Scientific Truth Every Coach Ought to Know About Using Batting Weights To Warm-up In The On-Deck Circle

This post may blow the minds of those that didn’t get the memo…

Chris Dozer, who’s father to one of my 10yo online lesson students, sent the following Wall Street Journal article titled: “Watching Your Weight Before Hitting Plate”.

Weighted Bat Swing Comparison

WITH weighted bat warm-up, hitter barreled the ball LESS often. Photo courtesy: SportsScience YouTube video

You can read the article in full by clicking the previous link, but I wanted to include important bullet points from the article and Sports Science video above:

  • “Studies conducted over several decades have concluded that the ritual popular among professionals and emulated by amateurs doesn’t increase bat speed.  It may actually slow it down…’the best is your own bat'”
  •  According to the Zepp app, average professional bat speeds range from 75 to 90-mph, average High School and College bat speeds range from 65 to 80-mph, and average youth bat speeds range from 40 to 70-mph.
  • PLEASE NOTE: there are other batting weight studies with small sample sizes (ranging from 7 to 60 players) comparing High School, College, and recreational hitters in laboratory settings (not LIVE batting practice).  Adrenaline or others batter’s routines could have influenced performance in these. Basically the variable wasn’t properly isolated…that being said, a study with 20 college baseball players found “their performance was statistically unchanged.”
  • Dr. DeRenne, found using a 28-ounce batting weight changed the balance point of the bat and slowed down bat speed.
  • In Sports Science video above, a college hitter in 2008 hit 10 machine pitched balls WITHOUT using a batting weight before, and had an average bat speed of 69-mph, and routinely connected with the sweet spot.  After using the batting weight, then taking another 10 swings off the same pitching machine, his average bat speed dropped to 68.3-mph, and on each swing he missed the bat’s sweet spot by several inches.
  • The above video talked about how because the hitter swings the bat at a slower pace using a batting weight, more red slow twitch endurance muscle fibers get recruited, thereby decreasing the amount of white fast twitch muscle fibers which fire two to three times faster.  Warming up with batting weight in on-deck circle is actually priming the wrong muscles before stepping in the box. 
  • The experience of a single batter can’t be generalized to others, but the results resembled other studies.
  • “People are always looking for an edge,” Dr. Szymanski said, “but just because a professional athlete does something doesn’t mean it’s good or helpful or right.”

 

The Bottom Line?

Now, a 0.7-mph drop in average bat speed doesn’t seem like a lot, but as you saw, it makes a BIG difference in barreling the ball.  As retired Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan says:

  • If ball hits bat 1-inch off sweet spot = then 1 to 2-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 4 to 8-feet less distance!)
  • If ball hits bat 2-inch off sweet spot = then 2 to 3-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 8 to 12-feet less distance!)
  • If ball hits bat 3-inch off sweet spot = then 3 to 4-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 12 to 16-feet less distance!)

So, not only are hitters losing bat speed using a batting weight on the on-deck circle, but by barreling up the ball LESS OFTEN, they’re losing batted ball distance as well.  Aside from swinging the hitter’s own bat, I’d say swinging a lighter bat – faster – would help the body recruit more of those white fast twitch muscle fibers before stepping in the box.

Your thoughts?

How To Decrease Time To Impact By Lowering Hitter’s Hands (an Over-The-Shoulder Look at a Local Lesson)

Here’s Part-2 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…

I get questions every week on how I’d run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

In case you missed the background information of Part-1,

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We’ve had about half a dozen session together in total.  And what I like about Zack is he asks a lot of really good questions during our sessions.

And before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t like some of my other videos.
  • We’re at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I’m asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter’s swing, it’s about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

Swing and coaching suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD…again!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish:

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

Part-2 lands you at #4 above.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Talking about lowering Zack’s hands to not get above armpit line to landing – benefits of (about 1-min mark),
  • Why a “flat bat” at stride landing can feel heavier than a more vertical bat. Center mass of bat in relation to center mass of hitter (about 4-min mark),
  • Getting into a more Hunched or Hollowed Position at the start of the swing. CLICK HERE to see tips and benefits of the Hollow Hold from BreakingMuscle.com, and CLICK HERE for the Hollow Hold exercise Zack did during warm-ups (about 9:30 mark), and
  • Intro to the first time working out new hitting material, varying the “Wrist Snap” using the red ankle resistance band – THANK YOU LEE. Objective with Wrist Snap is to snap over the red band and to hit the ball as hard and as far as you can. (about 16:00 mark)

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don’t make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Chunking certain movement together, so they don’t seem like separate pieces,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

Your Typical Hitting Coach Doesn’t Want You To Watch This Sierra Romero & Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

 

Sierra Romero v. Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

Comparative Fight Positions of both Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge. Dang, they look good! Photo courtesy: YouTuber: Sports Gaming & MLB.com

Let me be up front with you in this post…

Some hitting coaches still think the baseball and softball swing are drastically different.

I disagree…Big League.

Human movement is human movement.  Sure there are undeniable anatomical differences in body type between males and females, and differences in reaction time from sport to sport…

But there’s virtually zero difference in explosive human movement when the swing objective is hit the ball as hard as you can, as far as you can…consistently.

In this video analysis, I wanted to compare the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge.  Don’t worry if you don’t know one or the other…you will by the end of this post.

Actually, you know what, if you don’t know either of these hitters, then SHAME ON YOU!!! 😛 lol

Kidding aside, and in my opinion, more baseball players can learn A LOT by watching Sierra Romero swing the bat than any Big Leaguer.  It’s a bold thing to say, but it’s true.

In comparing Sierra Romero to Aaron Judge, we’ll compare the following components of an effective swing:

 

Who is Sierra Romero?

Besides being my favorite swing model for Fast-Pitch Softball hitters, and according to the USSSA Pride website:

  • 5-foot, 5-inches in height.
  • Sierra finished her rookie professional Fast-Pitch Softball season batting .339 in 109 at-bats with 18 runs scored, 37 hits, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI and a .397 OBP.
  • First player in NCAA softball history (at Uni of Michigan) to record 300 runs, 300 hits and 300 RBI in her career.
  • Owns NCAA record in career runs (300) and grand slams (11). Ranks fourth all-time in career RBI (305) and slugging percentage (.882) and eighth in home runs (82) and walks (225).
  • Joined the USA Junior Women’s National Team (2012), ISF Junior Women’s World Championship Silver Medalist (2012).

 

Who is Aaron Judge?

Besides this guy being a friggin’ BEAST of a human being!?  Here are some major talking points, according to Wikipedia.org and FanGraphs.com:

  • 6-foot, 7-inches tall, and 282-pounds (imagine the parents that had to feed this guy!!) lol
  • Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball).
  • Played at my Alma-mater, Fresno State, from 2010 and got drafted by the Yankees 32nd overall by the Yankees in 2013.
  • As of April 2017 Exit Velocity metrics, Judge clocked game batted balls of at least 115-mph SIX TIMES!!  Joey Gallo was second with two.
  • Did I mention this guy is a BEAST?!

This video from MLB.com titled, “Aaron Judge: Burden of Proof” says it all:

 

The Bottom Line…?

In comparing the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge, there are many BIG WIN mechanical similarities.  They both hit for power and precision.  The softball swing isn’t any different than its baseball counterpart.  Power and precision don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Size doesn’t matter, however if you’re a beast like Aaron Judge the capability of hitting the ball farther with consistently higher Ball Exit Speeds is greater.  What is clear however, is if you move better, then you perform better.

In the day and age of advanced technology and access to specific experts on human movement and Physics, there’s no room for coaches who resist getting educated.  If you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

See How Easily You Can Fix a “Bleeding Barrel”

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?

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:

  • Early arm barring,
  • 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,s
  • 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…

How To Effectively Use The Body To Get Pitch-Plane Domination

Yes, I’m releasing ANOTHER book!!The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids

AND YES, I’VE BEEN PULLING ALL-NIGHTERS, DRINKING LOTS AND LOTS OF CAFFEINE, AND LISTENING TO LOTS AND LOTS OF METALLICA TO WRITE THREE BOOKS IN 3 MONTHS!!

Kidding! 😀

I’m not that much of a savage,

But what I have for you today is the Conclusion to my latest book, which is smaller in size – about 60-something pages, and is a re-publishing of my most popular Ground-ball RANT blog post I wrote the beginning of 2016.  This post achieved over 5,400 Likes on Facebook! 😀

I’ll share the Conclusion  to the new book shortly,

Most of you probably didn’t miss the Ground-ball RANT, so the purpose of this book and post are a little different…

What I want for you to do is get this book and give it away as a gift.  Ideally to a coach who teaches their hitters to produce a lot of “worm-burners”, but one who may also be open to being persuaded from that unfounded malarkey.

You see, this subject has become somewhat of a movement on social media – if you haven’t noticed.  CLICK the following link for a fantastic breakdown post from Dan Farnsworth at the Hardball Times titled, “Ground Balls: A Hitter’s Best Friend?”

Now, back to The UGLY Truth book…

On sale, The UGLY Truth paperback will be $9.95, and the Kindle version will be $2.99.  And by the way, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read a “Kindle-version” ebook.  Just download the Kindle app on any mobile device, and BOOYA!  You can access it.

 

Do you have a High School coach in mind that could benefit from this information?  Or perhaps a Little League coach? Just recommend coach download the free ebook within those 5 days.  They have nothing to lose!  It would be to YOUR kid’s best interest 😉

Okay, so now I want to share the Conclusion to the book (which by the way, wasn’t in my original Ground-Ball RANT)

A reader recently emailed me that his son, although having some success before, has switched over to “my stuff”.  Well, switch overs aren’t always smooth, and his son is hitting more ground-balls, so I suggested the following tips to STOP hitting ground-balls

Enter the Conclusion to my new book now on sale at Amazon (with Kindle version free for a short period of time), The Ugly Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids

—–

Conclusion

I have a treat for you…

You may be thinking what I teach my hitters to do since I don’t want them hitting ground-balls.  I very much agree with the Backspin Tee guys’ motto of ‘On Path of the Pitch, Bottom Half of the Ball’.  But how do you put that into practice?

There are five things I look for in a swing to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch longer, so hitters can hit more consistent line drives:

  1. Front knee action,
  2. Back knee action,
  3. Back foot action,
  4. Barrel early on plane, and
  5. Barrel late on plane.

Front Knee Action

There are six benefits to landing with a bent front leg:

  1. Engaging springy fascia in the legs,
  2. Pitch adaptability to off speed pitches,
  3. Shrinking the strike zone,
  4. Using Ground Reaction Forces,
  5. Getting eyes closer to lower pitches in the zone, and
  6. How humans change directions and planes of motion.

We’re not going through all six, but I wanted to highlight the last one…

Please do a YouTube search for: armanti edwards route tree session, and pay attention to how Armanti Edwards and other NFL wide receivers change direction while doing a “Route Tree Session” with trainer Gari Scott…

Watch them run these routes from a big picture point of view.  In other words, not looking for any specific arm or leg angles.  Watch them ‘get lower’ when changing directions, or cutting.  They land on a bent plant leg, then push off the same leg, extending it, to accelerate again.

Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Planes of Motion

Three main planes of motion. Photo courtesy: goldsgymwebsterny.wordpress.com

There are three main human planes of motion:

  1. Saggital (front to back motion) – divides the body into right and left halves
  2. Frontal (a.k.a. side to side motion) – any vertical plane that divides the body into ventral and dorsal (belly and back), and
  3. Transverse (a.k.a. twisting motion) – is an imaginary plane that divides the body into superior and inferior parts. It is perpendicular to the coronal and sagittal planes.

In changing from one plane of motion to the other, to be effective, there MUST be a ‘getting shorter’ of the body’s stature, as the athlete plants and pushes off the ground to change directions.

The wide receivers from the video are changing from the Sagittal (front to back) to Frontal (side to side) Planes.  While a hitter changes from the Frontal (side to side) to Transverse (twisting) Planes.

In other words, just like an NFL wide receiver goes from a bent plant leg to straight at push off, a hitter MUST go from a bent landing leg, to a straight leg at ‘push off’.

Please CLICK the following link to see the other six benefits: http://gohpl.com/whybentfrontknee

Back Knee Action

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 during the Final Turn.  And they often wonder why they aren’t able to drive the ball.  Here’s why…

Homer Kelly, an aeronautical engineer for Boeing during the Great Depression, said this about knee bend in his book The Golfing Machine:

“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.”

Homer Kelly’s statement has as much to do with hitting as it does with the golf swing!  During the Final Turn, a hitter like Adrian Beltre uses his flexed back knee (and straightened front one) to slant his pelvis up towards the downward traveling pitch, and as a result, keeps his head motionless during the Final Turn.  Early head movement, pre-stride landing, is okay.  Late head movement is not.

Think of the back leg angle as angling your body like a “ramp”.  CLICK HERE for a great drill for getting hitters at a better “ramp” angle.

In addition, please CLICK the following link to see what happened with a swing experiment where I tested a bent versus straight back knee during the Final Turn: http://bit.ly/whybentbackknee

Back Foot Action

I did another swing experiment looking at the difference in bat speed at impact between ‘squishing the bug’ with the back foot and not squishing the bug…basically letting the back foot skip.

What was the results of the 200 swing experiment?

  • +8-mph difference in average Impact Bat Speed, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,
  • +3-mph difference in average Hand Speed Max, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,,
  • -0.019 difference in average Time To Impact, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”, and
  • +4-degree difference in average Attack Angle, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”

What does this mean?  That ‘squishing the bug’ is an inferior hitting mechanic.  Not ALL elite hitters “skip” the back foot, but most do “un-weight” it.  I just like teaching my hitters a minimal skip to make sure they’re shifting center mass  into impact, behind the front leg.  I read somewhere that Bryce Harper shifts 150% of his body-weight into impact (skipping his back foot), whereas if he just “squished the bug”, he’d only shift 75% of it.  That’s a HUGE difference!

Please CLICK the following link to read about the whole swing experiment: http://gohpl.com/whybackfootaction

Barrel Early on Plane

I recently did a video blog post case study featuring one of my 15 year old baseball players Liam titled, “Taking The Headache Out Of Teaching Barrel Path”.  We used the Ropebat to change his “Verizon check mark” barrel path into a “Nike Swoosh” sign.

Why one over the other? I want my hitters to build proper bat lag into their swing, or an early barrel on the plane of the pitch.  This helps the hitter barrel the ball more often when their timing may be late.

What’s amazing about Liam’s transformation was that:

  • It only took ten days,
  • It took two total 30-minute sessions (beginning of session three was when the AFTER video was taken), and
  • Liam only had access to the Ropebat during our sessions. After session number-three, his mom went ahead and purchased one for home use.*

*Results aren’t typical. Liam has a primary “feel” learning style, so the Ropebat worked well for him – and not to mention quickly with minimal use.

Please CLICK the following link to see Liam’s full case study transformation: http://gohpl.com/whybarrelearlyonplane

Barrel Late on Plane

The benefit of keeping the barrel on the plane of the pitch longer is to help the hitter when their timing is early, especially on off-speed and breaking balls.  I typically refer to this as the Power-V, however the V-position of the arms MUST happen AFTER impact.  It shouldn’t be a goal to get the hitter to Power-V at impact.  The latter would put hitters at a disadvantage to inside and higher pitches in the zone.

I also use the coaching cue ‘barrel chasing the ball’ when teaching this.  Please CLICK the following link to a video blog post titled, “Addison Russell Grand Slam Video: The Anatomy Of A Dinger”http://gohpl.com/whybarrellateonplane

The last thing I wanted to leave you with besides the Ropebat, as an effective hitting aid to getting the ball in the air, is the Backspin Batting Tee.  I mentioned the Backspin Tee swing experiment in one of the earlier rebuttals to the ground-ball argument, but I wanted to share a link to getting the Backspin Tee at my online store (TheStartingLineupStore.com)

I highly recommend these two hitting aids and my Pitch-Plane Domination online video course, so you can help hitters to:

  • Increase Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) – you’ll learn how tweaking two simple things can super-charge batted ball distance, which means seeing the backs of outfielders, and not the front!
  • Reduce Strikeouts (K%) – you’ll discover how to conquer the root cause of striking out and mis-hits, and see coach get excited each time your hitter gets up!
  • Increase Repeatable Power (OPS) – soak up this one human movement rule and you’ll be a pitcher’s worst nightmare.  The pitcher would be better off, stepping off the mound and throwing the ball in gap!
  • Get More Consistent Multi-Hit Games – getting 3, 4, and 5-hits in a game is not magic.  When all four steps are achieved it makes multi-hit games doable!

—–

Please order the book today – we’re in a position to add gasoline to this movement to banish hitting ground-balls for good!!  Outside of situational hitting of course 😉  Join the movement and order: The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids on Amazon today.

Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Getting A “Nike Swoosh” Barrel Path

 

Liam Case Study: Ropebat

There are 10-days between these two videos.

Here’s what I have for you…

I was recently working on smoothing out the barrel path of one of my 15 year old local hitters Liam…

He had what I’ve heard called a Verizon check mark barrel path BEFORE.  We worked on smoothing out the check mark into more of a curved Nike Swoosh barrel path.

What’s amazing about Liam’s transformation was that:

  • It only took ten days,
  • It took two total 30-minute sessions (beginning of session three was when the AFTER video was taken), and
  • Liam only had access to the Ropebat during our sessions. After session number-three, his mom went ahead and purchased one for home use.*

*Results aren’t typical. Liam has a primary “feel” learning style, so the Ropebat worked well for him – and not to mention quickly with minimal use.

In the above video, we’ll go over:

  • Question a High School coach had for me at 2017 ABCA conference about changing barrel path,
  • The Verizon check mark versus Nike Swoosh barrel path, and
  • The RopeBat cues I use in conjunction with the “feel” of the Ropebat.

CLICK HERE for the original full Ropebat post I did awhile back that shows the swing drill we used.

I use the Ropebat quite often for my hitters that need to fix the same issue Liam had.  It works.  You can order the RopeBat at my store TheStartingLineupStore.com by CLICKING HERE, or on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

You Don’t Have To Be A Pro To Be An Effective Hitting Coach (BEST-Of 2016 Blog Posts)…

The Catapult Loading System Book

Get The Catapult Loading System book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle by CLICKING the image above…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I know I’m a little late,

But I’ve been working on getting the new book, The Catapult Loading System, published on Amazon these past 4 weeks or so.

Before getting into this BEST-of 2016 post, I wanted to discuss that…

With the New Year typically comes New Year’s resolutions.

And this year my goal for the content at the Hitting Performance Lab is as follows:

  • More posts from knowledgeable industry experts via webinar, audio, or written,
  • I will be conducting many more swing experiments, and
  • Tackle more of the tough questions – via video – my readers have submitted through the emailed survey (I have over 350 of them!!!!).

Rest assured, it’s going to be a good year for your hitters.

Now, for the BEST-of 2016 post…

In looking at my Google Analytics for January through December of 2016, the following three posts were – by far – the most popular (sorted in descending order)…

 

#3: Batting Timing Drills: 2 Little Known Ways To Get “On-Time”

The Timing of a Wave

A hitter’s timing is like a wave, building slow and early, picking up momentum, then crashing with force.

If you didn’t catch this post, then please CLICK HERE.

I did this post a few years ago, but after sharing it on social media a couple times, it became the “village bicycle”.

This post includes my two favorite timing drills:

  1. Float Variance Drill, and the
  2. Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill.

In my opinion, timing is more important than effective hitting mechanics.

WHY?

Because you could have the most effective mechanics in baseball or softball but if you can’t make timing adjustments, then you will not last long in the sport.

Many coaches/instructors I highly respect in their knowledge of hitting, don’t believe you can teach timing.

I disagree.

My hitters are drilled from the beginning on timing.  They’re frequently quizzed on their ability to adjust their timing.  And their timing gets better, oftentimes within three to five 5-swing rounds.

The key is using the two drills [videos] included in the above link.

#2: Blaze Jordan (14u): 6-Ft, 217-Lbs Hits TWO 500-Foot Moonshots, But…Did You Catch The Performance Of The Small Slugger That Beat Blaze Jordan?

Hudson White Home-Run Derby

Hudson “The Hawk” White making it rain 😀

If you didn’t catch this post, then please CLICK HERE.

I remember seeing everyone ooooo-ing and ahhhh-ing over 14 year old, 6-foot, 217-pound Blaze Jordan on Facebook about the two 500-foot monster home-run derby shots he hit at the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

But nobody was talking about how 14 year old, 5-foot 7-inch, 130-pound Hudson “The Hawk” White hit 11 consecutive homers in the same home-run derby, beat Blaze Jordan, and came in second overall!  Not to mention, the average homer Hudson hit was 398-feet.

On Facebook, people actually wanted me to dissect Blaze’s swing, and NOT Hudson’s!

Wa??!

Don’t get me wrong, to have the ability to hit a ball 500-feet (twice) as a 14u, you have to be doing something right in your swing…

BUT,

Hudson is tripling his body-weight in batted ball distance – 130-pounder hitting the ball 400-feet…wouldn’t you want to see what he’s doing?

Here’s what Hudson’s dad said:

“Hello, i just wanted you to know that i have followed you for years and teach your principles to my 14u son who just came in second place at the 15u power showcase in Arlington Texas ahead of the world champion Blaze Jordan . he also broke the world record for most consecutive home-runs in a row at 11. he was a year younger and 50 to 100-lbs smaller than all the other contestants who were made up of the best hitters in the country. It was the most amazing thing that anyone had ever seen . i wanted to share the video with you and hopefully you can help make it go viral. all the hype is about Blaze Jordan for hitting a 503 ft home run, but for a smaller younger kid to go out and break the world record for most consecutive and beat blaze in the final round to come in 2nd place is a major feat. my son is a lead off hitter. so all hit hits were 395-ft line drives. this is your student. this is the result of your teachings. i am very grateful!”

And the #1 blog post of 2016 was… (drum roll please)

#1: Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids: The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls

Backspin Batting Tee

The Backspin Batting Tee Pro Model

aka “The Ground-ball RANT”.

If you didn’t catch this monster post, then please CLICK HERE (20-min read for average reading speed).

I did this post at the beginning of 2016 and coaches LOVED it, garnering over 4,200 Likes on Facebook!  To say this post went viral was an understatement.

The main reason I felt I had to write it was the dialog the two Backspin Tee co-founders, Taylor and Jarrett, shared with me in their conversation with a pair of college coaches (from same school) at an ABCA conference a year or two ago.

It went something like this…

Backspin Tee Bros: “What do you teach your hitters to do?”

College Hitting Coach: “To hit the top of the ball and get backspin.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “What do you teach your pitchers to do?”

College Pitching Coach: “To keep the ball down in the zone.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “What part of the ball do you want the hitters hitting?”

College Pitching Coach: “The top half.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “Why the top half?”

College Pitching Coach: “So the hitter drives the ball into the ground.”

Backspin Tee Bros: “So what part of the ball do you want your hitters hitting now?”

College Hitting Coaches: “Uh, well, I guess I’ll be teaching them to hit the bottom half now.”

Buahahahaha! 😀

Excluding Hit & Runs and Move Runner Over scenarios, WHY the heck are we teaching our hitters to hit the top half of the ball, when that’s what pitchers want hitters doing?!

I make many more arguments in the above linked RANT, but I think the above dialog puts the argument as a whole to bed.

By the way, over 8,000 Backspin Tees have been sold over the last couple years and only a dozen have been returned.  CLICK HERE to see how a swing experiment I ran turned out between the Backspin Tee and a regular tee.  And if you haven’t invested in a Backspin Tee yet, then please CLICK HERE.

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video Analysis

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video: The Anatomy Of A Dinger

 

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video Analysis

Nike Swoosh barrel path, pitch plane, and batted ball plane in this Addison Russell grand slam video analysis (434-foot) in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

I had quite a few people ask me what I thought of Addison Russell’s grand slam in game-6 of the 2016 World Series.

I had just missed it minutes before taking my family (wife, 4yo, & 7-month old) to get pizza, where not one television was present :-/

So I set out to do an Addison Russell grand slam video analysis the next morning.

Gosh I love the Playoff and World Series quality of slow motion video…

…10K frames per second, where you can see every wrinkle on a players uniform, AND face!!

And that’s saying something because these are “kids” we’re watching on TV…I can say that now that I’m older 😛

So enjoy this video analysis and please post any comments, questions, or concerns below.

In the following Addison Russell grand slam video analysis, we’ll discuss:

  • Fangraphs comparison on GB%, LD%, FB%, HR/FB%, height/weight (6’0″, 195-lbs),
  • Nike Swoosh barrel path,
  • Barrel matching the plane of the pitch – up to 91-mph FB,
  • Finger Pressure,
  • ‘Barrel chasing’ batted ball – extension (power-V): defense against being out in front on OS & CB/SL,
  • Statcast: 108-mph BES, 23-degree launch angle, 434-foot distance,
  • Somewhat hunched posture,
  • Med/High leg kick (float to fall),
  • Float barrel up (knob flashlight down),
  • Alignment of back foot and leg, and
  • Knee Action at landing and during the turn.

One extra thing I didn’t mention, look at what part of the ball Addison Russell struck 😉

#GroundballsSuck

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

 

Roberto Perez 1st Homer 2016 WS Game 1 to LF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The bottom line…

Roberto Perez 2nd Homer Game 1 2016 WS to LCF

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

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

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

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

I have a treat for you…

A “grab-bag” of golden nuggets…

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

To give you an idea,

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

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

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

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

Happy learning!

 

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

This is the featured video above.

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

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

All these tips are pretty solid…

…for Mike Trout.

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

AND

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

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

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

So WHY does he practice hitting off a high tee?

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

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

What does this mean?

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

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

So am I calling Mike Trout a liar…

And, WHY would he practice like this?

Earlier, notice how I said,

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

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

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

Here’s where I’m going with this,

And it’s VERY important…

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

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

In other words, uppercut too much.

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

I’m not calling Mike Trout a liar.

He’s a friggin’ smart competitive athlete.

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

There’s no secret,

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

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

 

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

CLICK HERE for this article by Axon Sports.

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

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

 

#9: Hamstring Flexibility: 6 Tips to Loosen Up

CLICK HERE for the full article by GMB Fitness.

98% of my hitters are immobile in the hip.

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

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

 

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

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

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

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

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

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

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

The bottom line?

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for this LA Times post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#6: Clayton Kershaw UMPIRE VIEW of pregame warm up

You will get better at Pitch Recognition watching this video.

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

Do this for me…

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

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

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

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

This is such a cool game to do with hitters.

 

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

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

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

What do you see?

 

#4: Donaldson gives a hitting demo

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

A couple notes from the video below:

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

 

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

CLICK HERE for this FanGraphs.com post.

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

Fangraphs Ground-ball metrics

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

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

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

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

What’s more…

 

#2: Scooter Gennett and ground balls

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

I love the sub-header, which reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

CLICK HERE to read this Cubs.com post.

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

So, what’s the problem?

Quoted from the article:

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

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

Again, quoted from the article:

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a BONUS link for ya…

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

Here’s the lesson folks…

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

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

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

It’s not enough to hit the ball hard.

Teach hitters to elevate.

Get barrel on path of incoming pitch.

Focus on striking bottom half of ball.

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