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

Low Pitch Hacking With Homer BushHomer Bush: Hitting Low In The Zone: A New Baseball Paradigm

I first met Homer Bush over the Socials a year or so ago…

He followed me on Twitter, so I followed him.

(CLICK HERE to check him out on FanGraphs.com)

What caught my attention was that he had an intriguing book out, which we’ll cover shortly.

Homer Bush was not a big MLB guy by today’s standards, 5’10”, 180-lbs, while spending 7 years in the Bigs.

Like I mentioned earlier,

The thing that separated him from other ex-MLB guys, I follow on Twitter, was the growth mindset he showed in his book: Hitting Low in the Zone: A New Baseball Paradigm.

Typically, Big League players don’t dive into Sabermetrics, as readily as they will in the coming years, so it was refreshing to see Homer Bush taking a hard look at ways hitters can exploit inefficiencies at the Big League level by spotting Metric patterns.

Not only do his strategies work at the elite level, but do at the lower levels as well.

I read his book in a week, and thought he did a great job of showing hard evidence of WHY hitters MUST:

  • Learn how to elevate low pitches, and
  • Figure out how to hit with power to ALL fields.

If you aren’t helping your hitters grow, then they’re dying.

Here’s a short bio of Homer Bush:

  • Homer Bush was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 7th round of the 1991 amateur draft.
  • He went on to play 13 years of professional baseball.
  • Homer also played for the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and the Florida Marlins.
  • He was a member of the record setting 1998 Yankees World Series Championship team.
  • He recently authored his first book called Hitting Low in the Zone: A New Baseball Paradigm.
  • Homer is currently Director of Youth Programs for the Texas Rangers and lives in Southlake, Texas with his wife and 2 children.

Without further adieu,

Here is the…


Interview with Homer Bush…

Homer Bush: Hitting Low In The Zone

Homer Bush with the Yankees. Photo courtesy: bleedingyankeeblue.blogspot.com

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?

With 4 weeks of training, we’d spend 50% of the time working on proper hitting mechanics–grip & stance, load and swing path.

We’d spend 25% of the time understanding the hitting zone, as opposed to the the strike zone.

And the last 25% of the time, we’d work on your mental approach at the plate as far as focus and building on the positives, so that adjustments can be made from pitch to pitch.

With the additional 4 weeks, we’d just build on these areas with emphasis on repetition.


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

My major league experience allowed me to see hitting at its highest level on a daily basis. When reflecting back, it is clear that all of the elite players that I played with or against were good low ball hitters.

Some of my influences were… Tony Gwynn, Tim Raines, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Chili Davis, Darryl Strawberry, too many to name them all.


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

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

I find that there are several myths…

  1. That the swing is level.
  2. There is no such thing as swinging through the baseball.
  3. Rotating the back hip through the zone is necessary for power.
  4. Everyone has their own way of hitting. Every batter must have similarities in their mechanics at a certain point in the hitting process.
  5. ‘Squishing the Bug’ philosophy is a joke. In my opinion the biggest waste of time is hitting off of pitching machines in indoor academies because they are too erratic and almost impossible to time.


Who is good at hitting despite being poorly built for it? Who’s good at this who shouldn’t be?

Yadier Molina, average height, wide body and not very fast (not your idea baseball player build) but very productive at the plate.


Who are the most controversial or unorthodox hitters? Why? What do you think of them?

One of the most unorthodox hitters was my former teammate, Tony Batista— unusual, open batting stance but very effective with good power.


Who are the most impressive lesser-known teachers?

Besides Homer Bush, Tim Raines


Have you trained others to do this? Have they replicated your results?

Yes, when I was coaching in the minors with the Padres, my players improved in every offensive category (runs, hits, team batting average, on-base percentage, doubles, home runs) in just one season of me working with them. I’ve also taught my own hitting clients, youth, high school and college players how to execute my hitting philosophy for immediate and consistent success at the plate.

Thank you Homer Bush for sharing such great insight.

His strategy works for softball, just as much as baseball. And believe me, defensive shifts are on their way to the lower levels(if you haven’t seen them already)

Especially once the metrics get easier to collect and manage with a score-book software, such as Game Changer.

Did you know…

Pitchers are consistently taught to keep the ball down in the zone? (I bet you already knew that),

BUT, did you know…

The Oakland Athletics recently recruited hitters with swing paths that were optimal for balls down in the zone!!!?

What do pitchers do then, when hitters begin to elevate the low pitch?! lol

Remember guys and gals, knowledge IS NOT power…it’s POTENTIAL power.  Please put Homer’s study and research to use.

Here’s how you can stay updated with Homer Bush:

Please direct any questions or comments to Homer Bush below…

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

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

Before we get to the Tim Tebow hitting analysis…

I wanted to take you BACK TO THE FUTURE!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We know Jordan retired permanently from baseball in 1995…

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

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

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

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

Tim Tebow Hitting Analysis

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

In the above Tim Tebow hitting analysis video,

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

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

PAT (‘Pat’ on the back):

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


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

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

Hitting Lessons From A Primary Firearms and Tactical Instructor?

Nick Coast Stats

Nick Coast, Senior at Rancho Bernardo High School is crushing it, along with younger brother – and Sophomore – Alex Coast.

In this post, I want to share a testimonial from one of the dads who drove up from San Diego (about 7-hour drive to me) with his two sons, Alex and Nick, to hit with me for a weekend, about 9 months ago.

Both young men are playing at the highest level in the Open Division in the CIF San Diego Section, Rancho Bernardo High School.  Alex is a Sophomore playing J.V., and Nick is a Senior playing Varsity this year.  Nick’s Varsity Coach Sam Black, is the same one General Manager of the Oakland A’s played for.

The reason I’m sharing this is because dad, Mark Coast, has a VERY credible background in human movement science.  THIS is what caused him to reach out to me after rummaging through HPL.  The following testimonial is VERY validating to the things we teach at HPL.

Col. Mark Coast

SDSU Website for Homeland Security

Here’s the bio of Col. Mark Coast:

“I graduated from Cal State Northridge with a BS in Physics and Minor in Engineering in 1990. The same day I graduated college I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. Nearly 30 years later I am now a colonel in USMCR. Since the time I graduated college I have served a combination of 8 years on active duty and nearly 22 in the reserve. During that period I deployed to Iraq four times (2003-2006), retired from DEA after 20 years (1996-2016) as a Special Agent, worked a few years as an optical mechanical design engineer, Adjunct Faculty at San Diego State University (2009 to present) and now a founder of a new company Ceveal Solutions, LLC. I have been a professional trainer for over 25 years experience. First, as an artillery officer with USMC, Non-lethal Weapons Instructor #1 for the Department of Defense, and as the Primary Firearms and Tactical Instructor for DEA. I completely understand the scientific process and apply proven training techniques of integrating gross and fine motor skills with hand-eye coordination in shooting, very similar to hitting and golf.”

Now, here’s the email he recently sent, updating me on the boys’ progress this season.

It’s a little long, but don’t worry – if you stick through it – you’ll get a few golden training nuggets

Without further adieu, ENTER Col. Mark Coast…


I hope things are going well. I know you may not get much detailed feedback so I wanted to pass along something we learned the last couple weeks. We have been hitting like crazy and the results were good. One of the things we stressed was your recommendation of the two plate drill and it helped timing tremendously. Additionally, we worked hard on balance. We also increased reps off the pitching machine to adjust to velocity. They worked very hard to make balanced swings whether they hit or missed. This really improved their contact and consistently hitting with the same swing. However, I wanted to determine why the boys were popping up occasionally in clutch situations, which was unusual (pop ups). Thus, I set up a video camera and recorded their ABs. Here’s what I learned…
Upon review of video after games I was seeing the boys take a damn hard cut at a ball for the first couple strikes. I would notice they would take a subtle step towards the plate on the follow through. I asked them why they were taking a step in the game and not in the cage? Their response, “I want to crush the ball so I’m swinging harder during the game because we are pumped up.”Bruce Lee Adapt What is Useful Quote
I told them, this comes down to discipline and training. You play like you practice and practice like you play. You either swing like that in the cage or don’t do it in the game. They said they wanted to swing hard like that in the cage, but they couldn’t swing that hard for 10 pitches. I said that is exactly why Joey wants you to limit your swings to 3-5 reps.
They were very resistant to that because they “get in a rhythm” and like hitting for 10-12 reps. I told them it was reinforcing bad habits for game situations. The light bulb went on for them!
Nick has taken physics already and we drew a static diagram of a harder swing and asked him to show me and Alex where his barrel head will be when he swings with a larger angular velocity. He figured out the bat created a larger moment arm from his center of gravity [COG]. He realized his COG moved toward the plate (causing the slight step) and causing his barrel head to drop slightly causing the pop ups or foul tips.
They realized game time ABs creates adrenaline pumps and they swing harder in games and don’t train with the same intensity in the cages, thus missing balls low. They NEVER drive a ball into the ground with less than two strikes! Always swinging harder than the cage during the game. However, they are damn good two strike hitters when they purposely dial back their swings with 2 strikes.
BTW, Nick has only 6 K’s on the season and Alex has 2 K’s. They rarely miss a pitch. Again, these boys are playing at the highest level in the Open Division in the CIF San Diego Section. BTW, not too bad on defense too. Nick has a 1.000 fielding percentage as a catcher and .800 caught stealing rate. Alex only has one E playing the corners.
Experiment: Go into the cage and take full momentum swings for no more than 3 reps and rotate for three rounds.
Hypothesis: Their barrel heads would be under the ball in the first round. Second round they would apply bold adjustment method (standard artillery round adjustment method); swing below, above and then split the difference. Third round they will have taught themselves how much they need to raise their barrels heads to square up balls when swinging as hard as they can.Struggle in Today Developing Strength for Tomorrow Quote
Results: It went exactly as predicted. They rebalanced with the harder swing by moving their hips out (away from the plate).  CLICK HERE for the results during the games (Max Preps screen shots through today). They are absolutely crushing the ball. Nick is tied for leading doubles on his team, moved to hitting in the 5 hole. Alex similar results.
The last couple weeks they are coming through in clutch situations. Just this week, Nick walk off single in one game and lead off double to score winning run. Alex on Wed (btm of 12th) lead off double and was the winning run. Varsity coach (Billy Beane’s HS coach Sam Black) said, damn the Coast boys are killing it and starting game ending rallies.
Last year when we came to you in Fresno, Nick was hitting .111 (popping most everything up). Alex was similar. Now they realize how to replicate their game swings. They are disciplined with their training of limiting reps to 3-5 per round. Their friends are now adapting this training method. I think it’s ironic “The Factory” has kids coming over to hit in the cage at our house and adapting to your scientific approach to hitting. It is so cool to watch them adapt to technology and the collected scientific evidence and apply it effectively to the most difficult task in sports. I know when they coach later in life they will be better coaches. Thanks again for all your support and continued success.
Thanks,  Mark”
In addition, Col. Mark Coast added this to one of my replies…
“When their teammates see the results on the field they do not argue with success they just want to duplicate it. It’s funny how many boys are now asking them and me what are they doing other than hitting. I keep telling them it’s not the quantity, but the quality of the reps. It’s the same stuff I teach my students with shooting pistols, rifles or cannons. Spray and pray is not a method. Putting a single calculated round downrange is all the matters. The same in hitting. One well placed ball is all that matters. They are old enough to be believers now. If you want to see two snippets of video of Nick you can go to his web site on MaxPreps and see his walk off hit and a double he hit Wed. I’m in the process of getting Alex’s video from Wed uploaded too.
Keep up the great work! I don’t know how often you get feedback as scientific as mine, but I hope it helps. It is a testament to your approach. Additionally, the confidence it gives them is amazing. Nick says, I have hit off and sometimes crush all these D1 commits. I know there isn’t a kid in the country I can’t hit. That’s a bold statement!”
I can’t thank Col. Coast enough for sharing this.
I always tell my hitters that I’m just a flashlight in the dark, illuminating the most effective path to being an outstanding hitter.  Ralph Waldo Emerson Principles Quote
The biggest part – I feel – is for them to do the reps.  The Coast brothers are definitely doing that, and combined with dad’s background, knowledge, and guidance…40 years from now, both boys can look back and say they did all they could to maximize their abilities.
Listen, the moral of the story is that we’re applying human movement rules, that are validated by science, to hitting a ball.  Whether we’re talking about using variance in the cage or the standard artillery round adjustment method…these are the PRINCIPLES (See RWE quote above).
Keep up the good work Coast Bros!
About two weeks after our initial conversation, Nick Coast (Senior in H.S.) was hitting .333, and his younger brother Alex was hitting over .400 in J.V. ball.
The Monday before I published this testimonial from Col. Mark Coast, I had a dad by the name of Jeff Pope reach out to me on my Facebook fan page, asking me where I could point him to improve his son’s game swing, which in the cage were fantastic.
I told him to be patient for this post (which I published on Thursday).
And here’s Jeff’s response, the Monday following this post’s publication (he gave me the go-ahead to share with you):
“I spoke with you last week about my son bringing his bp swing to the game and he did just that, hard work in the cage and in our garage has paid off. He hit ridiculous this weekend. He hit 2 monster home runs in 4 games. Kid just turned 11 last week, can’t wait to see what he is now capable of. I believe the home run flood gates may have just opened! Thanks for the insight and knowledge.”
His reply to my attaboy comment back…
“Something clicked, like I said he’s always been a great hitter but as big and strong as he is hitting clean up i wanted more for him. Game changing more. He took on the top ranked team with a kid throwing absolute gas and he took the second pitch he saw and hit it about 270 ft over the left field wall, he caught it out front and it looked effortless. His other shot he hit was an 0-2 fastball and he hit it over the centerfield wall with his contact swing. So much fun to be apart of.”
I asked him what exact changes they made, and here’s how he responded:
“What we changed in his practice habits before the tournament he played in was the shortening of the reps going all out if you will for 3-5 reps. I have noticed before the longer we went on a bucket the better his focus and adjustments got… But the swing obviously got weaker. I did notice the short reps really made him focus on making the most of the pitches he got but also keeping his strength and bat speed up the entire time. I really tried to get him to focus on being fast and powerful on those limited swings. You normally don’t see more than 3-5 pitches per at bat which really got in his head, make the most of what you have a priority. I really stressed that he needed to play how he practiced keeping the mind set of focus and making the most of what u got. We also focused more on increasing his reps off the pitching machine using that as a great tool to incorporate that powerful swing with speed. Well he played like he practiced going yard twice, one being a 270 footer on a kid throwing gas, then another on an 0-2 count with a 2 strike swing that was still powerful enough to hit it over the wall in centerfield. Both kids threw really fast which made him faster and he took advantage. He just turned 11 last week, look forward to many more of these sessions and hopeful success to keep him playing in games how he practices…which is all out!!”
This IS NOT rocket science people!  Practice like you play, so you play like you practice.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Getting Under The Ball Like Stephen Vogt – A Baseball Swing Plane Experiment


Baseball Swing Plane: Stephen Vogt

August 2014  Stephen Vogt (21) hits a solo home run. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Vogt side note: CLICK HERE to watch video of him doing referee impersonations, he’s apparently known for, on Intentional Talk.  That’s Johnny Gomes in the background 😀

Question: Can the Back Leg Angle Affect Ball Flight During the Final Turn?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze the effect the back leg angle has on ground balls, line drives, and fly balls.

Background Research

Two posts I’ve written that talk about the back leg angle:

In the above posts, pay particular attention to what Homer Kelly says about Knee Action.

As of the beginning of May 2015, Stephen Vogt of the Oakland Athletics, is ranked 2nd overall in OPS at 1.179 (according to MLB.com’s sortable stats).  Can he hold this up all year?  Maybe, maybe not.  But the metrics I’m about to reveal have a solid base in his back leg angle mechanics.

He has a very distinct back leg angle during the Final Turn and follow through (see image above).  Here’s how his metrics stacks up over four seasons, against the league average (according to FanGraphs.com):

  • Ground ball% – Stephen Vogt (32.6%), League Average (44%)
  • Line Drive% – Stephen Vogt (20.7%), League Average (20%)
  • Fly Ball% – Stephen Vogt (46.6%), League Average (36%)
  • Home-run/Fly-ball Ratio – Stephen Vogt (10%), League Average (9.5%)

So he’s well below the league average in ground-balls, slightly higher in line drives, and has  a 0.5% higher home-run to fly-ball percentage.  The latter meaning what percentage of his fly-balls go over the fence.  Lastly, as you can clearly see, Stephen Vogt has an above average fly-ball percentage.  Remember, fly-balls aren’t always bad.  Most times, they’re more productive than ground-balls in sacrificing runners over or bringing them in to score.



Based on the above research and with my own experience, I think that having the back leg angle bent in an “L” (or 90-degree angle) during the Final Turn and follow through will produce more elevated line drives and fly balls.  Whereas a straighter back leg angle (closer to 180-degrees) will produce more low level line drives and ground balls.


Baseball Swing Plane Experiment: “Staying Low”

Babe Ruth Hand-Tension Experiment Setup

Here was how I setup the experiment “work station”

Equipment Used:


  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers = my bat length, plus two baseballs
  • Distance from plate = end of the bat touching inside corner of plate, and knob of bat touching my mid-thigh.
  • Tee was set slightly behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh.
  • First 100 baseballs were hit with a 90-degree back leg angle during the Final Turn and follow through.
  • Second 100 baseballs were hit a straighter back leg angle (about 170-degrees) during the Final Turn and follow through.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App Screenshots):

Baseball Swing Plane Zepp Experiment: "Staying Low"

Fig.1: Here are the averages of both sessions. Pay particular attention to the “Bat Vertical Angle at Impact” and “Attack Angle” preferences…

According to the Zepp app user guide, let’s define the following terms:

  • Bat Vertical Angle at Impact – This is the Vertical angle (Up or Down) measured in degrees, of your bat barrel in relation to the knob of the bat, when it makes impact with the ball.
  • Attack Angle – Attack Angle is the direction the bat barrel is moving (Up or Down) at impact. A positive number would mean your barrel is going UP at impact, zero is LEVEL and a negative number is the barrel going DOWN at impact.

Check out the ground-ball, line drive, and fly-ball comparison:

Baseball Swing Plane Experiment: Ball Flight

Fig.2: Check out the difference in ball flight between the two sessions. Pay particular attention to the ground-ball percentages.

Data Analysis & Conclusion

I wasn’t paying too much attention to bat and hand speed on this experiment.  I only focused on the metrics indicating a change in ball flight.

  • Attack angle had a 3-degree difference according to Fig.1.
  • Bat Vertical Angle at Impact also had a 3-degree difference according to Fig.1.
  •  27% difference in ground-ball% according to Fig.2.
  • 24% difference in fly-ball% according to Fig.2.


Baseball Swing Plane Experiment: Cage Labels

This were the rules I used for ball flight in the cage during the Experiment.

  • Here’s a picture (image to the right) of the cage I hit in and the labels for each batted ball outcomes.
  • I’m not sure why the Bat Vertical Angle at Impact was larger for the “Straight Back Knee”.  Maybe it had to do with my back knee starting bent towards impact, but then the barrel compensated by “pulling up” to accommodate the straightening back knee.  This disturbance in the pitch plane is NO bueno.
  • I found myself reverting back to old habits (Bent Back Knee) during the Straight Back Knee session.  There were at least a dozen balls I hit that had more bend than I wanted during that session.
  • During the “Bent Back Knee” session, about 65% of my fly-balls were “shots”, and didn’t hit the back of the cage to be considered a line drive.
  • I find with small sluggers like Stephen Vogt bend their back knee between 90-105 degrees during the Final Turn.  With fastpitch softball, the angle of the back knee isn’t quite so drastic because of the reduced plane of the pitch.  If I can get my softball players to be 105-120 degrees with the back knee angle, then I’m happy.


In Conclusion

So the back knee angle during the Final Turn does have a significant impact on ball flight.  More bend equals, more airtime for the ball.  I’ve seen Little Leaguers to Pro hitters straightening out their back legs.  And they often wonder why they aren’t driving the ball.

In terms of driving the ball like Stephen Vogt, think of the back leg angle as angling your body like a “ramp”.  Also, take a look at smaller sluggers (6’0″, 225-lbs on down) like: Adrian Beltre, Stephen Vogt, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Andrew McCutchen as great examples of back knee bend.

Perry Husband Bunting

Photo courtesy: Perry Husband YouTube channel

One of my readers sent me this Perry Husband video…

Interesting how he compares the impact positions of bunting to the swing.

He mentions some things in this video:

  • Bending the arms as a “shock absorber”,
  • Bent limbs are “weak”,
  • Is he promoting a straight arms at swing impact?
  • Stretching rubber bands – “Every muscle in my body is elastic”, and
  • Bat speed is not enough, and a hitter needs to couple that bat speed with controlled forward movement.

What are your thoughts on any one of the above points?  Please comment in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

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

Baseball Training: 3 Easy Steps To More Barrel Time On Pitch Plane (Dylan’s Case Study)


Baseball Training VIDEO: #1 Hitting Mistake To Boosting BABIP [Case Study]

One of my online lessons Dylan from South Florida. Notice the change in front knee bend at landing (swings are synced).

I’ve heard during baseball training a thousand times, “Be short to the ball!”  If I put a nickel away every time I heard that, then I’d have my 3 old son’s first year at Stanford saved up.  A barrel on pitch plane longer means:

  • Higher BABIP (or Batting Average on Balls In Play), AND
  • Cutting down on strikeouts.

In this baseball training video, we’re going to lengthen barrel time on pitch plane by tweaking these THREE things:

  • Importance of landing gear (setting the stage),
  • When does the barrel accelerate? (enter pitch plane early), AND
  • Timing of Power-V (stay on pitch plane)…

Difference in pitch plane between baseball and fastpitch softball?  Yep!  Pitch plane is an imaginary line from the pitcher’s release point to the catcher’s glove.  In baseball, the pitcher’s release point is raised 10 inches (by regulation).  In fast-pitch, a pitcher’s release point is at about the pitcher’s hip, while standing on flat ground.  So there’s not as distinct a downward pitch plane in fast-pitch softball, as there is in baseball.


Importance of Landing Gear (setting the stage)

Baseball Training: Vlad Guerrero Fight Position (landing)

Vlad Guerrero (.316 career BABIP) landing with bent front knee. Photo courtesy: Past Time Athletics (YouTube)

Foot work is pretty high on my action item list in sitting down with a new hitter.  Initial baseball training boils down to getting on the plane of the pitch by bending the knees:

  • Fight Position – at landing front knee should be bent and stacked over the ankle.
  • Final Turn – front leg straightens while back leg bends to about 90-105 degrees.

Consider something Homer Kelly said about this in his book The Golfing Machine:

“KNEE ACTION – Knee Action is classified on the basis of (1) combinations of bent and straight conditions and (2) the Reference Points selected at which these combinations occur.  The combination and the Reference Points selected will determine the slanting of the Hips during the Pivot.  The slant is up in the direction of a straightened Knee. The slant of the Hips affects the degree of the Hip Turn.  Actually, the primary function of Knee Action – as with Waist Bend – is to maintain a motionless Head during the Stroke.”


When Does the Barrel Accelerate? (enter pitch plane early)

Baseball Training: Victor Martinez getting on pitch plane early

Victor Martinez (.316 career BABIP) quick on the pitch plane…check out how close his barrel is to catcher’s glove! Photo courtesy: ExplosiveBaseballSwing.com

“Be short to the ball!” is one of those cues that gets misinterpreted.  Most baseball training pro instructors, players, and coaches preach being short to the ball.  But what they should be saying is be quick to the pitch plane with the barrel.  Because of the following natural factors…

  1. Gravitational Forces,
  2. Conservation of Angular Momentum,
  3. Centripetal Forces (center-seeking) AND Centrifugal Forces (center-fleeing)…

…A barrel CANNOT efficiently accelerate, being pushed by the hands to a moving ball.  Watch/read these other Hitting Performance Lab posts for WHY:


Timing of Power-V (stay on pitch plane)

Baseball Training: Troy Tulowitzki Power-V

Troy Tulowitzki (.320 career BABIP) in the Power-V well passed contact. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

The last baseball training piece to boosting BABIP and reduce strikeouts is to keep the barrel on pitch plane.  “Power-V” is another misinterpreted coaching cue.  Hitters are sometimes told to be at extension with both arms at impact.  This is false.  The Power-V should be achieved 3-9 inches passed impact, depending on pitch location and speed. This ensures maximum inertial force transferred from body to barrel to ball.

The bottom line?

The #1 baseball training MISTAKE to increasing BABIP and cutting down on strikeouts is to “be short to the ball”.  What you want the hitter to do is:

  • Set plane early by landing with a bent front knee,
  • Maintain plane during Final Turn by straightening front knee and bending back one,
  • Be quick with barrel to pitch plane, and
  • Stay on plane by getting to Power-V passed impact.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Baseball Hitting Case Study: Cole Watts – 17-years-old


Baseball Hitting Case Study: Cole Watts

Baseball hitting case study: Cole Watts Fight Position comparision

Cole’s dad Matt contacted me about setting up two in-person 45-minute lessons with a break between.  They were coming from the Bay Area, which is about a 2.5 hours drive from me.  Cole  had been getting instruction from a Mike Epstein certified instructor, and they both have been following my video blog.

According to dad, Cole’s results were hitting the ball hard into the ground, and at-best, a low level line drive.  In Cole’s baseball hitting case study, we’ll analyze:

  • Challenges faced,
  • Differences achieved after two sessions, and
  • How we trained


 Challenges Faced…

First, Cole is tall, 6 foot, 3 inches, and growing.  Being so tall, a hitter like him will be facing a “pitch plane” dilemma.  CLICK HERE to watch video analysis comparing 6’3″ Adam Jones to 6’2″ Victor Martinez, and how to fix Jones’s above average strikeout and ground-ball percentages.

When I hear a player is taller and having trouble driving the ball consistently, I look at how efficient they’re getting the barrel level on a downward pitch plane.  Are they:

  1. Making an aggressive move towards the pitcher (Un-weighting Principal)?
  2. Getting shorter (or lower) in the Fight Position (using Gravitational Forces)?
  3. Staying short through impact and finish (Adam Jones’s problem)?  And, are they
  4. Loading the spring correctly?


Differences Achieved AFTER Two Sessions

After our baseball hitting sessions, here’s where Cole made some changes:

  1. Gaining stride distance – committing body weight to front leg,
  2. Getting lower into Fight Position – flexing front knee more at landing,
  3. Body lag – opening lower half at Fight Position & blocking his shoulders.

Benefits…#1 will give Cole more bat speed and allow his head to stay still during the Final Turn.  #2 will empower Gravitational Forces to amplify Cole’s pelvic turn.  #3 will naturally spring load his body (body lag) to transfer more energy into the baseball.  The one thing we weren’t able to fix – in our short time together – was staying shorter through his impact and finish.


How We Trained…

How we train is just as important as what we’re training…if not more!  At the end of our baseball hitting sessions, our 5-swing rounds consisted of training one mechanical variable with three mechanical constants.  Defined…

  • Mechanical Variable – if we’re working “showing the numbers”, then on odd swings 1, 3, and 5 we show the numbers.  On swings 2 & 4 we don’t.
  • Mechanical Constant – if we’re working on “showing the numbers”, then this is done on ALL 5 swings.

I call each mechanical piece, a layer.  We start simple with one layer, which by itself becomes a variable.  As we add another layer, then the old one becomes a constant, while the one added is the next variable.  This is called interleaving.  Only one variable layer at a time.  The rest will be constants.  Here were his layers, using the fine Art of Variance:

  • Stretching his stride out beyond his “gamer” front marker,
  • Landing shorter with committed body-weight,
  • “Flashlight” on middle front thigh, open towards the pitcher,
  • Showing (or “blocking”) his numbers longer.

We sandwich the wrong mechanic with the right one, so the brain can note the difference.  If Cole wanted repeatable power, then hitting “tall” on the pitch plane wouldn’t work.  He made so much progress in a short amount of time.  Keep working hard kid!

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

Adam Jones: TWO Actionable Tactics To Decrease Strikeouts


Adam Jones: High K%? Do These 2 Things...

Adam Jones “stay through” photo courtesy: MLB.com

I wanted to compare two hitters who have reversed walk and strikeout percentages.  Adam Jones and Victor Martinez.  Can efficient OR inefficient mechanics have an effect on a hitter’s strikeout rate?  In this post we’ll:

  • Compare & contrast key offensive statistics,
  • Actionable tactic #1: how low can you go?
  • Actionable tactic #2: bringing sexy back…

The clip I used of Adam Jones is him hitting an outside 90-mph fastball to center-field.  According to FanGraphs.com Jones is 6’3″, 225 pounds.  A BEAST!  Whereas Victor Martinez is hitting an inside 93-mph fastball to right-center-field.  FanGraphs.com lists V-Mart at 6’2″, 210 pounds.


Compare & Contrast Key Offensive Statistics

In this article I used Michael Brantley’s example, of how to boost Batting Average, or Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP).  Although Adam Jones is a BEAST and does a lot right statistically speaking, there’s two mechanical elements that may lend themselves to improvement.  In the following stat table I want to pay particular attention to:Adam Jones v. Victor Martinez

  1. How virtually non-existent Adam Jones’s walk percentage is,
  2. How Jones’s Strikeout% fairs to V-Mart and the League Average, and
  3. The difference between both hitters’ Ground-ball% (GB%).

I’m using Victor Martinez’s mechanics as a model for Adam Jones.  Why?  When you want to reduce strikeouts, look to the guy who is the best in the game.  Victor Martinez has hit 30 homers, as of this writing, and only struck-out a “lean” 39 times…ALL season.  There are two key mechanical differences that I feel may be contributing to these numbers…


Actionable Tactic #1: How Low Can You Go?

Victor Martinez on pitch plane

Victor Martinez pitch plane photo courtesy: MLB.com

In baseball, the mound lifts a pitcher’s release point by 10-inches.  On top of that, the pitcher has to throw the ball to a squatting catcher.  To increase margin for error, and cut down on strikeouts, a hitter’s body has to get low on the pitch plane early.  THEN, stay on the pitch plane at least six to twelve inches passed impact.  In other words, get shorter, and stay shorter.

Getting low isn’t as important with fast-pitch softball.  The pitcher’s release point (mid thigh to hip) is almost on line with the catcher’s glove.  The pitching rubber will remain on flat ground and same distance from the plate, so hitters will experience less pitch plane arc at the higher levels.

As you see in the video, Adam Jones gets low but doesn’t stay low on the pitch plane like Victor Martinez does.  V-Mart starts low, glides forward, then stays low through his Final Turn.  This mechanical inefficiency – of Adam Jones – may contribute to his higher than average GB%, Strikeout%, and virtually non-existent Walk%.


Actionable Tactic #2: Bringing Sexy Back

Adam Jones taller Fight Position

Adam Jones “taller” Fight Position photo courtesy: MLB.com

The Catapult Loading System NEEDS the following three ingredients, up to the Final Turn…hitter:

  1. Shows numbers (their back) to pitcher,
  2. Hides hands from pitcher, and
  3. Has a slight down shoulder angle.

These three ingredients charge the springy fascial connective tissue in the body.

Victor Martinez shows his numbers longer than Adam Jones does.  I showed in this Tony Gwynn video that Gwynn keyed in on keeping his front shoulder in, which allowed him to stay on the ball longer.  Keeping the “spring” loaded longer may explain the difference in the GB% above.  Jones starts on plane, but finishes off (he “stands” up).

The key to efficient mechanics on a downward pitch plane is to get low.  Evidenced in the video, also showing the hitter’s numbers longer can have a reducing effect on higher than average strikeout and ground-ball percentages.

Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos Gonzalez: A Killer MLB Power Strategy You Can Use Too…


Carlos Gonzalez Spine Angle

Carlos Gonzalez photo courtesy: MLB.com

I’m comparing two Colorado Rockies hitters, Carlos Gonzalez (aka Car-Go) and Nolan Arenado (2014 franchise record 28-game hit streak).  What repeatable power advantage does a guy like Car-Go have that Arenado may not?  Is it height?  Weight?

Neither.  Look how similar Car-Go and Arenado are physically (resource: Baseball-Reference.com):

  • Carlos Gonzalez – 6 foot, 1 inch, 220 pounds
  • Nolan Arenado – 6 foot, 2 inches, 205 pounds

In this video, we’re going to:

  1. Compare 5 key offensive numbers (based on a 162-game average),
  2. See what Car-Go and Arenado’s swings have in common, and
  3. Reveal the killer MLB power strategy.


Comparing 5 Key Offensive Numbers…

Here are key offensive numbers from the charts below, between Car-Go and Arenado:

  1. On-Base% (OBP)…Carlos Gonzalez = .355, Nolan Arenado = .309
  2. Slug% (SLG)…Car-Go = .527, Arenado = .432
  3. On-Base%+Slug% (OPS)…Car-Go = .882, Arenado = .741
  4. Doubles (2B)…Car-Go = 36, Arenado = 40
  5. Home-runs (HR)…Car-Go = 29, Arenado = 15

Sure we have more data points for Car-Go (7-years) than Arenado (2-years).  However, looking at how efficient each moves when swinging the bat, we’ll be able to assess the potential for Arenado’s performance in the future.  In addition to learning how Gonzalez may be able to improve.

CLICK HERE to get a brilliant Sabermetrics point of view for Car-Go 2.0.

What Car-Go & Arenado’s Swings have in Common

Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado photo courtesy: MLB.com

These are the human movement rules in common from the analysis:

  • Vision
  • Forward Momentum
  • Tight Turns
  • Engage Catapult Loading System


The Killer MLB Power Strategy

In comparing the two swings, what steps would Arenado have to take to hit for more consistent power like Carlos Gonzalez?  One of the secrets to repeatable power lies in the spine angle, which is achieved by the bend in the back knee.  The spine’s angle can allow a hitter to:

  • Get the barrel level on the downward plane of the pitch (slight upswing),
  • Stay in the impact zone longer (increased margin for error),
  • Keep the eyes and head from moving forward during the Final Turn,
  • Fully transfer linear (forward) into angular (turning) momentum (increased bat speed).
  • Drive the ball!!
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Does Chris Davis Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #4 (of 4)…


Chris Davis Deep Barrel

Chris Davis deep barrel photo courtesy: MLB.com

The last installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, looks at the swing of 2013 MLB home-run leader Chris Davis.

“Being short to the ball” is disastrous to repeatable power.  We can be ‘compact’, but ‘swinging down on the ball’ in order to be ‘short to the ball’ is NOT what the best do.

Get “on pitch plane” with the barrel as soon as possible is what I tell my hitters to do.

In this Chris Davis video, we’ll look at:

  • The science of barrel path,
  • 5 Problems with being “short to the ball”, and
  • When the barrel should accelerate.


The Science of Barrel Path

  • Center spinning axis (the spine and torso)
  • Centripetal Force = center-seeking (arms and hands)
  • Centrifugal Force = center-fleeing (barrel)

5 Problems with “Being Short to the Ball”

Some write off what Chris Davis does here as being above average in size and weight, in other words, “he’s just strong and can get away with doing it like this.” I beg to differ…Aaron Miles told me that a downward traveling barrel (to impact) hitter doesn’t last past AA-ball.

Here are 5 PROBLEMS with ‘being short’:

Ryan Braun Deep Barrel

Is Ryan Braun ‘being short to the ball’ by today’s conventional standards? Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  1. Jab v. Knockout punch
  2. Rather get hit by a train going 30mph, or motorcycle going 60mph?
  3. NOT in hitting zone very long
  4. Weakness to off speed and breaking balls
  5. Focuses barrel acceleration at the wrong time


When the Barrel Should Accelerate

Here’s how Chris Davis transfers energy and uses Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces in his swing:

  • Potential Energy – made up of his height, weight, joint mobility and stability, bat length and weight.
  • Kinetic (moving) Energy – he un-weights the bat with forward momentum, then transfers that into angular (turning) momentum…
  • Barrel – because of the barrel’s moving inertia, Davis fights center-fleeing Centrifugal Forces early by keeping his front arm slightly bent to increase the speed of his body’s rotation, AND to accelerate the barrel.  Then as his barrel “turns the corner”…
  • Ball – …it gets on plane early, body to barrel to ball energy transfer is almost complete…Chris Davis finally gets long through contact with his arms (center-fleeing Centrifugal Forces).

If after reading this Chris Davis video post, you missed Parts 1-3, here they are:

  1. Ryan Braun: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #1 (Sitting Back)
  2. Adrian Gonzalez: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #2 (Walking Away from the Hands)
  3. Miguel Cabrera: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #3 (Timing of Torque)