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


Swing Experiments Defining Ground-balls, Fly-balls, and Line Drives

Defining terms is CRITICAL for a swing experiments.

This was a technical presentation that I gave to my local Toastmasters club about HOW TO keep swing experiments objective.

What we’re covering in the above video presentation:

  • How important maintaining an objective process & avoiding the destruction cargo cult sciences causes,
  • What is the scientific method?
  • Evolution of my swing experiments (visit: http://gohpl.com/swingexperiment to learn how to do a swing experiment), and
  • How far I’ve come since my 11 year old swing experiment…

CLICK HERE to download presentation PDF cliff notes.

CLICK HERE to download presentation power-point slides.

The following books and resources were mentioned in this presentation:

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

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


About 4 months between these synced frames. Notice: better weight shift forward, knee action, better barrel launch angle, NO more racing back elbow bat drag...Thomas is in ATTACK MODE on the right!

About 4 months between these synced frames. Notice: better weight shift forward, knee action, better barrel launch angle, NO more racing back elbow bat drag…Thomas is in ATTACK MODE on the right!

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

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

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

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

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

In this video post, I wanted to share:

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


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

17 Little Known Ways to Optimize Learning at Home

What follows is a recommended post for my parents who jump into my online lesson program The Feedback Lab.

I’ve done a tremendous amount of research and study into the science of successful learning over the last two years, and wanted to share 17 quick down-and-dirty tips with you.

As many of you parents know, the work involved to progress a swing DOES NOT stop after the local or online lesson is over.  Many times, it’s the parent and hitter that bares more of a burden, than I do as the teacher.

So that being said, I hope this list helps.  There are also recommended book resources peppered throughout, so…



Guiding the Rider, Motivating the Elephant, and Shaping the Path

Optimize Learning at Home: Rider, Elephant, & Path metaphor

Photo courtesy: blog.iprofs.nl

There are three important ingredients to have success in The Feedback Lab:

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

“Goals” are relatively simple to uncover with young athletes using the “So What” Method.

Ask your hitter what they want to accomplish at the plate, and respond to them with “So What”. Keep responding that way until you’ve reached the root of their motivation.

“The Steps” are very important and require a certain sequence.  Like dialing a phone number in the old days…if you dialed a friend’s digits, but were one number off, you wouldn’t reach them.  Much like email addresses nowadays.

We base “The Steps” in our pattern on human movement rules that are validated by science.  Neuro Linguistic Programming calls this modeling.  The NLP, according to Wikipedia:

“Its creators, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, claim a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (“programming”) and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.”

For a quite a few of my hitting students (and parents), “The Reps” are the hard part.  Which leads me to the following analogy…

The Directing the Rider, Motivating the Elephant, and Shaping the Path analogy I borrowed from: Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Dan & Chip Heath.  The metaphor helps with “The Reps”.

Here’s the context:

  • Guiding the Rider (Neo-Cortex): the part of our brain that is responsible for analytics and logic.  Information has to make sense, and be presented in a way that’s comprehensible to learners.  I often refer to this as ‘sticky’ coaching.  This can also be “The Goal”.
  • Motivating the Elephant (Limbic System): emotional part of our brain.  I often describe this by asking the question, “How would you eat an elephant?”  One piece at a time.  As John Wooden says, “Seek small improvement, one day at a time…don’t seek the big improvements.” If we overwhelm the Elephant with too much ‘stuff’, then de-motivation ensues, and as a result, limited action will be taken.
  • Shaping the Path: the actual roadmap of where to go.  We could have the Rider and Elephant onboard, but if neither knows how to get to their destination, then they’re both stuck. This is “The Steps” part of the equation above.

You see, without one of these puzzle pieces, the remaining two don’t have a chance.


Optimize Learning at Home: 17-Point Checklist 

The Science Of Sticky Coaching book goes into more depth on the following points.  I’ve scraped the most relative 16 tips for our purposes in The Feedback Lab:

  1. Focus on Developing Better Movements.  Don’t focus on outcomes/results at first.  For instance, focus on “showing the numbers to the pitcher”, versus how much of a fiery hole the hitter can punch through the batting cage net.  Later, we’ll use ball flight outcomes to reverse engineer where the hitter is being ineffective with their mechanics.
  2. DOWNLOAD the Weekly Accountability Worksheet.  This is for tracking the training and results.  Also keeps the hitter accountable because it requires the parent or coach to sign off on training.  CLICK to Download the Excel Spreadsheet Version – for those looking to fill in online, save to their computer, and send back to the instructor via email.  CLICK to Download the PDF Version – for those looking to print out, write on, and either scan or take a camera-phone snapshot and email to the instructor.
  3. RAMP Warmup Before Training.  R.A.M.P. stands for Range of Motion, Activation, and Movement Preparation.  I have my hitters take 7-10 mins at the beginning of our session to do this exact same warm up.
  4. Stress Discipline (to build Self-Discipline).  Again, I refer back to the Rider, Elephant, and Path metaphor from above.  According to The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born.  It’s Grown.  Here’s How. by author Daniel Coyle, self-discipline is twice as accurate at predicting high GPA scores than IQ is.  The more self-discipline, the better the student, and better the athlete can be. Self-discipline starts with discipline.  Making their bed as soon as the feet hit the ground in the morning, cleaning up after themselves, doing chores around the house, reading a book before bed, etc.  One of my parents creates and laminates a checklist, their kids have to get signed off (by the parent) for doing things mentioned above.
  5. “How Did that Feel?”  Get your hitters to be aware of their body positioning with each movement they perform.  They need to know how it felt to do it wrong.  And they need to know what it felt like to do it right.  Check in every five swings or so.  Or else they won’t learn to do this on there own.  Keep feedback to a minimum.  CLICK HERE for a post I did on “Giving Feedback to Hitters”.
  6. The ‘Right Way’ Sandwich.  According to John Wooden, for his players, he’d modeled the right way to do it, then the wrong way, then the right way again.  The advantage of the Reptilian (primitive-automatic) part of our brain is it does really well with pictures.  In other words, copying another person’s movements.
  7. Being Constructive with Criticism. In Tony LaRussa’s book One Last Strike, he talks about the “Pat & Pop”.  You offer the ‘pat on the back’ of what the hitter is doing great, then offer up the ‘pop in the face’ of what they will be working on.  Works great with my local and online lessons!
  8. No Hyper-Parenting ALLOWED.  Also known as “Helicopter Parenting”.  It stunts learning, according to John Medina in his book, Brain Rules For Baby: How-To Raise a Smarter and Happy Child from Zero to Five.  It can hurt a kid in three ways: 1) Extreme expectations stunt higher-level thinking, 2) Pressure can extinguish curiosity, and 3) Continual anger or disappointment becomes toxic stress.
  9. Perfecting the Fine Art of Empathy.  Just like Steven Covey says from his book The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  John Medina in his book Brain Rules for Baby, said you can use this while interacting with your hitter in these two steps: 1) Describe what emotional changes you think you see, and 2) Make a guess as to where those emotional changes came from.
  10. Praise for Effort.  NOT praise for intellect.  Good praise: “You must have worked really hard!”  Bad praise: “You must be really smart” or  saying “Good job”.  I could give you studies and go on and on about why you should be praising for effort, but I’d urge you to read this article titled, “5 Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”  It’s shocking actually, how two words can turn off the motivation to be self-disciplined and self-reliant.
  11. Model a Favorite Player.  Every hitter needs to experiment and tinker with their swing after a favorite player’s.  Ideal ones include: Hank Aaron, David Wright, Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Davis, and Miguel Cabrera.  Have them get FatHeads of these guys, and put them all over their bedroom walls.  The deepest darkest corner of our brain responds to and remembers pictures very well!
  12. Speed & Tempo.  According to Daniel Coyle in his book The Talent Code, “It’s not how fast you can do it, but how slow you can do it correctly.”  Make the hitter slow the movement down if they can’t execute it at game speeds.  Speed and tempo play an important role in the learning process.
  13. Struggling isn’t an Option.  It’s a Biological Requirement.  Daniel Coyle said this in The Talent Code.  If a young hitter isn’t wrestling enough with a specific movement, then they never engage in the deeper learning process necessary for skill mastery.  It’s okay to be frustrated.  When you sense your hitter getting frustrated, take a break, and come back to it when they’ve cooled off.  Coyle adds these three things: 1) Fire the circuit, 2) Attend to mistakes, then 3) Fire it again.  The brain and body only learn by DOING!!
  14. Data Collection.  To transfer practice to game repetitions, the hitter has to see a lot of LIVE pitching.  Meaning, it must see a flesh and blood human throwing to them.  NO wheel machines!  Timing is everything.  Have the hitter passively (and safely) sit in on pitchers’ bullpens.  No swinging, just Floating and Falling to the Fight Position.
  15. How Many Reps Per Day?  I stopped using how many reps with my students because it tends to overwhelm the Elephant.  So I use time now.  I tell my Little Leaguers to start off with five minutes a day, with perfect reps.  Then as they get consistent with their work, we up the ante.  Set an alarm, and when it sounds, the player is done!  They should be doing their drills everyday.
  16. Focus.  Consistency.  Fun.  Remember, one movement focus at a time until you begin to see them be more proficient at repeating the movement, then add another mechanical layer.  Keep it simple (elephant)…and most importantly, stay consistent with the work, everyday (Rider).  To make it fun…one of my parents shared a  point system they use at home for productive and unproductive tasks (elephant) with their kids.  Productive tasks includes: doing homework, reading a book, or doing their prescribed hitting drill.  Unproductive tasks includes: video games, watching television, or eating McDonalds.  The key is to reward productivity with a fraction of unproductive behavior.
  17. Swing Progressions.  Dry run swings, utilizing slower tempos until the body can catch up to the brain.  I drill this usually in front of a mirror.  Then graduate to hitting off the tee, slow down or break apart the swing if necessary until hitter gets more fluent with the new movement.  Once we get about 60-70% consistent with the new movement, then progress to a moving ball, both soft toss, LIVE front toss, and/or batting practice.  Then regress if their mechanics “meltdown”.

If you have any points to add that piggy-back on how to optimize learning at home, please share them below

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

Softball Coaching Tips: How-to Use Jedi Mind Tricks on Big Egos


Softball Coaching Tips: Yoda Jedi Mind Tricks

Yoda photo courtesy: karingillespie.net

This softball coaching tips “Hit-Bit”, or hitting tid-bit, is an answer to questions from my readers when I asked them, “If you could have a private conversation with me, what two questions would you ask?”  The answers are meant to be short, actionable, and tips you can use today.

Today’s Hit-Bit answers the reader questions:

“How do you deal with a coach or league board member who has an ego problem and don’t know shit about baseball?”

We’ll address the:

  1. Ego problem: read How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Ego problem: read The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey (Particularly Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood), and
  3. Baseball/Softball knowledge problem. Also, look into league training through Positive Coaching Alliance (positivecoaching.org).

And yes, these tips work in baseball too…


Ego Problem Book Resource #1

I’m sure you’ve heard the strategy: make the other person think it’s their idea?  In fact, Warren Buffett took Dale Carnegie’s courses in his early days of investing.


Ego Problem Book Resource #2

The 7 Habits” book rocked my world when I first read it, particularly Habit 5.  As you probably already know, “pissing contests” rarely ever work.  And if you still not catching any fish, then it’s time to take your pole to another pond.  Try something else!!

A good buddy (and college teammate of mine), who’s spent over 10 years selling tires to trucking companies, shared this sales tactic with me awhile back, and I thought it was brilliant.  Use it in talking with Big Egos:

  • Feel – I feel how frustrated you are with…
  • Felt – I felt the same way when I…
  • Found – I found that I could do better by…


Softball/Baseball Knowledge Problem

Just because you saw a softball coaching tips video on YouTube, doesn’t make its content effective.  Here are second-to-none books on coaching strategy:

  1. Fresno State college baseball coach Bob Bennett, book: “Baseball Strategies” (CLICK HERE for an audio interview I did with Coach Bennett on coaching)
  2. University of Texas baseball coach Auggie Garrido, book: “Life Is Yours To Win
  3. MLB manager Tony LaRussa, book: “One Last Strike
  4. Lady Vol’s college women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, book: “Sum It Up
  5. UCLA Bruins men’s basketball coach John Wooden, book: “Wooden

These softball coaching tips will ABSOLUTELY put you on the right track.  Please comment with any other coaching book recommendations below…

I get asked about how my local sessions go, or how I teach, using the latest in empirical research on learning.  This video is a Ball Exit Speed challenge that I put on in Fresno, CA.  It’s a practical look into how I teach hitting mechanics.  What follows is the local news coverage this challenge received, and afterward you’ll see the session itself.

Please post any comments or questions below…Enjoy!

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

I’ve been doing research on an upcoming project called The Science Of Sticky Coaching.  I did an interview with legendary Coach Bob Bennett (my coach at Fresno State from 2000-2002), and Thomari-Story Harden (founder of Team Avenue Travel Baseball, and an 8-year Los Angeles Dodger Pro), and just thought I’d share it with you.

Sorry, the interview audio may not be the best because we did it in a semi-noisy restaurant over lunch…

Here’s a rundown of the questions I asked Thomari and Coach Bennett:

  • What makes Team Avenue different?  Who influenced you?
  • Have you trained others in your coaching system?  Have they replicated your results?
  • What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in training (coaching) youth athletes?  What are the biggest wastes of time?
  • What are your favorite instruction books or resources on the subject of training (coaching) your youth athletes?  If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?
  • If you were to train me for four weeks for the Little League World Series and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like?  What if I trained for eight weeks?

This interview really cuts to the core of what baseball and softball coaches should be focusing their time on in practice.  Taking notes is a MUST!

Here are Coach Bob Bennett’s credentials (from Wikipedia):

“Bennett took a break from Bullard in 1967 to coach Fresno State when Pete Beiden took a sabbatical; the team went 38-10. When Beiden retired after 1969, Bennett became head coach, a job he held until his retirement in 2002. He would go 1,302-759-4 to finish 7th in NCAA Division history in career victories; he only had two losing seasons in his career. He won 14 Conference Coach of the Year honors and was named NCAA Coach of the Year in 1988 by The Sporting News.

Bob coached for Team USA in 1977 and 1979 and managed the team in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup (when they won a Silver Medal) and 1986 Amateur World Series.

Bennett took Fresno State to the 1988 College World Series and 1991 College World Series.

He helped develop Dick Ruthven, Ron Johnson, Terry Pendleton, Eric Fox, Mark Gardner, Tom Goodwin, Steve Hosey, Bobby Jones, Todd Johnson, Jeff Weaver, Dan Gladden, Adam Pettyjohn and Dennis Springer among other major leaguers.

Bennett retired with a 1,302-759-4 win-loss record. #26 was the first number ever retired by Fresno State. He was once president of the American Baseball Coaches Association as well. He was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame and College Baseball Hall of Fame (2010).”

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab
Coach Lee Taft

Coach Lee Taft: “The Speed Guy”. Photo courtesy: LeeTaft.com

“Rules are for the Obedience of Fools and the Guidance of Wise Men.” – Douglas Bader

This is the second in a 3-part interview series…

The more I coach youth hitters and athletes, the more I realize that coaching isn’t about coaching (or telling), but listening.  This year, I’ve really grown in asking my hitters and athletes better questions.

My next guest will get into this more in a moment, but for now, it’s my honor to introduce…

Lee Taft, known to most simple as “The Speed Guy”, is highly respected as one of the top athletic movement specialist in the world. The last 25 years he has devoted the majority of his time training multi-directional speed to all ages and ability. He has spent much of this time teaching his multi-directional speed methods to top performance coaches and fitness professionals all over the world. Lee has also dedicated countless hours mentoring up and coming sports performance trainers, many who have gone into the profession and made a big impact themselves.

Here’s Speed Coach Lee…


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?

Functional Movement Screen

Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Photo courtesy: FunctionalMovement.com

With only 4 weeks to get you ready we are going to take a three pronged approach. First we will address the needs based off your assessment. I will assess you using the Functional Movement Screen, basic mobility and flexibility to test range of motion in key joints like; ankles, hips, T and cervical spine, shoulder, and wrists, etc…, and Athletic Movement Screen where we would look at acceleration in all direction, ability to get through hips, speed, and overall agility.

The second area we will train is speed and agility. The approach here is to improve explosive acceleration to be better at getting a jump offensively and defensively, overall agility so you can effectively move in any direction and open your hips to make a play.

The final area we would attack is strength and stability. I can make more improvement in your overall stability of the major joints, spine, pelvis in a short 4 weeks than I can in overall maximal strength- but I can make some some neuromuscular changes due to the strength training.

So here we go with a program…

Week #1-#4:

  • Monday’s will consist of corrective/stability exercises, linear acceleration, and total body strength training (based on experience the strength training will be technique based for four weeks but slowly increasing resistance).
  • Wednesday will consist of corrective/stability exercises, lateral and angular acceleration, and total body strength (vary the movement patterns. example; bend, vertical push, vertical pull, etc…so they are different from Monday).
  • Finally on Friday we will follow up with the corrective exercises and test to see improvement/ and stability work, reactionary agility where drills are based on the coaches signal. Athlete will learn to explode in all directions based on a command. Lastly strength training (again, movement patterns will change back to Monday’s patterns).
Lee Taft Speed Training

Photo courtesy: LeeTaft.com

If we move to an eight week program the biggest change will come in the strength training and corrective and stability work. The speed and agility will obviously focus on need and overall athletic movement. The strength training will shift from a basic 4 week introductory program to a 3 blocks…

  1. The first strength block would be 2 weeks and emphasize more of an eccentric approach to build force reduction.
  2. The second block would be 3 weeks and emphasis more maximal strength with a tempo that is much faster than the first block.
  3. In the third block I would emphasize more power development with a fast concentric tempo.

A philosophy of mine is to constantly be willing to change according to how the athletes are doing day to day. Baseball and softball athletes require constant supervision due to the explosiveness of the sport and the high repetition through the shoulder and core regions.

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

The biggest influences for me were my father and two brothers. They were coaches and teachers. What, I feel, makes me different is my strong background as a teacher. Today it is common to see performance coaches skip steps and coach to the DRILL versus focusing on the SKILL. My approach has always been to identify the skills that need to be improved and attach drills that fit the solution- not the other way around.

I think one of the major difference I have than many coaches is my willingness to watch and learn from my athletes. What I mean is I don’t just start teaching my athletes. I watch them move and allow them to show me what they do well and what dysfunction they have. This approach makes my teaching stronger because I don’t waste time on things that aren’t pertinent to their success.

Many of the training techniques I endorsed years ago were based on innate human movement. There are reasons athletes move the way they do. Much of it can be related to our nervous systems “Fight or Flight” reactions. This means athlete have innate reactions based on if they are being chased or chasing. In either case, the athlete will move into an acceleration posture as quickly as possible to make a play.

An example of this would be an infielder quickly accelerating after a bunt. You will notice how they reposition their feet into an acceleration posture. One foot will drop back (which I coined a plyo step). When this occurs the use of elastic energy increases the acceleration. There are many examples of this fight or flight reaction to help athletes move quicker and more effectively.

My approach of allowing these reactions to occur naturally then supporting the movement with proper posture build a more efficient athlete.


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

There are two primary resources I feel novice coaches should use. Complete Speed Training and Ground Complete Speed Training: Lee TaftBreaking 2.

Complete Speed Training is a resource coaches can learn about many areas of speed, agility, strength, power, conditioning, and warming up.

Ground Breaking 2 is an indepth look at multi-directional speed techniques and how to teach them. Both are great products for coaches to gain valuable knowledge into the world of speed and agility and more.

I think it is important for coaches to use resources that solve their needs from a foundational standpoint first. This means, don’t overshoot your knowledge level. Too many coaches try to be jack of all trades when simply understanding the foundational information will take them far.


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

One of the biggest waste of times is when I see dads bring the heavy bat for their 9 year old- I cringe. Far too often strategies that are used at the highest levels trickle down. When a young kid uses a heavy bat the timing of the swing is distorted. The swing, at a young age, needs to be built with timing and feel. When the bat is too heavy, even for training purposes, the swing changes from the feet all the way to the hands. The youngsters try to muscle the swing rather than using proper mechanics.

Thanks Coach Lee!

Here’s how you can stay updated with Speed Coach Lee Taft:

Please direct any questions or comments for Coach Lee below…

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

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Last post, we talked about timing your nutrition. But why? How does changing a few minutes of nutrition intake make any difference in your recovery and training? The answer revolves around your bodies hormonal response and an idea called the “Anabolic window.”

Anabolic response is a fancy word for building. When you see the word anabolic, think to build, when you see the word catabolic, think breaking down.

X-axis is time after workout


This graph is showing the anabolic response to nutrients after you exercise. There is a sharp anabolic response to nutrients immediately after your workout. But as you wait, your muscles are less responsive to anabolic activates and less responsive to nutrition.


How Hormones Change Your Training

Why is this the case? This is because of an important hormone called insulin. Insulin is released by your pancreases into your bloodstream when your body detects certain foods in your system. The most popular function of insulin is the regulation of glucose. If your bloodstream has a glucose level that is too high, then this can be toxic and lead to death. So insulin helps lower your blood sugar. Thus you stay alive. Good!

Check this out, the presence of insulin after a workout has been shown to boost recovery and increase muscle gain.


Studies To Help Us

There have been many studies proving the effect of insulin on protein synthesis (the creation of new muscle).  Penn State University Medical School researchers found that insulin stimulated ribosomes (cellular machinery) involved in the creation of muscle protein.

In a different study, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Galveston found that, after an insulin infusion, new muscle creation (protein synthesis) in the muscle cell increased by approximately 67 percent post workout.

I took advantage of this insulin response to glucose right after workouts. This recovery tool, aided my fastball increase from 88 mph to 95 mph in less than a year. When you take your nutrient intervention serious. Big things happen. You accomplish performance goals you never thought possible. I want this same success for you.

I teach a lot of pitchers how to train harder and recover fast (to throw harder). So I call nutrient intervention “Throw Cheese Intervention.” These same principals apply to hitters.

Here is an example of a normal insulin response to exercise without nutrient intervention:

Insulin’s Bad Reputation

Insulin promotes fat syntheses and decreases fat breakdown when your body is in a sedentary state. Over a long period of time, high insulin levels and buildup of body fat have been linked to type 2 diabetes. This is true and scary for a lot of people out there. But keep in mind. The sensitivity of your fat cells to insulin to store fat, is highly dependent on your bodies anabolic state.

The degree at which insulin promotes fat storage (bad), or carbohydrate storage, or protein syntheses (good) depends on which cells are sensitive to the insulin. Different cells (muscle cells or fat cells etc.) are sensitive to insulin based on the timing of your nutrients in regards to when your body was stressed during training.

We detail this very important, nutrition time sensitive characteristic, in the Throw Cheese Nutrient System. The timing and effectiveness of your nutrient intervention has a huge effect on your hormonal and biochemical response to workouts. An elite athlete (who is training everyday) muscle cells responds positively to insulin, especially right after your workout.

Exactly What You Should Do

Right after your workouts your muscle cells are the most sensitive to insulin and glucose. There is a 15 to 45 minute window that your body is starving for nutrient intervention. During this time you need to consume a protein/carbohydrate beverage (in a liquid form). The carbohydrate I want you to consume is sugar.

This will “open” the gates for amino acids, creatine and glucose for new muscle creation, limit muscle damage and blunt negative hormone response from training. The ratio of carbohydrates to protein is 3/1 or 4/1 carbohydrates to protein. For a post-workout supplementation, a 200 pound athlete should consume approximately 15 – 20 grams of whey protein and 50 – 60 grams of high-glycemic carbohydrates (dextrose) immediately after training.

Here is a picture of my shake after a workout:

More precise calculation of your pre-training, during training and post training nutrition is something we will lay out for you later.  So stay tuned bro and bro-ettes!

Keep in mind, carbohydrates and protein are both good by themselves. But when you add them together,  carbohydrates are complimentary to protein in training recovery and strength gains. Immediately following your workout, is the “Prime time” to get protein/carbohydrates into your system. The faster the better!

The below graph shows a large anabolic difference when nutrient intervention takes place.

From the Throw Cheese Nutrient System:

What Kind Of Sugar?

Not all sugars are a strong stimulator of insulin. Avoid products with high fructose or galactose. For example, many fruits (bananas, apples, citrus fruits ) and all vegetables (asparagus, artichoke, beans, broccoli) contain high fructose levels. They are not ideal immediately after your workout (Plus they are slower to digest).  Strong insulin driving carbohydrates include sucrose, maltodextrin and dextrose.


Here Is What I Use

I prefer the carbohydrate dextrose (order Dextrose Powder on Amazon). It is derived entirely from corn, making it natural, effective, and easily utilized by the body. You can scoop this into your shaker along-side your whey protein (whey protein is also very insulinogenic).

What If You Wait?

2 hours after your workout, your muscle can actually become insulin resistant. What this means is your muscle cells will not use the nutrients needed to build and repair the damage you caused during training. In other words, all the work you put into training is wasted. (what a crying shame!)

Do not waste your workouts by limiting your fuel intake. Every minute counts, literally.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, and keep working hard.


PS: I wrote a a free course called “5 Nutrition Shortcuts To A 90+ MPH Fastball” grab your own copy —> click here

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.


Gleeson, M., Lancaster, G.I., and Bishop, N.C., “Nutritional strategies to minimize exercise induced Immuno suppression in athletes,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(Suppl):S23-S35, 2001.

Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances

whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34:828-837, 2002.

Ivy, J.L., Katz, A.L., Cutler, C.L., et al., “Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of

time on carbohydrate ingestion,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 64:1480-1485, 1988.

Ivy, J.L., “Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(Suppl):S236-S245, 2001.

Suzuki, M., Doi, T., Lee, S.J., et al., “Effect of meal timing after resistance exercise on hind limb muscle mass and fat accumulation in trained rats,” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 45:401-409, 1999.

Disclaimer: Always consult a medical professional before taking any nutrition supplements.