Hit Training: What Your Hitting Instructor Won’t Tell You & How It Can Save You Time And Money 

 

Before we dig into 9yo Ethan’s hit training case study 3-part series, I wanted to RANT on something that transpired this past week…

Where does the MAJORITY of power come from?  I recently posted this on Facebook:

Where does the MAJORITY of consistent power come from in the #Baseball and #Softball swing?A) Legs,B) Hips…

Posted by Hitting Performance Lab on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The comments under this post were a little confirmation bias because my readers – who know my hit training teachings – not shockingly responded with “C”.  Please note: the keyword is “majority” in that question.

Unlike my readers – who know better, in the social media reality I can tell you the majority teach the legs and/or hips (pelvis) to be the main driver of power.

This is what your hitting instructor won’t tell you and can save you time and money: Legs and/or hips aren’t the main drivers of power.

The hips (or better yet – the pelvis) are a start, making up 1/3 of the spinal engine.  And I can prove it with REAL science!  If you haven’t already, then please check out the following two posts, and you’ll see my reasoning:

The following video is the first link in “video” form, in case you want to “watch” the gist in 4-mins and 30-secs…

 

The week prior, I debated with a few “leg/hip drives majority of power” hit training gurus on Twitter, and I posed this question,

“Do legs drive the spinal engine, or does the spinal engine drive the legs?”

(CLICK HERE for a conversational t-shirt I made on this shortly after – and use Coupon Code: GET15OFF at checkout to get 15% OFF)

And I followed that question up with the following statement:

“The answer to that question will determine credibility in hitting mechanic circles” (something to that effect)

That caught some off guard.  Bold statement another well known said.  “Yes. It is,” I responded.  Tis’ the facts.  Some ask me, aren’t you afraid others will take this information, claim it without attribution, and take all the glory?  I say no, because Hitting Guru #57 is too stubborn to listen and learn.   They clutch to their hitting dogmas like a rich woman and her Prada walking through the “ghetto”.  And last time I checked, opinions ARE NOT facts.

Do you know how many Physical Therapists, Doctor MD’s, Physicists, Chiropractors, Engineers, and other Body Workers follow me?  A LOT!  If I was full of it – as my wife says – do you think THEY would be following me and offering kudos to what I’m doing?

Okay, RANT over.  Let’s move onto a young 9-year-old hitter, Ethan, that I’m VERY proud of.  He’s put in so much hard work, bought into the process (which is key), and has made fantastic strides with his swing in less than 6 short months…pun intended 😛

In this 3-part series we’ll be covering:

  1. Ethan case study The Feedback Lab online hit training video [YOU ARE HERE],
  2. Khris Davis Swing Analysis: Ball Exit Speed & Launch Angle Hacking With Khris Davis [Part-2],
  3. How to drills to fix (COMING SOON).

In Part-1 (tippy-top video above), Hit Training: Catapult Loading System Like Andrew McCutchen [9yo 6-Month Case Study], we’ll be discussing:Hit Training: 9yo Ethan Case Study

  • How far Ethan’s swing has come,
  • What he’s working on next, and
  • Follow up notes about Ethan’s progress…

PLEASE NOTE: Ethan is still on the journey, his swing isn’t perfectly clean yet.  This is only a 6-month snapshot of how far his swing has come.  Don’t be that “guy” and judge his swing at this point in time, celebrate it!

 

How far Ethan’s Swing has Come

I keep notes on all my online hit training hitters at The Feedback Lab.  Here are a few things Ethan had working well for him before we started (Thanks Peter! – he’s dad btw):

  • Forward Momentum,
  • Good space between feet before the turn, and
  • Decent barrel path, not extreme down or up.

In Ethan’s first online hit training with me, I wanted to start working with him on:

Fast forwarding over the past six months together (six total online hit training sessions), our working strategy methodically moved to other human movement principles such as:

By the way, I don’t typically cover this much in such a short period of time with a 9-year-old, but Ethan was ON IT!!  Diligent with getting in his 4-5 days per week, for at least 5-mins per day.  He worked the process like a ROCK STAR, and is one of the many reasons I’m so proud of him 😀  Ethan is a coaches dream client!

What’s that famous quote…? “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t show up.” Yah, that’s Ethan.

Now, let’s move on to…

 

What Ethan’s Working on Next…

As many of you coaches or instructors who do hit training for a living, every hitter has one or two things their brain/body doesn’t want to give up easily.  These stubborn challenges don’t go away without a fight.  Here are Ethan’s:

  • Showing numbers to the pitcher at landing, and
  • Taking Slack Out of the System to landing.

You’ll see in Part-2 of this series when we look at high level MLB hitters, the key to these two human movement principles is to get that “shape” at stride landing.

Okay, so let’s move on to…

 

Follow up Notes about Ethan’s Progress…

Here’s some of the hit training dialog over the past few months between Peter (dad) and I via email…

“Joey, hope all is well and you’re enjoying the summer. Attached is Ethan latest video from this weekend. We took a week off while on vacation at the end of June, but Ethan’s been great the last three weeks getting in 5-6 sessions a week. He really likes these round of drills and tells me he’s feeling more power. You’ll see he’s changed up his stance a bit. He made that change naturally while working through the drills.  Thanks Joey looking forward to your feedback!” – Peter (Mon, Jul 16, 2018)

After sharing these particular hit training “marching orders”, Peter said this…

“Thanks Joey, great feedback and analysis as always. The great part is that I’m also learning from you as we continue along. As I was getting ready to send you the last video I was seeing a lot of what you discussed in your analysis; keeping the shoulder angle and showing numbers to landing, and the top hand coming off way too soon. But I was struck by the consistency with his swing, every one had good barrel angle at landing, head movement after landing is way down and as you mentioned you can really see a much more confident swing!  Thanks again Joey, we couldn’t be happier! Looking forward to getting back at it! Talk again in a few weeks!” – Peter (Thursday, Jul 19, 2018)

And finally, after sending the most recent “tippy top” hit training video analysis above to Ethan and Peter, and after asking permission to share that video with you all, Peter said this…

“Joey, absolutely, we’d be honored and he’ll be so excited. It’s funny because I was also going to send you a note today. We did the taking the slack out drill for the first time yesterday, ran through it doing break it apart and then we always finish up our sessions with about 30 soft toss balls. The first soft toss ball he did it beautifully and he just says “oh wow”, I asked him if he felt the difference and his eyes light up and he says “oh yeah, I crushed it but didn’t even feel the ball it just jumped off the bat.”  Thanks for everything Joey! Looking forward to seeing the blog post!” – Peter (Wednesday, September 5, 2018)

Hitting Timing Drills: Get Rid Of Hitters Feeling Dominated By Upper Level Pitchers Once And For All

 

In this timing hitting drills post, I’ll be addressing the following reader question…Hitting Timing Drills Strategy For Upper Level Pitchers & Hard Throwers

“How to teach fearlessness when facing upper level pitchers and timing the hard throwers?”

We’ll be addressing the following in the above video:

  • Barry Bonds one step towards machine after every swing,
  • Two or three-plate drill, and
  • Develop hunting approach at the plate…

 

Barry Bonds One Step Toward Machine After Every Swing

  • CLICK HERE for a link to get more information on the golf whiffle ball MaxBP pitching machine at The Starting Lineup StoreGet 15% OFF by using the: GET15OFF coupon code at checkout.

 

Two or Three Plate Drill 

 

Develop Hunting Approach at the Plate

“If you want to argue with “science” as you refer to it, you are welcome and encouraged to do so…but bring your superior evidence and data to the argument!”

Scientist Dr. Richard Feynman

One of the most revered Scientists of our day, the late Dr. Richard Feyman. Photo courtesy: PopularMechanics.com

Science can be tricky.  However, just like with everything else, use proper judgement, and don’t outrun your common sense.

I want to preface a recent insightful Facebook conversation on this with a couple things…

According to Wikipedia,

“Richard Phillips Feynman was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the super-fluidity of super-cooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics for which he proposed the parton model. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Shin’ichirō Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.”

It’s okay.  I know you’re eyes glazed over reading that paragraph.  All you need to know is yeah, Dr. Richard Feynman was a super smart dude.  “…varying degrees of certainty” are the keywords to pay attention to in the Tweet.  He was a true student of Science, using the Scientific Method, and trying to be as objective and unbiased as any human can be.  He had a passionate curiosity of how all things worked.  A true blue scientist.  I highly recommend Dr. Feynman’s book titled, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character.  It’s not a very technical read, goes fast, and is fascinating.

Wondering how to how to spot BAD Science?  Try this book titled, Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Dr. Ben Goldacre.  Dr. Goldacre’s humor and sarcasm goes a long way in getting through this one.

Okay, now that that’s over, let’s get to this week’s post…

I wanted to share a recent Facebook conversation I had with a couple gents.  One I will name “Coach”, so as to not put his name on blast.  Do you believe this statement: “…science is today’s religion. Ppl take it as, fact. If you think science is fact your horribly mistaken.”?  

I interjected in the following conversation, but mainly to confirm Jason O’Conner’s points.  He did a great job of picking apart this objection.  Feel free to use this as fire power for those coaches justifying NOT using science to mold effective swings.  At the end, I’ll put proof in the pudding.  The conversation went a little like this…

Coach:

“…yes u can argue with science. Science is religion not fact. Its guessing and testing not thinking and proving. Very little is proven fact in science. Science is only science until better science comes along. For example. The science of hitting….. there’s ppl out there that say he wasn’t completely right. Then there will be someone new saying the same of your doctor…..i find it funny scientists who can’t hit anything telling ppl the proper way to hit.*”

Jason O’Conner:

“Science is neither religion or guessing and testing. It is the discipline of seeking knowledge in pursuit of the truth and understanding. Whether being applied to medicine, the weather or the baseball swing, that understanding is only as good as the currently available information (data), and yes a process of observation, testing and retesting as tools improve necessarily updates our knowledge and improve our understanding. It does not rely on faith as religion does. It relies on evidence and data. “Hard anywhere” is a result. It doesn’t explain or teach how in fact one hits the ball hard anywhere consistently. That requires some understanding of how the bio-mechanics of the swing works and can be made most efficient for each player. If you want to argue with “science” as you refer to it, you are welcome and encouraged to do so…but bring your superior evidence and data to the argument!”

Coach:

“…science is today’s religion. Ppl take it as, fact. If you think science is fact your horribly mistaken…And i equate science to religion because ppl believe in it like a, religion. Examples being global warming, salt. Salt every day goes back and forth on being good or bad for u. Some think its bad…. others good….. And they all think that way because science told them to. That’s my problem with science. And, again……when better science comes along your science will no longer be science…… like i said. Hitting was figured out scientifically in the 70’s…….But today’s science said they were wrong. Yet they hit better back then.”

Jason O’Conner:

“…better science cannot come along and replace anything. Science uses better information and better data to improve understanding. Usually this happens as a result of technological advance. This is a pointless debate here. But of two things I am convinced:

  1. Your problem is not with science it is with people who may have referred to science to argue a viewpoint you disagree with…science requires critical debate of evidence to come to the most likely conclusion and
  2. As a generality, the elite athletes of today are superior to those of 30+ years ago. Trout would be the best hitter in any era. That is my opinion. Olympic athletes use bio-metrics in every aspect of their training, and there are few world records more than 10 years old.”

*I have a big problem with coaches who are arm-chair quarterbacks.  Saying something like, “I find it funny scientists who can’t hit anything telling ppl the proper way to hit”…is laughable, and a total slap in the face to hard working scientists like Dr. Richard Feynman.  This statement comes from a coach possessing a stubborn Fixed Mindset.  If every arm-chair QB would seek the truth like a Dr. Feynman, Dr. Serge Gracovetsky (The Spinal Engine), Dr. Kelly Starrett (Becoming A Supple Leopard), or Dr. Erik Dalton (Dynamic Body), they wouldn’t chronically suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.

Here’s a quote from Dr. Ben Goldacre that packages this coaching paradox nicely:

“I spend a lot of time talking to people who disagree with me – I would go so far as to say that it’s my favorite leisure activity – and repeatedly I meet individuals who are eager to share their views on science despite the fact that they have never done an experiment. They have never tested an idea for themselves, using their own hands, or seen the results of that test, using their own eyes, and they have never thought carefully about what those results mean for the idea they are testing, using their own brain. To these people “science” is a monolith, a mystery, and an authority, rather than a method.” – Ben Goldacre

I’m 100% CERTAIN there is BAD Science out there.  But coaches, it’s your job to weed out the good from the bad.  Just because 20% of Science may be bad, doesn’t mean we should not listen to the other 80%.  Don’t be a fool.  Knock the chip off your shoulder you may have about Science.  Don’t outrun it, but exercise common sense.  Please, please, PLEASE!

You can eat soup with a fork, knife, or spoon, but only one way is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  There are hundreds of ways to teach hitting that’s for certain.  However, applying human movement principles that are validated by REAL science to hitting a ball, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”, is the pathway to power.

Coaches, have a higher standard for your hitters.  WHY?  Because your hitters are counting on you.

Success leaves clues.  I wanted to share a couple of my most recent testimonials received from parents (within the last week or so), unsolicited by the way.  Words can’t express the gratitude I feel on a weekly basis, almost daily, from parents and coaches sharing how these human movement principles are helping their hard working hitters…enjoy!

Josh, text message after coming up to Fresno from Los Angeles to hit for 2-hours, sons: Matt (Senior HS), Jonny (8th Grade), & James (6th Grade) come up…

“Thank you again for working with the boys. Both James and Jonny crushed a hit last night.  Jonny went 2-for-2 with 2 triples. James got his first double in a long time.  Field we played on had no fence so ball kept rolling…U should have heard the convo on the way home.  How they told their teammates their hitting instructor is the GOAT. Hilarious”

Chris, email about son Aidan (11yo) who has been working with me in my online video lesson program The Feedback Lab since 2017

“Joey, a sincere note of thanks for your guidance over the past two seasons in helping Aidan at the plate.  The All-Star team of which he’s a part won the State 11u tournament this past weekend and now moves on to the Midwest Region.  Since the team was selected, he’s worked his way up from batting 10th in the first tournament to 5th in the State Finals.  He’s gone 10/25 (.400) with 8 singles, 2 doubles and 8 RBI.  The last double came with 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th, bases loaded, and our team trailing 3-0.  Pretty pressure-filled situation being down to the last out with the season on the line.  He drove in 2 runs on a line drive down the left field line and went on to score the winning run.    

In no way is this meant to be boastful.  Sure—we’re really proud of him, but I truly believe the work he’s put in based on your instruction has given him the confidence as one of the smallest kids on the team to hit the ball with authority against any pitcher he faces.  Many thanks!”

Peter, email about son Ethan (9yo) who has been working with me in my online video lesson program The Feedback Lab since February of 2018.

“Thanks Joey, great feedback and analysis as always. The great part is that I’m also learning from you as we continue along. As I was getting ready to send you the last video I was seeing a lot of what you discussed in your analysis; keeping the shoulder angle and showing numbers to landing, and the top hand coming off way too soon. But I was struck by the consistency with his swing, every one had good barrel angel at landing, head movement after landing is way down and as you mentioned you can really see a much more confident swing!  Thanks again Joey, we couldn’t be happier! Looking forward to getting back at it! Talk again in a few weeks!”

Jason, email about son Bleau (12yo) who flew from Knoxville, TN with his best friend Jaser (11yo) and his family to hit, catch some Cali sun, and MLB baseball games. We hit for 10-hours spread out over 3 days.

“Joey, we had a wonderful dinner tonight down in Fisherman’s wharf. I asked the boys what their favorite part of the trip was thus far. Bleau said that ‘Joey is my favorite part’. Thank you for coming through and investing in him. We look forward to meeting your family.”

And last, but certainly not least, an updated on Hudson White, who if you remember was showcased in this post highlighting his performance at the National Power Showcase…

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

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

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

https://twitter.com/martinbwhite/status/1007094716427653120?s=12

He has been on a tear hitting 6 home runs in the last 3 weeks with either wood or an old rusty metal bbcor bat.  Just an FYI update to all the haters and naysayers😂 its the Indian not the arrow. I appreciate your help and instruction. The proof is in the pudding.” – Marty White, email update about his son Hudson “The Hawk” (16yo)

TRUE or FALSE: “If you think science is fact you’re horribly mistaken”…FALSE.  Saying Science is just a “glorified opinion” is nonsense.  If that’s truly what you think, then you’re obviously spending time on the wrong things.  The little bit of BAD Science shouldn’t take away from the majority of good out there.  Coaches, please use some common sense, and as always test this stuff out for yourself – don’t just take my word for it.  And I think true-blue scientists like Dr. Richard Feynman would agree.

PART-2: Drastically Improve Pitch Recognition Skills For ANY Hitter With Best In Training Aids, Online Courses, & Drills…

 

This is Part-2 to the Facebook LIVE conversation I recently had with Bill Masullo, who is the Co-Owner and Senior Baseball Instructor at the Ultimate Edge @ Goodsports.  In case you missed Part-1, where we talked about the effect Fortnite has on our hitter’s mental health, then CLICK HERE.

The subject of this interview is complimentary to a post I did titled, “Why Fortnite May Be Dangerous To Building Hitters Who Crush”HEADS UP: us two knuckle-dragging hitting coaches were having technical difficulties (I know SHOCKER!) before the start of this video.  This is probably the fourth and final take 😛 jajajajajaPart-2 Interview About Fortnite's Effect on Hitter's Vision, Tracking, and Timing

Below are some highlighted notes I took for you…

  • At the 0:50 minute mark, how does posture effect the swing, studies show young athletes sit 80% of their day, certain groups of muscles get tight and others turn off, Gymnastics, Dance, Martial Arts, Swimming are great counter disciplines to friction free movement, rock climbing is also a great “counter” to chronic sitting positions.
  • At the 4:00 minute mark, how working on screens (mobile, tv, computer) for extended periods of time effect ball players, for every 20 minutes of screen time, the eyes need 5-minutes off the screen, Dr. Peter Fadde and “video occlusion” training using his Game Sense Sports app, pitch recognition training, The 6th Tool: Training Baseball Pitch Recognition book by Dr. Peter Fadde.
  • At the 9:30 minute mark, Major League hitters track better than amateurs (but ALL hitters can improve), below average, average, and above average “learn-ability”, Aaron Miles High School story about coach, in mid-90’s, putting particle board in way of hitter during pitcher bullpens (similar to Dr. Peter Fadde’s Game Sense Sports app), Jaime Cevallos pitch recognition hitting aid interview post.
  • At the 13:00 minute mark, Bill asks what parents should know about vision training, Perry Husband foremost expert on timing, vision, and training research, simulating pitch plane, don’t throw to 7yo from standing position 20-30 feet away – like hitting up a mountain, throw seated on a bucket, size of ball short distance makes a difference – baseball players hitting golf sized whiffle balls from 30-40 feet, perceived ball size from 60-feet, 6-inches, or 45-feet.
  • At the 16:45 minute mark, pitch recognition cues, “fat” wrist versus “skinny” wrist, shape of the arm coming through, curve-balls sometimes look like a “bicep” curl, gets challenging when pitchers slot their arm in the same arm slot, Effective Velocity (EV) Tunnels, more strikeouts than hits in the MLB now, Perry Husband coined this concept, perceived velocity to the hitter, easier for corner-back to cover wide receivers running similar routes (deep & post), versus more difficult for one corner-back to cover two wide receivers when one runs deep and another does a 5-yard 90-degree cut, a pitch farther away from the hitter (low-away), perceived velocity is slower, a pitch closer to the eyes (up-in), perceived velocity is faster.
  • At the 22:00 minute mark, I asked Perry Husband how do you counter pitchers exploiting EV tunnels in hitters?  Learning to “hunt” pitches, hunting specific pitches in specific locations, “belly button”, back foot, and real catcher’s glove barrel entering the zone positions (CLICK HERE for more on this), random pitch rounds, my son “hunting” Ford Mustang cars when driving on the road, hunting pitches is less relevant with younger pitchers, and college and professional ball – hunting pitches becomes more relevant, data collection.
  • At the 30:00 minute mark, find Perry Husband’s vision, tracking, and timing products: https://www.hittingisaguess.com/product-category/online-academy/, my courses relating to vision, tracking, timing, and foot work are: On-Time Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alpha (the essentials), and Reaction Time Mastery (full course which includes On-Time Hitter 2.0 videos).

ASK THE EXPERTS: Jeremy Frisch, Taylor Gardner, & Matt Nokes Cover The Shocking Mistakes Killing Your Swing 

Let’s start this party off with Mr.,

Jeremy Frisch – Owner of Achieve Performance

Jeremy Frisch is owner of Achieve Performance training in Clinton Massachusetts and former assistant strength and conditioning coach at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Massachusetts. Jeremy’s focus is on long-term athlete development where he works with children as young a 5 years of age up through college level athletes.

He’ll answer the following question I often get from my readers…

“What is an effective way to strengthen a swing, say mechanics are good but need more body strength for speed?”

Believe it or not, improving strength in the young athlete is easier than one might think. Young athletes need nothing more than their own body-weight or medicine ball to get stronger. When I train an young athlete’s I am looking at doing 4 exercises.

  1. Total body exercise
  2. Upper Body exercise
  3. Torso exercise
  4. Lower body exercise
Total body Exercise

In my opinion the bear crawl is one of the best all around total body exercises a young athlete can do. The bear crawl improves coordination, trains stability of the core and shoulder girdle and strengthens the lower body all at the same time. The bear crawl can be done in multiple directions, distances and speeds. Because of the difficulty of the exercise young athletes often fatigue quickly therefore very short distances should be used like 10-15 yards at a slow pace.

Upper body exercise

My go to exercise for training the upper body is so simple that many coaches don’t believe me. The exercise is simple: the bar hang. Hang from a chin-up bar or monkey bars with the arms straight for as long as possible. Develops unbelievable strength from the grip through the shoulder and core, not to mention develops mental toughness because the kids can always dig a little deeper and hold on for a few more seconds. Climbing and hanging is a long lost art in children’s lives. Maybe if kids were a bit stronger and more agile in the upper bodies these days we would see less elbow and shoulder injuries.

Torso Exercise

The medicine ball is a fantastic tool for developing rotation power needed to throw and swing a bat. A medicine ball and a brick wall makes a perfect combination to develop a powerful swing. The athlete stands sideways in a stance similar to their batting stance rotate the ball back and using a motion similar to a swing, throw the ball off the wall as hard as possible. Aim for both sides 3-5 sets of 6-8 repetitions

Lower Body Exercise

One of the best and most affordable ways to develop great leg strength and as a bonus speed , running form and all around conditioning are hill sprints. Look to find a steep hill 15-25 yards long and sprint up full speed. The key with hill sprints is to make sure the athlete has the appropriate rest between sets. Too many coaches use hill sprints as a torture device to punish their athletes. All that does is make them tired slow and miserable. Baseball is a game of speed and power and hill sprints can develop that speed and power in the lower body. Each sprint should be followed with a slow walk down the hill followed by at least a minute to 1:30 rest. Look to get 10-15 full speed reps with good rest per workout 2 x per week.

You can see more of what Jeremy is doing at the following places:

 

Taylor Gardner – Co-Founder of The Backspin Batting Tee

Taylor Gardner is an Edison Award Winning Inventor of the Back-Spin Tee, who currently has the biggest social media following of any batting product in the world. With the help of his brother, former professional player and coach, he was able to break into the Major League Hitting World by bringing simple physics to the minds of many players and coaches. Now working across the world, Taylor is expanding his product line and instruction to bust the game’s biggest myths.

He’ll answer the following question I often get from my readers…

“Of all the issues you cover on hitting mechanics, what 2 do you consider to be the most compelling for most hitters?”

Of all the hitting mechanics that I have had the privilege of learning and teaching, there are two that stand out the most.

  1. The element of the stride in relation to getting on time and its importance into the weight shift, and
  2. The mechanism of lining the shoulders on path with the incoming pitch.
The Stride

The stride portion of the swing has seen many variations and is a highly talked about subject. I see a lot of hitters performing their style of a stride, but few seem to understand how to simplify the stride mechanism without destroying other vital parts of the swing. The stride itself is a combination of a step, and a weight shift…That’s what makes it a stride. If you simply reach your front foot forward with no regard for weight shift, it is a step, and practically adding another movement to the swing making your swing take longer than necessary.

I see a lot of young hitters believe that they are late on a ball because they reach their foot out, then weight shift, then attempt to align to the ball, and then swing. Yes, after doing all those movements, they are late…BUT…it’s because they started too soon!

During the stride a hitter can weight shift, and align their bodies to the pitch (yes, even getting into an advantageous position of lag) all in sync. Once the hitter lands all they must do is swing from there. It cuts the timeline down tremendously. Hitters can track the ball deeper than they ever had before and still take a powerful swing without sacrificing their rhythm or connected movements.

Think of how a quarterback throws a pass, or for the matter- a pitcher throwing a ball. They do a lot of great movements during their stride phase, so that when they land, they can simply “throw”. We like to call it “Land-throw timing” or “Land-swing timing” for the hitters.

Lining the Shoulders

Lining the shoulders on the ball is the second mechanism I see that a lot of hitters could benefit from learning more about. Yes, you can begin to get your shoulders lined up to the pitch during your stride phase, but to be more in depth, even if your stride doesn’t put you on perfect timing with the pitch (and most hitters are slightly early even on their best hits), you still must get your shoulders lined up to the pitch to stay on path for contact.

The barrel of the bat will be parallel to the shoulder plane at contact when done correctly. HOWEVER, this is where I see players and coaches trying to get on plane TOO SOON! If you drop your barrel on what seems to be on path early in the swing (Sounds like a good thing right?), but are unable to complete your weight shift/stride, or even track the ball long enough to decide where to swing, you will leave a huge hole in your swing that pitchers can pitch around.

I take some blame for this whole “Launch Angle” Revolution. My product was the first to talk about the importance of launch angles, and since, we have seen many people take our Trademark – “On Path, Bottom Half” to the extremes. You want to be on path with the pitch coming in, hitting the bottom half of the ball ON TIME. On time isn’t just hitting ball to center field, it also stands for

  • Shifting your weight on time,
  • Lining your shoulders on time, and
  • Releasing the energy into the bat on time.

Not early, and certainly not late. I understand hitting a baseball or softball is the single hardest thing to do in sports, however if you do not continue to understand the simple timing elements that lead to an appropriate swing, we will accidentally continue to make hitting a ball even harder than it already is.

You can stay up to date on what Taylor and the Backspin Tee are doing at the following places:

 

Matt Nokes – Founder of One Hitting Solution

Matt Nokes coaching “Around The Zone” Soft Toss

Matt Nokes is a 10-year MLB Veteran, playing for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.  In that time he was a Silver Slugger Award Winner and All-Star Catcher.  Since then he’s been working hard helping hitters as the founder of his company ONE HITTING SOLUTION.  

For over 20 years as a hitting coach he’s been researching and finding out what transforms hitters 99 out of 100 times, he’s developed 12 simple natural hitting Rules, Action Steps, Do’s NOT Don’ts, that he calls the 12 Touchstones because they’re the rehearsals that bring to the surface only the relevant “In The Zone Feelings”.

No more random adjustments 50 times a day fiddling with your mechanics. This program is a 6-week transformational reset suppressing all the clutter, myths and half truths you’ve learned over the years from coaches, parents and now YouTube.

The bottom line is these 12 Touchstones solve 99 out of 100 problems before they ever come up.  You become intentional and take action in the form of rehearsals that weave a triple braided chord of:

  1. Brutally efficient.
  2. Laser focused hitting mindset with the true MLB Plan as the proper context and perspective.
  3. Timing – the 3rd and final chord wrapped tight around the other 2 skill sets.

The glue holding all 3 together to execute your only mandate: Never Miss Your Pitch.  Click Here:   But first watch this short powerful video to give you an idea for what’s in store for you and you’ll be given the opportunity to schedule a FREE Strategy Call with Matt Nokes.

In this post, Matt Nokes answers the following question I often get from my readers…

“Of all the issues you cover on hitting mechanics what 2 do you consider to be the most compelling for most hitters?”

On the most primitive level, if you’re going to express timing with one physical mechanical expression it would be transferring into the ball on time. You can’t separate your weight shift from your swing [that’s called quitting], so it’s critical if you want to develop properly you need to learn to coordinate your stride and transfer.

The 1st way I’d practice getting your weight into the ball is by learning the basic movement of the “step to swing”. You can use a tee without a ball for a point to aim at but it’s good to begin rehearsing the movement without the distraction of whether you hit the ball hard or not.  Hitting the ball at this point is irrelevant.

You want to learn the movement first and then begin adding variables.  If you decide to NOT use a tee, make sure you visualize where the ball would be and don’t let your eyes wander.  You body follows your head but your head follows your eyes and if your eyes are wandering then you’re in trouble, and will most likely wobble in your rotation.

The 2nd way is adding the performance variable using a tee with the “Tall and Fall” drill:

 

The 3rd way would be to add a measure of timing. Once you’ve coordinated your stride and transfer then any soft toss drill will add a some more variables for timing but it’ll be easy enough for your automatic mind to handle without much trouble:

  1. Swinging across your face. Crossing your face is a swing rehearsal cue that ensures you don’t pull your head.  The alternative is to chase your face, and if you do that you’ll be pulling off the ball without much success. Swinging across your face may be the most powerful way to stay on the ball, direct your energy into a fine point and keep the ball fair on the inside pitch.
  2. What are your favorite drills to hit off speed pitches?
My best advice on hitting the curve-ball…Don’t miss the fastball

That sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The best hitters are always ready for the fastball don’t miss it.  Frank Robinson [Hall of Fame] changed the course of my career by teaching me the MLB Plan and a big part of it was never missing the fastball. Frank went on to say “you show me a good curve-ball hitter and I’ll show you a guy with a slow bat.

Ok now that we have that mindset on the books, let’s talk about hitting the off speed pitch.  First you need to practice good timing but without going too deep into timing philosophy there’s a few good ideas and rules to follow along with some solid methods for practicing…

Slow pitch in the batting cages.

A great place to start for hitting off speed pitches is also one of the most convenient places to start and that’s in an automatic batting cage [in the slowest cage].

Most young hitters have trouble hitting in the slow cages because they’ve never been taught to deal with all the timing variables and they’re often discouraged when they have trouble, but they give up before they learn how to let the ball travel.  It’s a mindset and a good way to think of a slow pitch is how you’d hit in slow pitch soft ball.

Trust me…Timing is a skillset that is easily taught but it’s counterintuitive because it’s not a popular topic in the mainstream hitting community.  It’s more popular to say timing can NOT be taught…but that’s a myth.

Seeing the ball up is another cue for hitting the off speed and helps you visualize the trajectory of a potential off speed pitch, so you can still look fastball but won’t freeze on the strike curve-ball. One of the first obstacles to overcome is understanding what causes hitters to vapor lock or freeze on the curve ball.

The higher release point of a “strike curveball” often freezes hitters  because it appears to look like a fastball thrown so high that the hitter immediately quits on it right as it’s released from the pitcher.

Now when a hitter is looking for a normal fastball between the waste and knees and gets a curveball in the dirt, they don’t automatically freeze on a ball in the dirt because it initially looks like a fastball. By the time you recognize it’s a curveball its usually too late and you’re feeling “I can still hit this”.

If you see the ball up you’re able to look for your fastball [you can always adjust down on a fastball] but by looking up the only curveball that’ll look good is the hanging strike curve-ball that usually makes you freeze early in the count.

 

Finally, there’s the technique I call one of the “Touchstones” called “Buying time”

Buying time involves going out and getting the ball by getting deeper into your legs, which gives the ball more time to travel into your hitting bubble within your reach.

Every 7/1000th of a second the ball travels a foot, so if you’re off 21/1000th of a second the ball is traveling 3 feet.  So buying time by falling deeper into your legs before you hit, gives the ball a little time to get closer, and your lower center of gravity allows you to access your farthest reach without leaking if you execute the “Touchstone” correctly.

Either way, you often have to go out and get the ball farther out front without interrupting the flow of your land swing timing.

You can see more of what Matt Nokes is doing at the following places:

But before I let you go…

Answering Baseball Stride Drills Reader Question: “How Important Is Forward Momentum I Know We Must Go Forward But Does It Matter If Stride Is Big Or Small?”

“…Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks.  She  went for a walk in the forest.  Pretty soon, she came upon a house.  She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.  At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge.  Goldilocks was hungry.  She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

“This porridge is too hot!’ she exclaimed.  So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.  ‘This porridge is too cold,’ she said.  So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.  ‘Ahhh, this porridge is just right,’ she said happily and she ate it all up…”

More in a bit on how Goldilocks and the Three Bears relates to baseball stride drills, but first…

In the following post, we’re addressing the following concerns regarding baseball stride drills (also works for softball):

  • Stride direction and amount,
  • Stride type (experimenting with the ‘Float’),
  • Head movement from stride, and
  • Controlling center mass in stride.

Before getting into the how to baseball stride drills guide, I want to preface that the PURPOSE of a stride shouldn’t be power.  CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that may confirm this.  If it’s power you seek, then I’d advise looking at the Spring Loaded category.  What purpose does a stride serve?  A stride is for timing and initiating directional force.  CLICK HERE for this post on that.

Let’s get started…

 

Baseball Stride Drills Direction & Amount

Watch this video from Chris Welch at ZenoLink.  Using data and science, he’s found reasonable markers in guiding baseball stride drills

 

Here are highlights from baseball stride drills video above:Baseball Stride Drills: Stepping in Bucket Drill Using Bands

  • Stride length should be about 3.75-times hip width (hip-center-to-hip-center)*,
  • At landing, stride direction is to be closed about 10-degrees (straight forward toward pitcher is zero-degrees), and
  • Stride landing foot position to be about 65-degrees open (pointing perpendicular to home plate is zero-degrees, and straight at pitcher is 90-degrees).

(*Denotes 3.75-times hip-center-to-hip-center is length of stride measured from back foot to stride landing.  NOT the measurement of the stride itself.)

Chris says in the video that if a hitter is under or over striding, then they’re hampering body’s ability to create torque.  Stride landing MUST align ball of the foot with ball of the foot.

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix “stepping in the bucket” using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).  With the image to the right, it’s another one of my baseball stride drills using colored bands to fix stepping in bucket or crashing the plate.  If the hitter is crashing too much with their stride, I get them to feel stepping out, and the reverse is true if they’re stepping out.  I use variance to get them in the middle (blue band).

…Goldilocks Golden Rule. 

 

Stride Type (‘Experimenting with the Float’)

For most intensive purposes, there are 3 stride types:

  • Leg kick – medium (Mike Trout) or large (Josh Donaldson),
  • Slide step – most Big League hitters use this.  Aaron Judge, Robinson Cano, Joey Votto, and Andrew McCutchen just to name a few.
  • Toe-tap – I recommend this for my younger hitters. Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, and Victor Martinez employ this.

Of course, there are variations to these, but these are the three broad categories of stride types.  I call the stride the ‘float’ and ‘fall’.  The ‘float’ is a momentary shifting of weight back towards the catcher before falling forward.  Matt Nokes calls this the ‘Ride’ and ‘Stride’.  Some hitting coaches don’t like this idea, but the reality is this is human movement.  The Chinese have been practicing exactly this move in Tai Chi for thousands of years…in stepping to my right, I have to make a brief weight shift to the left first.  CLICK HERE for a post analyzing this dynamic move.

I included a lot of video examples (CLICK HERE) of MLB hitters using these different stride types to help guide your baseball stride drills. In that post I concluded with this:

“When it comes to [baseball stride drills], Forward Momentum is the objective.  How we get our hitters there doesn’t really matter.  Just give them examples of how to accomplish more FoMo, and allow them to tinker and test until they find something they’re comfortable with doing.”

…Goldilocks Golden Rule.

 

Head Movement from Stride

There’s been few online Hitting Guru #57’s saying we want minimal to zero head movement when hitting.  They claim, the more the head moves, the less your eyes see the ball.  And they point to Barry Bonds as their champion.  On paper, this conclusion looks great, and with Bonds as their poster child seems argument seems pretty reasonable.

However, what science says and what the top 50 hitters in the Major Leagues are doing reveals something completely different.  The opposite actually.  Listen, I agree minimal to zero head movement when hitter’s stride foot lands.  And if baseball stride drills are done correctly, this should be a natural result.  But I don’t agree with minimal to zero head movement GETTING TO stride landing – BEFORE the turn starts.

In this post titled, Softball Hitting Tips For Kids: Why Late Head Movement Fails & Early Head Movement Succeeds, we discuss:

  • The Myth of ‘keeping the head still’,
  • Proprioception & dynamic movement,
  • First baseman stretching to receive a throw, and
  • Watching TV upside down.

The biggest bomb NUKING minimal to zero head movement argument, is this 2013 article by Dan Farnsworth at FanGraphs.com titled, Breaking Down the Swing: Best Hitters of 2012.  Farnsworth compiled a list of the top 50 hitters from the 2012 season according to Fangraph’s batting component of WAR (this is a big deal metric).

He looked at side views of each of these hitters from highlights of the 2012 season, in which each player hit a home-run.  Farnsworth says the main complaint coaches have with early head movement, is that moving the head forward “speeds up the ball”.  This may be true, however during the stride the hitter hasn’t made a definitive decision to swing yet.  In the Head Movement piece of the article, Farnsworth concludes:

“Next to no relationship here.  I think this one can be considered dead, simply based on the fact that all of them moved forward to some degree.”

Did you catch that?! Farnsworth revealed in his research of top-50 hitters in 2012, that ALL moved their head forward to some degree.  You see, head movement is inevitable in ALL dynamic movement.  Early is okay, late is not.   Don’t sit there and point to hitting outliers like Barry Bonds, and tell me the top-50 hitters of 2012 all had it wrong.  It was true then as it is now.

Besides, did you know fresh out of the box, humans come with “video stabilizer” eye software?  Ask an ophthalmologist.  In addition, your knees, ankles (Achilles tendon), and hip joints act as shock absorbers too.  If we start our hitters in an athletic position, and most importantly, they land in one, then the hitter will be fully optimized for minimizing the ball “speeding up”.

If you’re still skeptical, then check out this post titled, Perfect Swing Hacking With Forward Momentum.  We discuss:

  • Balance without thinking,
  • Debunking a common objection & a study, AND
  • Perfect swing examples.

Not too much, not too little, just right…Goldilocks Golden Rule.

And last but not least…

 

Controlling Center of Mass in the Stride

Center of Mass (COM) in the human body is located at the belly button.  This was established in the womb.  The umbilical cord is the center of an unborn child’s universe.  I say this to demonstrate the importance of COM in controlling human movement.

Now, we don’t want baseball stride drills to promote too large or too small of a stride.  Remember? Goldilocks Golden Rule.  Chris Welch from Zenolink said the stride should be about 3.75 times hip-center-to-hip-center, and aligned are back ball of the foot to front ball of the foot at stride landing.  How do we teach this though?  In this post I received the following question from one of my readers…

One specific issue I see in a lot of my players is timing and getting over the front knee too far at contact. What are some good tee drills for staying back and any idea how I can get them to feel it when done correctly.”

In the post titled, Discover Science Of Successful Learning Secret To Fix Lunging (or any swing flaw for that matter!), as it relates to controlling the COM of our hitters, we discuss:

  • Reader question about lunging,
  • “Bean Bag” study from Make It Stick book,
  • WHY we separate PROCESS from PERFORMANCE with hitters learning something new,
  • How it takes time to change ineffective movement momentum into effective, and…
  • Training 4-5 days per week, for AT LEAST 5-mins each day.

And remember the …Goldilocks Golden Rule.

Matt Nokes Reveals Ways to “Lean In & Compress Ball”, Swing in Same Direction of “Swing Motor”, & Quickly and Easily Get On-Time

I don’t give much of my time to others’ hitting instruction online…

And it’s not because I think I’m God’s green gift to baseball and softball.  Actually,

Since January of 2013, I took a needed break learning hitting mechanics from others in the field, no matter how popular.  I wanted to shed the hitting “BEER GOGGLES” that have stubbornly held this industry back for decades.

People ask me if I know anything about Tewks, Epstein, “Teacher Man”, etc.  I don’t.  And that’s the honest truth.  I see their posts on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t give them anymore thought.

Matt Nokes Snap Drill

Matt Nokes talking about “leaning in and compressing the ball”. Photo courtesy: Matt Nokes’s YouTube channel

The main reason?  I’m still learning my own system!!

Besides, everyone has a different approach, view, and style.  As you probably know, the language can get quite confusing.

Back in 2013, I decided to stick to resources on Bio-mechanics, Physics, Psychology, etc.   Because THIS is where the answers are.  It’s not opinion, or someone’s theory or philosophy based on playing or coaching experience.

My #1 rule is to digest information that is validated by science.  Don’t seek the footsteps of others, but seek the resources the “others” sought.  In other words, don’t just take my word for it.

That being said, there are a couple hitting coaches I do listen to, and one is Matt Nokes.  I think he has an unmatched passionate curiosity for hitting, authentically wants to help hitters, is open to new ideas (can’t say that for many online gurus), and gets dramatic results with his hitters in a reasonably short amount of time.

As always, I’ve taken video notes for you, so you can skip around to what interests you most.  Some of the things you’ll learn in the video are:

  • Swing intention: what Matt Nokes means when he tells his hitters to “lean on it and compress it” (this will upset the ‘bug squisher’ coaches out there),
  • Why hitters MUST swing in the same direction as their “swing motor” (and it’s not what you think),
  • The “Snap Drill” that will easily and quickly get your hitters on-time (an Ah-ha moment for me!), and
  • Much more…

Enjoy!

  • About 1:00 minute mark, Matt didn’t think about Bat Speed when he was playing, he was trying to “lean on it and compress it”.  He calls this “directional force”, in which he says it takes 8,000 pounds per square inch in one direction, to hit a ball 400-feet.
  • About 2:15 minute mark, Matt talks about how hips, knees and feet are the base, core is the motor, and arms are swing levers.  What happens when swinging off the plane of the core motor.  Swing in same direction as swing motor.
  • About 3:30 minute mark, Matt distinguishes between keeping the barrel above hands as a cue versus what really happens.  Don’t miss this.  He uses this oftentimes blanket-used-coaching-cue to get the hitter flattening his/her barrel to the pitch plane.  Barrel MUST match shoulder plane.
  • About 5:30 minute mark, Matt defines an approach as summing up what you’re trying to do mechanically into a one or two word cue.  Ever changing because getting new info, new feelings, new observations.  Talks about 2-3 minute “priming” movements before heading into battle.
  • About 10:15 minute mark, great hitters don’t “keep their hands inside the ball” in a way that creates what Matt calls slack.  He refers to the Fence Swing Drill that exaggerate swinging down.
  • About 12:00 minute mark, Matt talks about transferring force with a bent landing knee, comparing to a Pole Vaulter’s pole when it sticks into the ground before propelling the athlete up.  Landing bent allows for adjustment.  “The front knee isn’t straightened, it gets straightened.  The back leg doesn’t turn, it gets turned.  The core moves the legs.”
  • About 14:45 minute mark, Matt breaks down how to “flatten” the swing.  Tells hitter minimal movement from lower half swings, just focus on moving shoulders, hands, and bat.  Matt gives limited parameters, and let’s hitter learn the lesson…in other words, he doesn’t map out step by step how to move the way he wants the hitter to move.  Gives hitter an outcome and allows them to fill in the blanks.
  • About 16:30 minute mark, Matt talks about swing approach like what you’d do to chop down a tree.  You wouldn’t think about how did I swing the ax yesterday.  You’d just start swinging it!  Finishing low with the hands and following the line of impact. I call this driving the big nail (Matt’s bat in the video) flush into the wall.  At about 20:00 minute mark, Matt adds to this and tells hitter to “lean on this” and “compress it” (referring to his bat).  He says that he just gave hitter permission to hit the crap out of the ball.
  • About 18:30 minute mark, compares big picture hitting cues to Fence Swing Drills.  The latter being ineffective as a default way to hit.  You have to hit with big picture in mind of what you want to do to the ball.  Swing intention.
  • About 21:00 minute mark, Matt begins to talk about timing.  Timing is a distance, and to make it simple by synchronizing timing from release to contact.  Matt talked about how he took a guy hitting the ball 360-380 feet to hitting it 480-feet in 2.5 months…over the fence, 400-feet off a tee.  “Feel” contact…stay sideways and feel contact by leaning and compressing the ball.  Matt talks about the “Snap Drill”. This is golden!  He also talks about the “Ride” part of “Ride & Stride” that Matt promotes within his system.

If you remember one thing from this video, it’s from the 21st minute on… 🙂  Golden.

Unlike most MLB players and coaches, Matt Nokes has an intuitive sense of the swing.  He can explain it from a “real” point of view, and transition that into “feel”.  His system seems to fill in the blanks that I’ve always had about the swing.  The good news about his principles is they’re very simple and easy to implement.  Matt has a very common sense approach to hitting.

Thanks Matt!

Want To Move Better? Simple Adjustments To Move Like Today’s Best Hitters

Tai Chi Combat's Master Wong: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

Watch Tai Chi Combat’s Master Wong in point #4 below: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility. Photo courtesy: Master Wong, from his YouTube video Tai Chi for Beginners.

What Smokin’ Joe Frazier, China’s Tai Chi, the Headspace meditation app, and Ted Williams have in common will become clear moving through this post, I promise.

But first, here’s the glue that connects all these seemingly random things

I recently stumbled onto a post titled, “Want to Move Better? Use These 5 Simple Adjustments to Start Moving Freely” by Ryan Hurst, who’s co-founder of GMB Fitness (Gold Medal Bodies). They focus on Gymnastic type movements.

The first time I read through it, I thought, well this could help hitters…

The second time I read through it, I thought, dang, this could REALLY help hitters

And then the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times, in my head I screamed, “DUDE!!”

Which is WHY I’m bringing it’s information to the attention of my coaches.

Here’s what I have for you…

  • Some quick notes from each of the five main points of the Ryan Hurst GMB Fitness post above,
  • Supporting videos that help put the ideas into “hitting” terms, and
  • A few resources I think are becoming more popular in helping hitters control their breathing (VERY IMPORTANT as you’ll soon see).

ENJOY!

 

1. Slow It Down for Instant Awareness

  • Being mindful is really the key to better movement.
  • Pay attention to how your hips are moving, your weight distribution, your eye gaze, and your breath.
  • Slow down your movement and you’ll be able to pay better attention to the details.

I’m not sure on the name, but I once heard boxer Joe Frazier used to practice a super slow motion punch that would last 20-minutes!  Talk about slowing it down for instant awareness.

Here are swings from different angles to practice specific movements in slow motion…

2. Use Your Hips for Instant Power

  • Hips are your body’s center of mass.
  • The better you can initiate motion from this point, the more efficient your movements will be, as you’ll move with less wasted action.
  • With any stepping motion, rather than your feet propelling you forward, you want your hips to lead.

Yes, I agree with Ted Williams when he said the “Hips Lead the Way”.  But even before the pelvis begins to turn for a hitter, the front hip MUST lead the way during the stride.

Watch this short 1-min Justin Turner slow motion swing video I put together for you, and key in on how his front hip initiates his pre-turn movement in the stride…

3. Use Visual Aim for Instant Control

  • Head is hardwired to follow your eyes, and the body is hardwired to follow your head. Basically, the body will follow the eyes.
  • If your eyes are not gazing in the right place, you won’t be able to control your body properly.
  • If you want to move better, think of it this way: your eyes should always be pointed where you want your spine to be.

This is WHY hitters who “pull their heads”, go chin to chest, back ear to back shoulder, or nose to sky at impact is not good.

My good friend Matt Nokes at Hitting Solutions calls this “swinging across your face”…this cue will help correct pulling the head.  The best hitters “keep their head in the fire”, as Nokes says.  Control the head, and hitter controls the direction and “squaring-up” of impact.

Watch this head movement modeling video of a few top MLB hitters…

4. Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

  • The correct transfer of your weight is the beginning of a smooth and controlled motion.
  • While side stepping (or lunging) to your right, notice that you shifted your weight to the left a split second before you went to the right? It’s a natural loading response that you do without even thinking about it.
  • With any movement, if your body’s natural weight transfer mechanisms are not working properly, it will hurt your balance.

This is natural weight transfer behavior coaches!! If any hitting coach tells a right handed hitter to NOT shift their weight towards their right leg before striding to the left, then RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!

Watch the following three-in-a-half minute video from Master Wong, founder of Tai Chi Combat (over 1.4 million subscribers to his YouTube channel!!), performing a beginner’s Tai Chi movement.  Notice the split second weight shift one way, in order to go the other way…

5. Breathe for Instant Poise and Calm

  • Difference between holding the breath and bracing during movement…for skill-based movements holding your breath isn’t going to help.
  • Breath holding and hyperventilation are signs of anxiety, but in that wonderful body-mind connection loop, it can also create anxiety.
  • Poor breathing creates feelings of anxiety, anxiety, creates tension, and unmediated tension causes poor movement. Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.

This is “bigly”!  The leading resources for this are the following guided meditation apps:

  • Headspace (I’ve been using this one for the best 3 years), and
  • Calm

I can’t speak for the Calm app, but Headspace is not Eastern “woo-woo”.  It focuses on controlling the breath, being aware of the breath, and the use of visualization practice.

These are second-to-none resources for reducing rapid breathing during competition or any other signs of anxiety.

I think this quote bares repeating because it’s VERY important for hitters:

“Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.”

Watch Perfect Action Over And Over, Subconscious Mind and Muscle Memory Will Start To Incorporate The Actions…

(Disclaimer: my swing isn’t perfect, so please be nice in the comments.  However, 95% of it embodies what the best do, and is a sufficient representation of what we talk about on this blog)

I had heard of Sybervision back in the early to mid-1990’s, when someone told me about a Baseball With Rod Carew instructional VHS hitting video you could watch over and over of him hitting, and “magically” you’d start moving just like him!

At least that’s what I thought about it at the time, but there actually is some merit to it.

Some call Sybervision the Neuropsychology of self discipline, and has a basis in visual modeling — how we  learn and assimilate (neurologically, psychologically, and cognitively) skills and behaviors from the observation of others.

Sybervision Swings

Ichiro from the Head Movement video using Sybervision.

It is based on research conducted by Steve DeVore, and Dr. Karl Pribram, a brain scientist (who postulated the holographic brain theory) at the Stanford University’s Neuropsychological Research Laboratories.

One of the grand-dads of two hitters I worked with this past summer, Paul Rosemont, said this of Sybervision:

“The Sybervision concept is that if someone watches perfect action over and over, their subconscious mind and muscle memory will start to incorporate the actions. It’s ideal to view it before practicing but just viewing it is still supposed to work. The system was used years ago on college and Olympic level athletes.”

By the way, Paul took the time to have my swings edited into the above video we’re sharing with you today, using the Sybervision technique.

Along the same lines, utilizing shorter clips of Big Leaguers, and without the different views, one of my online lesson dads Victor Canseco made the following two videos using the same Sybervision concept.  They’re cropped to specific aspects of the swing, to help his son Harrison get the concepts we were working on with him…

 

Back Foot Skip

Please CLICK HERE for the Back Foot Variance Drill I use with my hitters.

 

Head Movement & One-Joint Rule

Please CLICK HERE for the One-Joint Rule Drill I use with my hitters.

Thank you Paul and Victor!

If You’re Teaching ‘Squish The Bug’, Then You’re OLD

This video is a definitive guide when it comes to WHY ‘squishing the bug’ is an inferior hitting mechanic.

Right now, if you find yourself asking if people STILL teach this, then sadly, the answer is yes.

I ran into one just the other day on the socials.  Nothing but pseudo science and circular reasoning.  Pretty mind numbing experience actually.

Here’s fair WARNING for the small few out there still teaching hitters to ‘squish the bug’…

If after watching this video, you’re still not convinced, then you’re old.

Consider what Henry Ford once said,

And while we’re at it, look at what Ayn Rand said,

In the above video, we discuss the:

  • Science,
  • Experimentation, and
  • Application…

…validating WHY ‘squishing the bug’ is DUMB, and no hitter should ever have to go through something as horrifying as that 😛 lol

Here are the resources mentioned in the video:

Also, here’s a recent case study post I did on skipping the back foot titled, “How 175-LB 15yo Is Consistently Hitting The Ball 400-FT With…BBCOR & Wood.

DON’T BE OLD.