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

Learn how to Stop AND Fix missing under the ball, hitting too many popups, and late batting timing for baseball and fast-pitch softball players.  Discover how to swing the bat faster, for more power, and ultimately hit more line drives.

“Shorten Swing” Like An Elite Hitter (Not What You Think)

Ask any “self-proclaimed” hitting coach what a “short swing” is, and you’ll get many differing interpretations.  I think the problem is found in the debate of feel versus real.  If you ask professional and MLB hitters what they’re trying to do, and they’ll use phrases like:

  • “I’m trying to stay short to the ball”, or
  • “I’m trying to be compact”...

The challenge is these examples are so vague, they’re widely open to interpretation.  And give coaches that kind of slack, and they tend to “hang” their hitters.  For instance, take the following swing example of Kris Bryant:

 

Some coaches will say his swing is too long, and that ONLY Big Leaguers can have swings like this.  This is an EXCUSE.  Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark McGwire have been quoted as saying they swing/swung down on the ball.

You see, what elite hitters are feeling, and what we’re actually seeing on slow motion video (what’s real) can be two totally different things.  So how do we get our hitters to “swing shorter”, like Kris Bryant…?

…without using hitting aids, and using effective external coaching cues, which science says are far superior than internal ones (CLICK HERE to read this post about that).  Without further adieu, here’s the…

Shorten Swing Path Drill

In the above video we discuss:

  • Drill Objective: to help fix “casting”, “long”, or “bat drag” type swings.
  • Define “Long” versus “Short” swing
  • Finger Pressure for “connection”
  • Hitting the “catcher’s glove”:
    – “Ferris Wheel” versus “Merry-Go-Round”
    – Throwing barrel “sideways”
    – Using Variations
  • Ropebat as a supplemental hitting aid.

The following is the NEW Improved and Updated version of the video above…

Brandon Moss

Discover how to hit slow pitching, improve batting timing and rhythm mechanism, and STOP swinging early.  For beginner baseball and softball players.  Learn simple drills and tips for better more on-time hitting…

Brandon Moss Swing Analysis REVEALS Slow Pitcher Timing Secret

 

Brandon Moss REVEALS Slow Pitcher Timing Secret

Brandon Moss photo courtesy: Zimbio.com

This Brandon Moss analysis comes from a conversation I had with Coach Justin Karr and his 12-U Bakersfield Sliders Black team.  Thanks Coach Karr, I hope this helps your troops!

I want to compare what Brandon Moss does differently hitting a slower pitcher, like knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays, to a hard throwing “King” Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.  We’re going to:

  • Make the complicated, uncomplicated,
  • Learn how-to adjust to slower pitching according to Brandon Moss, and
  • Discuss what a hitter can do to adjust timing.

 

Make the Complicated, Uncomplicated

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

Brandon Moss photo courtesy: MLB.com

First of all, executing flawless hitting mechanics mean nothing if timing is off.  I love how Dr. Kelly Starrett describes learning complicated movements (or strategies) in his book Becoming A Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance:

 “When it comes to learning complicated movements efficiently, the key is to make them uncomplicated.  We do this by breaking them down into precise, manageable steps.  Then we emphatically encourage like-your-life-depends-on-it focus in performing each step.  This is the path to a tight learning curve.  It’s the foundation required for optimal performance.”

We focus on one aspect at a time.  In respect to the calibration of timing, we have to forget swing mechanics and focus solely on adjusting the timing.  Making in-game adjustments, timing is THE most important priority.  We teach three possible swing adjustments with our seven hitting strategies.  We refer to these as the three dimensional hitting adjustments:

  1. Timing – is hitter out front or behind?
  2. Vertical (Launch Angle) – did hitter hit popup or ground-ball (or line drive?), and
  3. Horizontal (Barrel Path) – did hitter get jammed or hit ball off the end?

Which one of these after an in-game swing, if tweaked, fixes the other two?

How-To Adjust to Slower Pitching According to Brandon Moss

In the video, I compare and analyze two 2013 home-run swings by the Oakland A’s first baseman Brandon Moss:

  1. 77 mph knuckle-ball from R.A. Dickey Moss (left-handed) hit over the center field fence (418 feet*), and
  2. 93 mph fastball from “King” Felix Hernandez Moss hit over the right-center field fence (387 feet*)

(*You can find out more home-run stats at BaseballSavant)

CLICK HERE to revisit a video blog article I did, featuring Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout, where I went over:

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

For an average velocity pitcher, each hitter MUST figure out at what point in the pitcher’s delivery that they start their swing.  Then experiment starting the swing at a later point with a slower pitcher.  This will be slightly different for every hitter as the Josh Hamilton article shows.

The main point is, the hitter has to make a a conscience effort to change their timing.  They can’t just use the same timing for every pitcher.  Hitting is a game of inches…being one inch ahead or behind can mean barreling the ball or not.

What’s the best way to practice this? The 2-plate drill shared in this article, and home run derby??  Using the 2-plate drill and throwing seated from 25-30 feet away (under or over hand front toss).  The thrower will be literally lobbing the ball to the hitter as they take two swings and switching plates.  Six swings per round.  The slower the throw, the better.  In our system, this is hitting strategy number 4.

Also, if the whole team’s offensive numbers are suffering against a slower pitcher, then the adjustment DOES NOT necessarily have to be a mechanical one.

One more interesting point…notice how far Brandon Moss cranked the Dickey knuckle-ball?  418 feet!!  “King” Felix?  387 feet…a pitcher’s velocity doesn’t dramatically contribute to batted ball distance.  It’s bat speed that does.  According to a forum at eFastball.com, for every 1 mph of added pitching velocity, 1 foot of batted ball distance is the outcome.  BUT for every 1 mph of increased bat speed, 4 feet of batted ball distance is the result!!  Don’t let low velocity pitchers slow your bat speed down hitters!

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

Improve sports vision training when hitting, keep eye on the baseball, and learn how to see softball better. Discover the North Virginia Doctors of Optometry, Falls Church apps, glasses, and drills training.

Baseball Vision Training That Bryce Harper Is Talking About

Baseball Vision Training: Bryce Harper's amber tinted lenses

Check out Bryce Harper’s amber tinted lenses that help with the sun and different hitting backgrounds in the 2012 playoffs. Photo courtesy WashingtonPost.com

I have the honor and privilege of introducing baseball vision training expert Dr. Keith Smithson to you.

What does he do?  I HIGHLY recommend CLICKING HERE for a piece the Washington Post did about his baseball vision training, titled, “Washington Nationals Go Beyond The Eye Chart With Vision Training”.

In a nutshell, Dr. Keith helps his hitting athletes try and ‘buy time’.  By the way, his baseball vision training works for fastpitch softball as well!  His background?  Dr. Keith Smithson is the:

  • Director of Visual Performance for the Washington Nationals,
  • Team Optometrist for the Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Washington Spirit and DC United, and
  • Visual Performance Consultant for the Washington Redskins, Washington Capitals and Nike.

He’s also graciously contributed more BONUS baseball vision training videos that I’m including in my Reaction Time Mastery online video course that will help hitters track pitches crystal clear, accelerate decision-making reaction time, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness.

You’ll find nothing like this course in the hitting industry.

Dr. Smithson has also agreed to share new technologies and strategies with HPL in the future, so you guys and gals will truly be on the cutting edge of vision and tracking!

The Doc is a very busy guy, but he agreed to answer a couple interview questions, so without further adieu,

Enter Dr. Keith Smithson…

 

If you were to train me for four weeks for a HUGE tournament and had a million dollars on the line, what would the baseball vision training look like? What if I trained for eight weeks?

I would begin with a comprehensive visual performance enhancement using the latest dynamic vision testing technology such as the RightEye system.

Based on objectively quantifiable test scores, we would begin a protocol of in-office and home based visual performance enhancement.

We would discuss visual acuity and contrast enhancement using corrective lenses and nutritional supplementation. We would maximize eye muscle function, as well as neurological visual processing function and achieve results, as current studies predict.

 

What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you?

VIERA, FL February 15 : Dr. Keith Smithson, sports vision specialist. works with Washington Nationals second baseman Steve Lombardozzi (1) on his vision skills where they would toss a ring and call out a color and they would attempt to catch the color during spring training workouts on February 15, 2013 in Viera, FL (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

VIERA, FL February 15 : Dr. Keith Smithson, sports vision specialist. works with Washington Nationals second baseman Steve Lombardozzi (1) on his vision skills where they would toss a ring and call out a color and they would attempt to catch the color during spring training workouts on February 15, 2013 in Viera, FL (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

All of my testing and training methods are scientifically driven. I use objectively quantifiable testing and training tools to establish performance baselines before training and follow those results throughout training to target the training program and customize each program per the individual athlete’s needs.

I also work with multiple different professional sports teams, therefore I gain a vast understanding of the complex and differing needs of these athletes specific to their sport and position in that sport. I truly learn as much from them, as I trust they learn from me.

 

What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in hitting? What are the biggest wastes of time?

By in large baseball players are the most passionate about understanding the visual needs of their sport and are the most open to emerging technologies to maximize their visual potential.

The biggest misconception is that eye dominance plays an important role in visual performance in baseball. A study was done several years ago that showed equal hitting performance for same sided and cross dominant athletes.  

It is far more important to have equal visual ability and a coordinated eye muscle system to ensure proper eye tracking and depth perception judgements.

Dr. Keith Smithson can be found at: www.novaeyedocs.com

Also, as per Dr. Smithson’s recommendation, sports vision doctors can be found using the doctor locator on aoa.org.

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

Do ONLY strong baseball, fast-pitch, and slow-pitch softball players hit farther home runs?  And how far?  Can an “average” person hit home runs?  See how 14u small slugger Hudson White beat BIG slugger Blaze Jordan in the Power Showcase home run derby.  Learn Sadaharu Oh lessons on how to hit the first homer.

Sadaharu Oh: 5’10” 173-lbs, 868 Dingers Over 22-Years – How?

 

 

Sadaharu Oh: 5'10" 173-lbs, 868 Dingers Over 22-Years - How?

Sadaharu Oh photo courtesy: rnishi.wordpress.com

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the “Barry Bonds” of Japanese baseball, Sadaharu Oh:

  • Is 5-foot, 173-pounds, and
  • Hit 868 homers in 22 years (that’s almost 40/season!!)…

How did he do this?

Sadaharu Oh Analysis: Your Mission, if you Choose to Accept it…

Watch the above hitting footage, and identify – what you think – are the two most critical things contributing to his consistent power at the plate over a 22-year span.

Of course, Sadaharu Oh probably wouldn’t have put up those kind of numbers against today’s Major League pitchers.  BUT still…his body type…that many homers…for that long???!

Also, did you know he has a hitting book out?  It’s called “A Zen Way Of Baseball”.

I had an interesting conversation about Oh with one of my colleagues about if he were playing today, and was recruited over to the MLB, that coaches/instructors would probably make him a slap happy version of Ichiro Suzuki.

This actually makes A LOT of sense when you look at conventional American baseball/softball wisdom to make a “small left handed hitter” into a situational ground-ball inducing machine.  There NEVER would have been a “Sadaharu Oh”!

I agree there are roles to play in a lineup, and of course there’s a time and place for situational hitting, but if we taught ALL our hitters effective hitting mechanics, then what kind of metrics could a small slugger put up in-between?

Could we have a Dustin Pedroia-type who hits a 162-game average 15 dingers and 44 doubles?!  In addition, to be a bunting, hit-and-run, move ’em over extraordinaire!  Why can’t EVERY hitter experience repeatable power…?

A couple things to keep in mind when analyzing and commenting:

  • Use human movement science as a rule of thumb (un-weighting, spinal engine mechanics, springy fascia, etc.),
  • Be open minded and positive in the comments (no “spitting” on someone’s shoes PLEASE),
  • Clarify by giving a “time stamp” in the video to see what you may be talking about…

You can post your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

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

Learn how to hit faster pitching, see the fastball better (pitch recognition), and fix late swing (2-plate drill) for baseball and softball players.  Discover practical drills to simulate hitting 80, 85, and 90-mph LIVE off pitching machine.

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Confidently Dominate Pitchers That Throw Heat

 

This is Part-1 of a 3-part fastpitch softball hitting tips (works well for baseball too) video series coming straight out of the Reaction Time Mastery online video course…

Hitting Training - Reaction Time Mastery

Sick of struggling to get your hitters on-time, balanced, and keeping high Ball Exit Speeds, especially while hitting off-speed and breaking pitches?  This online video course (7-modules total) reveals cutting edge science on the topics of: Vision, Tracking, Timing, and Forward Momentum.

Finally, you’ll be able to track pitches crystal clear, accelerate reaction time decision-making, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness with this “secret” online video course you can’t live without.

If you haven’t already, then CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Reaction Time Mastery Online Video Course

In this fastpitch softball hitting tips video, we answer the following reader question:

“How to handle fear of pitcher throwing heat?”

We’ll discuss the following fastpitch softball hitting tips:

  • Goal is to keep swing tempo the same,
  • Adjust timing, DO NOT speed up swing tempo, and
  • Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson.

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #1: Goal is to Keep Swing Tempo the Same

All human actions require tempo or cadence…

ca. February 2005 --- Ultramarathon Runner Dean Karnazes --- Image by © Patrik Giardino/Corbis Outline

ca. February 2005 — Ultramarathon Runner Dean Karnazes — Image by © Patrik Giardino/Corbis Outline

The magic for a long distance runner happens when they count their right hand swinging forward 85-90 times per minute. Whether running, up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Have you ever ran downhill sprints, gotten really fatigued, and took a spill?  This was because the body’s slower tired tempo couldn’t keep up with the speed required to stay on your feet.

Furthermore…

The magic for a cyclist happens when they count their right foot/pedal reaching its apex 85-90 times per minute, regardless of moving up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Do you know what they do to stay within that range when going uphill or downhill?

Correct,

They change gears.

And most of you know…

In swinging a bat, the hitter is LIMITED on the amount of time they have to decide and swing.  The hitter must process the following information, as quickly as possible, pitch:

  1. Type,
  2. Speed, and
  3. Location…

This can be real challenging for the brain.  If the hitter’s timing is behind, such as is the case with a pitcher that throws heat, the hitter’s brain will begin “cutting out” excessive movements to get the barrel to the ball.

Essential hitting mechanics I often see getting “cut out” when a hitter’s tempo is behind:

  • NOT landing short, resulting in poor use of Ground Reaction Forces,
  • Front shoulder flying open too early, resulting in NOT effectively pre-loading the springy fascia in the torso,
  • NOT striding, resulting in the absence of getting a ‘head start’ and swinging from a dead stop,
  • NOT staying short, resulting in a ‘taller’ swinger, positive launch angles (not good for driving the ball), and will consistently drive the ball into the ground (VERY unproductive to run production, evidenced in my ‘Ground-ball Rant’), and/or
  • Won’t allow for the natural NIKE-swoosh barrel path to unravel, resulting in using an ineffective hand path to the ball, shortening the time the barrel spends on the plane of the pitch.

And from there, compensations occur, and the hitter loses the ability to optimally transfer energy from body to barrel to ball.

So, even with pitchers that throw heat,

We have to keep a consistent swing tempo

So, in knowing that, what do we have to clean up?

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #2: Adjust Timing, DO NOT Speed Up Swing Tempo 

My biggest fastpitch softball hitting tips advice when it comes to dominating a faster pitcher is to:

Brandon Moss homers off R.A. Dickey knuckle-ball

Brandon Moss homers on R.A. Dickey 76-mph knuckleball. Do you think he had to change his timing to do that? Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Start the swing sooner,
  • ‘Float’ less, or
  • A little of both.

And in the case of a slower pitcher, you’d reverse these elements:

  • Start swing later,
  • ‘Float longer, or
  • A combination of both.

You see, we want our hitter’s natural swing tempo, regardless of whether they’re facing a fast or slow pitcher.

What do I mean by when the swing starts?

I tell my hitters, their swing starts, as soon as they make the decision to pick up their front foot.

What about the ‘Float’?  What is it?

CLICK HERE for this other RANT post I did on that.  Scroll down to the section I sub-titled, “Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #1: Using the ‘Float’”.

Also, CLICK HERE for this post showing a video of Jose Bautista, revealing what critical, but simple, change he made to his timing from the 2009 and 2010 seasons that has transformed him into the Joey Bats of today.

My favorite drill for speeding up the eyes on a machine, to help with hitting 80-90 mph (whatever is considered “fast”), is to set up the machine to throw about the fast velocity you want your hitters to adapt to.  Then have your hitters take a big step towards the machine after every swing.  After about 4-6 BIG steps forward, then have them return to the beginning.  What you’ll find is that they will be out front, whereas they were behind on the first swings.

If you want to condition hitters to hit 80 mph, then they MUST see 90.  If you want them hitting 90, then they MUST see 100.  100?  They MUST see 110.

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #3: Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Effective Velocity

Perry Husband diagram demonstrating Effective Velocity and the hitter’s differences in ‘perceived’ velocity. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

When it comes to plate approach, fastpitch softball hitting tips that hitters at all levels MUST put into practice comes from Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity program.

He’s one of the experts I called on to contribute a couple videos to the Reaction Time Mastery online video course.

CLICK HERE for the interview I did with him on the blog.

Basically, Effective Velocity is about a hitter’s perceived pitch velocity.  For example, the radar gun registers a pitcher’s fastball velocity at 90-mph, down the middle of the plate…

However, if the same pitch is located inside or high in the strike zone, the hitter actually sees that ball faster, between THREE to SIX-mph faster.

And the reverse is true of the pitch locating outside or down in the zone.

My friend Taylor Gardner shared a conversation with me that his hitting mentor Matt Nokes had with Hall Of Famer Frank Robinson on his plate approach when facing pitchers that throw heat…

Frank Robinson said he was looking for the pitcher’s fastest pitch up and in, and adjusting to everything else.

Perry Husband did some work with Carlos Pena in 2009, talking about this very thing on the MLB Network:

Not saying this plan will work for everyone, but if you don’t have a plan, it’s a great place to start.

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

Discover simple timing and rhythm hitting tips from Matt Nokes to quickly improve and fix a too early or late swing for baseball and softball batters.  Get the front foot down on time and in games.

Timing Drills For Hitting A Softball Video: Quickly & Easily Get Hitters On-Time w/ “Snap Drill”

 

I don’t give much of my time to others’ timing drills for hitting a softball…

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.

Timing Drills for Hitting a Softball: 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 timing drills for hitting a softball 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 timing drills for hitting a softball 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-feetCLICK HERE to see our Directional Force drill video.
  • 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 a timing drills for hitting a softball 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 timing drills for hitting a softball 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 timing drills for hitting a softball 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!

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

Discover the best online pitch recognition hitting drills website game app for baseball and softball players.  Tips to see the ball and pitch better, fix late swing timing, and help your batter that may be struggling to hit.

Get Rid of Pitch Recognition, Plate Discipline, & Timing Challenges Once and For All 

Photo courtesy: News.Missouri.Edu

In this post,

I answer the following three fan questions:

  • How do you practice picking up the pitch early?
  • Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched? And,
  • Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

The following is a compilation of resources I wish I had when I was still playing.

Coaches, if you aren’t taking full advantage of these, then you’ll be slowly losing ground in games over the next 5 years, that I can assure you.  Get out ahead!

Onward…

 

How do you practice picking up the pitch early?

Check out the feedback software you can use to work on getting GREAT at pitch recognition.  Dr. Peter Fadde calls this ‘video occlusion’, which allows a hitter to focus on pattern recognition for the first 10-20 feet of ball flight.  CLICK HERE for a blog interview I did with Dr. Fadde for more information on the benefits of his ‘video occlusion’ training.

The greatest thing about the GameSense software, is that coaches can keep track of their players’ use of the software with real numbers.  What’s measurable is manageable.

As a player, I would’ve eaten this up when I was younger.

And yes, it requires a subscription, and the pricing plans differ depending on usage.  On the homepage, GameSense is offering a free trial, so you can check it out and see if it’s right for you.

CLICK HERE to grab your FREE trial of the GameSense app that focuses on pitch recognition training…i.e. picking the ball up early out of the pitcher’s hand.

By the ways, gS Pitch-IQ was named one of the best products at the 2017 ABCA convention in Anaheim!

Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched?

I’m not sure I’d ever let hitters swing at everything during batting practice.  Everything we do at practice, as coaches, MUST have a purpose.  And that purpose MUST prepare our players for the game environment.

CLICK HERE to watch YouTuber Trevor Ragan compare the benefits of training “ugly” in a post I did showing how to EFFECTIVELY transition grooved batting practice swings into game ones.

Here’s why swinging at everything in the cages DOES NOT translate into games…motor skill learning in a competitive environment MUST follow these three steps:

  1. READ – i.e. pitch recognition and spin
  2. PLAN – i.e. timing
  3. DO – the swing

You see, when a hitter swings at everything in the cages, most of what they’re working on is in the “DO” portion.  There’s very little READ or PLAN present, which is required in a game environment.

“Massed Training”, as defined by SchoolOfThinking.org, is said to be a far less effective strategy for retaining knowledge or developing skills. In other words, practicing the same thing over and over again WITHOUT a break and evaluation period is inferior to spaced and/or ugly training.  CLICK HERE for my Hitting Outcomes Evaluation Checklist.

So what does being selective in the cages look like:

  • After every 5-swing round, the hitter is asked, “How many strikes did you swing at?”  (and they’re affirmed or corrected based on their answer)
  • You can also do what I call is a Reverse Strike-Zone round.  This is where they MUST swing at “balls” – within reason, you don’t want them throwing their bat in the cage – and taking “strikes”. WHY would you do this?  It helps define a hitters strike-zone/hitting zone, and offers a better variety of body movement which the body’s springy fascia LOVES!!  This will melt their brain by the way 😛 lol
  • CLICK HERE for this post I did on plate discipline – splitting the plate up into 2/3’s and 1/3 is another great way to teach your hitters to be more selective.
  • This answers the second part to the reader question above…you can also turn on READ, PLAN, DO by limiting what parts of the field you want the hitter to hit to, OR limit certain elevations you want the hitter to hit at, regardless of pitch type, location, and speed.  Addressing the former…you can setup targets out in the field preferably in spots where you don’t find any fielders (gaps/down the lines), and hitter has to hit the target as hard as they can.  Addressing the latter…I’ve seen some coaches place shagging screens about 30 to 50-feet from the batter’s box creating a barrier to hitting ground-balls, and the objective is to hit the ball hard over the screens.
  • Random pitch type rounds – an example of this is randomly throwing either a 2-seam fast-ball or a curve-ball, and having the hitter stick to seeking out one pitch over the other for one 5-swing round.
  • 2 or 3-plate drill rounds – where the hitter moves from different plate distances between or during 5 swing rounds.  The plates can be placed about 3 to 5 feet apart.  This is a GREAT timing drill.
  • Doing situational hitting rounds…hit-and-runs, move runner over, and bunts/drags/pushes.

I’m sure other coaches have cool deviations of the above, so please SHARE in the comments section below.

The point is, hitters should have a purpose when taking batting practice, NOT just swinging at everything, IF they want to match the game environment.

 

Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

Totally.  I tell my hitters that the most effective mechanics in the world don’t mean a thing if they can’t get on-time.

Surprisingly, some hitting instructors don’t think timing can be taught?  I disagree.

Now, let me clear up a common misconception…do you know the difference between timing and reaction time?

I got the following demonstration from my good friend Taylor Gardner, co-inventor of the Backspin Tee.  Do this with your hitters…

Tell them to stand in front of you, and hold a baseball/softball an arm’s length away from you at about the height of their head.

Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball at a random time…try varying the times you drop the ball, and you’ll find it’ll be a challenge for them to catch it.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of reaction time.

Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball after counting to 3 (no tricks here coaches)…count to three, then drop the ball.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of timing.  And as you may guess, this will be much easier to catch for your players.

Timing can be taught with the right methods.  Here are my top three:

  1. The TWO or THREE plate drill mentioned above,
  2. Switching bat sizes and weights between or in the middle of 5-swing rounds, and
  3. Switching ball types at random…using baseballs, softballs, whiffles, golf whiffles, racket balls, Smush balls, and tennis balls.

Thank you Mike Ryan from Fastball USA for the last two.  A hitter will have to re-calibrate their timing between swinging a longer heavier bat than a lighter shorter one.  The different balls mentioned will fly through the air at different speeds making for a perfect off speed practice environment.  This can be really challenging for the hitter, and a lot of fun.

But be careful coaches, slowly layer in the difficulty, don’t do ALL three above at the start.  Some hitters excel quickly, while others take more time.

Do you see how important training beneath the READ, PLAN, & DO umbrella is?

I hope this helps coaches!!

Please share any other effective methods you do with your hitters that improve what was talked about above.  THANKS in advance!

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

One can learn a lot from this Hammerin’ Hank Aaron swing on YouTube – how to hit your first home run.  Hank Aaron stats and watch an episode of the Home Run Derby Game Show from 1960 where Hank battles Al Kaline!

Method that Helped Hank Aaron Consistently Hit Dingers…

 

But before we get to the 1960 Hank Aaron Home Run Derby Game Show episode and what we could learn from his swing and how to hit your first homer, I wanted to share the epic 715 home run video called by the late Vin Scully…

 

1960 Home Run Derby Game Show where Hank battles Al Kaline… (ENJOY!)

 

Hank Aaron Reveals Ways To Hit A Homer - Back Foot

Note the elevation of Aaron’s rear foot at impact. Photo courtesy: YouTube user ItsZaneV2

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Hank Aaron averaged almost 33 homers over 23 seasons (755 all-time homers).  And at ONLY 6’0″, 180-pounds, I would say that’s quite an accomplishment!

The above 24-minute video is a home-run derby hosted by Mark Scott.  You can purchase the Legends Home Run Derby 3 Volume Set (I only see volumes 1 & 3 though) on Amazon to watch it on your TV.

This particular one pits Hank Aaron against Al Kaline.  I wanted to get your reaction on some of the swings, but before I do that…I figured some of you wouldn’t have time to watch the whole 24-minutes, so I included some time-stamps below for quick reference.

 

Time Stamps…

(abbrev.: HA = Hank Aaron, AK = Al Kaline, & MS = Mark Scott)

Hank Aaron Reveals Ways To Hit A Homer - Forward Movement

Note Aaron’s aggressive forward move. Photo courtesy: ItsZaneV2

  1. MS comments on AK’s swing: “crowds the plate, closed stance” (2:53) – notice how he steps in the bucket
  2. HA asked to comment on AK’s swing: “sweeps at the ball” (3:01)
  3. AK describes HA’s swing: “relaxed, waits till last minute, ‘pops’ his wrist into the ball and it really jumps” (6:25)
  4. MS comments on AK’s swing: “long stride”, then HA adds: “get out there, get that ball, that’s what you’re suppose to do” (7:43)
  5. HA homer chest view (10:33)
  6. HA gapper back view (11:15)
  7. HA gapper – fly out – to left center, back-chest view (14:33)
  8. HA homer, chest view (14:45)
  9. HA homer, chest view (15:05)
  10. HA homer, chest view (18:05)
Hank Aaron Reveals Ways To Hit A Homer - Barrel Path

Note Hank Aaron’s early on pitch-plane barrel. Photo courtesy: ItsZaneV2

Interesting to Note…

  • How far and high Hank Aaron’s back foot comes off the ground during his turn
  • How much forward momentum both hitters get
  • How early the barrel starts on the pitch plane
  • How much both hitters get on their front sides…

What do you think?  Please leave your comments or questions under the “Leave a Reply” section

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

Learn how to FIX head movement, pulling head off the ball, stepping out of the box, and overcoming the fear of getting hit in baseball and softball.  Discover how great batters keep their eye on the ball and see it better.

Stop Hitter From Pulling Their Head Out Before Contact Is Even Made

 

That’s a comment someone made about one of their biggest frustrations with hitting right now.  The above video will fix it!  A BIG thank you to Coach Matt Nokes for this!

Swinging Across the Face Drill

Swing ‘chasing your face’ VERSUS swinging ‘across your face’. Photo courtesy: ME!!

The following is the bullet point outline to the above video…ENJOY!

 

Swinging Across Face Drill

In this drill video, we discuss:

  • Define Swinging Across Face v. Chasing Face,
  • Where eyes go, head follows, and where head goes, body follows,
  • Process v. Performance,
  • Over-swinging and control, and
  •  Regression-progressions:
    • Beginner – Dry and tee swings
    • Intermediate – Soft toss and LIVE swings
    • Advanced – LIVE swings, 2-plate, random pitch
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Dustin Pedroia: #1 Way To STOP Stepping Out…

 

Dustin Pedroia: How-To Fix Stepping In The Bucket

Dustin Pedroia showing numbers but stepping in the bucket. Photo courtesy: ESPN.Go.com

Discover how to drills to stop a batter from stepping out of the box and into the bucket for baseball and softball players.  What is stepping out of the box mean and should a hitter step when batting?

I took Mixed Martial Arts classes before it was considered MMA back in Junior High and High School.  We practiced A LOT of grappling and lock & holds.  One thing my Sensei (teacher) used to say when grabbing someone on the wrist, the common opponent response is to pull back, or fight against the resistance

This week’s Dustin Pedroia video post will look at this fighting against the resistance concept.  I’ll show you how fix stepping in the bucket using a little known human movement science technique called Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT).

In this video blog post, we’re going to discuss:

  • Problems with stepping in the bucket,
  • Stepping out as a legit hitting strategy?  And,
  • The #1 fix to stepping out.

Dr. Mark Cheng, kettlebell and corrective movement training expert, calls RNT “reverse psychology for the body”.  He adds that “RNT operates on the premise that the body will do what it needs to maintain balance – homeostasis”.  Essentially, we’re going to be training what Dr. Mark Cheng refers to as “feeding the mistake”

Problems with Stepping in the Bucket

Stepping in the bucket is most prevalent at the Little League and youth softball levels.  It’s when a hitter strides or steps away from home plate, which creates a big hole in their swing on the outside part of the plate.  Contrarily, it can also be used as a legitimate strategy (crowding the plate) at the higher levels – we’ll get into that in a bit.  At the youth levels, it can be caused by a few things:

  1. Fear of the incoming ball,
  2. Laying barrel flat, or parallel to the ground, at stride landing…
  3. Problems getting around on an inside pitch, and probably the root cause…
  4. Not setting up the Fight Position (landing) correctly, and
  5. Takes away outer plate coverage.

What about using…

 

Stepping Out as a Legit Hitting Strategy?

Dustin Pedroia using Step in the Bucket strategy

Look at Dustin Pedroia’s back foot compared to his front. Use batter’s box inside chalk line as a point of reference. Photo courtesy: BattersBox.ca

Let me be clear, I’m not condoning the use of stepping in the bucket.  In all youth hitters, it needs to be fixed.  BUT, I’m going to show you an example of a player who uses it to his advantage as he crowds the plate…

2nd-baseman Dustin Pedroia from the Boston Red Sox.  According to Baseball-Reference.com he’s 5 foot, 8 inches tall.  165-pounds, soaking wet.  In a 162-game average season, Dustin Pedroia hits 15 homers and 45 doubles per season.  His Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP – .307) and On-Base Plus Slugging% (OPS – .810) are above average.

Imagine what Dustin Pedroia could do if he was 6-foot, 200-pounds!

His home ballpark is Fenway, where it’s 315 feet down the left-field line.  Very advantageous to a right handed hitter.  How does stepping in the bucket work for him?

  1. He’s almost crowding the plate (look at back foot in photo to right),
  2. Because of #1, stepping out helps clear his pelvis before landing,
  3. Shows his numbers a long time, and
  4. As a result of #3, he can hit the ball to the opposite field like Derek Jeter.

So, let’s find out…

 

The #1 Fix for Stepping Out

As mentioned earlier, we’re going to infuse the Stepping in the Bucket Drill with RNT.  Or what Dr. Mark Chang refers to as “feeding the mistake“.  Here’s how you set up the Dustin Pedroia Stepping in the Bucket Drill:

  • You’ll need a workout band of light resistance from your local Sporting Goods store,
  • You’ll make a slip knot for the ankle,
  • The other end a partner can hold or can be secured using a wall anchor in the garage like in the video,
  • You want the band pulling the foot in the direction of stepping out (“feeding the mistake”),
  • At landing we want alignment with the heels.