How To Get Pitch Plane Domination Out Of Minimal Back Foot Rotation

 

Roberto Perez 1st Homer 2016 WS Game 1 to LF

This is Roberto Perez’s 1st dinger in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. It was to LF, and look at the back foot. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

I wanted to do a follow up on the Matt Nokes post from a few weeks ago.

I received quite a few emails, like the following, from coaches who were a little confused as to what Nokes’s referred to as ‘back foot sideways’…

So I decided to do a short video (I know, a rarity these days :-P), seeing if I could bring some clarity to the issue.

Brian Clahane from Canada had emailed a comment about the Nokes post:

“Hey Joey, It’s Brian again…So you really have me thinking about this back foot sideways thing. I have been watching video and looking at still flip screens I have of hitters and I have to tell you I only see evidence of it on outside pitches or pitches hitters were late on.(Mccutchen and Miggie quite often when going other way)

I sent you this video of Cano to look at 1-because I know you use him as an example a lot and 2-because I found it under your name even though Chas Pippitt doing breakdown. Video shows what I keep seeing in that back foot rotated forward and normally as in this case off ground completely (not sideways).  If I am misinterpreting what keeping back foot sideways at contact means, please explain because it’s driving me crazy thinking I’m missing something! I just keep seeing back foot forward at contact.  Thanks, Brian”
The following video Brian had linked in the email from Chas:

 

The bottom line…

Roberto Perez 2nd Homer Game 1 2016 WS to LCF

Here’s Roberto Perez’s 2nd dinger in Game 1 of 2016 WS. It was to LCF. Look at his back foot. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  1. When looking at video, the chest view IS NOT helpful.  Look for pitcher’s, catcher’s side, or over head views.
  2. The principle is to get the pelvis (or hips) perpendicular to impact, NOT to the pitcher.
  3. The back foot skips in some cases, and not so much in others. I’ve seen it skip away from home plate, toward the front foot, and toward the plate (not as often). In other words, you don’t have to have one without the other.
  4. What may also help are these two shifting foot pressure videos (Mickey Mantle AND RopeBat).
  5. One of the cues I liked came from Mark Meger from the Matt Nokes post, “With our 13U kids we do emphasize the rear hip drive but we shun turning that back foot. That should happen after contact as shown here.”
  6. The sideways back foot will deviate slightly depending on an inside v. outside pitch.
  7. This falls in line with this post on the 90-degree to the spine rule.
  8. In YouTube, search “[favorite player’s name] 2016 highlights”, and watch the behavior of the back foot at impact, and make note of batted ball direction.
  9. Also, it doesn’t seem ONLY .300 hitters do this because Roberto Perez, in the images above, is a career .220 hitter.
  10. My observation is the back foot acts like a “governor” to the rotation of the hips.  It’s like it helps anchor down the back hip from over rotating the impact zone.
  11. Doing this helps to align the body on the plane of the pitch better, and may cut down on rolling over versus a full rotation of the hips, on every pitch.
  12. Zepp experiment coming soon from HPL on this 😉

Please post any concerns, counter-arguments, and/or observations below…

A Simple Way To Make Adjustments, Build Swing Tempo, AND Elevate The Ball That Works For Mike Trout & Josh Donaldson

I have a treat for you…

A “grab-bag” of golden nuggets…

The following 11 hitting tips come from my most popular social media non-HPL links of 2016.

To give you an idea,

I typically promote 1 non-HPL link per day on the socials, so that’s 365 links getting put in front of my 20K+ followers.

I get a front row seat to see what coaches think interesting and worth their time.

The following creme-of-the-crop link montage, is arranged in descending order, least clicks to the most.

You’ll find these somewhat of a random sort, but they all relate to hitting, albeit indirectly in some cases.

Happy learning!

 

#11: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: How Mike Trout Approaches Hitting

This is the featured video above.

Sean Casey interviewed Mike Trout during Spring Training of 2016, where Trout discusses his hitting routine…I jotted down 9 key notes for you:

  1. First few rounds he works on hitting to RCF,
  2. Stay up the middle,
  3. A few times hit the ball to LCF, to stay square with the pitcher,
  4. He mentions not getting too ‘chicken wing’,
  5. Tee work: set it high and ‘get on top of the ball’ (to counteract dropping the shoulder and barrel too much),
  6. 10-20 swings trying to hit a ground-ball every time,
  7. In games, sit fastball, react to off-speed and breaking balls,
  8. On top of the plate, back of the batter’s box, and
  9. Work up the middle in games.

All these tips are pretty solid…

…for Mike Trout.

When I posted this, and made a note that Mike Trout is definitely not looking to optimize hitting the high pitch in games,

AND

He’s most definitely NOT trying to ‘get on top of the ball’ in games (both in reference to tip #5 above)…

There were a few men on Facebook that got their panties in a bunch, saying I was calling Mike Trout a liar…yada, yada, yada.

If we look at Mike Trout’s Sabermetrics at FanGraphs.com, the reality is, he’s THE BEST at hitting the low ball…and THE WORST at hitting the high ball.

So WHY does he practice hitting off a high tee?

Another look at Mike Trout’s metrics, and we see he’s:

  • Well below average in Ground-ball percentage (39.6% v. league average is 44%),
  • Above average in Line Drive percentage (22.1% v. league average is 20%),
  • Above average in Fly-ball percentage (38.2% v. league average is 36%), AND
  • Well above average in his Fly-ball to Home-run ratio (19.6% v. league average is 9.5%).

What does this mean?

It’s a ‘what’s real’ AND ‘what’s feel’ sort of thing…

Because he’s definitely NOT trying to hit ground-balls in games (contradicting hitting tips #5 & #6 from above).

So am I calling Mike Trout a liar…

And, WHY would he practice like this?

Earlier, notice how I said,

“All these tips are pretty solid…for Mike Trout.”

No, I didn’t say that because Mike Trout is a mutant, and only Mike Trout can do that and get away with it.

When coaches say this, it’s a cop out.  It means they have no REAL clue what’s REALLY going on.

Here’s where I’m going with this,

And it’s VERY important…

And also WHY I made popular link hitting tip #11 the featured video…

What John Doe Coach missed in the interview was when Trout mentioned he has a tendency to ‘chicken-wing’ and ‘drop his back shoulder and barrel’ too much.

In other words, uppercut too much.

Mike Trout is using these seemingly counter-intuitive hitting tips to make adjustments to his swing’s extreme tendencies.

I’m not calling Mike Trout a liar.

He’s a friggin’ smart competitive athlete.

He knows himself and his swing, and makes the necessary adjustments to stay in the black, and not get too far in the red.

There’s no secret,

Mike Trout is trying to get the ball in the air.

It’s like the advice Lightning McQueen heard in the animated movie Cars, “Turn left to go right”…when attempting to correct a spin-out.

 

#10: Hitting A Baseball – “The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports”

CLICK HERE for this article by Axon Sports.

Some of the things you’ll gain by reading this:

  • “Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing.” – Warren Spahn,
  • Why “Keep your eye on the ball”, or “Watch the ball hit the bat” is humanly IMPOSSIBLE according to research, and
  • Awesome info-graphic breaking down the reaction time of a hitter.

 

#9: Hamstring Flexibility: 6 Tips to Loosen Up

CLICK HERE for the full article by GMB Fitness.

98% of my hitters are immobile in the hip.

And oftentimes, this comes in the form of tight hamstrings.

This is a great post looking into factors and strategies you can employ to improve the flexibility of your hitter’s hamstrings…and maybe yours 😉

 

#8: Bryce Harper is pounding the ball into the ground to no avail

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

This article was written July 28th, 2016 with a sub-head that reads:

“He’s gotta figure out how to elevate more despite pitchers giving him few pitches to elevate.”

This was when B.H. was struggling to lift the ball early in the season.

The article talks about how Harper’s dramatic launch angle change (down), led to a dramatic increase in his ground-ball rate.

The post discusses how pitchers are throwing him more outside and down in the zone.

The bottom line?

…Is that a ground-ball focused hitting strategy SUCKS!!!

It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball, if you can’t elevate, you’ll hit A LOT of worm burners that end up as outs at the higher levels.

#7: Are overbearing parents ruining the Westlake baseball program?

CLICK HERE for this LA Times post.

The parent and player behavior is probably not going to surprise you…

However, I want you to ask yourself the question as you read this,

“How did the coaches respond to the parents that clearly didn’t work?”

How could coach be more effective in dealing with parents in this environment, if a million dollar bet was on the line?

Look, maybe the athletes are spoiled brats, or maybe the coaches just don’t have an effective strategy for dealing with this situation.

In other words, don’t label the players or parents “mean” right away…

Be creative, brainstorm, and future pace how you’d handle this situation.

Because chances are, you will run across this scenario, in some form, in your lifetime.

#6: Clayton Kershaw UMPIRE VIEW of pregame warm up

You will get better at Pitch Recognition watching this video.

In the spirit of the playoffs, this video features arguably one of the best pitchers in history, Clayton Kershaw.

Do this for me…

Watch this video for a couple minutes, trying to pick up the “shape” of each pitch he throws, like what Perry Husband talks about in this article.

Then pick a series of pitches, see which pitch Clayton Kershaw signals to the catcher, look at his release, and close your eyes.

This would be like Dr. Peter Fadde’s video occlusion training featured in this post.

Then try to pick another series of pitches, don’t look at him signal to the catcher what he’s throwing, and test yourself.

This is such a cool game to do with hitters.

 

#5: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blasts 33 HR in 60 Swings in Home Run Derby in the DR (Round 2 November 2014) 

I know this isn’t Vlad G. the first, but there are a lot of similarities to their swings.  A few notes to look out for while watching him hit…

  • Toe-tap for timing
  • Aggressive move towards the pitcher with stride
  • Back foot stays sideways until follow through
  • Great knee action at landing (front), and during the turn (back)
  • Showing numbers to pitcher as close to landing as possible
  • Downward shoulder angle as close to landing as possible.

What do you see?

 

#4: Donaldson gives a hitting demo

Cool MLB.com interview with Josh Donaldson on developing timing and rhythm at the plate, with Sean Casey.

A couple notes from the video below:

  • Find out what’s comfortable for you
  • Leg kick: engaged into back hip not back knee
  • Leg kick: control when get front foot down
  • Being on time, not about getting front foot down on time
  • Soft focus on the pitcher, recognize pitch better at the plate ( stay relaxed)
  • Hit with music on, adds a smooth tempo to the swing
  • Watch Manny Ramirez setup to swing, “boring” rhythm at the plate (again relaxed mindset)
  • Put the work in (Sean Casey)

 

#3: Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

CLICK HERE for this FanGraphs.com post.

I included the following chart from this post on my Ground-ball RANT post

Fangraphs Ground-ball metrics

Most understand Line Drives MUST be the main hitting objective (for a majority of swings), however I want you to compare the Ground-ball metrics to the Fly-ball metrics from the chart above:

  • A 32-point increase in Batting Average with Ground-ball over a Fly-ball,
  • A 358-point INCREASE in ISO (or raw power) with Fly-balls over Ground-balls…AND
  • A 115-point INCREASE in weighted On-Base Average with Fly-Balls over Ground-balls, which according to FanGraphs.com…

“Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.”

So, WHY are we still teaching hitters to hit ground-balls, and NOT to elevate?  Beside situational hitting of course.

What’s more…

 

#2: Scooter Gennett and ground balls

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

I love the sub-header, which reads:

“Scooter Gennett’s offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?”

After careful metric analysis, Shawn Brody the post’s author, says:

“In my mind, Gennett should be closer to his 2014 level of production, which is something he could return to if he put the ball in the air more often.”

Hitting consistent ground-balls will land you on the bench at the higher levels, unless of course you have plus running speed.

In which case, analysis shows that any launch angle above 10-degrees, makes faster running speed irrelevant.

So, what if a hitter hits the ball just plain hard?

Maybe the following #1 link post from my 20K+ followers will shed light on that…

 

#1: Jon Lester shows importance of launch angleBackspin Tee: Launch Angles

CLICK HERE to read this Cubs.com post.

The great case study article discusses how Jon Lester ranks second among Major League hitting pitchers with an average Ball Exit Speed of 92.5-mph.

So, what’s the problem?

Quoted from the article:

“…(He ended up with four hits on the season in 71 plate appearances, a .065/.108/.065 line.) Part of it is that, like many pitchers, contact was an issue — Lester’s 42.3 percent strikeout rate was above the 37.7 percent average for pitchers.”

How could Lester hit the ball so hard without finding much hitting success?

Again, quoted from the article:

“…it’s because 19 of Lester’s 24 tracked batted balls failed to get above 7 degrees of launch angle. Sixteen of those 19 failed to even achieve positive launch angle, which is to say that he pounded the ball into the ground constantly.”

In other words, to get the ball in the air, the hitter MUST have a positive launch angle.  About 10-degrees positive will get the ball to the outfield grass…on the “big” field.

If the hitter has a negative or less than 10-degree positive launch angle, THEY WILL:

  1. Hit A LOT of worm burners,
  2. Strikeout more,
  3. NOT get many hits, and
  4. Professionally speaking, NOT make it past A-ball (if they’re lucky enough to make it that far).

Even if they’re lighting up the BES radar guns.

Here’s a BONUS link for ya…

CLICK HERE to read a Cut4 article highlighting Giancarlo Stanton hitting the hardest ball ever recorded by Statcast at 123.9-mph, but it was hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Here’s the lesson folks…

Line drives tend to be between 10-20 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Dingers tend to be between 20-40 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Of course, whether it’s over the fence or not will depend on the Ball Exit Speed.

It’s not enough to hit the ball hard.

Teach hitters to elevate.

Get barrel on path of incoming pitch.

Focus on striking bottom half of ball.

That, my coaching friend, is how to decrease strikeouts, mishits, and weak fly-balls…AND increase BA, ISO, and wOBA.

The ‘Hip Thrust’ That Matt Nokes Is NOT Talking About

 

Matt Nokes: Cal Ripken Jr.

Look at Cal Ripken’s lack of back foot rotation. Photo courtesy: Gene Sweeney, Jr./Baltimore Sun

In this Matt Nokes post, I wanted to bust a MYTH that Homer Bush brought up in his interview last week…

And that is…

The MYTH that rotating the back hip through the zone is necessary for power.

This past week, I re-tweeted this from @HyattCraig (who is awesome btw), of one of two Miguel Cabrera homers in a game, and this particular one he hit to CF:

The next day after that Tweet, I found this private message from a follower on Twitter:

“Joey, Honest question. I love most everything you post and It goes with all of the philosophies I teach as an instructor, but this particular post I don’t quite understand. Are you saying a backwards step of sorts and having limited pelvic rotation are positives? I don’t feel like this is practical for anyone that isn’t 6’3 225 when the pitcher is providing the power at 93. If you have time could you please clarify this for me?”

My response:

“Thanks for asking about that. A couple things, we do have to be careful about taking from big slugger analysis. I don’t mind what the back foot does as long as its un-weighting AND not skipping forward too much. Miggy has a great line following the batted ball, it has to do with optimizing centrifugal (center-fleeing) forces. As an example, the belly button should point where the batted ball has exited. Coach Matt Nokes talks quite a bit about full rotation not being an absolute to hitting.”

Which brings me to the above video, where Coach Matt Nokes walks us through numerous examples of elite hitters not fully rotating their back foot (and pelvis) until after impact.

Also, let me define full rotation of the pelvis (or hips as some refer to it as), at least from what I see/hear/watch from other people out there…

Full pelvic rotation is getting the hitter’s belly button to face shortstop (for a righty, or 2B for lefty) on any pitch…inside, middle, and outside.

I’ve found this gospel preached from those who don’t ‘buy into’ or understand the loading of springy fascia in the torso, since to them, the shoulders would be seen as ‘inactive’, before the hitter starts turning.

Therefore the pelvis has to do all the heavy lifting.

This method is far from optimal, and NOT very safe for the lower backs of youth hitters across the nation,

AND even more disturbing…
WILL continue to keep Orthopedic surgeons in business.

CLICK HERE for a post I did explaining how the swing isn’t rotational OR linear, but that’s it’s actually linear, rotational, then linear again.

The purpose of this post, is to open up discussion about whether rotating the back hip through the zone is necessary for power IS or IS NOT a myth…

Lastly,

I wanted to share one of my favorite Coach Matt Nokes drills for practicing what he preaches.  It’s his “Around the Zone” soft toss (coaches please be careful with this):

What say you…?

Tim Tebow Hitting Analysis: Get To The Big Leagues Without Playing College Or Pro Baseball?

Before we get to the Tim Tebow hitting analysis…

I wanted to take you BACK TO THE FUTURE!!

We all know the quote by Ted Williams that hitting a baseball is one of the single most difficult things to do in sports.  FP Softball ladies included.

Do you remember Michael Jordan hitting a double in an April 1994 MLB exhibition game…?

Arguably the best athlete ever, summarized by the Chicago Tribune that:

“…he was quitting because he couldn’t develop at the rate he wanted due to complications caused by the baseball strike”.

Or how about one of the best cricket players in the world, Kieran Powell, trying to make it to the Big Leagues…?

Did you hear him say that the hardest thing in baseball, “is to keep the bat on plane” 😉

Or how about Shaq O’Neal’s Versus show, where he took on Albert Pujols in a Home Run Derby for charity…?

We know Jordan retired permanently from baseball in 1995…

Shaq couldn’t even beat Pujols in a home-run derby where he was handicapped with a Little League distance home run fence

…and time will tell if Powell’s determination to be a Big Leaguer will continue.

Now we have another high profile athlete jumping into the quest for the Big Leagues, but this time a football player.

The NY Mets just signed him to a Minor League deal (CLICK HERE for this Cut4 article).

Tim Tebow Hitting Analysis

I’ll say, Tim Tebow has a pretty good finish. Must be from his golf game 😉 Photo courtesy: USAToday.com

In the above Tim Tebow hitting analysis video,

  • Using recent August 2016 MLB tryout footage, I compare Tim Tebow’s swing to Victor Martinez,
  • Analyze what Tebow’s swing has going for him, and
  • Discuss what he MUST change in order to be successful in baseball…

Here’s a quick rundown from the Tim Tebow hitting analysis…

PAT (‘Pat’ on the back):

  • Athletic Position – triple flexion at the hip, knee, and ankle.
  • Head Position at Impact – no sign of breaking the One-Joint Rule.
  • Knee Action – gets and stays shorter at landing and through the swing, definitely can get under the ball.

 

POP (‘Pop’ in the mouth – constructive criticism):

  • Limited forward momentum for such a big body – too much muscle use.
  • Abbreviated barrel path – he gets decent extension post-impact, but he’s too short to the ball. This may hurt him the most.
  • Catapult Loading System (CLS) – minimal showing numbers to pitcher, downhill shoulder angle, and hiding hands.

Heard “Keep Your Eyes On The Ball!” OR “See The Ball Hit The Bat!”…?

 

Ted Williams Seeing Ball Hit Bat.

Ted Williams said ‘on the rare occasion’ he could see the ball hit the bat. Photo courtesy: BaseballHall.org

Me too…

Well, we’re about ready to debunk both of these well worn coaching cues by sharing the results of a scientific study.

This study was sent to me by one of my readers (and friend) Joe Yurko…THANK YOU 😀

Here’s where you can find the full cited study:

A. Terry Bahill and T. LaRitz, American Scientist, 72, 1984, pp. 249-253

I recently presented the study to my Toastmasters club as a “Technical Paper”, and we recorded it so I could share the findings with you.

Sorry, I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t the best, but I think you’ll get the message.

CLICK HERE for the Powerpoint slides I used for the speech.

In this video presentation, we go over:

  • Statement of the problem,
  • How it was solved,
  • Data Conclusions,
  • Experiment Applications, and
  • The study’s limitations…

In a nutshell, the study goes into debunking the two coaching phrases:

  • “Keep your eyes on the ball”, and
  • “See the ball hit the bat” (which Ted Williams said he could do “on the rare occasion”)…

The study findings will SHOCK you.

What’s more…

There was one Powerpoint slide I accidentally skipped over during the speech, and you can view the information on elusive slide #11 in the above-mentioned Powerpoint link.

The forgotten slide contains the following study findings:

  • Slowest pitch for hitter’s eye not to fall behind would be 21-mph assuming no wind and thrown at a 45-degree angle. To see the ball hit the bat? Would need an anticipatory saccade*…jump from first 1/3 of the plate to last 1/3, but you’d miss the middle 1/3 distance to plate.
  • *Saccade suppression – look at your image in mirror, look at your left eye, then look at right eye…did you see the eyes move? Process that turns off visual system during saccadic eye movements…otherwise, we would think the world is flying around us.
  • Hitter uses predictive abilities to track the ball the last 1/3 of ball flight…using peripheral vision.

I’d love to hear your comments about this below…

Reader Question: “How to get youth hitters to be more aggressive to hit and not look to walk?”

 

There were times when I was playing Fall Ball as a Sophomore in High School, privileged to be playing against Juco competition,

That I found myself falling into an 0-2 hole quite frequently.

I’d say to myself, “WTFudge, why have I been in the hole my last 4 AB’s?”

Then, I’d make a conscious decision to swing at the first pitch,

No matter what the pitch was, or where it was located.

In other words, I decided to make a bold adjustment, going from being too passive at the plate, to being too aggressive…

In hopes that with future at-bats was I would land somewhere in the middle.

In those days it was just a feeling that I got…

Fast forward to a few years ago,

A good friend of mine Bob Hall, whose son Quin (a physical incarnate of Bo Jackson), had just finished performing at an MLB scouting camp in Canada.

Quin was about 15 years old at the time, and Bob shared the advice Quin received from one of the leading scouts at this camp.

And this is what we’re discussing in the above video:

  • The Hunter mindset, versus
  • The Fisherman.

My goal with this video post is to give coaches a practical strategy to use with your hitters (that I use with mine), which will give them a solid game plan at the plate.

PLEASE NOTE: like anything else, you have to work with your hitters on this at practice, if they have any chance at getting better at it.

 

The Hunter Mindset

Vladimir Guerrero Hitting

Vlad Guerrero – “The Hunter”. Photo courtesy: ProSportsBlogging.com

What does a hunter do?

They stalk their prey.

When would we use this mindset against a pitcher?

When they’re around the strike zone.

We SHOULD NEVER default to such hitting rules as, “NEVER swing at the first pitch.”

This is how I dug myself into holes during my career.

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Boxscore article which asks the question, “Does hitting performance change based on the number of pitches a hitter sees during a plate appearance?”

Look at what happens to Batting Average in:

  • 0-2,
  • 1-2,
  • 2-2, and 3-2 pitching counts…

Like a snake, strike fast when a pitcher is around the zone.

Think of some of the greatest Dominican, or Latin America, hitters.  As the saying goes, “You don’t get off ‘the island’ unless you swing the bat.”

 

The Fisherman Mindset

Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants launches his 762nd career home run off of Ubaldo Jimenez

Barry Bonds – “The Fisherman”. Photo credit should read DOUG PENSINGER/AFP/Getty Images (Newscom TagID: gettylive963981) [Photo via Newscom]

What does a fisherman do on the boat all morning?

Sit…AND wait.

When would we use this mindset with a pitcher?

When he or she cannot find the zone.

This approach requires a little more plate discipline not to swing out of the zone, AND

To know the strike zone.

Because when the pitcher throws one over, the hitter MUST be trained to jump on it.

Think about Barry Bonds from 2001 to 2004.  According to Baseball-Reference.com, he walked a total of 755 times.  That’s an average of 188 BB’s per year!

What’s more…

He hit a total of 209 homers, for an average of 52 dingers per year, in the same span.  Last time I checked PED use DOES NOT help with plate discipline.

How about his consistency over that same time period?

Bonds’s Batting Average over those four years, starting with 2001 was: .328, .370, .341, and .362 respectively.

How about how many times he struck out?

We have power hitters like Chris Davis and Ryan Howard routinely striking out 200+ times per season.

How about Bonds…?

  • 2001: 93 K’s
  • 2002: 47 K’s (he struck out one more time than homered)
  • 2003: 58 K’s
  • 2004: 41 K’s (he hit more homers than struck out!!)

By the way, his 162-game average strikeouts are 83.  83!!!  Over 22-years in the Big Leagues!

My point is, when Bonds got his pitch…he GOT IT!

He knew how to be a ‘fisherman’.

But can plate discipline be taught?

Sure it can!

It’s a muscle in the brain, and like any other body muscle, can be focused on and strengthened.

Here are my favorite 4 resources for training vision, tracking, and plate discipline:

Reader Question: “How to improve my son’s timing?”

 

Josh Donaldson Timing Interview with Sean Casey

Josh Donaldson talking to Sean Casey in an interview about timing. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this post, I wanted to tease out the adjustment tactics discussed by US Marine Col. Mark Coast in this case study post on how to take well timed practice swings into game at-bats.

(And by the way, Col. Coast has a college background in Physics and Engineering. He’s currently a Tactical and Firearms Training Specialist for Navy Seal and Marine snipers)…

But before I get into what’s in the above video, I want you to watch the following of Josh Donaldson explaining his approach to timing with Sean Casey:

Now, leg kick or no leg kick, the point I want my hitters to get is there MUST be some sort of ‘FLOAT’, which I get into more detail in my video above.

Notice how Donaldson connects music to rhythm.  He mentions the ‘flow’ of Manny Ramirez in the box…I actually tried to copy this as well when I was playing.

Josh Donaldson is one of the first elite hitters I’ve seen (Bautista does a good job too) to break down what he’s actually doing, and not what he thinks he’s doing.

In my video above, we’ll cover:

  • 3-5 swing rounds,
  • Game intensity swings,
  • Using the Hitting Outcome Evaluation Checklist,
  • Minimal coaching feedback & okay to make mistakes,
  • Tactical: Float & Fall or (Ride & Stride), and
  • Tactical: Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill.

Like Jose Altuve, You Can Compete With BIG Sluggers…

 

Jose Altuve Hitting Analysis

Look at Jose Altuve’s ‘bat lag’ and weight off the back foot. Photo courtesy: Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle

In doing Jose Altuve hitting analysis, here’s what I hear…

“Well, he’s a big hitter, that’s why he can hit for power”…

…Is the EXCUSE from coaches who’re removing any responsibility to help their smaller hitters hit the ball farther and harder.

Or, oftentimes I hear this about a hitter like Dustin Pedroia (5’9″, 175-lbs – these numbers are fudged “up” btw):

“He’s just gifted.”

Wa?!!

ALL Major Leaguers are GIFTED!!! lol

Tell me one physical advantage that Dustin Pedroia has over most…??!

Don’t say eye hand coordination or vision because that’s another common rebuttal.

There are countless other MLB hitters with the same superior eye-hand coordination and vision.

The reality is, smaller sluggers MUST be MORE effective, in order to compete with sluggers bigger than them.

Now, this Jose Altuve hitting analysis post isn’t about the ‘laser show’…however,

Standing in at 5’6″,

…and weighing in at a soaking wet 165-pounds, we’ll look at Jose Altuve (his height and weight numbers are a little closer to reality I think).

Although,

I do think Jose Altuve has one thing over the ‘laser show’, and that’s dancing (parental guidance is recommended 😉:

In this Jose Altuve hitting analysis video, we’ll go over:

  • Jose Altuve stats,
  • Presents of Forward Momentum (FoMo)?
  • How well he dominates the plane of the pitch,
  • Where his power comes from, and
  • Does he practice Pitch Recognition?

FYI: the pitch Jose Altuve is hitting in the video analysis looks like an 87-mph FB straight down broadway, and it does look like he’s on-time.

Without further adieu, here are the notes for the…

 

Jose Altuve Hitting Analysis Stats (the averages of averages)

CLICK HERE for the FanGraphs.com post  I pulled the following stats from*:

  • ISO = +20 points
  • BABIP = +34 points
  • GB% = +4%
  • LD% = +1%
  • FB% = -6%
  • HR/FB% = -3.5%

(*a (+) denotes how many points OR percentage points or above league average, and a (-) denotes below league average.)

 

Presents of Forward Momentum (FoMo)?

  • Is FoMo present?
  • Shifting foot pressure (mentioned landing with closed front foot), and
  • Moving Center of Gravity (COG).

 

How Well he Dominates the Plane of the Pitch

  • Knee Action – ‘getting shorter’ and ‘staying shorter’
  • Barrel Plane – keeping barrel on plane for as long as possible

 

Where his Power Comes from…

  • Showing numbers,
  • Hiding hands from the pitcher,
  • Hunch – Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT), and
  • Down shoulders? (not so much here).

 

Does he Practice Pitch Recognition?

My friend Aaron Miles, who was small (5’8″, 180-lbs), and played 9 years in the Bigs, talks about how his High School coach was forward thinking…in that he did Pitch Recognition training with his troops, and Aaron’s coach said he had the best PR on the team.

My hypothesis in this Jose Altuve hitting analysis is that he does some sort of PR training, OR has a God given early pitch recognition ability that allows him to hit the ball so hard, so often.

Sure, according to this Jose Altuve hitting analysis,

…Altuve may not hit over 30 homers per year, but he sure will hit a boat load of doubles, which is just as good to contributing to team wins…just look at his above average (average) ISO and BABIP scores above!

Here Is A Predictable Swing Method That Helped Lou Gehrig Hit For Both Power & Average…

 

Lou Gehrig quote

You coaches (and Lou Gehrig or “vintage swing” fans) are in for a treat…

I wanted to REVISIT a video I published on YouTube on Jun 11, 2013 for SwingSmarter.com,

That broke down the swing of Lou Gehrig,

And compared his swing to the Olympic World Record Holder of the Hammer Throw Yuriy Sedykh, from the Soviet Union, who threw 86.74 m (284 ft 634 in) at the 1986 European Athletics Championships in Stuttgart, West Germany on 30 August…according to Wikipedia.

This video has received over 22,298 views!!

Specifically in the video, I compare the following human movement principles between the two explosive athletes:

I’ve gone into these at length in the linked to HPL posts, so you can click on those to get up to speed.

But, what I wanted to do in this post was add a couple things I’ve stumbled on since doing the Lou Gehrig video in 2013.

I want you to look out for the following things in the ‘no-shirt’ swing section of the above Lou Gehrig video:

  • Lou Gehrig’s top hand finger pressure (bottom three fingers),
  • Watch for Lou Gehrig’s ’rounded upper back’ (I call this the hunched posture),
  • Check out Gehrig’s head position at impact (notice how he’s strictly adhering to the One Joint Rule, unlike Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen)

And lastly, notice how World Record holding Hammer Thrower Yuriy Sedykh uses his head to guide his body just before the throw.

 

Does the Head Guide the Body or the Other Way Around?

What Yuriy is doing during his throw is VERY similar to how competitive freestyle Motocross bikers get their body to do what they want it to do, while flying through mid-air:

  • When they do a backflip, they initiate by rocking their head back…
  • When they do a front flip, they initiate by tucking their chin to their chest…and
  • When they do a twist, they initiate by looking in the direction they want to go.

What are you Seeing in Lou Gehrig’s Swing that Allows him to Hit for both Power and Average?

Rotational Linear Hitting Mechanics: Get Rid of Old Tired Hitting Dogmas Once and For All

 

Rotational Linear Hitting Mechanics: Isn't this Bat Path?

Isn’t this diagram showing proper bat path? Both are linear!! This is part of the confusion that’s out there on the net. Diagram courtesy: BackBackBack.com

A rotational linear hitting mechanics reader question came in recently that relates well to both baseball and softball…

“What is the best to teach a rotational swing or a linear swing?”

Here’s what we’ll cover in this rotational linear hitting mechanics post:

  • Swing is both…and then some,
  • Conservation of Linear v. Angular Momentum,
  • Planes of Motion, and
  • Centripetal v. Centrifugal…

 

Swing is Both…and then Some

Even when I was wrongly teaching my hitters to ‘swing down on the ball’,

I had a gut feeling rotational linear hitting mechanics were a little of both.

It didn’t make sense to say it was one or the other.  If you find yourself thinking this, then you have an incomplete understanding of dynamic human movement.

My advice?

Get educated.

Do your homework.

Check your facts.

Test. Re-test.

With today’s access to quality information, experts, and sophisticated technology, there’s ZERO room for ‘willfully ignorant’ hitting theories.

If you aren’t growing, you’re dying.

Us coaches MUST hold ourselves to a better teaching standard.

Standards that go beyond hitting absolutes, which aren’t wrong – but incomplete.

We MUST apply human movement principles, that are validated by science, to hitting a ball.

Another word for ‘principles’ are “rules” or “guidelines”…

Think of these principles as bumpers at a bowling alley keeping the ball from plopping into the gutter.  What path the bowling ball takes between the bumpers doesn’t matter, just as long as it stays between them.

Hitting absolutes are what goes on between the bumpers.

You following me?

Human movement principles first. And how they’re applied (think video analysis) comes second.

If it’s the other way around, then we’ll have hitters burying their chins into their chests like Andrew McCutchen (see image below)…

Rotational Linear Hitting Mechanics: Andrew McCutchen breaking one-joint rule

Image courtesy: http://12075-presscdn-0-91.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/

Many of you will see this ‘chin to chest’ image and won’t find anything wrong with it, “he’s keeping his head down at impact,” you’ll say.  I’m afraid Cutch is succeeding despite this ineffective mechanic, NOT because of it.

See WHY breaking the ‘One-Joint Rule’ bleeds force at impact by CLICKING HERE.

…Or closing the gap between their rear ear and shoulder like Derek Jeter or Bryce Harper during the turn, which is a blatant breaking of the One-Joint Rule (see image below)…

Rotational Linear Hitting Mechanics: Bryce Harper Shoulders Are Ear Poison

Photo courtesy: http://districtondeck.com/

Again, Bryce Harper is succeeding despite this ineffective mechanic, NOT because of it.

In the corrective fitness world, we say ‘shoulders are ear poison’ to maximizing force and reducing the probability of injury.

So, what did I mean in the sub-title above “…and Then Some”?

That I’ll answer under the Centripetal v. Centrifugal Forces subtitle below.

Let’s get started fleshing out rotational linear hitting mechanics…

Conservation of Linear v. Angular Momentum

There are a couple great Circus Physics resources from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) website on these two concepts (each have 2-min videos):

To prove the swing is both of these, watch a clip of Albert Pujols a wide-no stride swing, when he was with the Cardinals, which most purely rotational people point to as a good example of their ‘hitting theory’:

Like golf, you see his pelvis slide forward before he starts turning.  This is a linear move, and I call it shifting foot pressure.

His weight goes from the outside of his back foot, inside front foot…then as his pelvis shifts forward, you’ll see his weight go to the inside of his back foot, outside of front foot.

Shifting foot pressure is what I would teach my fastpitch hitters because of their compressed reaction time, similar to these Lauren Chamberlain swings:

Also note, Pujols and Chamberlain ARE NOT ‘squishing the bug’ with their back foot, another thing purely rotational ‘hitting theorists’ cling to.

Look at this more recent clip of Pujols with the Angels.  Here he employs a traditional linear stride:

Now, Ichiro Suzuki is who the purely linear ‘hitting theorists’ point to as a great example of their system. Watch this video:

You’ll see a little more linear elements to Ichiro’s swing (forward momentum and hand path), but he still starts sideways, and rotates, or turns, the center of his chest to impact.  Did you catch the keywords “rotates” or “turns”?!

Show me one hitter in the Big Leagues or Professional Fastpitch that ONLY have a linear swing…or ONLY have a rotational swing.

I guarantee you won’t find ONE.

At ANY level, I GUARANTEE you won’t find ONE baseball or softball hitter, PERIOD, that does either one or the other!!

Are you getting the rotational linear hitting mechanics idea?

 

Planes of Motion

Rotational Linear Hitting Mechanics: Planes of Motion

Planes of Motion photo courtesy: goldsgymwebsterny.wordpress.com

I did this post titled Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Straight Landing Front Leg OR Bent?

Benefit #6 in that post I sub-titled, “How Humans Change Direction & Planes of Motion”.

Under the sub-title, I talk about three main planes of motion that we move in:

  1. Front to back (Sagittal),
  2. Side to side (Frontal), and
  3. Twisting (Transverse)…

Also, I included a YouTube video of NFL wide receivers running ‘Tree Routes’.

A wide receiver running a cut route will use the 1) Front to back plane first, then when he makes his 90-degree cut, will momentarily move onto the 2) Side to side plane before getting back on and accelerating in the front to back plane.

A hitter starts off moving on the 2) Side to side plane, but as they start turning get on the 3) Twisting plane.

In order to understand rotational linear hitting mechanics clearly, we must consider putting aside our egos, and truly look at what’s going on in video analysis.

Again, principles first, application second.

Be honest.

Like few coaches that find me on social media…DO NOT fall into the same ‘willfully ignorant’ trap they do.

If you AIN’T growing, then you’re DYING.

Know this about hitters…

There is almost always some form of linear (forward) movement that precedes the twisting.  I call it getting a head start before making an explosive rotational move.

Both Pujols, Chamberlain, and Ichiro do this.

But THESE ARE THE FACTS…

The path of the bowling bowling ball down the lane may be different, but ALL three stay within the ‘bowling bumpers’.

 

Centripetal v. Centrifugal

Here’s a great video from YouTuber SciShow about the difference between Centripetal & Centrifugal Forces:

Centripetal Forces are ‘center-seeking’ and Centrifugal Forces are ‘center-fleeing’.

Here’s how the rotational linear hitting mechanics purist stack up with these two forces:

  • Purely rotational side with Centripetal Forces, and
  • Purely linear side with Centrifugal Forces…

But clearly the swing is a combination of both…and then some!

I actually say the swing is:

  • Linear at Start – hitter getting a head start before stride landing, or second phase of shifting foot pressure,
  • Rotational – hitter transfers forward into angular momentum to get barrel into the impact zone, and then
  • Linear AGAIN – after impact the hitter chases the ball with the barrel.

The last part is crucial to consistency, and is a good example of Centrifugal Force.

When talking about rotational linear hitting mechanics, I also give the swinging rock-on-a-string example in the main video above.

You see, first the hitter uses Centripetal Force to turn the barrel into the zone sideways…the turn is meant to be quick and compact from an Angular Momentum standpoint (Keeping a slight bend in the front elbow, NOT from swinging down, being short, etc.), until the barrel gets on the plane of the pitch.

Then the hitter either lets the front arm lengthen or stay shortened depending on timing and pitch location, but make no mistake…

Elite hitters will keep their barrel chasing the ball after impact, until both arms get fully extended…whereby the barrel then circles around the body during follow through.

So is it better to teach rotational liner hitting mechanics?

Yes.

As long as it’s a blend of the two.

Not one or the other.

Let human movement principles be your guide.

The path the bowling ball takes in the lane doesn’t matter, just as long as it stays between the bumpers.