he do this?

Sadaharu Oh Analysis: Your Mission, if you Choose to Accept it…

Watch the above hitting footage, and identify – what you think – are the two most critical things contributing to his consistent power at the plate over a 22-year span.

Of course, Sadaharu Oh probably wouldn’t have put up those kind of numbers against today’s Major League pitchers.  BUT still…his body type…that many homers…for that long???!

Also, did you know he has a hitting book out?  It’s called “A Zen Way Of Baseball”.

I had an interesting conversation about Oh with one of my colleagues about if he were playing today, and was recruited over to the MLB, that coaches/instructors would probably make him a slap happy version of Ichiro Suzuki.

This actually makes A LOT of sense when you look at conventional American baseball/softball wisdom to make a “small left handed hitter” into a situational ground-ball inducing machine.  There NEVER would have been a “Sadaharu Oh”!

I agree there are roles to play in a lineup, and of course there’s a time and place for situational hitting, but if we taught ALL our hitters effective hitting mechanics, then what kind of metrics could a small slugger put up in-between?

Could we have a Dustin Pedroia-type who hits a 162-game average 15 dingers and 44 doubles?!  In addition, to be a bunting, hit-and-run, move ’em over extraordinaire!  Why can’t EVERY hitter experience repeatable power…?

A couple things to keep in mind when analyzing and commenting:

  • Use human movement science as a rule of thumb (un-weighting, spinal engine mechanics, springy fascia, etc.),
  • Be open minded and positive in the comments (no “spitting” on someone’s shoes PLEASE),
  • Clarify by giving a “time stamp” in the video to see what you may be talking about…

You can post your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

ANSWERED: How to hit a home-run?  Learn how to teach beginning baseball and softball kids to increase power by hitting the ball better, farther, and harder guaranteed – even for smaller hitters!

14-Year-Old Blaze Jordan Hits TWO 500-Foot Moonshots, But…Did You Catch  Small Slugger That Beat Him In Home Run Derby?

 

Some of you saw this video on the socials of this baseball hitting training Blaze Jordan video where he hit a couple 500-foot monster shots out of the Texas Rangers Arlington Stadium during Brian Domenico’s 2016 14u/15u home-run derby National Power Showcase:

Well, did you hear about the small-bopper who gave Blaze Jordan a run for his money?

By the way, Blaze Jordan stands in at 6-Foot tall, and 217-Pounds.  And the preceding Blaze Jordan profile link may be a year or two old!

I received this email from Marty, Hudson White’s father, earlier this week:

“Hello, i just wanted you to know that i have followed you for years and teach your principles to my 14u son who just came in second place at the 15u power showcase in Arlington Texas ahead of the world champion Blaze Jordan . he also broke the world record for most consecutive home-runs in a row at 11. he was a year younger and 50-100lbs smaller than all the other contestants who were made up of the best hitters in the country. It was the most amazing thing that anyone had ever seen . i wanted to share the video with you and hopefully you can help make it go viral. all the hype is about Blaze Jordan for hitting a 503 ft home run, but for a smaller younger kid to go out and break the world record for most consecutive and beat blaze in the final round to come in 2nd place is a major feat. my son is a lead off hitter. so all hit hits were 395ft line drives. this is your student. this is the result of your teachings. i am very grateful!”

Hitting Training Blaze Jordan: Got beat by Hudson "The Hawk" White

You can see Hudson “The Hawk” White is exemplifying hitting training in the Catapult Loading System: ‘showing numbers’, ‘down shoulder angle’, & ‘hiding hands’. Photo courtesy: Hudson’s father Marty.

Here are baseball hitting training summary notes about Hudson “The Hawk” White’s 2016 home-run derby performance via his dad:

  • Came In 2nd place.
  • Beat Blaze Jordan.
  • Broke world record with 11 consecutive home runs in a row .
  • High school fences set up.
  • Left park 6 times.
  • Hit 390-ft average.
  • Just turned 14.
  • 5-foot, 7-inches, 130-pounds.
  • Normally a lead off 1,2 hole on nationally ranked teams.
  • Didn’t think he could hang with all the 6’2″ 180 lb 15 year old 4-hole hitters there.

Speaking of baseball hitting training, can Hudson do this in a game?  Here’s a 380-390 foot triple:

What’s even more amazing?!

I didn’t work with Hudson White…his dad did…using Hitting Performance Lab’s proprietary baseball hitting training.

Why is this HUGE?!

Marty is just one of the hundreds of coaches getting the same results, if not better, than I am with my own hitters – using the same hitting training process!!

So, it’s not just me, or that maybe I’m “Tony Robbins” special.

Also, if you believe this was done with a “doctored”, “hot”, or “bouncy” bat,

Here’s a comment from Kevin Freeman on Facebook:

“I know this kid personally. if all put the work in that he does it wouldn’t be so many whiny baby parents saying his bat is altered. I’ve personally watched him hit several balls over 400 ft with an old hickory Wood bat. All excuse making parents need to let their kid follow this kids work ethic and maybe they will get the recognition he does. if he hitting a -5 that is what he is supposed to be hitting at that age.”

Also, the following MLB.com video is President of the Power Showcase, Brian Domenico, talking about the contest, and around the 5:00 video mark, he talks about the bats and balls used:

Please do Hudson, Marty, and HPL a favor and PLEASE SHARE THIS baseball hitting training post on your favorite social media networks…Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

This stuff works folks.  We’re producing hitters that are consistently tripling their body-weight in batted ball distance.

— Joey drops the mic —

UPDATE from June 26, 2018 email from dad…

“…This year he was a freshman on varsity at Byron Nelson High School. He was starting 2nd and 3 hole. He led all north Texas in hits most of the season and finished 7th overall with 45.  He was hitting the ball hard somewhere!  Hudson was named District 5-6A Unanimous Newcomer Of The Year and All – Area Newcomer of the year finishing 7th in area with 45 hits, 25 RBI, 21 runs , 16 SB.

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/high-schools/2018/06/21/sportsdayhs-2018-area-baseball-teams-postseason-awards

He also just got back from the Wilson Midwest wood bat championship where he was named MVP for hitting two home runs. He went 9-18 and only 1 single. The rest were doubles, triples and dingers!  Here’s his mvp interview:

He has been on a tear hitting 6 home runs in the last 3 weeks with either wood or an old rusty metal bbcor bat.  Just an FYI update to all the haters and naysayers😂 its the Indian not the arrow.  I appreciate your help and instruction. The proof is in the pudding.”

 

UPDATE #2 from May 4, 2019 email from dad…

“He finished regular season number 8 in texas in hits, number 6 in extra base hits , and number 1 in doubles. Thats 4a,5a,6a. He’s number 2 in extra base hits in 6a and number 1 in doubles. And thats in arguably one of the top 5 toughest districts in the nation with 2 state champions from last year. The 6a champ and last years 5a champ moved up to 6a. Those coaches of the 5a state team go on an on about what a huge difference in competition in 6a where every team has 4 dudes.”

 

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Dustin Pedroia: #1 Way To STOP Stepping Out…

 

Dustin Pedroia: How-To Fix Stepping In The Bucket

Dustin Pedroia showing numbers but stepping in the bucket. Photo courtesy: ESPN.Go.com

Discover how to drills to stop a batter from stepping out of the box and into the bucket for baseball and softball players.  What is stepping out of the box mean and should a hitter step when batting?

I took Mixed Martial Arts classes before it was considered MMA back in Junior High and High School.  We practiced A LOT of grappling and lock & holds.  One thing my Sensei (teacher) used to say when grabbing someone on the wrist, the common opponent response is to pull back, or fight against the resistance

This week’s Dustin Pedroia video post will look at this fighting against the resistance concept.  I’ll show you how fix stepping in the bucket using a little known human movement science technique called Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT).

In this video blog post, we’re going to discuss:

  • Problems with stepping in the bucket,
  • Stepping out as a legit hitting strategy?  And,
  • The #1 fix to stepping out.

Dr. Mark Cheng, kettlebell and corrective movement training expert, calls RNT “reverse psychology for the body”.  He adds that “RNT operates on the premise that the body will do what it needs to maintain balance – homeostasis”.  Essentially, we’re going to be training what Dr. Mark Cheng refers to as “feeding the mistake”

Problems with Stepping in the Bucket

Stepping in the bucket is most prevalent at the Little League and youth softball levels.  It’s when a hitter strides or steps away from home plate, which creates a big hole in their swing on the outside part of the plate.  Contrarily, it can also be used as a legitimate strategy (crowding the plate) at the higher levels – we’ll get into that in a bit.  At the youth levels, it can be caused by a few things:

  1. Fear of the incoming ball,
  2. Laying barrel flat, or parallel to the ground, at stride landing…
  3. Problems getting around on an inside pitch, and probably the root cause…
  4. Not setting up the Fight Position (landing) correctly, and
  5. Takes away outer plate coverage.

What about using…

 

Stepping Out as a Legit Hitting Strategy?

Dustin Pedroia using Step in the Bucket strategy

Look at Dustin Pedroia’s back foot compared to his front. Use batter’s box inside chalk line as a point of reference. Photo courtesy: BattersBox.ca

Let me be clear, I’m not condoning the use of stepping in the bucket.  In all youth hitters, it needs to be fixed.  BUT, I’m going to show you an example of a player who uses it to his advantage as he crowds the plate…

2nd-baseman Dustin Pedroia from the Boston Red Sox.  According to Baseball-Reference.com he’s 5 foot, 8 inches tall.  165-pounds, soaking wet.  In a 162-game average season, Dustin Pedroia hits 15 homers and 45 doubles per season.  His Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP – .307) and On-Base Plus Slugging% (OPS – .810) are above average.

Imagine what Dustin Pedroia could do if he was 6-foot, 200-pounds!

His home ballpark is Fenway, where it’s 315 feet down the left-field line.  Very advantageous to a right handed hitter.  How does stepping in the bucket work for him?

  1. He’s almost crowding the plate (look at back foot in photo to right),
  2. Because of #1, stepping out helps clear his pelvis before landing,
  3. Shows his numbers a long time, and
  4. As a result of #3, he can hit the ball to the opposite field like Derek Jeter.

So, let’s find out…

 

The #1 Fix for Stepping Out

As mentioned earlier, we’re going to infuse the Stepping in the Bucket Drill with RNT.  Or what Dr. Mark Chang refers to as “feeding the mistake“.  Here’s how you set up the Dustin Pedroia Stepping in the Bucket Drill:

  • You’ll need a workout band of light resistance from your local Sporting Goods store,
  • You’ll make a slip knot for the ankle,
  • The other end a partner can hold or can be secured using a wall anchor in the garage like in the video,
  • You want the band pulling the foot in the direction of stepping out (“feeding the mistake”),
  • At landing we want alignment with the heels.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Matt Holliday Part-3: How to Optimize Vision, Tracking, and Timing

 

Good hitting approach teaching plate discipline for baseball and softball players in 2022.  Aggressive High School hitting mindset by zero or one strike count, and how to pull the ball OR go to the opposite field.

…In this Matt Holliday video we’re mourning the loss of plate discipline in today’s youth game.  World renowned motivational Matt Holliday Video: The Death Of Plate Disciplinespeaker Tony Robbins once said,

“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.”

In his 11-year career, 6-time All-Star Matt Holliday has amassed an On-Base Percentage of .387 (according to Baseball-Reference.com).  This is impressive, considering the league average is .340.

Plate discipline is critical, and in this video, we’ll discover How-To:

  • Fix 5 common mistakes at practice,
  • Develop a solid plate discipline strategy, and
  • Pitch recognition is the Holy grail to plate discipline.

 

How-To Fix 5 Common Mistakes at Practice

We have to make batting practice as “game-like” as we can.  The FIVE worst mistakes are:

  1. Rapid-fire batting practice – take your time tossing the next pitch coaches.  You don’t have to wait 15-secs to throw the next ball but at least 5-7 seconds would be better than a pitch every 2-3 seconds is typically what I see.
  2. Adults standing up and throwing to young kids from 25-35 feet – this makes for an unrealistic plane of the pitch.  I typically throw seated on a bucket from about 20-30 feet.  This gives a move realistic version of the pitch plane.
  3. Marathon hitting rounds – hitting rounds of 10, 20, and 50 before taking a break.  In games, hitters are lucky to get three swings in one at-bat.  Instead of training like a marathoner, we must train like a sprinter or power lifter.  Less reps with higher intensity.
  4. NO home plate for pitchers to throw over – this seems like an obvious one.  No frame of reference (the plate) leads to having ZERO clue of where the pitch is in relation to the strike-zone.  Plus hitters adapt anyway, so we see hitters shuffling their feet when pitch is thrown inside or away.  And…
  5. NO plate discipline strategy – the commonly taught strategy out there is to sit right smack in the middle of timing.  Look away, adjust in.  Look in, adjust away.  Look middle-middle and adjust in or away.  Look to hit it straight up the middle.  Don’t let a juicy pitch go to waste.  The more a hitter levels up, the less likely these strategies work.  If this is news to you, then you MUST get educated in Effective Velocity from my good friend Perry Husband.

How-To Develop a Plate Discipline Strategy

Guys like Matt Holliday ABSOLUTELY have a strategy at the plate.  Coach Mike Batesole at Fresno State showed me this in 2003.  His 2008 Bulldogs won the College World Series.  For younger hitters, use this strategy in practice ONLY.  It doesn’t work as well in games until about Middle or High School, when pitchers get better with their accuracy and their own hitter game plans.  Check it out:

  • Hitters hunt either middle in or middle down.  Middle up or middle down.  Barrel path plays a bid role in this, check out this article for more on that.
  • Whatever location hitters is hunting, we can add a layer of difficulty by having them hunt either a fastball or curve-ball.  Randomly.  Not called out so hitter knows beforehand what’s coming.  So they hunt a specific pitch in a specific location, and ignore (or take) anything else.
  • A great way for beginners, if we were doing a middle in versus middle away fastball ONLY round, is for coach to throw balls inner half and outer have randomly, while hitter calls out “inside” or “outside” without swinging – only taking.  We can do the same for middle up versus middle down AND fastball versus curve-ball.  Do a ton of reps until they get good at it.  This is SUPER good for 10u hitters on down.  For both baseball and softball – curve-balls aside.
  • This is more for zero or one strike scenarios.  We call them “get-it, get-it!” rounds…if you get your pitch, then you GET IT!

 

Pitch Recognition is the Holy Grail to Plate Discipline

I was never taught pitch recognition.  I was taught to pick up spin.  And if you’re ONLY doing that, then you’re too late.  Here are some of our posts on pitch recognition:

Any questions about this Part-3 Matt Holliday: The Death Of Plate Discipline article?  Please post below.  In case you missed Part-1 and 2 to the Vision, Tracking, and Timing video series, then CLICK HERE for Part-1, and CLICK HERE for Part-2.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

You Too Can STOP Head Movement With The Snapping Towel Drill

 

 

Discover correct head position, head movement, see the ball better, and how to keep your eye on the ball for baseball and softball hitters in 2022.  Learn how to keep head still with this batting swing drill.

Look,

I’m not going to get into the specifics of head movement with the written part of this video post…

You can go to the following links for that:

But I WILL get into an outstanding drill that helps my hitters get rid of late head movement…

I get asked quite a bit on the ‘Socials’ about posting the “Snapping Towel Drill”.

I learned this drill from Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, which he calls the Lean Drill.

Well, here you go!

This is one of my favorite go-to drills with most of my hitters.

It helps with lunging, which I define as when a hitter continues moving forward during the turn…NOT at stride landing.

It also helps a hitter cover more of the pitch plane with the barrel, which is why I promote it in the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course.

In the above video, we’ll discuss:

  • How the swing is a snapping towel,
  • And define Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT),
  • How to BEWARE of the “C” Shape, and
  • How to setup the Snapping Towel Drill…

The following video I did awhile back, which analyzes Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz’s swings to show the ‘snapping towel’ effect…

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix stepping in the bucket using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).

The following image is Chase B., one of my hitters, that is working on fixing his Reverse ‘C’ shape (by the way, the same fault with a lefty will resemble a normal ‘C’)
chaseb-reversec-shape

It’s not too bad, but I’ve seen worse.  Some of the things to look out for at and post impact:

  • Head floating out over “no man’s land”,
  • Over arching of the low back, and
  • The hitter complaining of low back ‘pinching’ or pain in the Up Dog Yoga Pose

The latter can be because of tight hamstrings and hip flexors, in addition to glutes and low abdominals (psoas) not firing off.  However, please consult a Physical Therapist if there’s discomfort in the Up-Dog Pose.

What is this hitting position suppose to look like?

Check out Sierra Romero (one of my fav. fastpitch hitter’s to model)…

Sierra Romero Post Impact

Sierra Romero in a nice ‘stacked’ position, NO reverse ‘C’ here. Photo courtesy: MichiganDaily.com

Notice the stacking of her head over rib cage, and rib cage over pelvis.  In a perfect world, we’d like to see a slight slant back over the catcher with these three pieces of the body.

Think about three bricks stacked on top of each other, but being stacked slightly off center towards the left hand side (for a righty), and reverse for a lefty.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Squash The Bug Ineffective?

 

This post discusses youth hitting fundamentals of why squishing the bug is bad for baseball and softball players in 2022?  Learn basic how to hit the ball in a certain direction beginner swing tips experiment.  This information is great for 10-year old’s and younger.

Question: Do “Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Depress Bat Speed?

 

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: TylerD

Here are the two test swings from my intern for the summer, redshirt college Frosh, Tyler Doerner…

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if the baseball swing mechanics “squishing/squashing the bug”, during the turn, increases or decreases bat speed.  The term “squishing the bug” means rotating the back foot, on the ground, during the turn.  Like you’re squishing a bug.

This can be a very sore subject, and hotly debated with a passion, in the Church of Baseball.  Surprisingly, it’s still widely taught throughout the lower levels.  Although a few images off the internet of effective swingers like Cano, Bautista, McCutchen, etc. will reveal “squishing the bug” isn’t what the best are doing.

So we wanted to test it…

My intern for the summer, redshirt college freshman Tyler Doerner did this experiment.  This post is for you Joe (you know who you are ;-)…

Background Research

One of the main objectives of whether to skip the foot, or keep it on the ground, has to do with transferring linear momentum, better known as un-weighting or forward momentum.  Check out these four HPL posts for a baseball swing mechanics background on this:

  1. Troy Tulowitzki Zepp Swing Experiment: Stride Killing Bat Speed?
  2. Ryan Braun: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #1
  3. Baseball Hitting Video: Gain Distance the Easy Way PART-1
  4. Perfect Swing Hacking with Forward Momentum (feat. Mike Trout)

Now, for you academics, CLICK HERE to watch a short 2-minute PBS video on Circus Physics and the Conservation of Linear Momentum.

So, after reading/watching the above videos and posts, we should be at a common understanding of Forward Momentum.

The next objective of “squishing the bug” versus “skipping the back foot” during the turn, boils down to allowing the body to transfer energy effectively.  This has to do with springy fascia in the body…

In Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, he talks about a cotton candy like springy material that the bones and muscles float it, and what gives muscles their shape called fascia.

Specifically in the book, he talks about the Front & Back Functional Lines.  CLICK HERE for a post I did on this, featuring Ted Williams and Matt Kemp.

In the following video, Thomas Myers explains this idea of Tensegrity, or Tension-Integrity.  There are compression and tension forces acting on the body at all times.  Within the body these two opposing forces are always searching for balance…

For a hitter, if the body moves forward, but the back foot and leg stays behind, then these forces don’t get optimally transferred from body to barrel to ball.  In other words, the backside gets “left behind”.

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I think “squishing the bug” baseball swing mechanics will have a depressing effect on bat and hand speed because it doesn’t allow for full transfer of momentum and release of elastic energy in the springy fascia.

 

“Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Forward momentum was taken out of this baseball swing mechanics experiment by hitting from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • Back two “baseball markers” were set at about 3 baseballs apart
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Say “squish the bug” was letter ‘A’, and “skipping back foot’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Squish the Bug Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

There were significant changes in Average Bat & Hand Speed, Time to Impact, and surprisingly, the hitter’s Attack Angle in this baseball swing mechanics experiment…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • +8-mph difference in average Impact Bat Speed, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,
  • +3-mph difference in average Hand Speed Max, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,,
  • -0.019 difference in average Time To Impact, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”, and
  • +4-degree difference in average Attack Angle, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”.

 

Notes

  • I think the “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics experiment results were overwhelmingly clear.
  • Tyler did not technically keep his back foot posted to the ground during the “squish the bug” tests, so there still was an element of un-weighting going on with his backside.
  • In which case, measuring Ball Exit Speed (or how fast the ball came off the bat) may have netted interesting data to consider, compared to Impact Bat Speed.  However, with the results with the other readings of Avg. Hand Speed, Time To Impact, and Attack Angle, I think we can put the “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics myth to bed 😀
  • The data and results suggests that when a hitter “leaves behind their backside”, there’s a slowing down of forward momentum, and the body naturally decelerates because the springy fascia is forced to stretch, but not release.
  • Keep in mind what I call the Goldilocks Syndrome.  The back foot can skip too far (porridge too hot), and it can also not skip at all (porridge too cold).  We want the back foot to skip just right.

The Bottom Line?

In this “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics experiment, “Skipping the Back Foot” showed a notable difference in average Bat & Hand Speed, Time To Impact, and the hitters Attack Angle.  I want to encourage you to tinker and test this for yourself.  The objective of these swing experiments is to put modern hitting theory to the test, literally.  We NEED to test based on data, not feelings.  Share these results with friends.