The Anatomy Of A Game Winning Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

To be honest with you…

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

My excuse…?

Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

Justin Turner walk off homerun photo courtesy: DodgerBlue.com

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

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

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

But I digress…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s he IS NOT Doing

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

So let’s see…

 

What he IS Doing

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

 

The Catapult Loading System Kindle eBook Giveaway

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

How To Use Knowledge To Help Hitters Reach Their Full Potential

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

Jake C.: Swinging Down

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

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

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

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

That was actually ME in the above video!

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

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

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

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

We’ll discuss:

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

 

‘That’s What he was Taught’…

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

“Good morning,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Journey that Lead Me Away from Conventional Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Bottom Line…

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

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

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

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

My recommendation is this:

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

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

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

Cody Bellinger Swing Dissection: How To Get “What’s Real” Out Of “What’s Feel” 

Thome on Bellinger – MLB Tonight

“His hands are absolutely electric.” – Jim Thome on Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Cody Bellinger

Posted by MLB Network on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I have a treat for you (and it involves the swing of hot hitting rookie sensation Cody Bellinger)…

…an analysis of an analysis if you will! lol

I’ve been licking my chops over the past week, to share the above video that multiple reader-friends asked my opinion on.

This was a perfect opportunity to discuss the “real” versus “feel” debate that confuses many new coaches.

Cody Bellinger Swing Analysis: Jim Thome

Look how well Cody Bellinger uses Knee Action to consistently “get under” the ball. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

And here are interesting Jim Thome talking points from the above video (watch this first, don’t jump ahead to the video below):

  • “Hit through the middle…not hook the ball”.  Not letting top hand get out in front at impact…wanting to keep “bat flat” or flush at and through impact (about 1-min & 3:00 mark)
  • Want wrists to come through impact towards the pitcher, Harold Reynolds using terminology “stay inside the baseball”, Thome saying “stay through the baseball”…Thome makes comment that this game will tell you what to work on next (about 2:00 min mark)
  • About Cody Bellinger’s swing: “Hands are absolutely electric”, back leg is straight (during stance), knob points down to back foot, back foot has a little bit of turn in it…allows hips to get through? Everything stays straight (he mentions “level” later in the video) to the baseball with shoulders and pelvis, hands are above the baseball (about 3:30 mark)
  • “King of the Mountain” Drill…down to the baseball means level to the baseball, barrel flat and level with the baseball, hit middle to a little bit below. Hit middle of the ball, not bottom or top. Hands above the baseball.  (about 4:50 mark)
  • Load slower and control my breathing…”diving steep”, not falling forward committing too much weight forward.  Good drill for controlling forward momentum (about 6:50 mark)
  • Straight back leg, turning the back toe slightly forward toward the pitcher.  Creates torque in the back hip. (about 8:15 mark)

I was just going to do a post and ask for your thoughts on this Cody Bellinger swing analysis, but some of the talking points fired me up, so I couldn’t help myself with the following analysis of the Jim Thome analysis… 😉

Yes, I know, the video is a bit long, but there are MANY gold nuggets in there I think Jim Thome touched on, EVERY coach can learn and share with their hitters.

Here’s a list of my talking points (in this order)…

 

Addressing Jim Thome Comments of Cody Bellinger’s Swing

  • “Hands electric”,
  • Back Leg Straight,
  • Knob points down at stride landing,
  • Back foot turned slightly in towards pitcher (Supple Leopard book by Dr. Kelly Starrett), and
  • Shoulders/Pelvis should be straight or level.

And,

Jim Thome General Swing Comments

  • Hit through middle – “flat” or flush with impact,
  • Game tells you what to work on next (Golf Flow book by Dr. Gio Valiante)
  • Load slower, control breathing (CLICK HERE for this Jose Bautista video that discusses “load slow and early”,
  • “Diving deep” cue,
  • Swing down, and
  • Barrel above the hands.

Please share any comments, questions, or criticisms below… 😀

Zepp Swing Experiment Attempting To Put Value On Role Of Pelvis In Swing

Question: How Much Does Pelvis Add to Bat Speed at Impact?

According to InnerBody.com, the pelvis is a sturdy ring of bones that protects the delicate organs of the abdomino-pelvic cavity while anchoring the powerful muscles of the hip, thigh, and abdomen. Several bones unite to form the pelvis, including the sacrum, coccyx (tail bone), and the left and right coxal (hip) bones. Photo courtesy: OrthoInfo.aaos.org

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to employ the Scientific Method to analyze how much turning the pelvis (some refer to this as the hips) adds to Bat Speed at Impact.  The ‘Front Facing Swings’ are an attempt to isolate out the role of the pelvis in the swing, so we can analyze how much the pelvis adds to swing performance.

Just a heads up, the “pelvis” and “hips” are not the same thing.  The hips are a small part of the pelvis.  However, most coaches refer to “hips” when instructing the swing, when most likely they mean “pelvis”.

 

Background Research

For those coaches with a Growth Mindset that want to find out more about the science of locomotion.  I’d recommend reading the following technical books:

If working through the weeds isn’t for you, then you can click the following HPL posts that synthesize the information contained in the previously mentioned books:

I’ve done two swing experiments revealing the role of the shoulders in the swing that tested the value of ‘Showing Numbers’ versus ‘NOT’.  These showed an average increase to Bat Speed at Impact – Showing Numbers – of between 5 to 6-mph.  In addition, one of the experiments showed an average increase to Ball Exit Speed of over 9-mph ‘Showing Numbers’! That’s between 38 to 48-feet of ADDED batted ball distance by ‘Showing Numbers’:

This Zepp swing experiment is attempting to put value on the role of the pelvis in the swing.

 

HypothesisThe Science of Hitting by Ted Williams

Ted Williams, in his book The Science Of Hitting, said the ‘hips lead the way’.  This observation is irrefutable when watching slow motion video of elite hitters.  A majority of coaches teach primarily a ‘hips only’ strategy, which I disagree with.  I feel ‘firing the hips’ is over-taught and over-valued, while the role of the shoulders is under-taught and under valued.  The objective of this experiment is to see what benefit the pelvis (or hips) add to swing performance.

I predict ‘Regular Swings’ will have a substantial increase in Bat Speed at Impact than the ‘Front Facing Swings’.

 

Performance Benefit of Pelvis Swing Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length…I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent.  One was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
  • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Front Facing Swing’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Regular Swing’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • The objective of ‘Front Facing Swings’ was to start the ‘belt buckle’ pointing at the pitcher, and to minimize pelvic movement.
  • Experiment Day-1 on 6/19 we completed 75 total swings (25 ‘Front Facing’ & 50 ‘Regular’).  Experiment Day-2 on 6/26 we completed 125 swings (75 ‘Front Facing’ & 50 ‘Regular’).
  • We had to break the 200 total swings into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later, because of time constraints.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

‘Front Facing Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

Front Facing Swing Averages

‘Front Facing Swing’ AVERAGES for the following metrics: 77-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 30-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.177-secs Time To Impact, -24.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 3* Attack Angle.

‘Regular Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

‘Regular Swing’ AVERAGES for the following metrics: 81.5-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 33-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.130-secs Time To Impact, -28.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 0* Attack Angle.

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

  • 4.5-mph INCREASE to Bat Speed at Impact in ‘Regular Swings’,
  • 3-mph INCREASE to Hand Speed Max in ‘Regular Swings’,
  • 0.047 DECREASE to Time To Impact in ‘Regular Swings’,
  • -4-degree DECREASE to Bat Vertical Angle at Impact in ‘Regular Swings’, and
  • -3-degree DECREASE to Attack Angle in ‘Regular Swings’.

 

Notes

  • The increase in Bat Speed at Impact and Hand Speed Max confirmed my hypothesis, and didn’t surprise me since the first piece of The Spinal Engine to interact with Gravitational Forces is the pelvis.
  • It’s also interesting to note, that you can see from the side-by-side video of the swing, that I wasn’t able to keep the “belt buckle” ‘front facing’ as much as I would have liked to on ‘Front Facing Swings’, so possibly the pelvis could have added a bit more.  I was feeling inside right knee tightness when forcing pelvis to stay facing forward.
  • The DECREASE in Time To Impact with ‘Regular Swings’ could have been due to the increased step and/or unfamiliarity with the movement, while doing ‘Front Facing Swings’.
  • In past swing experiments testing ‘Down Shoulders’ and ‘Showing Numbers’ I increased my Attack Angle – in the positive.  I think the 3-degree increase in positive Attack Angle for ‘Front Facing Swings’ was due to better execution of those elements.
  • We were testing Ball Exit Speed in the beginning but had equipment malfunction (batteries went dead).  I was too many swings in when the equipment was fixed, so we threw BES out in this experiment.  I’d love to see BES measured in a future review of this swing experiment.
  • One last thought, because my pelvis inwardly turned toward the catcher – drastically – on ‘Front Facing Swings’, we saw quite a drop-off in production.  Does this give evidence that an inward turn before the swing may be inferior to keeping the pelvis in neutral (or belt bucket facing plate)?

Little Known Way To Optimize Bat & Ball Exit Speeds By Rotating “Under Load” (not what you think)

In today’s video, you’ll learn how to fix your flat feet

…(insert record scratch sound effect)…

“Wait a cotton pickin’ minute, so you’re showing me a video on how to correct ‘flat feet’?!  How is this suppose to help my hitters?”

…Someone somewhere might be saying 😉

The above video will be a game changer for the progress of your hitters.  It may even improve bat and ball exit speeds over time.  It may even fix some of the hitting faults you’re having a challenge correcting right now.  The content in the above video will improve both the rotational effectiveness and efficiency of your hitters.

Strength & Conditioning Coach Naudi Aguilar understands and applies Thomas Myers’s springy fascia principles in Anatomy Trains, and that’s WHY I follow him.  I highly recommend you CLICK HERE and “Subscribe” to his YouTube channel FunctionalPatterns and look into the courses on his website.  He already has  183,942 YouTube subscribers!

Oscar Pistorious Blade Runner

Oscar Pistorious (the Blade Runner) won 3 Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympics. Photo courtesy: DailyMail.co.uk

He’s a locomotion expert, and by the way – he talks really fast!  Here are a couple notes I took while watching the above video:

  1. Naudi talks about how the body doesn’t need lower leg to sprint at the highest level. Don’t believe me, CLICK HERE to watch this video of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious who won 3 Gold Medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (about 0:45 minute mark).
  2. Relationship between pecs, lats, and glutes – anterior and posterior oblique slings, highly neglected part of training and carries a bigger influence on efficient movement (about 1:45 minute mark).
  3. Leg and knee should land as close to neutral as possible when running or walking with effective rotation.  If deviation occurs, then most likely there’s a deficiency in either the anterior and/or posterior oblique slings (about 3:05 mark).
  4. The idea of rotating “under load”. Using feedback mechanism – the resistance band – to “feed the mistake”.  Click to get WODFitters Pull Up Assist Bands on Amazon. (about the 4:45 mark).
  5. Practice functional movement patterns, walking, running, or hitting while using the feedback bands (about 8:30 mark).

 

In Application…

About point #1 above, as most of you know, I’ve been promoting a spine driven swing for the past 4+ years.  If you read Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine and Thomas Myers’s Anatomy Trains, then you’ll discover that the legs aren’t necessary for locomotion, they’re an enhancement.  CLICK HERE for a post on this titled, “The Swing Does Not Start From The Ground And Move Up?”

About points #2 & #3 above, some experts call this the “Serape Effect”, “Power Slings”, or Thomas Myers labels these a combination of Spiral, Functional, and Lateral fascia lines.  Hitters, both young men and women, will have a deficiency here. Since a majority of hitters DO NOT take the same amount of swings and throws from the opposite side, there will be an imbalance created that MUST be addressed.  Diversifying in other sports does help, but most likely, there MUST be correction.

About point #4 above, Naudi Aguilar uses a band that’s much longer than the one I use at home, so you may not need to wind it around the mid-section as much as he does in the above video.  For me (I’m a right handed hitter/thrower), to correct dysfunction in rotational locomotion, I wrap my band over my left shoulder, then around my middle back, and then loop the end around my left leg.  You’d do the reverse to enhance rotation for a lefty.  I put this on at least 5 days per week, and wear it for about an hour while doing my morning routine.  I’ve found the tightness in my right foot, Achilles, and inside part of my right knee almost vanished within 3-4 weeks of doing this.

Also, CLICK HERE to learn where I talk a little more about “feeding the mistake” using Reactive Neuromuscular Training, or RNT to correct ‘stepping in the bucket’.

About point #5 above, Naudi mentions rotating “under load”.  Coaches, I’d advise having hitters experiment using the feedback bands while hitting, and recommend they wear it at home too, as a recovery tool.

These bands are a great way to counter-balance the imbalanced movements baseball and softball inherently promote.  If your hitters move better, they’re perform better.  Swinging smarter by moving better.

Where A Higher Batting Average Can Be Cultivated AND How To Get It (An Over-The-Shoulder Look)…

Here’s Part-3 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…Over Shoulder Look: Hank Aaron Wrist Snap

I get questions every week on how I’d run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

In case you missed the background information of Part-1,

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We’ve had about half a dozen session together in total.  And what I like about Zack is he asks a lot of really good questions during our sessions.

And before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t like some of my other videos.
  • We’re at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I’m asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter’s swing, it’s about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

Swing and coaching suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD…again!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish:

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

Part-3 lands you towards the end of #4 above.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Training something new should feel goofy, that’s normal…if they feel no change in movement at the beginning stages of motor skill development, then they’re repeating the same old thing (about 0:45 mark)
  • The arch and hollow (hunched) positions in Gymnastics.  “Hunch” can have a negative connotation, but reality says it’s a VERY SAFE position for a twisting spine to start in. CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that looked at the benefits of a “Hunched” spine. (about 1:55 mark)
  • Playing around with wrist snap variance using the target ankle resistance bands.  It’s NOT a roll over, it’s like a “waggle” that golfers use pre-swing.  Great defender against off speed and breaking pitches, AND increase BA by controlling the barrel.  Keep main objective in mind: hit ball as hard and far as you can.  (about 3:45 mark)
  • Working the Wrist Snap Variance Drill on the open field hitting targets. Hank Aaron was really good at this.  Watch Hank Aaron video below and watch his wrist action at impact… (about 6:15 mark)
  • The Frog Tape bat…barrel awareness.  Focusing on hitting a certain part of the barrel AND hitting it in a specific direction or target. (about 11:20 mark)
  • Discussing how switching bats between rounds forces a hitter to focus on adjusting their timing. Heavier/top heavy bats have to start sooner…lighter/balanced bats can start later.  (about 15:30 mark)
  • Zack made the observation that Finger Pressure makes the Wrist Snap Variance Drill easier to feel.  (about 17:30 mark)

 

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don’t make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Chunking certain movement together, so they don’t seem like separate pieces,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

Dramatically Improve HOW Your Hitters Learn By Listening In On A Local Lesson of Mine

Here’s what I have for you…

The above video is Part-1 of a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine.

The objective of this video series is to share with coaches – literally – an “over-the-shoulder” look at how I do a local lesson.  More on this in a moment…

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We’ve had about half a dozen session together in total.

Before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t like some of my other videos.
  • We’re at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Now, what’s in this Part-1 video?

Let me expand on the video’s objective and how it can benefit coaches

I get questions every week on how I’d run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I’m asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter’s swing, it’s about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

With that being said, swing suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.  Also, coaching suggestions are welcomed…but again, be nice.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish (I’ve cut some parts out of this video for the sake of brevity):

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Talking about how to pick the right bat size (1-3:30 min mark),
  • Showing him Miguel Cabrera’s landing position top hand and elbow positioning on my phone after video analysis of Zack’s swing (about 7-min mark),
  • Working on Zack’s top hand Finger Pressure (about 8-min mark),
  • Switching bats – over-loading with heavier end loaded bat with goofy PRX knob (about 13-min mark), and
  • Teasing the Part-2 video where we talk about lowering Zack’s hands to not get above armpit line to landing – and the benefits of (about 15:30-min mark).

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don’t make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

Your Typical Hitting Coach Doesn’t Want You To Watch This Sierra Romero & Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

 

Sierra Romero v. Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

Comparative Fight Positions of both Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge. Dang, they look good! Photo courtesy: YouTuber: Sports Gaming & MLB.com

Let me be up front with you in this post…

Some hitting coaches still think the baseball and softball swing are drastically different.

I disagree…Big League.

Human movement is human movement.  Sure there are undeniable anatomical differences in body type between males and females, and differences in reaction time from sport to sport…

But there’s virtually zero difference in explosive human movement when the swing objective is hit the ball as hard as you can, as far as you can…consistently.

In this video analysis, I wanted to compare the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge.  Don’t worry if you don’t know one or the other…you will by the end of this post.

Actually, you know what, if you don’t know either of these hitters, then SHAME ON YOU!!! 😛 lol

Kidding aside, and in my opinion, more baseball players can learn A LOT by watching Sierra Romero swing the bat than any Big Leaguer.  It’s a bold thing to say, but it’s true.

In comparing Sierra Romero to Aaron Judge, we’ll compare the following components of an effective swing:

 

Who is Sierra Romero?

Besides being my favorite swing model for Fast-Pitch Softball hitters, and according to the USSSA Pride website:

  • 5-foot, 5-inches in height.
  • Sierra finished her rookie professional Fast-Pitch Softball season batting .339 in 109 at-bats with 18 runs scored, 37 hits, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI and a .397 OBP.
  • First player in NCAA softball history (at Uni of Michigan) to record 300 runs, 300 hits and 300 RBI in her career.
  • Owns NCAA record in career runs (300) and grand slams (11). Ranks fourth all-time in career RBI (305) and slugging percentage (.882) and eighth in home runs (82) and walks (225).
  • Joined the USA Junior Women’s National Team (2012), ISF Junior Women’s World Championship Silver Medalist (2012).

 

Who is Aaron Judge?

Besides this guy being a friggin’ BEAST of a human being!?  Here are some major talking points, according to Wikipedia.org and FanGraphs.com:

  • 6-foot, 7-inches tall, and 282-pounds (imagine the parents that had to feed this guy!!) lol
  • Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball).
  • Played at my Alma-mater, Fresno State, from 2010 and got drafted by the Yankees 32nd overall by the Yankees in 2013.
  • As of April 2017 Exit Velocity metrics, Judge clocked game batted balls of at least 115-mph SIX TIMES!!  Joey Gallo was second with two.
  • Did I mention this guy is a BEAST?!

This video from MLB.com titled, “Aaron Judge: Burden of Proof” says it all:

 

The Bottom Line…?

In comparing the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge, there are many BIG WIN mechanical similarities.  They both hit for power and precision.  The softball swing isn’t any different than its baseball counterpart.  Power and precision don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Size doesn’t matter, however if you’re a beast like Aaron Judge the capability of hitting the ball farther with consistently higher Ball Exit Speeds is greater.  What is clear however, is if you move better, then you perform better.

In the day and age of advanced technology and access to specific experts on human movement and Physics, there’s no room for coaches who resist getting educated.  If you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

How a Dad Turned Around His Struggling 16-year-old Fast-Pitch Softball Daughter’s Swing in 1-Day?

Kelli M BEFORE & AFTER Swings

1-day difference between swings, yes I know one is a game swing and one is off the tee, one is a back view and the other is a chest view, but the changes are still dramatic…

I was blown away by an email I recently received from the dad of Kelli, a struggling 16-year-old fast-pitch softball hitter…

And by the way, the following email was unsolicited, much like Marty White’s testimonial in this post about his son, 14-yo Hudson White, who participated in Brian Domenico’s 2016 National Power Showcase hitting 11 consecutive dingers out of the Texas Rangers ballpark in Arlington, averaging 398-feet, at only 5-foot 7-inches, 130-pounds.

I feel the following story of Kelli’s struggle holds true for quite a few baseball and softball hitters out there, and I wanted to share it.  It breaks my heart to hear the BEFORE stories.  But without the bitter baby, the sweet ain’t so sweet!

Please pay special attention to how Mike introduces new hitting content to his daughter.  Sometimes this can be a slippery slope with parents and their daughters and/or sons.

DISCLAIMER: results aren’t typical. Hitters getting “it” or “not” depends on a few things: 1) Player engages in consistent deep practice, 2) Coach successfully connects player to message (the WHY), 3) Material presented in a way to set player up for success not overwhelm, and 4) Coach taps into player’s primary learning style to name a few of the biggies.  

Enter Mike’s email…

“Joey:  I saw your book “Catapult Loading System” on Kindle and figured I’d take a chance on it because I have always liked to read different philosophies on hitting.  I’ve been coaching my daughter and her teams in fast-pitch softball for over 8 years starting with Rec through Club ball here in AZ.

Lately, to my disappointment my daughter has taken a break from club ball for the last 6 months but has just started playing again on her High School  JV team.  She is a power hitter but has been struggling with weak grounders and pop ups.

After I read your book I asked her to work with me for 10 minutes a night hitting into the net off a T. Catapult Loading System(She’s 16 and this was all could get out of her, so I took what I could get.)

I noticed when I took some videos of her during games that she was stepping into the bucket on her stride and was leading her hands with the back elbow, which I know is a no, no and creates bat drag.

Those two things combined were causing her to dip the bat off plane and not hit the ball solid, causing the pop ups and grounders.   She was basically trying to “lead with the hips and start her swing from the ground up” like I had been teaching her for years.

After reading your book, I didn’t want to overwhelm her or totally change her swing so I just focused on the bottom three fingers of the top hand tightening in the swing and showing the numbers by loading the shoulders as you explain in the book.

I also told her to shorten her stance a bit so she would focus on loading the shoulders (showing the numbers and hide the hands) rather than taking a big stride and stepping into the bucket.

I wish I could send you the videos of the before and after of her swing after one 10 minute session.  I’m not kidding when I say that it was almost an “instant”  change for the better. 

What I noticed by having her tighten her bottom three fingers on the top hand, is it forced her to keep her back elbow in the slot and her hands to stay in front of the back elbow.  This immediately corrected her bat head to stay on plane in the zone longer with no casting or weak bat angle.

I also noticed that by having her load with the shoulders rather than relying on her hips with a big stride, she didn’t step into the bucket or fly open with her hips.

These simple little tweaks helped to correct the things I’ve been working with her for years but to no effect.  I couldn’t believe the difference from such a small simple adjustment.

I’ve told some of my softball friends and fellow coaches about it and they just look at me and chuckle like I’m making up some kind of tall tale.  I’ve even shown them the before and after video and they still seem skeptical.

But here’s the bottom line…

The day after I worked with my daughter for all of 10 to 15 minutes, literally hitting about 35 or 40 balls off the T, against one of the best teams in our division, she got up with two runners on, with two strikes and launched a bomb for a three run HR.  She went 2 for 2 that day. 

That night we spent another 10 minutes working the same drills and the next day, she did the same thing on her first at bat hitting another bomb.  She went 3 for 3 that game. 

Now look, I’m not a scientist nor am I into hockus pockus but I  have to admit I’m a true believer and just had to tell you about our instant success by using some of the small tweaks you talk about.  I plan to keep using these ideas and I’m going to re-read your book again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Thanks for the info and know you have another success story here in Arizona.” – Mike Monaghan

After I asked for Mike and Kelli’s permission to publish her story and for the BEFORE and AFTER videos to do analysis on, I received this follow up from dad…

“I apologize that these two videos are from a back vs front view but the differences can still be seen.  The before video is a game swing with her uniform on and are only a day apart.  If you can run them in slow motion, you’ll notice a couple things that made the world of difference.
In the before:
  • Wider stance (in my opinion, too wide)
  • More lateral movement because she doesn’t load at the shoulders (show her numbers)
  • Steps in the bucket as her hips fly open
  • Back elbow is leading the hands
  • Bat angle is well below the ball plane as she starts her swing
  • Result….pop up to pitcher
After video:
  • All we worked on was tight bottom three fingers on top hand, loading at the shoulders (showing the numbers) and a slightly narrower stance.  Results:
  • Back elbow is behind the hands and she has a much more solid impact on the ball
  • Bat head stays on plane with ball longer allowing a line drive impact on ball (not too much bottom half or top half on the ball)
  • She doesn’t fly open with her hips and her body stays in alignment longer (notice where her foot lands on the second video…..right on the line in the cement on the floor.)  I think the shoulder load (and I know she could probably show even more of the numbers if we keep working on it) prevents her or at least minimizes her from flying open.  You probably have a video link to some sport’s scientist that can explain how the shoulders and spine work together and keep the hips in check….Lol!
Bottom line results….2 HR’s in two games….much more solid impact on other hits.
Stepping in the bucket has been a huge issue we have tried to correct for years with little to no success and although I know we need to keep working a couple minutes a night to turn these tweaks into habit, I still can’t believe how quickly she made a change.  It might also explain why I get so many skeptical looks and opinions when I talk about your book to other coaches and show them the results after a one day difference.  If I hadn’t witnessed this with my own eyes, I’d probably be skeptical too.
Her instant success has also done a few things I never thought possible. She actually likes working with me in the garage hitting into the net at night because it is no more than a 10 minute session and she can still enjoy being a teenager.  She actually will listen to my instruction and corrections and wants me to video her so she can see that she’s doing it correctly.  When she was little, we use to go to the park and hit 100 balls off a machine or soft toss but those days of daddy/daughter time are limited so a 10 minute session is something she is OK with. Its a win/win for both of us.”

Thank YOU Mike I appreciate your support.  Great approach in getting that young lady of yours “hooked” again.  It sounded like a tall order, but you pulled it off nicely Coach.  I’m proud of both of you!

Also Mike, here are my next step swing suggestions:

  1. CLICK HERE for a video on how to fix stepping in the bucket using resistance bands,
  2. Finish up with the rest of the concepts in the Catapult Loading System book, then…
  3. CLICK HERE for the Float Variance Drill, and
  4. CLICK HERE for a definitive guide to forward momentum.

For those of you who may have missed Coach Mike’s effective approach with his teenage daughter, here are a couple key points:

  • Mike set his daughter up for success by telling her to only commit 10-mins per day to this new information (I tell my hitters to spend 5-mins/day, at least 4-days/week in deep practice),
  • He had the humility to admit (to his daughter I assume) that his teachings may have been misplaced in the past (this is part of a Growth Mindset by the way),
  • Didn’t want to overwhelm her, so Mike started with one thing first, “Finger Pressure”, then when she got that, he moved onto “Showing Numbers”, and lastly
  • Mike has a “results don’t lie” story to tell the naysayers, whether they heed his advice only time will tell…but the truth is undeniable.

This works for softball players folks…not just baseball.  If you aren’t growing as a coach, then you’re dying.  Dead things get thrown in the trash.  Cultivate a Growth Mindset coaches or else you’ll be short changing your players, and your significance as an effective coach.

The times are a changin’…

 

UPDATE on Kelli…

Joey:  You had asked me to keep you up to date on how Kelli had progressed after I worked the Catapult Loading System with her.  I’m proud to give you her final stats after 17 games.  You can note that we worked the system after game 7, so her results were really proven in the last 10 games.  Up until we worked the system, she had only one HR and most of her hits were weak ground balls in the gaps and bloopers over the infield.  Although she had decent numbers before working the system as I had told you in previous emails, her hitting really came alive and her hits were much more powerful.  She had very few if any extra base hits in the first 7 games and the triples and doubles really took off in the last 10 games.  Although she was playing JV, we are in the 6A division playing some of the largest and most competitive schools in the state of AZ and she lead the team in almost every category or was in the top three out of 19 girls on the team.

  • Games played: 17
  • Batting Average: .652
  • Plate Appearances: 48
  • At Bats: 46
  • Runs scored: 22
  • Hits: 30
  • RBI: 26
  • Doubles: 9
  • Triples: 2
  • HR: 4
  • BB: 2
  • K: 1
  • OBP: .667
  • SLG: 1.195
  • OPS: 1.863

David Weck & the WeckMethod are Turning Rotational Power Training on its Head

 

David Weck: WeckMethod RMT Club

You asked for it!

I had quite a few of my readers ask me about the WeckMethod of training by David Weck.  Btw, David is the inventor of the Bosu Ball, for those that train athletes for a living.  And the readers who kept bringing up his training referred to his new product the RMT Club (CLICK HERE to get it on Amazon), which you’ll learn more about in the above interview.

If you’ve never heard about the WeckMethod of training, and want to know what sets it apart, please CLICK HERE to view the following 35-min video.

If you’re short on time, then here’s a brief introduction to the WeckMethod of training from David Weck:

“What I do is more fundamental foundational work than specific hitting instruction.  My focus is improving systemic strength and power concentrating on Tensional Balance and Rotational Power – as well as non-dominant side training to provide a stronger foundation for sport specific skill.”

I feel like he’s onto something that most trainers ARE NOT. And it’s because he understands the foundation of locomotion.  He has a fantastic understanding of the human movement “rules”.

In my research, I fell into the following David Weck Carpool Tunnel fix video that helped get rid of the pinching in my right wrist, at the bottom of a push-up position, in about a week (I haven’t been good lately with my gymnastics wrist stretches 🙁:

Another great article I ran into in my research – and posted to social media – was an interview that Chris Holder did at BreakingMuscle.com with David Weck titled, “The Key To Speed Is In Your Spine”  There are great nuggets in there along with a few training videos.  It’s definitely worth your time.

The main video above is a Skype interview I did with David Weck that’s about 45-minutes.  A lot of great information in there that translates to hitters and HOW TO train power.  What follows are some of those talking points…

The Show Notes

  • How would you explain to a complete stranger what it is that you do? (1-min, 22-seconds)
  • DW explains Tensional Balance – relationship between suspension and transmission throughout your body, requires perfect alignment of skeleton, muscles, and connective tissue (1-min, 48-secs)
  •  When tensional balance & rotational power are dialed in, you can express more speed, control, power, etc. with LESS wear and tear on the body (3-mins, 10-secs)
  • Where did DW’s passionate curiosity into this realm of training come from? (4-mins, 20-secs)
  • DW discovered slow motion analysis while playing D3 college football – you cannot understand human movement with that slow frame by frame motion analysis, the eye in the sky does not lie…clock doesn’t lie…measuring tape doesn’t lie (6-mins, 0-secs)
  • Unmatched degree of intensity to enhancing human locomotion because of Bosu Ball success…was able to devote entire focus to seeking and finding answers. (7-mins, 23-secs)
  • Deep appreciate that locomotion is the key, developing straight ahead speed, is the key to developing the greatest rotational power (9-mins, 0-secs)
  • Human movement industry is about to be flipped on its head because of this breakthrough understand of “core” strength…the “Bracing Core” (weight room and picking up heavy objects) versus the “Coiling Core” (engaging in lateral movement – side bending and head over foot) (9-mins, 40-secs)
  • Real versus Feel coaching, “My athletes are doing something that I’m not coaching them to do”, high level athletes have an innate sense of speed and power, but coaches are trying to coach it out of them, elite athletes (like Olympic Gold Medal winning sprinter Michael Johnson) saying to do the exact opposite of what they’re doing on film!  Experts are teaching on a faulty foundation (11-mins, 40-secs)
  • DW is meeting with Marlon Byrd on getting specific with the WeckMethod exercises (14-mins, 7-secs)
  • Quick movement experiment…stand up right now and going through a throwing motion WITHOUT any side bending…how did that feel? Without side bend you’ll destroy your spine. You can train side bend. Locomotion is your foundation. (17-mins, 50-secs)
  • DW responds to the reader comment, “Is it logical to say that average kids can perform at a tier-1 level?” In context, the reader comment was to the claim that my 100-lb hitters consistently driving the ball 300-feet are standouts athletically.  Also, what makes a kid athletic? (20-mins, 10-secs)
  • DW explains how to train ipsilaterally (right shoulder-right hip) to get the “Serape Effect” or I like to call the “Springy X Pattern” (right shoulder-left hip) optimized for performance. Tighten the coil, time the sequence, and keep center of gravity to be neutral. Take clunky and make them fluid. (22-mins, 20-secs)
  • DW discusses the curse of moving the center of gravity during rotation.  Learning the axis of rotation, front/back, and side. Central control. Create a late rotate, like a whip. (25-mins, 0-secs)
  • The evolution of the spine, side bending is crucial to an S-shaped spine curve. (27-mins, 30-secs)
  • DW responds to the question, “Does sprinting, throwing, hitting start from the ground up?  Why or why not”. CLICK HERE for the HPL link I referred to in the video (33-mins, 30-secs)
  • DW talks about harmonizing the muscles with the connective tissue.  Least muscular contraction compared to the connective tissue. Muscles that are bound up, cannot relax.  Transmission of force, power equals speed.  Muscle acts like a circuit breaker. (34-mins, 0-secs)
  • DW discusses having tensional integrity between the muscles on the inside, and fascia on the outside. How integrity and connected the fascia is to muscles.  Bonds never lost body-weight transmission when he bulked up.  Strong is great, but not at a sacrifice of speed.  (37-mins, 0-secs)
  • We discuss Thomas Myers, Anatomy Trains, “finger flick” test to demonstrate the power of connective tissue over muscle contraction (38-mins, 44-secs)
  • DW responds to the question, “If you were going to prescribe 2 of your top RMT Club exercises to a baseball or softball player, what would they be?” Coiling Head Over Foot movement. Pulse of power. (39-mins, 30-secs)
  • DW top gifted books: Thomas Myers book Anatomy Trains, Jim Piersall book Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story (44-mins, 0-secs)

Recommended Top RMT Club Exercise for Baseball or Softball Players

CLICK HERE for a link to his blog to supplement this video.

Where can you find more about David Weck and the WeckMethod?

Please let me know if you want me to do a Part-2 interview with David Weck, and what questions you have for him about this presentation by REPLYING in the comments below…
Swing Experiment using the RMT Club coming soon 😉