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…

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Watch Albert Pujols talking about how to teach swing drills off hitting tee, place hitting outside pitches to opposite field vs pull, and keeping the hands inside out for baseball, slow-pitch, and fast-pitch softball players.

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics Video Talk

 

 

In this Albert Pujols hitting mechanics talk, some questions Pujols and Harold Reynolds answer:

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols & Harold Reynolds Interview, MLB Network 30 Clubs in 30 Days. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Hitting ball off same spot off tee or vary?
  • Dangers of a purely opposite field approach…
  • When is using ‘hands inside the ball’ okay?
  • Hit top part of the cage of the back?
  • How many swings until you should take a break to reflect?
  • Inside pitch barrel path: is it different than away?
  • Should hitter get “taller” to hit a high pitch?

Make sure you watch the 8-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Albert Pujols interview on grooving his swing, before diving into my notes.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:10 second mark,  tsk, tsk…notice Harold Reynolds isn’t following the 4-foot social distancing rule!! (for those watching this well after the craziness of the Coronavirus has passed – lol).  
  • At the 0:30 second mark, interesting Pujols talks about building a consistent swing, hitting off the tee in one spot.  He references variance training with some hitting coaches moving the ball up and down, in and out.  I do agree with him, but it depends on the end result.  If you’re just introducing a new hitting mechanic, then keep the tee in one spot.  If you’re looking to deeply embed a well worn hitting mechanic, then variance or chaos training is key.
  • At the 0:45 second mark, Albert Pujols talks about setting tee up slightly off center of the plate towards outer part.  He likes to work gap to gap and not force or push the ball to right field.  He mentions if he focuses too much on right field, then he gets under the ball too much.
  • At the 1:30 minute mark, Pujols dispels the myth of “staying inside the ball”.  He says of course you’re inside the ball…you don’t see hitters EVER getting their hands outside the ball.  ‘Hands inside the ball’ can be a great cue for those hitters doing the opposite – casting barrel early.  It’s not a perfect cue, but may work in some cases.  Then to throw gas on the fire, he mentions ‘knob to the ball’.  Real v. Feel.  There’s a reason you keep hearing this kind of stuff from guys like Pujols, A-Rod, and Bonds.  It has to do with top hand dominance and pronation.  We call it the “wrist snap”.
  • At the 2:00 minute mark, Albert Pujols talks about working on the liner, not trying to hit the top part of the cage. He picks a spot in the cage he wants the ball to travel.  External cue.  He wants the ball to come off the bat as high as the tee is set.  Harold brings up that some people are teaching to hit the top of the cage (I used to be one of them!!).  But Albert plays the politician and comments that he doesn’t want to say what those coaches are doing is wrong, but that he wouldn’t teach that.  And right now, I’d agree with him.
  • At the 3:00 minute mark, Harold asked Pujols if there’s a rhythm to working on gapping the ball, and Pujols says he tries to hit 3 or 4 in a row, then take a break to reflect on the feeling.  He tries not to rush when working out.  He tries to take his time.  Process what he just did.  Great advice!
  • At 4:00 minute mark, Harold asks Albert about his inside approach.  How to hit the inside pitch.  Watch how Pujols demos his barrel path to get to it … barrel above hands?  This Adam Eaton video reveals the same thing.  Interesting huh?  We call this knocking the “belly button” catcher’s glove off.  He says he’s just reacting to the inside pitch.  Typically, he’s looking out over the plate.  He doesn’t try to focus on one area of the plate.  He looks middle, then adjusts in or out from there.  Definitely works for Albert.  And Mike Schmidt also talked about it in his book the “Mike Schmidt Study”. Only downside is when pitchers start using EV tunnels Perry Husband talks about.  It’s easier to cover middle in/out/up/down (50% of the plate), based on pitcher’s pattern.  Obviously, this is more effective the better the pitcher is.
  • At 5:00 minute mark, in the above Albert Pujols hitting mechanics video, Pujols talks about keeping his shoulders “square” or keep front shoulder pointing at “400-foot” mark in straight center.  Not to close shoulders off.  Albert never really did ‘show numbers’ much, but he does a lot of other things right.
  • At 6:00 minute mark, Pujols talks about not getting “taller” to get to the pitch up in the zone, but to stay sink down and use hands to get to it.  Again demonstrates keeping barrel above hands.  We talk about getting shorter and staying shorter.  And middle in, middle up pitches are addressed by knocking off belly button catcher’s glove or telling hitter to keep barrel above hands.  Real v. Feel.  Now, this isn’t actually what’s going to happen.  The result of this hitting cue is a tighter, shorter, more compact barrel path.  Much needed closer the ball is to the hitter or the eyes.  He talks about using his legs to get to pitches down in the zone.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Josh Bell hitting analysis on how to improve attack angle and what is the ideal home run launch angle for baseball and softball players?  What’s the difference?  Discover how to build a faster, flatter, and more powerful bat path to fix choppy and uppercut swings.

Line Drive Hacking With Josh Bell Swing Breakdown

 

Josh Bell Swing Breakdown

Photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this Josh Bell swing breakdown, we cover:

  • Size,
  • Interesting metrics
  • DeRo analysis
  • 2018 RCF Homer: 5/31 83-mph breaking ball/SL, down/away VERSUS 2019 LCF Homer: 7/3 96-mph FB, mid/up
  • Some interesting things in swing analysis: Float, Fall, Barrel Path – CB down/away v. FB mid/up (and late), how well he matches plane of pitch (tube)

CLICK HERE to view the size and metrics data on FanGraphs.

In looking at the Josh Bell image, it’s interesting to note how Josh Bell’s barrel path line intersects the plane of the pitch line.  Hitters that match the plane of the pitch line better will inevitably have higher batting averages and less strikeouts.

We teach our hitters to match the “tube”.  Imagine the pitch being thrown through a tube, and the hitter’s goal should be to hit the ball back through the tube.  Based on pitch height.  If the pitch tube is set at four-feet off the ground, then the ball must come off the bat four-feet off the ground.  If tube is set at one-inch off the ground, then ball comes off bat one-inch off ground.

If the hitter doesn’t hit it through the “tube”, which the best in the world miss the tube 80% of the time (league averages: 20% line drive rate, 38% fly-ball rate, and 43% ground-ball rate), then they make adjustments using the principle of paradoxical intention.

Consider the following…

Baseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

Check out this Barry Bonds swing training to get more power video for baseball and softball hitters.  Learn how to use swing plane barrel turn versus hands tipping* drill.

Baseball Hitting Tips Video: #1 Long Ball Secret

 

…we’re going over howBaseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

  • To use the body – not the hands – to get “on-plane” with the pitch,
  • Barry Bonds makes hitting the long ball look easy, and
  • Most young hitters get the #1 long ball secret wrong (and how to correct it).

A few weeks ago I worked with a 12-U Little League team from Bakersfield California called the Sliders.  They recently came to Fresno for a tournament and DOMINATED.

One of the moms Sheri – her son is Alex in the above video – emailed me a testimonial:

“The boys won first place! Ben, Paul and Dylan hit their first home runs ever! They went undefeated for entire tourney! We’re going to round table pizza to treat all the boys!”

The three young men who hit their first home-runs had worked with me for the first time, a week before the tournament.  Now, this wasn’t all me, but wasn’t a coincidence either.  Before I worked with them, all three boys naturally had a little forward momentum working for them.  And, Sliders Coach Justin Karr has been working the baseball hitting tips system with his team for over a year now.

In the baseball hitting tips video, Barry Bonds gets on plane with the pitch very well by lowering his body.  He does this by creating an “L” with his back leg to and through contact.  Whereas the moment Alex’s front heel hits the ground, he ‘stands up’ causing ball flight to be low.  Alex would have to get “on-plane” with his hands, which is very inconsistent.

Snapping Towel (Lean) Drill Setup:

  • NEED: light exercise band with handles, AND decent sized carabiner,
  • Loop exercise band handles to carabiner, then to chain link fence, OR
  • Parent/Coach holds exercise band handles, and finally
  • Have hitter loop band under armpits.

In the baseball hitting tips video above, I mentioned breaking the swing apart into two steps:

  1. To the Fight Position (landing), and
  2. The Final Turn.

You’ll see Olympic Hammer Throwers lower their backside as well.  This enables the release of the hammer at an optimal forty-five degree angle.  CLICK HERE to watch a World Record holding Hammer Thrower lower his backside while rotating.

*On the hands tip drill…  As my dad always told me growing up to not jump for the bells and whistles of a new car because it’s another thing to go broke and you have to fix it.  Just the bare essentials.  Consider this AthleticsNation.com post titled: “Josh Donaldson: Changes in approach and mechanics”, where they compare his 2013 to 2014 seasons.  The conclusion as to why his 2014 numbers were down versus 2013 was because of the barrel tip (over-emphasized in 2014).

Sure the hands barrel tip can get momentum going, but I have yet to be convinced that the risk is worth the reward.

How To Hit A Baseball Interview

What college coaches and scouts look for in baseball or softball player recruits and what are the chances of getting a scholarship in 2022-2023.  Learn some parenting advice from Coach Mark Gonzalez about how to get your son or daughter noticed and does your kid have to play travel ball?

GoBigRecruiting.com says this about the chances of getting a scholarship… (true for baseball and softball)

“There are only about 300 division one programs, and they all only have 12 scholarships. With hundreds of thousands of HS softball players out there, the odds are less than 5%.

“You Can Have Average Mechanics and If You Have A Good Approach, You Can Still Be Successful” – Mark Gonzalez Dad Advice on How To Hit a Baseball

 

 

How To Hit A Baseball Interview

How to hit a baseball interview with super parent Mark Gonzalez, and his 7+ tips for other parents out there raising an athlete in a competitive sports environment.

In this how to hit a baseball post interview with Mark Gonzalez, aka East Bay Mark – @NorCal_Trojan on Twitter, and inspirational parent coaching his High School Junior hitter, joined me on the Swing Smarter Hitting Training Podcast and here’s what we covered:

  • What do you find to be the biggest mistake, one or two mistakes on how to hit a baseball that you see out there?
  • Was there an aha moment at some point where you finally said Oh, you know what, I might be over overdoing this being the helicopter parent?
  • “You can have average mechanics and if you have a good approach, you can still be successful…”
  • Is how to hit a baseball all about hitting dingers and doubles?
  • What ever happened to playing Whiffle Ball in the street, and can kids learn anything from video games?
  • What things have you guys been doing on the recruiting side?
  • “If this college wants a certain type of hitting approach and if that’s the hitting approach you really don’t like well maybe that’s not the school for you…”
  • Any other how to hit a baseball parting thoughts that you would give to those parents out there with freshmen, sophomores, juniors in high school, coming from a dad who’s coaching their own kid?
  • Where can people find you Coach Mark and powerful BONUS tips???

CLICK HERE to download and save the how to hit a baseball transcript PDF.

Enjoy!

About travel ball, nowadays it’s a good idea, but in my opinion it doesn’t have to be all year round.  Get kids playing other sports in the off season if you can.  Above all, make sure they’re working on the right things, and then working on doing those things right.  Also, here are two other helpful recruiting links:

  1. Power Showcase: How to Improve Your Recruiting Efforts
  2. Committing to College Baseball: Podcast episode
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

Do you want to STOP chopping and hitting ground balls for baseball or fastpitch softball?  Or you may be hitting too many pop flies?  Do you want to hit more line drives instead?  Try some of the drills mentioned in this interview with Perry Husband (EffectiveVelocity.com) and I…

“Put Hitters In Charge…Our Job Is To Eliminate Our Job” Perry Husband & HPL Hitting Jam Session #4

 

Here’s the Hitting Jam Session Interview Collection with Perry Husband:

  1. Why You Should Not Teach Hitters To Hit Homers?
  2. What’s The Biggest Mistake Coaches Make In Boosting Ball Exit Speeds
  3. How To Make Teaching Proper Weight Shift In Swing More Understandable To Hitter
  4. [YOU ARE HERE] Teach: How To STOP Hitting Excess Of Ground-balls & Fly-balls
  5. 5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent
  6. Overload Bat Training: Hitting Has To Work Butt Off To Resist “Casting”

Here’s what we discuss in this episode:

  • “How do I get my son to stop hitting an excess of ground-balls (or fly-balls)?”Perry Husband & Joey Myers Hitting Jam Session #4
  • How swing intention is great, but its benefits can be suppressed by physical limitations,
  • The key ‘tinker & test’ learning principle helping hitters learn faster,
  • Why a hitting coach’s job is to eliminate their job,
  • And much more!

Hitting Jam Session 4 above jumps right into the conversation already started…

Show Notes

  • At about the 1-minute mark, question: how do I get my son to stop hitting ground-balls OR how do I get my son to stop uppercutting? What drills and mechanics?  What’s most essential get barrel on plane of the pitch.  If hitting too many ground-balls, then tell hitter to swing up.  If hitting too many popups, then tell hitter to swing down.  Perry talks about ground-balls most likely indicate being too early, and fly balls swinging too late.  Take BP round, up solid, down solid, then find the middle solid.  Matching feel and real, set up targets at distances on the field, like at a driving range in golf, and have hitter hit different target distance…hit a one-hopper v. 3-hopper v. 5-hopper v. NO hopper.  Now coach can cue that to correct extreme barrel angles.  Hitter can feel it but not see it, while coach can see it but not feel it.  Match real and feel.
  • At about the 7-minute, 30-secs mark, Carlos Pena really struggled on the up and in part of the strike zone (in 2009), what did Perry do to fix that…part was physical: he was really bent over at the waist (was at a 50-degree hip hinge – straightened him up a bit), the other part was approach: INTENTION…hunting up and in, trust ball flight to get what the reality is, using Bernstein’s Law of intent to change ball flight
  • At about the 12-minute mark, Joey Votto trying to cut down on strikeouts and wanting to match the pitch plane to give up some homers, Votto talked about how Mike Trout could put the ball anywhere on the field you asked him, don’t be obsessed with Launch Angles – gotta take care of the horizontals too, Ben Hogan willing changes to happen, Perry talked about demonstration of holding paper clip tied to a string, and paper clip starts spinning in a circle if you think it, control knobs in fingertips, intent is great but may be limited to physical ability, on Votto’s 2-strike approach changes – missing more balls he should’ve driven because he puts more emphasis on weighting the backside
  • At about 17-minute mark, if hitter swings up and is late, they’ll hit a lot of grounders, how to develop feel for things, swinging different sized and weighted bats (end loaded, balanced, and knob weighted), hitting different sized and weighted of balls, swinging at different points in the zone, hitting targets on the field at different depths, Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown on the power of variance, the Bean Bag study and the 2 bucket challenge, building multiple reference points, Perry played game with hitters in the cage, based on his 10-degree Launch Angle target in the cage 1-5 point scale, only get 10 balls (minimize 1’s and 2’s) – once they think about getting a 5, hitting the 3’s and 4’s are easier…intention: focus on ball flight
  • At about the 25-minute mark, Aaron Miles and our phone conversation about quality v. quantity swings, screwed up a bunt in game and next day cranked machine up to 95-mph on the field before game and bunted, Miles went on a tear after that, quantity reps are great but they better be quality reps, Aaron Miles coaches indy team in NorCal and says he’ll take a hitter who can hit 40 line drives out of 50 versus only 20, CLICK HERE for Perry’s launch angle tee test chart, I do similar test to get a ballpark of where the hitter is at – before lesson I have tee setup middle-middle and let them take 5 or so swings and make note of where they’re hitting the ball vertically and horizontally, if it’s measureable, then it’s manageable – even if you’re measuring distance (or eyeballing it)
  • At about the 33-minute, 30-secs mark, I asked Perry’s advice on the following comment from a 13yo hitter I received on one of my YouTube videos…

“I have been doing your catapult loading system method for hitting for about a month and a half now. I am the hitting ball harder than ever and it feels great. A coach yesterday, (while I was was hitting front toss at the beginning of practice) said that he thought I was rotating my shoulders too much and should keep a better posture in my swing. I got the hunch from your book. So I explained to him the catapult loading system method and he didn’t like it. He said it will cause me to pull off the ball and that no big leaguers do it. Then I named josh Donaldson, Aaron judge, and Andre mccutchen and said they all do it. He didn’t give me a really definitive answer after that. This coach uses the method of making a “positive move” towards the ball and “walking away from your hands” which I remember in your book you said is not what you teach. I am 13 and I was wondering how should I tell coaches about the catatpult loading system and why you don’t you like the “waking away from hands” method. I have had 3 coaches now comment on me showing the numbers and hiding the hands and they all said I won’t be able to hit faster pitching with it, but I have been smashing the faster pitchers (70-75 mph) and have done fine with it. Thx

  • …Perry asks hitters whose swing do you have, put hitters in charge, our job is to eliminate our job, hitter tells coach “Thank you, I’m going to give it a shot”, takes time to make changes in swing, not going to happen overnight, this player is on the right track, listen, soak it in, let some things leak back out
  • At about 38-minute mark, comment on my blog from alphabet soup acronym expert bashing tee use (CLICK HERE for link to comment)…you can hit a curveball farther because it arrives with backspin (from hitter’s perspective) and bat-ball collision wouldn’t have to reverse spin like a fastball arriving with topspin, Perry talked about how much farther hitters hit a ball off the “hover-ball” tee when backspin is put on ball before hitting it, 211 players averaged over .400 hitting 100-mph+ ground-balls, type of spin hitter puts on batted ball ball IS NOT predetermined by starting spin from pitched ball.
  • At about 49-min mark, how batting tees (like the Backspin Tee) can be beneficial to hitters, doing “circle drill” pitch recognition using tee in ideal situation, the only bad thing about hitting off tees is turning the head to see ball hit bat, in reality the brain doesn’t every see this happen, anti-tee people would be a difficult thing to promote,
  • At about 53-minute, 30-secs mark, Perry shows swing analysis swing-and-miss example of Spring Training game, being late on the pitch and where the barrel is at certain point in time, line of ball is at 4-degrees – barrel path is at about 13-degrees, clearly not in line with line of ball, pitcher ended up throwing right into this guy’s barrel middle away after throwing 3-pitches by him – dinger!  Target rich environment out there, most hitting approaches will work until pitchers go EV,
  • You can find Perry Husband at EffectiveVelocity.com, use EV25 coupon code for any of the online courses.  @EVPerryHusband on Twitter, and @PerryHusband on Facebook
  • My offer…FREE Catapult Loading System 2nd edition print book – just pay $8.95 shipping and handling (retails on Amazon for $19.97) – in addition you’ll get our essential consistent power online video mini-course Power Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alphahttps://www.truthaboutexplosiverotationalpower.com/pl/60039
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

How To Teach “Pull Happy” Hitters An Opposite Field Approach

 

 

Discover how to hit to the opposite field using tried and true drills for baseball, fastpitch, and slow pitch softball players.  Drive the inside (or pulling the ball) and outside pitches.  Works for both right and left handed hitters.

I Need Your Help…

But before I get to the “BIG ask”,

How to Hit to the Opposite Field: Jim Thome, Mark DeRosa, & Lauren Shehadi

Mark DeRosa and Jim Thome helping Lauren Shehadi of MLBNetwork to hit to the opposite field. Photo courtesy: MLBNetwork YouTube Channel

I want you to watch the video above, where Mark DeRosa and Jim Thome help teach Lauren Shehadi how to hit the ball to the opposite field (she claims to be a chronic pull hitter).

It’s a fun video with some cool sticky coaching stuff in it.

In the video, please pay particular attention to the following:

  • What are some of the things either Thome or DeRo offered Lauren that didn’t work?
  • What were some of the things either Thome or DeRo offered that did work?
  • What did Lauren do when she didn’t understand a concept “Don’t bail out”, and then what did DeRo/Thome do or say to clarify?
  • Notice the use of positive reinforcement when she did something right…more on this at a later date, I’m currently reading a GAME CHANGING book for coaches called Don’t Shoot The Dog that goes more into this.  Sorry, only paperback version available on Amazon.

CLICK HERE for a post revealing THE secret to hitting to the opposite field OR how learn how to pull the ball like turning on a light switch.  This is what I refer to as Hitting Strategy #2 (of 7).  We’ve had barrel path wrong for so long, until now.

Now, here are a couple “BIG asks” (you don’t have to answer all)

  • What are the top two mistakes you see coaches make teaching pull happy hitters to hit to the opposite field?
  • What are your top two drills, sticky coaching cues, and/or hitting aids that consistently help pull happy hitters hit “oppo”?
  • If you had only 4 weeks – and a million dollars on the line – to train a pull happy hitter to hit with power to the opposite field, what would the training look like?

Pull happy hitting is going to be a MAJOR challenge as hitters climb the playing career ladder.  Extreme shifts are becoming a reality nowadays.

Great baseball minds like Homer Bush said in his book Hitting Low In The Zone,  that in order to hit .300, hitters MUST be able to lift the low pitch AND hit the ball to the opposite field.

Consider this quote from Justin Turner, who at the time of this writing is hitting .364 with 11 HR’s and 19 2B’s (a little over halfway through the season):

“Today, with the way defenses shift, you’re out.  Especially if you don’t run that well.  You don’t beat the shift by hitting around it or through it, you beat the shift by hitting over it.”

Someday your hitters will face a shift, and if they aren’t prepared, they’ll fail way more than they have to.  Be proactive coaches.

THANK YOU in advance for YOUR comments 😀

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

Hitting Baseball Drills: What Leads to Hitting More “Predictable” Line Drives and Less Strikeouts?

Hitting Baseball Drills Line Drive Mystery?

Hitting Baseball Drills Mike Trout photo courtesy: MLB.com

Discover how to hit more hard line drive lasers, up the middle, for baseball and softball players.  Fix swinging under the ball too much, STOP excessive pop ups, and figure out WHY you’re hitting too many ground ballsLearn beginner hitting drills you can do at home by yourself.

In this hitting baseball drills line drive mystery post, we’re going to answer the question above by diving into the following:

  • What does “predictable” mean and why does probability matter?  And,
  • Difference between ‘Launch Angle’ and ‘Attack Angle’…

What does “Predictable” mean and Why does Probability Matter?

Let’s define terms. What is probability?  Dictionary.com says this:

“The extent to which something is probable; the likelihood of something happening or being the case.”

Why does probability matter?  I have parents ask me, “What is the probability that if my kid does the hitting baseball drills you’re telling us, he or she will hit a line drive?”  What do you think an extraordinary yet reasonable line drive rate is?  We’ve talked about Major League average line drive rate being 20%.  That’s the gold standard for highest level in the land.  A high failure rate in hitting can be expected.  We’ve all heard the maxim that you can fail three out of ten times in the Big Leagues and make it into the Hall of Fame.  Probability of success in hitting DOES NOT match that of in the classroom.  Or shooting free throws.  Or a quarterback’s completion percentage.  Success measured in hitting isn’t even close to these examples.  Keeping probability in perspective matters when measuring hitting success.

Now, let’s look at the word predictable.  Hitting more “predictable” line drives.  What does predictable mean?  Dictionary.com, what say you?

“Behaving or occurring in a way that is expected.”

What “predictable” is for some hitting coaches may not be for others.  Consider this…Coach A uses horoscopes, astrology, and sorcery to teach his hitters how to hit line drives.  And after 20 years of teaching like this, he swears his hitters hit predictable line drives.  This is all he knows.    All he knows.

Let’s look at Coach B, who applies human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  And after 20 years of teaching hitters like this, she swears HER hitters hit line drives predictably.  So which coach is more effective with their hitters?

If the hitting baseball drills answer doesn’t immediately jump out at you, then you may be the first one dead during a zombie apocalypse.  Of course I was exaggerating the two coaching strategies for effect (well, at least one of them).  This seems to be the duality of hitting logic I see online.  “Listen to ME because I said so”.  No standard.  Just listen to me because I slept in the same bed as Ted Williams in XYZ hotel.  Or I’ve binge watched millions of hours of slow motion hitting video of only the best hitters.  Or I have the MLB record of 9th inning doubles in the month of August.  Blah blah blah.

“Behaving or occurring in a way that is expected.”  20% line drive rate is expected.  So in 20-years of coaching, would Coach A or Coach B do better?  Let’s say Coach A’s astrology hitters came in at an average 12% line drive.  This is exceptional to him because it’s the pinnacle of what he’s experienced.  But what Coach A doesn’t know is Coach B’s science hitters clocked in at a 20% average line drive rate.  Coach A doesn’t have a clue until he talks to Coach B.  Lesson here?  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Now you know!

I can tell you, when it comes to THIS means THAT … hitting predictable line drives and striking out less comes from applying human movement principles that are validated by real science to hitting a ball. Hitters hit more predictable line drives when they follow principles outlined in: Physics, Engineering, Biomechanics, body work, Geometry, and Psychology.

Of course there is bad Science.  Just read Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks.  But there are irrefutable principles that have been proven for decades, if not hundreds of years.  Take Gravity for one.  Jump out of a plane and you’ll fall 100% of the time – as long as you call earth home.  Look, there are 50 ways to skin a cat, but there is always one most efficient way…

Astrology Coach A may say something like this about Science:

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

And Science Coach B may respond with something like this:

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

I want to keep Coach A’s name anonymous, so as not to expose him to ridicule, thrown tomatoes, and bunny ears.   Look, there are hundreds of different ways to teach hitting baseball drills. A lot of coaches believe this, and I agree.  But I’d argue there is a more effective way.  What is it?

Consider this scenario…imagine you and I sitting down at the kitchen table to talk hitting.  One hour before, we were both involved in a feverish game of Octopus Tag (you don’t want to know).  And are famished!  What’s on the menu?  A big fat bowl of creamy tomato soup.  But before we begin nourishing our bodies with sweet Lycopene, I give the choice of eating your soup with three primitive caveman tools.  WARNING: you can only pick one…

  1. Spoon,
  2. Fork, or
  3. Knife

Which tool would you choose to eat your soup?  Think hard.  I’ll wait… okay, time’s up!!  You chose the spoon didn’t you.  How did I know?  Astrology?  Horoscope-ology (is that a word)?  No, of course not.  I knew because that was the most effective tool for the job.  Hitting is the same.  Anything less than applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting baseball drills, is like eating delicious creamy tomato soup with a fork or even dumber, a knife.  One can pull it off.  But others would look at you like you were a wooden dummy.

Remember, we’re looking at “behaving or occurring in a way that is expected.”

Let’s look at another puzzle piece to helping hitters consistently hit line drives…

Difference between ‘Launch Angle’ and ‘Attack Angle’?

Here are the definitions of both attack angle and launch angle…

According to FanGraphs.com, Attack Angle is…

“The attack angle, or swing plane, is the angle that the bat is moving at when it hits the ball.”

And according to MLB.com, Launch Angle is…

“Launch Angle represents the vertical angle at which the ball leaves a player’s bat after being struck.”

There is no such thing as a ‘Launch Angle” swing, since every batted ball produces a Launch Angle, even a bunt.  Attack and Launch Angles are just numbers without a brain.  They’re a mode of measurement. They’re different, but similar.  More like first cousins. That’s it.  Period.  End of story.

But I can see where the hitting baseball drills confusion is.  The Launch Angle “swing” is a case of guilty by association.  In the past, coaches preaching launch angles, maybe using HitTrax or Rhapsodo, tended to instruct their hitters to hit the top back third part of the cage.  Did you get that?  Imagine that for a second…top-back-third-part-of-the-cage.  The coaching logic goes like this … if most doubles and dingers are hit within twenty to thirty degree launch angles, then let’s teach hitters to do just that.

Problem is, when the majority of hitters – especially the young ones –  attempt this, they end up hitting more popups.  I know because I taught it too!!  And like the Big Bang, just like that, the ‘Launch Angle’ swing was spoken into existence.  But I can tell you, THIS does not mean more predictable line drives.  Let me explain…

What is an Optimized Attack or Launch Angle?

The angle the barrel takes to the ball is an Attack Angle. The Launch Angle is angle ball takes off the bat.  Which begs the question, “What is an optimized Attack or Launch Angle?”

According to Fangraphs.com, the league average Attack Angle from 2015 through 2017 are: 11.4, 12.0, and 13.8 (in degrees), respectively.  The average Launch Angles in the same time frame were: 10.5, 11.1, and 11.0 (in degrees), respectively.  Launch Angle is a little more tricky than Attack Angle.  A hitter can control their Attack Angle.  Not so much their Launch Angle.  Fangraphs.com adds…

“…we see a relatively weak correlation between attack angle and launch angle, because launch angle is also strongly dependent a hitter’s aim, timing, and bat speed. While we don’t have any direct measurements of aim or timing, we can see that players with flatter swings (lower attack angles) have more margin for error when it comes to timing, and therefore tend to have higher contact rates than players with uppercut swings (larger attack angles).”

And the optimal home run Launch Angle seems to be about 24-degrees.  Ironically, the optimal Attack Angle for home runs is about 24-degrees.   But think about this, in the Big Leagues a fastball being thrown at 95-mph, typically is coming DOWN at a 5-degree angle.  So if the hitter’s Attack Angle is UP at 24-degrees, then yes we may see more dingers and doubles, but at the expense of hits, Batting Average, and higher strikeouts percentages.  The extreme uppercut example isn’t a good demonstration of the “slight uppercut” Ted Williams was talking about in his book The Science of Hitting.  Food for thought.

Furthermore, a fantastic post on the topic of the longest home run ever, comes from Dr. Alan Nathan in a post at PopularMechanics.com titled, “What’s The Longest Possible Home Run”. Alan Nathan is a professor emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois.  The professor has spent a career tracking physics, especially as it relates to baseball. He says two primary factors guide how far a ball is going to fly: exit velocity and launch angle.  From the Popular Mechanics post:

“Consider Nathan’s ideal home run, hit with 120-mph exit velocity at a 26-degree launch angle. If Giancarlo Stanton hit that ball on a 70-degree day, at sea level, with no wind and 50 percent relative humidity, then Nathan’s calculations show the ball will travel 492 feet…If you start changing those atmospheric conditions, that number can go up a lot.  An out-blowing wind at 5 mph, which is not a lot of wind, can add 24 feet to a fly ball, so now you are at 516 ft. If instead you go to Denver (lower air density at a higher elevation) and that goes up to 533 feet.”

Now, I know what you may be thinking…

How does the Brain get the Body to Optimize Attack (AA) and Launch Angles (LA)?

Perry Husband of HittingIsAGuess.com dragged me to the following hitting baseball drills conclusion.  We talked about this already, but league average line drive rates in the Bigs is 20%, so this should be our primary focus.  Physics says, the hardest ball hit requires center-center contact between barrel and ball.  And remember league average fly-ball and ground-balls rates hover around 40% each.  The best hitters in the game are missing center-center contact 80% of the time – LOSERS!!  Kidding!

Dingers and doubles are what we call “quality misses”.  Aim small, miss small.  Hit the ball back through the “tube”.  Shoot for the ten to fifteen degree Launch Angle (our 20% line drive rate), and rest assured hitters will accumulate more of these quality misses.  Dingers and doubles without sacrificing swing quality.  Practicing this may not be sexy, but the results are, believe me.  Because if hitter shoots for dingers and doubles, they’ll hit more pop flies – I can tell you.

Remember, we’re looking at “behaving or occurring in a way that is expected.”  Consistent.  Predictable.  Higher probability of line drives.  Here’s the how and the hitting baseball drills lesson…

To optimize AA, we focus on optimizing the net outcome of LA.  Our hitter’s default focus is back through the “tube”.  Path ball takes from pitcher’s hand to catcher’s glove.  Distance from the ground sets the “tube”.  Hitter works on hitting it back through the tube.  If it’s an inch off the ground … ball comes off bat an inch off the ground.  If the tube is set at 4-feet off the ground, then ball comes off bat 4-feet off the ground.  So if it comes back through the tube, it’s coming back through the tube at 10 to 15 degrees. That is our optimized default launch angle we want to see our hitters practicing every single swing they take.

If it is not back through the tube, then we want them making the Dr. Victor Frankl Man’s Search For Meaning paradoxical intention adjustments. If they hit the ball above the tube (pop fly or quality miss above), then we want them to make an adjustment down below the tube next time.   Why do we want to include an adjustment for quality misses (doubles and dingers) above the tube?  Because if they try for them, they’ll miss higher.  Not good.  We praise them for the quality miss, but remind them to get back to the tube.  The same is true if they hit it below the tube (a grounder), then we want them to make an adjustment above the tube.

I know I sound like a broken record, but the body is always a step or two behind the brain.  So we have to exaggerate the adjustment cue in order to get the body to do what the brain wants it to.  Thoughts move quickly. We want to make sure that we get the big old bag of bones, muscle, springy fascia, and organs on par with the brain. Tell body to overshoot where we want it to go, in order to get it in the middle.

Case Study: does Teaching Hitters to Hit Top Back Third Part of Cage Work for Hitters in Games?

I argue no, it does not. And I will also say that I was there a few years ago, teaching the same thing to my hitters.  If I was talking to two years in the past Joey Myers today … he would think I was crazy.  And in his finite wisdom, would demand whose hitting baseball drills Kool-Aid I was drinking. But I can assure two-years in the past Joey Myers that hitting the back third part of the cage isn’t what we want our hitters practicing.

I mentioned I taught this exact thing a few years ago, and what I found, especially with a lot of my junior high and high school hitters, was that focusing on the double and dinger caused a majority of my hitters to hit more … you guessed it … pop flies. Some were flying out three and four times a game. And at that time we were telling our hitters to get the ball off the ground, and that all ground balls sucked eggs. There are still a lot of coaches out there, progressive ones, good coaches, that still subscribe to that.  But the problem is probability of averages.  “Behaving or occurring in a way that is expected.”  Consistent.  Predictable line drives.

Again, you look at the best hitters in the game, league average 20 percent line drive rate, 40 percent fly ball, and 40 percent ground ball. 80 percent of the time, the best hitters in the world miss hit the center of the ball. Center ball meeting center bat. The best hitters in the game are missing 80 percent of the time. So think about that. If we shoot for a ten to fifteen degree launch angle, hit it back through the tube, then our misses are going to be more quality.  Net results?

A higher probability of lines drives.  Back to at least league average.  So if we’re shooting for a 10 to 15 degrees Launch Angle, and we miss slightly under that center point, what ends up happening is that 20 to 30 degree launch.  We’re going to accumulate more doubles and dingers by shooting for the middle.  Shooting for the tube.

And when it comes to quality ground-balls, I think in the big leagues, when the ball exit speeds get above 94 miles an hour defensive errors go up. They significantly increase. Now, why is that? Well, because the ball’s speeding up and it’s moving faster than the best can react to get to the ball.  And the less bounces, the more likely the ball will get to an outfielder.  More bounces slow the ball down significantly.  So the speed the ball comes off the bat matters “big tyne”, as Domingo Ayala would say.  According to a “Fun With Statcast (Exit Velo)” post at Medium.com, here’s what happens to batting average when ball exit speeds increase:

  • 92-mph = .261
  • 94-mph = .311
  • 96-mph = .369
  • 98-mph = .425
  • 100-mph = .508
  • 102-mph = .565
  • 104-mph = .635
  • 106-mph = .701
  • 108-mph = .718

Then they level off on any ball exit speeds above that.  So not all ground-balls are bad.  Especially if we’re hitting them over 94-mph.  And by the way, the stats you just read reflect Major Leaguers!!  If you have a kid in Junior High or High School hitting 92-mph ground-balls, then the batting average for that hitter at that level will be much higher than what’s reflected above.   Major Leaguers are MUCH better fielders.

Bottom line?  Our focus should be in hitting the ball hard. Ball exit speed MUST be a big part of the equation. It’s king.  Optimized launch angles don’t mean as much with slow ball exit speeds.  We can get away with it for a little while, but the ability to hit more extra base hits, hit the ball to the wall or over the wall is going to be a major challenge at higher levels.

And if it’s one thing that high school coaches hate, are their hitters hitting an excess of fly balls.  They would take a ground ball, even if it’s a weak one any day of the week.  Why?  Because they bank on that fielder either miss playing it, or over throwing it. They’ll say that there’s more that can go wrong with the ground-ball than a fly ball, which is true. Fielder has to field and throw cleanly, and the receiver has to catch it. Three things can go wrong with the ground ball than a fly ball. They just have to catch it.  I’d disagree that “just catching” the ball is easy though.

As an outfielder who played at the Division 1 level in college, I can tell you it’s not that easy to track and catch a ball in the air.  You’ve got to take the right route. You’ve got to read it correctly off the bat. You’ve got to listen to the sound of contact. Solid, or not quite. If the ball is hit hard, we were taught to take your first step back. You don’t want a line drive going over your head. There’s a lot that goes into catching a ball in the air. So I will disagree that it’s easy to catch a fly ball. And I think most that say it’s easy, never played outfield on a regulation big field against higher level hitters.

In addition, with a skill like hitting that is reactive, versus pitching which is proactive, control isn’t what hitters are gifted with.  Only control what you can control. And to hear these coaches say hit the ball on the ground because the defense might make an error.  In a sport with less control, why would you pin hopes and dreams on “might” make an error.  You can’t control that.  So only focus on what you can control.

“Behaving or occurring in a way that is expected.”  Consistent.  Predictable line drives.  Our hitters CAN control improving their Ball Exit Speeds and optimize their Attack Angles.  In Chapter-3, we discussed what leads to hitting more “predictable” line drives and less strikeouts.  We dove into the following:

  • What does “predictable” mean and why does probability matter?  And,
  • Difference between ‘Launch Angle’ and ‘Attack Angle’…
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

You Too Can STOP Head Movement With The Snapping Towel Drill

 

 

Discover correct head position, head movement, see the ball better, and how to keep your eye on the ball for baseball and softball hitters in 2022.  Learn how to keep head still with this batting swing drill.

Look,

I’m not going to get into the specifics of head movement with the written part of this video post…

You can go to the following links for that:

But I WILL get into an outstanding drill that helps my hitters get rid of late head movement…

I get asked quite a bit on the ‘Socials’ about posting the “Snapping Towel Drill”.

I learned this drill from Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, which he calls the Lean Drill.

Well, here you go!

This is one of my favorite go-to drills with most of my hitters.

It helps with lunging, which I define as when a hitter continues moving forward during the turn…NOT at stride landing.

It also helps a hitter cover more of the pitch plane with the barrel, which is why I promote it in the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course.

In the above video, we’ll discuss:

  • How the swing is a snapping towel,
  • And define Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT),
  • How to BEWARE of the “C” Shape, and
  • How to setup the Snapping Towel Drill…

The following video I did awhile back, which analyzes Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz’s swings to show the ‘snapping towel’ effect…

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix stepping in the bucket using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).

The following image is Chase B., one of my hitters, that is working on fixing his Reverse ‘C’ shape (by the way, the same fault with a lefty will resemble a normal ‘C’)
chaseb-reversec-shape

It’s not too bad, but I’ve seen worse.  Some of the things to look out for at and post impact:

  • Head floating out over “no man’s land”,
  • Over arching of the low back, and
  • The hitter complaining of low back ‘pinching’ or pain in the Up Dog Yoga Pose

The latter can be because of tight hamstrings and hip flexors, in addition to glutes and low abdominals (psoas) not firing off.  However, please consult a Physical Therapist if there’s discomfort in the Up-Dog Pose.

What is this hitting position suppose to look like?

Check out Sierra Romero (one of my fav. fastpitch hitter’s to model)…

Sierra Romero Post Impact

Sierra Romero in a nice ‘stacked’ position, NO reverse ‘C’ here. Photo courtesy: MichiganDaily.com

Notice the stacking of her head over rib cage, and rib cage over pelvis.  In a perfect world, we’d like to see a slight slant back over the catcher with these three pieces of the body.

Think about three bricks stacked on top of each other, but being stacked slightly off center towards the left hand side (for a righty), and reverse for a lefty.