If You Don’t Switch To Small Private Group Hitting Sessions Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

 

Learn how to build more effective hitting groups, make more money, charge clients less, and have more time with your family.  In this post, I’ll be addressing the following reader question…

“How do you have hitting drills in a small time window?” (Good for teams or individual instructors)

Here’s what we’ll be talking about in this video:How To Teach Hitting Drills in a Small Window

  • Theory of Constraints (what’s most important?),
  • Small Private Group Structure, and
  • Pro’s and Con’s

 

Theory of Constraints (what’s most important?)

  • My story: a MUST change to small private group sessions (2-6 hitters)
  • Supply & Demand: I didn’t want to raise prices per hitter (the fitness “boot camp” model)
  • What’s important to you? Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Connection, Contribution, Growth

 

75-min Small Private Group Structure

  • Dynamic Warmup (10 to 15-mins)
  • Beginning Ball Exit Speeds, swing recording & analysis (10-15 mins) – I use a PocketRadar
  • Stations (40-mins):
    • 1) Mechanical work off tee, soft toss, LIVE (with me),
    • 2) Over-Under load training (switching stations is based off this one),
    • 3) LIVE whiffle ball – slow pitching, hunting zones, controlling verticals, controlling horizontals
  • Ending Ball Exit Speeds & Review Questions (5-mins)

 

Pros and Cons to Small Private Group Hitting

  • Pros:
    • Help more hitters in small amount of time
    • More money in pocket of instructor, customer pays less for overall time
    • Each hitter gets their specific mechanical things to work on
    • Breeds a naturally competitive environment
    • Older players mentor, younger become mentees (their standard gets raised)
    • Learn teamwork, leadership, taking and receiving feedback, etc.
  • Cons
    • Can be hard for hitters used to individual lessons
    • Lose one-on-one touch with instructor
    • Not as much time to chit-chat (some players love to do this!)

 

Here’s what we talked about in this video:

  • Theory of Constraints (what’s most important?),
  • Small Private Group Structure, and
  • Pro’s and Con’s

This model isn’t perfect, so I would love to hear your advice on what’s worked for those who are already doing this (and what doesn’t), and welcome any questions or comments below the “Reply” section… (thanks in advance!!!)

At Last, The Secret To Motivating Players Is Revealed

In this post, we’ll address the following popular reader question…

“How to coach lowly motivated players?”

What follows is an excerpt from my highly rated book on Amazon with 25 book reviews – average 4.8 star rating, The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary

Section 1, Chapter 12: KNOWLEDGE: Motivating The Elephant

FOUR Fool-Proof Ways to Unlock an Athlete’s Communication Style

From the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA), I wanted to share with you four categories of player ability and temperament.  These are keys to igniting player motivation:

  1. Low motivation-low skill,
  2. Low motivation-high skill,
  3. High motivation-low skill, and
  4. High motivation-high skill.

Learning these guidelines will allow you to understand and communicate more effectively with each of your players, or setting them up in similar learning groups.

Low motivation-low skill – DIRECT

This type of player probably never played the sport before, or not very long.  How do you appeal to this type of player?  By being direct with your instruction, and having a purposeful direction for them.  If you come across this type of athlete on your team at about the 10-12+ year old mark, then a good solution would be to refer them out to a trusted private instructor to “catch them up to speed”.

Low motivation-high skill – INSPIRE

These players may find themselves at the top of your lineup, but may be a part of the hyper-parenting trap.  They may be out there to please mom or dad.  These players need to be put on a pure praise-for-effort diet (“you put a lot of hard work into that”, “great work”).

Whereas before they may have been getting praise-for-effort’s evil twin: praise-for-intellect (“you’re so smart” or “you’re so talented”).

Praise for effort will make all the difference.  John Medina said one study showed how a scientist once got a chicken to turn the pages of a book – like he was reading it – by using continuous praise-for-effort.  True story!

Actively inspire and encourage them.

High motivation-low skill – GUIDE

This is the “Rudy” of the team.  You remember the movie Rudy right?  If not, then rent and watch it on Netflix.  There usually aren’t too many of these, but when you have one, consider yourself lucky because they can inspire YOU and a whole team.

Another movie you can watch to further drill the idea is Radio with Cuba Gooding Jr.

One year when we played Stanford they had an honorary-player resembling the character Warren from the movie Something About Mary.  He wore headphones everywhere he went during batting practice.  At times, we had to protect him from batted balls when he was on our side.  I thought this “player’s” inclusion said A LOT about Stanford’s program.

I’m not saying seek out kids with Developmentally Delayed Syndrome for your team, the preceding were just examples.  You know what I mean.

Use guidance and goal setting with your Rudys.  Get them to improve their skills through baby steps and tracking.

High motivation-high skill – DELEGATE

These are fun players to watch.  And you won’t have many of them, they’re kind of an anomaly.  They’re ones you don’t have to worry about on the field.  With these players you want to make them a part of the decision making process.  Practice drills, lineup creations, etc.  Assign them to be the bridge between players and coaches.  Seriously listen and consider their feedback.

They may be the Team Captains, the highest honor of any team.  Think of Derek Jeter from the Yankees and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox.  These players are held to a higher standard, and represent the team on and off the field.  But make sure they make good decisions both on and off the field.  They MUST be a role model.

Some are leaders-by-example, and some are more ‘rah-rah’ in nature.  I was a leader by example.  I didn’t like being a cheerleader in front of the whole team all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Every player will be wired differently.

I hope these four fool-proof ways help unlock your Athletes’ communication styles:

  1. Low motivation-low skill,
  2. Low motivation-high skill,
  3. High motivation-low skill, and
  4. High motivation-high skill.

 

Grab Your Copy of The Science Of Sticky Coaching Book on Amazon Now…

 

“If you want to argue with “science” as you refer to it, you are welcome and encouraged to do so…but bring your superior evidence and data to the argument!”

Scientist Dr. Richard Feynman

One of the most revered Scientists of our day, the late Dr. Richard Feyman. Photo courtesy: PopularMechanics.com

Science can be tricky.  However, just like with everything else, use proper judgement, and don’t outrun your common sense.

I want to preface a recent insightful Facebook conversation on this with a couple things…

According to Wikipedia,

“Richard Phillips Feynman was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the super-fluidity of super-cooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics for which he proposed the parton model. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Shin’ichirō Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.”

It’s okay.  I know you’re eyes glazed over reading that paragraph.  All you need to know is yeah, Dr. Richard Feynman was a super smart dude.  “…varying degrees of certainty” are the keywords to pay attention to in the Tweet.  He was a true student of Science, using the Scientific Method, and trying to be as objective and unbiased as any human can be.  He had a passionate curiosity of how all things worked.  A true blue scientist.  I highly recommend Dr. Feynman’s book titled, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character.  It’s not a very technical read, goes fast, and is fascinating.

Wondering how to how to spot BAD Science?  Try this book titled, Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Dr. Ben Goldacre.  Dr. Goldacre’s humor and sarcasm goes a long way in getting through this one.

Okay, now that that’s over, let’s get to this week’s post…

I wanted to share a recent Facebook conversation I had with a couple gents.  One I will name “Coach”, so as to not put his name on blast.  Do you believe this statement: “…science is today’s religion. Ppl take it as, fact. If you think science is fact your horribly mistaken.”?  

I interjected in the following conversation, but mainly to confirm Jason O’Conner’s points.  He did a great job of picking apart this objection.  Feel free to use this as fire power for those coaches justifying NOT using science to mold effective swings.  At the end, I’ll put proof in the pudding.  The conversation went a little like this…

Coach:

“…yes u can argue with science. Science is religion not fact. Its guessing and testing not thinking and proving. Very little is proven fact in science. Science is only science until better science comes along. For example. The science of hitting….. there’s ppl out there that say he wasn’t completely right. Then there will be someone new saying the same of your doctor…..i find it funny scientists who can’t hit anything telling ppl the proper way to hit.*”

Jason O’Conner:

“Science is neither religion or guessing and testing. It is the discipline of seeking knowledge in pursuit of the truth and understanding. Whether being applied to medicine, the weather or the baseball swing, that understanding is only as good as the currently available information (data), and yes a process of observation, testing and retesting as tools improve necessarily updates our knowledge and improve our understanding. It does not rely on faith as religion does. It relies on evidence and data. “Hard anywhere” is a result. It doesn’t explain or teach how in fact one hits the ball hard anywhere consistently. That requires some understanding of how the bio-mechanics of the swing works and can be made most efficient for each player. If you want to argue with “science” as you refer to it, you are welcome and encouraged to do so…but bring your superior evidence and data to the argument!”

Coach:

“…science is today’s religion. Ppl take it as, fact. If you think science is fact your horribly mistaken…And i equate science to religion because ppl believe in it like a, religion. Examples being global warming, salt. Salt every day goes back and forth on being good or bad for u. Some think its bad…. others good….. And they all think that way because science told them to. That’s my problem with science. And, again……when better science comes along your science will no longer be science…… like i said. Hitting was figured out scientifically in the 70’s…….But today’s science said they were wrong. Yet they hit better back then.”

Jason O’Conner:

“…better science cannot come along and replace anything. Science uses better information and better data to improve understanding. Usually this happens as a result of technological advance. This is a pointless debate here. But of two things I am convinced:

  1. Your problem is not with science it is with people who may have referred to science to argue a viewpoint you disagree with…science requires critical debate of evidence to come to the most likely conclusion and
  2. As a generality, the elite athletes of today are superior to those of 30+ years ago. Trout would be the best hitter in any era. That is my opinion. Olympic athletes use bio-metrics in every aspect of their training, and there are few world records more than 10 years old.”

*I have a big problem with coaches who are arm-chair quarterbacks.  Saying something like, “I find it funny scientists who can’t hit anything telling ppl the proper way to hit”…is laughable, and a total slap in the face to hard working scientists like Dr. Richard Feynman.  This statement comes from a coach possessing a stubborn Fixed Mindset.  If every arm-chair QB would seek the truth like a Dr. Feynman, Dr. Serge Gracovetsky (The Spinal Engine), Dr. Kelly Starrett (Becoming A Supple Leopard), or Dr. Erik Dalton (Dynamic Body), they wouldn’t chronically suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.

Here’s a quote from Dr. Ben Goldacre that packages this coaching paradox nicely:

“I spend a lot of time talking to people who disagree with me – I would go so far as to say that it’s my favorite leisure activity – and repeatedly I meet individuals who are eager to share their views on science despite the fact that they have never done an experiment. They have never tested an idea for themselves, using their own hands, or seen the results of that test, using their own eyes, and they have never thought carefully about what those results mean for the idea they are testing, using their own brain. To these people “science” is a monolith, a mystery, and an authority, rather than a method.” – Ben Goldacre

I’m 100% CERTAIN there is BAD Science out there.  But coaches, it’s your job to weed out the good from the bad.  Just because 20% of Science may be bad, doesn’t mean we should not listen to the other 80%.  Don’t be a fool.  Knock the chip off your shoulder you may have about Science.  Don’t outrun it, but exercise common sense.  Please, please, PLEASE!

You can eat soup with a fork, knife, or spoon, but only one way is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  There are hundreds of ways to teach hitting that’s for certain.  However, applying human movement principles that are validated by REAL science to hitting a ball, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”, is the pathway to power.

Coaches, have a higher standard for your hitters.  WHY?  Because your hitters are counting on you.

Success leaves clues.  I wanted to share a couple of my most recent testimonials received from parents (within the last week or so), unsolicited by the way.  Words can’t express the gratitude I feel on a weekly basis, almost daily, from parents and coaches sharing how these human movement principles are helping their hard working hitters…enjoy!

Josh, text message after coming up to Fresno from Los Angeles to hit for 2-hours, sons: Matt (Senior HS), Jonny (8th Grade), & James (6th Grade) come up…

“Thank you again for working with the boys. Both James and Jonny crushed a hit last night.  Jonny went 2-for-2 with 2 triples. James got his first double in a long time.  Field we played on had no fence so ball kept rolling…U should have heard the convo on the way home.  How they told their teammates their hitting instructor is the GOAT. Hilarious”

Chris, email about son Aidan (11yo) who has been working with me in my online video lesson program The Feedback Lab since 2017

“Joey, a sincere note of thanks for your guidance over the past two seasons in helping Aidan at the plate.  The All-Star team of which he’s a part won the State 11u tournament this past weekend and now moves on to the Midwest Region.  Since the team was selected, he’s worked his way up from batting 10th in the first tournament to 5th in the State Finals.  He’s gone 10/25 (.400) with 8 singles, 2 doubles and 8 RBI.  The last double came with 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th, bases loaded, and our team trailing 3-0.  Pretty pressure-filled situation being down to the last out with the season on the line.  He drove in 2 runs on a line drive down the left field line and went on to score the winning run.    

In no way is this meant to be boastful.  Sure—we’re really proud of him, but I truly believe the work he’s put in based on your instruction has given him the confidence as one of the smallest kids on the team to hit the ball with authority against any pitcher he faces.  Many thanks!”

Peter, email about son Ethan (9yo) who has been working with me in my online video lesson program The Feedback Lab since February of 2018.

“Thanks Joey, great feedback and analysis as always. The great part is that I’m also learning from you as we continue along. As I was getting ready to send you the last video I was seeing a lot of what you discussed in your analysis; keeping the shoulder angle and showing numbers to landing, and the top hand coming off way too soon. But I was struck by the consistency with his swing, every one had good barrel angel at landing, head movement after landing is way down and as you mentioned you can really see a much more confident swing!  Thanks again Joey, we couldn’t be happier! Looking forward to getting back at it! Talk again in a few weeks!”

Jason, email about son Bleau (12yo) who flew from Knoxville, TN with his best friend Jaser (11yo) and his family to hit, catch some Cali sun, and MLB baseball games. We hit for 10-hours spread out over 3 days.

“Joey, we had a wonderful dinner tonight down in Fisherman’s wharf. I asked the boys what their favorite part of the trip was thus far. Bleau said that ‘Joey is my favorite part’. Thank you for coming through and investing in him. We look forward to meeting your family.”

And last, but certainly not least, an updated on Hudson White, who if you remember was showcased in this post highlighting his performance at the National Power Showcase…

“This year he was a freshman on varsity at Byron Nelson high school. He was starting 2nd and 3 hole. He led all north Texas in hits most of the season and finished 7th overall with 45.  He was hitting the ball hard somewhere! Hudson was named District 5-6A Unanimous Newcomer Of The Year and All – Area Newcomer of the year finishing 7th in area with 45 hits, 25 RBI, 21 runs, 16 SB

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/high-schools/2018/06/21/sportsdayhs-2018-area-baseball-teams-postseason-awards

He also just got back from the Wilson Midwest wood bat championship where he was names MVP  for hitting two home runs. He went 9-18 and only 1 single. The rest were doubles,triples and dingers!  Here’s his MVP interview:

https://twitter.com/martinbwhite/status/1007094716427653120?s=12

He has been on a tear hitting 6 home runs in the last 3 weeks with either wood or an old rusty metal bbcor bat.  Just an FYI update to all the haters and naysayers😂 its the Indian not the arrow. I appreciate your help and instruction. The proof is in the pudding.” – Marty White, email update about his son Hudson “The Hawk” (16yo)

TRUE or FALSE: “If you think science is fact you’re horribly mistaken”…FALSE.  Saying Science is just a “glorified opinion” is nonsense.  If that’s truly what you think, then you’re obviously spending time on the wrong things.  The little bit of BAD Science shouldn’t take away from the majority of good out there.  Coaches, please use some common sense, and as always test this stuff out for yourself – don’t just take my word for it.  And I think true-blue scientists like Dr. Richard Feynman would agree.

PART-2: Drastically Improve Pitch Recognition Skills For ANY Hitter With Best In Training Aids, Online Courses, & Drills…

 

This is Part-2 to the Facebook LIVE conversation I recently had with Bill Masullo, who is the Co-Owner and Senior Baseball Instructor at the Ultimate Edge @ Goodsports.  In case you missed Part-1, where we talked about the effect Fortnite has on our hitter’s mental health, then CLICK HERE.

The subject of this interview is complimentary to a post I did titled, “Why Fortnite May Be Dangerous To Building Hitters Who Crush”HEADS UP: us two knuckle-dragging hitting coaches were having technical difficulties (I know SHOCKER!) before the start of this video.  This is probably the fourth and final take 😛 jajajajajaPart-2 Interview About Fortnite's Effect on Hitter's Vision, Tracking, and Timing

Below are some highlighted notes I took for you…

  • At the 0:50 minute mark, how does posture effect the swing, studies show young athletes sit 80% of their day, certain groups of muscles get tight and others turn off, Gymnastics, Dance, Martial Arts, Swimming are great counter disciplines to friction free movement, rock climbing is also a great “counter” to chronic sitting positions.
  • At the 4:00 minute mark, how working on screens (mobile, tv, computer) for extended periods of time effect ball players, for every 20 minutes of screen time, the eyes need 5-minutes off the screen, Dr. Peter Fadde and “video occlusion” training using his Game Sense Sports app, pitch recognition training, The 6th Tool: Training Baseball Pitch Recognition book by Dr. Peter Fadde.
  • At the 9:30 minute mark, Major League hitters track better than amateurs (but ALL hitters can improve), below average, average, and above average “learn-ability”, Aaron Miles High School story about coach, in mid-90’s, putting particle board in way of hitter during pitcher bullpens (similar to Dr. Peter Fadde’s Game Sense Sports app), Jaime Cevallos pitch recognition hitting aid interview post.
  • At the 13:00 minute mark, Bill asks what parents should know about vision training, Perry Husband foremost expert on timing, vision, and training research, simulating pitch plane, don’t throw to 7yo from standing position 20-30 feet away – like hitting up a mountain, throw seated on a bucket, size of ball short distance makes a difference – baseball players hitting golf sized whiffle balls from 30-40 feet, perceived ball size from 60-feet, 6-inches, or 45-feet.
  • At the 16:45 minute mark, pitch recognition cues, “fat” wrist versus “skinny” wrist, shape of the arm coming through, curve-balls sometimes look like a “bicep” curl, gets challenging when pitchers slot their arm in the same arm slot, Effective Velocity (EV) Tunnels, more strikeouts than hits in the MLB now, Perry Husband coined this concept, perceived velocity to the hitter, easier for corner-back to cover wide receivers running similar routes (deep & post), versus more difficult for one corner-back to cover two wide receivers when one runs deep and another does a 5-yard 90-degree cut, a pitch farther away from the hitter (low-away), perceived velocity is slower, a pitch closer to the eyes (up-in), perceived velocity is faster.
  • At the 22:00 minute mark, I asked Perry Husband how do you counter pitchers exploiting EV tunnels in hitters?  Learning to “hunt” pitches, hunting specific pitches in specific locations, “belly button”, back foot, and real catcher’s glove barrel entering the zone positions (CLICK HERE for more on this), random pitch rounds, my son “hunting” Ford Mustang cars when driving on the road, hunting pitches is less relevant with younger pitchers, and college and professional ball – hunting pitches becomes more relevant, data collection.
  • At the 30:00 minute mark, find Perry Husband’s vision, tracking, and timing products: https://www.hittingisaguess.com/product-category/online-academy/, my courses relating to vision, tracking, timing, and foot work are: On-Time Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alpha (the essentials), and Reaction Time Mastery (full course which includes On-Time Hitter 2.0 videos).

Take 30-minutes To Get Started With Becoming A “Sticky” Super Coach…You’ll Be Happy You Did!

 

This is Part-1 to the Facebook LIVE conversation I recently had with Bill Masullo, who is the Co-Owner and Senior Baseball Instructor at the Ultimate Edge @ Goodsports.  The subject of this interview is complimentary to a recent post I did titled, “Why Fortnite May Be Dangerous To Building Hitters Who Crush”HEADS UP: there’s some unwanted mic feedback to Bill’s audio when he speaks, should be fixed for the next go-round, our apologies.

Below are some highlighted notes I took for you…

  • At the 3:00 mark, address the question of delayed v. instant gratification, in Fortnite you “earn” levels – you can’t “buy” your way to the next level (this is a plus of the game), best athletes or any other successful people in the world are better at delayed gratification.
  • At the 6:20 mark, mentioned Bryan Eisenberg’s book, Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It, talked about the Stanford Marshmallow Study, talked about the University of Rochester twist to the Stanford Mashmallow Study adding in a credible v. not-credible source.
  • At the 11:15 mark, should we “ban” Fortnite, video game aggression studies in the book Pre-Suasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, aggression ONLY comes out on 1-on-1 video game play – not on team game play, “earning” success in Fortnite is great, but success can happen so fast in a video game whereas the physical part of learning a motor skill can take more time, above v. below v. average learn-ability, the difference between doing the right things (being effective) and doing those things right (being efficient), working 4-days per week for at least 5-mins per day.
  • At the 17:45 mark, understand the “reward” is that the movement is correct, difference in feedback we give to a younger hitter versus an older more seasoned hitter, mentioned Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, Goldilock’s Golden Rule to giving feedback to hitters, mentioned Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor, positive v. negative behavioral conditioning, when learning something new start with more feedback when they do the movement semi-correctly, and as they get cleaner with the movement, back off the feedback (still give it), but sprinkle in, move to rewarding the BEST movement executions.
  • At the 27:47 mark, Bill was teasing Part-2 of this interview about the effect playing video games and being on the mobile has on the young athlete’s posture and how that in turn effects their swing, “sitting” is the next “smoking”, and lastly WHY should we as coaches care about this.

Stay tuned for Part-2, and before I let you go…

ASK THE EXPERTS: Jeremy Frisch, Taylor Gardner, & Matt Nokes Cover The Shocking Mistakes Killing Your Swing 

Let’s start this party off with Mr.,

Jeremy Frisch – Owner of Achieve Performance

Jeremy Frisch is owner of Achieve Performance training in Clinton Massachusetts and former assistant strength and conditioning coach at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Massachusetts. Jeremy’s focus is on long-term athlete development where he works with children as young a 5 years of age up through college level athletes.

He’ll answer the following question I often get from my readers…

“What is an effective way to strengthen a swing, say mechanics are good but need more body strength for speed?”

Believe it or not, improving strength in the young athlete is easier than one might think. Young athletes need nothing more than their own body-weight or medicine ball to get stronger. When I train an young athlete’s I am looking at doing 4 exercises.

  1. Total body exercise
  2. Upper Body exercise
  3. Torso exercise
  4. Lower body exercise
Total body Exercise

In my opinion the bear crawl is one of the best all around total body exercises a young athlete can do. The bear crawl improves coordination, trains stability of the core and shoulder girdle and strengthens the lower body all at the same time. The bear crawl can be done in multiple directions, distances and speeds. Because of the difficulty of the exercise young athletes often fatigue quickly therefore very short distances should be used like 10-15 yards at a slow pace.

Upper body exercise

My go to exercise for training the upper body is so simple that many coaches don’t believe me. The exercise is simple: the bar hang. Hang from a chin-up bar or monkey bars with the arms straight for as long as possible. Develops unbelievable strength from the grip through the shoulder and core, not to mention develops mental toughness because the kids can always dig a little deeper and hold on for a few more seconds. Climbing and hanging is a long lost art in children’s lives. Maybe if kids were a bit stronger and more agile in the upper bodies these days we would see less elbow and shoulder injuries.

Torso Exercise

The medicine ball is a fantastic tool for developing rotation power needed to throw and swing a bat. A medicine ball and a brick wall makes a perfect combination to develop a powerful swing. The athlete stands sideways in a stance similar to their batting stance rotate the ball back and using a motion similar to a swing, throw the ball off the wall as hard as possible. Aim for both sides 3-5 sets of 6-8 repetitions

Lower Body Exercise

One of the best and most affordable ways to develop great leg strength and as a bonus speed , running form and all around conditioning are hill sprints. Look to find a steep hill 15-25 yards long and sprint up full speed. The key with hill sprints is to make sure the athlete has the appropriate rest between sets. Too many coaches use hill sprints as a torture device to punish their athletes. All that does is make them tired slow and miserable. Baseball is a game of speed and power and hill sprints can develop that speed and power in the lower body. Each sprint should be followed with a slow walk down the hill followed by at least a minute to 1:30 rest. Look to get 10-15 full speed reps with good rest per workout 2 x per week.

You can see more of what Jeremy is doing at the following places:

 

Taylor Gardner – Co-Founder of The Backspin Batting Tee

Taylor Gardner is an Edison Award Winning Inventor of the Back-Spin Tee, who currently has the biggest social media following of any batting product in the world. With the help of his brother, former professional player and coach, he was able to break into the Major League Hitting World by bringing simple physics to the minds of many players and coaches. Now working across the world, Taylor is expanding his product line and instruction to bust the game’s biggest myths.

He’ll answer the following question I often get from my readers…

“Of all the issues you cover on hitting mechanics, what 2 do you consider to be the most compelling for most hitters?”

Of all the hitting mechanics that I have had the privilege of learning and teaching, there are two that stand out the most.

  1. The element of the stride in relation to getting on time and its importance into the weight shift, and
  2. The mechanism of lining the shoulders on path with the incoming pitch.
The Stride

The stride portion of the swing has seen many variations and is a highly talked about subject. I see a lot of hitters performing their style of a stride, but few seem to understand how to simplify the stride mechanism without destroying other vital parts of the swing. The stride itself is a combination of a step, and a weight shift…That’s what makes it a stride. If you simply reach your front foot forward with no regard for weight shift, it is a step, and practically adding another movement to the swing making your swing take longer than necessary.

I see a lot of young hitters believe that they are late on a ball because they reach their foot out, then weight shift, then attempt to align to the ball, and then swing. Yes, after doing all those movements, they are late…BUT…it’s because they started too soon!

During the stride a hitter can weight shift, and align their bodies to the pitch (yes, even getting into an advantageous position of lag) all in sync. Once the hitter lands all they must do is swing from there. It cuts the timeline down tremendously. Hitters can track the ball deeper than they ever had before and still take a powerful swing without sacrificing their rhythm or connected movements.

Think of how a quarterback throws a pass, or for the matter- a pitcher throwing a ball. They do a lot of great movements during their stride phase, so that when they land, they can simply “throw”. We like to call it “Land-throw timing” or “Land-swing timing” for the hitters.

Lining the Shoulders

Lining the shoulders on the ball is the second mechanism I see that a lot of hitters could benefit from learning more about. Yes, you can begin to get your shoulders lined up to the pitch during your stride phase, but to be more in depth, even if your stride doesn’t put you on perfect timing with the pitch (and most hitters are slightly early even on their best hits), you still must get your shoulders lined up to the pitch to stay on path for contact.

The barrel of the bat will be parallel to the shoulder plane at contact when done correctly. HOWEVER, this is where I see players and coaches trying to get on plane TOO SOON! If you drop your barrel on what seems to be on path early in the swing (Sounds like a good thing right?), but are unable to complete your weight shift/stride, or even track the ball long enough to decide where to swing, you will leave a huge hole in your swing that pitchers can pitch around.

I take some blame for this whole “Launch Angle” Revolution. My product was the first to talk about the importance of launch angles, and since, we have seen many people take our Trademark – “On Path, Bottom Half” to the extremes. You want to be on path with the pitch coming in, hitting the bottom half of the ball ON TIME. On time isn’t just hitting ball to center field, it also stands for

  • Shifting your weight on time,
  • Lining your shoulders on time, and
  • Releasing the energy into the bat on time.

Not early, and certainly not late. I understand hitting a baseball or softball is the single hardest thing to do in sports, however if you do not continue to understand the simple timing elements that lead to an appropriate swing, we will accidentally continue to make hitting a ball even harder than it already is.

You can stay up to date on what Taylor and the Backspin Tee are doing at the following places:

 

Matt Nokes – Founder of One Hitting Solution

Matt Nokes coaching “Around The Zone” Soft Toss

Matt Nokes is a 10-year MLB Veteran, playing for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.  In that time he was a Silver Slugger Award Winner and All-Star Catcher.  Since then he’s been working hard helping hitters as the founder of his company ONE HITTING SOLUTION.  

For over 20 years as a hitting coach he’s been researching and finding out what transforms hitters 99 out of 100 times, he’s developed 12 simple natural hitting Rules, Action Steps, Do’s NOT Don’ts, that he calls the 12 Touchstones because they’re the rehearsals that bring to the surface only the relevant “In The Zone Feelings”.

No more random adjustments 50 times a day fiddling with your mechanics. This program is a 6-week transformational reset suppressing all the clutter, myths and half truths you’ve learned over the years from coaches, parents and now YouTube.

The bottom line is these 12 Touchstones solve 99 out of 100 problems before they ever come up.  You become intentional and take action in the form of rehearsals that weave a triple braided chord of:

  1. Brutally efficient.
  2. Laser focused hitting mindset with the true MLB Plan as the proper context and perspective.
  3. Timing – the 3rd and final chord wrapped tight around the other 2 skill sets.

The glue holding all 3 together to execute your only mandate: Never Miss Your Pitch.  Click Here:   But first watch this short powerful video to give you an idea for what’s in store for you and you’ll be given the opportunity to schedule a FREE Strategy Call with Matt Nokes.

In this post, Matt Nokes answers the following question I often get from my readers…

“Of all the issues you cover on hitting mechanics what 2 do you consider to be the most compelling for most hitters?”

On the most primitive level, if you’re going to express timing with one physical mechanical expression it would be transferring into the ball on time. You can’t separate your weight shift from your swing [that’s called quitting], so it’s critical if you want to develop properly you need to learn to coordinate your stride and transfer.

The 1st way I’d practice getting your weight into the ball is by learning the basic movement of the “step to swing”. You can use a tee without a ball for a point to aim at but it’s good to begin rehearsing the movement without the distraction of whether you hit the ball hard or not.  Hitting the ball at this point is irrelevant.

You want to learn the movement first and then begin adding variables.  If you decide to NOT use a tee, make sure you visualize where the ball would be and don’t let your eyes wander.  You body follows your head but your head follows your eyes and if your eyes are wandering then you’re in trouble, and will most likely wobble in your rotation.

The 2nd way is adding the performance variable using a tee with the “Tall and Fall” drill:

 

The 3rd way would be to add a measure of timing. Once you’ve coordinated your stride and transfer then any soft toss drill will add a some more variables for timing but it’ll be easy enough for your automatic mind to handle without much trouble:

  1. Swinging across your face. Crossing your face is a swing rehearsal cue that ensures you don’t pull your head.  The alternative is to chase your face, and if you do that you’ll be pulling off the ball without much success. Swinging across your face may be the most powerful way to stay on the ball, direct your energy into a fine point and keep the ball fair on the inside pitch.
  2. What are your favorite drills to hit off speed pitches?
My best advice on hitting the curve-ball…Don’t miss the fastball

That sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The best hitters are always ready for the fastball don’t miss it.  Frank Robinson [Hall of Fame] changed the course of my career by teaching me the MLB Plan and a big part of it was never missing the fastball. Frank went on to say “you show me a good curve-ball hitter and I’ll show you a guy with a slow bat.

Ok now that we have that mindset on the books, let’s talk about hitting the off speed pitch.  First you need to practice good timing but without going too deep into timing philosophy there’s a few good ideas and rules to follow along with some solid methods for practicing…

Slow pitch in the batting cages.

A great place to start for hitting off speed pitches is also one of the most convenient places to start and that’s in an automatic batting cage [in the slowest cage].

Most young hitters have trouble hitting in the slow cages because they’ve never been taught to deal with all the timing variables and they’re often discouraged when they have trouble, but they give up before they learn how to let the ball travel.  It’s a mindset and a good way to think of a slow pitch is how you’d hit in slow pitch soft ball.

Trust me…Timing is a skillset that is easily taught but it’s counterintuitive because it’s not a popular topic in the mainstream hitting community.  It’s more popular to say timing can NOT be taught…but that’s a myth.

Seeing the ball up is another cue for hitting the off speed and helps you visualize the trajectory of a potential off speed pitch, so you can still look fastball but won’t freeze on the strike curve-ball. One of the first obstacles to overcome is understanding what causes hitters to vapor lock or freeze on the curve ball.

The higher release point of a “strike curveball” often freezes hitters  because it appears to look like a fastball thrown so high that the hitter immediately quits on it right as it’s released from the pitcher.

Now when a hitter is looking for a normal fastball between the waste and knees and gets a curveball in the dirt, they don’t automatically freeze on a ball in the dirt because it initially looks like a fastball. By the time you recognize it’s a curveball its usually too late and you’re feeling “I can still hit this”.

If you see the ball up you’re able to look for your fastball [you can always adjust down on a fastball] but by looking up the only curveball that’ll look good is the hanging strike curve-ball that usually makes you freeze early in the count.

 

Finally, there’s the technique I call one of the “Touchstones” called “Buying time”

Buying time involves going out and getting the ball by getting deeper into your legs, which gives the ball more time to travel into your hitting bubble within your reach.

Every 7/1000th of a second the ball travels a foot, so if you’re off 21/1000th of a second the ball is traveling 3 feet.  So buying time by falling deeper into your legs before you hit, gives the ball a little time to get closer, and your lower center of gravity allows you to access your farthest reach without leaking if you execute the “Touchstone” correctly.

Either way, you often have to go out and get the ball farther out front without interrupting the flow of your land swing timing.

You can see more of what Matt Nokes is doing at the following places:

But before I let you go…

The Ugly Truth About Video Gaming, What It Means To The Youth Hitting Industry, & How To Fix…

 

Literally taken by surprise, I was SHOCKED to learn…

…how many of my hitters – mostly male – are obsessed with Fortnite.  No, “Fortnite” isn’t an old English term used to describe a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks).  That’s “fortnight”.  I’m talking about “Fortnite”, the video game that beautiful young ladies around the country are taking steps to do the following

For those who don’t know, what’s the “thing” with Fornite?  According to Wikipedia:

Photo courtesy: Fortnite Gameplay Trailor via GameSpot (YouTuber)

“Fortnite is a co-op sandbox survival game…Fortnite is set in contemporary Earth, where the sudden appearance of a worldwide storm causes 98% of the world’s population to disappear, and zombie-like creatures rise to attack the remainder.”

When I survey all my hitters about how long they play Fortnite in a day, I get answers all over the board, from zero to 6-8 hours in a day (on their day off).  Dang!  On average, it seems 1-2 hours is “normal” daily play time.  My sample size includes age 8 all the way up to Junior High and High School athletes (about a 50/50 age mix)!

Why should a coach care? 

Because of behavioral conditioning: delayed versus instant gratification.

As you may have noticed, video games have changed since we were younger.  They’re more sophisticated.  More sticky.  More addictive.  And studies show, have a similar effect on the brain as Methamphetamine.  During video game play, the brain is quickly and consistently being showered (rewarded) by the feel good chemical dopamine.

Don’t believe me?  Check out the book by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover titled, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.  Can you see where I’m going with this?

The challenge to coaches and parents is video gaming will eventually take over physical sports, if we aren’t proactive.  WHY?  Compared to what the video gaming experience can offer youth athletes, learning a new physical motor skill can take too dang long!!  Don’t worry, I’m not calling for a ban of Fortnite…my hitters would KILL ME!  Just a little strategic behavioral conditioning.  Delayed gratification is the answer, and rest assured, it can be learned and trained.  We’ll get into how to do that soon.  But first, let’s learn about marshmallows…

 

The Marshmallow Study

If you haven’t already, check out the above video reenactment of the 1960’s Stanford Marshmallow Study.  It’s cute to watch the internal struggle, alone in a room, of a 4 or 5 year old leaving a single soft squishy off-white sugar explosion in your mouth marshmallow, in anticipation of a second one, if they can wait 15-mins.

The interesting thing wasn’t so much the physical study, but the effect after the study.  Over the course of 40-years after the original study.  They tracked the kids from school to their work lives, and as it relates to delayed versus instant gratification, how things turned out for them was fascinating.

What brought the idea of delayed versus instant gratification to my attention was a fantastic book by my friend Bryan Eisenberg titled, Be Like Amazon: Even A Lemonade Stand Can Do It.  In the book, Bryan references the Marshmallow Study and connects the dots to great business people being experts in delayed gratification (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as an example).

Furthermore…

CLICK HERE for a great article by James Clear about the Marshmallow Study, and developing the fine art of delayed gratification.  You can read the article.  Links to many of the original studies are in his post.  I’ll just pick out the interesting points for our purposes.  First, here are the benefits found in kids with better delayed gratification skills:

“The children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures.”

This is pretty cool, but there was a slightly modified version of the Marshmallow Study at the University of Rochester.  And I think it provides more insight for us coaches…

Before offering the child the marshmallow, the researchers split the children into two groups.

The first group was exposed to a series of unreliable experiences. For example, the researcher gave the child a small box of crayons and promised to bring a bigger one, but never did. Then the researcher gave the child a small sticker and promised to bring a better selection of stickers, but never did.

Meanwhile, the second group had very reliable experiences. They were promised better crayons and got them. They were told about the better stickers and then they received them.”

…The children in the unreliable group had no reason to trust that the researchers would bring a second marshmallow and thus they didn’t wait very long to eat the first one.

Meanwhile, the children in the second group were training their brains to see delayed gratification as a positive. Every time the researcher made a promise and then delivered on it, the child’s brain registered two things: 1) waiting for gratification is worth it and 2) I have the capability to wait. As a result, the second group waited an average of four times longer than the first group.”

 

Are we Born with Delayed v. Instant Gratification?

I know what you may be thinking, “Can delayed gratification be taught?”  Here’s the whopper conclusion…

…the child’s ability to delay gratification and display self-control was not a predetermined trait, but rather was impacted by the experiences and environment that surrounded them. In fact, the effects of the environment were almost instantaneous. Just a few minutes of reliable or unreliable experiences were enough to push the actions of each child in one direction or another.”

Did you catch that? “…the child’s ability to delay gratification and display self-control WAS NOT A PREDETERMINED TRAIT…”.  Here’s the takeaway…

“…you can train yourself to become better simply by making a few small improvements. In the case of the children in the study, this meant being exposed to a reliable environment where the researcher promised something and then delivered it.

…We can train our ability to delay gratification…by promising something small and then delivering. Over and over again until your brain says, 1) yes, it’s worth it to wait and 2) yes, I have the capability to do this.”

James Clear offered these four steps:

  1. Start incredibly small. Make your new habit “so easy you can’t say no.”
  2. Improve one thing, by one percent. Do it again tomorrow.
  3. Use the “Seinfeld Strategy” to maintain consistency (focus on the process, not the performance).
  4. Find a way to get started in less than 2 minutes.

Instant gratification and Fortnite are the devil to youth sports participation!!!  Doesn’t mean we should ban video games.  But it does mean we coaches and parents MUST be more proactive with teaching solid delayed gratification principles.  Besides the 4-steps James Clear offered above, what does this look like with today’s young athletes?  Check out the following two posts titled,

The last thing I want to leave you with is this…

Whether you’re getting hitting information from me or someone else, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE teach human movement principles that are validated by REAL science, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”.  Opinions ARE NOT facts.  In this day and age of video gaming and the allure of instant gratification, there’s NO ROOM for hitting “opinion”.  One of my readers summed it up, short and sweet…

But before I let you go…

Coaching Kids

Coaching Kids Reader Question: “How do you get your own kid to listen/trust your advice as a coach and not as a parent?”

Coaching Kids

My son Noah and daughter Gracen, who were 4yo and 1yo respectively, at the time of this photo.

Be comforted to know that most parents I’ve dealt with have a “coaching kids” challenge – especially when it’s their own!  And I’m preparing to have the same challenge with mine…already have coaches lined up who will be working with them when the time comes 😉

Let me start off by saying, this post IS NOT telling you how to raise your kids.  That’s not my place.  I’m offering advice on what works for me.   In addition, I’m not a child psychologist, or any other type of professional dealing in kid behavior.  Just like with everything on this blog, try it out for yourself, if it doesn’t work, then toss it.  Always be testing.

FYI, I may use the words “coach” or “coaching”, where you could also use the word “discipline” or “parent” or “parenting”.

That being said…

Over the years, I’ve received great advice from the parents of my hitters, before I had kids, and now.  When it comes to coaching kids, below is me throwing my brain up on your tech device screen!

In this post I’ll share:

  • The 30,000-foot view tips to keep “seasons of life” into perspective,
  • 18 ways to get your own kid to listen/trust your advice as a coach and not as a parent, and
  • Some high priority books and resources to read on the subject…

 

30,000-foot View Tips to Keep “Seasons of Life” into Perspective

When it comes to coaching kids, one thing to keep in mind from a 30,000-foot view…

I did a 6-week Men’s Fraternity class at my church a few years back.  The purpose of the class was to train and equip “Godly fathers”.  One thing that stuck out for me at the time, was that your perspective as a dad (or mom) MUST change with the season of life.  What does that look like?

  • Up to 12-years-old, parents are seen as coaches.  Most kids in this age range are less resistant to a parent barking orders.
  • During the psychological warfare teenage years, 13-years-old to college, parents are to be seen as a “listening” counselor.  God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason – to listen twice as much as we talk 😛  And,
  • The years following college, young adults getting into their professional lives, parents move into the “colleague” season of life.  New families, babies, etc.

Another great piece of coaching kids advice for those parents who wear both the “coach” and “parent” hat, was to have the ability to be coach on the field, but mom/dad in the car and away from the field.

One more fantastic piece of advice I received from a coach at Fresno State my Freshman year, at a time when I was so frustrated the coaches were tweaking every mechanical movement I did on the field (at least that’s how it felt to me anyway):

“You don’t need to worry when we’re coaching you.  You need to worry when we aren’t.  It means we’ve given up on you.

Powerful.  That message changed my perspective on coaching the rest of my career at Fresno State!  Look, coaching kids is love.  Make your kids aware of that.

 

18 Ways to get your own kid to Listen/Trust your Advice as a Coach and not as a Parent

I want to preface this section with the fact, I haven’t mastered any of the following points.  That’s right, still working on them.  And I welcome the fear that this process will be a journey, and not a destination.  I’m far from being perfect.  I heard this expert’s advice on one of my wife’s favorite dating shows Love at First Sight:

“If you want to find a perfect person, then you have to be perfect yourself.” One of the frustrated men who got married on the show responded with, “But I’m not perfect”, and the expert added, “Then it looks like you get the message.” (liiight bulb)

We don’t have to be perfect as parents, we just have to be willing to learn, make mistakes, adapt, and try again.  The following list of 18 tips for coaching kids will help (especially when the kids are your own!)

  1. Don’t overdo discipline.  Making mountains out of mole hills – pick your battles. Being consistent with rules and consequences is HUGE.  Remember Goldilocks Golden Rule…too many rules, and they’ll rebel later.  Little to no rules, and they’ll walk all over you and everyone else.  Find the sweet spot.  Without consistent rules and consequences, they won’t build the necessary mental muscles to develop self-discipline when they’re adults.
  2. Avoid overuse and burnout – playing multiple sports or being involved in multiple movement activities is key.  Variety is fun to kids, and the spice of their life.  The same thing over and over can become boring, which leads to burnout.  Bodies engaged in a variety of movements is a healthy body.  Say no to Sport Specialization early on.
  3. Make sure they’re “listening” (the VAK Model) – did you know that in less than 5-minutes, you can get a ballpark of a player’s learning style by asking them a few questions, and watching for where their eyes go? Up to left or right – visual learner.  Side to side – auditory learner.  Down to left or right, and straight ahead – kinesthetic learner (feel).  Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) calls this the VAK Model.  This comes in handy when coaching a child, they don’t look at you, and you tell them, “Look at me when I’m talking to you”…they may primarily be an auditory learner, NOT visual.
  4. Be careful tone of voice – my 5yo son is very sensitive to tone of voice (auditory learner), so I have to be careful when coaching him. I must have good reason to raise my voice during times of correction with him.  Also, tempo of words are important when raising the voice or not.  You want to strive for keeping the voice under control even when raising it.
  5. Don’t question by entrapment – asking leading questions in order to trap them isn’t very effective.  It’s condescending actually.  I’m a work in progress on this one.  Putting kids through an interrogation is a terrible idea, especially if you don’t want resentment later. The key is coming off with genuine curiosity as to why they made the mistake they did.  Remember, they’re not perfect, neither are you.  Easy on paper, hard to apply.
  6. Caution them once, then let them make the mistake (providing mistake doesn’t do extreme physical or mental harm) – ever tell your kid to not do something over and over and over and over?  Lessons are more effective when we get ‘hands on’ experience learning them ourselves.
  7. Praise them whenever they do something you want them to do“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”.  Behavioral conditioning is much more effective when rewarding for positive things, rather than punishing for the negative (i.e. taking things away).  See Karen Pryor’s book Don’t Shoot The Dog in the resources below.  I take my 5yo to 7-Eleven to get his favorite candy RIGHT after school. We also award stickers for doing certain things like listening the first time, cleaning up messes at home, and being patient with his little sister when she’s hitting him!  10 stickers earn him a toy in the $10-20 range.
  8. Ask their advice, put yourself in a learning mode – genuine curiosity.  Be honest, you LOVE when others ask for your advice, and seem genuinely interested in what you have to say.  Our kids love giving THEIR advice.  Be interested in their thought process.  I find it fascinating how clever they are at their age.  Sometimes I underestimate them, and they surprise me.
  9. Patience – using guided meditation apps like Headspace or Calm can be a real help with this.  The book resources below will help too.  Extreme patience in infectious.  Kids will model their parents.  If you’re an angry person, then chances are high your kids will be too.
  10. Understand what their big WHY is – what inspires them?  What motivates them?  Are they looking for attention (need significance), love (craving connection), routine (are they overwhelmed), or variety (are they bored)?  Knowing what’s driving their bad or good behavior can be a big help in prevention or promotion in the future.
  11. Show them the book, video, etc. you’re getting your info from – show them the hitting information you’re teaching them isn’t just “your” opinion.  Show them the science, experimentation, case studies, etc.  Give them proof.  Kids are pretty intuitive.  They seem to know when something has legs or when it doesn’t.  Give them proof.  Check out this post on How to Get Hitters to Buy Into the System.
  12. Give them options to “experiment” with – instead of saying, “Do it this way, not that way”.  Give them options.  You like options, don’t you?  Remember, these human movement principles are like bumpers in the gutter lanes of a bowling alley.  I don’t care what path the ball rolls down the lane, just as long as it stays between the bumpers.  A hitter’s stride type (aka “Float”) doesn’t matter, just as long as there is one.  Let them test, and choose which they feel more comfortable with.  Check out this post on Baseball Stride Drills: A How To Guide
  13. Show them high level movement examples – humans learn best by modeling.  Before there were “hitting coaches” – yes, there was such a time – hitters figured it out by watching other high level hitters.  And yes, it’s okay when coaching kids, to teach them high level movements.  Movement is movement.  Just like you wouldn’t teach an 8yo that 2 + 2 = 5 because they’re too young to learn the truth…you wouldn’t do the same with movement.
  14. Fun – coaching kids MUST be fun. I love positively teasing the kids.  I like making things up to see if they’re listening, “Where’s the keys to the batter’s box?”, “Do you know where the box of curve balls is?” “After running past third base, you run to FOURTH base…” etc.  Keep it light, and the drills fun. Check out this post on: TBall Drills: How To Coach Tee Ball Without Going Insane that may be of interest to those frustrated with coaching younger athletes.
  15. Keep expectations reasonable – “reasonable” doesn’t mean below their current ability level.  The expectations will depend on the age group.  Operating at or slightly above skill level will help players grow.  Learn to manage player frustration, know when to regress or progress a drill.
  16. Break things into small bites – make small circles at first.  The accumulation of many small circles build into a BIG circle snowball.  Focus on one movement principle at a time for a week or month, depending on the age and ability level.  Patience is your friend regardless of what decision the coach whose focus is on winning may be.
  17. Reward effort not talent – reward effort.  Reward process not performance.  “Good job!”, “You’re so smart”, and “You’re so talented” are not helpful pieces of feedback.  Coaching kids in character is best.  Remember, kids MUST learn life lessons through sports, not the other way around.
  18. Pat & Pop Method or the compliment sandwich – give the hitter 1-2 things you really like about their swing (the “Pat” on the back), before giving them the constructive criticism (the “Pop” in the mouth).  Or compliment-criticize-compliment sandwich.  You don’t like to be constantly criticized, and neither do they.  Teenagers often call this nagging.  Find the good before finding what needs to be corrected.

 

Coaching Books & Resources

CLICK HERE for a post by the Positive Coaching Alliance titled, “7 Must-Read Books Of All Genres For Parents”.  Here are the books mentioned in that post, and a few others helping solve the question we started off with in this post:

Some I’ve read, and others are currently on my reading list.  This is a perfect segue to shamelessly plug my “sticky coaching” book on Amazon… 😛

best swing in baseball

Best Swing in Baseball: Here is a Method Helping Mookie Betts – And Many Others – Consistently Crush The Ball

 

In this best swing in baseball video, we’ll discuss:

  • Data and reasoning because personal opinions are seldom useful,
    Best Swing in Baseball: Mookie Betts hitting inside pitch and 'showing numbers'

    Mookie Betts (via my Twitter feed) ‘showing numbers’ at landing on inside pitch…Hitting Guru #57 “should NEVER ‘show numbers’ on inside pitch” objection based on personal opinion with ZERO data to back claim :-/

  • Anatomy Trains, The Spinal Engine, Dynamic Body, WeckMethod, Matt Nokes, Homer Bush, Aaron Miles, and numerous past and present professional hitters agree with CLS,
  • Objection #1: Increases Time to Impact because turning away from impact – twisting balloon analogy,
  • Objection #2: Hitter loses vision and tracking of the pitch – “back eye test
  • Objection #3: Not on inside pitches – hitting “belly button” catcher’s glove,
  • Can eat soup with spoon, fork, knife…but only one way is more effective. Teaching hitting is the same.  Apply human movement principles that are validated by REAL science, NOT “because-I-said-so ‘bro-science'”, and
  • The information is out there, so hitters will find it for themselves, either you will be able to take credit for teaching it or you won’t. Results don’t lie.

Still don’t believe the best ‘show numbers’?  CLICK HERE for a post I did recently titled, “Why I Teach Hitters To ‘Show Numbers’ (And Maybe You Should Too)”.

Don’t be like opinion-based Hitting Guru #57…have solid data and reasoning to back up your “opinions”.

Answering Baseball Stride Drills Reader Question: “How Important Is Forward Momentum I Know We Must Go Forward But Does It Matter If Stride Is Big Or Small?”

“…Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks.  She  went for a walk in the forest.  Pretty soon, she came upon a house.  She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.  At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge.  Goldilocks was hungry.  She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

“This porridge is too hot!’ she exclaimed.  So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.  ‘This porridge is too cold,’ she said.  So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.  ‘Ahhh, this porridge is just right,’ she said happily and she ate it all up…”

More in a bit on how Goldilocks and the Three Bears relates to baseball stride drills, but first…

In the following post, we’re addressing the following concerns regarding baseball stride drills (also works for softball):

  • Stride direction and amount,
  • Stride type (experimenting with the ‘Float’),
  • Head movement from stride, and
  • Controlling center mass in stride.

Before getting into the how to baseball stride drills guide, I want to preface that the PURPOSE of a stride shouldn’t be power.  CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that may confirm this.  If it’s power you seek, then I’d advise looking at the Spring Loaded category.  What purpose does a stride serve?  A stride is for timing and initiating directional force.  CLICK HERE for this post on that.

Let’s get started…

 

Baseball Stride Drills Direction & Amount

Watch this video from Chris Welch at ZenoLink.  Using data and science, he’s found reasonable markers in guiding baseball stride drills

 

Here are highlights from baseball stride drills video above:Baseball Stride Drills: Stepping in Bucket Drill Using Bands

  • Stride length should be about 3.75-times hip width (hip-center-to-hip-center)*,
  • At landing, stride direction is to be closed about 10-degrees (straight forward toward pitcher is zero-degrees), and
  • Stride landing foot position to be about 65-degrees open (pointing perpendicular to home plate is zero-degrees, and straight at pitcher is 90-degrees).

(*Denotes 3.75-times hip-center-to-hip-center is length of stride measured from back foot to stride landing.  NOT the measurement of the stride itself.)

Chris says in the video that if a hitter is under or over striding, then they’re hampering body’s ability to create torque.  Stride landing MUST align ball of the foot with ball of the foot.

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix “stepping in the bucket” using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).  With the image to the right, it’s another one of my baseball stride drills using colored bands to fix stepping in bucket or crashing the plate.  If the hitter is crashing too much with their stride, I get them to feel stepping out, and the reverse is true if they’re stepping out.  I use variance to get them in the middle (blue band).

…Goldilocks Golden Rule. 

 

Stride Type (‘Experimenting with the Float’)

For most intensive purposes, there are 3 stride types:

  • Leg kick – medium (Mike Trout) or large (Josh Donaldson),
  • Slide step – most Big League hitters use this.  Aaron Judge, Robinson Cano, Joey Votto, and Andrew McCutchen just to name a few.
  • Toe-tap – I recommend this for my younger hitters. Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, and Victor Martinez employ this.

Of course, there are variations to these, but these are the three broad categories of stride types.  I call the stride the ‘float’ and ‘fall’.  The ‘float’ is a momentary shifting of weight back towards the catcher before falling forward.  Matt Nokes calls this the ‘Ride’ and ‘Stride’.  Some hitting coaches don’t like this idea, but the reality is this is human movement.  The Chinese have been practicing exactly this move in Tai Chi for thousands of years…in stepping to my right, I have to make a brief weight shift to the left first.  CLICK HERE for a post analyzing this dynamic move.

I included a lot of video examples (CLICK HERE) of MLB hitters using these different stride types to help guide your baseball stride drills. In that post I concluded with this:

“When it comes to [baseball stride drills], Forward Momentum is the objective.  How we get our hitters there doesn’t really matter.  Just give them examples of how to accomplish more FoMo, and allow them to tinker and test until they find something they’re comfortable with doing.”

…Goldilocks Golden Rule.

 

Head Movement from Stride

There’s been few online Hitting Guru #57’s saying we want minimal to zero head movement when hitting.  They claim, the more the head moves, the less your eyes see the ball.  And they point to Barry Bonds as their champion.  On paper, this conclusion looks great, and with Bonds as their poster child seems argument seems pretty reasonable.

However, what science says and what the top 50 hitters in the Major Leagues are doing reveals something completely different.  The opposite actually.  Listen, I agree minimal to zero head movement when hitter’s stride foot lands.  And if baseball stride drills are done correctly, this should be a natural result.  But I don’t agree with minimal to zero head movement GETTING TO stride landing – BEFORE the turn starts.

In this post titled, Softball Hitting Tips For Kids: Why Late Head Movement Fails & Early Head Movement Succeeds, we discuss:

  • The Myth of ‘keeping the head still’,
  • Proprioception & dynamic movement,
  • First baseman stretching to receive a throw, and
  • Watching TV upside down.

The biggest bomb NUKING minimal to zero head movement argument, is this 2013 article by Dan Farnsworth at FanGraphs.com titled, Breaking Down the Swing: Best Hitters of 2012.  Farnsworth compiled a list of the top 50 hitters from the 2012 season according to Fangraph’s batting component of WAR (this is a big deal metric).

He looked at side views of each of these hitters from highlights of the 2012 season, in which each player hit a home-run.  Farnsworth says the main complaint coaches have with early head movement, is that moving the head forward “speeds up the ball”.  This may be true, however during the stride the hitter hasn’t made a definitive decision to swing yet.  In the Head Movement piece of the article, Farnsworth concludes:

“Next to no relationship here.  I think this one can be considered dead, simply based on the fact that all of them moved forward to some degree.”

Did you catch that?! Farnsworth revealed in his research of top-50 hitters in 2012, that ALL moved their head forward to some degree.  You see, head movement is inevitable in ALL dynamic movement.  Early is okay, late is not.   Don’t sit there and point to hitting outliers like Barry Bonds, and tell me the top-50 hitters of 2012 all had it wrong.  It was true then as it is now.

Besides, did you know fresh out of the box, humans come with “video stabilizer” eye software?  Ask an ophthalmologist.  In addition, your knees, ankles (Achilles tendon), and hip joints act as shock absorbers too.  If we start our hitters in an athletic position, and most importantly, they land in one, then the hitter will be fully optimized for minimizing the ball “speeding up”.

If you’re still skeptical, then check out this post titled, Perfect Swing Hacking With Forward Momentum.  We discuss:

  • Balance without thinking,
  • Debunking a common objection & a study, AND
  • Perfect swing examples.

Not too much, not too little, just right…Goldilocks Golden Rule.

And last but not least…

 

Controlling Center of Mass in the Stride

Center of Mass (COM) in the human body is located at the belly button.  This was established in the womb.  The umbilical cord is the center of an unborn child’s universe.  I say this to demonstrate the importance of COM in controlling human movement.

Now, we don’t want baseball stride drills to promote too large or too small of a stride.  Remember? Goldilocks Golden Rule.  Chris Welch from Zenolink said the stride should be about 3.75 times hip-center-to-hip-center, and aligned are back ball of the foot to front ball of the foot at stride landing.  How do we teach this though?  In this post I received the following question from one of my readers…

One specific issue I see in a lot of my players is timing and getting over the front knee too far at contact. What are some good tee drills for staying back and any idea how I can get them to feel it when done correctly.”

In the post titled, Discover Science Of Successful Learning Secret To Fix Lunging (or any swing flaw for that matter!), as it relates to controlling the COM of our hitters, we discuss:

  • Reader question about lunging,
  • “Bean Bag” study from Make It Stick book,
  • WHY we separate PROCESS from PERFORMANCE with hitters learning something new,
  • How it takes time to change ineffective movement momentum into effective, and…
  • Training 4-5 days per week, for AT LEAST 5-mins each day.

And remember the …Goldilocks Golden Rule.