Bat Tee Interview

Backspin Bat Tee Co-Founder Interview: If One Of The Best, Mike Trout, Is Giving Up An Average 20-mph Of Ball Exit Speed, How Much Do Mere Mortals Give Up Doing The Same Thing?

 

Here are the Backspin bat tee co-founder interview with Taylor Gardner topics that we discussed:

  • What do bat tee adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?Bat Tee Interview
  • True or False: Hitters MUST straighten their front leg to be effective…
  • What if hitters used a more precision approach like golfers when operating between 90-degrees?
  • Instead of writing off the arm bar as it doesn’t work, why not ask how can it work?
  • Is there ever a time when ‘swing down’ or ‘barrel above the hands’ bat tee cues can work?
  • If one of the best, Mike Trout, is giving up 20-mph of ball exit speed, how much do mere mortals give up doing the same thing?
  • Where can people find more about you Backspin bat tee guys?

The following is the bat tee transcription of the video above.  This is a sneak peak at the expert interviews we’ll be including in Volume-2 of the Swing Smarter book series.  Enjoy!

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Joey Myers  00:07

There he is.

Taylor Gardner  00:09

Oh,

Joey Myers  00:10

You hear me? Okay.

Taylor Gardner  00:12

Oh, yeah!

Joey Myers  00:13

Oh, there’s the baby. You got that mixed up? I don’t think that’s supposed to go in your mouth.

Taylor Gardner  00:21

Probably should.

Joey Myers  00:24

Look at you.

Taylor Gardner  00:26

Yeah.

Joey Myers  00:27

Causing your parents so much so many sleepless nights.

Taylor Gardner  00:30

Yeah, momma needed a shower time and dad had an interview here.

Joey Myers  00:38

Double interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:40

Yeah. Oh my

Joey Myers  00:45

Look at that, first time I think we’ve done a zoom interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:49

Oh it has been working out, better adjust my camera?

Joey Myers  00:55

No, I think you’re good. What do you need to adjust?

Taylor Gardner  00:57

All I was going to bring it down a little bit. I think I always fall down.

Joey Myers  01:01

Yeah, I think you’re good. Okay. Are you ready? Let me do the official bat tee start. Hello and welcome to Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com and probably for the half a dozenth interview. I have Taylor Gardner here from Backspin Bat Tee. Welcome to the show. Taylor looks like you brought a little friend.

Taylor Gardner  01:26

That’s right. Yes. Yeah. She has been influenced by any good or bad and…

Joey Myers  01:37

there. There we go. You froze for a little bit. Say it again? Say No. So, she’s been influenced by what?

Taylor Gardner  01:46

I said. No, we got we got a fresh template here. She hasn’t had any good or bad instruction to start working with this.

Joey Myers  01:54

Yeah, yeah. Tie the right arm behind your back and… is your brother? Is he lefty? Or is he righty?

Taylor Gardner  02:03

He’s a switch hitter. You can do both.

Joey Myers  02:05

He does both. But what about throwing? Is he a righty?

Taylor Gardner  02:07

He’s righty.

Joey Myers  02:09

Okay, cool. Well, hey, I wanted to get you on the on the other side of the screen here and wanted to talk about making bat tee adjustments. So that we could go into the hitting side we could go into the strategy side we can go into any different things. So, what do adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?

 

What do bat tee adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?

Taylor Gardner  02:30

The adjustment is, must be understood and adjustment is something if a hitter is already attempting to be on time, it’s really hard to make adjustments if you’re not in the time window to start with. If you’re going up there to hit and you’re just purely reacting your adjustments are also reacting maybe even twice as long or twice as late as they should be.

Taylor Gardner  02:56

Within the understanding that people were syncing up release point we have the timing window of the pitch coming in. Maybe we’re sitting on fastball and all sudden we a pitcher throws a changeup, and whether you recognize the spin or the speed or the trajectory angle, whether an off-speed pitch, what do you do?

Taylor Gardner  03:15

Well, if your plan was there to help you your approach is there to help you not hurt you, so within your plan or approach if you’re on time for fastball, and oh no it’s an off-speed pitch. What do you do? Well, easy answer is, you don’t stop your swing. I know we get told a lot of wait, let that curveball get a lot deeper. Now we’re talking about changing depths and it’s really hard to change depths of timing on the fly. So as instead of being reactive to making your adjustment proactive and making your adjustment one thing that my baby down actually brought a bat here to show you…

Joey Myers  03:55

Use the baby as a bat…how cute she is.

Taylor Gardner  04:02

One thing that we see a lot with hitters. He was left-handed here. I do apologize. Is they’re sideways, they’re pretty lined up with a pitcher in some fashion bat tee stance, and then we start to ride and stride as they start to witness that. Okay, this ball isn’t a perfect fastball down the middle. What do I do?  Well, we see them not only continue to take their head and posture to the ball, but you see a lot of hitters start turn in and sit with the ball.

Taylor Gardner  04:33

As opposed to going uh oh, I’m a little early, let me pull out and then have to release my arms and hands to hopefully start to see hitters actually sit with that ball. Then because, you sit, any movement takes time. And if the plane is correct, you’re on time for the pitchers fastest pitch and then if you’re making an adjustment is to bite. This is where a lot of young hitters especially they don’t do a good job of buying time.

Taylor Gardner  05:00

They end up staying on their backside and opening up too soon and all they have left is like it with their own risk. And yeah, you can hit a ball and do that, and you probably get on base and feel good about yourself. But the faster you know that speed starts to go up and level and the more drastic change of off speed, you get a 90 mile an hour fastball and 80-mph changeup. That’s a little different than facing a 75 mile an hour fastball and 70 mile change-up.

Taylor Gardner  05:27

As a pitcher supposed to extend those timelines, adjustments and variables, the hitters have to as well. The ability to be ready for the fastest pitch and also be able to buy time while staying in a good posture position on the ball is something that we see really good hitters do and you know, quite frankly, amateur hitters don’t do as well.  Oh, sure at some level. Yeah, won’t be a good fastball hitter.  Every great hitter is known to be a great fastball hitter.

Taylor Gardner  05:55

If you’re looking off speed looking for that, that slow curveball every fast ball is going to beat you. On the timeline you got to be prepared for the pitches, pitchers fastest pitch as the fastest timeline. Therefore, your plan is there to help. Yeah, he’s going to be perfect every time, well of course not, it’s baseball. It’s tough. But at least the plan was in place to help you be on time for fastball and buy time for off speed.

Taylor Gardner  06:23

For example, this last weekend, my nephew, faced his first knuckleballer. 13 years old didn’t know this pitcher had a knuckleball it wasn’t his main pitch, so you know first at bat I don’t know hit a fastball for double, second a bat gets a strike or two on him a ball or two and then all the sudden, whack!  He hits a single, steals second base eventually gets to third base and the coach at third goes, “good job Maverick you know you really sat well in your legs on that change up”, he goes “wasn’t a changeup coach, it was knuckleball”. He goes, “Oh, when did you realize it was a knuckleball?”  “After I hit it!”

Taylor Gardner  06:59

It reminded me that he took a good plan to the plate, ready for fastball he happened to adjust instinctively to this crazy knuckleball, but it was more about controlling this contact depth. I’m not quitting on my swing. Did he sit more in his legs, sure.  Did he have a locked out-front leg? No. But he found a way to keep his spinal engine and posture on the ball. By the time he pulled the trigger. Sure, the ball got a little deeper, he barreled it up, he got a good hit out of it. At the end of the day, it didn’t fool him, this random pitch that he really has never seen, didn’t make him react and freeze.

Taylor Gardner  07:36

It didn’t make him react it to slow down and touch it, his reaction was to stay on the ball and give it a chance. And it sounds easy to do until you start seeing a pitch come flying at your body. For us older coaches that aren’t playing anymore, I think sometimes we forget that. There’s a little fear involved. And so, a good plan leads to good adjustments. And sometimes knowing how to get over that fear or filter out your situation really helps that plan starts to stick together better.

Taylor Gardner  07:57

And therefore, those bat tee adjustments really become valuable. As far as other types of adjustments. And that was one type of sitting in your legs, other types of adjustments. We’ve seen Mike Trout sit in his legs; we’ve also seen him bend over a little more at his waist a little side tilt. That’s another way of buying time. Adjustments to me, in our world is a place to buy time, every movement takes time. But unless you’re ready to line your posture up for the ball on time to begin with, adjustments are just going to slow you down. You’ve got to make sure those adjustments are there to help you not hurt you.

Joey Myers  08:48

Well, you said a couple bat tee things that would blow a couple people’s minds they were listening to this… number one is sitting on your backside and swinging from that position number one, and number two, that you don’t have to straighten out your front leg that you can keep that bent. And I love that and that’s something that I’ve learned from you and your brother and Matty, Matty Nokes that the legs really set direction like the lower half basically sets directional force, it does contribute to some of the power.

Joey Myers  09:16

And we’ve learned discussions on that over the last couple of years saying you know, probably between 20 and 30%, it probably contributes to the power of the overall power thing. But the idea that you can use your knees bending your knees at front knee to adjust to pitch height like those are bat tee adjustments that we can make that if you’re from a train of thought that says you have to straighten it you have to brace that leg out, right, I mean that’s really not… We’re trying to like you said buy time.

 

True or False: Hitters MUST straighten their front leg to be effective

Taylor Gardner  09:46

Right. Speaking while the bracing the front leg, the front leg can obviously we can see it YouTube it, Google it. Now of course you can hit with a straight front leg and even sitting in your legs may still turn out to be a brace straightening front leg, you still bend your knee and still walk and brace into that front knee.

Taylor Gardner  10:06

But I think a lot of times as coaches and instructors that usually come to… an issue that I’ve seen come around is their teaching to push the leg straight, as opposed to letting the hip pull the leg straight.  Pitchers do a really good job of this, they don’t just land in their front leg and then push straight up.  Is their vertical ground force? Of course, there is.

Taylor Gardner  10:29

Now in hitting though, there may be little more of that vertical into horizontal ground force, it sounds funny to say, but you’re not just going to push up away from the ball every time. Sure, could you get away with it, of course, and there’s nothing wrong if you are on time and you get the barrel to it, great job. But like you like to say Joey, if it happens too much to ignore, I’ll just start paying attention.

Joey Myers  10:52

Yeah, and on that note, that was the one big bat tee thing that I pulled from you, we’ve been friends for probably over 6, 7, 8 years now, was that idea of staying sideways and keeping that back foot from completely turning over. Like a lot of coaches will say pivot that back foot, pivot that back foot, and meaning, that back heel will turn towards home plate. And it’ll continue to keep rotating. And so, I think we’ve developed almost a generation or two of hitters that are over rotating the lower half.

Joey Myers  11:23

And you say, using Matt Nokes’s lingo is stay sideways, stay sideways, I think is a great one.  And to your point, or to our point that it happens too much to ignore, and you can’t just write it off. Some of our buddies in the past have said well, that hitter can do that because he XYZ that hitter can do that because it’s… no it happens if you take the top 100 hitters, 50 hitters, you’ll see half of them stay sideways and maybe the other half, get to this neutral with it. So that happens a little bit too often to be ignored.

Taylor Gardner  11:57

For anyone that’s listening, if you’ve ever played golf and if you haven’t fine taken a baseball bat take it slow, practice golf swing, go YouTube, Rory McElroy, Tiger Woods, anyone you want. Golfers have figured out how to stay sideways with their back foot.  Now, their balls on the ground and it’s generally between them. Like ball being on a bat tee for hitters.  They’re more allowed to buy but positions of contact with golf. However, you’re going to see baseball players do it too. But since the contact point in baseball can be further out front. Sure, you’re going to see that that back foot rotates a little more before contact. I get that told a lot. “Well, look at this hitter.”

Taylor Gardner  12:33

Yes, but look what happened the first 80% of his swing before contact, he was still sideways, he was still… now was he turning his shoulders, was he loading his core, the spiral engine. Sure, but the back foot was still sideways to hit, the back foot ends up becoming a bit of a rudder.  I won’t even take that too literal. But you wouldn’t start with your back foot facing the catcher, you wouldn’t face with your back foot facing the pitcher. There’s a reason, it’s a natural position for the body.

Taylor Gardner  13:05

The ball is thrown in front of us and quite honestly, ball comes in and it is in front and to the side of us.  If you’ve ever swung an axe, it makes sense to shift your weight and leverage up. That’s why we want to have a little more shift, not only for taking your head to the ball and be able to judge depth before moving very good and feeling your depth and putting a nice sense to it.

Taylor Gardner  13:34

But at the same time spinning against my back foot. Step on my dog… [laughs] spinning too soon. Now the ball is essentially to the side and behind us. Not that you can’t hit from here we opened up too soon. My swing’s wanting to go this way, I crossed my face this way, we want to cross our face into contact with the ball. Again, golfers understand this and their balls in front of them. They want to cross the face you don’t want to spin out and then cross their face too late that ends up turning into a slice and anyone who has played golf, probably vouch for that, my goodness I’m spinning off the ball. balls on never fixed.

Joey Myers  14:19

Well, and what I love the golf analogy is because in golf, you have a ridiculously small margin for error, you have we’re talking in hundreds of yards, not hundreds of feet and your little ball that’s got to get hit by this clubface and then the square center center contact with the clubface in the ball the straighter the ball is going to go. You can take that clubface and slightly like a couple of millimeters you can slightly pull it in like you’re going to hook it or slightly away like you’re going to slice it and those little, teeny millimeters by the end of that 200-yard journey is going to be way pull or slice.

Joey Myers  14:55

What I always tell my hitters, I say when we’re teaching this concept of staying sideways and keeping that back foot from over rotating is, we have to play almost like a golfer, where a golfer’s looking at one shot to the pin, I call it one degree of fair territory. And outside of that 359 degrees of foul territory, because in golf, the objective is the least number of strokes to get it in the hole. In baseball, of course, we have 90 degrees to play with, but we want to act like we’re doing like golf, we want to act like there is a smaller margin, and we have to operate within that smaller bat tee margin, right?

What if hitters used a more precision bat tee approach like golfers when operating between 90-degrees?

Taylor Gardner  15:29

Along those lines, that it’s incredible you say that because the whole outside pitches, let it get deep, inside pitchers you’re magically allowed to pull for some reason, we’re talking about different depths there. Where in golf, obviously, the ball’s not moving, but to their benefit, they’re more precise, they have time to get their stance set up, time to adjust their face angle. So yes, maybe we don’t have that luxury in baseball, but we do have the luxury of knowing our contact depth.

Taylor Gardner  15:58

Do I like hitting the ball more? You know, some hitters like hitting the ball more off their front hip, some even further out front, some like hitting it a little deeper, more or middle of the other ball, whatever it is that you are super comfortable. That’s your decision. That’s what you’re going to battle with the best. And, again, based on your timeline. I have a lot of young hitters, and we constantly have to work on reminding them. Where is your preferred contact?

Taylor Gardner  16:29

And not to make them look like robots, but you’ll see them when uh, I don’t know, maybe like right there or up here. It’s like, Oh, you got to know, if you don’t know, you’re guessing, like your close, good job of being on time. We want to be on time with our contact point. This is a lot more precise. And as you know, aim small miss small, it’s may not always show up in baseball, maybe you had a day where you didn’t hit well. But you know what my plan was good. My adjustments were sound. And maybe I was just a little early or tad late, whatever that may be over under the ball.

Taylor Gardner  17:06

But you can sleep well at night knowing, man I had it at 99% today. And you don’t realize how much you haven’t figured out. You start thinking about more precision, besides movements. And then suddenly you go out three years ago, I was going to battle with a 50%. efficiency.  That shocks a lot of hitters and I really do think a lot of good college players get to pro ball and maybe it doesn’t pan out for whatever reason.

Taylor Gardner  17:32

I think a lot of them whether they can say it or not verbiage that happens to a lot of if they get exposed, we get told at every level of baseball, you better swing faster Jerry, you better figure out how to get that faster pitching, you better, have quicker hands, whatever. Of course, we must make those adjustments because we’re being exposed. What if we got ahead of that being exposed?

Taylor Gardner  17:56

I don’t know if you saw the video that I posted on the baseball Illuminati page. I was actually crow hopping of doing run and guns, a nine-year-old ballplayer shuffle stepping out 25 feet in front of them throwing the ball 60-mph our reaction time stupid fast. So never seen anything that fast in their lives. As far as timing wise. And you know what he did? It took him a bit. He filtered it out. He figured out when to go when to shift, how to track the ball.

Taylor Gardner  18:26

And yeah, that ball was getting to him quicker than any pitch he’s ever going to see in baseball. And he started barreling balls up.  Our brain’s a supercomputer y’all know that problem is if that supercomputer is putting in the wrong formula, it’s still going to, there’s still going to be a glitch. You still have to help it out.

Joey Myers  18:44

Shoot, I’d even go another step with the wrong formula and just saying that it’s becoming impossible, or you hear that from coaches? Well, that’s impossible, that’s not going to happen, or that’s not reality, or it’s not going to happen. And instead of saying that something’s not possible, why not ask why? or How can it be possible, right? We’ve talked about the front arm shape and trying to get that thing extended out. Whereas everybody in their mother seems to teach this bent front arm, right.

Joey Myers  19:13

The question that I always get when I put that post out there, people will go well, you know, I’ve tried to test it out and beer league softball and works there, but it doesn’t work in the big leagues and whatnot. And if you go way back, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, all those guys locked out. So instead of saying, oh, that doesn’t work, today’s pitchers throw too hard and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Why not ask how can we make that work? Yes. How does that work? Right?

 

Instead of writing off the arm bar as it doesn’t work, why not ask how can it work?

Taylor Gardner  19:42

What if we made 90 miles an hour feel slower? Nothing’s any easier to hit. But what if? What if it wasn’t impossible.  And clearly, it’s not, people do it every day. It’s not impossible.  I’d like to say maybe the way we’re rationalizing it and maybe even practicing. Maybe we’re not doing our own job as a baseball coach, making, maybe it’s 75 miles. Now, if you’re struggling, maybe that’s what it is, whatever it is get ahead of that curve, not that you’re going to just start jacking home runs. But don’t be late. There’s no excuse for being late. There’s no excuse for not filtering out and understanding your environment.

Taylor Gardner  20:19

Maybe you don’t get to face a live picture every day or practice, that’s fair. I’m sure you have your work cut out for ya. But there’s no reason to get your doors blown off, when you have all of the potential to be as early as you want. Once you’re late, once the ball gets behind your timeline, and it gets behind your back. Pitcher starts in front of us. We as hitters, let ourselves be late. Maybe because we’re trying to do some crazy swing, like, oh, let it get deep and snap it or something, I don’t know.

Taylor Gardner  20:50

But whatever it may be, again, kind of back to the approach and those adjustments. Got to clean that up. And maybe you got to study more time. Maybe you got to study more spinal engine springy fascia and figure out where to get your running position. To your arm bar point… I think a lot of… uh oh, we have a wandering baby…

Joey Myers  21:13

Wait till she starts walking…

Taylor Gardner  21:15

I know I can’t wait!  I understand folding your levers and engaging muscles, getting correct shapes. That makes sense. But when you see arm bar, and it starts to walk out, or to do slow motion. Yeah, looks funky in slow motion to arm bar. When you engage the body and it starts out, it starts to feel a little more natural golfers do the same thing. Luckily for us that in golf, you get to start with it extended and just connected to your body from there.

Taylor Gardner  21:55

But this bat is heavy, I completely understand why people want to hold it close to their body, it is rational. And it’s still close to the body. It’s not like we’re arm barring out here. If you’re still arm barring across our core, this bat is behind you, want lag and you want leverage, leverage, and just loose and lever sometimes, your hands are so close to your body. And even so close this way to the middle of your body. By the time you do a swing, yeah, you’re getting the barrel off your foot. And it may be a strong position depending upon position.

Taylor Gardner  22:34

But if I never got the benefit of the lag, and a clearing, and time to speed up the bat, it takes time to speed up the bat. This is not an instantaneous thing. I know this swing only takes like point two seconds; I get it.  That’s slow through the world of everything happening, there is plenty of time and so that hand, grips on the bat. For most people they’re bottom hand is the weaker hand.  Not doing anything left-handed if I have to. But you want your dominant arm to do his job.

Taylor Gardner  23:09

Not that you have to do it all with a dominant arm. But you certainly don’t want your weaker arm to be your dominant arm. Now, how do you get them in position? Well, as you get a swing, if it happens to lock out, you’re getting the benefit of lag and leverage. How is that wrong? If I understand timing, if I understand off your positions and swing plane. And armbar is nothing in the scheme of arguments. I’m linked into the lever.  If I do it correctly, then of course, I have more leverage and more bat speed.

Taylor Gardner  23:42

But bat speed takes time. And so, when I see a lot of kids, they start here and the lever pull even more on their hands get across the face really soon, elbows way behind their hand and not even close to be slotted. And next thing you know, you’re chopping down or they slice it, and more important, their swing radius and swing arc may only go so far. Versus if I clear, I can get a further reach. And it’d be right within my wheelhouse of comfortability.

Joey Myers  24:13

If we go back to your contact points, right, knowing what your contact points are. When we work with our hitters on what we call our horizontal approach, or our line-to-line approach. Being able to hit the ball the other way, pull it, and go up the middle things like that. We talked about that there are two main things to be aware of… one is what you’ve already said is your contact point. But number two is when that barrel enters the hitting zone.

Joey Myers  24:38

And it’s going to be different for we call middle in and middle away. It’s going to be different. So middle away and middle down. That snapping early getting the barrel in the zone early makes sense. It’s a great middle down of the strike zone middle away approach. But when it comes to middle in the middle up, it doesn’t make sense, and I use those bad cues that I thought were bad about four years ago. Swing down, barrel above the ball, we do use those but only for middle in, middle up.

 

Is there ever a time when ‘swing down’ or ‘barrel above the hands’ cues can work?

Taylor Gardner  25:05

But right. Speaking along those lines… Yes, have you ever had a kid trying out a new baseball bat and Oh man, he’s struggling with the weight or it was too long for him. But that’s some of the stuff you’ve been told, just remember that when this bat is laying horizontal, is heavier, as far as where the balance is. There’s a reason we stack the barrel. And there’s a reason we hold this bat up, you can hold it with one finger.

Taylor Gardner  25:34

That’s how life, if you will, work how to control the bat, Matt Nokes talks about this, why, the barrel above the hands, it’s taken me a while, the feel can be down, in fact there is a down move in the swing, hold your posture. It’s called your head. The balls is below you. Yes, we want to swing on plane. Of course. But how you get to that barrel entering the zone. And before it starts that actual upswing? That is paramount.

Taylor Gardner  26:07

That also was still wrong with the down early method. Yeah, you’ve got there. But did you give up timing, to get to position at contact.  Did you give up adjustments, because your only move is to get there. If you were able to just keep your hands and be ready for that high and inside pitch, as Perry husband would say we get to focus on EV tunnels.

Taylor Gardner  26:34

If I’m ready for that, then great. And then I can always adjust if I need to.  Wait adjustment patterns, that kind of dynamic plan. Not everyone would agree with me on this, but just from a third party perspective, if the high and inside pitch is the ball that we have to get the barrel out there quickest to, it makes sense to me to be on time with that and adjust down and away with that, because you have more time or space, ball is further away from me to do so, obviously, you get in the baseball stuffs like, well, if you’re looking middle middle, and then that gets tougher if you’re looking away if you’re looking wherever.

Taylor Gardner  27:19

I don’t want to get into the approach part of it. But it just makes sense to me that you can practice, play around practicing with looking high and in, get that pitch locked in, and then we’ll work it down to middle middle, get that adjustment pattern locked in. Maybe for some people, it’s not so much that they have to change their approach, maybe they just need to be comfortable getting to all these pitches vertically, you might not have to worry about what my timing is good, I’m swinging at the right pitches, just getting jammed a lot on high.

Taylor Gardner  27:51

Well, maybe it’s just because you’re dumping your barrel too soon.  It’s okay, you got to find where that issue is, and not fight it. But again, let your plan help you get there. The barrel above the hands is a great plan. It helps me already be ready for that movement pattern… sure, maybe you get to that pitch well maybe you’re facing speeds you can handle and you’re struggling with low and away. So maybe you do have to think about releasing that barrel sooner. Okay, nothing wrong with that.

Taylor Gardner  28:23

I would give everyone hesitation to just go out and put out a YouTube video saying this is the one and only way, of course it’s not. But we must understand all of it so that when you hear someone say something, to filter through what they’re saying, you’ll see why he’s doing it, that makes sense.  When you come out and some of these instructors say just one swing plane for every pitch. And if I just wait longer than I can see it longer. We know that’s not exactly be true.  Eyes don’t see the ball much longer just because we’re not swinging.

 

If one of the best, Mike Trout, is giving up 20-mph of ball exit speed, how much do mere mortals give up doing the same thing?

Joey Myers  28:56

Well and what’s also interesting is what the actual hitting operating system is when you can watch somebody, when you have been around the block and you’ve seen a lot of these different teachings, you can see what their main operating system is. And I know you and I were similar in this and we want to maintain high ball exit speeds.

Joey Myers  29:16

When you get a hitting guy that’s talking about a certain thing like hey, we need to get that at high and inside pitch with the bend in the front arm we need to get there, well we know that Perry Husband said Mike Trout, one of the best in the world will go down is one of the best top five probably, ever top five top 10 and down and away average ball exit speed is 101 miles an hour, not his top out but his average. And that’s where he’s locked out with that elbow at contact.

Joey Myers  29:45

And then at up and in, he’s reduced to a high school baseball player at 80 to 83 miles an hour. So he’s losing almost around 20 miles an hour ball exit speed that’s 80 feet. That’s 80 feet of batted ball distance that he’s giving up by looking away and adjusting in. Well, some people go well, that’s fine. But here’s the deal. And this is what I tell my players I say, Mike Trout is a once in a lifetime player. He’s just one of those people that we will look back on when he’s done with his career. And we will say he’s one of the best. One of the best ever is giving up 20 miles an hour ball exit speed.

Joey Myers  29:50

20 miles an hour.

Joey Myers  30:24

You know what the amateurs are probably giving up. 30-35 miles an hour ball exit speed?  He’s one of the best he can get away with it. You’re going to be given up a lot more.

Taylor Gardner  30:34

Yeah. I can’t remember if it was you or someone else had brought to my attention. It was before COVID happened. I think it was the baseball season before. And they asked, who hit their highest exit speed most often? Try and word that correctly. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know. And there’s Jose Altuve. And Aaron Judge. I was like, oh, okay, wow, two different types of hitter’s sizes body length. They said, Oh, you know how often they hit their hardest exit speeds?

Taylor Gardner  31:06

And at first, I’m like, Oh, these big leaguers? Oh, man, I bet 20% of their hits or they’re popping out near their top exit speeds. It was less than 2%. Wow, less than 2% of all of their hits, on miss hits in the realm of hitting is as hard as you can. What does that mean, though? Does that mean maybe they’re slowing their swing down and touching the ball? No, I don’t think so. And in my opinion, obviously get fooled on some pitches. Okay, fine.

Taylor Gardner  31:33

But I think most of their base hits that they reported, I think their miss hits are that powerful. And once you start to realize that homeruns are the best result, okay, but maybe your best result is a hard line shot, single or double, whatever. However hard you get whatever type of hit is your hardest hit, which for most people is a low launch angle, I dunno, maybe 0-5, maybe 10 degrees. And then that makes sense. Balls coming down about 5, 7, 8 degrees.

Taylor Gardner  32:03

And you can imagine that plane, you’re going to give up exit speed when you raise or lower your launch angle. And I see a lot of people don’t understand that. Oh, no. My hardest hits home runs.  Not exactly. I want to say the highest ball ever recorded was a ground ball. Double play.  It’s okay. It’s okay that if your exit speed fluctuates, based on how well you struck that ball for a single, double, triple based on how high or low you hit it, that’s fine. And you want to start tightening those windows up.

Taylor Gardner  32:33

But Backspin tee, you know Taylor, Joey, you can’t control your launch angles, not saying you can control your launch angles. It’s just like I’m not saying you can even hit why I’m saying though, is you can work on the precision of contact and work on your precision posture and swing plane. And when it lines up, you smoke a ball at the pitcher’s head, you did your job. And when the next at-bat, it probably feels the same and you hit a homerun, guess what you did your job. You hit the ball far. But more importantly, your plan gave you the ability to fall as hard as potentially could that swing.

Taylor Gardner  33:08

And that’s Oh man, how many young kids have you seen? You throw them one change-up… They’re crushing balls… you throw them one change up. And then the next 10 swings are crap. They just can’t find it… it just ruins their world. It’s like, oh, man, you got to filter that out. Trust the plan and get to the next pitch. It’s okay.

Joey Myers  33:29

Yeah, exactly. That’s crazy. Yeah, that’s a good one to end on. And that’s another call for another day. I want to be respectful of your time because you’ve got a little one that’s down there. And she’s been great. By the way.

Taylor Gardner  33:40

She’s sleeping now.

Joey Myers  33:41

She’s asleep. Yeah, she’s asleep. I’m talking too loudly. I’m talking to you loudly. But hey, I want to let you get back to the baby and get back to the family. hopefully get some sleep. Maybe she’ll take take a nap with her. But hey, where can people find you? socials, website, any kind of deals that you got going on right now? Go ahead. And…

 

Where can people find more about you guys?

Taylor Gardner  34:04

Yes, so find us on Google backspin bat tee to find backspintee.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, we have a 20% off code at the moment. If you use the code BATBROS. For those of you that follow the baseball bat pros, I’m very good friends with them. They are great people Bill Taylor and them and they’re amazing people. But you’re also going to find our bat tee in Dick’s Sporting Goods here soon. So be on the lookout.

Taylor Gardner  34:28

Hopefully, Academy is a follow that as well for those that maybe that’s closer to here. And we’re trying hard to get Mark word shields and some other big retail stores. But the Dick’s Sporting Goods we’re shipping that out here in a couple days. Extremely excited to make that next jump to the big retail because we’ve done so well on the individual bat tee sale and it’s time to make that move.

Joey Myers  34:50

Yeah, congratulations, buddy. I’ve been with you for a lot of this bat tee journey. I think we jumped on probably we start building our relationship maybe your second year I think you guys are. So, so I’m just excited for you guys. And I know you guys have been just like all of us been through our ups and downs and stuff and it sounds like you guys are starting to starting to rise again. So yeah,

Taylor Gardner  35:12

Yeah, it all started with Joey Myers experiment video, my bat tee versus the other tee, and we didn’t know each other so you have to watch that video.

Joey Myers  35:20

Again. See how they turned out? Yeah, it was in a very bias thing, I was probably, we had run into each other a couple times. We talked on the phone maybe once or twice and I was like, you know what, let’s try this out. Let’s do a bat tee experiment on it. I think it turned out well for you guys.

Taylor Gardner  35:34

Yeah, I think well back to the precision of contact, just changing that visual. You had a more funnel effect with the Backspin Bat Tee, and with the traditional tee, it was a little more scattered and it just makes you wonder, not promoting my bat tee over another tee… Tee just are you working on your precision and in your vision obviously has a lot to do with that so, pick up a Backspin Bat Tee, give it a shot, if you don’t like don’t like it, then I’ll give you your money back. Yeah, definitely.

Joey Myers  36:01

Right. Then percent off and you get 20% BATBROS. B-A-T-B-R-O-S, and that’s all caps, correct? Cool. All right, brother. Well, thanks. Keep up the good bat tee work. Congrats on everything and congrats on the little girl. My first time seeing her.

Taylor Gardner  36:13

Thank you bud.

Joey Myers  36:14

Alright brother. Take care of yourself.

Taylor Gardner  36:16

Have a good one.

Joey Myers  36:17

Have a good Easter.

Taylor Gardner  36:18

Thank you.

Strike Zone Baseball: Pitch Detection & Pitch Tracking Baseball

How To Master Strike Zone Baseball with V-Flex Pitch Detection System

I have a strike zone baseball mastery, pitch detection, pitch tracking baseball, pitch recognition (whatever you want to call it) gem for you coaches…

(This post has a 6-min reading time)

And FYI … many coaches who know about this, DO NOT want you to know about it.  Why?  Because they want to keep their competitive advantage.  I don’t play that game.  I’d rather share the knowledge, tool, or strategy, so it makes baseball and softball of all levels better.  All ships rise with the tides.

Training pitch tracking baseball and softball developing a sense of the strike zone, to have a pitch detection or recognition system if you will, can be a challenge. You may not know how to teach it, cue it, or drill it.Strike Zone Baseball: Pitch Detection & Pitch Tracking Baseball

What if I were to tell you that you could use a pitch tracking baseball tool like the V-Flex, which promotes implicit learning, that will teach hitters pitch detection and how to master strike zone baseball. What is implicit learning? Simply put, it’s teaching without teaching.

Here are some pain points associated with strike zone mastery, pitch detection, pitch tracking baseball, pitch recognition – whatever you want to call it:

  • Don’t know how to teach swing at more strikes, and not at balls,
  • I do know how, but it’s difficult to teach and we’re not seeing immediate results, or
  • Want to cut down on my hitter striking out and swinging and missing, but don’t know where to start…

Well, you’re in the right place.  Here are the pitch tracking baseball and softball models to choose from, and you can get any one of these at The Starting Lineup Store

 

VX-3 Strike Zone Baseball Benefits (Baseball & Softball)

  •  The VX-3.0 is the smallest trainer in the VX-Series of products.
  • It plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.  
  • It can be used independently or in combination with the VX-5 and or VX-7 during training or live bp on the field. 
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training.
  • Watch the VX-3 assembly video to gain tips on how to assemble…

VX-3 Pitch Detection Features (Baseball & Softball)

  • Frame is made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.
  • This model also comes with galvanized/poly-coated cables and a new shock absorbing ring.
  • Finally, it comes with a 5 pound sand bag for stability.  The VX-3.0 comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.
  • It comes with a 5-year manufacturers warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.

 

VX-4 Pitch Tracking Baseball Benefits (Baseball Only)

  • The VX-4 plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.  
  • It can be used for live bp on the field.
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training. 

Here’s the VX-4 in action…

VX-4 Strike Zone Baseball System Features (Baseball Only)

  • Circular frame and tripod with extendable legs made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.
  • It comes standard with 12 polypropylene prompters for making different strike zone spaces.
  • It comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.

VX-5 Pitch Detection Benefits (Baseball & Softball)

  • The VX-5 is the mid-sized trainer in the VX-Series of products.
  • It plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.  
  • It can be used independently or in combination with the VX-3 and/or VX-7 during training or live bp on the field.
  • (Added Value) This trainer can be used as a SBP-5/BBP-5 (Pitching trainer) by simply removing the cable and ring system.  This is a tremendous benefit for customers on a tight budget.
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training.
  • Watch the VX-5 assembly video to gain tips on how to assemble the VX-5… (The only difference between the VX-5 and VX-7 assembly is size.  The assembly is identical for each)

VX-5 Pitch Tracking Baseball System Features (Baseball & Softball)

  • Frame is made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.  
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.  
  • This model also comes with galvanized/poly-coated cables and a new shock absorbing ring.
  • Finally, it comes with a 5 pound sand bag for stability. 
  • The VX-5 comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.  

 

VX-7 Strike Zone Baseball Benefits (Baseball & Softball)

  • The VX-7 is the largest trainer in the VX-Series of products.
  • It plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.
  • It can be used independently or in combination with the VX-3 and or VX-5 during training or live bp on the field.
  • (Added Value) This trainer can be used as a SBP-7/BBP-7 (Pitching trainer) by simply removing the cable and ring system.  This is a tremendous benefit for customers on a tight budget.
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training.
  • Watch the VX-7 assembly video to gain tips on how to assemble the VX-7 (The only difference between the VX-5 and VX-7 assembly is size.  The assembly is identical for each).

VX-7 Pitch Detection System Features (Baseball & Softball)

  • Frame is made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.
  • This model also comes with galvanized/poly-coated cables and a new shock absorbing ring.
  • Finally, it comes with a 5 pound sand bag for stability.
  • The VX-7 comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.
  • Here are some other blog resources when it comes to pitch recognition:

Here a few more blog resources when it comes to helping hitters with pitch recognition…

Baseball Hitting Trainer: Curtis Nelson Interview

Baseball Hitting Trainer Interview: How To Transition Cage Swings To The Game With Curtis Nelson

 

Here’s some of what will be discussed in this baseball hitting trainer interview with Curtis Nelson:Baseball Hitting Trainer: Curtis Nelson Interview

  • Rapsodo getting used as a paper weight?
  • What are the top two mistakes that you see coaches doing when they’re teaching hitting?
  • Random pitch training. Explain that a little bit, how you guys do that, and how that looks…
  • How to transition grooved cage swings into the game
  • Do you teach your hitters any kind of plate or pitch approach?
  • How do you evaluate hitters and teach them to make an adjustment?
  • How do you get a pull happy hitter go oppo, and how do you get an oppo happy hitter pulling the ball?
  • “Curtis, so and so said that timing cannot be taught?” What do you think about that?
  • What are some of the adjustments you have hitters make to slow pitchers?
  • Where can people who want more information find you?

The following is the above video’s baseball hitting trainer video transcription.  Let’s get to it!

 

Joey Myers  00:27

Very cool. How did today go?

Curtis Nelson  00:30

It went well. I got a couple guys actually in town from AZ, that was fun and got some good work in, so today went well. My internet was not working at the end there, so always fun but I’m not a big tech guy so the tech stuff for me sometimes gets me a little fired up.

Joey Myers  00:50

What were you using the internet for? Were you just showing them some baseball hitting trainer video and stuff?

Curtis Nelson  00:54

Yeah, so I send a lot of videos from here. When I make either a voice over video or I make myself showing a drill or something, I send from the cage. I try and get most of my work done here. We got a nice little like 6000 square foot cage here.

Joey Myers  01:10

Beautiful.

Curtis Nelson  01:11

370 foot cages with 20 foot ceilings and 25 foot nets. It’s kind of a fun little one. It’s kind of our little home, it’s old school. My boss played at LC state, he has been doing this in the state of Washington for years and years and years and years. He’s got a little bit of that old school, so “you don’t like that cookie cutter” kind of look, you know?

Joey Myers  01:32

Yeah. I agree you guys don’t have HitTrax or any baseball hitting trainer like that either.

 

Baseball Hitting Trainer: Rapsodo getting used as a paper weight?

Curtis Nelson  01:37

Conforto bought me rapsodo, I’d say four years ago now, kind of when it first started coming out. He went out and bought it for me and just kind of gave it to me and I use rapsodo occasionally. I think that you know for some of my young ends or some of my high school guys, I want to go to a PAC 12 school and I don’t know any Pac-12 guys that are below 90 miles an hour on their exit velocity. I think it’s good to be able to show them that obviously with recruiting videos nowadays and in a lot of these colleges are asking for it right? I think that is an important metric.

Curtis Nelson  02:12

Obviously, if you make a swing adjustment and your exit velocity drops a big amount, there’s probably something behind that right so I think that there’s a time and place but in my experience with hit with rapsodo I’ve seen a lot of really good-looking swings and then when they go on rapsodo it starts becoming a little bit more of a slow-pitch softball home-run Derby, but as long as we’re using it the right way.

Curtis Nelson  02:35

I like to use it when I’m doing mixed BP. I like to do it when it’s more of a live setting. You know, we have our pitching rapsodo set up in our hitting rock solo setup in the same cage and we’re doing live stuff, you know, closer to the season time. I think there’s a lot of value there but most of the time a rapsodo is kind of getting used as a paperweight.

Joey Myers  02:52

An $8500 baseball hitting trainer paperweight?

Curtis Nelson  02:57

Yeah, I think that the first one we got was like five grand or 4500. Whatever. Not the second one, but that’s a very expensive paperweight change.

Joey Myers  03:06

Exactly. I’ll keep this in, sometimes it depends on what we talked about before just to get warmed up. I’ll keep it in. I think I’ll keep that stuff in. But are you ready for an official start?

Curtis Nelson  03:18

Yeah.

Joey Myers  03:19

Alright, let’s do it. Hello, and welcome to swing smarter monthly newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from hitting performance lab dot com and with me today is actually our first intro. We had a little phone call earlier today but I’ve heard so much about Curtis Nelson, through a mutual friend Daniel Robertson, I call him D. Rob and Daniel was hitting with Curtis quite a bit in the off-season, this past season that he played in not just last year, but the year before. I think the year before, I think it’s been a couple years but I’ve heard Curtis through D Rob and there’s a lot of mutual hitting minds that surround Curtis. First of all, I want to welcome you into the show. Welcome, Curtis.

Curtis Nelson  04:01

Thanks for having me on. I look forward to it.

Joey Myers  04:02

Thanks for coming on, man. Okay, cool. We had a little conversation, which I’m going to keep in like I said, about rapsodo and different things and got to see your cages, just kind of cool. One of the questions that I wanted to ask you since I’ve seen a lot of your stuff on Twitter, and I agree with I think most of it. You’re one of those guys, we call them lone wolf, mad scientist and the guys that tend to think for themselves and don’t follow others lockstep, right?

Joey Myers  04:06

You take a little bit of something, somebody’s saying, “Hey, I think that works. Let’s go try and experiment with my hitters and see if that’ll work with them”. If it does, you keep it, if it doesn’t, you throw it away. I’m really looking for those lone wolves, the ones like myself, who are on like a passionate curiosity journey to try and find what the truth is what really works. My question to you is, what are the top two things, baseball hitting trainer mistakes that you see out there on whether it’s Twitter or social media, that you see coaches doing when they’re teaching hitting?

What are the top two mistakes that you see coaches doing when they’re teaching hitting?

Curtis Nelson  05:05

I think the first one to me kind of goes back to at a very young age, kind of what is the typical things taught with very young hitters.  You’re typically going to see, you know, take the weight back, take the hands back, as a pretty generic kind of thing taught. I think if you look at a lot of really good swings, there’s so many different guys out there, I love all their swings and their different commonalities but at the same time, I think you see so many hitters that have this certain sequence involved in when they get to a certain position.

Curtis Nelson  05:40

You see, some hitters might have a certain movement in their swing that might be different, but it works for them. I think at a young age, you see a lot of hitters with a big movement backwards, a huge hand load getting outside the body.  It just starts to create these habits at a young age that can really start to affect us as we get older and pitching gets better.

Curtis Nelson  06:02

I really like to see limiting the amount of move, we go back and allowing our hands to kind of get to a good hitting position. More on the forward move, we don’t want it to be rushed, we don’t want it to be something that kind of jerky, it might feel that way for someone and feel smoother for another person. That’s the individuality about it.

Curtis Nelson  06:23

Ultimately, I think that that would be like my number one thing, I see is so many hitters come in, and they’re constantly with a big shift back, a big hand load on the way back and they’re constantly fighting their bodies. That’s the number one for me. We talk a lot about not chasing results and chasing exit velocity. I think at the exit velocity side of things is something that’s important for hitters to know and understand the end.

Curtis Nelson  06:25

Like we were saying before, if you see a big drop in exit velocity, you see a big drop and how the balls coming off the bat, and then there’s some rolls there for us but I see a lot of hitters, a lot of young hitters nowadays on the internet, that are trying to chase results instead of chasing the process that brings about the results.

Curtis Nelson  07:09

Everything for me is about getting hitters better in the game, we have to be better hitters in the game, whatever we’re doing inside in terms of training that needs to translate to the game. If whatever you’re doing, whatever style or thoughts you’re doing, or however your training is translating to the game outside, and you’re a better hitter because of it, then great, we’ll work our way around those things to a certain degree and make sure we understand the difference.

Curtis Nelson  07:35

I think those are my top two things right now, it’s making sure that whatever we’re doing is going to translate to the game. That’s all that matters. We don’t want to be caged hitters; we want to be gamers.

Joey Myers  07:43

Right. I know one thing when D Rob was training before his last year in independent ball, he was doing with you guys, you mentioned it here too, it’s the baseball hitting trainer random pitch training. Explain that a little bit, how you guys do that, and how that looks.

 

Random pitch training. Explain that a little bit, how you guys do that, and how that looks…

Curtis Nelson  07:58

I started doing it as a player when I was young myself and one of my good friends, Cody Atkinson, he’s with the Texas Rangers as a coach now. We started doing it as players and it was just our best way to emulate game pitching. It was just doing mixed BP, we always call it dirty from 30, about 30-35 feet away, we’re not trying to throw as hard as we can, it’s just a crispy BP fastball. We’re just mixing and breaking balls and really just kind of playing games against each other, you go play nine inning game and you get three outs and you will be judging jury and it brought about some good competition between us.

Curtis Nelson  08:34

Ultimately, it taught us how to have an approach, how to be on time than the fastball, how to adjust off the fastball, on some breaking ball stuff. I think it really shows the holes in the swing, it shows where the weaknesses can become and some guys that it might even just be the mentality change, that might be the difference.

Curtis Nelson  08:51

You can see a lot from just doing just kind of a mixed BP, can I cover the fastball away and still cover the breaking ball? Can I cover the fastball in and still take the curve-ball down in a way and it shows this a lot. I’m a huge proponent of it.

Curtis Nelson  09:06

We do our machines, we do our challenge stuff, because I can’t throw the ball 90 miles an hour, but at the end of the day, we do need to see it, that live arm and that kind of mixed it in having to make a decision rather than to seeing a fish down the middle every time on a machine.

Joey Myers  09:21

Very smart and there was a baseball hitting trainer study that was done, I can’t remember the guy’s name offhand on YouTube, but it was a video, not sure. I think it was maybe in one of the books that I’d read but it was a Cal Poly study. It was Cal Poly baseball guys, and it took half the hitters out in the field hitters, they worked with what they call mass practice.

Joey Myers  09:42

They did 15, they took BP where they took 15 fastballs, they hit 15 fastballs, hit 15 curve-balls, hit 15 change-ups and they had the other half of the hitters, fielders, did what you’re talking about a mix of BP and even though the second group that got the mix BP early on wasn’t very good, they’re showing a BP wasn’t very good.

 

Baseball Hitting Trainer: How to transition grooved cage swings into the game

Joey Myers  10:03

What ended up happening is they got better as the season progressed, and their numbers were better, which you’re talking about transitioning into the games, which I hear I’m sure you do, too, from parents and even players, how do we transition these mechanics into the game? Because we’re seeing a great swing in the cage, but then in the game, they’re not really performing and that baseball hitting trainer study what you’re talking about mix BP, I think it’s one of the most important things and that’s a study that shows right there. That was just one season but I bet if you took it over three, four or five seasons, you get the same result, it would just obviously look a little bit different.

Curtis Nelson  10:40

It comes down to kind of open skill and close skill environments, right. In golf, the balls not moving, it’s a very close type skill. We kind of know our outcome before it happens and it actually leads in this to one of my pet peeves, and I grew up hitting like this. You see the outside pitch, and you immediately are trying to go off with it and manipulate that result, where the only thing that dictates where that ball goes is my timing.

Curtis Nelson  11:08

One of the first things I tell hitters, when they walk in the cage with me is, I’m never going to tell you the pull of the inside pitch, I’m never going to tell you to hit the outside pitch the other way, your timing will tell you, your job is to hit through it, and just kind of see what happens and then you can make adjustments off of that.

Curtis Nelson  11:22

That open skill environment of having to basically variable change, you have to have the ability to be on the fastball and then adapt and adjust. I think so much of hitting is about that adjust-ability because how often are we right on time? How often are we perfect, guys in the big leagues, there might be perfect 30, 40, 50 times in a year, and getting paid a lot of money for it, but we’re not getting five 600 at bats, so we have to be a little bit more adjustable, to a certain degree at a younger age level.

Curtis Nelson  11:52

He’s breathing that into them and a younger age level, to have that ability to naturally translate over to the game. A lot of hitters that I see that struggle on that transition from cage to game, they’re doing a lot of machine where it’s in the same place every time, they’re doing a ton of Tee work, a ton of flips, we don’t typically use these in here very often, very, very rare.

Curtis Nelson  12:15

With younger guys, I will, but a lot of times with my college and my professional groups that are coming in, we’re really not using Tees at all, because we want to see the ball moving, sometimes we’ll use a tee for a feel and kind of maybe a specific drill. As a whole, we want to see that thing moving and having to make a decision soon. Just hard, soft flips, or fastball, curve-ball, mix BP or full on, dirty from 30.

Curtis Nelson  12:41

Anytime you get an opportunity to do that, you’re going to be playing the game of baseball in that environment much more like outside, right? It’s going to translate over better. When it doesn’t translate over, now you can start looking at some of those pieces within the swing that might play a role with why it’s not translating over or in the head, you know what I mean in terms of mentality.

Joey Myers  13:01

Do you guys do any kind of baseball hitting trainer approach? You were mentioning, if the ball is away, you don’t have to spray it away, you can pull that ball and my last year in college at Fresno State, we got the new coach, Coach Batesole. Now my last year is 2003, I wasn’t a part of the 2008 College World Series team, but he was a coach at that time.

Joey Myers  13:22

My last year was his first year and one of the things he told us, and the first time I had learned this, was to have two thirds away or two thirds in approach. Two thirds of the plate away or two thirds in, now we just go half, we go half away or half in. That’s how we do it now with my hitters.

Joey Myers  13:38

That was the first time I had heard that to split the plate into two thirds and he said if you’re looking two thirds away, as a righty, he said you can work left center-field all the way to right field. Anywhere in there, you can hit the ball, you don’t have to hit it straight to right and the opposite is true. If you’re looking two thirds in, then you can work right center all the way to left and that was the first time I heard that because most of my coaches would say if it’s away, boom, hit it over there. Hit it where it’s been, you guys do any kind of approach like that?

 

Do you teach your hitters any kind of plate or pitch approach?

Curtis Nelson  14:08

Through the years of doing this now, you’ve seen them all right, there’s so many different approaches. I think that as long as whatever we’re thinking is working, then great, do it but at the same time I think that thinking in general, we talked about open skill, close skill environment, hitting is one of the most purely reactionary sports there is, in terms of hitting a baseball, it’s moving, that can change direction and speed and everything.

Curtis Nelson  14:33

Sometimes approaches, it’s almost too much thinking for some hitters. We’ve done the whole look away reacting, we’ve done the even counts, you’re looking middle away, the positive counts, you’re looking middle in. In the past, I’ve talked about going to your strength is you got a positive count, if your strength is middle out, then look there, then drive into the big part of the field. If you like pulling the ball in your better middle, middle in, in that count looking at those places that you have success.

Curtis Nelson  15:03

I think the best hitters in the world in terms of the best swings and approaches, they can game plan their approaches off the pitcher. If you don’t have any holes in your swing, now you can go off of what the pitcher’s weakness is. Generically, people tend to look at what the pitchers out pitches or how he’s trying to beat you. We try and counteract that instead of going well, how is he going to get ahead of me to get to that point?

Curtis Nelson  15:27

If I’m looking middle in because he’s going to beat me there, but he actually gets hit up in a way then maybe I’m looking up in a way, and I’m going to own that zone based on the guy I’m facing. Now, when you start getting into game planning based off pitchers, you got to have spin rates, you got to have a scouting report of how he is, as a pitcher in general.

Curtis Nelson  15:46

If we don’t have that information, we got to keep it pretty simple. With driveline and what they’re doing with the pitchers nowadays, in terms of tunneling pitches, and making pitches look the same for a longer amount of time, the game is not getting any easier. We want to know where to look.

Curtis Nelson  16:05

We talk a lot about arming pitchers way off to the side more three-quarter arm slot, you should be looking up and out for that guy, you facing Bumgarner, and he’s throwing the ball from second base, we want to be looking up and out, because the ball is coming from that direction, and I think a lot of people make the mistake. It works at a younger age level when the ball is not moving as fast but a lot of people make the mistake of looking at the plate, because not always where it starts is not always where it’s going to finish based on what kind of movement they have.

Curtis Nelson  16:34

Oftentimes, you’re looking middle in and out a hand it looks middle in, and then it’s going to hit you in the hands, or you’re looking middle away, the next thing you know, you get a slider into the batter’s box that you chase. We try and kind of counteract what we’re facing, by how and where we’re looking, to a certain degree, obviously, that depends on the level you’re at.

Curtis Nelson  16:53

With some of my younger teams, we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible. A few years back with one of my teams, we had some pretty darn good hitters and some good swings, we ended up just kind of taking the approach of doesn’t matter what count it is, if it’s a strike, let’s smash it, and just kind of the old see-ball, hit-ball approach, and just make sure we’re on time and adjustable from that point. We had a lot of success with that.

Curtis Nelson  17:16

We basically said, we’re going to flat out own the zone, and we’re going to take balls, and the guys were mature enough to go do that, some hitters need to be a little bit more specific about how they think. I always go full circle with things and making them more individually based for the hitter, right? If I got a hitter that flat out pulls the ball, like there’s no tomorrow, and is a really good pole hitter, then that’s probably where we’re going to look because probably something that you can pull to a certain degree, especially early in counts but that also limits him on his ability to adapt and adjust to what he’s facing to a certain degree.

Curtis Nelson  17:50

To kind of get that complete hitter, the swings got to be able to kind of withstand different zones, different timings and different angles of pitch, to be able to game plan fully, I think the better the swing, the easier it is the game plan off the pitcher and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do.

Joey Myers  18:06

With your young hitters, and I know you when you say that, if you got a hitter, that’s just dead pole and if that’s a strength, you’re probably talking about the older guys, whether it’s high school, college, on up. What about the younger guys? Do you have more of being able to use all field approach, and if so, if you have them set up like what we do, we do small private groups. We have between two and four hitters in a group, with the whole COVID thing, we used to do six, but I try and keep it to four at the max and we’re pretty spread out outside and stuff.

Joey Myers  18:38

What we do is we set up the tee at the beginning, we take our baseball hitting trainer ball exit speeds, but what I’m also looking for is not only the number, but I’m looking for we set that tee up, it’s center center. They should be hitting it right up the middle, right? What I’m looking for and I’m observing is if they’re pulling all five swings that they’re going to get or they’re going the other way, all five swings, where it’s center center, do you do anything like that and eval and try and get them to make an adjustment?

How do you evaluate hitters and teach them to make an adjustment?

Curtis Nelson  19:05

Not so much of the tee. We film everything, I’ll film a rear-view angle, so I can kind of see ball flight, I can see timing, posture, hand path and we’ll do a side view. I’ve always gone to the film, you look at contact points, you look at when the barrel is coming out, you look at timing, and then you look at what’s coming off, right? You’re taking middle pitches, and you’re just hooking them every time into the net, the film is going to show you that you’re around and outside that ball pretty early.

Curtis Nelson  19:34

Ultimately, we want a hitter that can cover the line. I want somebody that can drive a ball, dead straight off, and the ball flies straight with backspin, and then all of a sudden that pitches inside or they’re a little bit early and they can pull it with true fly. Especially in Washington state, we get a lot of hitters that only hit when they’re inside until the game because there’s just not a lot of fields out there that you can hop on and just a lot of hitters are just doing indoor lessons and practicing inside. They just don’t see the ball flight as well.

Curtis Nelson  20:04

That’s where the wraps around the hit tracks can be nice in terms of being able to really truly see where that ball is going. Also, with how cages are built, right, we have these tunnels in cages where we get this tunnel vision going, where a lot of hitters will come in and just pepper their back-net pepper right center, and not pull a single ball into the net.

Curtis Nelson  20:13

We had a lot of hitters in Washington that just pushed the ball in the right field. Learning how to pull the ball correctly, or learning how to drive the ball opposite field correctly. It’s different for everybody, but ultimately, I rely on the film, in the flips. I’m not doing a lot of the tee stuff but if you find value in something, by all means, do it.

Joey Myers  20:45

Now, if you were going to teach a guy, if he was pulling everything into the left side of the net, or even going off way too much, how do you get an Oppo person to learn how to pull the ball? How do you get a pull person to learn? What’s your go to drill for that?

 

How do you get a pull happy hitter go oppo, and how do you get an oppo happy hitter pulling the ball?

Curtis Nelson  21:00

It depends on what the reason is, whether it’s just a mentality thing. That’s where I tapping into each hitter, in learning your hitter and understanding what their thoughts are, what they’re trying to do. You can compare that to the film, we have something called a deep dive, where you kind of dive into the analytics a little bit in terms of professionals. You go look at all the analytics, then you compare it to game film, then you compare it to the indoor cage routine stuff.

Curtis Nelson  21:28

If you have all that information, it starts to paint the picture a little bit of why they might not pull the ball in the air as well, or why they might be pushing the ball off. Ultimately, I think that I’m going to look at the film, I’m going to look at how they’re moving. Obviously, like what you were talking about is putting them on that tee and getting a feel for.

Curtis Nelson  21:49

This was D Rob’s argument to me about the tee stuff because he loves the tee stuff. That’s where I told him, at the end of the day, if that is a routine that has built you, you’re finding comfort in a certain position, that maybe you’re not feeling when the ball is moving, by all means getting on a tee and feeling that contact point out or hitting the ball deeper in the ball more out in front, based on what you’re trying to create, you can gain a feel in that atmosphere.

Curtis Nelson  22:14

I’m not saying that I’m against tees by any means but I’d much rather see the ball moving and how they respond to it moving with some film on it, so we can kind of see that overall picture. I think it’s going to be different for every hitter based on what they’re thinking, based on what their mechanics are and then obviously comparing that to the results or any kind of data that we do have, but that’s a good question, I like that.

Joey Myers  22:38

One of the baseball hitting trainer things I hear a lot of what you’re talking about is timing. There’s a lot of people out there, believe it or not, that say that timing cannot be taught. What would you say to that coach, instructor, parent, that hears that, comes to you and says, “Curtis, so and so said that timing cannot be taught?” What do you think about that?

 

“Curtis, so and so said that timing cannot be taught?” What do you think about that?

Curtis Nelson  22:58

I teach timing every day, every single day. Some hitters are going to grasp some concepts better than others, and some hitters have that ability to be on time more consistently, whether that’s because of their swing, or because of their athleticism, their hand eye coordination, whatever it is, they have a gift to show up on time more than others.

Curtis Nelson  23:23

I would say 95% of the hitters that come through my cage, getting them aware of their move, whether it’s improving the move first, and then making them aware of their move in relationship to time and space, is one of the most important things that I do. I truly believe there are hitters out there that just time naturally, and it’s very natural for them to do so.

Curtis Nelson  23:46

They don’t need to understand their timing, they just show up on time more often than others. For every one of those guys, there’s 150 to 1000 of the other guys that need to understand their timing. We do a lot of timing stuff in here, just really a lot of rear-view films to kind of show hitters, when are you picking up in relationship to where the pitcher is.

Curtis Nelson  24:06

When I was growing up, it was all about getting your foot down early, get your foot down early, get your foot down, and that’s all we ever heard when we were late, that can breed a lot of issues. If you got a swing like Rendon, or Nelson Cruz or Paul Goldschmidt, that is a different type of stride.

Curtis Nelson  24:22

You still see them have a good feel of time, they get that foot down and then the body shifts back to center to a certain degree to hit, everyone’s a little bit different on that aspect. Ultimately, I think rhythm and flow, that we talked a lot about flowing, a lot about dancing with the pitcher. Those are some pretty simple terms that can apply to timing but if you can arrive on time to a good fastball and then you can still have adjust-ability on breaking balls, we got a great opportunity to hit in the game and having markers in the swing or the pitcher.

Curtis Nelson  24:53

Whether it’s some guys like to go on handbrake or some guys like to make their move on arm up or other guys like to just game plan off of “Hey, I’m ready to pull the fastball, even though I’m not trying to.” There’s different ways around that to get somebody on time but making hitters more aware of their timing when they’re on and when they’re off or when they’re late or they’re early, is a really, really crucial piece to what we do here.

Joey Myers  25:18

Before we get to where people can find a little bit more about you, we’re kind of closing in here, I want to ask you just one more question on that. If you got some young hitters that come in, think about the team that you’re talking about that have the young guys where they’re just basically swinging strikes, take balls, if they’re facing a really slow pitcher, which tends to happen quite a bit where the pitcher can break a pane of glass, what are some of the baseball hitting trainer adjustments that you have them make or go through?

 

Baseball hitting trainer: what are some of the adjustments you have hitters make to slow pitchers?

Curtis Nelson  25:42

It’s such a good question. I love answering this question. I think that when I was younger, the generic and you still hear it with hitters, you still hear with coaches, whatever ones taught against that soft lefty. I remember showing up to the field, and we’re facing a PAC 12 recruit throw in 93-94. I’m like, we’re going to score 10 runs today, because we hit this guy like there’s no tomorrow, we prepared for this. You show up, and you face that soft lefty throwing 75 and I’m like, I don’t know, if we’re going to have a hit today, it’s a bad feeling.

Curtis Nelson  26:11

When I was growing up, you saw the slow guy warming up and you’re like licking your chops. Well, I’m about to be free for a couple doubles and a home run and that guy usually didn’t make it out the first ending. I think it goes into kind of training nowadays is a lot of machine, a lot of velocity, a lot of that stuff. We’re better against firm, but I do think that the approaches, and the way we’re taught against those guys can really play a role.

Curtis Nelson  26:12

Growing up, we were all taught to hit that guy off and push that ball into right, hit it off, let it travel, see it, the start your rhythm later, make a forward move later in the process, however you want to say it. That actually is what the lefty pitcher wants you to do, I want you to be defensive, he wants you to push them all off. He wants you to weight back on him.

Curtis Nelson  27:00

The best approach against the soft guy is to shrink the zone, make the zone smaller. He doesn’t have the ability to strike you out unless you chase his pitches, and you’re going to see his pitches better because the ball is moving slower, we see the ball better when it’s moving slower, you can’t argue that.

Curtis Nelson  27:16

At the end of the day, if you shrink your zone and go, “Hey, I’m going to be here, this is my goal zone against this guy. I’m not chasing those pitches out there”. Even if they look hit-able moving slower, I think we’re going to have a lot more success doing that, we’re not necessarily trying to go off, but we’re not trying to go up there and roll over to third first pitch either, I think it’s really just commanding your zone and kind of going back to the simplicity of just trying to hit through the ball and see where it goes.

Curtis Nelson  27:41

I think we tend to manipulate the swing because of what we’re facing, that slow guy is like, “I’m hitting a home run against this guy”. We’re spinning off that slow when away, but we tend to beat ourselves more than maybe they beat us. We try and stay away from the generic hit the ball up against the slow guy kind of mentality. The end just kind of stick to say, “Hey, this guy only beats me if I chase, so we’ve got a good pitch to him.”

Joey Myers  28:07

That’s funny you say that because that’s the same with the same lefties that we’re seeing, that can’t break a pane of glass, you see the guy throwing 93-94. 93-94, it’s Friday night, and then Saturday night, you see the guy can break pane of glass and the way I’m going to just pepper it to the opposite field, but one thing he is slow anyway, so you can have to wait longer and then now you’re saying that you want to hit it the opposite field, and now you got to wait even longer. You got to see it even deeper, it’s almost like it’s two double negatives there. I get that. You’re chasing your tail, basically.

Joey Myers  28:42

Curtis, I appreciate your baseball hitting trainer time. Where can people find you? I know you’re on Twitter, because that’s where I’ve seen you. If you guys have a website, where you guys are in Washington, if anybody wants to come out and check you guys out, where can more people find you.

 

Where can people who want more information find you?

Curtis Nelson  28:58

Our cage out here it’s called Atkinson Baseball Academy. It’s out in Kirkland, Washington. I know there’s a website for the cage. I am separate from that in terms of my hitting instruction. I am on Twitter, it’s @Nelson_Hitting, used to be cheat hack nation. That was kind of a joke that we threw together when I first developed because of all the swings we’re seeing that were a little bit aggressively big. I don’t have my own personal website, I probably should by now, but I spend majority of my time in the cage with hitters, so the internet and social media side of things, I’m still relatively beginner at that. I would say Twitter is the best way to reach out if you have anything, just shoot me a DM and I’ll get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

Joey Myers  29:49

Maybe not 100% probability but you can take a baseball hitting trainer like yourself who’s always in the cage doing stuff. You can take where somebody like you, you think he’s got 20,000 or 100,000 followers because it’s great stuff, if you read your stuff, you watch the videos that you put up and think it’s awesome stuff and you should have like the 50,000 100,000 but the reason you don’t is because you’re not on Twitter all the time, you’re in the cage, working with hitters, so that’s always not always a sign of a good hitting coach but I would say more likely than not, guys like Matt Piers and Jeremy Johnson, they don’t really have big followings but they got great gyms that they put out there and can really help hitters. I really appreciate what you guys are doing out there in Washington, keep up the great baseball hitting trainer work.  If you see D Rob before me, say hi to him. I think he’s up in Seattle, he still lives in Seattle?

Curtis Nelson  30:45

Yeah, he’s over in West Seattle. They got a bridge out so that is a pain in the butt to get out of West Seattle right now, but he’s over there. He pops in the cage, he comes, he hangs out. His experiences and his knowledge is just bar none. He’s been doing it for so long. It’s a lot of fun getting that guy in the cage and kind of just talking.

Joey Myers  31:05

He’s a baseball hitting trainer Yoda for sure. I know he wants to be a GM and I can see that he’s got the chops on the field, he understands intellectually the game and like you said, it’s fun to talk with him. So, tell him hi for me if you see him before me. How far is Kirkland from Seattle? How far are you guys away?

Curtis Nelson  31:27

Very close, if you take away traffic. Right now, with COVID and everything, the freeways aren’t as crazy out here right now. You take away traffic, I can get over to West Seattle, it’s kind of over by the airport, you can get over that direction in 20 minutes, 15 to 20 minutes, but you throw in the traffic of the normal out here, you’re looking at probably more like an hour and a half.

Joey Myers  31:50

Got you. Cool. All right, Curtis, well, I’ll let you go, man. Thanks again for your time and Merry Christmas to you and the fam.

Curtis Nelson  31:58

Merry Christmas, you guys take care. My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Joey Myers  32:01

You got it.

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

Hitting Training: What is Directional Force?  And WHY is it Important?

 

 

This hitting training interview with Matt Nokes was pulled from the seventh issue of our Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter.  What is that?  On a monthly basis,

  • We pick a hitting theme,
  • Write a Newsletter around the theme,
  • Give favorite hitting drill addressing the theme,
  • Prescribe corrective exercises to amplify the drill’s goal, and as if that wasn’t enough,
  • We also include 2 expert interviews on the subject…

EVERY month!

This hitting training post is POWER packed!!  The above video, Matt put together special for this episode.  The following is the 30-minute audio interview…

Here are some of the hard hitting training points we cover in the Nokes interview (pun intended of course):

  • What’s the Major Benefit to “Staying Sideways”,
  • What is Making the Hips Turn?
  • Dangers to Performance of Over-Rotating the Lower Half,
  • What is Directional Force?  And Why is it Important?  And,
  • Around the Zone Drill for Staying Sideways.

What follows is copy and pasted transcript from the 30-minute hitting training audio interview.  If you want to download the pdf version, so you can print it out, and highlight the heck out of it, then you can download that here: https://gohpl.com/33XxDcI

Enjoy!

Hitting Training - Matt Nokes Staying Sideways

Hitting Training – Staying Sideways image courtesy: Matt Nokes

 

Joey Myers  00:00

All right, hello and welcome to Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com, and on with me as a special guest a special surprise Mr. Matt Nokes, former Major Leaguer, two time All Star, Silver Slugger award winner.

 

Joey Myers  00:14

And the day that I met Matt was probably three or four years ago, I was introduced, the Backspin tee bros… Taylor and Jarrett Gardner, and we were talking hitting the whole time down in San Diego. I think it’s when they had the all-star game there in San Diego. And we were even talking hitting training in parking structures at the different levels. We went to a library we went all over the place. So Matt Noakes, welcome to the show.

 

Matt Nokes  00:41

Good Joey. First, thank you for inviting me.

 

Joey Myers  00:44

You got it, sir. Hey, I wanted to kick off. I wanted to talk about because we’re going to be looking at the idea of staying sideways with the lower half, directional force, all that. So, I wanted to get your view, since you introduced it to me and introduced it to the backspin tee guys, what’s the major benefit of staying sideways? And maybe a detriment to not staying sideways? Maybe over rotating? Which I see a lot of young hitters do?

 

What’s the Major Hitting Training Benefit to “Staying Sideways”

 

Matt Nokes  01:13

Well, I think there are several reasons. I mean, it’s a whole system, right? It’s your lower body. And it’s been misinterpreted for so many years. Because of well, the communication wasn’t necessary.  Let’s just say when a major leaguer’s talking to another major leaguer, they’re just spouting out hitting training words that don’t mean a whole heck of a lot. Or it could mean 50 different things. But they’re talking to someone who’s been watching their teammate. They know what they’re going through. It’s what they say just a little bit. They know what they’re saying.

 

Matt Nokes  01:53

And so a lot of the conversation is nonverbal. And so, this whole thing of using your hips, it’s just something that has been brought up to people. And if you think about it, when you’re hitting, for people who haven’t been hitting, or who don’t know how to hit, they don’t see the patterns that you and I see or that a high school, college, pro player, or major leaguer, they don’t see the patterns that we see.

 

Matt Nokes  02:27

And so, the varying levels of, there’s a huge amount of information that you need to know just to see certain things. Right? And so, it’s what, it’s why there’s this confusion. And people just haven’t really taken the time to, or they just didn’t feel like, feel the need to explain any more. Because, as one of my good friends Darrell Evans always said is well, I can’t tell you everything.

 

Matt Nokes  02:56

Like he’ll explain some awesome conflict. I go, why don’t you tell me that, you know, 20 years ago when we were in the big leagues? Because I can’t tell you everything, because you knew.  He hit 400 or over 400 home-runs. But there were some hitting training things that he didn’t question. And things that I questioned, and vice versa, I wish I would have had that information from the beginning.

 

Matt Nokes  03:22

And it’s not so much that we see the patterns, because everyone sees oh, you know, that front leg straightens out at some point, that must be important. Okay, well, it kind of straightens out when you block. Sometimes it doesn’t when your way into your legs.  But the point is, it’s blocked, blocking. And because there’s rotation, it’s going to straighten out, close to contact.

 

Matt Nokes  03:54

Like everybody knows, if you ever thought about straightening out your front leg thinking that that’s going to be key, that’s going to be one of my adjustments. One of my adjustments, that I’m going to get three hits tonight, you know that, that would be like the worst thing to think about, right? You would leak. You would just pole vault, leak your way up and out over the top.

 

Matt Nokes  04:17

So having said that, it’s not enough to see a pattern, you have to be able to go beyond that and see the model, you have to be able to model what’s going on, you have to know get to see hitting training in three dimensions as opposed to, drawing triangles, you need to see the pyramid.  You need to see more of really what’s happening to understand it. So, when you look at somebody hit, you see their hips turning.  It’s like no, they do turn, you know, I mean, I am watching them turn, but you have to look past that and say, what is making it turn?

What is Making the Hips Turn?

 

Matt Nokes  05:03

And when it comes to, why does it turn? And when it comes to all the other comments about using the ground, which is, you hit from the ground up and lead with ground force, and it starts from the bottom and goes up, back foot turns, the back-knee turns, hips turn, in the core turns the shoulders turn, and then you swing.

 

Matt Nokes  05:26

That makes sense if it was geared that way, but it’s not. Because your power source is your well, is your trunk, your upper body, or let’s call it the core. But I think it’s even more general than that, I think you just hit with your upper body, but you use a weight shift, and you need something to swing against.

 

Matt Nokes  05:47

Like, if you’re hanging on a rope, you can’t really turn.  I mean you could, but you just wiggling.  If you get your feet on the ground, then you can turn your upper body. Anybody that sat on a machine to work their core rotationally, they know that when you sit into the machine, it clamps your lower body down, or your upper body one or the other. So that you can forcefully rotate.

 

Matt Nokes  06:20

Okay, so that’s the hitting training concept. If you want to rotate, you need something to rotate against. And yet, we still see the core, I mean, the hips turn, okay? Well, that’s because they’re attached. And at contact, you’ve unloaded your backside. And because you’ve unloaded it, of course, it’s free to turn. But it’s that much more important that you get in a really good position.

 

Matt Nokes  06:55

The idea of a sideways approach is, you have to get in a good position, it needs to be a consistent position. And you have to be on time. What that does is it helps you be on the ball. So that may just sound some random, random to some people. But I’ll give you a hitting training illustration, or I’ll give you an analogy. Let’s say you’re hitting soft toss from the side, I mean, directly from the side. And you know how easy that is. Now, I’m a left-handed hitter, how easy it is to crush the ball over the shortstop head.

 

Matt Nokes  07:39

The opposite way, if it’s coming from the side, because you just shift right past it, you smoke it!  You know you’re not supposed to pull the ball, but what happens to your lower body.  Think about what is your lower body do when you get soft toss from the side?  It firms up and is basically, it’s certainly not as open as it does, from the front, or I’m sorry, like on an inside pitch.

 

Matt Nokes  08:09

So basically, it’s that feeling of being on the ball. It’s really important that you are sideways, in order to be on the ball. So that you’re in position into a consistent position, you know how when you’re hitting…let’s say soft toss again, when you hit your first ball, and you think, my shoulder needs to be a little bit more closed. And then you hit it again go, oops, my hips are at position, my foot’s in the wrong position, you make those fine-tuning adjustments.

 

Matt Nokes  08:38

Well, you can do that. On soft toss because you can almost automatically manage variables, which you have to manage. Because you’re in a controlled setting, it’s unlikely, you back it up to 60 feet, and the same hitting training variables that you could manage automatically, without even thinking, the scenario enables your automatic mind to relate it to something you already know or to just be familiar with the motion for it to be common sense. And you can do it.

 

Matt Nokes  09:15

But when you add more variables, well then you have to make sure that your routines and how you practice, that you have those things in mind so that you’re prepared to not pull off the ball. But if you do pull off, you know how to make an adjustment to position yourself.

 

Matt Nokes  09:35

And it’s one last thing, it’s like if you had never seen a Phillips head screwdriver, never seen it or never even seen a screwdriver. And you were showing me that this is how I’m going to hang a painting. And you found the stud finder, and you found the stud, and then you basically shorten it, you screwed it. You twisted in a screw into the wall. And then hung the painting with that wire, right? It’s kind of hung and then even it up.

 

Matt Nokes  10:04

So how do you use the screwdriver? Well, there’s some utility there. You know what you’re doing? Because you’ve seen it, it didn’t take a lot of examples. You’re holding the screwdriver in your hand, you’re like, I know how to do this. And how long does it take you to become an expert? With that movement? I mean, he says well, it doesn’t take expert movement. Oh, yeah?  How does a monkey do that? Or a child?

 

Matt Nokes  10:34

Where a monkey could do other complex things. But not that, because they can’t look at it and see the utility. But you and I, and everyone on the planet can be basically an expert in five minutes. Context matters.

 

Joey Myers  10:54

And you know what’s unique about our sport is that we only have 90 degrees of fair territory to work with. And whereas you look at bowling you maybe it’s what three and a half feet a lane and then even in golf, you can argue that you only have one degree of fair territory and 359 degrees of foul territory, because you get rewarded for the shortest number of strokes to the pin.

 

Joey Myers  11:16

One of the hitting training stories that you told was really cool on this. I don’t know if it was Frank Robinson, or who it was that you were talking to. But I think you had gone away from staying sideways. And you started to like, what most coaches and young kids do is over rotate the lower half. And then you said you broke away from what you were naturally doing. And you slumped, and then you came back.  Tell that story?

Dangers to Performance of Over-Rotating the Lower Half

 

Matt Nokes  11:39

Yeah. Okay. So, I always think it’s important to add empirical evidence, which is that which can be verified or falsified by your senses, or your experience, your personal experience at the highest level. My first year in the big leagues…well, anyway, I just got up to the big leagues. And it was the all-star break. And I was sitting at the all-star break with 20 home runs, hitting like .320. And like 57 RBI’s, you could say I was doing well.  And I was hot. And I was young.

 

Matt Nokes  12:24

And Dave Bergman and Bill Madlock, teammates of mine, were shagging balls at first base. And I guess they were talking to each other. And they came up to me, and they said, man Nokesy, you must really feel on the ball. And I said, Yeah. Because your back foot stays sideways. And well, I didn’t know what to make of that. And because I had worked that out that I just knew I was on the ball. I thought, okay, I thought they were saying, well, it’s unorthodox Matt, but you make it work.

 

Matt Nokes  13:01

I get to the All-Star game. And I’m watching up on the diamond vision. That’s what they called it then.  And watching the highlights and stuff. And I started to notice that that back-knee pinch.  You got to remember; I wasn’t really familiar, familiar with the exact things that were going on.  And most major league guys really aren’t as much as you would think.  They have a general sense. But there are things that they don’t, I mean, they know what it feels like. And they can replicate because of that, and they understand that through feel.

 

Matt Nokes  13:40

I thought, man that back knee looks like it’s rotating. So maybe the back foot turns too.  I’m sitting at 20 home-runs, maybe I would have had 30 or 40 home runs by now. I thought, man, I’m going to really drop that knee and kind of now they’re saying you got to try the back knee, that kind of thing. It’s just as bad as rotating back foot. Even though it does collapse, because…it does collapse because it’s passive.  It’s passive because you unloaded it, and your upper body doing the rotation.

 

Matt Nokes  14:17

And for the next couple of weeks, I focused on that I focused on my back-knee kind of collapsing and my back-foot rotating. And I didn’t get a hit for two weeks. But I felt great in batting practice, I was hitting home runs, I was launching balls, as usual. And my timing was good because, so I couldn’t really see the difference in batting practice in order to make an adjustment because I was crushing balls still, but I knew there was something missing.

 

Matt Nokes  14:49

In pitchers shagging were used to me hitting a certain way, actually approaching. They said something wrong. I mean, you’re hitting balls well, but it’s just not coming off the bat the way used to. And I agreed. I haven’t had a hit in a couple weeks. And finally, Dave Bergman and Bill Madlock came up to me after a couple of weeks, because I’m sure you know, they had their own life, their own hitting training problems they were dealing with, and they didn’t notice why I was going into a slump.

 

Matt Nokes  15:21

And they came up and said, what are you doing? Like, what do you mean? You’ve never rotated your back foot like that, ever? And I go, oh, didn’t you? Didn’t you say I was being unorthodox. I just thought I’d make it better. And they go, you idiot. No, that’s your problem. And so, they’d have to say much other than it just shocked me so much that I got back in the batting cage, just start smoking balls, keeping it sideways. And oh, I hit two home runs that game. And then from then on, I was, I knew that that was a hitting training rule. That was a principle I needed to follow it. Even though back then I didn’t really understand it.

 

Joey Myers  16:09

That is one of the, of all my young hitters from I mean, now I just work with 11 or 12, all the way up to junior high, high school, college and stuff. I don’t work with any hitters lower than that. But usually the ones lower than that age, typically, if they haven’t been over coached, do that naturally. They do stay sideways, right? They get coached out of it, for the most part.

 

Matt Nokes  16:32

Absolutely.

 

Joey Myers  16:33

And I would say the ones that have been coached out of it, and I’m just getting them. And it’s probably about 40 to 50% of them over rotate that lower half. You talk about this idea of directional force. Talk a little bit about that.

What is Directional Force?  And Why is it Important?

 

Matt Nokes  16:47

Well, you know, it takes 8,000 pounds per square foot, or I’m sorry, per square inch into the baseball to hit baseball 400 feet. And I have no question that even High School players generate way, way more energy than that swinging a bat, that large of an arc, the sweet spot of the bat is moving, you can generate a lot of force with a baseball bat.

 

Matt Nokes  17:16

It’s not that they can’t generate the energies that can’t direct the force. And it’s going all over the place. They’re not getting the bulk of the energy through the ball in one direction. And, yeah, so basically…

 

Joey Myers  17:34

Being sideways helps with that.

 

Matt Nokes  17:36

Yes, because it stabilizes your lower half, so that your upper body rotation is pure, there’s no leak in it. Your energy is not going in a lot of directions. You brought up the point about, there’s a lot of fair territory and foul territory. So that’s confusing, because the basic 90 degrees, it’s that you’re hitting the ball in. There’s that sliver, where you get a hit, you know, maybe 10 degrees, 36 degrees, it pretty much everything is either a popup or ground ball, right?  And then you got a lot of foul territory, it’s not cricket.

 

Matt Nokes  18:18

And then you can hit a ball to the left that you thought you should have pulled, or you could hit ball the right, they just thought you should have hit the other way, or whatever it is, that can get confusing, because you don’t necessarily understand right out of the box, where the direction of force should be, or you’re not aware of your personal direction of force, until you experience it until you create a scenario where you can actually rehearse it.

 

Matt Nokes  18:46

Because if you get a hit, you don’t think you need to go into it very much more. But if you’re hammering a nail, there’s going to be some consequences. The nail is going to go flying, if you don’t hit it with the right force in the right direction. But with hitting, it’s confusing, because you can still get a hit and lose a lot of energy, you can still hit it hard and lose a lot of energy. But ultimately, so that’s confusing in itself, you hit a ball the other way, one time, you pull the ball the other time. And you think you did it right, even though you lost energy in both directions. And yet, you don’t get a hit.

 

Matt Nokes  19:26

The amount of time that you’re actually driving the ball consistently goes down. But you’re not concerned with direction of course, because you’re hitting the ball in all directions. It just gets confusing.  You don’t know what’s wrong, you don’t know what’s going on, what’s wrong, what’s right, what hitting training is working, what’s not.

 

Joey Myers  19:44

And you have a hitting training drill, the around the world drill. You can explain that one. That’s a pretty good one, I think for demonstrating what you’re talking about the direction of force.

Around the Zone Drill for Staying Sideways

 

Matt Nokes  19:54

Yeah, well, in short. Every major leaguer, and advanced hitter has a feel for certain things. And if you get to that level, you figured out a way to rehearse or do a drill. So that it reinforces good habits. Good positions, good timing, good directional force, you may not be aware of it, but you just see the results, the empirical results.

 

Matt Nokes  20:23

And, yes, so the around the zone is around the world there. If you begin from the side, and you get the ball, coming from the side. There are rules, and why the rules? Well, there are rules because you can’t just do the drill any way you want, there’s a certain way that it’ll be effective, there’s a certain technique that will be effective, if you don’t do it that way, you’re not going to get anything out of it.

 

Matt Nokes  20:54

It’s the same for every drill, every rehearsal, if you don’t know what you’re doing, how you’re supposed to do it, what it’s for, what you’re doing, how you’re supposed to execute it, why you’re doing it, and what it’s going to feel like, what feel you’re searching for, then you’re just wasting your time.

 

Matt Nokes  21:15

And as a young player, I remember some of my great coaches as a young player, you know, they just see me work and work and work and hit it. And I’m hitting up 300 balls into the net, and they’re like, stop!  You need to be strategic when you’re doing it, like, what are you trying to accomplish right here? I don’t know. I just figured if I just keep hitting, it’ll come to me.  No, all that’s going to do is lead to a million different desperate fixes. That’s all that’s going to do.

 

Matt Nokes  21:45

And then I’m addressing every system, with timing, the mechanics, and your mindset.  Not addressing those, in keeping the balance between them. There are certain rules. You get a ball from the side. You want me explain it?

 

Joey Myers  22:01

Yeah. So when you say side, you mean chest on? So perpendicular to the hitter?

 

Matt Nokes  22:06

Yeah. Okay. You get, I’m a left-handed hitter. So, imagine you’re in the right-handed batter’s box, and then just behind it, and so you’re throwing it from the side. And so maybe you’re throwing it at my back hip, or that kind of thing. The way you set up the drill, and I call a drill with a ball and a rehearsal without the ball, and there’s reasons for that, which I’ll go into later.

 

Matt Nokes  22:31

But setting up the drill, so you’re throwing on it. What I say is, okay, the arc that the ball’s coming in on forms the line.  And you need to pay attention to that line, and then draw 90 degrees from that line from where you’re standing Joey.  The ball’s coming in at me, and then from you out to center field is, would approximately be 90 degrees.

 

Matt Nokes  23:01

And I say, okay, now where’s your 45 degrees? And then as long as you hit it inside of the 45, you’ll crush it with your weight, you’ll get your weight into the ball, because you’re shifting into the swing, and past the line that you see. And that may be complicated. Because there’s a certain amount of information that you need to know to actually kind of visualize it and understand why it works like that…

 

Joey Myers  23:29

And I can include a link to your drill video too. [The following is the “Around the Zone Soft Toss Drill” video as promised:

 

Matt Nokes  23:31

Yeah, okay, yeah, I break it down. And I show you, I mean, you go 46 degrees, it’s going to be a topspin ground-ball. And so, you have to address the drill, you have to follow the rule, that’s the easiest way, if I’m going to give a player action steps and not just try to convince them of some hitting theory. And I was like hey, let’s get into action. Let’s not worry about hitting theory until you already feel what you got to do.

 

Matt Nokes  24:01

Because once you feel it, then all of a sudden, your intuition about why you’re doing it, and what it’s fixing will be enhanced, and you’ll be able to see things that you couldn’t ordinarily see. You go from the side. And so now the ball, let’s say I’m hitting in that as a left-handed hitter. Initially, I’m hitting the ball, right down the left field line. And then as you work your way around, but you know, maybe at eight, eight or 10 ball down in the left field line, opposite field, because it’s being thrown from the side, as long as I shift my weight perpendicular to the line and get beyond the line. I’m getting my weight to the ball.

 

Matt Nokes  24:45

Because good timing is transferring your weight into the ball on time and what you’ll find is you’ll gain incredible power increases because you’re transferring to the ball on time, you’re able to regulate that system really well and make fine tuning adjustments, and you’re actually hitting the ball in the correct direction.

 

Matt Nokes  25:11

For those of you who don’t quite understand it, I can give you an example of, one extreme example, if I was getting that same ball, that I would normally hit down the left field line, which is opposite field, if I’m throwing a ball from the side, I’ve seen guys in the batting cage, and I would walk in the cage, and they’re hitting balls up the middle of that, and I walk by a coach and they say, Hey, do you see anything Nokesy? And, you know, okay, and, and then I’ll take the tee and put it out front.

 

Matt Nokes  25:45

Well, they have the tee in the center of their legs, like inside, and like, behind the front foot, or between the legs, and they’re hitting the ball up the middle. Well, if you got a ball that far back, you got to hit that ball the other way. But it’s not very exciting to hit a ball on into the net three feet away, it’s just not that exciting.  But that’s the direction you need to be hitting, you need to get your weight beyond that ball, to transfer your weight in the ball, because we’re talking about directional force.

 

Matt Nokes  26:19

But what a player will do is they’ll run away from the ball, shift, try to stay on their back foot to clear, to give them some kind of room to hit that ball, to hit that ball up the middle.  Because they’re thinking about what they’re doing incorrectly, they’re trying to hit a ball up the middle that they’re not supposed to hit up the middle.

 

Matt Nokes  26:41

And so you just work that drill correctly. And then you start moving your soft tosser, you start moving them around, until eventually they’re in the front, and you’re hitting it down the right field line. And actually, when you do it correctly, you can’t hook it foul. Now you think what do you mean?  You could literally have someone right in front of you. Throwing it at your front hip, he can’t hook it foul. Why? Because you’ve got your weight into the ball and your weight is in the ball at contact, you’re in line.

 

Matt Nokes  27:11

It may not even be a lot of lag, just enough lag to get that whip. It’s just pre final whip. It’s just pre where you rollover, it’s always going to be if your weight is into the ball.  Think about it, if you don’t shift your weight into the ball on time. That’s a slap. That’s a hook. That’s called quitting. So yeah. What you’re getting yourself out of is from quitting.

 

Matt Nokes  27:37

And that’s what happens when someone is trying to hit a ball that’s deep between their legs and trying to hit it up the middle. The only way to hit that ball up the middle is to quit.

 

Joey Myers  27:49

Got it. That’s a great drill. And again, I’ll add the drill video that you have on YouTube in the post. Well, hey, man, I would love to do a part two at some point, but to be respectful of your time. Where can people find you? Are there any special projects you’re working on right now? Just a little bit about where people can go to get more information on you.

 

Matt Nokes  28:10

Yeah, thanks, Joey. You can go to MattNokes.com. I have courses available. And I have a free advanced hitting workshop. And after if you’d like to consult with me, there’s a link at the end of the workshop. But you can also go to CallNokes.com and schedule a call with me. We figure out what’s working what’s not, and create a blueprint. And if I can help you I certainly will. You can also go to YouTube and find my videos you punch my name in, punch in Matt Nokes and you can find a lot of my videos on YouTube like case studies and things like that. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks, Joey. Thanks for inviting me on the program.

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

Fernando Tatis Jr Hitting Mechanics: How To Make Contact Sound Like A Shotgun Going Off…

 

 

In the above Fernando Tatis Jr hitting mechanics video, we’re going to discuss:

Fernando Tatis Jr. Hitting Mechanics

Fernando Tatis Jr. Hitting Mechanics photo courtesy: MLB.com

The following is the Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting mechanics video transcription.  After you enjoy this analysis, then check out Part-2 Here.

Enjoy!

0:05
Hey, what’s going on? It’s Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab, and in this Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting mechanics video, we’re going to go over a couple things.

0:13
First, we’re going to start with a couple fan graph points of interest, and then we’re going to go over how Fernando Tatis Jr. uses Catapult Loading System principles. And lastly, we’re going to touch on how he stays sideways using his lower half.

 

Fernando Tatis Jr. Hitting Mechanics Fan-graph Stats…

0:30
A couple things worth noting in the fan-graphs article, as you can see that he is 6’3″, 185 pounds. I may be wrong but that’s about what Ted Williams was coming into the league. You could see comparing his 2019 and 2020 seasons, obviously 2020 is going to be quite shortened and 60 games season.

0:53
You can see that with almost half of the amount at-bats, plates appearances. He’s got almost as many doubles, and almost as many homers as he did in 2019, where he played in 84 games. And then you can see in his line drive, ground-ball, fly-ball rates that again, this is about half the amount of games in 2019, he played in, and then he’s got about half or so that he’s played in 2020.

1:24
You can see that, of course, these numbers, the data is going to be a little skewed because there’s lower data points, but you have a 22.4% line drive rate league average is 20. Got 16.3 here this year, ground-ball percentage is about average last year 46.6%, or 43% is average. So he’s a little bit above average. A little bit even more above average of 48.2 this year, and then his fly-ball rate has gone up from last year. He’s at 38, or 30.9%, which league average tends to be, league averages about 34%.

1:58
And then he’s almost about average on his fly ball percentage but increasing about 5% from last year to this year. Again, we’re talking lower data points.

Catapult Loading System Principles

2:07
Alright, let’s really dig into this Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting mechanics video, we’re going to look at the Catapult Loading System principles. The best view for these, for most of them, is from the pitchers view. Just to give a little context to this pitch, you can see the location is about up and in, up and in part of the strike zone. And the pitch, you can’t see it on the screen. I can’t see it on the screen, but it’s flashing a nine, here. So it’s 90 plus for sure. 92. There you go 92 miles an hour.

Neck Pressure – Showing Numbers

2:34
And now let’s check out and one of the big principles is showing numbers or what we call neck pressure, creating neck pressure where the head becomes an anchor point anchors in a tracking position. That front shoulder scap protraction for those kinetic nerds out there, is coming underneath the front chin, shoulder’s sliding under the chin, head is holding it’s anchored tracking position.

3:01
And you’re going to see Fernando Tatis Jr. in these hitting mechanics, you can see him show his numbers on his back because of what that front shoulder is doing moving underneath to pass the chin.

Hiding Hands – Scap Pinch

3:14
The other thing he’s doing the other big one is the scap pinch. Some of you might know it as a scap row. You can see the back elbow will peek out behind him. Again the head is at an anchor point and he is doing like a rowing motion with that back arm and scap, and you’ll see that back elbow peek out from a pitchers view. Does a very good job.

3:41
We also call this like wringing the towel out, so the head is the top one and the neck, and the shoulders are at the bottom and we’re wringing the towel out. The head anchors in a tracking position and the shoulders rolling beneath and their limitation… They’re limited by how much the head allows them, front shoulder allows the front shoulder to come in, and then it’s also about the back shoulder retracting the scapula retracting back. It’s all limited by the head in the tracking position.

Downhill Shoulder Angle

4:09
The other big principle of the three big Catapult Loading System rules is a downhill shoulder angle. Now Fernando Tatis Jr. in his hitting mechanics, he doesn’t really get a really high back elbow, you see some hitters like trout will do to angle those shoulders down. He actually keeps his back elbow about the height of his back shoulder.

4:32
But you’re going to see this front shoulder dip down a little bit almost like we talk about to our hitters, like the alligator when greater less than signs. So the front shoulder and hip becomes a closed alligator and the back shoulder and hip becomes an open alligator.

4:50
So we want to close the alligator on the front side, so we angle the shoulder slightly down again, slightly down between 6 to 10 degrees down and that goes for both fast-pitch softball and baseball slightly down. If you do it too much, you’re going to end up with a big fat uppercut, slightly down, and then we turn from there. Okay, those are the big three of the Catapult Loading System principles.

Staying Sideways with the Back Foot…

5:13
Let’s touch on, see how he stays sideways with that back foot. In baseball and softball, we’re dealing with 90 degrees of fair territory. So we have to manage our bodies effectively within that 90 degrees.

5:29
To do that we can’t over rotate our lower half rotation is okay, at the lower back but not too much. 7 to 12 degrees of rotation is what the lower back the lower lumbar is allowed. Seven to 12 degrees of rotation. The bones in the lumbar aren’t made to rotate, they’re only made to flex and extend. You can check it out, research it. They aren’t made to rotate. The rotation that you see is from the muscles surrounding the bones.

5:58
So we want to allow the lower half to decide our directional force or guide our directional force between the 90 degrees of fair territory. So we do not want our hitters over rotating. What we commonly see is that back foot over rotating.

6:14
But you’re going to see here, in this Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting mechanics video is, you’re going to see that back heel not rotate all the way over like you see a lot of young hitters do, and he’ll actually push it backwards. You can see it going backwards right here. He gets it almost to vertical, and then he pushes it backwards.

Shifting Foot Pressure?

6:33
We call this at Hitting Performance Lab, shifting foot pressure. So what generally happens is we’ll see foot pressure on the outside of the back foot, at this point at the stride, all the way to the touchdown, inside of the front foot.

6:47
Then when stride touchdown hits, you’re going to see Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting mechanics, he is going to shift his foot pressure to the opposite sides of each foot. So where he’s inside the front foot, outside the back foot. Now you’re going to see him shifting to the inside of the back foot, outside of the front foot.

7:07
Simple move sideways. You can practice this in your bedroom just shifting back and forth like a dance, shifting your footwork back and forth. Each foot sideways is going to be opposite of the other, where the foot pressure is. So as the swing starts, you’re going to see foot pressure outside. Again, back foot. It’s going to shift to the inside of the back foot outside of the front foot. You’re going to see him stay inside, see the back heel, you might see it get close to vertical but you’re never going to see it pop over towards the plate.

7:40
And then you’ll see him actually shift it even farther backwards behind him where we say trying to line up this back butt cheek with the back heel, see the outside of the front foot foot pressure, see it go from inside, to outside, and then the back foot… we’re going from outside to inside. And then as he’s swinging here, you’re going to see that back he’ll push even farther behind him.

8:07
You can see the bottom of his cleat here, again, remember this pitch was up and in. So you’re going to see more the bottom of the cleat, especially when it’s middle in possibly middle up depending on how close the ball is, you’re going to see the ball or the, you’re going to not see as much of the bottom of the front cleat if the ball’s middle away or middle down.

8:26
But you can see that shifting foot pressure beautiful for keeping the hitter effectively between the 90 degrees of the field. Alright, remember in this Fernando Tatis Jr hitting mechanics video we talked about:

  • Fan-graphs and a few stats there and how he’s 6’3″, 185 similar to the long lanky Ted Williams body back in 1938 or 39 when he broke into the league.
  • We talked about some examples of the Big Three the Catapult Loading System that Fernando Tatis Jr is using, and
  • We also ended on how he stays sideways using the shifting foot pressure and using his lower half effectively.

9:09
Make sure that we’re swinging smarter by moving better. And before I let you go…

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

Giancarlo Stanton Swing Breakdown: Driving at Targets Like on a Fairway?

 

 

Giancarlo Stanton Swing Breakdown

Giancarlo Stanton swing breakdown photo courtesy: ESPN

“Directional force”

I can’t believe I missed this Giancarlo Stanton swing breakdown video.  I remember how on fire he was July of 2018, when he made a certain change to his stance.

Some of the things you’ll discover in this video:

  • Hard work with a purpose,
  • His pitch hunting approach,
  • Line drives on a “fairway” strategy,
  • WHY a closed stance, and
  • How to hit Jacob DeGrom…
Here are some thoughts and time stamps from the above video…

  • At the 0:45 minute mark, A-Rod makes the observation that Giancarlo Stanton works hard.  Before, during, and after games, like A-Rod says, “Almost working too much.”  I don’t agree with that.  As long as the player digs the hard work, and works on the right things.
  • At the 1:00 minute mark, Giancarlo Stanton gives a little insight into his approach at the plate.  Focusing on what he expects to see from the pitcher.  I’m assuming this is based on data collection.  Pitch patterns and sequencing.  Based on what the pitcher is trying to do to him.  “Altering” Stanton’s homework a bit.  Wants the video analysis he watches to be as fresh as possible, so at least 30-mins before going out to the game.
  • At the 1:45 minutes mark, A-Rod asks how Giancarlo Stanton’s hitting strategy changes based on ballparks – in reference to his trade from Marlins (big park) to the new Yankee stadium (small park).  Is he trying to lift more or just hit line drives?  Stanton says he’s still trying to hit line drives.  Still have to put barrel on the ball for the short corners. A-Rod tells Stanton that when he used to hit there, he’d pick out sponsorship signs as targets to drive to.  Act like a fairway and have targets?  Giancarlo Stanton said he likes the bullpen and Toyota sign as a target at Yankee stadium (RCF) – keeps him “inside the ball”.  Gives his hands a chance to strike, and get good barrel on the ball.
  • At the 2:44 minutes mark, A-Rod asks Giancarlo Stanton about the change in his stance – to more closed.  Why did he do it?  It keeps his direction towards the bullpen.  Less chance to pull off – shoulder and hip.
  • At the 4:00 minute mark, Stanton is asked what his ideal pitch and location is.  Slightly in from middle and 92-mph, 4-seamer, straight.  Interesting to note, Perry Husband has said a majority of pitchers throw to 88 to 93-mph perceived velocity.  They throw to barrels by slowing their fast stuff down and speed up their slow stuff – based on pitch location and sequencing.  I’m not shocked Giancarlo Stanton picked 92-mph, regardless of FB, CB, CU, etc.  It’s ideal timing zone of most Major League hitters.
  • At the 5:20 mark, A-Rod asks Giancarlo Stanton how he hits Jacob DeGrom so well.  And btw, DeGrom does well with Effective Velocity according to Perry HusbandBe patient and lock in what Stanton is trying to do, not what DeGrom is trying to do.  Sometimes you’ll get what you want and sometimes not.  He’s thinking right center against DeGrom.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

What Does a Cornerback, 2 Wide Receivers, & Hitter’s Timing Have in Common? (No. This isn’t a joke, I promise) 😉

 

 

I have a treat for you.  In this post we’ll discuss:Effective Velocity: Get On-Time Without Messing With Mechanics

  • 10,000 foot view of Perry Husband’s concept of Effective Velocity,
  • Analyze a real at-bat of one of my new High School senior hitters, and
  • What a cornerback covering 2 wide receivers can teach hitters about timing…

 

 

 

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting Mentioning 1 Shocking Swing Mistake He Didn’t Make…

 

 

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Check out the iconic Gary Sheffield barrel tilt-waggle – almost parallel to the ground! Photo courtesy: MLB Network

In this Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting video, 500 Home Run Club member Gary Sheffield talks about his hitting style, plate approach and adjustments to different ballparks with Mark DeRosa, Bill Ripken and Robert Flores on MLB Central.  Some of what you’ll find in the video:

  • 1 shocking swing mistake Sheffield didn’t make,
  • Pitch recognition that Gary Sheffield is talking about,
  • Change your stance depending on the field?
  • What does focus on staying to the right of your left side mean? And,
  • Making swing adjustments because of injury to compete…

For your convenience below, I’ve time stamped my notes, so you can jump to wherever the conversation interests you…

  • At about the 3-minute, 20-second mark, Sheffield talks about how after hitting 40+ homers between his AA and AAA season, he was brought up to MLB club and the powers at be tried to “flatten his bat” (for him a mistake he didn’t make).  Because they wanted a leadoff speed guy who hits the ball to right field.  When he got to San Diego, they wanted him to pick up the ball at 3rd base, they didn’t expect him to hit.  This was disrespectful to Sheffield.  He went from a guy not just trying to get on base, but to do damage.
  • At about the 4-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about his famous bat tilt-waggle, and how it’s all in the fingers. To get a nice relaxed crisp move with the fingers.  Like dancing.
  • At about the 5-minute mark, Sheffield talks about picking pitcher up at release to differentiate what he’s throwing.  Pitch recognition.  He doesn’t care what the pitcher does before that moment.  He said he looked for the heater and nothing changed on that approach throughout his career.  He wants the pitcher to fool him.  He doesn’t want to miss on the fastball.  All he wants to know is what is the pitcher’s out pitch – the one he goes to the most when he needs it. Doesn’t swing at fork balls.  He groups the fastball and slider together – as one pitch.
  • At about the 7-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about how he adjusts his stance depending on the park he’s playing in.  Examples…in San Diego the dimensions are fair, so he uses all fields.  At “fair” parks he didn’t feel like hitting the ball oppo made him lose something.   In Florida with the Marlins, he got closer to the plate and became strictly a pull hitter because of short fence in left field. Homers came by way of left and left center, rarely to center.  Goal of double digit homers to opposite field, so he was almost guaranteed 30 to 40 homers per year.  Billy Ripken made the comment that he’s never heard of anyone else who did this, except maybe when hitting at Fenway.  Dodger stadium was “fair” to him.  Mentioned at night it got dewey there, ball didn’t fly as far.  His strength was center field in LA.
  • At about 9-minute mark, Sheffield talks about his right elbow position to be ready to “punch”.  Athletic position.  Legs up under him.  When hitting he just thinks about his left side.  Tells his kids to cut the left side out.  Focus on being to the right of your left side.  Walking in the batter’s box sideways, so he knows he’s in the same spot every time.  He wants to work sideways, so he can stay behind his left side.
  • At about 11-minute mark, Sheffield his swing is dominant front arm.  Front arm goes straight to the ball.  Billy Ripken talks about “squashing a bug“.  They all comment on Gary Sheffield’s bat waggle and how parallel the barrel got to the ground at one point in the swing.  Sheffield talked about an injury he had to his right foot, plantar fasciitis, that required him to skip/hop his back foot.  Had to unlearn later.  Interesting confession on making an adjustment to compete.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Hitting Drills For Kids: How To Keep Hitters Productive At Home Despite COVID-19

 

 

(Correction in above hitting drills for kids video: I said this started last Wednesday, March 25th, but I couldn’t get this up in time, so the next day it was!  CLICK HERE to view Today’s Hitting Workout Of the Day – WOD.

 

Self quarantine.  “Shelter-in-place”.  Losing a job.  Tireless work.  Medical care workers, military, police and fire departments.  Sacrificing sport seasons.  Seniors in High School and College losing their 2020 year.  Politicians bickering – as usual.

I totally understand.  It SUCKS.  And I’m sorry who’ve lost a job or loved one because of this nasty virus. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your families.  I hope and pray things get better soon.

But you know what coach?  We’re going to get through this.  Together.  Genghis Khan once said:

“One arrow alone can easily be broken but many arrows are indestructible”.

I understand the uncertainty out there.  And if you’re like my family, we have two little blessings (7yo boy and 4yo girl), running around at home.  The challenge is, we have to keep them in productive mode, or else they’re fighting like cats and dogs.  And at the same time my wife and I are juggling work from home in good ol’ shelter-in-place California.

I’m not going to lie, it’s REAL easy to keep the kiddos on their devices all day.  But I don’t believe that’s the best thing for their little developing minds.  Same is true for the teen-osaurs!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  • How to keep hitters productive at home despite COVID-19,
  • At-home hitting drills for kids challenge rules,
  • Today’s Hitting WOD, and
  • BONUS extra credit to sweeten the deal…

 

How To Keep Hitters Productive At Home Despite COVID-19

One of my online hitting lesson dads posted this Twitter “to-do” list to keep the kiddos busy at home… (he elaborates on this schedule in the comments below)

I would be honored to be a part of your at-home schedule!

 

At-Home Hitting Drills for Kids Challenge Rules

WHEN

The challenge will run from Thursday March 26th, through Easter Sunday, April 12th.  Wishful thinking is that this COVID-19 thing is under wraps by then, and things become as normal as circumstances allow.

Check-in EVERY day at about 8:00AM pacific standard time.  That day’s Hitting WOD will stay up that whole day.  PLEASE NOTE: Each day I’ll take down yesterday’s Hitting WOD and replace with today’s.  So, if you’re busy, I’d suggest stopping in and at least taking notes, so you don’t miss out.

WHAT

Each day, I’ll update this page under “Today’s Hitting WOD” subheadline with a/an:

  • Featured post,
  • Expert interview transcription, or
  • Drill video…

…you can use this as hitting homework.  “Baseball with dad or mom” as Tyson put it in his Tweet.  Each day will guide you in one of 5 areas:

  1. Building more power,
  2. Hitting more line drives,
  3. Getting on-time more often,
  4. Moving better to perform better (body work training), or
  5. Sticky coaching cues.

Like Crossfit, think of this as a Hitting “Workout Of the Day” – or Hitting WOD.

HOW

Every single day, we’ll keep it simple.  I’m just asking at least 5-minutes per day to do the Hitting WOD.

By the way, on some days, I’m going to do random giveaways.  Online hitting lessons.  An autographed copy of my Amazon bestselling book. Possibly hitting aids.  We’ll see what happens.   The more you share this on the socials, the better chance you have at winning!  Best part is, it won’t cost you a thing!

 

Today’s Hitting WOD (DAY-17 and Final Day)

Today’s hitting drills for kids videos are coming to an end.  Sadly.  But the good news is… Today and tomorrow (Easter) I want to giveaway one FREE online hitting lesson from our own The Feedback Lab program…


How can you win?  Simply by leaving a comment below.  I pick a random comment and declare the winner on the Monday after Easter.  Good luck and I hope you all have a Happy and Safe Easter!  PLEASE NOTE: this offer is closed and we’re no longer taking winners.

 

BONUS Extra Credit to Sweeten the Deal

Hitting Drills For Kids: Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

Before this whole Chinese Coronavirus thing picked up steam, I was working on a low-cost monthly membership called Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly.  I will be putting a TON of time and effort into each issue.

Once per month, we’ll be offering up:

  • One training tip video on how to fix a certain flaw,
  • One or two expert interviews from “mad” scientists like: Perry Husband, Matt Nokes, Taylor Gardner, Ryan Lehr, Dr. Tom Hanson, and many others,
  • 1-month in review curated content on Sticky Coaching or Moving Better to Perform Better, and
  • Hitting aid review, how it MUST be used for success, & discounts…

The monthly membership fee was going to be $9.95 per month.  We’re also offering a 30-day money back guarantee to take the risk away.  Cancel within that period and we’ll give you your money back.  No worries.  No questions asked.  No hard feelings.

Click the button below to grab access to Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Metrics, Shifting Foot Pressure, OK Head Movement, & When Barrel Enters Zone Matters…

 

 

Hey, what’s going on it’s Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab.  In this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we’re going to go over a few different things…

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman swing analysis photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • We’re going to look at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs – put a little context to him,
  • Talk about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we are going to end with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

Let’s get started…

Part of this Matt Chapman swing analysis is looking at the context of his numbers and metrics.He’s about six-foot two hundred and twenty pounds. In 2019, he had 36 homers, 36 doubles, hit about .249 the year before. Hit .278 with 24 homers and 42 doubles.

A little moderate on the strikeout versus his walk ratio. It looks a little bit more like a three to one type ratio. And if we look at his batted ball totals, 15.5 percent line drive rate in 2019, the league average is 20 percent. So that’s a little bit below average.

His ground ball percentage, 41.5, League average is about 43 percent. So he’s right about league average there.

But you can see here in his fly ball percentage 43.1 Percent, he’s well above average there, average is 37 percent. So definitely something there, to get the ball out of the air a little bit and more on the line drive level.

His home run to fly ball ratio is 19 percent. So it’s actually pretty good. Well above average at 9.5 percent as the league average.

 

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Shifting Foot Pressure

All right. Let’s take a look at shifting foot pressure in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, but before we get there…

I want to give context to a couple of the pitches. We’re going to look at three different at bats on three different nights. And with this pitch here from Bartolo Colon, you’re going to see it’s a way out or third. And the pitch speed is about 89-mph, possibly some sort of slider, maybe, that he keeps on the outside corner.

The plate over here, we can see that it’s still outer third, maybe a little bit closer to the middle than the pitch before. 84-mph, probably some sort of change up or slider.

Let’s take a look at the swing here on the left first. We’re looking for shifting foot pressure. And what we want to see up until stride landing, is we want to see foot pressure on the outside of the front one, we want inside of the front one.

And then what we’re going to see is, we’re going to see that switch and over here on this swing, you can see that that toe almost picks up a little bit as he’s transitioning from the outside to the inside. Here you can see the switch happening, swing and transfer.

Now we’re going to switch to inside of the back foot, outside of the front foot. And you can see on the back big toe on that big toe knuckle back here that he is staying on that back big toe knuckle to keep that foot pressure.

And then you see the front foot on the outside portion of the foot. Now, this swing over here, you’re going to see a similar thing happen where he’s going to be more foot pressure on the outside, inside of the front foot as that front foot approaches the ground. You’re going to see this shift happen where you might see the bottom of the foot, slightly. Where it kind of peels off where the pressure transfers from inside to outside.

This time, instead of the back big toe knuckle, you’re seeing it more to the inside of the back, big toe. The third swing in this Matt Chapman swing analysis was located down and in 85-mph. Maybe a cutter or slider down and in.

And you’re seeing the same type of foot pressure where it starts outside the back foot, inside the front foot, till about right here. And then we start to see it shift over and the sides reverse. So, we go inside the back foot, outside the front foot.

A little too much focus is being put with coaches, nowadays, on this back knee, and trying to keep it inside the back foot, where I think an easier solution would be to work foot pressure with hitters.

And this is something that they can just do in the room. They don’t have to hit off of a tee. But I’ve seen hitters that over rotate their lower half, young ones, almost miraculously start looking like Matt Chapman with his shifting foot pressure … when they start doing the shifting foot pressure.

 

Forward Momentum – Is Head Movement Okay?

Now let’s talk about forward momentum and head movement. A lot of coaches out there don’t like to see head movement at all. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis, you’re going to see that him, much like many others, have head movement.  Head goes forward and down. Some just go forward.

What we should see is this forward and down or just forward. Let’s take a look here on the left. You’re going to see the head move from the top back circle to the bottom forward circle.

And then the other important note here is that at landing, the head stops moving, and should stay within that circle there. A lot of times with younger hitters, we see their head move outside of this circle. It keeps moving as they start their turn. We do not want head movement during that turn itself. But all the way from the start of the swing to stride landing, head movement is OK.

Over here in the same, different swing, you’re going to see the same head just shift and stay within that bottom ring. But we see the head move from up and back to down and forward. And then just stay within that circle through the turn itself.

Here’s the other swing on the right. You’re going to see again head starts in the up back circle, and it’s going to end up in the forward down circle. And then from there during the turn, you’re going to stay in the middle of that circle.

Head movement is OK until stride foot landing, and then the head must stay between that circle.

 

Getting Shorter, Staying Shorter

Let’s talk about getting shorter and staying shorter. A lot of coaches out there will teach their hitters to stay tall or to get tall. The problem is, is we don’t see that in elite hitters. We see them getting shorter, staying shorter.

You take the top 50 hitters in the big leagues, the top 100, they’re all going to get shorter and stay shorter. They’re going to create space between their feet. This helps them to control their verticals or their launch angles or attack angles, however you want to think about it. They’re just numbers, they’re just metrics, that we can measure and compare hitters.

But you can see on the left, you can see in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, him drop below that second line and he’s going to stay below that second line.

Getting shorter and then staying shorter over here on the right, you can see the same thing, different swing on a different day. But it’s still the same swing, get shorter and staying shorter.

And the third swing here on the right. You’re going to see him start tall. He will get shorter and then he will stay shorter.

And you saw the difference in those pitches – the first two I showed. Now, these aren’t as synched up as that. But when we first showed, the first two pitches were more away. The last pitch was more down and in.

Barrel Path – Being On-Time versus Being Out-In-Front

OK. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis let’s talk about barrel path, on time vs. being out in front.

Now, typically, if a hitter is on time, we use the different catcher’s gloves. You can see over here is a better example. You can see where the real catcher’s glove is over here. So, we say, imagine you got the real catcher’s glove. You have to imagine a catcher’s glove off the back foot, still where the catchers at, but in line at the back foot.

And then we get a catcher’s glove that’s in line with the hitter’s belly button. Now an on-time hitter…

Outer third part of the plate wants to knock or is what we see…we want to knock this real catcher’s glove off and hit the ball deeper than the stride foot.

If the ball’s middle third, we want to knock off the back-foot catcher’s glove, if there is a catcher’s glove in line with the hitter’s back foot. In line with the straight foot as the impact point.

And if the ball is inner third, we want to knock off the belly button catcher’s glove – to hit the ball more out in front of the front foot. When the barrel enters the zone matters. And the best do this. They aren’t perfect. They tend to stay between. They usually never will go across.

For instance, if the ball is inner third part of the plate, they’re not going to knock this deep catcher’s glove off or do a deep barrel dump, and still be able to hit this pitch out in front of their front foot as an inside pitch.

The same is true in reverse. You’re not going to see them knock the bellybutton catcher’s glove off and hit a ball deeper because a barrel is not in the zone very long. So, can either be barrel in the zone too long, which is a fact, or not long enough.

We generally see them stay between the two. If the ball is middle third of the plate right down central…. sometimes we see them knock the real catcher’s glove off, but they end up hitting it more inside the sweet spot and still can hit it pretty well. I’ve seen home runs it that way.

Or in reverse…it could be, to where maybe they are a little short. Maybe it’s middle of the plate and they’re a little shorter here because they’re trying to catch up. They’re thinking maybe fastball and they end up being a little bit more on front.

So that being said, that is on time. That is optimized. Now, this view over here is a little bit angled than this one. This one’s straighter on, but he’s out in front of all these, for the most part, you can tell just from the swing itself. You can see where he makes contact…

This first one was away, was outer third was the probably the farthest away. And he’s making contact quite a bit out in front. Again, this camera angle’s a little bit skewed, but you can see just by his body how he’s a little bit more out in front of this.

Look at his barrel path. Look where the catcher’s glove is. Again, if we were more side angle, chest view, this catcher’s glove might be more in line at the back foot. I don’t think the catch will be dumb enough to be that close. I think it’s just the angle is causing that to look that way.

But you can see Alex Rodriguez, Pujols, Mike Trout, all of them would be super proud with this “swinging down” type of demonstration. This is actually happening in a game. You can see that the barrel staying above the hands a lot longer … till about right here, it levels off or slightly dips and then you get here because he’s catching this ball a little bit out in front. And he’s cutting the corner with his barrel path.

He’s not starting it back here, and then getting it to here to have a really long barrel path, like some coaches teach, he’s actually cutting the corner in order to get to this ball more effectively. This is OK.

Over here, this was the last swing if you can remember, and this was the one that was down and in. You’re going to see a similar path again … down, middle down, middle away. You want to have a deeper barrel path. But he’s a little bit out in front. He’s going to cut the corner. You can see the barrel appear blurred.

About here, you still see the white of his batting gloves and you can see everything kind of blurring up this way. Barrel above his hands here and then he’s letting it go. A little bit more out in front, but both of these swings are almost more of hitting the belly button catcher’s glove like we just talked about, even though, this one over here was away.

This one is down, which is the middle away versus middle down. We’re going to take similar barrel paths, but we’re going to be deeper. When they’re out in front, you’ll see them cut the corner.

This swing was a little bit more over the middle of the plate, but still middle away. You can see where the catcher’s gloves at. It’s well behind him. You’re going to see this is a little longer swing. He’s going to cast it back, almost hitting the back-foot catcher’s glove. A little bit more optimized on this swing, hitting it a little bit deeper, as you can see. You can see the blur of the ball and the blur the bat kind of meeting at one.

He’s hit this one about where he should be hitting it. Optimizing. Again, he probably could have been a little bit deeper and maybe he hit this one, I think, to straightaway center instead of right center field.

He could have been a little bit more optimized by going back here, but this is imperfect, timing is imperfect. And as long as our hitters are between two close catchers’ gloves there was the real one in the back foot or the back foot in the front, the belly button one, as long as they’re between there somewhere.

We we say there’s three different barrel paths optimizing three different parts of the plate, but we cut it up into two. We say middle in and middle away … middle up, middle down. And then we just allow our hitters to … if it’s middle down, middle away, then we want to be between these two catcher’s gloves back here.

If it’s middle in or middle up, then we want to be between the back foot and belly button catcher’s gloves.

Remember, in this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we went over a few things…

  • We looked at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs,
  • Talked about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we finished with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

I hope you like this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post. Make sure that you’re swinging smarter by moving better, like our YouTube channel, like this video, share on Facebook, Twitter.

And before I let you go, I got something for you…