Modern MLB Bat Path Level Swing Trainer To Fix Drag: Turning Vs Pushing Barrel Hitting Aids

Discover the modern MLB bat path ‘level swing’ trainer that helps fix bat drag.  Learn difference between turning the barrel versus pushing with these hitting aids for baseball and softball.

Baseball Training Aids: Long Slow Swing Fix?

 

 

It’s featured advertising on MLBNetwork.  Derek Shelton, the Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach, is the spokesperson in the video ad (CLICK HERE to see video).

Go to the SpeedHitter website, and you’ll see endorsements from:

  • CC Sabathia (son uses),
  • Aaron Boone (son uses),
  • Kerry Wood (son uses), and
  • David Segui.

I’ve also seen the Speed Hitter being used – this past summer – in Little League All-Stars game on-deck circles.  Does it work?  In this baseball training aids video blog post, we’ll talk about:

  • Speed Hitter baseball training aids review,
  • Barrel path science, and
  • A better alternative

 

Speed Hitter Baseball Training Aids Review

Two main objectives of Speed Hitter baseball training aids (softball included) allegedly address a hitter’s contact point and barrel path.  A hitter is suppose to swing it and hear the “pop” of the ball where contact is made.  The Speed Hitter is priced between $59.99-79.99 + shipping.  Baseball training aids that are highly endorsed and visible often raise red flags for me.  THREE reasons WHY:

  • Endorsements – A majority of Pro-level athletes simply CANNOT teach what they do (or did)*,
  • Expertise – MLB hitting coaches carry A LOT of high “lose-your-job” risk instructing big money ballplayers, and
  • Marketing – Big money ads, in the proper places, can lend massive credibility to a defective concept that as a result, users tend to overlook.

*This actually has to do with what Neuro Linguistic Programming calls Unconscious Competence.  Players simply perform on ‘auto-pilot’.  On the other hand, Conscious Competence is being able to instruct someone else to exactly model what you’re doing.

Barrel Path Science

Baseball Swing Path

Image from Ted Williams’s The Science Of Hitting. We want the hitter’s barrel path to match the plane of the pitch, not chop down OR put an extreme uppercut on it.

Speed Hitter baseball training aids are flawed for FOUR-reasons:

  1. Point of contact and when the barrel enters the zone are two different things,
  2. Point of contactCLICK HERE for a post I did illustrating point of contact based on pitch depth,
  3. When Barrel Enters Zone – this will depend on pitch depth – the farther the pitch is away from the hitter, the earlier the barrel should enter the zone.  The closer the pitch, the later the barrel should enter the zone, and
  4. Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach and Speed Hitter spokesperson Derek Shelton doesn’t have an efficient swing himself (wraps the bat in the ad).

Addressing #2 above – The Speed Hitter doesn’t seem to be a hitting aid that lends itself to practicing “point of contact”.  It’s more geared for when the barrel enters the zone.

Addressing #4 above – nothing against MLB hitting coaches or any coach on YouTube demonstrating a hitting aid or technique, but there’s always context.  There are “snapper” hitting coaches out there teaching every one of their hitters to force barrel back right away, this is great for middle-away and middle-down approaches but terrible middle-in and middle-up – at least WITHOUT significant mechanical compensation to the latter pitch locations (loss of ball exit speed).  And then their are ‘down swinger’ coaches who teach the exact opposite of the snappers.  Both approaches can work in the right circumstances, but teaching one approach to all hitters is a BIG mistake.

 

A Better Alternative…The Swing Blaster

Baseball Training Aids: Swing Blaster Review

Keenan Wolf, one of my H.S. Frosh hitters, after one 45-minute session using a Swing Blaster demo this past summer. Swings are synced.

FIVE benefits of using Swing Blaster baseball training aids (good for softball as well) are:

  1. Early Barrel Acceleration – focuses on getting the barrel on pitch plane ASAP.  It’s not about being quick to the ball, it’s about being quick to pitch plane.
  2. Lengthens Hitter’s Pitch Plane – Gives hitter the ability to hit pitches harder – and keep them fair – that they may be late on otherwise.
  3. EIGHT levels of difficulty – there are eight little ‘washers’ that increase or decrease the level of difficulty to hear the audible “click”.
  4. Take soft toss – You can use the Swing Blaster to take short range soft toss.  A hitter CANNOT do this with Speed Hitter baseball training aids.  DO NOT hit LIVE batting practice with it unless the hitter has good bat control.
  5. MADE IN USA

How does it work?

The Swing Blaster gives a hitter audible feedback in the form of a “click” when max barrel speed has been reached.  It’s simple…

If the hitter hears the “click” AND contact at the same time, then they’re doing it WRONG.  If they hear a “click” FOLLOWED by contact, then they’re doing it RIGHT.  Whereas Speed Hitter baseball training aids have it backwards.  They want the hitter to hear the “pop” at contact.  To be effective, this isn’t when a hitter should be accelerating the barrel.  The barrel should already be accelerated at impact.  Impact is when a hitter’s arms are lengthening out or adjusting in to increase turning speed or inertial force.

The price?  Get yours today for only $34.99 + shipping on Amazon…I’m not sure if Swing Blaster will be raising the price soon, but for now you’ll be SAVING at least $25 than buying a Speed Hitter.  CLICK the following link to

buy-button2

Increase Your Bat Speed & Power with Online Hitting Lessons Swing Science Program For Baseball

Discover an online hitting lessons swing science program for baseball and softball players.  Learn where to find a remote hitting instruction coach to teach kids how to increase bat speed and power.

Batting Cages May Be Dangerous To Repeatable Power

 

 

Batting Cages May Be Dangerous To Repeatable Power

“Testimonial” from Kyle – Stephen’s dad – the same night (he’s in white, I’m in blue)

I know you what you’re thinking, “Okay, so what’s wrong with hitting at the batting cages?”

We’ll get to that, but before we do, let me set the stage for what I’m about to share with you.  A glimpse into an online hitting lesson I gave to my hitter Stephen at The Feedback Lab.

I was granted permission from Kyle (Stephen’s dad), to share his 12-year-old son’s latest online hitting session with me.  They’re out of New Jersey…

 

What Was To Be Corrected

  • Hiding his hands from the pitcher
  • “Downhill” shoulder angle pre-turn, and
  • Maintaining 90-degree back leg angle during turn and finish.

Stephen 2-Months Later…

In the above video, I mentioned the difference between comparing a swing off the tee versus at the batting cages.  It’s not really an apples to apples comparison, BUT if they can repeat what we’re trying to get them to do off a tee, then the feeling to repeat it is there.  Here’s what his analysis showed:

  • Great downhill shoulder angle,
  • Much better with hiding his hands from the pitcher (could polish a little here), and
  • Much better body angle on his finish.

 

3-Points Worth Noting…

  1. Dad had mentioned to me, in the past 2-months, that they’ve been testing hand, butt, and hamstring tension, which might have also had an effect on Stephen’s outcomes.
  2. Stephen will be working on a better barrel launch angle using variance training mentioned in the above video.  Pay attention to the Bat Angle Experiment I referenced in the video.
  3. I give feedback based on Tony LaRussa’s “Pat & Pop Method”.  First give a “pat” on the back (what they did or are doing well), then reveal the “pop” (what they’ll be working to improve their swing).

Coaches, this is critical!!  Athletes don’t just need to be broken down all the time.  Build them up first, then offer up the constructive criticism.

 

The Danger in Batting Cages

And I’m not talking about Happy Gilmore style…

 

Someone smart once said:

“Practice like you play, so you play like you practice.”

Most coaches have their players do what’s referred to as “massed practice” versus “training ugly” at the batting cages.  For example, if you needed work on hitting off speed and breaking pitches, a massed practice would look like the following scenario…a pitcher throws each hitter:

  • 15 fastballs, then
  • 15 curve-balls, and
  • Lastly 15 change-ups…

But this isn’t what it’s like in the game.  The hitter rarely knows, with 100% certainty, which pitch, speed, and location they’re getting.  So practice MUST reflect this dynamic in training.  And hitting at the batting cages limits the amount of variance we can work into our practice.

I do a few things with my more advanced hitters (mechanically speaking), to mix things up:

We may not practice all these at once.  Coaches, our objective with our hitters is to move them to the verge of “meltdown” with variance.  Then bring them back.  Then rebuild.  The other thing is, during batting practice, the tendency is to take rounds of 10, 20, and 30+ to get a hitter’s timing and rhythm down.  This IS NOT good.  This is marathon training.  Hitting is more like sprint training.  Rounds of 3-6 swings is more like it – with 30+ seconds to rest between rounds.

I hope this helps!

Fix Bat Drag Or Casting Hitting Drill: STOP Missing, Looping, & Swinging Under Ball

Learn how to fix bat drag or casting with this hitting drill.  Discover how to STOP missing the ball, looping swing, and swinging under the ball for baseball and softball players.

How To Use the Flashlight Barrel Angle Drill to Boost Barreling the Ball

 

 

Flashlight Barrel Angle Drill

This time of the season, I’m getting a lot of younger hitters starting their turn before the stride foot hits the ground.  I ask them if they throw a baseball or softball before their stride foot hits the ground.

Try it. Feels awkward, doesn’t it?!  Why are these younger hitters starting their turn before landing their stride foot.  It could be because of a flat barrel at or close to landing.

I also called it a “bleeding barrel” in this post that analyzed Paul Goldschmidt’s swing.  A flat barrel can cause:

  • Racing back elbow bat drag,
  • Launching the turn too early, and
  • Inconsistently barreling the ball.

The biggest reason is because when the hitter flattens out the bat at or slightly before landing, it shifts the center mass of the bat behind the center mass of the hitter.

The video above is my favorite prescribed drill for fixing a “Bleeding Barrel” and a flat launched bat.  Here are the video notes:

  • What was once Pre-Launch Barrel Angle,
  • Fixing throwing before front foot lands v. Final Turn before front foot land,
  • Center mass of the bat,
  • Variance using feedback markers, and
  • As close to landing as possible.

Please keep me updated on your hitters using the Flashlight Barrel Angle Drill…

Discover the best online youth hitting coaching blog for baseball and softball analysis, instruction, and private lessons program. Why the best? Because we apply human movement principles validated by science to hitting a ball.

Discover the best online youth hitting coaching blog for baseball and softball analysis, instruction, and private lessons program.  Why the best? Because we apply human movement principles validated by science to hitting a ball.

How To Get Hitters To Buy Into The System

 

 

In this video, we answer the following reader question:

“How Do You Get Kids To Buy Into These Movements When Every Hitting Instructor In The Area Is Teaching Robotic, Sequential Hitting Positions?”

We’ll go over:

  • Hypnosis: GOOD or BAD?
  • Internal v. external cues, and
  • Listing successful case studies…

But before we get into these, some housecleaning, and the elephant in the room…any new hitting movement a hitter learns, regardless of the content, will look robotic and mechanical, until they’ve put enough repetitions in.  For kids to ‘buy into’ the process, they must understand this.  For instance, if I taught a hitter to reverse their hands on the bat (ex. right handed batter – right hand on bottom, left hand on top), it would feel real awkward at first, but after 66 days of constant practice, it would feel comfortable.

Imagine what it would be like if you experimented with switching up how to steer a bike:

 

 

The initial learning process for young hitters may look, sound, and/or feel like this.  I tell my hitters that we take one step back, to take two forward when learning a new hitting mechanic.  Arnold Schwarzenegger outlines his path to making the unreal, REAL, in his book Total Recall:

  1.  Goals,
  2. Steps, and
  3. Reps.

Whether Arnold was talking about how he won Mr. Olympia, prepping for a movie like Terminator 2, or being Governor of California, he stuck to these three objectives.  Setting specific GOALS, with a timeline, and focusing on the things that athlete can control are crucial.

Where girls softball hitting tips start to get fuzzy is whether these hitters are being shown the right STEPS to get there.  Or as Tony Robbins calls it, the most effective ‘pathway to power’.  In other words, are they focused on learning the right things?  What are the ‘right’ things?

Are the hitting movements they’re learning following human movement principles that are validated by science?

When the right things are being taught, doubts seldom rise in the minds of my hitters.  PLEASE NOTE: we’re NOT talking about girls softball hitting tips philosophy or theory here.  Our hitters MUST live and die by a better and more secure hitting standard.  Validation through REAL science.  NOT pseudo science that is subjective, versus being objective.

And lastly, are hitters focused on doing those things right (efficiency – putting in the REPS).  Now, let’s dive into the main content of this girls softball hitting tips post…

 

Hypnosis: GOOD or BAD?

Hitters MUST NOT work with instructors that are teaching ineffective mechanics, technique that’s unsupported by science.  PERIOD.  Or they’re wasting their time and their parent’s money.

If we rule out the instructor, then most likely their school coach will be reinforcing ineffective hitting hypnosis.  How do we get kids to buy into the system?  What are some girls softball hitting tips and tactics to deal with this kind of scenario?

Give the hitter a heads up

They MUST know what they’ll be hearing at practice, and how it may be different than what an effective instructor is teaching, and most likely COMPLETELY backwards!!

Also, passively listening to the BAD hypnosis over time will manifest physically, even if the hitter knows it’s bad.  The more we hear the same message over and over, it’s only a matter of time before what’s subconscious, becomes conscious.  The fix?

The hitter MUST consciously hear what the coach is saying, and actively compartmentalize that information as ineffective in their brain.  Where there’s awareness, there’s power of control.

The ‘bobblehead nod’

Use this when coach is telling you to:

  • Swing down on the ball,
  • Chop down on the ball, or
  • Knob to the ball…

Then you nod your head up and down, saying “Yes Coach”.  And when they leave your presence, go back to what an effective swing path should look like.

Preach Science, NOT hitting theories

Other ways to reinforce GOOD hypnosis is to preach how the movements they’re learning are validated by human movement science.  Promote curious experimentation with specific hitting movements.  Cite hitting experiments.  Encourage hitters to try it the wrong way, then the right way, and have them compare their visual, auditory and/or feel feedback after 5 swings.

Inspire your hitters to seek out specific hitters on YouTube like McCutchen, Pedroia, Sadaharu Oh, Hank Aaron, Bautista, and Donaldson, and encourage them to look for what it is you’re teaching them.

You can also do movement tests like Dr. Kelly Starrett’s One-Joint Rule from one of the links above.

Internal v. External Cues

There seem to be two groups of coaches online…ones who believe effective teaching is using 100% external cues…and the other? Using 100% internal cues!  Both are wrong.  It’s a blend.  Just like the swing is either rotational or linear…it’s a blend.  Just like superior athletes are either born with it or work at it…this too is a blend.  And if someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying to you.  And probably not teaching the game on a consistent basis.

That being said, sticky coaching cues are key to getting kids to buy into the system.

When you sink the blade of an ax into a block of wood, are you thinking about keeping your right arm at X-degree angle, or slotting your back elbow?

No.

You’re thinking of taking that handled ‘blade thing’ in your hand, and splitting that ‘wooden thing’, sitting on a platform in front of your feet, in half.

Talking about  limb angles and back elbows slotting as girls softball hitting tips are internal cues…and can, with the right coaching cues, be effective.

But not quite as effective as external cues such as:

  • ‘Get shorter’ at landing or ‘stay shorter’ throughout the turn,
  • ‘Let the barrel chase the ball’ after impact,
  • ‘Hit the bottom half of the ball’, or
  • ‘Skip the barrel across the lake’.

I like to use external cues to kill 2, 3, or 4 birds with one stone.  I call it the “lazy” coaches way to success, again, I use these myself.  However, if I need to target specific movements and external isn’t working, I go internal.  This does require knowledge about human movement validated by science, which I’ve found some coaches don’t want to take the time to learn.  Additionally, it can depend entirely on the hitter and their learning style.  CLICK HERE to read what science says about this in a post I did titled, “What Every Coach MUST Know About Giving Feedback To Hitters…”

 

Girls Softball Hitting Tips – Listing Successful Case Studies…

Girls Softball Hitting Tips: Liam Wolf

Liam Wolf is one of my 11u hitters. Photo courtesy: his parents.

Successful case studies are the lifeblood of getting your hitters to buy into the system.  These can be your own, or borrowed from someone else.

These are powerful for young hitters.

Remember the time when your kids were learning how to swim?

Did they learn better watching adults swim OR when they saw kids their own age or slightly younger/older swimming?

Here is a current list of my case studies I often bring up to my hitters:

  1. 98-lb 11yo hitting the ball 300-feet, multiple times
  2. 95-pounder hitting their first dinger over 270-feet? (this is actually the brother of the above hitter but 2 years younger)
  3. 115-lb 11yo not only hitting the ball 300-feet multiple times, but hitting over 40 homers in one season…to ALL fields
  4. 66-lb 11yo hitting the ball over 180-feet, AND
  5. a 115-lb 13yo hitting the ball 330-feet (this one I borrowed from a hitting instructor in my area that teaches the same things as I do)…

Here’s video footage of #1 above (which was hit on a field in Manteca where the fences were set at 330-feet):

 

 

And I have many more, but these are the easiest to rattle off without having to give too much context.  If you don’t have any, then feel free to borrow mine, just please give credit where credit is do.

To recap…

Girls softball hitting tips to get your kids to buy into the system:

  • They MUST hear GOOD hitting hypnosis,
  • They MUST hear sticky coaching cues, and
  • They MUST hear this stuff working with hitters close to their age.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Discover how to fix bat drag with these hitting drills.  Learn 3 tips to avoiding bat drag for baseball and softball beginners.

Never Suffer From Bat Drag Again

Here are the TOP-3 blog posts in 2014 on fixing bat drag, based on my Google Analytic Metrics, that are still relevant today!  The top-3 were:

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

One of my High School hitters Keenan, using the Swing Blaster to ADD more barrel on the plane of the pitch (swings are synced).

  1. Baseball Training Aids: Long Slow Swing Fix?,
  2. Josh Donaldson: Stay CLOSED & Add Ball Exit Speed, and
  3. Youth Baseball Online ALERT: Hitting Fix For Bat Drag

PLEASE NOTE that along long the bat drag lines, I recently tapped into my readers’ knowledge-base with this article titled, Hitting Tips To Boost Barrel Time On Pitch-Plane, that offered up some handy gold nuggets for correcting bat drag.  There almost 30 comments!  So go check it out and get involved in the discussion.

To refresh your BEST-of 2014, let’s recap by hitching a ride in my time baseball and softball hitting machine…

Baseball Training Aids: Long Slow Swing Fix?

Speed Hitter Review

SpeedHitter promo featuring Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton. Photo courtesy: Momentus Sports YouTube video

In this baseball online post, we talked about:

  • Speed Hitter baseball training aid review,
  • Barrel path science, and
  • A better alternative…

CLICK HERE for a 2-minute Swing Hitter demo video.  Momentus Sports promises the Speed Hitter will help a hitter achieve four ingredients all great hitters do (watch the video to see what they are).  When proven human movement science is applied to the Speed Hitter, it doesn’t deliver on any of the promises.

Unbeknownst to Momentus Sports, the question the Speed Hitter attempts to answer is, “When is the barrel suppose to accelerate?”  Is it at impact or before impact?  The answer is the latter, but the Speed Hitter’s focus is the former.  So, what better alternative is there?  The Swing Blaster.  Focus should be on hearing a clear audible “click” before impact, NOT at contact.

Post UPDATE: Click Here for an article on how barrel path changes based on pitch dept (e.g. middle-in versus middle-away pitch).

 

Josh Donaldson: Stay CLOSED & Add Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson "staying closed" with this shoulders

Josh Donaldson “staying closed” with his shoulders at landing. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this baseball online video, we analyzed:

  • Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista metrics,
  • What “staying closed” means to spine engine mechanics, and
  • Where Josh Donaldson might be leaking force at impact.

How eerily similar Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson’s body types AND swings are.  CLICK HERE to listen (start at the 1 min, 10 sec mark) to Josh Donaldson discuss how he modeled his swing after Jose Bautista.  This was an interview after being traded from Oakland to Toronto.  By the way, this post got some air time on Canada’s National Post!

In the above post, “staying closed” DOES NOT mean an inward turn of the hips – towards the catcher – to “load”.  It also has ZERO to do with striding with a closed front foot.  But what this baseball online BEST-of post does do, is go into the counter-rotation of the shoulders – versus the pelvis – during the fall.  Or what my hitters will tell you, “showing the pitcher their numbers.”

Upon analysis, it was interesting to note that Josh Donaldson didn’t commit his weight to his front side like Jose Bautista did.  And this led to inferior ball exit speeds and a lower average home-run distance because of an inefficiency to use Gravitational Forces.

 

Youth Baseball Online ALERT: Hitting Fix For Bat Drag

Baseball Online: Charles fixing his early arm bar

One of my local High School hitters Charles fixing an early arm bar.

In this baseball online post, we went over:

  • What is Bat Drag?
  • The science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch), and
  • How-to fix Bat Drag.

Youth bat drag is causes mostly by over rotation of the upper and/or lower half.  It is NOT like what some coaches say, being caused by a dominant top hand or back arm, quite the opposite actually.  Bat drag can be caused by a weak and disconnected top hand and back arm.

This article I originally posted back in 2015, and blamed bat drag on a barred out-front arm.  I’ve since revised my position on this thanks to Perry Husband.  A barred out-front arm DOES NOT result in a long slow swing, an early barrel in the hitting zone does.  Specifically on pitches that are middle in.  For a refresher on how barrel path changes based on pitch depth, then click this post.

Hit Baseball Or Softball In Certain Direction Place Hitting To Opposite Field Drill

Discover how to hit a baseball or softball in a certain direction, like place hitting to the opposite field, at home by yourself using indoor drills with limited space.

How To Optimize Directional Force Using The “Pounding Nail” Drill

 

Most likely, Little Leaguers and 12-year-old young ladies won’t be driving the ball 400-feet anytime soon.  I know that. However, the point of this “Pounding the Nail” drill video post is how to train hitters to direct their swing force optimally.  In the above video, we go over…

  • Thanks to Matt Nokes,
  • Define Directional Force, takes 8,000 pounds per square inch, in one direction, to hit ball 400-feet,
  • What is a Lumberjack trying to do? Lean in and compress the baseball,
  • Using colored bands on ground to simulate pitch location directional force (see image of plate and colored bands below), and
  • Stand out front of hitter with external image (nail).

I like to pair the above “Pounding the Nail” drill with the following “Shorten Swing” drill…

 

 

However, I’ve evolved my thinking on the latter video.  And here it is:

  1. The “catcher’s glove” ball marker closest to the actual catcher is outer 1/3 of plate right-center approach (for righty, reverse for lefty),
  2. The “catcher’s glove” ball marker inline with the back foot is middle 1/3 of plate dead-center field approach, and
  3. The “catcher’s glove” ball marker inline with hitter’s belly button is inner 1/3 of plate left-center field approach (for righty, reverse for lefty).

I see coaches generally teaching a “kicking back” of barrel towards the catcher.  I found deeply accelerating barrel same for all pitch depths to be ineffective for my hitters.  As you’ll see in the syncing of these two drills, the distance between what catcher’s glove the hitter hits and the depth of impact is the same.

For example, the DISTANCE between hitting catcher’s glove position #1 above to optimum impact on the outer 1/3 of the plate SHOULD MATCH hitting catcher’s glove position #3 above to optimum impact on the inner 1/3 of the plate.  You still following me?

I was teaching the same blanket “deep barrel” acceleration as everyone else, but my cleaner hitters mechanically were having a challenge barreling up the inner 1/3 pitch.  You see, their swing path was taking too long in getting to the inner 1/3 pitch with the generalized “deep barrel” approach.

I recommend watching video of top hitters smashing the inside versus the away pitch and in most cases, you’ll see a difference in what catcher’s glove they’re hitting.  Remember the objective is directional force.  Matt Nokes says that is takes 8,000 pounds per square inch of force, in ONE DIRECTION, to hit a ball 400-feet.  Practice syncing these two drills with your hitters in the following progression:

  • Dry swings first,

    “Pounding Nail” Drill colored band staggered impact setup to simulate pitch depth (for a righty, reverse for a lefty)

  • Tee next,
  • Then soft toss (DO NOT work the “deep” catcher’s glove position here, unless you’re okay with donating your teeth!)
  • And when you get the hitter to LIVE, make sure they understand before pitcher throws the ball, they default to the middle approach, and make the smaller adjustment in or out, depending on pitch depth.

PLEASE NOTE: once the hitter gets to LIVE, make sure they understand the following:

  • Most optimized force = pounding nail over correct part of plate (ex. for righty, driving inner 1/3 to left-center),
  • Optimized force = slipping lines, and pounding one nail over (ex. for righty, driving middle 1/3 to left-center), and
  • Sub-optimal force = slipping lines, and pounding two nails over (ex. for righty, driving outer 1/3 to left-center).

Just think about it, if it takes 8,000-pounds per square inch of force in one direction to hit a ball 400-feet, and that’s optimal…what happens if the hitter uses “Sub-optimal force” like in the above bullet point?  Right! It’s going to take more force to hit it farther.  I dunno how much, but taking a guess in the aforementioned sub-optimal example, it may take 12,000 or 16,000-pounds per square inch of force to hit the ball 400-feet pounding two nails over, so make it easy..hit it where it’s pitched!

After this lesson, typically the “light-bulb” goes on with my hitters.  I hope this helps!

How To Stop Missing Under Ball, Hitting Popups, & Late Batting Timing For Baseball And Softball

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Shorten Swing Path Drill

In the above video we discuss:

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

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

Increase Bat Speed & Hit Balls Hard with This Online Hitting Lesson Program

Learn about this online baseball and softball hitting lesson program to increase bat speed.  Discover our remote swing analysis instruction coaching program teaching kiddos how to hit the ball with more power.  Check out this 9 year old Thomas case study…

To People That Want To Fix Baseball Swing Mechanics Slow Motion But Can’t Get Started

 

 

With permission from Dad, I wanted to share 9-year-old Thomas P.’s hitting journey after 12 baseball swing mechanics slow motion online video feedback sessions with me at The Feedback Lab.

We started session #1 January 18th, 2016, and finished session #12 June 2nd, 2016.  The video above is an actual Feedback Session I routinely do for my online hitting students.

I’m so proud of Thomas persevering through the struggle and frustration that comes with honing effective mechanics.

AND, the same can be said for Scot, his Dad, who’s persevered right alongside his son.  Not to mention how much Scot learned in the process…

  • How to train Thomas in these mechanics at home,
  • How to offer just the right amount of feedback, and
  • Finding out when too much is too much when it comes to learning a new skill.

In this video post, I wanted to share:

  • How far Thomas’s swing has come,
  • What he’s working on next, and
  • Some of the ‘Ah-Ha Moments’ for Thomas along the way…

The main objective of this post is to show parents what baseball swing mechanics slow motion online video feedback sessions look like at The Feedback Lab.  Not only do we accept baseball, but softball hitters as well!

PLEASE NOTE: Thomas is still on the journey, his swing isn’t perfectly clean yet.  This is only a 5-month snapshot of how far his swing has come.  Don’t judge his swing at this point in time, celebrate it!  Also, as you’ll find out, just because he moved away from a high leg kick, doesn’t mean I HATE high leg kicks.  It just wasn’t working for Thomas’s swing, timing-wise.

CLICK HERE to view and/or download Thomas’s custom “Marching Orders” PDF that I build for each of my hitters after each baseball swing mechanics slow motion feedback session.

 

How Far Thomas’s Swing has Come (in his 12 baseball swing mechanics slow motion feedback sessions)

I always like to use the ‘Pat & Pop Method’ when giving feedback to my hitters…’Pat’ is the pat on the back, and the ‘Pop’ is the pop in the mouth.

When I first started with Thomas, he had some good elements already working for him:

On the ‘Pop’ side of things, these were the mission critical things we had to begin tweaking:

  • Build stability in stance and setup,
  • Being better at swinging within the strike zone (plate discipline),
  • Calibrating solid rhythm and stride timing, and
  • Maximizing tension/compression forces within his small frame (racing back elbow bat drag).

I am confident to say that, over these past 5 months of baseball swing mechanics slow motion online video feedback sessions, Thomas has:

  • Built a more stable stance setup,
  • Developed a better sense of his strike zone (swinging at better pitches),
  • Gone away from his inconsistent leg kick timing to more of a slide step (he’s barreling the ball more often), and
  • Banished his racing back elbow bat drag (he’s been smashing the ball according to his Zepp sensor).

Here’s a quote from Dad talking about his jump in Bat Speed at Impact using the Zepp app…

“He started in mid 30’s, I would say his average is 46-47 now. He hits a very occasional speed of 50 when he puts it all together, which is seldom.”

What’s he’s Working on Next

Here are the polish points I included in Thomas’s current baseball swing mechanics slow motion video feedback session marching orders (CLICK HERE to download the PDF):

  1. Plate discipline,
  2. Being more balanced on his finish,
  3. Finger Pressure, and
  4. Letting the ‘barrel chase the ball’ post-impact.

#1 is a journey, and NEVER a destination.

With #2, it’s amazing how being ‘silent’ helps hitters be more efficient (CLICK HERE for this Breaking Muscle article on the ‘silent’ concept).

#3 because he’s still wanting to do top hand release way too early.  We’re working on keeping both hands on the bat into his finish now.  He’ll add another 2 to 4-mph of Ball Exit Speed by not letting go too early.

#4, he’s not letting his barrel naturally finish and extend on the pitch plane, which will cause him to be susceptible to missing off-speed and breaking balls.

 

Some of the ‘Ah-Ha Moments’ for Thomas Along the Way

Here are a few coaching moments I felt were turning points for Thomas (and Dad) as we moved through the baseball swing mechanics slow motion Feedback Lab online video lesson program:

  • At first, Scot (Thomas’s dad) was sending me video once per week, which I found – after about 6-weeks – wasn’t allowing Thomas enough time to practice the changes.  Once we moved to a video once every two weeks, Thomas’s swing started changing by leaps and bounds (and frequency here depends on the age, amount of practice, and level of the hitter).
  • Thomas is having a challenge to repeat his mechanics in games, so I shared this post with Scot, basically to only take 3-5 swing rounds, of which are high intensity swings, during practice sessions.
  • Shifting from having an swing outcome focus (what ball is doing off bat) versus a movement execution focus.  In the beginning, I tell my hitters I don’t care what the ball is doing off the bat…I care MORE about if they’re repeating the movements I want them to repeat.  In other words, if they swing and miss, but keep both hands on the bat through finish, with top hand finger pressure (in the case of Thomas), then that’s an “A” swing.
  • There were multiple times when both Thomas and Dad were frustrated with Thomas’s progress.  And it’s during this time when words of encouragement such as embracing the struggle, taking a day or two off from hitting, getting back to the hitting objectives in the Marching Orders, etc. are crucial.  The process gets overwhelming when we’re attempting to eat the elephant ALL AT ONCE.

I have quite a few other hitters online and off that are doing real well, and I let them know I’m VERY proud of them too, but I wanted to highlight Thomas’s story because most baseball swing mechanics slow motion video lesson cases on the bell curve look like his.  The story of ineptitude and woe…

But it DOES get better…IF the hitter puts in the work, and in the right direction.

It DOES NOT matter whether we’re talking girls v. boys, a 9yo v. a 21yo, a big hitter v. a smaller hitter.  The system works predictably.

Swing Smarter by Moving Better 😉

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Baseball Batting Mechanics Risk Hiding In Your Batting Tee

 

 

This is Part-1 of a 3-part baseball batting mechanics video series coming straight out of the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course…

Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Course

Sick of struggling to reduce your hitters ground balls, swing and miss strikeouts, and non-productive weak fly balls?  This simple 4-Step online video mini-course (7-modules total) will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, barrel the ball more consistently.  Dramatically decrease ground balls, strikeouts, and weak fly balls (no matter the pitch location or speed) by applying human movement rules validated by science.

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

Get Access to The Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Mini-Course

 

In the baseball batting mechanics video, Backspin Batting Tee inventors, Taylor & Jarrett Gardner are going to dive into…

  • Anatomy of ‘on path bottom half’
  • Why are pitchers taught to keep the ball down in the zone? And,
  • How to train hitting the bottom half…

CLICK HERE for an interview post I did with Taylor Gardner in 2015.

Anatomy of ‘On Path Bottom Half’

Baseball Batting Mechanics: 'On Path Bottom Half'

Should the barrel be level to the ground during the swing?  Should it be down to the ball?  Should it be up to the ball?

Baseball pitchers stand on a mound (if regulation) set up to 10-inches.  If we have a 6-foot pitcher with an overhand release, let’s say his arm adds another foot-in-a-half, then we have about a 8.5 foot above flat ground release point.  In addition to the target being a squatting catcher between 45-60 feet away.

The imaginary line connecting the pitcher’s release point to the catcher’s glove is what I like to call the Pitch-Plane, or plane of the pitch.

In fastpitch softball, the Pitch-Plane isn’t quite so drastic, but because of Gravitational Forces, the ball has to travel in an arc nevertheless.

Our objective as coaches is to get baseball batting mechanics to match the plane of the incoming pitch with the barrel.

You can also see from the eFastball.com graphic that line drives and productive balls in the air are hit using the bottom half of the ball.

 

Why are Pitcher’s Taught to Keep the Ball Down in the Zone?

Baseball Batting Mechanics: Backspin Tee

This baseball batting mechanics chart illustrates the importance of backspin on a batted ball. The higher the degree, the more backspin being created. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

Pitchers keep the ball down in the zone to get hitters striking the top half of the ball.  And to create an element of deception.

Pitchers know that ground balls are outs 95% of the time in High School.  In college and professional baseball, ground balls are outs 98-99% of the time.

The reality is, a 90-mph fastball drops 4 feet before it gets to the catcher.  This equates to about a 5-degree downward trajectory.  To the hitter, the ball may seem “flat”, but Gravitational Forces are instantly at work pulling the ball down after the pitcher releases it.

That’s only a fastball.  In baseball, we can see up to a 20-degree downward pitch plane when the pitcher throws a breaking ball!

The other thing that’s happening immediately after the pitcher’s release, is the ball starts to slow down because of a myriad of factors, a couple being Gravitational Forces, and the humidity (or lack thereof) in the air.

In other words, the ball may be leaving the pitcher’s hand at 90-mph, but by the time it reaches the catcher’s glove, it’s lost maybe 4 to 6-mph.

 

How to Train Hitting the Bottom Half

Baseball Batting Mechanics: Backspin Tee

The Backspin Batting Tee photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

Taylor Gardner told me a story about when his hitting mentor Matt Nokes was telling him of when Hank Aaron, shortly after retiring, was ‘touring’ MLB ballparks taking batting practice and playing home run derby.

Hank Aaron wound up crossing paths with Matt Nokes, where a young Nokes asked him what he was trying to do when he hit.  Hank Aaron shared that he was always attempting to hit the bottom half of the baseball.

Traditional batting tees can promote baseball batting mechanics that hit the top half, especially with younger hitters, because they generally fear hitting the tee and knocking it over.

This can have a cascade effect, mechanically speaking, causing a hitter to swing down on the ball.

The BackSpin Tee turns the traditional tee upside down…literally.  Try and swing up or down on a BackSpin Tee and you’ll hit the rubber tee cone, miss the ball completely, and/or get a weak result.  Instant feedback.  Ineffective outcomes.

The BackSpin Tee promotes ‘On Path Bottom Half’.

 

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Discover the Backspin Batting Tee, which is the best high school baseball, fastpitch, and slow pitch softball professional hitting trainer for learning how to hit more line drives instead of ground balls.  See how it works in this drill review…

Backspin Batting Tee: The Quickest & Easiest Way to Drive the Ball Using A Baseball Hitting Tee

 

 

 

Batting Tees: The Ugly Truth Baseball Hitting Tee Interview

Meet the Backspin Batting Tee team. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

This is the first in a 3-part baseball hitting tee interview series…

One of the most frustrating things for coaches I’m in touch with (myself included) is finding minds that think alike when it comes to applying human movement science to hitting.

In other words, how do we separate the “weeds” from the grass?  Below is an interview I did with one of the three hitting and movement experts, Taylor Gardner and his innovative batting tee.

First a brief introduction…

Taylor Gardner is the inventor of the Backspin batting tee (I carry the Backspin Tee at TheStartingLineupStore.com), that received “Best In Show” Awards at the 2015 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention in Orlando, Florida.  The baseball hitting tee concept is really simple really, practice hitting the bottom half of the ball (see video above).

At the convention, Taylor had a coach come up to his booth, take swings off his Backspin batting tee, and said that it was nearly impossible to swing “down” on the ball, because of the batting tee design.

The “ugly truth” about the batting tee?

BackSpin Batting Tee

Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

…If youth hitters aren’t coached properly, then they’ll default to hitting the top half of the ball, to avoid knocking the tee over.  Taylor’s Backspin baseball hitting tee turn this ugly truth on it’s head…literally 😛

Not only did Taylor breath new life into the batting tee, but he’s a student of hitting.  He uses human movement science like we do.  I met him on my Facebook fanpage, and after a couple interactions, I had to interview him for the HPL blog…

 

Taylor Gardner BackSpin Baseball Hitting Tee Interview…

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

TG: With 4-weeks of training

…we would have time to adjust any swing path flaws with video analysis so that everyone was seeing the same movements. We would do positional strength test to show if their are any weak points in the swing that might be causing a dropping barrel.

Your grip would be looked at to ensure that at contact both wrist were close to 90 degrees, and then keep that grip (don’t just change it for comfort).

Simple soft-toss from in front would show any basic timing issues, as well as your ability to get in position to the ball on time to use a proper swing path. Bad positioning at landing can cause hitters to change their swings regardless.

I practice a “1st baseman” drill where you train your eyes to step towards a ball before you catch it (Learned from Barry Bonds) to help your body learn how to get to the pitch more efficiently.

Depending on how good your timing, body positions, and swing path were, we could then move onto any movements in the body that might need more exaggeration, for example: if you were very stiff with your legs, and had a hard time getting to lower pitches, we could do variations of tee work and soft toss to exaggerate that one body movement, and these same techniques would apply if you had connection problems with your arms, hands, head movement, etc that may need to be fixed more quickly.

After your technique is sufficient in the 4 week time frame, I would have you learn how to “time” a pitcher and practice different fastball speeds. For example: if you are facing mostly 80mph pitching and slower, we would practice speeds of batting practice (with the new exaggerated movements now set) that were no quicker than .47 seconds out of the pitcher’s hand to the front of the plate (a simple stopwatch would get us close).

If you were facing 90mph then we would train your stride timing to adjust to .40 seconds, but no faster. Pitcher’s don’t accidentally throw their fastest pitch 10mph faster….In the 4 weeks we would conquer the technique of the swing first before seeing live pitching. You came to change your swing, and 4 weeks is plenty of time to make physical adjustments, the rest of the time would be focused on the timing and reaction to positions in the zone.

If I had 8-weeks with you,

Backspin Batting Tee

Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

…we would take the same approach, I don’t believe their are quick fixes, unless your swing is already close to doing the right movements, but I would ask you questions about the approach at the plate, and we would keep it as simple as possible. The pitcher throws his fastball 70%+ most of the time, so you can trust that that is what you will see.

You can always buy time (wait) in the swing, but you cannot speed up faster than your body will allow. You would learn to set your timing approach up to hit that particular pitcher’s speed, then time your stride accordingly. Some hitters need to wait longer, or start sooner depending on their tendencies.

Your set up (assuming isn’t an issue) would be able to swing level to a high pitch (considered a pitcher’s mistake in Pro ball) because it is the easiest pitch to get to the bottom half of the ball, and would learn to adjust to the height adjustment of off speed and swing to the pitch accordingly.

Every physical movement that would be instructed would have your own style to it. There is no cookie cutter swing, only movements (and maybe some variations of those movements) that were backed by facts and studied knowledge that can be performed by the human body.

Getting on path with the pitch, hitting the middle/bottom half of the ball at a contact point that is proven for max energy connection into the ball would be taught. How high or low you consistently hit balls (angles) is more important than pulling it or going to opposite field. This has been proven time, and time again.

 

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

TG: Matt Nokes (Silver Slugger Award Winner, New York Yankees) Boots Day (Montreal Expos, and knew Ted Williams), Jarrett Gardner, Professional Pitching Coach

 

What are your favorite instructional books or resources on the subject? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?

TG: DVD-Pyramid Of Hitting. Training tool-The Back Spin Batting Tee.

 

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

TG: Hit the top of the ball to make it rise with backspin. Soft-toss from behind the hitter. Your hips are your main source for power. Quick hands. Pulling with the bottom hand, and pushing with the top hand. You can stay “through” a ball longer if you try, the ball only stays on the bat .0007 seconds, no matter how you hit it. Swing down and through a ball. Keep your hands inside the ball. Get your foot down early. You have to have a straight front leg to hit. You have to rotate your back foot for power. “Don’t worry about timing, just react to the pitcher.” Foul off offspeed and wait for fastball. They all are a waste of time, and I can explain how.

Thank you Taylor!

Here’s how you can stay updated with Taylor Gardner and his BackSpin batting tee:

Please direct baseball hitting tee questions and comments below…