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.

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…

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.

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.

How To Turn Pitchers' Bullpens Into Pitch Recognition Dominance For Hitters

PitchView Pitch Recognition Training Aid: Jaime Cevallos

Prototype of Jaime Cevallos's new pitch recognition training aid called: PitchView

I'm happy to announce the RE-arrival of Jaime Cevallos onto the hitting scene!

He's a good friend of mine, and has some cool stuff to share.

He's working on a new training aid that helps with Pitch Recognition that I think will revolutionize how that is trained at practices.

He's also working on a new companion book to his latest book Positional Hitting.

We dig into quite a bit in this interview, so please let me know in the comments if you'd like us to do a Part-2 sometime.

Jaime Cevallos Interview (1-hour, 1-min total time for interview)…here are the time-stamps of the audio interview, so you can skip around:

  • I asked Jaime, “How do you explain to people what it is you do?” Talks about his interest in movement, and how he got invited to Golf's Safeway Open as a swing coach [about 1-min mark]
  • Talked about how Jaime's book Positional Hitting was a fantastic transition for me from when I used to teach Down & Through. Here's the Jaime Cevallos Four Hour Work Week Blog post featuring him titled: How I Did It: From $7 an Hour to Coaching Major League Baseball MVPs [about 3-min mark]
  • I asked Jaime, I understand you started in golf analysis before jumping into the baseball swing…what were your takeaways from golf that made a difference with the baseball swing?”  The pain from quitting baseball, made him obsessive about figuring out the swing. Importance of bent back arm impact position of good Golfers – noticed similar thing in baseball.  Comparing Ben Hogan to Babe Ruth and how similar their swings were.  Learning the “Slot Position” and spotting patterns.  [answers about 10-min mark]
  • The challenge of teaching amateur hitters to hit the ball as hard and as far as you can, and that only fixing ineffective mechanics – or not.  Teaching high level mechanics to youth hitters.  Player definitely needs to be curious about hitting, hard work not necessarily needed at a young age. How many young hitters would read Charlie Lau's book at 12yo?  If teaching doesn't allow hitter to not be robotic, then most likely it's the coaching cue that's the issue. [about 14:30 mark]
  • I asked Jaime, A question I get asked all the time is, do you believe the baseball and Fast-Pitch Softball swing are two totally different things?” Differences being reaction time and stride timing…no real difference in what you're trying to accomplish with the swing. Understanding cricket and how golfers don't care about Golf “Ball Exit Speed”, they care more about precision and accuracy.  [about 21-min, 30-sec mark]
  • Jaime quote that addresses those coaches that ask, “So how many Big League AB's do you have?” Should we take what MLB hitting instructors say as gospel? Here's Jaime's quote I mentioned in the interview, MLB hitting coaches are motivated by keeping their job, not developing innovative principles. If they change a franchise player’s swing, and that player gets worse, their name is forever blacklisted. Word will spread that he makes good hitters bad. And regardless of how many hitters he has helped, the one he “ruined” will be the bane of his career. GMs will attach his name with money flying out the window. He can just take a seat next to Jose Canseco in the list of people who will never be offered a contract. Because of this, MLB hitting coaches develop vague hitting methods, appearing to help when the team is doing well, yet standing on no specific method when the team is struggling. It’s common for them to wait until a player on the team gets hot, and associate themselves to that player as much as possible. I’ve seen it time and time again.”  We're in a swing instruction revolution.  The MLB hitting coaches are catching up.  [about 28-min mark]
  • If you have something of value you can offer to a professional ball player, then go and seek them out in the winter to work with them.  It doesn't matter if you have baseball experience, if you have a passionate curiosity for finding out the swing, then go for it!  The fallacy credibility indicator of “30 years of coaching”…it's not the year in your coaching, it's the coaching in your years.  The willingness to take chances and experiment with your teaching/coaching young hitters.  [about 31-min mark]
  • Jaime talks about his new product the PitchView Pitch Recognition Training Aid. Biggest area of opportunity to solve a problem in a sport. Hitting is four different skills: Eye Hand Coordination, Mechanics, Strength & Speed, and Pitch Recognition.  Jaime feels eye-hand coordination is pretty much tapped out.  How juggling at a young age helped Jaime's eye-hand coordination, however he feels it didn't help him that much in hitting – more so in fielding.  What steroid-era taught us about the Strength & Speed category.  Swing mechanics is going through a revolution – opportunity here right now.  Pitch Recognition is untapped right now. [about 36-min mark]
  • The WHY, HOW, and WHAT of the PitchView PR Training Aid. How PR is currently being trained now.  Protecting the hitter freeing them up to actively learn how to make their PR better during pitcher's bullpens.  Connecting release motion to flight of the ball to hitters movement (timing).  Currently working with Berkeley University baseball team as a LIVE case study.  Your team record will depend on how effective and efficient your practices are.  [about 40-min mark]
  • I mentioned Dr. Peter Fadde and his Pitch Recognition software GameSense, CLICK HERE for this written interview I did with him.  And CLICK HERE for Perry Husband in this interview about his Effective Velocity program on tracking and timing. [about 45-min mark]
  • Jaime mentions the new book he's working on that will be a fantastic compliment to his last book Positional Hitting.  This book will talk more about feel to transition the positions of the swing.  [about 48-min mark]
  • I asked Jaime, If you could put anything on a ballpark jumbo-tron, in any MLB ballpark, what would you put on it?”  Don't give up. What this means to him isn't what you think. Focus on movement – perfect most important movements.  [about 51-min mark]
  • I asked Jaime, What advice would you give the beginning Positional Hitting Jaime?” He wouldn't change much, but would tell himself not to swing as much.  He's someone who wants to perfect the swing, doesn't necessarily enjoy teaching.  Swing motion is pretty hard on the body especially one-sided dominant hitters.  Raul Ibanez told Jaime at 35yo to save your swings.  Jaime's work on Gymnastics now to take care of his body.  You need to start swinging from the other side – your body just needs it, and makes your preferred swing better. GymnasticBodies.com [about 55-min mark]

Where you can find more about Jaime Cevallos online:

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…

Top-10 Most Popular Hitting Performance Lab Blog Posts Of 2019 (both Facebook & Twitter)…23 Of Our Most Popular Hitting & Sticky Coaching Social Media Links In 2019

  • #10: Teach: How To STOP Hitting Excess Of Ground-balls & Fly-balls – Perry Husband long form video interview discusses: “How do I get my son to stop hitting an excess of ground-balls (or fly-balls)?”, How swing intention is great, but its benefits can be suppressed by physical limitations, The key ‘tinker & test’ learning principle helping hitters learn faster, Why a hitting coach’s job is to eliminate their job, And much more!
  • #9: How To Turn A Beach Towel Into A Hitting Demonstration – short video is great way to help coaches and players understand taking slack out of the system, demonstrating the power of the spinal engine.
  • #8: Why You SHOULD NOT Teach Hitters To Hit Homers? – Perry Husband long form video interview discusses: Formal Introductions, Perry Husband & Joey Myers FB Jam Session #1 Carlos Pena and Boston Red Sox hitting coach phone conversation for segment on MLB Now Show, Bro-Science v. REAL Science, How to know who/what to follow, Demystifying Launch Angles, and Q&A…
  • #7: How To Use “3-Dimensional Hitting” To Optimize Timing, Using All Fields, & Launch Angles – The target rich environment of pitchers throwing into barrels results in ANY hitting approach being effective.  But what happens when the target rich environment disappears?  Read more…
  • #6: Discover Where An Elite Hitter's Secret Weapon Is Found – short video discusses how most coaches understand the function of bones and muscles in the body, but don’t understand springy fascia. Simple demo you can use with hitters to help them understand the role of springy fascia…
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  • #4: 5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Out Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent – Perry Husband long form video interview discussing: Instructors confusing what “casting” is and is not, What if only fastball Mike Trout gets is what produces the 80.8-mph avg. BES, would that change his offensive stats? Hitter using bent lead arm comes at a cost, “Deep barrel dump” – great barrel path for down/away pitches, but TERRIBLE for up/inside pitches, And much more!
  • #3: Reaction Time Versus Timing (What's The Difference)? – Quick 4-minute demo video coaches can use to teach their hitters the difference between reaction time and timing. Can timing be taught?
  • #2: Belly Buttons, Center Of Gravity, & Quick Way To Solve A Flat Bat – One of my favorite 3.5 minute hitting demonstrations helping hitters understand the need to stack the bat’s “belly button” above theirs. A flat bat at landing can cause 3 negative swing flaws, and how to fix…
  • #1: Is “Swinging Down” Okay Since Alex Rodriguez Said So? – Perry Husband and I do a hitting analysis of Alex Rodriguez's hitting hitting analysis, and did he come off disconnected from describing the elite swing?

 

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Closing Eyes When Swinging

Advice On Reader Comment: “I Have A Girl That Closes Her Eyes When She Is About To Hit The Ball”

 

 

The above video, and following copy, gives our advice on a comment from one of our readers:

“I have a girl that closes her eyes when she is about to hit the ball?”Closing Eyes When Swinging

…we'll go over…

  • What we can learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Terminator,
  • Swinging across face,
  • Hitting a heavy bag,
  • Wiffle ball bats and balls,
  • Hammers, nails, and clapping, and
  • Repetition.

Hey what's going on? It is Joey Myers from ‘Hitting Performance Lab’ again. In this video, I'm going to answer another reader question. This is actually an interesting one, and it's one that I actually don't see in lot of hitters, but I do occasionally see it. The reader comment we give advice on is: “I have a girl that closes her eyes when she is about to hit the ball”.

Now obviously, vision is a big part of this game – tracking the ball is a big part of baseball and softball. So, that would be something that we want to try and see if we can train into our swings. The moral of the story is repetition.  It just takes repetition. A lot of times the hitters that don't take a lot of swings, on their own at home or whatever, they tend to kind of do this.

 

What we can Learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Movie Terminator

So, we have to get them the right repetitions. I want to start off with just a quick story on Arnold Schwarzenegger in his book, his autobiography ‘Total Recall’, talked about a time when he was talking to I think was James Cameron, whoever the producer was, or I think it was director of ‘The Terminator’. The first one, and it was supposed to cast Arnold, this is after he got off the movie Conan the Barbarian, did pretty well with that. Started to become a rising star, and they were gonna cast Arnold as John Connor in Terminator 1, the guy in the future that comes back to try and stop the machines from taking over the world.

So, Arnold Schwarzenegger is supposed to be the good guy, and OJ Simpson ironically was supposed to be the bad guy. He was going to be the Machine. Arnold was sitting there at lunch with James Cameron, whoever the director was going to be, and they were talking. Arnold was saying “Hey, The Terminator is a machine, so tell OJ, coach him that when he shoots a gun or pulls a trigger or whatever loud sounds, his eyes can't blink, he can't blink. For those of you out there who haven’t read ‘Total Recall’ maybe don't know that Arnold was actually in the Austrian army when he was younger, drove tank. He's very versed, and has been around a lot of guns being shot off, cannons going off, and different things like that.

So, he's giving James Cameron all these tips to give to OJ, and James Cameron goes “you know what, why don't you be the Terminator, you know so much about being a machine”. Arnold was like “No, no, no”. He didn't want to do it because he didn't want to get typecast as the bad guy. But actually, hindsight being fifty-fifty, that was actually a good move by him. That's what he ended up doing.

The idea of blinking, right. You can see it encapsulated in that Arnold Schwarzenegger story where you got a guy like OJ, who's never been around that before, shooting guns and all this at least not till later right. You have Arnold who was trained in the Austrian military. So, you have Arnold who put in the repetition, OJ did not. This is why repetition is kind of the underbelly of a lot of the things that we'll talk about in this video.

 

Swinging Across the Face

So, one of the first things though that could be an issue, and I've seen in local or some of my online hitters on video, is when I see the eyes closing, I also see the head turning. What Matt Notes calls ‘Chasing your face’, like there are swings chasing their face or pulling their head off the ball, pulling their head out. What they have to make sure that they're doing first, because it doesn't matter if they are closing their eyes, turning their head this way, is just as bad as closing their eyes. If you fix the eyes from closing at impact and major leaguers probably do this too, I don't know if all of them, maybe they all keep their eyes open at impact. But you're gonna see some blinking going on, but not right before impact. You're not going to see this.

But you've got to make sure you should correct the head, so we want to make sure we're swinging across our face. It's not head pointing at the plate, swinging across our face like say Nolan Arenado. Our head actually, it's gonna be somewhere, our nose and chin, it's gonna be somewhere out in front of impact. We cannot see impact with the center part of our vision, we see it out of the corner of our eye. We want the head to be somewhere out in front of impact, out in front of the plate. Then we want them to swing across their face, not chase their face. So, that's number one, and I'll have a video link, or a link to another blog post where I talk about swinging across your face. Again, Matt Notes came up with that.

If you're watching this on YouTube, just go down to the About section, click the link, go to the regular post, and the link should be in there. ‘Swinging across your face’. So, that's number one…

 

Hitting a Heavy Bag

Also, you can get good practice about hitting something with the bat, again think Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian army, shooting a lot of guns. By hitting a heavy bag with a bat or with your fists, then you get used to trying to see the bat or fist hit the bag. Getting used to that and trying to keep the eyes open while doing it. Again, repetition is key, and it's not hundreds of swings a day. It's what I tell my hitters, four days a week, five minutes each day, that's all I tell them.

So, if you just worked on this, if this was a big issue, eyes are closing at impact and before impact, then I would say probably within two to three weeks, you're gonna see a major change in your softball player, your baseball player's swing. So, hitting the heavy bag is number one, you don't have to worry about hitting the ball, about missing it, it's actually a object that's there, it's big, they know they're gonna hit it. So, they can practice with the eyes being open at impact.

 

Wiffle ball bats and balls

The other thing is Wiffle balls and bats. Wiffle balls and bats are light, it's meant to be light, it's not gonna hurt them, they're not gonna feel a lot of recoil from the ball off the bat. So, there's really nothing to be afraid of if they get hit by the Wiffle ball, it doesn't really hurt that bad, hopefully you're not chucking it at them. Because it can hurt, but if you're not chucking it at them, if they're having a hard time with blinking their eyes, then you want to be kind and soft with the training at the beginning.

So, Wiffle balls and bats, get them used to, try to get them to, keep their eyes open. They don't have to necessarily need to see the ball hit the bat, but they have to keep their eyes open at impact when the wiffle bat and the ball collide.

So, that's another way that you can spend your four days a week, five minutes each day.

 

Hammers, Nails, and Clapping

The other thing is pretty simple, if you have a tool shed at your house or in the garage…maybe you're big into making stuff, carpentry and you have hammers and nails, best to do this. Because almost similar to hitting, the only thing is you're hitting a stationary object but you're taking the hammer, and you're trying to pound that nail, just put nails out in a stump, if you got an old stump just like the old game who could sink the nail with one hit. Where you're knocking the nail in, and have her or him, the hitter, practice hitting that nail and keeping their eyes open, and trying to see the contact point of the hammer, the head of the hammer, and the head of the nail.

Another way that you can do that, ‘Clapping’ is another way.  So clapping, try to keep your eyes open as you are clapping instead of blinking the eyes. Clap until they can do it, and have their eyes open during that motion. So, that's another way to help kind of condition it.

 

Repetition

But again, it's all about repetition. Repetition is with all this stuff, again if you look at OJ in Terminator vs Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator role. Arnold was better conditioned behaviorally to be able to keep his eyes open while firing a weapon, and act like an actual machine.

I hope this answered your question: “I have a girl that closes her eyes, when she is about to hit the ball”. Make sure that we're swinging smarter by moving better, and before I let you go…