Swing Weight On Back Foot, Transfer, Distribution, And Stance Footwork Hitting Drills For Baseball & Softball Batting

Discover the secret to swing weight on the back foot, weight transfer, distribution, and stance footwork hitting drills for baseball and softball batting.

Baseball Hitting Drills For Youth: DO NOT Be “That Guy”

 

So, this is what I have to deal with on a weekly basis.  I also want to apologize in advance, this is a little bit of a rant.  Before going into the baseball hitting drills for youth, here’s some context, it all started when I posted this image of Buster Posey in his ‘Float’ position on Twitter (CLICK HERE for Twitter thread):

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Buster Posey 'Floating'

Buster Posey photo courtesy: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The caption I put over the Twitter image stated: “Hitting Misconception: ‘Keep the back knee inside the foot’. Buster Posey is ‘floating’ with his knee over ankle…”

This is when my conversation with @13tys started…

@13tys: his knee is inside his foot! No?

@hitperformlab (Me): nope, knee floating slightly off center of ankle.

@13tys: just showed the same pic to my 11yr old and asked him, reply “are you stupid? His knee is inside his ankle”.

(This is when I get the feeling that I was dealing with “that guy”)

@hitperformlab: he’s kind of bias don’t you think? Lol

@13tys: just showed the pic and asked. I usually use my 9 and 11 yr olds to call a spade a spade. They don’t know baseball politics.

@hitperformlab: it’s not the ideal angle, I’ll find another. You believe in keeping the knee inside at all costs?

@13tys: you don’t have to, but the further back it goes, the tougher u make hitting. Already tough enough w/o that much movement!

@hitperformlab: C’mon man! Had to prove to your 10yo I’m not “stupid” lol. Just did simple Google image search.

(Here are the two images of Buster Posey I posted to the baseball hitting drills for youth Twitter thread)...

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Buster Posey 'Floating'

Buster Posey photo courtesy: www.BayAreaSportsGuy.com

AND

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth: Buster Posey 'Floating'

Buster Posey photo courtesy: InWriteField.com

@13tys: still, we are looking at the same thing and seeing different things. To me, that knee is still not on top of the ankle.

(by the way, in the beginning of our Twitter conversation, I said “knee floating slightly off center of ankle”)…

@hitperformlab: let me get my 2 year old to comment on your comment lol

@hitperformlab: Posey is creating torque in his back hip. Also depends on the severity of the leg kick, Posey’s is about medium…hope this helps

@13tys: creating torque?? Seriously? This is y kids are so confused by their “hitting coaches” #keepitsimple

(Then like the “good American citizen” he is, posts a screenshot of the definition of “Torque”)…

@hitperformlab: I’m talking to you, not to kids. Read Dr. Kelly Starrett’s book The Supple Leopard.

@13tys: sorry, My experience and knowledge come from yrs in cages & video w/ the best hitters ever, some come from books on crossfit

@hitperformlab: book that’ll rock you’re isolated hitting world? Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers.

(Then there was radio silence…)

FIRST of all, if spending years in the cages AND analyzing video of the best hitters ever, magically made you know EVERYTHING you need to know about effective hitting, then we wouldn’t have the problem we do today with guys like this, coming up with effective baseball hitting drills for youth hitters.

“That guy” is a soaked sponge, and has reached his ceiling of knowledge when it comes to hitting.

If experience, cage work, and analysis were the only standard of learning the swing, then we’d all have to accept what Alex Rodriguez shared about the secret to his swing during the 2015 World Series FOX Sports broadcast…

How he talked about keeping the barrel above his hands when hitting.  And we ALL know how well that little tip would help our hitters 😛

And SECOND, this “talking down to you” TWEETitude, is a sure sign of an inferior coach, nevertheless, a knucklehead for a human being.

Slightly off topic…

Read this Business Insider article titled, “4 behaviors are the most reliable predictors of divorce”.

Guess which one of the ‘4 horsemen of the apocalypse’ is the worst offender in marriages…

CONTEMPT (aka, the “talking down to you” attitude).

Okay, back on topic…

Look, if we as coaches don’t have a solid foundation in human movement principles, validated by science, then we’re pissing in the wind!  Without this foundation, conversations about hitting would model a Merry-Go-Round.  Many of you have experienced this ridiculous insanity in popular online hitting forums.

Look at this slow motion video of Buster Posey.  Look at the difference of the back knee position (over the ankle, slightly off center) at the 0:03 video mark, versus at the 0:09 video mark during the fall forward…

 

 

Here’s the holdup with hitting coaches, even ones I agree with on a majority of things,

They think that the back knee MUST stay inside the foot at ALL times.  So, they teach ALL their hitters to do this, often putting the hitter’s back knee in an unnatural and awkward position before Forward Momentum.

If you think this knee position is healthy, then CLICK HERE to learn how bad putting the knee into a ‘knee valgus’ position is to our youth athletes from FunctionalMovement.com.

In addition,

These same instructors may also suggest and teach there hitters that when the back knee gets over the ankle, that it’s a BAD thing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The shifting of the knee back over the ankle should have a purpose.  A couple baseball hitting drills for youth concepts:

  1. A timing mechanism that I like to call the ‘Float’, AND
  2. Creating torque, or stability, in the back hip.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #1: Using the ‘Float’

A ‘Float’ is a timing mechanism the hitter uses just before falling forward.  It generally can be observed as a slight weight shift back towards the catcher before falling forward.

With the ‘Float’, the severity of the knee shift will depend on the leg kick.  The higher the leg kick, the more the shifting of the knee over the ankle may have to happen.

For example, Willie Mays didn’t have much of a weight shift (or Float) back, he just fell forward with a slide step:

 

 

However, watch slow motion video of Josh Donaldson, who has a high leg kick, and you’ll see him virtually ‘pause’ on one leg, before his fall forward:

 

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #2: Creating Hip Torque & Stability

Okay, so what is creating torque to stabilize the back hip mean?  Let Dr. Kelly Starrett, Physical Therapist and owner of San Francisco CrossFit, at MobilityWOD.com explain its importance:

 

 

Here’s a baseball hitting drills for youth coaching cue that I use…

Borrowed from Dr. Kelly Starrett, I say to my hitters “screw the back ankle into the foot”.  I also advise them to point the back toe slightly inward towards the pitcher at setup, and to keep it there while screwing the ankle in.  The keyword is slight, not a lot.

Take a look at this video of Jose Bautista fouling a ball off, and watch how he ‘bows’ his back knee in, but at about the 0:06 second mark (when he begins his fall forward), the back knee starts to shift back towards the catcher…his back hip and thigh bone are searching for stability after being put in an unstable internally rotated (knee valgus) position at setup:

 

 

Now, CLICK HERE to watch this video clip of Ted Williams, and keep an eye on the back knee action between the 0:06-0:15 video mark.  Sorry, this YouTuber disabled the embed code so I couldn’t embed the video here.

What did arguably one of the best hitters of all time do with his back knee prior to Forward Momentum.  Boy, didn’t it shift back over the ankle?!

How about this homerun hit by Asdrubal Cabrera (watch the slow motion chest view at the 0:41 second mark)…

 

 

One more video…

Check out Matt Kemp.  As you can see, he starts with his back knee inside his foot, then watch for his back knee action prior to Forward Momentum:

 

 

Now, is this making baseball hitting drills for youth more complicated, like Mr. @13tys said?

Heck no!  It takes about 5 to 10-mins to explain to my 7-year-old hitters, and they begin applying it in their swings.  Easy peasy.

So after looking at all this, here’s the point of my baseball hitting drills for youth rant…

Don’t get caught up drinking the cool-aid of other hitting experts, blowhards, or “That Guy” without questioning what they’re saying.  Remember, we aren’t just observers.  We’re amateur scientists in a way.

I don’t claim to know it all.  And am still learning.  But I know for a fact, I’m on a better road than “That Guy”.

Look, I don’t mind being challenged, but if you don’t back up what you’re saying with human movement principles, that are validated by science, then you’ll lose.  We aren’t debating baseball hitting drills for youth philosophies or theories…we analyze through the lens of validated science.  Physics, Engineering, Bodywork, Biology, Chemistry, and Biomechanics.

I DO NOT care what level you played or coached at.

I DO NOT care if you’ve digested a million hours of slow motion video footage of only the BEST hitters.

I also DO NOT care if you’ve logged more hitting lesson hours than it takes to fly to Mars!!

If you don’t understand the human movement “rules”, then you DO NOT understand high level hitting, or better yet, high level human performance.

I know this may upset some of you out there.  But I don’t care.  The days of being “That Guy” are numbered.  If you aren’t moving with us, then you’ll be left behind.  And that’s the truth.

Best Functional Wrist And Tendon Strengthening Exercises At Home For Pain In Baseball & Softball

Discover the best functional wrist and tendon strengthening exercises you can do at home if you have pain* for baseball and softball players.  Learn the best wrist exercises for advanced grip strength, bat speed, and pitching velocity.

*If you’re having wrist pain, then see a medical professional first before doing any of these exercises.  I am not a medical professional and DO NOT pretend to be one.  This is only my advice after doing the research and connecting the dots.

Wrist Exercises VIDEO: Improve Hitters’ Flexibility & Strength In 2-Weeks

 

 

Wrist Exercises: Wrist Flexibility & Exercises For Hitters

Handstand GymnasticBodies.com. Photo courtesy: GymnasticBodies.com

This wrist exercises post is for Coach David Michael Enciso (DME).  He mentioned having a couple girls that had stiff wrists, and was wondering about stretches.

To those that don’t know, I’ve been doing Gymnastics body-weight strength training through GymnasticBodies.com over the past four months. That link will give you $25 OFF their Fundamentals course.

I don’t get commission on that, I just think what Coach Sommers has put together is excellent training for baseball and softball players!  By the way, Coach Sommers was the former US Olympic men’s Gymnastics coach.  I’ve also recommended his program to quite a few of my hitting students and parents online and off.

I personally finished the Fundamentals 4-week course, and moved onto the Handstand course, which I’ve been working on for the past 2-3 months months.

However, I’d recommend my players completing the Fundamentals course first, then moving onto the Foundation courses, before moving onto Handstand.

In the video above, I show you all the wrist stretches and strengtheners that I do on a daily and bi-weekly basis for my Handstand training.

The wrist stretches alone got rid of a painful pinch on the backside of my right wrist (my throwing hand), that I’ve had for the last 5 years, at the bottom of the push-up position…the pinch was gone in 2-weeks!

Do the THREE stretches EVERYDAY as prescribed in the video,

AND

Do the FOUR exercises 3-sets X 5-repetitions each wrist, 2-3 times per week.

PLEASE keep me updated on any changes you find in your hitters, from these wrist stretches and exercises.

Another training device you should look into is Rotex Motion.  Click Here for an experiment I did on that.

Make sure we’re swinging smarter by moving better 😉

Correct Head Position Swing Drill To See Ball Better When Hitting A Baseball & Softball

Discover this correct head position swing drill that will help see the ball better when hitting a baseball or softball while batting.

Baseball Batting Drills For Youth: Make This Head Position Mistake And Dramatically Decrease Batted Ball Distance (Neck Brace Drill)

 

 

This is Part-2 of a 3-part baseball batting drills for youth video series coming straight out of the Catapult Loading System online video mini-course…

baseball batting drills for youth: The Catapult Loading System

Sick of struggling with getting your hitters to hit the ball hard with more consistency?  This is a simple 7-module online video mini-course that will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, hit the ball consistently over 300-feet in 60 days.  You’ll be able to dramatically increase power without sacrificing swing quality.

CLICK the Link below to…

baseball batting drills for youth

 

In this baseball batting drills for youth video post, I’ll be walking you through the Neck Brace Drill.  We’ll be going over:

  • The One-Joint Rule
  • Head movement that is okay
  • Jace Case Study: BEFORE & AFTER of Neck Brace Drill

 

The One-Joint Rule

Dr. Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD.com, gives a perfect explanation of this in the following video (watch at about the 4:00 minute mark):

 

Baseball Batting Drills for Youth: Head Movement that is Okay

Baseball Batting Drills for Youth: Andrew McCutchen Breaking One-Joint Rule

Andrew McCutchen breaking One-Joint Rule photo courtesy: MLB.com

What’s better, and thanks to Dr. Kelly Starrett’s explanation above, we can look at what head movement IS NOT okay through impact:

  1. Chin to chest,
  2. Head back (like looking at the sky), and
  3. Ear into rear shoulder (for a righty, right ear to right shoulder).

Major League example of #1 is Andrew McCutchen (image to the right).  Major League examples of #2 are Bryce Harper and Derek Jeter.

The only head movement that is okay through impact is a slight head turn.  Generally speaking, the head position we want to model is during the follow through.

 

 

Jace Case Study: BEFORE & AFTER of Neck Brace DrillBaseball Batting Drills for Youth: Jace BEFORE/AFTER Neck Brace Drill

I was able to experiment with the baseball batting drills for youth Neck Brace Drill with Jace, who’s one of my 10-year-old hitters that is 66-pounds.

Tiny compared to his peers.

However, over the last 6 months of hitting with me, and off a traditional batting tee, he now consistently registers 50-54-mph Ball Exit Speed with a non-wood bat.

In other words, Jace has the ability to hit the ball well over 200-feet, depending on the launch angle of the ball.

Now, we’ve been wrestling with his ‘bobblehead’ position for quite some time, and a big THANK YOU for the tip goes out to Coach Todd Bradley, head softball coach at Campbell University, the difference in one 45-minute session using the Neck Brace Drill can be seen in the image to the right.

Just about the same soft tossed pitch height.

Jace is still not perfect yet, but we’re getting there.

I know the baseball batting drills for youth we talked about in this post, will help your hitters and their head positioning up to, at, and passed impact.

Click the following Amazon links to get the same simple foam Youth Neck Brace & Adult Neck Brace that we used with Jace.

Modern MLB Bat Path Level Swing Trainer To Fix Drag: Turning Vs Pushing Barrel Hitting Aids

Discover the modern MLB bat path ‘level swing’ trainer that helps fix bat drag.  Learn difference between turning the barrel versus pushing with these hitting aids for baseball and softball.

Baseball Training Aids: Long Slow Swing Fix?

 

 

It’s featured advertising on MLBNetwork.  Derek Shelton, the Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach, is the spokesperson in the video ad (CLICK HERE to see video).

Go to the SpeedHitter website, and you’ll see endorsements from:

  • CC Sabathia (son uses),
  • Aaron Boone (son uses),
  • Kerry Wood (son uses), and
  • David Segui.

I’ve also seen the Speed Hitter being used – this past summer – in Little League All-Stars game on-deck circles.  Does it work?  In this baseball training aids video blog post, we’ll talk about:

  • Speed Hitter baseball training aids review,
  • Barrel path science, and
  • A better alternative

 

Speed Hitter Baseball Training Aids Review

Two main objectives of Speed Hitter baseball training aids (softball included) allegedly address a hitter’s contact point and barrel path.  A hitter is suppose to swing it and hear the “pop” of the ball where contact is made.  The Speed Hitter is priced between $59.99-79.99 + shipping.  Baseball training aids that are highly endorsed and visible often raise red flags for me.  THREE reasons WHY:

  • Endorsements – A majority of Pro-level athletes simply CANNOT teach what they do (or did)*,
  • Expertise – MLB hitting coaches carry A LOT of high “lose-your-job” risk instructing big money ballplayers, and
  • Marketing – Big money ads, in the proper places, can lend massive credibility to a defective concept that as a result, users tend to overlook.

*This actually has to do with what Neuro Linguistic Programming calls Unconscious Competence.  Players simply perform on ‘auto-pilot’.  On the other hand, Conscious Competence is being able to instruct someone else to exactly model what you’re doing.

Barrel Path Science

Baseball Swing Path

Image from Ted Williams’s The Science Of Hitting. We want the hitter’s barrel path to match the plane of the pitch, not chop down OR put an extreme uppercut on it.

Speed Hitter baseball training aids are flawed for FOUR-reasons:

  1. Point of contact and when the barrel enters the zone are two different things,
  2. Point of contactCLICK HERE for a post I did illustrating point of contact based on pitch depth,
  3. When Barrel Enters Zone – this will depend on pitch depth – the farther the pitch is away from the hitter, the earlier the barrel should enter the zone.  The closer the pitch, the later the barrel should enter the zone, and
  4. Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach and Speed Hitter spokesperson Derek Shelton doesn’t have an efficient swing himself (wraps the bat in the ad).

Addressing #2 above – The Speed Hitter doesn’t seem to be a hitting aid that lends itself to practicing “point of contact”.  It’s more geared for when the barrel enters the zone.

Addressing #4 above – nothing against MLB hitting coaches or any coach on YouTube demonstrating a hitting aid or technique, but there’s always context.  There are “snapper” hitting coaches out there teaching every one of their hitters to force barrel back right away, this is great for middle-away and middle-down approaches but terrible middle-in and middle-up – at least WITHOUT significant mechanical compensation to the latter pitch locations (loss of ball exit speed).  And then their are ‘down swinger’ coaches who teach the exact opposite of the snappers.  Both approaches can work in the right circumstances, but teaching one approach to all hitters is a BIG mistake.

 

A Better Alternative…The Swing Blaster

Baseball Training Aids: Swing Blaster Review

Keenan Wolf, one of my H.S. Frosh hitters, after one 45-minute session using a Swing Blaster demo this past summer. Swings are synced.

FIVE benefits of using Swing Blaster baseball training aids (good for softball as well) are:

  1. Early Barrel Acceleration – focuses on getting the barrel on pitch plane ASAP.  It’s not about being quick to the ball, it’s about being quick to pitch plane.
  2. Lengthens Hitter’s Pitch Plane – Gives hitter the ability to hit pitches harder – and keep them fair – that they may be late on otherwise.
  3. EIGHT levels of difficulty – there are eight little ‘washers’ that increase or decrease the level of difficulty to hear the audible “click”.
  4. Take soft toss – You can use the Swing Blaster to take short range soft toss.  A hitter CANNOT do this with Speed Hitter baseball training aids.  DO NOT hit LIVE batting practice with it unless the hitter has good bat control.
  5. MADE IN USA

How does it work?

The Swing Blaster gives a hitter audible feedback in the form of a “click” when max barrel speed has been reached.  It’s simple…

If the hitter hears the “click” AND contact at the same time, then they’re doing it WRONG.  If they hear a “click” FOLLOWED by contact, then they’re doing it RIGHT.  Whereas Speed Hitter baseball training aids have it backwards.  They want the hitter to hear the “pop” at contact.  To be effective, this isn’t when a hitter should be accelerating the barrel.  The barrel should already be accelerated at impact.  Impact is when a hitter’s arms are lengthening out or adjusting in to increase turning speed or inertial force.

The price?  Get yours today for only $34.99 + shipping on Amazon…I’m not sure if Swing Blaster will be raising the price soon, but for now you’ll be SAVING at least $25 than buying a Speed Hitter.  CLICK the following link to

buy-button2

How To AVOID Mental Hitting Block & STRUGGLING At Plate - Fun Game Like Batting Practice Stations

Discover fun game like batting practice hitting stations to AVOID the dreaded baseball or softball mental block and struggling at the plate.

Discover The “Paradoxical Intention” Secret To Making Adjustments

 

 

In this video, we’ll discuss:

  • Man’s Search For Meaning, by Dr. Victor Fankl and his theory of “Paradoxical Intention”
  • Making “horizontal” hitting adjustments,
  • Making “vertical” hitting adjustments, and
  • Making adjustments to the point of impact.
How To Improve Bat Speed & Increase Power Using Drills Like Lou Gehrig

Learn how to improve bat speed and increase hitting power using baseball or softball drills to look like Lou Gehrig on YouTube.

Here Is A Predictable Swing Method That Helped Lou Gehrig Hit For Both Power & Average…

 

 

Lou Gehrig quote

You coaches (and Lou Gehrig or “vintage swing” fans) are in for a treat.  I wanted to REVISIT a video I published on YouTube on Jun 11, 2013 for SwingSmarter.com, that broke down the swing of Lou Gehrig,

And compared his swing to the Olympic World Record Holder of the Hammer Throw Yuriy Sedykh, from the Soviet Union, who threw 86.74 m (284 ft 634 in) at the 1986 European Athletics Championships in Stuttgart, West Germany on 30 August…according to Wikipedia.

Specifically in the video, I compare the following human movement principles between the two explosive athletes:

I’ve gone into these at length in the linked to HPL posts, so you can click on those to get up to speed.  But, what I wanted to do in this post was add a couple things I’ve stumbled on since doing the Lou Gehrig video in 2013.  I want you to look out for the following things in the ‘no-shirt’ swing section of the above Lou Gehrig video:

  • Lou Gehrig’s top hand finger pressure (bottom three fingers),
  • Watch for Lou Gehrig’s ’rounded upper back’ (I call this the hunched posture),
  • Check out Gehrig’s head position at impact (notice how he’s strictly adhering to the One Joint Rule, unlike Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen)

And lastly, notice how World Record holding Hammer Thrower Yuriy Sedykh uses his head to guide his body just before the throw.

Does the Head Follow the Body or the Other Way Around?

What Yuriy is doing during his throw is VERY similar to how competitive freestyle Motocross bikers get their body to do what they want it to do, while flying through mid-air:

 

 

  • When they do a back-flip, they initiate by rocking their head back…
  • When they do a front flip, they initiate by tucking their chin to their chest…and
  • When they do a twist, they initiate by looking in the direction they want to go.

What are you Seeing in Lou Gehrig’s Swing that Allows him to Hit for both Power and Average?

Increase Your Bat Speed & Power with Online Hitting Lessons Swing Science Program For Baseball

Discover an online hitting lessons swing science program for baseball and softball players.  Learn where to find a remote hitting instruction coach to teach kids how to increase bat speed and power.

Batting Cages May Be Dangerous To Repeatable Power

 

 

Batting Cages May Be Dangerous To Repeatable Power

“Testimonial” from Kyle – Stephen’s dad – the same night (he’s in white, I’m in blue)

I know you what you’re thinking, “Okay, so what’s wrong with hitting at the batting cages?”

We’ll get to that, but before we do, let me set the stage for what I’m about to share with you.  A glimpse into an online hitting lesson I gave to my hitter Stephen at The Feedback Lab.

I was granted permission from Kyle (Stephen’s dad), to share his 12-year-old son’s latest online hitting session with me.  They’re out of New Jersey…

 

What Was To Be Corrected

  • Hiding his hands from the pitcher
  • “Downhill” shoulder angle pre-turn, and
  • Maintaining 90-degree back leg angle during turn and finish.

Stephen 2-Months Later…

In the above video, I mentioned the difference between comparing a swing off the tee versus at the batting cages.  It’s not really an apples to apples comparison, BUT if they can repeat what we’re trying to get them to do off a tee, then the feeling to repeat it is there.  Here’s what his analysis showed:

  • Great downhill shoulder angle,
  • Much better with hiding his hands from the pitcher (could polish a little here), and
  • Much better body angle on his finish.

 

3-Points Worth Noting…

  1. Dad had mentioned to me, in the past 2-months, that they’ve been testing hand, butt, and hamstring tension, which might have also had an effect on Stephen’s outcomes.
  2. Stephen will be working on a better barrel launch angle using variance training mentioned in the above video.  Pay attention to the Bat Angle Experiment I referenced in the video.
  3. I give feedback based on Tony LaRussa’s “Pat & Pop Method”.  First give a “pat” on the back (what they did or are doing well), then reveal the “pop” (what they’ll be working to improve their swing).

Coaches, this is critical!!  Athletes don’t just need to be broken down all the time.  Build them up first, then offer up the constructive criticism.

 

The Danger in Batting Cages

And I’m not talking about Happy Gilmore style…

 

Someone smart once said:

“Practice like you play, so you play like you practice.”

Most coaches have their players do what’s referred to as “massed practice” versus “training ugly” at the batting cages.  For example, if you needed work on hitting off speed and breaking pitches, a massed practice would look like the following scenario…a pitcher throws each hitter:

  • 15 fastballs, then
  • 15 curve-balls, and
  • Lastly 15 change-ups…

But this isn’t what it’s like in the game.  The hitter rarely knows, with 100% certainty, which pitch, speed, and location they’re getting.  So practice MUST reflect this dynamic in training.  And hitting at the batting cages limits the amount of variance we can work into our practice.

I do a few things with my more advanced hitters (mechanically speaking), to mix things up:

We may not practice all these at once.  Coaches, our objective with our hitters is to move them to the verge of “meltdown” with variance.  Then bring them back.  Then rebuild.  The other thing is, during batting practice, the tendency is to take rounds of 10, 20, and 30+ to get a hitter’s timing and rhythm down.  This IS NOT good.  This is marathon training.  Hitting is more like sprint training.  Rounds of 3-6 swings is more like it – with 30+ seconds to rest between rounds.

I hope this helps!

Fixes for Low Half Stride Load Swing Technique Drills in Baseball and Softball

Learn how to fix the lower half stride load swing technique including drills for baseball and softball players.

Alex Gordon Swing Analysis Experiment: Top Out Bat Speed By Striding Closed?

 

Question: Does Striding Front Leg Closed Increase OR Decrease Bat Speed?

I was taught my whole playing career to stride front foot closed.  Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether striding with the front leg closed will have a positive or negative effect on bat speed.

Background Research

Here are a couple posts to further your understanding of spinal engine mechanics, as we move to discover what effect striding with a closed front leg will ultimately have on bat speed…

Also, CLICK HERE to watch this video from ZenoLink’s Chris Welch on stride principles.

Hypothesis

Based primarily on my research and study of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine, I believe landing with an open front leg – like Alex Gordon – will result in increased bat speed and farther batted ball distance.  Landing closed with the front leg – like Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (who popped out to end the 2014 World Series) – will result in an inefficiency to hitting inside and high pitches.  And will allow other compensations to occur such as rolling over, pulling the head, and the front shoulder flying open.

Alex Gordon: Striding Open/Closed Experiment

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app,
  • ATEC Tuffy Batting Tee,
  • Bownet,
  • Rawlings Official NCAA Baseballs,
  • Two yellow dimple baseballs (feedback markers),
  • Flip Video Camera and Tripod, and
  • 33 inch, 30 ounce Pinnacle Bamboo bat.

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers = my bat length, plus two baseballs
  • Distance from plate = end of the bat touching inside corner of plate, and knob of bat touching my mid-thigh
  • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • Forward momentum was eliminated in this experiment, and I hit from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • First 100 baseballs hit I was striding with a CLOSED front leg
  • Last 100 baseballs hit I was striding with an OPEN front leg
  • There was about 15-30 minute break between both Alex Gordon & Salvador Perez Experiments

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Alex Gordon: Top Out Bat Speed By Striding Open?

First 100 balls (striding CLOSED), last 100 balls (striding OPEN)

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Observations from the Zepp Baseball app screen capture above:

  • Striding OPEN added 1-mph of bat speed on average
  • Interestingly, striding CLOSED added 0.024 “Time To Impact” on average

Not much change there…but the devil’s in the details…

Alex Gordon Closed/Open Stride Experiment

Breakdown of Alex Gordon Striding Closed Experiment (swings & bat speed)

  • Striding CLOSED shifted bat speed downstream into the [< 69] to [70-74-mph] ranges
  • Striding OPEN shifted bat speed upstream into the [75-79] to [80+ mph] ranges
  • Striding CLOSED top out bat speed was 81-mph…80-mph (once) and 81-mph (twice)
  • Striding OPEN top out bat speed was 83-mph…80-mph (6-times), 81-mph (3-times), 82-mph (3-times), & 83-mph (once)

 

Notes

Alex Gordon: Top Out Bat Speed By Striding Closed?

Salvador Perez never had a chance striding closed against Madison Bumgarner photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Striding open with the front leg definitely increased top out bat speed (83-mph v. 81-mph).
  • There was a better chance to maintain higher bat speeds with striding open.
  • During the Alex Gordon Experiment, when striding front leg open, my front foot was at a 45-70 degree angle.
  • I also felt that I had an easier time accelerating the barrel down (towards catcher’s glove) when my stride leg was open, which helped keep my bat speed more consistent.  I felt like I had to pull across my body (or chop down) striding with a closed front leg, which made my bat speed more erratic during the first part of the Experiment.
  • I purposely eliminated forward momentum from the Experiment because I wanted to isolate how much striding closed took away from bat speed.  In addition, I wanted to preserve accuracy in execution with the two different mechanical scenarios.

 

The Bottom Line?

Spinal engine mechanics drive all human movement, according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky.  When we do things to hinder efficient spinal engine mechanics, reciprocal inhibition takes over depressing a hitter’s ability to maintain higher bat speeds over longer periods.  In addition, striding with a closed front leg will cause a hitter to be inefficient getting to inside and higher pitches.  A great number of coaches teach hitters to stride with the “front foot closed”.  This is the very reason the following compensations occur that these coaches waste their time trying to correct!!

  • Front shoulder flying open,
  • Head pulling out, and
  • A shorter hand and barrel path to the ball, resulting in the
  • Barrel having limited time on the plane of the pitch, which increases mis-hits and strikeouts.

This is why I think Salvador Perez had a hard time handling Madison Bumgarner.  MadBum kept busting him up and in.  Because Salvador Perez strides closed I believe this stunted his chances of knocking in Alex Gordon from third at the end of the game.

See Ball Better & Improve Your Swing! | Watch Mike Trout's Swing Breakdown

Discover how to see the ball better with batting examples from this Mike Trout swing analysis.  Learn keep eye on the ball drills and head position in and still baseball or softball hitting tips for kids.

Mike Trout Video: Why Consistency Won’t Improve

 

 

Mike Trout: 3 Reasons Why Consistency Won't Improve

Posted to Hitting Performance Lab’s Facebook page…

…This three-part video series will analyze how to optimize vision, tracking, and timing.  This Part-1 video, featuring Mike Trout, will be unwrapping how the best mechanics in the world mean nothing without proper vision.  In this game, we live and die by how consistent we are.

In this post, we’ll go over:

  • Physically impossible to keep eyes on the ball,
  • How much and when head movement is okay, and
  • Building consistency with vision.

CLICK HERE for an interesting academic study on six elite female shot putters.  Results found head movement during rotation can influence the movements of the limbs and trunk.

Physically Impossible to Keep Eyes on the Ball

In a study by A. Terry Bahill, titled “Baseball Players Cannot Keep Their Eyes on the Ball”, his findings say this:

“We have shown that no one could keep his eye continuously on the ball as it flies from the pitcher to the plate.  For our professional athlete, the ball was always more than 2-degrees off his fovea before it came within 5-ft of the plate.  However, when the ball is off your fovea, you can still see with peripheral vision.  However, with peripheral vision, the ball would only appear as a white blur, you would not see details.”

The finding that was most interesting in the study, using University students as a control for the study, was:

“Most of our student subjects tracked the ball with either head movements alone or eye movements alone, but not both…After the ball crossed the plate, the students usually made large eye or head movements, whereas the gaze of the professional athlete was quite steady…The stance of our professional athlete was very repeatable.  At the beginning of the pitch, his head position was the same (within 1-degree) for each of the three experimental pitches we recorded.  When he was looking at the ball in the beginning of the experiment, his eyes were rotated 22-degrees to the left; his head was rotated left 65-degrees (yaw), was bowed down 23-degrees (pitch), and was tilted right 12-degrees (roll).”

The professional hitter in the study was right handed.

What’s interesting with hitters like Mike Trout, is that they have to use a bit of head and eye movement when tracking the incoming pitch.  Not one or the other. However, nobody on earth, EVER, has been proven to keep both eyes on a pitched ball continuously to home plate.

In the study, A. Terry Bahill said, in order to do that, the ball would have to be traveling at around 25-mph, in which case, it would NEVER reach home plate in softball or baseball.

 

How Much and When Head Movement is Okay

Olympic throwers move their heads forward (including Javelin, Discus, and Hammer).  Lacrosse players do too.  And so do Pitchers!

For a hitter like Mike Trout, forward head movement, dropping the “eye-line”,  are okay…until landing.  I say, get head movement out of the way early.  Mike Trout does strikeout quite a bit, which may be attributed to the dropping eye line.

The hitter told to “Sit back”, keeps the head still early, but moves it after the landing position and during the Final Turn.  This is not good for improving consistency.

 

Building Vision Consistency like Mike Trout

How-to improve consistency with vision:

  • Understand the swing is a “snapping towel” (forward first, then back),
  • Keep head in-line with spine,
  • Use the study finding parameters above, to know how much head and eye movement keeps consistency, and
  • Maintain a moderate swing tempo and relax the jaw (not over-swinging).

CLICK HERE for the Josh Hamilton Part-2 Video: Coaches Don’t Tell You This (About Timing)…

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

Discover game like batting practice.  Learn about fun hitting stations to STOP your son or daughter struggling at the plate for baseball and softball.

Train Ugly: Transition To Game Swings In Less Time With Random Practice

 

 

My friend and colleague, Lee Comeaux, Shared this video with me, and I just had to share it with you.  CLICK HERE for a post I did awhile back, showcasing 8 science of successful learning principles that are validated by empirical research.

This video goes into one of the principles mentioned in that post, the art of variance…Or “training ugly” as Trevor Ragan calls it in the video (CLICK HERE for his website).

Below are my bullet point notes from the above video:

  • 1:10 – performance is best because you do things that have higher levels of retention – does practice promote better retention?
  • 2:00 – What is a skill? Just Technique? 1/3 of the equation
  • 2:45 – Read, Plan, Do
  • 6:00 – How to practice this…Block (or Massed) Practice
  • 7:00 – Random Practice
  • 8:00 – Studies showing the benefits of Block versus Random Practice
  • 9:15 – Coach Tom Black explains WHY Block Practice is more attractive to coaches: ego and/or seeing immediate gains with it, answer the WHY – easier for coach to let go of Block Practice…find better ways to track progress (transfer and retention to games test)
  • 11:15 – WHY do we see dramatic gains transferred to competition with random practice? When Block Practice, we’re eliminating Reading and Planning from the motor learning equation. Random is like the game!  “You play volleyball, you don’t drill volleyball”.
  • 14:25 – taking a Growth Mindset into practice…Random Practice is more challenging, will make more mistakes, will be uglier, better for us, prepares us better for game situations

TRAIN UGLY Coaches!!

PLEASE share below how you’ve used this OR will use this with your hitters and players…

THANKS in advance for your responses 😀