Fernando Tatis Jr Baseball Swing Analysis Part-2 YouTube Thumbnail

Arm Bar Like This Fernando Tatis Jr Baseball Swing Analysis?

 

 

Here's what we're talking about in this Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing analysis:

Fernando Tatis Jr Baseball Swing Analysis Part-2

Fernando Tatis Jr Baseball Swing Analysis Part-2 photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Distance between feet – Getting to a balanced position on our stride,
  • Staying sideways with lower half – most still want to pivot on back foot instead of with the hip, and
  • Front arm shape – Arm bar a problem?

The following is the transcription from the above video.  Time stamped of course, so you can skip ahead if you'd like. And in case you missed Part-1, then check it out Here.

Enjoy!

00:38

Remember, in part one, we went over some fangraphs stats, Fernando Tatis Jr. We talked about catapult loading system principles and how he uses them in his swing. And we also talked a little bit about staying sideways there as well. We will go in a little bit more depth in this video.

 

Distance between feet – Getting to a balanced position on Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing's stride

 

00:56

Let's talk about the distance between the feet and getting to a balanced position in the stride. First, I wanted to give you a little context between these pitches, the one on the left, I think both of these are 2020. The one on the right we talked about in part one, but this one is a low and in breaker. Slower than average pitch.

 

01:18

And then this one over here, if you remember was a fastball up and in. Just to give each context there. On the left, we'll go… there's three swings over here. The first one will be this one, and then the other two I don't have the pitchers view on, so we will look at the distance between the feet.

 

01:37

One of the things that elite hitters have in common is they get distance between their feet at stride landing and during their turn. A lot of young hitters tend to either be too narrow, don't get a long enough stride or if they skip their back foot they skip too far, creating more of narrow feet during the turn itself.

 

01:55

Elite hitters don't do that, elite hitters will create distance between their feet. It makes for a more athletic position and allows them to be able to, if they want to use their knees to get to pitches down in the zone like a Cody Bellinger or an Anthony Rizzo or Dustin Pedroia, they can do that.  With narrow feet during the turn, it's not going to happen.

 

02:16

So as this also applies to getting to balance at your stride landing, you're going to notice that in Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing, that he is not going to be very heavy on that front foot as he lands. You can see that, and we'll get to this a little later in the video, this idea of shifting foot pressure. But if we look at this little ride or float, we like to call the float, Matt Nokes calls the ride and then the stride or the fall we call it the float in the fall.

 

02:49

You can see that there isn't a 100% commitment to the front leg yet. It's a little bit more uncommitted, feeling out, being more controlled, and there's different drills that you can do for this you can put weight on the front foot, like a band pulling the front foot forward or the band pulling the hitters body forward wrapped around their waist, and the coach is out in front pulling the bands, and the hitter's got to resist the band.  Got to resist gravity from landing too hard and heavy on that front foot.

 

03:17

But that's what you're going to see. You're going to see that distance between the foot and as he begins his turn, you will see him maintain the distance between his feet. Look out over here. Very light and hover-y with that front foot at landing. And you see there's a little bit of a glide or skip of the back foot.

 

03:46

Here's another swing.  You can see this really controlled fall, it is a fall because you will see him unweight that back leg completely with the skipping of that back foot or the scissoring into that back foot. But at first before the stride foot lands, you're going to see this very tentative with the weight. He's going to get to the end of his hip, front hip and that's going to allow him to rotate without having to shift more during the turn as he rotates.

 

04:31

A lot of hitters, young hitters, will get to landing and then they'll continue to shift forward with their hips as they're turning the barrel.  In both baseball and softball. We want to get to the end of that hip, front hip. As we land, that's it. There's no more shifting of the hip, of the weight. We should be done shifting, then as we start to turn, that head should stay still, shouldn't move anymore once a stride foot hits the ground.

 

05:07

Here's the fourth swing.  You can see this hover, he's still committing his weight forward, but it's controlled. Again, we can stand out in front of this hitter, and we can wrap a band, resistance band around their waist, we can hold the handles and pull them forward and they have to resist our pull forward, that is a way to help with this… not committing that weight 100% at stride touchdown.

 

05:37

We'll get the hip to the endpoint, which is right there. And then as the turn starts, and on this pitch Tatis is a little bit out in front looks almost like a Jose Bautista swing. But that is a way to stay balanced and making sure we maintain distance between the feet.

Staying sideways with lower half – most still want to pivot on back foot instead of with the hip

05:57

Now let's talk about staying sideways. There's this tendency for hitting coaches out there, and for usually the older kids, the younger ones that are under coached tend to do this correctly. But the ones that have been over coached a little bit will tend to want to pivot on that back foot. And these coaches are teaching them to pivot on the back foot to get the hips through. And that's not what we're looking for.

 

06:20

The hips aren't, rotation of the hips, maximum rotation of the hip isn't where power is coming from, not most of the power anyway.  The hips and the pelvis are about 33% of the equation when it comes to the spinal engine. Thoracic spine, the spine is split into three, the cervicles – the neck, thoracic – the middle, the bigger part of the spine, and then you have the lumbar is the lower part.

 

06:43

Those three sections, along with the shoulders, and the pelvis surrounding that are where most of the power is. The pelvis and the hips are a very small percentage of that, 33% or so, if you split it in three. What we see is this shifting foot pressure, you'll see where you got foot pressure on the outside of the back foot, inside of the front foot up to landing.

 

07:14

And then same over here. This is a different angle. But you can see the inside of the front foot here, can see it over on the right and outside, it's starting to shift. And then as the turn starts, the foot pressure on the part of the foot will shift completely opposite side. Back one will go from outside to inside. You can see the insides already starting to shift here on the left pane. Same thing on the right pane, you're also going to see the front foot do the opposite, it's going to go from the inside to the outside.

 

07:47

Staying sideways and making sure we get to the end of the front hip at landing. We're going to see that bowing in here. The inside of the back foot when we see kids turning that back foot. By this point, the foot is almost vertical. And they're turning what we say is with the middle of the foot instead of the inside of the foot. What we should see is what Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing analysis is doing, one on the left you're seeing a little bit more vertical but then he pushes that heel down and stays inside.

 

08:25

Remember this pitch was the breaker the slower breaker down and in. He was a little bit out in front of this you can tell just by where the barrel is entering the zone. It's not knocking off the real catcher's glove, which is back here. It's actually between the back-foot catcher's glove and the belly button catcher's glove. A little bit out in front, over here on the right, can see the same inside back foot, you can see the front foot clearly go from inside to outside, pushes that back heel behind him.

 

08:59

The hips are for direction, not for 100% complete rotation.  That's not where the power is coming from, the hips set directional force. Here's another swing, same thing outside of the back foot inside of the front foot. You're going to see that all the way until about landing, and then we're going to see the shift happen inside of the back foot outside of the front foot. push that back heel behind them.

 

09:29

Fourth swing, outside of the back foot, inside of the front foot going to stay sideways, we're not going to pivot on that back foot. Like most young hitters do that coaches have taught him to do that. The youngest hitters 7, 8, 9… They tend to do this on their own if we don't touch them. Same shifting the foot pressure. This one he actually scissors is a little bit more out in front than he was on that first swing, and you can see big time skip and hop, don't like the hop so much, but this is just a compensation, you didn't see that in the other three swings, but he is scissoring here to keep his balance on this swing.

 

10:13

You can see our lower half, combination of distance between the feet. This allows the hitter to keep a balance into their stride by staying sideways, and in doing so, shifting our foot pressure from outside of the back foot, inside of the front foot to, during the turn inside of the back foot, outside of the front foot allows the pelvis in the lower half to control and guide our directional force.

Front arm shape – Arm bar a problem?

10:46

Alright, let's talk about is the arm-bar okay?  I hear a lot of coaches out there like to teach the adjustable swing, meaning look away, adjust in, or look in and adjust the way. And when you start facing better pitching that just doesn't work. We can't get to balls and be able to maximize our ball exit speed inside with an elbow bent at 90 degrees.

 

11:08

You'll see in the four swings of this Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing analysis; he'll do a very good job of maintaining the shape of that front arm.  Maintaining the shape of the front arm will allow consistency in the performance of the swing. And the longer the front arm, the longer the lever is, an engineering principle, the more the force gets multiplied at the end of the lever. It's both power or ball exit speed, batted ball distance, and consistency.

 

11:40

We can get to an inside pitch, or a pitch up in the zone with a straight barred out front arm, but it's when the hitters barrel enters the zone is what really matters. It's not about the length of the front arm if it's getting locked out. As much as it is when the barrel enters the zone, and the coaches that teach the barrel to get into the zone super early, knocking off the real catcher's glove. Are going to have a hard time getting the barrel to the ball on the inner half part of the plate or getting to the ball on the middle up part of the zone.

 

12:16

But it's not because of the front arm shape, it is because of when the barrel is entering the zone. The best hitters in the world change, instinctively, we can teach it but instinctively change when their barrel enters the zone. That's another topic for another video. But let's look over here at our first swing. Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing analysis, you're going to see that front arm shape almost from the start of the turn.

 

12:45

Again, this one is a breaking ball that was probably 80-ish miles an hour, located down and in the part of the zone.  You can see the arms fully locked out, see where the barrels at?  Barrel is tight to the back shoulder. And then you're going to start to see him unwind and release the barrel, like I said earlier in this video, is going to be somewhere between the back foot catcher's glove… If you can if you can imagine a catcher's glove in line with his back foot, and a catcher's glove in line with his belly button.

 

13:15

He releases it somewhere in the middle of those, being a little bit out in front of this ball and this ball being on the inner, the lower inner part of the zone. See the front arm shape there, is a different angle, but you can still see he pulls in just a little bit here you can see he's a little bit bent. But he works it to get in, it's very minimal. That will screw up consistency a little bit, if we have a hitter that's doing this all the time. Fernando Tatis Jr is doing this to be able to catch up to this fastball.  And this one was remember, located up and in, in the zone, a fastball up and in…

 

13:27

A little bit, but we don't see a 90-degree chicken wing getting to this ball especially at a contact. You can see that front arm shape is complete, almost completely barred out to get to this ball.  And he's got something we'll talk about another video wrist snap, beautiful wrist snap, you can see in this swing, same thing. Watch that front arm shape. From the start of the turn, you see the front arm shape, almost completely barred out slight bend can be argued with it.

 

14:25

Can see barrel’s entering the zone, again we don't have a pitcher’s view of this pitch, but you can see is entering the zone off his back foot. He's releasing that barrel off his shoulder and then slamming it into the back-foot catcher's glove, not in the real catcher's glove because real catcher’s glove you can see is farther away. But he's releasing it off his back-foot catcher's glove.

 

14:51

But look at the shape of that front arm. Got a lot of consistency there and you have a long lever so that at impact it's going to amplify the force at the end of that lever. Last swing, front arm shape, started the turn, you can see it's almost completely barred out. He's a little out in front on this one, remember, probably more out in front than the other three swings.

 

15:27

You can see the blur of the bat, is happening again, he's releasing this into the belly button catcher's glove. Because he's out in front, we'll see that on timing. When they're out in front, we'll see the barrel get released later into the zone, not early. Later. You see that front arm shape is completely barred out on this one. Trout does this too. If he's out in front, and the balls middle away or middle down, you'll see that straight up front arm, but he's a little different when it comes to middle in, middle up especially if it's something hard. Plus velocity, you'll see a 90 degree bend in that front arm…

 

16:04

But you can see boom, completely arm barred with the front arm at impact. This is going to amplify the force at the end of that lever. And because he's keeping a consistent long shape with that front arm to get to this ball, it's going to lead to some consistency. And in this Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing analysis, those of you who have been charting him in the 2020 season, have seen the consistency throughout the season. Albeit a shortened 60 game college season. We'll see what happens in the playoffs.

 

16:38

Just a quick recap of this Fernando Tatis Jr baseball swing analysis video,

  • We talked about the distance between the feet getting into a balanced position on our stride.
  • We also went into staying sideways with the lower half a little bit more depth, because most still want to pivot on the back foot instead of with the hip, the front hip we talked about.
  • And front arm shape, is the armbar a problem?  And we saw in four separate swings that Fernando Tatis Jr. in his baseball swing does a very good job of keeping a longer front arm, which helps with consistency and batted ball distance.

Make sure that we're swinging smarter by moving better, and before I let you go…

Hitting Training: What is Directional Force?  And WHY is it Important?

 

 

This hitting training interview with Matt Nokes was pulled from the seventh issue of our Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter.  What is that?  On a monthly basis,

  • We pick a hitting theme,
  • Write a Newsletter around the theme,
  • Give favorite hitting drill addressing the theme,
  • Prescribe corrective exercises to amplify the drill's goal, and as if that wasn't enough,
  • We also include 2 expert interviews on the subject…

EVERY month!

This hitting training post is POWER packed!!  The above video, Matt put together special for this episode.  The following is the 30-minute audio interview…

Here are some of the hard hitting training points we cover in the Nokes interview (pun intended of course):

  • What’s the Major Benefit to “Staying Sideways”,
  • What is Making the Hips Turn?
  • Dangers to Performance of Over-Rotating the Lower Half,
  • What is Directional Force?  And Why is it Important?  And,
  • Around the Zone Drill for Staying Sideways.

What follows is copy and pasted transcript from the 30-minute hitting training audio interview.  If you want to download the pdf version, so you can print it out, and highlight the heck out of it, then you can download that here: https://gohpl.com/33XxDcI

Enjoy!

Hitting Training - Matt Nokes Staying Sideways

Hitting Training – Staying Sideways image courtesy: Matt Nokes

 

Joey Myers  00:00

All right, hello and welcome to Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com, and on with me as a special guest a special surprise Mr. Matt Nokes, former Major Leaguer, two time All Star, Silver Slugger award winner.

 

Joey Myers  00:14

And the day that I met Matt was probably three or four years ago, I was introduced, the Backspin tee bros… Taylor and Jarrett Gardner, and we were talking hitting the whole time down in San Diego. I think it's when they had the all-star game there in San Diego. And we were even talking hitting training in parking structures at the different levels. We went to a library we went all over the place. So Matt Noakes, welcome to the show.

 

Matt Nokes  00:41

Good Joey. First, thank you for inviting me.

 

Joey Myers  00:44

You got it, sir. Hey, I wanted to kick off. I wanted to talk about because we're going to be looking at the idea of staying sideways with the lower half, directional force, all that. So, I wanted to get your view, since you introduced it to me and introduced it to the backspin tee guys, what's the major benefit of staying sideways? And maybe a detriment to not staying sideways? Maybe over rotating? Which I see a lot of young hitters do?

 

What’s the Major Hitting Training Benefit to “Staying Sideways”

 

Matt Nokes  01:13

Well, I think there are several reasons. I mean, it's a whole system, right? It's your lower body. And it's been misinterpreted for so many years. Because of well, the communication wasn't necessary.  Let's just say when a major leaguer's talking to another major leaguer, they're just spouting out hitting training words that don't mean a whole heck of a lot. Or it could mean 50 different things. But they're talking to someone who's been watching their teammate. They know what they're going through. It's what they say just a little bit. They know what they're saying.

 

Matt Nokes  01:53

And so a lot of the conversation is nonverbal. And so, this whole thing of using your hips, it's just something that has been brought up to people. And if you think about it, when you're hitting, for people who haven't been hitting, or who don't know how to hit, they don't see the patterns that you and I see or that a high school, college, pro player, or major leaguer, they don't see the patterns that we see.

 

Matt Nokes  02:27

And so, the varying levels of, there's a huge amount of information that you need to know just to see certain things. Right? And so, it's what, it's why there's this confusion. And people just haven't really taken the time to, or they just didn't feel like, feel the need to explain any more. Because, as one of my good friends Darrell Evans always said is well, I can't tell you everything.

 

Matt Nokes  02:56

Like he'll explain some awesome conflict. I go, why don't you tell me that, you know, 20 years ago when we were in the big leagues? Because I can't tell you everything, because you knew.  He hit 400 or over 400 home-runs. But there were some hitting training things that he didn't question. And things that I questioned, and vice versa, I wish I would have had that information from the beginning.

 

Matt Nokes  03:22

And it's not so much that we see the patterns, because everyone sees oh, you know, that front leg straightens out at some point, that must be important. Okay, well, it kind of straightens out when you block. Sometimes it doesn't when your way into your legs.  But the point is, it's blocked, blocking. And because there's rotation, it's going to straighten out, close to contact.

 

Matt Nokes  03:54

Like everybody knows, if you ever thought about straightening out your front leg thinking that that's going to be key, that's going to be one of my adjustments. One of my adjustments, that I'm going to get three hits tonight, you know that, that would be like the worst thing to think about, right? You would leak. You would just pole vault, leak your way up and out over the top.

 

Matt Nokes  04:17

So having said that, it's not enough to see a pattern, you have to be able to go beyond that and see the model, you have to be able to model what's going on, you have to know get to see hitting training in three dimensions as opposed to, drawing triangles, you need to see the pyramid.  You need to see more of really what's happening to understand it. So, when you look at somebody hit, you see their hips turning.  It's like no, they do turn, you know, I mean, I am watching them turn, but you have to look past that and say, what is making it turn?

What is Making the Hips Turn?

 

Matt Nokes  05:03

And when it comes to, why does it turn? And when it comes to all the other comments about using the ground, which is, you hit from the ground up and lead with ground force, and it starts from the bottom and goes up, back foot turns, the back-knee turns, hips turn, in the core turns the shoulders turn, and then you swing.

 

Matt Nokes  05:26

That makes sense if it was geared that way, but it's not. Because your power source is your well, is your trunk, your upper body, or let's call it the core. But I think it's even more general than that, I think you just hit with your upper body, but you use a weight shift, and you need something to swing against.

 

Matt Nokes  05:47

Like, if you're hanging on a rope, you can't really turn.  I mean you could, but you just wiggling.  If you get your feet on the ground, then you can turn your upper body. Anybody that sat on a machine to work their core rotationally, they know that when you sit into the machine, it clamps your lower body down, or your upper body one or the other. So that you can forcefully rotate.

 

Matt Nokes  06:20

Okay, so that's the hitting training concept. If you want to rotate, you need something to rotate against. And yet, we still see the core, I mean, the hips turn, okay? Well, that's because they're attached. And at contact, you've unloaded your backside. And because you've unloaded it, of course, it's free to turn. But it's that much more important that you get in a really good position.

 

Matt Nokes  06:55

The idea of a sideways approach is, you have to get in a good position, it needs to be a consistent position. And you have to be on time. What that does is it helps you be on the ball. So that may just sound some random, random to some people. But I'll give you a hitting training illustration, or I'll give you an analogy. Let's say you're hitting soft toss from the side, I mean, directly from the side. And you know how easy that is. Now, I'm a left-handed hitter, how easy it is to crush the ball over the shortstop head.

 

Matt Nokes  07:39

The opposite way, if it's coming from the side, because you just shift right past it, you smoke it!  You know you're not supposed to pull the ball, but what happens to your lower body.  Think about what is your lower body do when you get soft toss from the side?  It firms up and is basically, it's certainly not as open as it does, from the front, or I'm sorry, like on an inside pitch.

 

Matt Nokes  08:09

So basically, it's that feeling of being on the ball. It's really important that you are sideways, in order to be on the ball. So that you're in position into a consistent position, you know how when you're hitting…let's say soft toss again, when you hit your first ball, and you think, my shoulder needs to be a little bit more closed. And then you hit it again go, oops, my hips are at position, my foot’s in the wrong position, you make those fine-tuning adjustments.

 

Matt Nokes  08:38

Well, you can do that. On soft toss because you can almost automatically manage variables, which you have to manage. Because you're in a controlled setting, it's unlikely, you back it up to 60 feet, and the same hitting training variables that you could manage automatically, without even thinking, the scenario enables your automatic mind to relate it to something you already know or to just be familiar with the motion for it to be common sense. And you can do it.

 

Matt Nokes  09:15

But when you add more variables, well then you have to make sure that your routines and how you practice, that you have those things in mind so that you're prepared to not pull off the ball. But if you do pull off, you know how to make an adjustment to position yourself.

 

Matt Nokes  09:35

And it's one last thing, it's like if you had never seen a Phillips head screwdriver, never seen it or never even seen a screwdriver. And you were showing me that this is how I'm going to hang a painting. And you found the stud finder, and you found the stud, and then you basically shorten it, you screwed it. You twisted in a screw into the wall. And then hung the painting with that wire, right? It's kind of hung and then even it up.

 

Matt Nokes  10:04

So how do you use the screwdriver? Well, there's some utility there. You know what you're doing? Because you've seen it, it didn't take a lot of examples. You're holding the screwdriver in your hand, you're like, I know how to do this. And how long does it take you to become an expert? With that movement? I mean, he says well, it doesn't take expert movement. Oh, yeah?  How does a monkey do that? Or a child?

 

Matt Nokes  10:34

Where a monkey could do other complex things. But not that, because they can't look at it and see the utility. But you and I, and everyone on the planet can be basically an expert in five minutes. Context matters.

 

Joey Myers  10:54

And you know what's unique about our sport is that we only have 90 degrees of fair territory to work with. And whereas you look at bowling you maybe it's what three and a half feet a lane and then even in golf, you can argue that you only have one degree of fair territory and 359 degrees of foul territory, because you get rewarded for the shortest number of strokes to the pin.

 

Joey Myers  11:16

One of the hitting training stories that you told was really cool on this. I don't know if it was Frank Robinson, or who it was that you were talking to. But I think you had gone away from staying sideways. And you started to like, what most coaches and young kids do is over rotate the lower half. And then you said you broke away from what you were naturally doing. And you slumped, and then you came back.  Tell that story?

Dangers to Performance of Over-Rotating the Lower Half

 

Matt Nokes  11:39

Yeah. Okay. So, I always think it's important to add empirical evidence, which is that which can be verified or falsified by your senses, or your experience, your personal experience at the highest level. My first year in the big leagues…well, anyway, I just got up to the big leagues. And it was the all-star break. And I was sitting at the all-star break with 20 home runs, hitting like .320. And like 57 RBI's, you could say I was doing well.  And I was hot. And I was young.

 

Matt Nokes  12:24

And Dave Bergman and Bill Madlock, teammates of mine, were shagging balls at first base. And I guess they were talking to each other. And they came up to me, and they said, man Nokesy, you must really feel on the ball. And I said, Yeah. Because your back foot stays sideways. And well, I didn't know what to make of that. And because I had worked that out that I just knew I was on the ball. I thought, okay, I thought they were saying, well, it's unorthodox Matt, but you make it work.

 

Matt Nokes  13:01

I get to the All-Star game. And I'm watching up on the diamond vision. That's what they called it then.  And watching the highlights and stuff. And I started to notice that that back-knee pinch.  You got to remember; I wasn't really familiar, familiar with the exact things that were going on.  And most major league guys really aren't as much as you would think.  They have a general sense. But there are things that they don't, I mean, they know what it feels like. And they can replicate because of that, and they understand that through feel.

 

Matt Nokes  13:40

I thought, man that back knee looks like it's rotating. So maybe the back foot turns too.  I'm sitting at 20 home-runs, maybe I would have had 30 or 40 home runs by now. I thought, man, I'm going to really drop that knee and kind of now they're saying you got to try the back knee, that kind of thing. It's just as bad as rotating back foot. Even though it does collapse, because…it does collapse because it's passive.  It's passive because you unloaded it, and your upper body doing the rotation.

 

Matt Nokes  14:17

And for the next couple of weeks, I focused on that I focused on my back-knee kind of collapsing and my back-foot rotating. And I didn't get a hit for two weeks. But I felt great in batting practice, I was hitting home runs, I was launching balls, as usual. And my timing was good because, so I couldn't really see the difference in batting practice in order to make an adjustment because I was crushing balls still, but I knew there was something missing.

 

Matt Nokes  14:49

In pitchers shagging were used to me hitting a certain way, actually approaching. They said something wrong. I mean, you're hitting balls well, but it's just not coming off the bat the way used to. And I agreed. I haven't had a hit in a couple weeks. And finally, Dave Bergman and Bill Madlock came up to me after a couple of weeks, because I'm sure you know, they had their own life, their own hitting training problems they were dealing with, and they didn't notice why I was going into a slump.

 

Matt Nokes  15:21

And they came up and said, what are you doing? Like, what do you mean? You've never rotated your back foot like that, ever? And I go, oh, didn't you? Didn't you say I was being unorthodox. I just thought I'd make it better. And they go, you idiot. No, that's your problem. And so, they'd have to say much other than it just shocked me so much that I got back in the batting cage, just start smoking balls, keeping it sideways. And oh, I hit two home runs that game. And then from then on, I was, I knew that that was a hitting training rule. That was a principle I needed to follow it. Even though back then I didn't really understand it.

 

Joey Myers  16:09

That is one of the, of all my young hitters from I mean, now I just work with 11 or 12, all the way up to junior high, high school, college and stuff. I don't work with any hitters lower than that. But usually the ones lower than that age, typically, if they haven't been over coached, do that naturally. They do stay sideways, right? They get coached out of it, for the most part.

 

Matt Nokes  16:32

Absolutely.

 

Joey Myers  16:33

And I would say the ones that have been coached out of it, and I'm just getting them. And it's probably about 40 to 50% of them over rotate that lower half. You talk about this idea of directional force. Talk a little bit about that.

What is Directional Force?  And Why is it Important?

 

Matt Nokes  16:47

Well, you know, it takes 8,000 pounds per square foot, or I'm sorry, per square inch into the baseball to hit baseball 400 feet. And I have no question that even High School players generate way, way more energy than that swinging a bat, that large of an arc, the sweet spot of the bat is moving, you can generate a lot of force with a baseball bat.

 

Matt Nokes  17:16

It's not that they can't generate the energies that can't direct the force. And it's going all over the place. They're not getting the bulk of the energy through the ball in one direction. And, yeah, so basically…

 

Joey Myers  17:34

Being sideways helps with that.

 

Matt Nokes  17:36

Yes, because it stabilizes your lower half, so that your upper body rotation is pure, there's no leak in it. Your energy is not going in a lot of directions. You brought up the point about, there's a lot of fair territory and foul territory. So that's confusing, because the basic 90 degrees, it's that you're hitting the ball in. There's that sliver, where you get a hit, you know, maybe 10 degrees, 36 degrees, it pretty much everything is either a popup or ground ball, right?  And then you got a lot of foul territory, it's not cricket.

 

Matt Nokes  18:18

And then you can hit a ball to the left that you thought you should have pulled, or you could hit ball the right, they just thought you should have hit the other way, or whatever it is, that can get confusing, because you don't necessarily understand right out of the box, where the direction of force should be, or you're not aware of your personal direction of force, until you experience it until you create a scenario where you can actually rehearse it.

 

Matt Nokes  18:46

Because if you get a hit, you don't think you need to go into it very much more. But if you're hammering a nail, there's going to be some consequences. The nail is going to go flying, if you don't hit it with the right force in the right direction. But with hitting, it's confusing, because you can still get a hit and lose a lot of energy, you can still hit it hard and lose a lot of energy. But ultimately, so that's confusing in itself, you hit a ball the other way, one time, you pull the ball the other time. And you think you did it right, even though you lost energy in both directions. And yet, you don't get a hit.

 

Matt Nokes  19:26

The amount of time that you're actually driving the ball consistently goes down. But you're not concerned with direction of course, because you're hitting the ball in all directions. It just gets confusing.  You don't know what's wrong, you don't know what's going on, what's wrong, what's right, what hitting training is working, what's not.

 

Joey Myers  19:44

And you have a hitting training drill, the around the world drill. You can explain that one. That's a pretty good one, I think for demonstrating what you're talking about the direction of force.

Around the Zone Drill for Staying Sideways

 

Matt Nokes  19:54

Yeah, well, in short. Every major leaguer, and advanced hitter has a feel for certain things. And if you get to that level, you figured out a way to rehearse or do a drill. So that it reinforces good habits. Good positions, good timing, good directional force, you may not be aware of it, but you just see the results, the empirical results.

 

Matt Nokes  20:23

And, yes, so the around the zone is around the world there. If you begin from the side, and you get the ball, coming from the side. There are rules, and why the rules? Well, there are rules because you can't just do the drill any way you want, there's a certain way that it'll be effective, there's a certain technique that will be effective, if you don't do it that way, you're not going to get anything out of it.

 

Matt Nokes  20:54

It's the same for every drill, every rehearsal, if you don't know what you're doing, how you're supposed to do it, what it's for, what you're doing, how you're supposed to execute it, why you're doing it, and what it's going to feel like, what feel you're searching for, then you're just wasting your time.

 

Matt Nokes  21:15

And as a young player, I remember some of my great coaches as a young player, you know, they just see me work and work and work and hit it. And I'm hitting up 300 balls into the net, and they're like, stop!  You need to be strategic when you're doing it, like, what are you trying to accomplish right here? I don't know. I just figured if I just keep hitting, it'll come to me.  No, all that's going to do is lead to a million different desperate fixes. That's all that's going to do.

 

Matt Nokes  21:45

And then I'm addressing every system, with timing, the mechanics, and your mindset.  Not addressing those, in keeping the balance between them. There are certain rules. You get a ball from the side. You want me explain it?

 

Joey Myers  22:01

Yeah. So when you say side, you mean chest on? So perpendicular to the hitter?

 

Matt Nokes  22:06

Yeah. Okay. You get, I'm a left-handed hitter. So, imagine you're in the right-handed batter's box, and then just behind it, and so you're throwing it from the side. And so maybe you're throwing it at my back hip, or that kind of thing. The way you set up the drill, and I call a drill with a ball and a rehearsal without the ball, and there's reasons for that, which I'll go into later.

 

Matt Nokes  22:31

But setting up the drill, so you're throwing on it. What I say is, okay, the arc that the ball's coming in on forms the line.  And you need to pay attention to that line, and then draw 90 degrees from that line from where you're standing Joey.  The ball's coming in at me, and then from you out to center field is, would approximately be 90 degrees.

 

Matt Nokes  23:01

And I say, okay, now where's your 45 degrees? And then as long as you hit it inside of the 45, you'll crush it with your weight, you'll get your weight into the ball, because you're shifting into the swing, and past the line that you see. And that may be complicated. Because there's a certain amount of information that you need to know to actually kind of visualize it and understand why it works like that…

 

Joey Myers  23:29

And I can include a link to your drill video too. [The following is the “Around the Zone Soft Toss Drill” video as promised:

 

Matt Nokes  23:31

Yeah, okay, yeah, I break it down. And I show you, I mean, you go 46 degrees, it's going to be a topspin ground-ball. And so, you have to address the drill, you have to follow the rule, that's the easiest way, if I'm going to give a player action steps and not just try to convince them of some hitting theory. And I was like hey, let's get into action. Let's not worry about hitting theory until you already feel what you got to do.

 

Matt Nokes  24:01

Because once you feel it, then all of a sudden, your intuition about why you're doing it, and what it's fixing will be enhanced, and you'll be able to see things that you couldn't ordinarily see. You go from the side. And so now the ball, let's say I'm hitting in that as a left-handed hitter. Initially, I'm hitting the ball, right down the left field line. And then as you work your way around, but you know, maybe at eight, eight or 10 ball down in the left field line, opposite field, because it's being thrown from the side, as long as I shift my weight perpendicular to the line and get beyond the line. I'm getting my weight to the ball.

 

Matt Nokes  24:45

Because good timing is transferring your weight into the ball on time and what you'll find is you'll gain incredible power increases because you're transferring to the ball on time, you're able to regulate that system really well and make fine tuning adjustments, and you're actually hitting the ball in the correct direction.

 

Matt Nokes  25:11

For those of you who don't quite understand it, I can give you an example of, one extreme example, if I was getting that same ball, that I would normally hit down the left field line, which is opposite field, if I'm throwing a ball from the side, I've seen guys in the batting cage, and I would walk in the cage, and they're hitting balls up the middle of that, and I walk by a coach and they say, Hey, do you see anything Nokesy? And, you know, okay, and, and then I'll take the tee and put it out front.

 

Matt Nokes  25:45

Well, they have the tee in the center of their legs, like inside, and like, behind the front foot, or between the legs, and they're hitting the ball up the middle. Well, if you got a ball that far back, you got to hit that ball the other way. But it's not very exciting to hit a ball on into the net three feet away, it's just not that exciting.  But that's the direction you need to be hitting, you need to get your weight beyond that ball, to transfer your weight in the ball, because we're talking about directional force.

 

Matt Nokes  26:19

But what a player will do is they'll run away from the ball, shift, try to stay on their back foot to clear, to give them some kind of room to hit that ball, to hit that ball up the middle.  Because they're thinking about what they're doing incorrectly, they're trying to hit a ball up the middle that they're not supposed to hit up the middle.

 

Matt Nokes  26:41

And so you just work that drill correctly. And then you start moving your soft tosser, you start moving them around, until eventually they're in the front, and you're hitting it down the right field line. And actually, when you do it correctly, you can't hook it foul. Now you think what do you mean?  You could literally have someone right in front of you. Throwing it at your front hip, he can't hook it foul. Why? Because you've got your weight into the ball and your weight is in the ball at contact, you're in line.

 

Matt Nokes  27:11

It may not even be a lot of lag, just enough lag to get that whip. It's just pre final whip. It's just pre where you rollover, it's always going to be if your weight is into the ball.  Think about it, if you don't shift your weight into the ball on time. That's a slap. That's a hook. That's called quitting. So yeah. What you're getting yourself out of is from quitting.

 

Matt Nokes  27:37

And that's what happens when someone is trying to hit a ball that's deep between their legs and trying to hit it up the middle. The only way to hit that ball up the middle is to quit.

 

Joey Myers  27:49

Got it. That's a great drill. And again, I'll add the drill video that you have on YouTube in the post. Well, hey, man, I would love to do a part two at some point, but to be respectful of your time. Where can people find you? Are there any special projects you're working on right now? Just a little bit about where people can go to get more information on you.

 

Matt Nokes  28:10

Yeah, thanks, Joey. You can go to MattNokes.com. I have courses available. And I have a free advanced hitting workshop. And after if you'd like to consult with me, there's a link at the end of the workshop. But you can also go to CallNokes.com and schedule a call with me. We figure out what's working what's not, and create a blueprint. And if I can help you I certainly will. You can also go to YouTube and find my videos you punch my name in, punch in Matt Nokes and you can find a lot of my videos on YouTube like case studies and things like that. It's been a pleasure. Thanks, Joey. Thanks for inviting me on the program.

Giancarlo Stanton Swing Breakdown: Driving at Targets Like on a Fairway?

 

 

Giancarlo Stanton Swing Breakdown

Giancarlo Stanton swing breakdown photo courtesy: ESPN

“Directional force”

I can't believe I missed this Giancarlo Stanton swing breakdown video.  I remember how on fire he was July of 2018, when he made a certain change to his stance.

Some of the things you'll discover in this video:

  • Hard work with a purpose,
  • His pitch hunting approach,
  • Line drives on a “fairway” strategy,
  • WHY a closed stance, and
  • How to hit Jacob DeGrom…

Here are some thoughts and time stamps from the above video…

  • At the 0:45 minute mark, A-Rod makes the observation that Giancarlo Stanton works hard.  Before, during, and after games, like A-Rod says, “Almost working too much.”  I don't agree with that.  As long as the player digs the hard work, and works on the right things.
  • At the 1:00 minute mark, Giancarlo Stanton gives a little insight into his approach at the plate.  Focusing on what he expects to see from the pitcher.  I'm assuming this is based on data collection.  Pitch patterns and sequencing.  Based on what the pitcher is trying to do to him.  “Altering” Stanton's homework a bit.  Wants the video analysis he watches to be as fresh as possible, so at least 30-mins before going out to the game.
  • At the 1:45 minutes mark, A-Rod asks how Giancarlo Stanton's hitting strategy changes based on ballparks – in reference to his trade from Marlins (big park) to the new Yankee stadium (small park).  Is he trying to lift more or just hit line drives?  Stanton says he's still trying to hit line drives.  Still have to put barrel on the ball for the short corners. A-Rod tells Stanton that when he used to hit there, he'd pick out sponsorship signs as targets to drive to.  Act like a fairway and have targets?  Giancarlo Stanton said he likes the bullpen and Toyota sign as a target at Yankee stadium (RCF) – keeps him “inside the ball”.  Gives his hands a chance to strike, and get good barrel on the ball.
  • At the 2:44 minutes mark, A-Rod asks Giancarlo Stanton about the change in his stance – to more closed.  Why did he do it?  It keeps his direction towards the bullpen.  Less chance to pull off – shoulder and hip.
  • At the 4:00 minute mark, Stanton is asked what his ideal pitch and location is.  Slightly in from middle and 92-mph, 4-seamer, straight.  Interesting to note, Perry Husband has said a majority of pitchers throw to 88 to 93-mph perceived velocity.  They throw to barrels by slowing their fast stuff down and speed up their slow stuff – based on pitch location and sequencing.  I'm not shocked Giancarlo Stanton picked 92-mph, regardless of FB, CB, CU, etc.  It's ideal timing zone of most Major League hitters.
  • At the 5:20 mark, A-Rod asks Giancarlo Stanton how he hits Jacob DeGrom so well.  And btw, DeGrom does well with Effective Velocity according to Perry HusbandBe patient and lock in what Stanton is trying to do, not what DeGrom is trying to do.  Sometimes you'll get what you want and sometimes not.  He's thinking right center against DeGrom.

Christian Yelich Says Barry Bonds Taught Him A Drill That Changed His Career…

 

 

I agree with ‘swing down'…

Christian Yelich & Barry Bonds: 'Swinging Down' in the 'Launch Angle' Era

Christian Yelich and Barry Bonds swing comparison. Photo courtesy: Jomboy Media YouTube channel

Let that sink in for a bit.

Some are pissed I just said that.  But those who've followed me for some time are nodding their head in confirmation because they know better.

Because guess what?  It depends.

‘Swing down' shouldn't be used as a blanket teach.  I have two things for you…

  1. Jomboy Media VIDEO: “Christian Yelich says Barry Bonds taught him a drill that changed his career” (watching it will reveal its relevance to this post), and
  2. Below is Chapter-2 of the new book I'm working on.  It's a longer post, but I think you'll like it.  Goes well with the Yelich-Bonds video above, like grass fed red meat and a fine red wine.

Thank you Grandpa Mike for sharing the video.  You know who you are.  Enjoy!

———-

WHAT AN OLD SCHOOL SWING FEELS LIKE & THE PROS AND CONS?

In Chapter-2, we'll look at what an old school swing feels like and the pros and cons.  We'll be discussing:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics,
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics, and
  • So, how do we interweave brainless data and confusing real v. feel hitting cues?

How Can Someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they Say about Hitting is Wrong?

Now, some of you out there have seen the video of Alex Rodriguez demonstrating how he swung down. Maybe you saw the preseason interview of Mike Trout discussing how he gets on top of the ball.

Or how about Albert Pujols on the MLB Network revealed he swings knob down to the ball?

‘Swing down'.  ‘Getting on top of the ball'.  ‘Knob to the ball'.  ‘Keep barrel above hands' is another one.  Nowadays, these are some of THE most despised hitting coaching cues on the market.  I was one of them.  “Was”.  About 2-3 years ago.  Now I have a different perspective and approach.  These cues DO work.  But it depends on the case.  And if reading or hearing those words made your blood boil…you can change too, believe me.  Here's how…

First, let's clear up and define “swinging down”. Well yeah, the hands do go down to the ball. And depending on how high or low the ball is, the hands will go down more or less. This is true.  But coaches HATE these cues for a different reason.  Here's the thing… if you watch players like A-Rod, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols physically demonstrate what swinging down means to them, you see them using a chopping motion. Yes. The barrel and hands travel down to the ball. But not ‘hands drop'.  That's different, and is a swing flaw we MUST fix.  In the high level swing, we see the barrel go down before coming up.

Here's my beef with ‘swinging down'…

When swinging down is translated into a NEGATIVE attack angle.  Meaning the barrel is going down towards the impact point.  Is not coming up.  And this is what hitting greats like Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols are demonstrating in interviews.  And where the confusion starts.  If you watch their actual swing on film, slow motion swing, what you're going to see is a POSITIVE attack angle.  Meaning, barrel elevating up to incoming ball descending down. Yes, even in Fastpitch Softball (more about this in Chapter-7).  Barrel coming up to impact, positive. Barrel going down to impact, negative.  We clear?

So if what these great hitters are saying and demonstrating isn't what they're actually doing, then what's REALLY going on?

Well, here's the thing … it's the mysterious case of real versus feel What's really happening on video doesn't square with what the high level hitter feels they're doing.  Two completely opposite things.  Take Mike Trout.  Let's look at his real (9-year career average batted ball numbers before start of 2020 season):

  • Ground-ball rate: 36.8% (League average is 43%)
  • Fly-ball rate: 40.8% (League average is 37%)
  • Line drive rate: 22.4% (League average is 20%), and
  • Homerun to fly-ball ratio: 21.4% (League average is 9.5%).

Significantly below average ground-ball rate.  Check.  Slightly above average fly-ball rate.  Check.  Slightly above average line drive rate.  Check.  And well above average home-run to fly-ball ration.  Checkmate!  This proves his performance – the real – doesn't jive with his feel of ‘getting on top of the ball'.  I want you to go to YouTube, search “Mike Trout slow motion swing”, and watch…

His barrels goes down, then comes up to the ball.  Up.  Positive barrel attack angle.  Not down.  Not on top.  Not a negative attack angle.

Before you get upset I'm telling Mike Trout, “You know ‘nothin'!”  Here's the beautiful crazy of this whole thing.   Coaches, understand this … the body is always one or two steps behind the brain. Thinking happens fast. There's zero friction with thoughts.  Nothing. It just goes, goes, goes, goes, goes.  No heavy bones, muscle, organs, and fascia required to move before a thought can fire off!

The secret to unlocking the real v. feel mystery can be revealed through a psychology term called paradoxical intention…

Pros to Old School Feel Mechanics

We have to understand what Mike Trout is REALLY saying.  Bring context to the numbers.  Remember Chapter-1?  Trout will say, “I'll take 10 swings off the tee or during batting practice to feel like I'm getting on top of the ball”. You see, his natural tendency is to uppercut. An extreme uppercut because he uses a significant shoulder tilt to effectively feast on balls down in the zone.  And this works well with pitchers targeting down in the zone, and away.

Although, this is different than the slight uppercut Ted Williams talked about in his book The Science Of Hitting.  Williams talked about barrel meeting the plane of the pitch.  Trout's natural tendency runs counter to this.  And what he tells himself, remember the body is one or two steps behind the brain, is to do the exact opposite of what his natural tendency is.  He tells himself to get on top of the ball. And what's the result?  The barrel ends up somewhere in the middle of extreme uppercut and negative attack angle downswing.  That's what he's trying to get for his real… to get to the middle.

The true old school hitting tragedy…

Some say hitters like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Pujols, and Trout are – or were – fantastic at doing, but not very good at translating what they did into teaching. Take Barry Bonds. Who was the Florida Marlins hitting coach in 2016.  Then they let him go.  Former Marlins President David Samson said this,

“Bonds was worst hitting coach of my career.”  

So why wasn't Barry Bonds able to translate the way he hit to his prized pupils like Giancarlo Stanton?  Bonds is the career Major League home run leader after all. Some say he can do, but he doesn't know how he does what he did.  I disagree these hitters aren't good at teaching.  Again it's a translation issue.

Dr. Victor Frankl, Psychologist and survivor of four Nazi death camps, in his book Man's Search For Meaning, calls this “paradoxical intention”.  Hitters like Trout and Bonds use extreme physical cues to establish a consistent slight upward swing plane.  This strategy is a “trick” played on the body, which is a step or two behind.   Paradoxical intention.  Take any hitter with an extreme uppercut, tell them to chop down (negative Attack Angle “feel” cue), and their barrel path ends up in a slight uppercut.  Just like Ted Williams said – like magic!  Feel cues are fantastic for making simple swing adjustments.

If you're coaching youth hitters, let's get into that world for a moment…

A lot, and I mean A LOT of youth players ages 7 to 12 years old uppercut.  Extreme uppercuts. Casting.  Loooong swings.  They don't need to be taught this!  This is typical, before they've built enough strength in their bodies.  In their core.  In the dynamic nature of the spinal engine.  They tend to cast the barrel out.  Meaning, the barrel casts away from the body, leaving the back shoulder too early. This causes a long swing.  Thanks to gravitational forces, centripetal and centrifugal forces*.  As they swing, they end up underneath the ball.  On inside pitches, they end up getting jammed a lot.  And swing under a lot of pitches up in the zone.  A LOT.

(*Centripetal Force is a center “seeking” force. Like twirling a rock on a string. The rock exerts force back to the two fingers holding the string. Centrifugal Force is a center “fleeing” force. Letting go of the twirling rock on a swing, causes the rock to shoot off in a tangent direction away from the original circle.)

There are other factors causing an extreme uppercut, like hands drop or constant deep barrel dumping.  But with youth hitters, the rules of Physics are bigger offenders. Here's the good news … swing an overloaded bat.  Overloaded bats help young hitters build strength to do that.  Regardless of mechanics.  More on that protocol later in the book.

Those are the pros of an old school feel mechanics. Now, let's look at the cons…

Cons to Old School Feel Mechanics

These are what the “metrics people” will typically bring up. You're so out of touch.  No numbers to support your gut feelings?  What does that mean?  How can I trust your “gut”?  Because you played or coached 20 years in the Big Leagues?  That's not good enough!!  What's measurable is manageable.  If you can't use numbers to support your gut, then I'm not listening.  This is a common conversation you've probably seen, heard, or participated in.

The old school coaching cues we just discussed in the pros to old school swing section can also be included in that gut conversation.  It's bad if the old school cues are used as a default. In a one size fits all way. For example, Johnny's coach sees Pujols demonstrate a chopping down swing on MLB Network's Diamond Demos. That coach goes to Johnny's 10 year old team practice on Monday evening, and tells every one of his hitters to swing like Pujols does. Chop, chop, chop. And he tells them with the conviction, vigor, and energy of a Sunday Pastor, that they can hit like Pujols.  How can you argue with Senor Alberto?  From his lips to coach's ears out of coaches mouth to kids' ears.  If Albert Pujols said it and it worked for him, then we MUST take the message literally!  He is Prince Albert for jimminies sake!

Here's the problem with that. Remember when I mentioned the translation issue?  By feeding the ‘swing down' or ‘chop down' mantras as a default hitting strategy to every 10 year old on your team, I'm sorry to say it, but you will lose. Let me illustrate with a thought experiment…

Apply the “one-third rule” to your team. In this example, assume a third of your hitters pop the ball up a majority of the time. Another third of hitters hit line drives a majority of the time.  And the remaining third are majority ground-ball hitters.  So, what if you tell the whole team to swing down or get on top of the ball?  A blanket statement to all.  Default old school hitting cue.  What do you think is going to happen?

Based on what was discussed with Dr. Victor Frankl's paradoxical intention – remember extreme uppercut, tell them to ‘get on top', and they end up in the middle?  Slight uppercut.  Inline with incoming pitch.  Here's what will happen to our team if we tell all to chop down … a third of the team that used to pop the ball up a majority of the time, will hit more line drives. Those middle third hitting line drives a majority of the time, are going to hit more ground-balls. And the ground-ball a majority of the time group, are going to hit even more worm burner ground-balls.  So how did the thought experiment turn out with a blanket statement old school hitting cue?

The only group on the team that benefits are the beginning fly ball hitters. The ones hitting fly-balls a majority of the time.  Those are the only ones you'll see a significant difference, for the better.  Look ground-balls are great.  Especially hard ones when the defense can't play catch.  But what happens when they can play catch?  When would your team come across a team that can play catch?  That's right!  In all-stars.  In playoff and championship games.  Not good if you just converted line drive hitters into ground-ball hitters.  And ground-ballers into hitting more worm burners.  Read our infamous Ground-ball Rant post.

Now, let's cook up a different scenario.  A more simple yet elegant solution.  Instead of giving a blanket statement, a blanket swing down, chop down to the whole team. But instead, I let the line drive hitters do their thing. Just keep doing what you're doing. I took the fly ball hitter and told them to swing down, chop down.  And I instructed the ground-ballers to hit the ball in the air.  Like pop the ball up instruction.  How do you think that thought experiment would go?

If I did that…now my pop-fliers AND ground-ballers are both hitting more line drives.  Remember Victor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning paradoxical intention?  Overall, my whole team is hitting more line drives. Now my line drivers aren't lonely.  They have more competition to deal with.  Competition makes everyone better.  Hungrier.  Especially when they're experiencing success.  Does that make sense?

The cons of an old school swing are when we apply a blanket statement shared by one of the best hitters on the planet.  Don't do that.  Bad coach.  You DO NOT pass go, and you DO NOT collect $200.

One swing fits all cues are a bad. And you wouldn't know this without data to measure and optimize. Gut feelings and hunches are like throwing darts in the dark.  It's like shooting an arrow and calling whatever you hit – after the fact.  It's guessing.  If you aren't collecting numbers using a PocketRadar, Rhapsodo, HitTrax, BlastMotion, or SwingTracker, then you're flying blind. You aren't going to know. And those hunches will just be hunches.

Same goes for blindly following what a Hall of Famer or future Hall of Famer says or said about hitting.  Become a scientist.  Test, test, test.  Blindly following a leader without question, will make you nothing more than a sheep.  Question, question, question.  Even question me and EVERYTHING in this book.

So far in Chapter-2, we talked about:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics, and
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics…

We talked about how what's real and what's feel are two totally different things. The scenery can be very confusing. The waters choppy.  How does a coach cut through the clutter and calm the waters?  The simple truth to make hitting easier – it's not easy, but we can make it easier – is called paradoxical intention.  Doing the exact opposite of what just happened to get the middle.  Extreme swing up?  Tell them to swing down – hit a chopper.  Extreme swing down?  Tell them to swing up – hit a pop-fly.  There's more to it of course, and we'll get into it more later.  Let's move on to…

How do we Interweave Brainless Data and Confusing Hitting Cues?

This DOES NOT cause that, and that DOES NOT cause this.  Question: Coincidentally, if I wear a green shirt and it rains, then is it reasonable to think I can make it rain by wearing a green shirt?   This is the exact dilemma many instructors find themselves in with what they teach.

Some teach ONLY using data.  Some teach ONLY using old school hitting cues.  Some claim to base their teachings on millions of hours watching ONLY the best hitters.  Some validate Science with their hitting theories (proudly saying their system can't be found in Science!!).  And others validate their hitting philosophy with Science, which is what we do.  Who's right?  Who's wrong?  Can we use a mix?  And if so, how do we know if we're on the right track?

Are you throwing dynamite in the air and expecting rain?

I want to share a true story from the book Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. The story will illuminate how to filter the hitting information available today. Interestingly…

Right before the Great Depression hit the Oklahoma panhandle, rain was plentiful.  This caused Doctors and Lawyers to quit their practices and join the ranks of farmers to buy land and plant crops that were being subsidized by the US government.  In other words, the gold-in-them-hills was harvesting and selling wheat and other bumper crops of the era.

Millions of acres of 6-foot high beautiful Buffalo blue grass were plowed under to make room for crops.  Fast forward to the beginning of the Great Depression, the rain dried up, and so did the crops.  Unbeknownst to the “new” farmers who moved to the area, typically rain was sparse in the location, and by coincidence, they had just experienced a rare wet 5-10 year period.

Now there’s NO rain.  And you know the 6-foot high beautiful Buffalo blue grass they cut down?  Well, it used to hold the soil down despite seasonal 60 to 70 mile-per-hour wind gusts.  So NO rain coming.  NO crops growing.  Super high winds are eroding dry barren soil and tossing it up in the air.  Grazing cattle have nothing to eat but tumbleweeds brought over by Russians (people often sprinkled salt to eat them as well).  The livestock soon get sick and die.  The drought is fatal for the majority who stay, others move west.  This is where we get John Steinbeck's book “Dust Bowl”.

Stick with me, because here comes the lesson…

The farmers who stayed behind were so desperate for rain, they hired self proclaimed rain experts to “create” rain, literally out of thin air.  The belief at the time was that an explosion in the air could bring clouds, and with clouds, rain would fall from the sky.  In plenty.  So what did these self proclaimed rain experts do?  What any self proclaimed rain expert would do!!  They sold the idea that if they lit a stick of dynamite, timed the throw just right, they could get a perfectly timed explosion that would bring rain-a-plenty.

…And as luck would find it, the “racket” seemed to work a couple times.  This only fed the foolishness we all see now – hindsight is 20/20.  Yes, this wasn't a proud time in American history.  You have to understand, people back then were DESPERATE.  Their hope blinded them to the MANY times throwing dynamite in the air didn’t work.  People lost limbs, fingers, etc. from timing the throw wrong.  Head scratcher  I know.

When it comes to hitting, we have to be careful of the causation-correlation relationship.  Is studying video and teaching only what the “best” hitters are doing enough?  I would argue it is not.  How do you know what you're looking at, if you don't know what you're looking for?  We see Pujols demonstrating a negative attack angle swing on MLB Network.  But then we see him NOT do that in real-time.  We bring that same Pujols gold nugget to Johnny's team, blanket teach it, and the end result looks nothing like what we see Pujols do during competition.  This DOES NOT cause that, and that DOES NOT cause this.

I'm going to reveal a secret about why coaches are terrible at the causation-correlation relationship.  Like shooting a random arrow and calling whatever is hit.  Here's a quote summing it up from Scott Adams, in his book Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America:

“There are three important things to know about human beings in order to understand why we do the things we do. [1] Humans use pattern recognition to understand their world. [2] Humans are very bad at pattern recognition. [3] And they don’t know it.”

So how do we escape this seemingly inescapable prison of misdiagnosis?  After reading thus far, you know it.  Be less subjective and more objective.  KeyDifferences.com says this about subjective versus objective:

“Subjective means something which does not show the clear picture or it is just a person's outlook or expression of opinion. A subjective statement relies on assumptions, beliefs, opinions and influenced by emotions and personal feelings.  An objective statement is based on facts and observations.”

Use the Scientific Method.  Develop a hitting Question…make a predictive Hypothesis…do the Research…collect the Data…form a Conclusion.  Swing experimentation.  We apply human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  Scientific principles pulled from:

  • Physics,
  • Engineering,
  • Biomechanics, and
  • Body work.

How do we figure out if this DOES cause that?  Or if that DOES cause this?  Not by wearing a green shirt!   To know what you're looking at, you have to know what you're looking for.  DO NOT validate Science through your hitting philosophy.  DO validate your hitting philosophy through Science.  Set a higher standard for your hitters.  It's okay – watch your millions of hours of video…employ those expensive measuring gadgets…and flaunt those old school hitting cues.

But above ALL of that … understand what the rules to human movements are FIRST.  Once you know that, all other domino's fall where they're supposed to.  In conclusion of Chapter-2, we looked at what an old school swing feels like and the pros and cons.  We discussed:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics,
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics, and
  • So, how do we interweave brainless data and confusing real v. feel hitting cues?

In Chapter-3, we'll answer the question of what leads to hitting more predictable line drives and less strikeouts.  Where we'll dive into:

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

Onward…

———-

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting Mentioning 1 Shocking Swing Mistake He Didn't Make…

 

 

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Check out the iconic Gary Sheffield barrel tilt-waggle – almost parallel to the ground! Photo courtesy: MLB Network

In this Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting video, 500 Home Run Club member Gary Sheffield talks about his hitting style, plate approach and adjustments to different ballparks with Mark DeRosa, Bill Ripken and Robert Flores on MLB Central.  Some of what you'll find in the video:

  • 1 shocking swing mistake Sheffield didn't make,
  • Pitch recognition that Gary Sheffield is talking about,
  • Change your stance depending on the field?
  • What does focus on staying to the right of your left side mean? And,
  • Making swing adjustments because of injury to compete…

For your convenience below, I've time stamped my notes, so you can jump to wherever the conversation interests you…

  • At about the 3-minute, 20-second mark, Sheffield talks about how after hitting 40+ homers between his AA and AAA season, he was brought up to MLB club and the powers at be tried to “flatten his bat” (for him a mistake he didn't make).  Because they wanted a leadoff speed guy who hits the ball to right field.  When he got to San Diego, they wanted him to pick up the ball at 3rd base, they didn't expect him to hit.  This was disrespectful to Sheffield.  He went from a guy not just trying to get on base, but to do damage.
  • At about the 4-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about his famous bat tilt-waggle, and how it's all in the fingers. To get a nice relaxed crisp move with the fingers.  Like dancing.
  • At about the 5-minute mark, Sheffield talks about picking pitcher up at release to differentiate what he's throwing.  Pitch recognition.  He doesn't care what the pitcher does before that moment.  He said he looked for the heater and nothing changed on that approach throughout his career.  He wants the pitcher to fool him.  He doesn't want to miss on the fastball.  All he wants to know is what is the pitcher's out pitch – the one he goes to the most when he needs it. Doesn't swing at fork balls.  He groups the fastball and slider together – as one pitch.
  • At about the 7-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about how he adjusts his stance depending on the park he's playing in.  Examples…in San Diego the dimensions are fair, so he uses all fields.  At “fair” parks he didn't feel like hitting the ball oppo made him lose something.   In Florida with the Marlins, he got closer to the plate and became strictly a pull hitter because of short fence in left field. Homers came by way of left and left center, rarely to center.  Goal of double digit homers to opposite field, so he was almost guaranteed 30 to 40 homers per year.  Billy Ripken made the comment that he's never heard of anyone else who did this, except maybe when hitting at Fenway.  Dodger stadium was “fair” to him.  Mentioned at night it got dewey there, ball didn't fly as far.  His strength was center field in LA.
  • At about 9-minute mark, Sheffield talks about his right elbow position to be ready to “punch”.  Athletic position.  Legs up under him.  When hitting he just thinks about his left side.  Tells his kids to cut the left side out.  Focus on being to the right of your left side.  Walking in the batter's box sideways, so he knows he's in the same spot every time.  He wants to work sideways, so he can stay behind his left side.
  • At about 11-minute mark, Sheffield his swing is dominant front arm.  Front arm goes straight to the ball.  Billy Ripken talks about “squashing a bug“.  They all comment on Gary Sheffield's bat waggle and how parallel the barrel got to the ground at one point in the swing.  Sheffield talked about an injury he had to his right foot, plantar fasciitis, that required him to skip/hop his back foot.  Had to unlearn later.  Interesting confession on making an adjustment to compete.

Hitting Drills For Kids: How To Keep Hitters Productive At Home Despite COVID-19

 

(Correction in above hitting drills for kids video: I said this started last Wednesday, March 25th, but I couldn't get this up in time, so the next day it was!  CLICK HERE to view Today's Hitting Workout Of the Day – WOD.

 

Self quarantine.  “Shelter-in-place”.  Losing a job.  Tireless work.  Medical care workers, military, police and fire departments.  Sacrificing sport seasons.  Seniors in High School and College losing their 2020 year.  Politicians bickering – as usual.

I totally understand.  It SUCKS.  And I'm sorry who've lost a job or loved one because of this nasty virus. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your families.  I hope and pray things get better soon.

But you know what coach?  We're going to get through this.  Together.  Genghis Khan once said:

“One arrow alone can easily be broken but many arrows are indestructible”.

I understand the uncertainty out there.  And if you're like my family, we have two little blessings (7yo boy and 4yo girl), running around at home.  The challenge is, we have to keep them in productive mode, or else they're fighting like cats and dogs.  And at the same time my wife and I are juggling work from home in good ol' shelter-in-place California.

I'm not going to lie, it's REAL easy to keep the kiddos on their devices all day.  But I don't believe that's the best thing for their little developing minds.  Same is true for the teen-osaurs!

Here's what we'll cover in this post:

  • How to keep hitters productive at home despite COVID-19,
  • At-home hitting drills for kids challenge rules,
  • Today's Hitting WOD, and
  • BONUS extra credit to sweeten the deal…

 

How To Keep Hitters Productive At Home Despite COVID-19

One of my online hitting lesson dads posted this Twitter “to-do” list to keep the kiddos busy at home… (he elaborates on this schedule in the comments below)

I would be honored to be a part of your at-home schedule!

 

At-Home Hitting Drills for Kids Challenge Rules

WHEN

The challenge will run from Thursday March 26th, through Easter Sunday, April 12th.  Wishful thinking is that this COVID-19 thing is under wraps by then, and things become as normal as circumstances allow.

Check-in EVERY day at about 8:00AM pacific standard time.  That day's Hitting WOD will stay up that whole day.  PLEASE NOTE: Each day I'll take down yesterday's Hitting WOD and replace with today's.  So, if you're busy, I'd suggest stopping in and at least taking notes, so you don't miss out.

WHAT

Each day, I'll update this page under “Today's Hitting WOD” subheadline with a/an:

  • Featured post,
  • Expert interview transcription, or
  • Drill video…

…you can use this as hitting homework.  “Baseball with dad or mom” as Tyson put it in his Tweet.  Each day will guide you in one of 5 areas:

  1. Building more power,
  2. Hitting more line drives,
  3. Getting on-time more often,
  4. Moving better to perform better (body work training), or
  5. Sticky coaching cues.

Like Crossfit, think of this as a Hitting “Workout Of the Day” – or Hitting WOD.

HOW

Every single day, we'll keep it simple.  I'm just asking at least 5-minutes per day to do the Hitting WOD.

By the way, on some days, I'm going to do random giveaways.  Online hitting lessons.  An autographed copy of my Amazon bestselling book. Possibly hitting aids.  We'll see what happens.   The more you share this on the socials, the better chance you have at winning!  Best part is, it won't cost you a thing!

 

Today's Hitting WOD (DAY-17 and Final Day)

Today's hitting drills for kids videos are coming to an end.  Sadly.  But the good news is… Today and tomorrow (Easter) I want to giveaway one FREE online hitting lesson from our own The Feedback Lab program…


How can you win?  Simply by leaving a comment below.  I pick a random comment and declare the winner on the Monday after Easter.  Good luck and I hope you all have a Happy and Safe Easter!  PLEASE NOTE: this offer is closed and we're no longer taking winners.

 

BONUS Extra Credit to Sweeten the Deal

Hitting Drills For Kids: Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

Before this whole Chinese Coronavirus thing picked up steam, I was working on a low-cost monthly membership called Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly.  I will be putting a TON of time and effort into each issue.

Once per month, we'll be offering up:

  • One training tip video on how to fix a certain flaw,
  • One or two expert interviews from “mad” scientists like: Perry Husband, Matt Nokes, Taylor Gardner, Ryan Lehr, Dr. Tom Hanson, and many others,
  • 1-month in review curated content on Sticky Coaching or Moving Better to Perform Better, and
  • Hitting aid review, how it MUST be used for success, & discounts…

The monthly membership fee was going to be $9.95 per month.  We're also offering a 30-day money back guarantee to take the risk away.  Cancel within that period and we'll give you your money back.  No worries.  No questions asked.  No hard feelings.

Click the button below to grab access to Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics: Hit Top Part Of Cage? Or Back Part?

 

 

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.
Tee Drills With Adam Eaton

Tee Drills: Adam Eaton Speaks High Inside Pitch Approach Truth

 

 

Tee Drills With Adam Eaton

Adam Eaton photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this tee drills with Adam Eaton video, some main points Adam Eaton covers:

  • Ball flight tells you everything,
  • Demonstrates how REAL high level barrel path is on high inside pitches,
  • How most get the cue ‘stay inside the ball' wrong, and how to use it properly, and
  • Tee drills tip for putting the high tee on steroids!

 

Make sure you watch the brief 5-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Adam Eaton interview before diving into my notes below.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:45 mark, Adam Eaton talks about how tee drills are the most important part of the day.  According to the tee drills naysayers out there, man oh man, how many Big Leaguers are doing it “wrong”.  Haha!
  • At the 1:30 mark, while working tee drills, DeRo asks if Adam Eaton is worried about his hands, bat path, what?  And Adam responds by saying, ball flight tells you everything.  If ball flight is clean, he knows his body is in the right position.
  • At the 2:30 mark, Adam talks about letting ball get to belt buckle on pitches away.  He clarifies you aren't actually going to hit it there in the game.  Feel cue, pure and simple.  Interesting he mentions getting on plane quickly here in reference to outside pitch.  This is when deep barrel dump is okay.  Adam mentions his powerful impact position checkpoints: palm up palm down, hardly any bend in the front arm (he actually works on this!!), and nice bend in back arm (90-degrees).
  •  At the 2:55 mark, Adam Eaton talks about high inside tee drills. Uncomfortable drill because it feels like you're crowding yourself.  But it teaches body control and to control the shoulders.  “Blackout moment” defined as an experience when body takes over without thinking because you've practiced it so many times.  And just before the 4-minute mark watch him demonstrate how he gets to that high inside pitch — he keeps the barrel up, above his hands, until last possible second.  Much different barrel path he'd take to a pitch away.  I talk to my hitters about the difference between hitting a catcher's glove perpendicular to the hitter's “belly button” (inner third part of plate), versus knocking off the real catcher's glove (outer third part of plate).
  • On these tee drills, Adam Eaton talks a lot about ‘keeping hands inside the ball'.  The cue is great for hitters that do the opposite – hook the ball a lot.  And ‘get barrel around the ball' works brilliantly for hitters with racing back elbow or who tend to push the ball opposite a lot.  Over the years I've learned that every hitting feel cue has their place.  We used to laugh, cajole, and mock Major Leaguers when we'd hear them say things like ‘get on top', ‘swing down on the ball', or like in Adam Eaton's case ‘stay inside the ball'.  These cues do work, but mostly to the hitters who do the opposite of what these cues suggest.  It's called Paradoxical Intention.
  • Also note on Adam Eaton's slow motion game swings how virtually straight his front arm is at stride landing.  He's not a big guy, 5-foot, 8-inches, and only 176-pounds.  He can lever up that front arm because of a shorter wingspan for sure.  I've seen him do this on outside pitches as well as inside.  Although, here's the catch on the inner half of the plate, you have to take the barrel path approach he demonstrated on the high tee drill.  In addition to training my hitters to use a longer front arm on the high pitch, I also make them do it with an end loaded heavy bat.  Makes the drill even more uncomfortable – as Adam Eaton put it – BUT if they can accomplish it at that pitch location, everywhere else is gravy.
Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Metrics, Shifting Foot Pressure, OK Head Movement, & When Barrel Enters Zone Matters…

 

 

Hey, what's going on it's Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab.  In this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we're going to go over a few different things…

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman swing analysis photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • We're going to look at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs – put a little context to him,
  • Talk about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we are going to end with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

Let's get started…

Part of this Matt Chapman swing analysis is looking at the context of his numbers and metrics.He's about six-foot two hundred and twenty pounds. In 2019, he had 36 homers, 36 doubles, hit about .249 the year before. Hit .278 with 24 homers and 42 doubles.

A little moderate on the strikeout versus his walk ratio. It looks a little bit more like a three to one type ratio. And if we look at his batted ball totals, 15.5 percent line drive rate in 2019, the league average is 20 percent. So that's a little bit below average.

His ground ball percentage, 41.5, League average is about 43 percent. So he's right about league average there.

But you can see here in his fly ball percentage 43.1 Percent, he's well above average there, average is 37 percent. So definitely something there, to get the ball out of the air a little bit and more on the line drive level.

His home run to fly ball ratio is 19 percent. So it's actually pretty good. Well above average at 9.5 percent as the league average.

 

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Shifting Foot Pressure

All right. Let's take a look at shifting foot pressure in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, but before we get there…

I want to give context to a couple of the pitches. We're going to look at three different at bats on three different nights. And with this pitch here from Bartolo Colon, you're going to see it's a way out or third. And the pitch speed is about 89-mph, possibly some sort of slider, maybe, that he keeps on the outside corner.

The plate over here, we can see that it's still outer third, maybe a little bit closer to the middle than the pitch before. 84-mph, probably some sort of change up or slider.

Let's take a look at the swing here on the left first. We're looking for shifting foot pressure. And what we want to see up until stride landing, is we want to see foot pressure on the outside of the front one, we want inside of the front one.

And then what we're going to see is, we're going to see that switch and over here on this swing, you can see that that toe almost picks up a little bit as he's transitioning from the outside to the inside. Here you can see the switch happening, swing and transfer.

Now we're going to switch to inside of the back foot, outside of the front foot. And you can see on the back big toe on that big toe knuckle back here that he is staying on that back big toe knuckle to keep that foot pressure.

And then you see the front foot on the outside portion of the foot. Now, this swing over here, you're going to see a similar thing happen where he's going to be more foot pressure on the outside, inside of the front foot as that front foot approaches the ground. You're going to see this shift happen where you might see the bottom of the foot, slightly. Where it kind of peels off where the pressure transfers from inside to outside.

This time, instead of the back big toe knuckle, you're seeing it more to the inside of the back, big toe. The third swing in this Matt Chapman swing analysis was located down and in 85-mph. Maybe a cutter or slider down and in.

And you're seeing the same type of foot pressure where it starts outside the back foot, inside the front foot, till about right here. And then we start to see it shift over and the sides reverse. So, we go inside the back foot, outside the front foot.

A little too much focus is being put with coaches, nowadays, on this back knee, and trying to keep it inside the back foot, where I think an easier solution would be to work foot pressure with hitters.

And this is something that they can just do in the room. They don't have to hit off of a tee. But I've seen hitters that over rotate their lower half, young ones, almost miraculously start looking like Matt Chapman with his shifting foot pressure … when they start doing the shifting foot pressure.

 

Forward Momentum – Is Head Movement Okay?

Now let's talk about forward momentum and head movement. A lot of coaches out there don't like to see head movement at all. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis, you're going to see that him, much like many others, have head movement.  Head goes forward and down. Some just go forward.

What we should see is this forward and down or just forward. Let's take a look here on the left. You're going to see the head move from the top back circle to the bottom forward circle.

And then the other important note here is that at landing, the head stops moving, and should stay within that circle there. A lot of times with younger hitters, we see their head move outside of this circle. It keeps moving as they start their turn. We do not want head movement during that turn itself. But all the way from the start of the swing to stride landing, head movement is OK.

Over here in the same, different swing, you're going to see the same head just shift and stay within that bottom ring. But we see the head move from up and back to down and forward. And then just stay within that circle through the turn itself.

Here's the other swing on the right. You're going to see again head starts in the up back circle, and it's going to end up in the forward down circle. And then from there during the turn, you're going to stay in the middle of that circle.

Head movement is OK until stride foot landing, and then the head must stay between that circle.

 

Getting Shorter, Staying Shorter

Let's talk about getting shorter and staying shorter. A lot of coaches out there will teach their hitters to stay tall or to get tall. The problem is, is we don't see that in elite hitters. We see them getting shorter, staying shorter.

You take the top 50 hitters in the big leagues, the top 100, they're all going to get shorter and stay shorter. They're going to create space between their feet. This helps them to control their verticals or their launch angles or attack angles, however you want to think about it. They're just numbers, they're just metrics, that we can measure and compare hitters.

But you can see on the left, you can see in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, him drop below that second line and he's going to stay below that second line.

Getting shorter and then staying shorter over here on the right, you can see the same thing, different swing on a different day. But it's still the same swing, get shorter and staying shorter.

And the third swing here on the right. You're going to see him start tall. He will get shorter and then he will stay shorter.

And you saw the difference in those pitches – the first two I showed. Now, these aren't as synched up as that. But when we first showed, the first two pitches were more away. The last pitch was more down and in.

Barrel Path – Being On-Time versus Being Out-In-Front

OK. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis let's talk about barrel path, on time vs. being out in front.

Now, typically, if a hitter is on time, we use the different catcher's gloves. You can see over here is a better example. You can see where the real catcher's glove is over here. So, we say, imagine you got the real catcher's glove. You have to imagine a catcher's glove off the back foot, still where the catchers at, but in line at the back foot.

And then we get a catcher's glove that's in line with the hitter’s belly button. Now an on-time hitter…

Outer third part of the plate wants to knock or is what we see…we want to knock this real catcher's glove off and hit the ball deeper than the stride foot.

If the ball's middle third, we want to knock off the back-foot catcher's glove, if there is a catcher's glove in line with the hitter's back foot. In line with the straight foot as the impact point.

And if the ball is inner third, we want to knock off the belly button catcher's glove – to hit the ball more out in front of the front foot. When the barrel enters the zone matters. And the best do this. They aren't perfect. They tend to stay between. They usually never will go across.

For instance, if the ball is inner third part of the plate, they're not going to knock this deep catcher's glove off or do a deep barrel dump, and still be able to hit this pitch out in front of their front foot as an inside pitch.

The same is true in reverse. You're not going to see them knock the bellybutton catcher's glove off and hit a ball deeper because a barrel is not in the zone very long. So, can either be barrel in the zone too long, which is a fact, or not long enough.

We generally see them stay between the two. If the ball is middle third of the plate right down central…. sometimes we see them knock the real catcher's glove off, but they end up hitting it more inside the sweet spot and still can hit it pretty well. I've seen home runs it that way.

Or in reverse…it could be, to where maybe they are a little short. Maybe it's middle of the plate and they're a little shorter here because they're trying to catch up. They're thinking maybe fastball and they end up being a little bit more on front.

So that being said, that is on time. That is optimized. Now, this view over here is a little bit angled than this one. This one's straighter on, but he's out in front of all these, for the most part, you can tell just from the swing itself. You can see where he makes contact…

This first one was away, was outer third was the probably the farthest away. And he's making contact quite a bit out in front. Again, this camera angle's a little bit skewed, but you can see just by his body how he's a little bit more out in front of this.

Look at his barrel path. Look where the catcher's glove is. Again, if we were more side angle, chest view, this catcher's glove might be more in line at the back foot. I don't think the catch will be dumb enough to be that close. I think it's just the angle is causing that to look that way.

But you can see Alex Rodriguez, Pujols, Mike Trout, all of them would be super proud with this “swinging down” type of demonstration. This is actually happening in a game. You can see that the barrel staying above the hands a lot longer … till about right here, it levels off or slightly dips and then you get here because he's catching this ball a little bit out in front. And he's cutting the corner with his barrel path.

He's not starting it back here, and then getting it to here to have a really long barrel path, like some coaches teach, he's actually cutting the corner in order to get to this ball more effectively. This is OK.

Over here, this was the last swing if you can remember, and this was the one that was down and in. You're going to see a similar path again … down, middle down, middle away. You want to have a deeper barrel path. But he's a little bit out in front. He's going to cut the corner. You can see the barrel appear blurred.

About here, you still see the white of his batting gloves and you can see everything kind of blurring up this way. Barrel above his hands here and then he's letting it go. A little bit more out in front, but both of these swings are almost more of hitting the belly button catcher's glove like we just talked about, even though, this one over here was away.

This one is down, which is the middle away versus middle down. We're going to take similar barrel paths, but we're going to be deeper. When they're out in front, you'll see them cut the corner.

This swing was a little bit more over the middle of the plate, but still middle away. You can see where the catcher's gloves at. It's well behind him. You're going to see this is a little longer swing. He's going to cast it back, almost hitting the back-foot catcher's glove. A little bit more optimized on this swing, hitting it a little bit deeper, as you can see. You can see the blur of the ball and the blur the bat kind of meeting at one.

He's hit this one about where he should be hitting it. Optimizing. Again, he probably could have been a little bit deeper and maybe he hit this one, I think, to straightaway center instead of right center field.

He could have been a little bit more optimized by going back here, but this is imperfect, timing is imperfect. And as long as our hitters are between two close catchers’ gloves there was the real one in the back foot or the back foot in the front, the belly button one, as long as they're between there somewhere.

We we say there's three different barrel paths optimizing three different parts of the plate, but we cut it up into two. We say middle in and middle away … middle up, middle down. And then we just allow our hitters to … if it's middle down, middle away, then we want to be between these two catcher's gloves back here.

If it's middle in or middle up, then we want to be between the back foot and belly button catcher's gloves.

Remember, in this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we went over a few things…

  • We looked at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs,
  • Talked about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we finished with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

I hope you like this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post. Make sure that you're swinging smarter by moving better, like our YouTube channel, like this video, share on Facebook, Twitter.

And before I let you go, I got something for you…

Anthony Rendon Swing Analysis: “Getting Shorter & Staying Shorter”

 

 

Anthony Rendon Swing Analysis: Get Shorter, Stay Shorter

Anthony Rendon Swing Analysis photo courtesy: MLB.com

Hey, what's going on, it's  Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab.  In this Anthony Rendon swing analysis, we're going to go over a couple of things…

  • Inward turn of the pelvis pre-stride touchdown?
  • “Hip slide” as a stride technique,
  • Shifting foot pressure, and
  • Get short, stay short…

Transcription of above Anthony Rendon swing analysis is what follows…

 

Inward Turn of the Pelvis Pre-Stride Touchdown?

First off, I wanted to show a pitcher's view and talk about how really insignificant the turning in of the pelvis is. I have Javier Baez over here on the right, and I've done a swing analysis on him where we talked about this.  Anthony Rendon is over here on the left.

You can see the difference in how much that they turn their pelvis in or don't turn their pelvis in. And my argument is that we really don't need to do that. We talk about putting the hips on a skewer … where the skewer goes through the hips towards the pitcher and that the hips slide on that skewer.

The only time they can come off the skewer is during the actual turn itself as the pelvis starts to open. But we don't want to see it come off the skewer, by turning into the skewer before that, which we see Baez doing over here. You can see both butt cheeks pretty much from there, which you really only see one butt cheek over here with Anthony Rendon.

I wanted to start this off and show you this view and just take my word for it … there are many swings here of Anthony Rendon, who's doing the same thing in all of them. It's not just because this pitch is inside.

 

Anthony Rendon Swing Analysis: “Hip Slide” as a Stride Technique

Now, one thing I wanted to highlight, in this Anthony Rendon swing analysis video is the hip slide as a stride technique. And what you'll see here is Anthony Rendon really doesn't have much of a stride. You can argue here that maybe he's got a little bit of a toe tap where he kind of sets the foot out there. He's got his weight at about a 60/40 type of position. And then what you're going to see is his hips slide forward on that skewer. And then he's going to start his turn.

I have some hitters that do this, and that choose to do this especially with two strikes or when they're facing somebody, a pitcher that's got above average velocity, and that is OK. The stride in our system is not meant for power. In the stride, I argue for any hitting system doesn't really contribute much power to the swing. You might get a half a mile per hour ball exit speed with a longer stride versus no stride. But a stride's main purpose is timing.

If my hitters are getting on time more often or they're comfortable with their timing and their stride, then we don't touch anything. However, if they're having a hard time with their timing and they have a high leg kick, then we may experiment with the toe tap or we may experiment with this hip slide style.

 

Shifting Foot Pressure

One thing I want you to check out in this hip slide is the shifting foot pressure, no matter what the hitter is using as a stride type, whether it's a leg kick, medium or high, a toe tap, a hip slide, or a slide step.

Does it really matter?

You're going to see them using shifting foot pressure. We should see in the beginning before the turn happens, before the hitter starts turning, and we should see foot pressure on the outside part of the back foot and the inside part of the front foot up until the start of the turn.

As you can see here, this is the start of the turn here. He's starting to load and take slack out of his system. And then you're going to see that shifting foot pressure go to the opposite side of what he started with. You're seeing on the outside here is going to shift to the inside of the back foot and it's going to shift from the inside of the front foot to the outside of the front foot.

Oftentimes you see hitters, some hitters more than others, where you can see the bottom of their front foot because they're on the outside or on the fifth metatarsal of the foot – the pinky bone in the foot. You see the bottom of their foot as they do it. Now, this isn't a teach. I don't talk about doing more or less than that. Typically, when the ball is closer to the hitter, you'll see more of the bottom of the foot. They'll be more on the outside part of the front foot.

And if the ball is more away, you'll see the foot a little bit flatter. Now, in this Anthony Rendon swing analysis, you can see that he stays pretty stable, pretty grounded with it, the sole of his foot, although it can be argued that he is definitely on the outside part of his foot, but more of the bottom than other players.

So this is the idea of a hip slide. It's OK for hitters to use, especially facing high velocity pitching, or maybe a two strike approach. But the objective of this is, if you're going to use a hip slide, minimal stride, minimal feet off the ground. The objective is to get on time more often. It isn't about gaining power, or taking away power. It's a timing mechanism.

 

Get Short, Stay Short

In this Anthony Rendon swing analysis, I'm going to show you a couple of swings exemplifying him getting shorter and staying shorter or getting low and staying low.

The benefits to this are when the hitter gets taller, as some coaches teach, getting their hitters to get tall or stand tall or stay tall or whatever. What tends to happen is, it pulls the hitter up on the plane and the pitch. They tend to hit the ball on the ground more, and if they are a little bit more mindful about their batted ball outcomes, and they are hitting more ground balls as they're swinging, getting taller…

What they'll end up doing is they'll compensate by using their hands more to get under the ball. We don't want to do that. We want to let the hands just swing. We want the body to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch.

What you're going to see at the start of the swing, even with a hip slide, you're going to see him drop below that bottom line. At the start of his turn, this is a typical at stride landing position, so if a hitter wasn't using this hip slide … they were using a slide step or leg kick or whatever, you would see the best hitters drop below the starting line.

Or maybe if they're more crouched like a Victor Martinez was, he'll start at this bottom line and stay under. This line down here. So, you're going to see he doesn't really pick this back foot off the ground. He just kind of goes to the toe, shifts his weight against a braced front side, which is “a” OK.

As long as there is a shift going on there, of the center mass, we're not squishing the bug or putting out a cigarette butt.

But you're going to see him stay below this line. So, he's going to get short. He's going to stay short. And he's using his knee action. He's using the distance between his feet to do this. Players that tend to skip too much, they skip their back foot six inches will end up taller above this line. And as they're swinging, they're getting taller.

This messes with vision and tracking. It messes with them getting on the plane, Anthony Rendon even actually gets lower during his turn. You see him getting lower and staying lower.

Here's another at-bat you can actually see from the beginning. You can see this hip slide toe tap, staying shorter principle where he's starting at his head setting the top line. Then you're going to see him set that foot out there. And he is going to, what we're going to talk about it in a minute, he's going to sit into this back hip, or his back-hip pocket.

Then you're going to see him as his hip slides before his turn happens. You see him sink below the bottom line and he's going to stay short or stay under that bottom line. Now, we talked about the neutral position that his pelvis, or hips, start in versus Javier Baez earlier in this video. You can see that here. And then what he's going to do as he gets that front foot out there is, he's going to sit and sink.

A couple of things we work on with hitters…

Sometimes our hitters will, as they stride, will straighten this back leg and will make them taller, obviously. Wherever they start, they'll end up above the line. Well, what we do is there is something in there that that hitter is trying to take slack out of this system, trying to create and hunt and seek out stability to be able to move from as they move into their turn. And they will straighten this leg out, which there is stability in straightening the knee out. And also, possibly going into kind of a hip extension where you come out of a hip hinge, or an athletic position.

We want to promote or encourage our hitters to be in more of an athletic position, which you see in this Anthony Rendon swing analysis. You can see that's what he's doing. One thing we do is take this back toe … instead of it pointing straight at the plate or perpendicular to the plate. We turn the back toe in slightly, which now gives the hitter a little bit of hip torque in the back hip.

The second thing that we do is, as you're seeing Anthony Rendon do here, is you're seeing him sit or sink into this back hip or back hip pocket. He's just kind of like there's a harness going over the back butt cheek. So, for a righty, the right butt cheek, and for lefty the left butt cheek.

Maybe they might feel that they're pinching their back groin a little bit, but they should feel like they're bone in their butt is peeking out of that back-butt cheek, they're sitting into that harness back there and it's not a rotating inward of the hip. We saw that at the beginning of this video comparing it to Javier Baez.

We saw Anthony Rendon not inward turn his hips. He sat into his back-hip pocket. That's more like what we're trying to do. We're trying to keep the hips on the skewer.

You see him sit. He goes from this kind of neutral position and then you see him take that stride and you see him sit into this back hip, which creates an environment of taking slack out of the system.

You turn that back toe in, creates back hip torque. And now we sit into that back-hip pocket and now we're all ready to go with the pelvis.  Again, not an inward turn. He's just sitting into it. It's more linear, but in a diagonal fashion, it's not back towards a catcher, but it's kind of more behind, in line with the hitters back butt cheek.

Here it is again. Anthony Rendon swing analysis. You can see the getting shorter, staying shorter.  He starts at the top. He gets out to that stride, that 60/40 weight distribution, you can see this back toe turn slightly in. You can see him sit or sink into that back-hip pocket. It's like he's sitting down on one side of his butt cheek.

You're going to see him move as he's getting close to the turn. You're going to see him move under the bottom line and he's going to stay shorter and stay under the bottom line.

What's also interesting to note here is this pitch is in and up, in or up, in and or up, and you're going to see the barrel path… He's not snapping it backwards like you see a lot of coaches doing. And teaching. It's okay to snap it backwards… when we're talking pitches middle away or middle down.

What he's doing is he's imagining that there's a catcher's gloves set up at his belly button and he is knocking that catcher's glove off.  In order to get to this pitch, which is middle in and/or middle up. At a higher speed, this is how we catch up or how the best hitters catch up to pitches depth wise that are closer to their eyes and faster.

All right, last swing in this Anthony Rendon swing analysis, you can see, again, all the principles. In conclusion of this video, you're going to see him maintain his distance between his feet. He's going to start at the top before his swing starts, he starts to turn. He's going to drop below the bottom one by maintaining the distance between his feet is going to help him to get shorter and staying shorter.

You can take a PVC pipe with your hitters. You can set it at about their nose level and have them practice getting shorter, staying shorter by using their knees. We also don't want them to skip too far. We tend to like the one to three-inch skip and it all depends on how tall the hitter is and how young the hitter is. We maintain the distance between the feet. We use the knees.

You can see Anthony Rendon using his back knee. Even though the front knee gets straight, which some hitters like Anthony Rizzo, Cody Bellinger, Adrian Beltre … they tend to on pitches down in the zone, will keep this front knee bent and won't actually get it to straight. But they're also using their knee action to stay shorter, to stay below the bottom line.

 

How To Train Hitters with this…

And how do we do this? How do we train this into our hitters by taking this back foot, turn it slightly and towards the pitcher to create some hip torque back here. We are going to have the hitter sit or sink into that back hip. They're going to feel like a bone is sticking out of their back-butt cheek.

And they're going to ride that feeling up until their stride landing position. It also might help by using shifting foot pressure, getting the hitter to understand that they're going to start on the outside of the back foot, inside of the front foot. And as they approach stride landing and about this point, you're going to shift it to the opposite side of each foot. Outside becomes the inside of the back foot and inside becomes the outside of the front foot.

And this is an easy way to practice this. They can just do it in the room by just standing sideways like they're hitting, grabbing their thumb, their top hand thumb and practice, shifting back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Again, in this Anthony Rendon swing analysis video, we talked about:

  • The hip slide as a stride technique,
  • Shifting foot pressure,
  • The difference between Javier Baez and Anthony Rendon and how they inwardly turn the hips pre stride landing or they don't, and
  • The benefits of getting shorter, staying shorter, what to look out for distance between the feet, minimal to zero skip …
  • Using the PVC pipe…

…make sure that you're swinging smarter by moving better. And before I let you go, please like this video on YouTube, like our YouTube channel, and check this out…