Josh Hamilton Part-2: How to Optimize Vision, Tracking, and Timing

 

Josh Hamilton Video: Coaches Don't Tell You This (About Timing)

…In this Josh Hamilton video we’re focusing on what most coaches don’t tell you (or simply don’t know) about calibrating the timing of a hitter.  You can have the best hitting mechanics, but if timing is off, results can be frustrating.

In this video, we’ll analyze:

  • When does a swing start?
  • Leg kick or slide step? and
  • How to practice timing?

 

When Does a Swing Start?

Short answer?  About when the hitter picks the front foot up.  When walking, you can’t take a step forward without picking up your foot and putting it back down.  This is why I hate “no-stride” coaching cues.  Here’s how walking bio-mechanics work:

  1. Front heel hits the ground signals pelvis to open.
  2. Same timing signal travels up the spine to the shoulders, telling them to counter-rotate the pelvis.
  3. This is why your opposite arm and leg come forward at the same time.

This simple timing mechanism is important to hitting.  Hitting experts call this torque, but really, it’s how humans are designed to move against gravity using the spine for locomotion.  CLICK HERE for a more in–depth study on walking bio-mechanics according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky.

 

Leg Kick or Slide Step?

It ALL depends on a batter’s moving parts…

  • Leg Kick a-la Josh Hamilton forces the hitter to start the swing sooner.  Hamilton starts his when the pitcher breaks the hands.
  • Slide Step a-la Mike Trout can start their swing later.  You’ll see these types of hitters picking their front foot up when the pitcher lands and/or begins forward movement with the arm.

 

How to Practice Timing

SEVEN ways a hitter can practice “collecting data”:

  1. LIVE arm: whether seated – on a bucket, kneeling, or standing.
  2. Soft toss or LIVE: throw baseballs, whiffle, dimple, tennis, golf, or dried pinto beans.
  3. Broad focus: have hitter pick out a point in the pitcher’s delivery to start the swing.
  4. On-Deck circle: work on when to pick front foot up.
  5. Sit in on Bullpens: hitter passively (no swings) sits in on pitcher bullpens (with a helmet on of course).
  6. Pitcher’s BP: have pitchers trade off throwing batting practice (advanced).
  7. Intra/Inter-squat games.

Above-all, be safe.   The truth about Josh Hamilton timing?  It takes reps, reps, and more reps.  CLICK HERE for Part-3 Matt Holliday: The Death Of Plate Discipline.  In case you missed Part-1 Mike Trout: Why Your Consistency Won’t Improve, CLICK HERE.

Mike Trout: “You’ve Got To Hit It First, Then Look Where It Goes”

 

Mike Trout: 3 Reasons Why Consistency Won't Improve

Posted to Hitting Performance Lab’s Facebook page…

…This three-part video series will analyze how to optimize vision, tracking, and timing.  This Part-1 video, featuring Mike Trout, will be unwrapping how the best mechanics in the world mean nothing without proper vision.  In this game, we live and die by how consistent we are.

In this post, we’ll go over:

  • Physically impossible to keep eyes on the ball,
  • How much and when head movement is okay, and
  • Building consistency with vision.

CLICK HERE for an interesting academic study on six elite female shot putters.  Results found head movement during rotation can influence the movements of the limbs and trunk.

Physically Impossible to Keep Eyes on the Ball

In a study by A. Terry Bahill, titled “Baseball Players Cannot Keep Their Eyes on the Ball”, his findings say this:

“We have shown that no one could keep his eye continuously on the ball as it flies from the pitcher to the plate.  For our professional athlete, the ball was always more than 2-degrees off his fovea before it came within 5-ft of the plate.  However, when the ball is off your fovea, you can still see with peripheral vision.  However, with peripheral vision, the ball would only appear as a white blur, you would not see details.”

The finding that was most interesting in the study, using University students as a control for the study, was:

“Most of our student subjects tracked the ball with either head movements alone or eye movements alone, but not both…After the ball crossed the plate, the students usually made large eye or head movements, whereas the gaze of the professional athlete was quite steady…The stance of our professional athlete was very repeatable.  At the beginning of the pitch, his head position was the same (within 1-degree) for each of the three experimental pitches we recorded.  When he was looking at the ball in the beginning of the experiment, his eyes were rotated 22-degrees to the left; his head was rotated left 65-degrees (yaw), was bowed down 23-degrees (pitch), and was tilted right 12-degrees (roll).”

The professional hitter in the study was right handed.

What’s interesting with hitters like Mike Trout, is that they have to use a bit of head and eye movement when tracking the incoming pitch.  Not one or the other. However, nobody on earth, EVER, has been proven to keep both eyes on a pitched ball continuously to home plate.

In the study, A. Terry Bahill said, in order to do that, the ball would have to be traveling at around 25-mph, in which case, it would NEVER reach home plate in softball or baseball.

 

How Much and When Head Movement is Okay

Olympic throwers move their heads forward (including Javelin, Discus, and Hammer).  Lacrosse players do too.  And so do Pitchers!

For a hitter like Mike Trout, forward head movement, dropping the “eye-line”,  are okay…until landing.  I say, get head movement out of the way early.  Mike Trout does strikeout quite a bit, which may be attributed to the dropping eye line.

The hitter told to “Sit back”, keeps the head still early, but moves it after the landing position and during the Final Turn.  This is not good for improving consistency.

 

Building Vision Consistency like Mike Trout

How-to improve consistency with vision:

  • Understand the swing is a “snapping towel” (forward first, then back),
  • Keep head in-line with spine,
  • Use the study finding parameters above, to know how much head and eye movement keeps consistency, and
  • Maintain a moderate swing tempo and relax the jaw (not over-swinging).

CLICK HERE for the Josh Hamilton Part-2 Video: Coaches Don’t Tell You This (About Timing)…

In This Andrew McCutchen Video (1 of 4),

 

Andrew McCutchen Un-Weighting Principal…We’re going to look at how ‘Cutch’ (5’10” 190 lbs*) used Science to beat Paul Goldschmidt (6’3″, 245 lbs*) for the 2013 NL MVP.  McCutchen has to stay close to human movement science in order to compete with big guys like Goldschmidt.

(*according to Baseball-Reference.com)

In this Part-1 video, we’ll:

  • Demo the Un-Weighting Principal,
  • See how Cutch either DOES or DOESN’T use this in his swing, and
  • Look at how to work on this at home.

For a different angle on this, CLICK HERE to watch the – 1 min, 58 second – PBS Circus Physics video about the Conservation of Linear Momentum (aka, the Un-Weighting Principal).

A few notable explosive rotational athletes who also use this human movement rule:

  1. Olympic throwers (javelin, hammer, and discus)
  2. Olympic shot putters
  3. Olympic jumpers (high, long, and triple)

 

WHY the Wide Stance?

I get tired of hearing about instructors pushing the wider [non-athletic] stance.  This makes it difficult to create any forward movement in the swing, and see it’s benefits (read below).

I ask my students…what position – with your feet – would you want to cover a fast wide receiver?  How about guarding an agile soccer striker?  Or jumping to slam dunk a basketball?  Hitters need to start from an athletic stance – feet slightly wider than shoulder width.

“Sitting back” isn’t very effective when it comes to dynamic human movements.

As a famous Samurai swordsman Miyamoto Musashi once said:

“In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance.” – Musashi, The Water Book

 

Un-Weighting Principal Benefits:

  • Feel lighter in Final Turn
  • Easier to move heavy objects
  • Get a ‘head start’

 

How Does Andrew McCutchen Do This?Andrew McCutchen Un-Weighting Principal

  • Front hip moves forward
  • Head movement is okay to heel strike
  • NO push, natural fall forward

 

How-To Practice at Home (feedback marker setup)

  1. Back marker (dimple ball or duct tape) inside back foot
  2. Front marker is hitter’s bat length, plus one or two baseballs in front
  3. Get “front hip” to front marker
  4. Set tee slightly behind front marker

CLICK HERE to watch Part-2, Andrew McCutchen: Do This For Longer Drives.  We’ll look at how effective Cutch’s Final Turn is…or isn’t.

In This Baseball Hitting Video Easy Distance PART 2,

 

We’re going over:

  • “Gas Pedal” — Natural, NO Push from Backside,
  • “Smooth” — NO Rush (Archer Metaphor), and
  • How Far Should the FREE-FALL be? (setting up your feedback markers).

Someone did a video analyzing The Babe’s swing (not up anymore), and what’s amazing is his nearly three-foot long bat almost matches his just under three-in-a-half foot stride length.  Also important to note is Babe Ruth’s head moved two-and-a-quarter feet forward before his front heel hit the ground.  CLICK HERE to see game footage.

What do you think The Babe would say to those today who shout, “NO head movement!”?  When we look at the science and its application, we know this statement doesn’t make sense.

 

MLB BIG-Boppers who use Forward Momentum

David “Big Papi” Ortiz (9-Time All-Star):

Baseball Hitting Video Easy Distance: David Ortiz

Video courtesy of MLB.com

Chris “Crash” Davis (2013, led Big Leagues with 53 hr’s and 138 RBI’s & was an All-Star in 2013):

Chris Davis Baseball Hitting Video

Watch how Davis is a big guy abiding by the rules in this baseball hitting video easy distance.

Bo Jackson when he was with the White Sox (All-Star in 1989):

Bo Jackson (White Sox) Baseball Hitting Video

Here’s one of my college hitters, and his BEFORE (left) & AFTER (right) Forward Momentum:

Anthony Case Study 19yo

Other Athletes Who Use Forward Momentum…

Paul Rabil – Lacrosse player with world record’s fastest throw (111 mph, and averages well over 100 mph in games):

Paul Rabil - MLB Lacrosse Player (fastest Lacrosse ball thrown)

Courtesy of SportScience

Ulf Timmerman – holds the World Shot Put Record using the Glide Technique:

Ulf Timmermann Glide Technique Shot Put

Note how Ulf uses his front leg to gain forward momentum, before the slight push from his back one…

Jan Zelezny – World Record holding male Javelin Thrower:

Jan Zelezny World Record Holder in the Javelin Throw

Note how much linear momentum Jan creates…

I hope you learned something from watching the baseball hitting video easy distance part two.  CLICK HERE for the Baseball Hitting Video PART-THREE (How-To Make Swing Science Sticky) of a FOUR-Part Series on Explosive Rotational Power.

In This Baseball Hitting Video Gain Distance The Easy Way PART 1,

 

We’re going over:

  • How to feel lighter in the Final Turn using the rule of Un-Weighting,
  • Moving the body forward to create momentum, and
  • Turning Yourself into a Projectile Missile (Broad v. Triple Jump).

It’s amazing what happens when you add a little momentum.  Muscles don’t have to work as hard, and the body moves effortlessly through space.  We get a “head start” using our body’s weight more than we realize…to get up from the floor, the couch or chair, or to step up into the bed of a truck.  Why should hitting be any different…heck, just about every good player uses momentum in some way.  I hope you enjoy Baseball Hitting Video Gain Distance PART-One.

CLICK HERE to watch a YouTube video on how Babe Ruth gains distance the easy way.

 

MLB Small-Boppers Who Use Forward Momentum…

Jose Bautista (4-Time All-Star):

Baseball Hitting Video Gain Distance the Easy Way: Jose Bautista

Video courtesy of MLB.com

Andrew McCutchen (2013 NL MVP, 3-Time All-Star):

Andrew McCutchen Spine Engine

Video courtesy of MLB.com

Robinson Cano (5-Time All-Star):

Robinson Cano Baseball Hitting Video

Robinson Cano is one of the best examples I can think of for Baseball Hitting Video Gain Distance the Easy Way PART-One

 

Jumping World Record Holding Athletes Who Use Forward Momentum:

Standing Long Jump, Korean World Record holder at almost 10.5 feet:

WR Standing Long Jump

Look at how he uses his arms to gain Forward Momentum…video courtesy of YouTuber Hyrugaful

Triple Jump World Record Holder Jonathan Edwards from Great Britain at 18.29 m (60 ft 0 in):

Jonathan Edwards GBR WR Triple Jump

Look at how much Forward Momentum is gained before breaking the world record. Video courtesty of YouTuber MCTnF

CLICK HERE for Baseball Hitting Video PART-2, where we go over how to apply what we learned in this video.

In This Baseball Hitting Drill Video,

 

Baseball Hitting Drill: #1 Way To Hitting For Consistent Power (Case Study)…We discuss the #1 way to hitting for consistent power by analyzing one of my younger hitters Braden:

  • Before and after swing,
  • The Un-Weighting Principal, and
  • What baseball hitting drill to work on next.

 

Before & After Swing

It’s so fun to see young men – like Braden – begin to build in human movement principals like Un-Weighting and notice an instant jolt in force at contact.  I ask all my students, if you wanted to live, would you rather get hit by a train going thirty miles-per-hour, or a motorcycle going sixty?

Of course the motorcycle!  You see, the motorcycle swing is very handsy, fast like a bike but no weight.  The train swing uses heavy mass and the slower rotational speed of the torso to pack a wallop at impact.  Forward movement and Un-Weighting are only the beginning…

 

The Un-Weighting Principal

I’m working with Braden on throwing his body mass at the ball.  Much like a projectile missile.  This helps to make the bat feel lighter to the hitter.  And be able to turn harder with less muscle involvement.  The swing is a transfer of energy.  We’re taking the potential energy contained in the hitter’s body, and getting it moving to transfer into the barrel.  Then effectively shift this moving energy into the incoming baseball.

CLICK HERE for a YouTube baseball hitting drill video I put together that demonstrates the power of the Un-Weighting Principal.

 

What Baseball Hitting Drill to Work on Next?

Braden is coming along nicely with his footwork – with the exception of making sure his lower half is mostly open at the Fight Position (landing).  We’ll be getting him to tap into the natural springy effect of his torso.  I call it the Catapult Loading System.  How the swing is loaded is a difficult concept for most to understand because their focus is on the wrong things:

  1. Not every great MLB hitter walks away from their hands.
  2. And not every great MLB hitter is swinging as effectively as they can.
  3. We tend to study the wrong hitters.
  4. And the camera view matters.

If you have any questions on this, then please post them below…