You Don’t Have To Be A Pro To Be An Effective Hitting Coach (BEST-Of 2016 Blog Posts)…

The Catapult Loading System Book

Get The Catapult Loading System book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle by CLICKING the image above…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I know I’m a little late,

But I’ve been working on getting the new book, The Catapult Loading System, published on Amazon these past 4 weeks or so.

Before getting into this BEST-of 2016 post, I wanted to discuss that…

With the New Year typically comes New Year’s resolutions.

And this year my goal for the content at the Hitting Performance Lab is as follows:

  • More posts from knowledgeable industry experts via webinar, audio, or written,
  • I will be conducting many more swing experiments, and
  • Tackle more of the tough questions – via video – my readers have submitted through the emailed survey (I have over 350 of them!!!!).

Rest assured, it’s going to be a good year for your hitters.

Now, for the BEST-of 2016 post…

In looking at my Google Analytics for January through December of 2016, the following three posts were – by far – the most popular (sorted in descending order)…

 

#3: Batting Timing Drills: 2 Little Known Ways To Get “On-Time”

The Timing of a Wave

A hitter’s timing is like a wave, building slow and early, picking up momentum, then crashing with force.

If you didn’t catch this post, then please CLICK HERE.

I did this post a few years ago, but after sharing it on social media a couple times, it became the “village bicycle”.

This post includes my two favorite timing drills:

  1. Float Variance Drill, and the
  2. Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill.

In my opinion, timing is more important than effective hitting mechanics.

WHY?

Because you could have the most effective mechanics in baseball or softball but if you can’t make timing adjustments, then you will not last long in the sport.

Many coaches/instructors I highly respect in their knowledge of hitting, don’t believe you can teach timing.

I disagree.

My hitters are drilled from the beginning on timing.  They’re frequently quizzed on their ability to adjust their timing.  And their timing gets better, oftentimes within three to five 5-swing rounds.

The key is using the two drills [videos] included in the above link.

#2: Blaze Jordan (14u): 6-Ft, 217-Lbs Hits TWO 500-Foot Moonshots, But…Did You Catch The Performance Of The Small Slugger That Beat Blaze Jordan?

Hudson White Home-Run Derby

Hudson “The Hawk” White making it rain 😀

If you didn’t catch this post, then please CLICK HERE.

I remember seeing everyone ooooo-ing and ahhhh-ing over 14 year old, 6-foot, 217-pound Blaze Jordan on Facebook about the two 500-foot monster home-run derby shots he hit at the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

But nobody was talking about how 14 year old, 5-foot 7-inch, 130-pound Hudson “The Hawk” White hit 11 consecutive homers in the same home-run derby, beat Blaze Jordan, and came in second overall!  Not to mention, the average homer Hudson hit was 398-feet.

On Facebook, people actually wanted me to dissect Blaze’s swing, and NOT Hudson’s!

Wa??!

Don’t get me wrong, to have the ability to hit a ball 500-feet (twice) as a 14u, you have to be doing something right in your swing…

BUT,

Hudson is tripling his body-weight in batted ball distance – 130-pounder hitting the ball 400-feet…wouldn’t you want to see what he’s doing?

Here’s what Hudson’s dad said:

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

And the #1 blog post of 2016 was… (drum roll please)

#1: Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids: The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls

Backspin Batting Tee

The Backspin Batting Tee Pro Model

aka “The Ground-ball RANT”.

If you didn’t catch this monster post, then please CLICK HERE (20-min read for average reading speed).

I did this post at the beginning of 2016 and coaches LOVED it, garnering over 4,200 Likes on Facebook!  To say this post went viral was an understatement.

The main reason I felt I had to write it was the dialog the two Backspin Tee co-founders, Taylor and Jarrett, shared with me in their conversation with a pair of college coaches (from same school) at an ABCA conference a year or two ago.

It went something like this…

Backspin Tee Bros: “What do you teach your hitters to do?”

College Hitting Coach: “To hit the top of the ball and get backspin.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “What do you teach your pitchers to do?”

College Pitching Coach: “To keep the ball down in the zone.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “What part of the ball do you want the hitters hitting?”

College Pitching Coach: “The top half.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “Why the top half?”

College Pitching Coach: “So the hitter drives the ball into the ground.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “So what part of the ball do you want your hitters hitting now?”

College Hitting Coaches: “Uh, well, I guess I’ll be teaching them to hit the bottom half now.”

Buahahahaha! 😀

Excluding Hit & Runs and Move Runner Over scenarios, WHY the heck are we teaching our hitters to hit the top half of the ball, when that’s what pitchers want hitters doing?!

I make many more arguments in the above linked RANT, but I think the above dialog puts the argument as a whole to bed.

By the way, over 8,000 Backspin Tees have been sold over the last couple years and only a dozen have been returned.  CLICK HERE to see how a swing experiment I ran turned out between the Backspin Tee and a regular tee.  And if you haven’t invested in a Backspin Tee yet, then please CLICK HERE.

Here’s a Quick Way to Fix the Dreaded “C-Shape Impact” Position…

 

Lauryn 'C-Shape' Impact Position Fix

Look at the difference in Lauryn’s body shape BEFORE, image on the left hand side (C-Shape Impact), and AFTER, image on the right hand side, using the Hunched Posture 24-hours later. Photo courtesy of Brian (dad).

With consent of Dad (Brian – Thank you),

I wanted to share Feedback Session #4 (of 12) of Lauryn, who’s 11 years old…oh yeah, her consent was given too (Thanks LB!) 😀

She’s been a part of my online lesson program The Feedback Lab, since October 17th, 2016.

It’s also interesting to note, her current Ball Exit Speed personal record is 66-mph at 11yo!

First, I want to say how much of a hard worker she is, and has been consistently progressing with each Feedback Session.

I also want to say how supportive dad (and mom) are in all this process, and I can clearly tell dad is instilling a “Growth Mindset” in Lauryn, which is what Dr. Carol Dweck discusses in her bestselling book Mindset – a highly recommended read by the way.

A supportive parenting environment, and a Growth Mindset make my job easy and most importantly, rewarding.

I say this because some may think these changes are ALL me, but I’m only shining a light down a dark path, it’s the player and parents who have to follow through, and God knows this process IS NOT easy.

The below video was the frustrating session #4 for Lauryn, which goes into:

  • The ‘Pat’ – “pat on the back”, or what Lauryn progressed on mechanically, and
  • The ‘Pop’ – “pop in the mouth”, or what Lauryn will be working on in the coming weeks.

PLEASE NOTE: to those fast-pitch softball coaches who take offense to me using Josh Donaldson as a swing example for Lauryn, I used Sierra Romero in the past few sessions – so get off my back! 😛 lol

In following, I only wanted to highlight one specific part of Lauryn’s hitting homework,

…the Reverse C-Shape at impact, her body illustrates in the image above.  For lefties the C-Shape Impact looks like a normal ‘C’.

This was a concern for dad before I did the above this Feedback Session #4.

CLICK HERE for a post I did on the Snapping Towel Drill, where I posted an image of one of my 13yo baseball hitters in this same position with a little more explanation of what the C-Shape is.

In the main video above and in this post, I wanted to offer up another more effective fix than the Snapping Towel Drill…

The Hunched Posture.

If you look at the above image of Lauryn on the left, her abdominals are stretching, which indicates the low back could possibly be in hyper-extension…not good.

This is not adhering to the One-Joint Rule discussed in this post.

The two problems with C-Shape Impact are:

  • Bleeding force at impact, and
  • UNSAFE for low back.

The answer can be found in what Gymnastics refer to as the Hollow Hold Position:

Here was the corrective programming homework I gave Lauryn:

  • Week 1: 1 set X 20-30 secs hold,
  • Week two: 1 set X 30-40 secs hold,
  • Week three: 2 sets X 30 secs hold, and
  • Week four: 2 sets X 45 secs hold

…Do every other day.

The keys with this move is constantly applying pressure into the ground with the low back, and rounding the shoulders forward to create a ‘spoon’ or ‘hollow’ position with the chest.

This helps with pelvic control (rotating the pelvis to posterior), stabilizes the low back, and is KILLER for the abs – in a good way.

Notice this is the same spinal position you’d take if you had to sit on a bucket for four-hours playing video games…interesting huh?!

Young athletes know this position well, but most likely haven’t applied it to the hitting stance.

Look at the following three hitters and tell me what shape their spine starts in…

Ted Williams (Watch 0:40 mark):

Pete Rose Getting a Hit off Dwight Gooden:

Sadaharu Oh (868 Career Dingers in Japanese Baseball Leagues):

The Hunched Posture Drill

The drill steps go like this…

  1. Sit on ball bucket like you were to play video games for 4 hours,
  2. Now grab your bat and act like you’re going to hit, still keeping the hunched posture,
  3. Keeping the rounded back, now stand up and apply that position to your normal stance.

Hitters that are used to the “straight back” when hitting, will find it hard to maintain the Hunched Posture when standing up in their batting stance.

Keep sitting them down, repeating the steps, and standing them back up until they get it – with your feedback of course.

Once they get it, they won’t let go of it.  My hitters report back their feelings that the Hunched Posture:

  • “Just feels better”,
  • “Helps show numbers and downhill shoulder angle”, and most importantly,
  • “My back feels nothing while swinging” (a good thing! lol).

And like in Lauryn’s case, we see a much more effective impact position less than 24-hours later.

Go easy on those pitchers out there Lauryn 😛 lol

Here is a Method That is Helping Nelson Cruz ADD Ridiculous Batted Ball Distance

 

Nelson Cruz: 'Showing Numbers'

Nelson Cruz ‘showing numbers’ hitting a 2-run monster shot traveling 463-feet with a launch angle of 23.7-degrees off 75-mph CB on 09/23/16. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

(‘Showing Numbers’ Experiment REVISITED) 

Question: Is Increased Bat & Ball Exit Speed ALL in the Hips?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether ‘Showing the Numbers’ to the pitcher is more effective than ‘NOT Showing’ them when it comes to measuring Bat and Ball Exit Speeds.

In this swing experiment, I had professional hitter of mine that I’ve been working with for a few months, Preston Scott, do the hitting.

 

Background Research

I’m revisiting an earlier experiment I did, looking into whether power was ALL in the hips.  You can CLICK HERE to read and watch the experiment findings.

Not to beat the springy fascia horse, but you can get more background information on why this swing experiment turned out like it did by reading through the following video blog posts.

  1. Miguel Cabrera and the timing of torque.
  2. Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista: how spine engine mechanics are amplified by Gravitational Forces, and
  3. Adrian Gonzalez: how-to naturally spring load the body.

 

Hypothesis

From the research into Anatomy Trains (Thomas Myers), The Spinal Engine (Dr. Serge Gracovetsky), and from my past swing experiment, I expect to see similar results…maybe even slightly lower numbers favoring ‘Showing Numbers’.

I say slightly lower numbers because in the first experiment I didn’t counter-balance the swings.  In other words, I took 100 consecutive swings ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ first, then took another 100 consecutive swings ‘Showing Numbers’.  This may have caused a “getting tired” or “not warmed up yet” effect, therefore biasing the experiment results.

The big UPDATES to the experiment will be:

  • Adding the measure of Ball Exit Speed,
  • Counter-balancing the swings, and
  • Professional Preston Scott taking the swings, not me.

I’m interested to see how this experiment turns out…

 

ADD Ball Exit Speed Swing Experiment

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app (to measure Bat Speed, Hand Speed, Time to Impact, & Attack Angle),
  • Bushnell Radar Gun (to measure Ball Exit Speed, or BES),
  • Backspin batting tee,
  • Two yellow dimple baseballs (feedback markers),
  • Android GS6 video camera and Tripod, and
  • 34 inch wood bat.

Setup:

Preston Scott: Showing versus NOT Showing Numbers

Preston Scott: ‘NOT Showing’ versus ‘Showing Numbers’

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length
  • 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 Preston hit from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • 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.
  • 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.  ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Showing Numbers’ 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.
  • On ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, Preston kept his shoulders in line with the blue band on the ground in front of him (towards the pitcher).  And on ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he kept his shoulders in line with the red band that was set at about a 30-degree angle from the blue band.
  • Preston Scott was sipping a protein shake throughout the length of the experiment to aid in recovery.
  • On both experiment days, Preston had finished “leg day” at the gym, so our warm-up was brief, followed by about 15-20 swings off the tee.
  • We had to break the 200 total swings (4 sets of 25 swing chunks each day) into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later because of time constraints.
  • It’s important to note, Preston and I were working on improving his mechanics slightly different both days (having nothing to do with ‘showing numbers’), but even though Day 1 (November 7, 2016), and a week later, Day 2 (November 14, 2016) swings may look a bit different, the slightly differing mechanics were used for BOTH ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ and ‘Showing Numbers’ tests, so as not to muddy the experiment results.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

‘NOT Showing Numbers’ Day 1 & 2 side by side comparison…

NOT Showing Numbers Day 1 & 2 (100 swings total)

‘NOT Showing Numbers’ Averages of averages: 71-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 27.5-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.165 Time To Impact, -25* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 4.5* Attack Angle

‘Showing Numbers’ Day 1 & 2 side by side comparison…

Showing Numbers Day 1 & 2

‘Showing Numbers’ Averages of Averages: 76-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 28-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.162 Time to Impact, 28* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 6* Attack Angle

Also, CLICK HERE to access the Google Drive spreadsheet with all Ball Exit Speed (BES) readings from the experiment.

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Starting with Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

  • 5-mph INCREASE in Bat Speed at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • 0.5-mph INCREASE in Hand Speed Max with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • .003 second DECREASE in Time to Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • 3* INCREASE in Bat Vertical Angle at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • 1.5* INCREASE in Attack Angle with ‘Showing Numbers

Now, let’s see how the Ball Exit Speed averages compare between the two mechanics:

  • 76.02-mph BES when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’
  • 77.32-mph BES  when ‘Showing Numbers’
  • That’s a 1.3-mph average INCREASE when ‘Showing Numbers’
  • Translates between 5.2-feet to 7.8-feet of EXTRA batted ball distance – depending on if you calculate using 1-mph BES = 4-feet of distance OR 1-mph BES = 6-feet of distance.

 

Notes

  • In this experiment, if you look at the ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, they were actually ‘Showing Numbers’.  In other words, Preston already shows his number to the pitcher well causing him a challenge to not show them.  Therefore on the ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he showed them more.  I think that’s why we didn’t see as much of a difference in Ball Exit Speeds.
  • One of the big objections from some is that ‘Showing Numbers’ causes an increase in Time To Impact.  These results show it doesn’t – it actually decreases Time To Impact.  WHY is this? It has to do with ‘taking slack out of the system’ as it relates to compression/tension forces acting within the body.
  • Preston Scott generally does a great job of ‘Showing Numbers’, even before I started working with him, so he felt like he really had to try and keep from pulling the ball too much when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’. And as you can see in the video, he was still ‘Showing Numbers’ somewhat, even when he wasn’t suppose to!

…Did You Catch The Performance Of The Small Slugger That Beat Blaze Jordan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But can Hudson do this in a game?  Here’s a 380-390 foot triple:

What’s even more amazing?!

I didn’t work with Hudson White…his dad did…using the Hitting Performance Lab repeatable power formula.

Why is this HUGE?!

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

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

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

Here’s a comment from Kevin Freeman on Facebook:

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

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

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

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

— Joey drops the mic —

UPDATE from June 26, 2018 email from dad…

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

A Simple Way To Make Adjustments, Build Swing Tempo, AND Elevate The Ball That Works For Mike Trout & Josh Donaldson

I have a treat for you…

A “grab-bag” of golden nuggets…

The following 11 hitting tips come from my most popular social media non-HPL links of 2016.

To give you an idea,

I typically promote 1 non-HPL link per day on the socials, so that’s 365 links getting put in front of my 20K+ followers.

I get a front row seat to see what coaches think interesting and worth their time.

The following creme-of-the-crop link montage, is arranged in descending order, least clicks to the most.

You’ll find these somewhat of a random sort, but they all relate to hitting, albeit indirectly in some cases.

Happy learning!

 

#11: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: How Mike Trout Approaches Hitting

This is the featured video above.

Sean Casey interviewed Mike Trout during Spring Training of 2016, where Trout discusses his hitting routine…I jotted down 9 key notes for you:

  1. First few rounds he works on hitting to RCF,
  2. Stay up the middle,
  3. A few times hit the ball to LCF, to stay square with the pitcher,
  4. He mentions not getting too ‘chicken wing’,
  5. Tee work: set it high and ‘get on top of the ball’ (to counteract dropping the shoulder and barrel too much),
  6. 10-20 swings trying to hit a ground-ball every time,
  7. In games, sit fastball, react to off-speed and breaking balls,
  8. On top of the plate, back of the batter’s box, and
  9. Work up the middle in games.

All these tips are pretty solid…

…for Mike Trout.

When I posted this, and made a note that Mike Trout is definitely not looking to optimize hitting the high pitch in games,

AND

He’s most definitely NOT trying to ‘get on top of the ball’ in games (both in reference to tip #5 above)…

There were a few men on Facebook that got their panties in a bunch, saying I was calling Mike Trout a liar…yada, yada, yada.

If we look at Mike Trout’s Sabermetrics at FanGraphs.com, the reality is, he’s THE BEST at hitting the low ball…and THE WORST at hitting the high ball.

So WHY does he practice hitting off a high tee?

Another look at Mike Trout’s metrics, and we see he’s:

  • Well below average in Ground-ball percentage (39.6% v. league average is 44%),
  • Above average in Line Drive percentage (22.1% v. league average is 20%),
  • Above average in Fly-ball percentage (38.2% v. league average is 36%), AND
  • Well above average in his Fly-ball to Home-run ratio (19.6% v. league average is 9.5%).

What does this mean?

It’s a ‘what’s real’ AND ‘what’s feel’ sort of thing…

Because he’s definitely NOT trying to hit ground-balls in games (contradicting hitting tips #5 & #6 from above).

So am I calling Mike Trout a liar…

And, WHY would he practice like this?

Earlier, notice how I said,

“All these tips are pretty solid…for Mike Trout.”

No, I didn’t say that because Mike Trout is a mutant, and only Mike Trout can do that and get away with it.

When coaches say this, it’s a cop out.  It means they have no REAL clue what’s REALLY going on.

Here’s where I’m going with this,

And it’s VERY important…

And also WHY I made popular link hitting tip #11 the featured video…

What John Doe Coach missed in the interview was when Trout mentioned he has a tendency to ‘chicken-wing’ and ‘drop his back shoulder and barrel’ too much.

In other words, uppercut too much.

Mike Trout is using these seemingly counter-intuitive hitting tips to make adjustments to his swing’s extreme tendencies.

I’m not calling Mike Trout a liar.

He’s a friggin’ smart competitive athlete.

He knows himself and his swing, and makes the necessary adjustments to stay in the black, and not get too far in the red.

There’s no secret,

Mike Trout is trying to get the ball in the air.

It’s like the advice Lightning McQueen heard in the animated movie Cars, “Turn left to go right”…when attempting to correct a spin-out.

 

#10: Hitting A Baseball – “The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports”

CLICK HERE for this article by Axon Sports.

Some of the things you’ll gain by reading this:

  • “Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing.” – Warren Spahn,
  • Why “Keep your eye on the ball”, or “Watch the ball hit the bat” is humanly IMPOSSIBLE according to research, and
  • Awesome info-graphic breaking down the reaction time of a hitter.

 

#9: Hamstring Flexibility: 6 Tips to Loosen Up

CLICK HERE for the full article by GMB Fitness.

98% of my hitters are immobile in the hip.

And oftentimes, this comes in the form of tight hamstrings.

This is a great post looking into factors and strategies you can employ to improve the flexibility of your hitter’s hamstrings…and maybe yours 😉

 

#8: Bryce Harper is pounding the ball into the ground to no avail

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

This article was written July 28th, 2016 with a sub-head that reads:

“He’s gotta figure out how to elevate more despite pitchers giving him few pitches to elevate.”

This was when B.H. was struggling to lift the ball early in the season.

The article talks about how Harper’s dramatic launch angle change (down), led to a dramatic increase in his ground-ball rate.

The post discusses how pitchers are throwing him more outside and down in the zone.

The bottom line?

…Is that a ground-ball focused hitting strategy SUCKS!!!

It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball, if you can’t elevate, you’ll hit A LOT of worm burners that end up as outs at the higher levels.

#7: Are overbearing parents ruining the Westlake baseball program?

CLICK HERE for this LA Times post.

The parent and player behavior is probably not going to surprise you…

However, I want you to ask yourself the question as you read this,

“How did the coaches respond to the parents that clearly didn’t work?”

How could coach be more effective in dealing with parents in this environment, if a million dollar bet was on the line?

Look, maybe the athletes are spoiled brats, or maybe the coaches just don’t have an effective strategy for dealing with this situation.

In other words, don’t label the players or parents “mean” right away…

Be creative, brainstorm, and future pace how you’d handle this situation.

Because chances are, you will run across this scenario, in some form, in your lifetime.

#6: Clayton Kershaw UMPIRE VIEW of pregame warm up

You will get better at Pitch Recognition watching this video.

In the spirit of the playoffs, this video features arguably one of the best pitchers in history, Clayton Kershaw.

Do this for me…

Watch this video for a couple minutes, trying to pick up the “shape” of each pitch he throws, like what Perry Husband talks about in this article.

Then pick a series of pitches, see which pitch Clayton Kershaw signals to the catcher, look at his release, and close your eyes.

This would be like Dr. Peter Fadde’s video occlusion training featured in this post.

Then try to pick another series of pitches, don’t look at him signal to the catcher what he’s throwing, and test yourself.

This is such a cool game to do with hitters.

 

#5: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blasts 33 HR in 60 Swings in Home Run Derby in the DR (Round 2 November 2014) 

I know this isn’t Vlad G. the first, but there are a lot of similarities to their swings.  A few notes to look out for while watching him hit…

  • Toe-tap for timing
  • Aggressive move towards the pitcher with stride
  • Back foot stays sideways until follow through
  • Great knee action at landing (front), and during the turn (back)
  • Showing numbers to pitcher as close to landing as possible
  • Downward shoulder angle as close to landing as possible.

What do you see?

 

#4: Donaldson gives a hitting demo

Cool MLB.com interview with Josh Donaldson on developing timing and rhythm at the plate, with Sean Casey.

A couple notes from the video below:

  • Find out what’s comfortable for you
  • Leg kick: engaged into back hip not back knee
  • Leg kick: control when get front foot down
  • Being on time, not about getting front foot down on time
  • Soft focus on the pitcher, recognize pitch better at the plate ( stay relaxed)
  • Hit with music on, adds a smooth tempo to the swing
  • Watch Manny Ramirez setup to swing, “boring” rhythm at the plate (again relaxed mindset)
  • Put the work in (Sean Casey)

 

#3: Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

CLICK HERE for this FanGraphs.com post.

I included the following chart from this post on my Ground-ball RANT post

Fangraphs Ground-ball metrics

Most understand Line Drives MUST be the main hitting objective (for a majority of swings), however I want you to compare the Ground-ball metrics to the Fly-ball metrics from the chart above:

  • A 32-point increase in Batting Average with Ground-ball over a Fly-ball,
  • A 358-point INCREASE in ISO (or raw power) with Fly-balls over Ground-balls…AND
  • A 115-point INCREASE in weighted On-Base Average with Fly-Balls over Ground-balls, which according to FanGraphs.com…

“Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.”

So, WHY are we still teaching hitters to hit ground-balls, and NOT to elevate?  Beside situational hitting of course.

What’s more…

 

#2: Scooter Gennett and ground balls

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

I love the sub-header, which reads:

“Scooter Gennett’s offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?”

After careful metric analysis, Shawn Brody the post’s author, says:

“In my mind, Gennett should be closer to his 2014 level of production, which is something he could return to if he put the ball in the air more often.”

Hitting consistent ground-balls will land you on the bench at the higher levels, unless of course you have plus running speed.

In which case, analysis shows that any launch angle above 10-degrees, makes faster running speed irrelevant.

So, what if a hitter hits the ball just plain hard?

Maybe the following #1 link post from my 20K+ followers will shed light on that…

 

#1: Jon Lester shows importance of launch angleBackspin Tee: Launch Angles

CLICK HERE to read this Cubs.com post.

The great case study article discusses how Jon Lester ranks second among Major League hitting pitchers with an average Ball Exit Speed of 92.5-mph.

So, what’s the problem?

Quoted from the article:

“…(He ended up with four hits on the season in 71 plate appearances, a .065/.108/.065 line.) Part of it is that, like many pitchers, contact was an issue — Lester’s 42.3 percent strikeout rate was above the 37.7 percent average for pitchers.”

How could Lester hit the ball so hard without finding much hitting success?

Again, quoted from the article:

“…it’s because 19 of Lester’s 24 tracked batted balls failed to get above 7 degrees of launch angle. Sixteen of those 19 failed to even achieve positive launch angle, which is to say that he pounded the ball into the ground constantly.”

In other words, to get the ball in the air, the hitter MUST have a positive launch angle.  About 10-degrees positive will get the ball to the outfield grass…on the “big” field.

If the hitter has a negative or less than 10-degree positive launch angle, THEY WILL:

  1. Hit A LOT of worm burners,
  2. Strikeout more,
  3. NOT get many hits, and
  4. Professionally speaking, NOT make it past A-ball (if they’re lucky enough to make it that far).

Even if they’re lighting up the BES radar guns.

Here’s a BONUS link for ya…

CLICK HERE to read a Cut4 article highlighting Giancarlo Stanton hitting the hardest ball ever recorded by Statcast at 123.9-mph, but it was hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Here’s the lesson folks…

Line drives tend to be between 10-20 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Dingers tend to be between 20-40 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Of course, whether it’s over the fence or not will depend on the Ball Exit Speed.

It’s not enough to hit the ball hard.

Teach hitters to elevate.

Get barrel on path of incoming pitch.

Focus on striking bottom half of ball.

That, my coaching friend, is how to decrease strikeouts, mishits, and weak fly-balls…AND increase BA, ISO, and wOBA.

The ‘Hip Thrust’ That Matt Nokes Is NOT Talking About

 

Matt Nokes: Cal Ripken Jr.

Look at Cal Ripken’s lack of back foot rotation. Photo courtesy: Gene Sweeney, Jr./Baltimore Sun

In this Matt Nokes post, I wanted to bust a MYTH that Homer Bush brought up in his interview last week…

And that is…

The MYTH that rotating the back hip through the zone is necessary for power.

This past week, I re-tweeted this from @HyattCraig (who is awesome btw), of one of two Miguel Cabrera homers in a game, and this particular one he hit to CF:

The next day after that Tweet, I found this private message from a follower on Twitter:

“Joey, Honest question. I love most everything you post and It goes with all of the philosophies I teach as an instructor, but this particular post I don’t quite understand. Are you saying a backwards step of sorts and having limited pelvic rotation are positives? I don’t feel like this is practical for anyone that isn’t 6’3 225 when the pitcher is providing the power at 93. If you have time could you please clarify this for me?”

My response:

“Thanks for asking about that. A couple things, we do have to be careful about taking from big slugger analysis. I don’t mind what the back foot does as long as its un-weighting AND not skipping forward too much. Miggy has a great line following the batted ball, it has to do with optimizing centrifugal (center-fleeing) forces. As an example, the belly button should point where the batted ball has exited. Coach Matt Nokes talks quite a bit about full rotation not being an absolute to hitting.”

Which brings me to the above video, where Coach Matt Nokes walks us through numerous examples of elite hitters not fully rotating their back foot (and pelvis) until after impact.

Also, let me define full rotation of the pelvis (or hips as some refer to it as), at least from what I see/hear/watch from other people out there…

Full pelvic rotation is getting the hitter’s belly button to face shortstop (for a righty, or 2B for lefty) on any pitch…inside, middle, and outside.

I’ve found this gospel preached from those who don’t ‘buy into’ or understand the loading of springy fascia in the torso, since to them, the shoulders would be seen as ‘inactive’, before the hitter starts turning.

Therefore the pelvis has to do all the heavy lifting.

This method is far from optimal, and NOT very safe for the lower backs of youth hitters across the nation,

AND even more disturbing…
WILL continue to keep Orthopedic surgeons in business.

CLICK HERE for a post I did explaining how the swing isn’t rotational OR linear, but that’s it’s actually linear, rotational, then linear again.

The purpose of this post, is to open up discussion about whether rotating the back hip through the zone is necessary for power IS or IS NOT a myth…

Lastly,

I wanted to share one of my favorite Coach Matt Nokes drills for practicing what he preaches.  It’s his “Around the Zone” soft toss (coaches please be careful with this):

What say you…?

Tim Tebow Hitting Analysis: Get To The Big Leagues Without Playing College Or Pro Baseball?

Before we get to the Tim Tebow hitting analysis…

I wanted to take you BACK TO THE FUTURE!!

We all know the quote by Ted Williams that hitting a baseball is one of the single most difficult things to do in sports.  FP Softball ladies included.

Do you remember Michael Jordan hitting a double in an April 1994 MLB exhibition game…?

Arguably the best athlete ever, summarized by the Chicago Tribune that:

“…he was quitting because he couldn’t develop at the rate he wanted due to complications caused by the baseball strike”.

Or how about one of the best cricket players in the world, Kieran Powell, trying to make it to the Big Leagues…?

Did you hear him say that the hardest thing in baseball, “is to keep the bat on plane” 😉

Or how about Shaq O’Neal’s Versus show, where he took on Albert Pujols in a Home Run Derby for charity…?

We know Jordan retired permanently from baseball in 1995…

Shaq couldn’t even beat Pujols in a home-run derby where he was handicapped with a Little League distance home run fence

…and time will tell if Powell’s determination to be a Big Leaguer will continue.

Now we have another high profile athlete jumping into the quest for the Big Leagues, but this time a football player.

The NY Mets just signed him to a Minor League deal (CLICK HERE for this Cut4 article).

Tim Tebow Hitting Analysis

I’ll say, Tim Tebow has a pretty good finish. Must be from his golf game 😉 Photo courtesy: USAToday.com

In the above Tim Tebow hitting analysis video,

  • Using recent August 2016 MLB tryout footage, I compare Tim Tebow’s swing to Victor Martinez,
  • Analyze what Tebow’s swing has going for him, and
  • Discuss what he MUST change in order to be successful in baseball…

Here’s a quick rundown from the Tim Tebow hitting analysis…

PAT (‘Pat’ on the back):

  • Athletic Position – triple flexion at the hip, knee, and ankle.
  • Head Position at Impact – no sign of breaking the One-Joint Rule.
  • Knee Action – gets and stays shorter at landing and through the swing, definitely can get under the ball.

 

POP (‘Pop’ in the mouth – constructive criticism):

  • Limited forward momentum for such a big body – too much muscle use.
  • Abbreviated barrel path – he gets decent extension post-impact, but he’s too short to the ball. This may hurt him the most.
  • Catapult Loading System (CLS) – minimal showing numbers to pitcher, downhill shoulder angle, and hiding hands.

13 Josh Donaldson Gold Nuggets: You Didn’t Have To Be A Professional, To Teach High Level Baseball Batting Stance & Hitting Techniques

(I apologize in advance…PLEASE set aside about 14 minutes of reading time for the following baseball batting stance & hitting techniques post. It’s a bit of an emotional RANT 😉

 

Baseball Batting Stance & Hitting Techniques: Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson talks hitting with Mark DeRosa on MLB Network. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

We FINALLY have validation!!!

To have 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson affirm A LOT of what we teach here at HPL!

Some of you may have seen the above video already…

If you HAVE NOT seen it, then please watch.

In the following baseball batting stance & hitting techniques post, I go into more depth about the 13 talking points Josh Donaldson mentions about the “NEW science of hitting”, beginning where Ted Williams left off.

By the way, CLICK HERE to see an article where JD CRUSHES an online pseudo-science ‘hitting guru’.

After we go over the @BringerOfRain20 talking points,

I want to address the few ex-Pro and MLB player TROLLS that wrongly tear myself, my colleagues, and my readers down on the socials for bringing up things Josh Donaldson addresses in the above video.

Without further adieu,

From my baseball batting stance & hitting techniques video notes…

 

Note #1: Back knee inside foot or weight inside back knee?

Buster Posey Back Knee Position

Is Buster Posey’s back knee being prematurely shifted inside his foot in the ‘Float’? Photo courtesy: InWriteField.com

This was a question from Mark DeRosa…

Josh Donaldson responds that he focuses his weight on his back heel and back hip.

I HATE when hitting instructors PREMATURELY force the back knee of every hitter they instruct, inside the foot (even in the stance).

There are phases to the swing, and Donaldson is talking about what my hitters refer to as the ‘Float & Fall’…

Matt Nokes calls it the ‘Ride & Stride’.

During the ‘Float’ or ‘Ride’, the hitter DOES NOT have to prematurely push their back knee inside the back foot…or focus the weight on the inside of the back knee.

CLICK HERE for a baseball batting stance & hitting techniques post I did on this, dealing with a Twitter Troll.

NEWS FLASH…

Self proclaimed elite hitting instruction doesn’t rest on taking a ton of ‘quality hacks in the cage’ and/or debating over millions of hours of video analysis footage of ‘only the best hitters’.

WTF does ‘quality hacks’ and ‘only the best hitters’ mean!!!!!?

Are we suppose to take your word for it that you know what you’re doing?!

Nah.

I’d rather watch The Kardashians.

Okay, back to focusing on where the weight is in the Float…

Prematurely forcing weight on the inside of a ‘dumb joint’, like the knee, can really put undo stress on the ligament material.

Coaches…please DO NOT wear holes in your players’ knees.  This is really important for those FP softball hitting coaches.

And on that note,

FP softball coaches, CLICK HERE for a great BreakingMuscle.com post titled, “Women: Protect Your Knees With the Sprinter Stance Squat”.

 

Note #2: Not thinking about hands going towards the baseball

Derek Jeter: Hands Inside The Baseball

Derek Jeter is one of the few having a lengthy career with an extreme handsy approach. Not too many hitters could get away with how he did what he did. Photo courtesy: BaseballByTheYard.com

I totally agree!

ALL the following baseball batting stance & hitting techniques coaching cues are destructive for youth swings:

  • Hands to the ball
  • Knob to the ball
  • Be short to the ball
  • Hands inside the ball

Yes! Especially the last one…

WHY?

Like the others, it gets the hitter thinking about doing something with the path of their hands.

Some of you use this cue when instructing hitters, and may get occasional positive results…

However,

Any coaching cue that requires an extensive explanation or doesn’t get predictably positive outcomes, is INEFFECTIVE.

I’m looking for cues that with a minimal number of words, gets my hitter to do what I want them to do, even if the concept is new to them…over and over.

 

Note #3: When Josh Donaldson begins his fall forward, that’s when he goes into loading his upper half (his ‘coil’)

Andrew McCutchen Showing his Numbers

Andrew McCutchen ‘showing his numbers’ while his lower half is beginning to turn counter-clockwise. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

YESSSSS!!

I get asked this baseball batting stance & hitting techniques question quite a bit…when does the ‘load’ start?

And this depends on your definition of a load.  But in Donaldson’s context…

The timing of Donaldson’s load, or ‘coil’, isn’t necessarily the rule,

It’s one of three options…

Option #1: Some hitters start in the ‘coiled’ position (highly recommended for younger hitters):

  • Yoenis Cespedes,
  • Hunter Pence, and
  • Ben Zobrist (from the left side)…

Option #2: Some hitters move into the ‘coiled’ position similar to Donaldson:

  • Bautista,
  • Cano, and
  • McCutchen…

Option #3: Some hitters move into the ‘coiled’ position later, like Dustin Pedroia.

The objective is that at landing, or what Josh Donaldson refers to as ‘heel plant’, the hitter is in this ‘coiled’ position.

I call this the Catapult Loading Position.

And it requires the lower half to be open at landing (pelvis on down), and the upper half (above pelvis), to be closed.

Additionally, I LOVE Jose Bautista’s timing cue of loading ‘slow and early’ (CLICK HERE for a post I did on that).

More on the lower half landing open a bit later…

Note #4: Creating bat speed with shoulders, NOT hands (effortless bat speed)

Josh Donaldson: Spinal Engine

Josh Donaldson’s swing illustrating the spinal engine and Springy ‘X’ Pattern discussed in the next section. Photo courtesy: PicPlayHost

This is VERY important…

WHY?

Because EVERY human movement is driven by the spinal engine…pelvis-spine-shoulders.

According to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky in his book The Spinal Engine, the spinal engine can move in a vacuum.

However, it’s the relationship between arms, legs, and Gravitational Forces that amplify how explosive an athlete can be.

Quite a few hitting instructors talk about hip thrust or loading and exploding the hips.

But what are the shoulder’s function in all this?

Being passive?

I don’t think so.

Some would say a right handed hitter’s front shoulder at landing should be pointing at the pitcher.

This is an ineffective hitting mechanic, shown in this Zepp swing experiment (CLICK HERE) where I observed an average 6-mph boost in Bat Speed at Impact showing my numbers to the pitcher versus pointing the front shoulder at the pitcher (not showing numbers), over 200 swings.

Don’t get me wrong, YES, the pelvis does ‘lead the way’ as Ted Williams said in The Science of Hitting.

But it plays a much smaller role than coaches believe.

Think about how we walk…

If I told you to fire your hips as you walked, what do you think your shoulders would do?

They’d FIRE also!

How about if I told you to fire your hips while walking, but don’t let your shoulders move

Would that feel awkward?

Dr. Serge Gracovetsky talks about the coupled motion of the spine…

Meaning, while the hips rotate when we walk (albeit small to the naked eye), the shoulders counter-rotate the pelvis.

This is why your right arm and left leg swing forward at the same time.

To have effortless bat speed, like Josh Donaldson says, you MUST teach your hitters to take advantage of these natural laws of human movement.

DON’T use baseball batting stance & hitting techniques to coach them out of them.

 

Note #5: Rubber band effect, ‘stretching’, creating tension at the finish of his load

Another YESSSSS!

Although Josh Donaldson uses different baseball batting stance & hitting techniques terms, he’s talking about the compression/tension forces in the body via connective tissue called fascia.

Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains describes, what he calls Tensegrity (Tension-Integrity), like this:

I don’t like to think of the body as a rubber band, but rather like a spring.

But what Donaldson is describing is correct.

I refer to this as the Springy ‘X’ Pattern.

CLICK HERE for this video post describing this using Adrian Gonzalez’s swing as a model.

 

Note #6: Creating the timing to hit the pitch

Most people probably missed this point in the video…Donaldson briefly mentioned it, but I find it VERY important.

TIMING FOR HITTING IS EVERYTHING.

This is why I don’t like rapid fire soft toss OR 15-pitch marathon rounds batting practice.

It’s NOT about quick hands either.

Look, a baseball player may only see one pitch every 12-20 seconds.

A fast-pitch softball player may see one pitch every 8-15 seconds.

In games, swing intensity EVERY swing matters.

I can take a hitter with seemingly slow hands, adjust his or her timing, and have them barreling the ball more.

Of course, we’ll have to address their still ineffective mechanics at some point in the future, but the point is, it’s not about fast hands.

It’s about using the shoulders to speed up the hands.

The opposite IS NOT true.

Coaches handicap hitters by using ineffective drills like rapid fire soft toss, drop toss, and/or marathon B.P. sessions.

Again,

TIMING IS EVERYTHING IN HITTING.

CLICK HERE for “The Dead Simple Guide To Optimizing A Hitter’s Timing In Games”.

 

Note #7: Front foot is open…hips can’t separate from upper half

Miguel Cabrera: Landing Closed

Miguel Cabrera is one of my favorite swings to model, except for landing closed (less than 45-degree angle). However, he’s a physical beast, and most definitely succeeds despite one ineffective mechanic. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Another baseball batting stance & hitting techniques golden nugget from Josh Donaldson.

However, there are quite a few other coaches getting their panties in a bunch about this comment.

CLICK HERE and follow the thread of one of my Facebook posts.

CLICK HERE and follow a Facebook post thread of my friend and colleague Taylor Gardner, founder of the BackSpin Tee.  Actually a lot of really good discussion happening on this one.

They’re reinterpreting it as Donaldson is saying to ‘point the landing toe at the pitcher’.

This may be what it looks like in the video, which we also have to be careful of camera angles…

But the point of the matter is, that Donaldson is saying to ‘land open’.

And this is where, us coaches, must define terms.

I say if the landing foot is opened less than 45-degrees, the foot is closed.

If the landing foot is opened more than 45-degrees, the foot is open.

Chris Welch at ZenoLink says the front foot should land open, roughly around 65-degrees (at about 2-min mark):

And I agree.

I do think hitters like Donaldson and Bautista are more on the open side than others.

With my definition of landing foot closed versus open, I’d rather have my hitters err on the side of open, than closed.

CLICK HERE for another Zepp swing experiment where I tested this and found an average bat speed boost of 3-mph boost when landing open, over 200 swings.

Kyle Harrington, dad of one of my online hitting lesson students Stephen, who’s currently 13yo, 5’7″, 130-lbs…

Recently, increased his Ball Exit Speed 5-mph in the last 5 months off the tee, to now 77-mph.

I asked Kyle, what were the two biggest contributors to the increase…and he responded with:

“He grew about 2″ but he’s only 5’7”.  I think the main thing is that he is not stalling the bat.  In the 3D testing with Chris Welch [of ZenoLink.com] his peak bat speed slowed almost 10 mph before impact, which is common.  So he is decelerating the barrel less coming into impact.   He was blocking with the front hip and all the speed was too early .  So he’s actually  moving the bat speed forward in his swing more (where impact is)  rather behind the ball before impact.  That’s the main reason.”
This can happen for a few reasons:
  • Too much forward momentum (yes you can have too much),
  • Landing closed with the front foot, and
  • Inward turning (coiling) the pelvis towards the catcher (shifts our 45-degree optimal impact zone too deep into the swing).

When the hitter lands closed, as Donaldson said, it’s more challenging to optimize the body’s natural springy fascia.

It’s also worth noting that the front ‘foot shape’ will change depending on pitch location at impact.

For instance,

On an outside pitch, we’ll see the foot more flat, and possibly more closed, than on an inside pitch.

 

Note #8: 10yo kid told to get on top of the ball, tell them NO…don’t get paid for hitting ground-balls

Effect of Speed Fades Only When Launch Angles Exceed 10-degrees.

Ground-ball Coaches, if you spent more time instructing 10-degree launch angles and boosting Ball Exit Speeds, than you do telling hitters to always hit the ball on the ground, our hitters will be in a better position to crush pitchers.

For me, this tip was definitely the highlight of this video.

Btw, I agree…AGAIN!

And I’m not going to get into this in detail, because I already did that in “The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls” RANT post.

What’s more,

There was a comment on my baseball batting stance & hitting techniques Facebook post that is worth noting:

Reader A: “If I’m coaching a team of 10 year olds, and either the kid (or parent) tells me no, they ought to start looking for another team to play for. If you allow a kid to tell you no at that age, the kid will become uncoachable when he gets older.”

And here was a great response from another readers to this person:

Reader B: “If a teacher tells your kid 2+2 is 5, you don’t want him to have the courage and character to question the teacher?  This society man, anyone that questions authority is deemed to be at fault…how dare they!!!”

I agree with Reader B…however, I understand there are ignorant parents, as well as players, out there as well.

However, speaking in the context of what Donaldson is saying, I agree with Reader B on this.

If you’re a coach that’s teaching hitters to ALWAYS hit the ball on the ground, you’re being ineffective as a coach.  And you MUST get educated because if you’re aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

 

Note #9: Relaxed in stance…time that arms get engaged with the body is during his ‘coil’ (mentions ‘scap load’)

Jace: Fixing Bat Drag w/ Finger Pressure

Jace, one of my 11yos, weighs 67-lbs, and hit his first homer over a 180-foot fence. We fixed his racing back elbow bat drag with connecting his hands to his spinal engine through finger pressure.

I totally agree.

There’s a time to be relaxed, and then there’s a time to connect the body (driving engine) to the “things” holding the bat…the hands.

CLICK HERE for another Zepp swing experiment that talks about what I teach to my hitters as ‘finger pressure’, and how we’re banishing racing back elbow bat drag with this technique alone.

It’s ALL about “connection” folks.  Quite a few of the young hitters I see just aren’t connected.

But when they get connected…this is when we can triple their body-weight in distance (see Jace image above).

Note 10: Hands load it (versus shoulders), then barrel tips too much…leads to getting underneath balls

Josh Donaldson is talking about getting into his load (or ‘coil’) with his shoulders and not his hands.

When he uses his hands to get there, he feels it leads to an excessive ‘barrel tip’ (click following link), and to getting under the ball too much.

CLICK HERE for an AthleticsNation.com article titled, “Josh Donaldson: Changes in Approach & Mechanics”.

In this article, Jerry Brewer from East Bay Hitting Instruction compares Donaldson’s swing and metrics from 2013 to 2014.

The one big difference being an excessive barrel tip in 2014, leading to drops in his BA, OBP, & SLUG metrics by something like 50 points EACH.

By the way, Jerry is right on with the swing as well.

 

Note 11: At landing, wants bat to be at 45-degree angle, and to split his head from behind

I agree.

I don’t really want to get into this, but I thought it was a good little baseball batting stance & hitting techniques nugget from the video.

 

Note 12: Swing down to create backspin

The Science of Hitting Graphic on optimal bat path

This is where I see Josh Donaldson picking up where Ted Williams left off. This is a well known graphic from Williams’s book The Science of Hitting.

This is something Josh Donaldson is against, and I agree.

Yes, every once in awhile, a hitter can swing down on a ball and launch one.

Did you read the keywords there…?  “Every once in awhile.”

Do you know what the majority outcomes will be doing this?

Ground-balls.

And if you read my Ground-ball RANT, then you know how inferior default teaching your hitters to hit them is, unless of course you have hitters who run like greased lightning, or in a Hit & Run type scenario.

The biggest argument here, comes from Little League coaches saying, but the ground-ball is the hardest hit ball to field, throw, and catch.

And my rebuttal is, what happens when your ground-ball hitting team meets a team that can play catch?

It doesn’t matter anyway, because a majority of pitches are taught to keep the ball down in the zone to hitters.

WHY?

Because PITCHERS WANT HITTERS DRIVING THE BALL INTO THE GROUND.

 

Note#13: Intent – damage at all times

I thought this was a HUGE baseball batting stance & hitting techniques gold nugget.

When asked if Donaldson makes educated decisions to commit on pitches or against pitchers, he says, yeah it depends…

BUT,

His intent is to do damage at all times.

“Why wouldn’t I?” He smirks to Mark DeRosa 😛

Double and Dinger damage.

That’s what the Blue Jays pay him for.

Our objective as hitting coaches should be to get our sluggers hitting the ball as hard as their physical ability will allow them…as frequently as possible.

To return this baseball batting stance & hitting techniques post full circle, let me repeat:

You Didn’t Have To Be A Professional, To Teach High Level Baseball Batting Stance & Hitting Techniques Today

You just have to understand human movement principles that are validated by science, and apply these “rules” to hitting a ball.

And I’m out…

[Joey drops the mic…]

Reader Question: “What flexibility work do you do with your trainees to enhance counter-rotation of the torso as the foot lands open?”

 

Andrew McCutchen 'Showing his Numbers' to the Pitcher

Andrew McCutchen ‘showing his numbers’ to the pitcher, while landing open with lower half. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

This questions stems from how I teach hitters to ‘show their numbers’ to the pitcher during the load, as close to stride landing as possible…

(see image of Andrew McCutchen)

But for this to work, here’s the kicker…

The hitter MUST land open with the bottom half…front foot open between 45 and 60-degrees.

This creates what some coaches call torque, or counter-rotation of the shoulders-to-pelvis…

These are basic walking mechanics of the spine…and is why, as your right leg swings forward, so does your left arm.

So how do we optimize this action with our hitters using flexibility and strengthening?

I’m about 8-weeks into an online gymnastics strength training course through GymnasticBodies.com myself.  I’ve finished their Fundamentals course, and currently working through their Handstand course.

GymnasticBodies.com Fundamentals Course Deal

Photo courtesy: GymnasticBodies.com

CLICK HERE to get $25 OFF full price of $100 for their Fundamentals course.  I don’t get paid if you purchase the course.  I just LOVE what they’re doing, and believe ALL hitters MUST be engaging in this type of mobility and strength training.

(PLEASE NOTE: I’m not sure how long this deal will be up, so jump on it!)

Why am I putting myself through this training?

#1: as my wife will tell you, this is a gross obsession of mine…sometimes bordering on OCD.

And #2: I wanted to pick up a few things about bodyweight training mobility and stability for my hitters.

One of my guiding principles is if you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

And if you’re a coach that takes mentoring young athletes seriously, then you MUST be subscribing to the same proactive learning principles.

So, in the above video, we go over:

  • Rotation v. Anti-Rotation (acceleration v. braking systems)
  • Rotation stretch – hold each side for at least 30-secs
  • Rotation strengthen:
    • Windshield Wipers – do 10 repetitions each side
  • Anti-Rotation strengthen:
    • Side Plank (anti-side bend) – start off with holding for 30-secs, then increase by 15-secs after mastery
    • 3-Point Plank (anti-rotation of pelvis) – start off holding for 30-secs, then increase by 15-secs after mastery.

ENJOY!

Like Jose Altuve, You Can Compete With BIG Sluggers…

 

Jose Altuve Hitting Analysis

Look at Jose Altuve’s ‘bat lag’ and weight off the back foot. Photo courtesy: Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle

In doing Jose Altuve hitting analysis, here’s what I hear…

“Well, he’s a big hitter, that’s why he can hit for power”…

…Is the EXCUSE from coaches who’re removing any responsibility to help their smaller hitters hit the ball farther and harder.

Or, oftentimes I hear this about a hitter like Dustin Pedroia (5’9″, 175-lbs – these numbers are fudged “up” btw):

“He’s just gifted.”

Wa?!!

ALL Major Leaguers are GIFTED!!! lol

Tell me one physical advantage that Dustin Pedroia has over most…??!

Don’t say eye hand coordination or vision because that’s another common rebuttal.

There are countless other MLB hitters with the same superior eye-hand coordination and vision.

The reality is, smaller sluggers MUST be MORE effective, in order to compete with sluggers bigger than them.

Now, this Jose Altuve hitting analysis post isn’t about the ‘laser show’…however,

Standing in at 5’6″,

…and weighing in at a soaking wet 165-pounds, we’ll look at Jose Altuve (his height and weight numbers are a little closer to reality I think).

Although,

I do think Jose Altuve has one thing over the ‘laser show’, and that’s dancing (parental guidance is recommended 😉:

In this Jose Altuve hitting analysis video, we’ll go over:

  • Jose Altuve stats,
  • Presents of Forward Momentum (FoMo)?
  • How well he dominates the plane of the pitch,
  • Where his power comes from, and
  • Does he practice Pitch Recognition?

FYI: the pitch Jose Altuve is hitting in the video analysis looks like an 87-mph FB straight down broadway, and it does look like he’s on-time.

Without further adieu, here are the notes for the…

 

Jose Altuve Hitting Analysis Stats (the averages of averages)

CLICK HERE for the FanGraphs.com post  I pulled the following stats from*:

  • ISO = +20 points
  • BABIP = +34 points
  • GB% = +4%
  • LD% = +1%
  • FB% = -6%
  • HR/FB% = -3.5%

(*a (+) denotes how many points OR percentage points or above league average, and a (-) denotes below league average.)

 

Presents of Forward Momentum (FoMo)?

  • Is FoMo present?
  • Shifting foot pressure (mentioned landing with closed front foot), and
  • Moving Center of Gravity (COG).

 

How Well he Dominates the Plane of the Pitch

  • Knee Action – ‘getting shorter’ and ‘staying shorter’
  • Barrel Plane – keeping barrel on plane for as long as possible

 

Where his Power Comes from…

  • Showing numbers,
  • Hiding hands from the pitcher,
  • Hunch – Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT), and
  • Down shoulders? (not so much here).

 

Does he Practice Pitch Recognition?

My friend Aaron Miles, who was small (5’8″, 180-lbs), and played 9 years in the Bigs, talks about how his High School coach was forward thinking…in that he did Pitch Recognition training with his troops, and Aaron’s coach said he had the best PR on the team.

My hypothesis in this Jose Altuve hitting analysis is that he does some sort of PR training, OR has a God given early pitch recognition ability that allows him to hit the ball so hard, so often.

Sure, according to this Jose Altuve hitting analysis,

…Altuve may not hit over 30 homers per year, but he sure will hit a boat load of doubles, which is just as good to contributing to team wins…just look at his above average (average) ISO and BABIP scores above!