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

Learn about how to fix pinching lower back pain stress fracture (pars fracture) from youth players swinging a baseball or softball bat at 14 years old.  This also includes pitchers!

The Low Back Ticking Time 💣 Risk Hiding In Your Swing

 

Lower Back Explosion Extravaganza

Tweet from a #HittingTwit-ter

We have a lot to cover in this post, so this is what we’ll be discussing:

  • Here’s the problem…
  • Short anatomy lesson of the low back, and
  • What’s the answer?

Most “bad” coaching cues I see out there can work in the right circumstances, for example:

  • “Swing down” – can work for hitters who have an extreme uppercut…
  • “Sit back” – can work for hitters who are too far out front…
  • “Swing up” – can work for hitters who have an extreme down swing…

But Here’s the Problem…

I’ve been tracking the above swings cues for some time now, and I’ve found in a majority of cases, they seem to churn out one low back ticking time 💣 swing after another.  When I see one of these swings on Twitter, it’s like listening to grinding teeth, someone’s fat lips smacking while eating, or nails on a chalkboard.

Let me show you what I’m seeing…

Lower Back Exploding Extravaganza

Compilation of low backs exploding…

How do I know the above hitters were instructed with the coaching cues in question?

These were the hitters on proud display via the Twitter page of the above instructor’s name I blurred out!  Now, he’s not alone in this.  Many others like him are following the same blind mouse.

Btw, it wasn’t hard to find ANY of these swings…I found them in a matter of minutes.  And to be fair, not ALL this instructor’s hitters were doing this, but close to a majority.

Here’s one more clear swing example, one of my readers Shawn Bell shared after seeing the video above…

Focus on nothing else but her lower back…OUCH!

Fact: hitting cues have consequences. When we teach a hitter to take focus away from basic locomotion and gait principles, and put it squarely on manipulating the “forearms” or the “barrel”, young hitters will have a higher probability of wearing a hole in their low back than not.

“Unload your barrel not your body”…

AND,

“The forearms swing the bat. The body helps”…

…are misleading at best, and not having a clue as to what drives ALL human movement.  And these instructors routinely call this a High Level Pattern (HLP).  Sad.  All I see are low backs grinding.  To me, this is a Low Level Pattern (LLP), disastrous to young moving bodies, built on a stale straw man argument, losing sight of the forest for the trees, and chasing a sunset running east.

And most importantly, this low back ticking time 💣 IS NOT found in the REAL High Level Pattern.  I challenge you to find me at least one who does this…and if you find one, I’d love to dig into his or her history of injury.

Short Anatomy Lesson of the Low Back

Lordosis of the Spine

Photo courtesy: MountSinai.org

Normal lordosis of spine (natural low back curve – “neutral” spine), left hand side image.  And hyperextended lordosis (or arching) of spine, right hand side image.

Arching causes the vertebrae in the spine to push together.  This isn’t damaging by itself especially when done in global extension (think gymnast swinging forward under the bar), but adding in a little rotation over and over and over, and we have a low back ticking time 💣.

The REAL High Level Pattern (RHLP) is driven by the spinal engine.  Basic principles of locomotion and walking gait.  I would feel MUCH better reversing the two quoted coaching cues above to read…

“Unload your body not your barrel”…

AND,

“The body swings the bat. The forearm helps”…

This is a RHLP.  As Dr. Serge Gracovetsky (Physicist and Electrical Engineer), author of The Spinal Engine book says:

“The arms and legs aren’t necessary for locomotion.  They’re an enhancement.

Do you want proof to validate this statement?  Watch this… (Thanks again Shawn Bell for the giphy)

  

…The gentleman in the above video is from one of  Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s movement experiments.  He was born WITHOUT arms and legs.  The crazy part is, if you block out his black shorts with your hand, and look at the way he moves and locomotes, you’d swear this man has legs.

The low back ticking time 💣 risk hiding in your swing can be found in using “forearm” and “barrel” focused cues.  The proof is in the almost dozen swings I found in the matter of minutes on Hitting Twitter.

And if you still don’t agree, then here’s one of my other favorite quotes from the author of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand…

“You can avoid reality, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality”.

 

So, What’s the Answer?

A safe AND effective swing.  If we’re ruining lower backs, then how effective is effective?  Here’s a clue, instead of arching the low back, what happens if we do the opposite (flexing v. extending)?

I’m glad you asked!  Think about flexing the lower back as putting space between the 5 vertebrae located there.  This keeps the body from putting a death squeeze on the squishy and lubricating material between the vertebrae (cartilage and synovial fluid).  It makes the spine SAFE for rotation.  You got it, NO MORE LOW BACK TICKING TIME 💣’s!!!

So how do we protect our hitters and build a SAFE and Effective Swing? 

Think of your pelvis like a bowl of water.  Now, imagine a “Donald Duck” butt, where you’re sticking your butt back (arching low back – Dr. Kelly Starrett in his book Becoming A Supple Leopard refers to this as “Nasty Stripper Pose”).  For the kinesiology nerds out there, this is an anterior pelvic tilt – spilling water on your toes.  This IS NOT a good pelvic position when swinging a bat or throwing a ball.

Now, doing the opposite, imagine that same bowl of pelvis water in a posterior pelvic tilt, or Pink Panther butt, think about spilling water on your heels.

I have some cues you can use with your hitters, and a couple Hitting Performance Lab resource posts to reference…

The Hollow Hold…

 

 

If you’re one of those LLP instructors, and still aren’t convinced…PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE for the love of God…at least strengthen your hitter’s in the Hollow Hold.  I’m tired of seeing all the low back ticking time 💣’s waiting to go off. You’ve been WARNED.

 

In Memoriam

This post is dedicated to a great friend of mine and fellow baseball coach that we lost to a brain aneurysm on Monday… (my Facebook post):

“Words cannot express my deep sadness today upon hearing of my good friend and fantastic coach Sam Flores’s passing yesterday. He had no idea he was in a fight for his life – and would lose it – driving to the hospital with his family. So young. So tragic. My family and I ran into him at Costco 4 short weeks ago where we had a brief catch up on life and a big hug…you just don’t know when someone’s time is up. Hug your loved ones today, keep them close, and realize God is in control, not us. We love you Sam, and send my BIGGEST thoughts and prayers to your family as they go through the tragic mourning of your passing. The valley lost a wonderful Father, Husband, Friend, and ultimately a brilliant Coach. RIP my good buddy you will be missed (breaks my heart to see that little kiddo of yours) 😢😢😢

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

Discover flat swing bat path trainer drills to square up a baseball or softball and learn how to hit more line drives instead of swinging under fly balls and hitting top half chopping grounders.

Hitting Tips To Boost Barrel Time On Pitch Plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane. Photo courtesy: JTA.org

I often get caught up in my own ways of doing things that I sometimes lose sight of better hitting tips others are using for the same outcomes.  I’m not perfect.  And I’ll readily admit that I don’t know all the answers.  This my wife will surely echo 😉

But I do take pride in submitting and standing on the shoulders of giants.  This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson changed my life:

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Think of methods as “the drills.”  This post is for you hitting instructors or coaches who’re applying human movement principles, and successfully selecting your own methods.  I want to pick your brain, and hear your thoughts below.

But first, here’s the gist of the hitting tips assignment…

Hitting Tips from the Collective Few…

Ryan Braun Hitting Tips: staying long on the plane of the pitch

Ryan Braun staying long on the plane of the pitch. Photo courtesy: SportsWorldNews.com

I want to focus on efficiently increasing barrel time on the plane of the pitch using the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  By the way, it doesn’t matter if you come from baseball or softball.  So drawing from your teaching experience, what are your thoughts on the following (PLEASE leave your pearls of wisdom in the hitting tips comment section below):

  • Your go-to hitting drill for boosting barrel time on the pitch plane (pics or vids are welcome),
  • The best sticky coaching cue (or cues) that you use with young hitters, and/or
  • Any kind of underground (i.e. DIY) hitting aids that help with boosting barrel time on the pitch plane.

Keep in mind, inefficiencies such as arm barring, bat drag (racing back elbow), rolling over, and staying “attached” through the finish are issues you can address.   After a week, I’m going to have my readers vote on the best approach, and we’ll announce a winner.  Please share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

Backspin Batting Tee Placement Tips: How High Or Tall And Drills To Teach Hitting Power For Baseball & Softball Swing

Learn Backspin Batting Tee placement tips on how high or tall to make the tee.  Discover how to do drills off the tee to teach hitting power for the baseball and softball swing.

Backspin Tee: Batting Tee Location Setup

 

 

Answered: “I have a question about contact points for hitting inside/outside pitches. What’s your opinion on how you should set up your batting tee for working both of these locations?”

Here’s what we discuss in this Backspin Tee batting tee video above:

Backspin Tee: How To Set Up Baseball Hitting Tee Locations

Photo courtesy: Yours truly.com

Hey. What’s going on? It’s Joey Myers from ‘Hitting performance lab’. In this batting tee video, we’re gonna answer another reader question:

“I have a question about contact points for hitting inside versus outside pitches. What’s your opinion on how you should set up your Tee for working both of these locations?”

This is a great question, and this is what I got in from email. I thought, I have gotten it quite a few times, it’d be nice to just put in a post, and that when people ask, I can just send that out to them instead of having to explain it.

So, here’s the general batting tee rule in setting up Tee for the pitch depth, whether it’s inside, middle, or away. Now, I know this requires some visuals. I will take a picture (image to the right), and during this video, I will put it up, so that you can see that image while I’m actually talking you through it. Because I realized that it would be kind of tough to do that in this video setting without actually being out on the field…

How To Set Up Inside Batting Tee

So, on the inner third of the plate, realize that when you set the Tee up you want to be on the inside inner third of the plate.

The other thing that you want to make sure you’re doing is ‘at stride’ landing. So, all these positions are at stride landing, okay. It’s not at the start of the swing. So, you have to get your hitter at the stride landing, and then you can kind of figure out how far up, middle, or deep you want to put the Tee. On the inner third of the plate, ball is on the inner third, you want the ball to be set up whether using a BackSpin Tee or Tanner Tee or whatever Tee. You want it to be set up about six inches to a foot out in front of the stride foot, okay.

Again, lined up on the inner third of the plate. But in relation to where the foot is, you want it to be about 6 inches to 12 inches. Perry Husband actually says when we’re using the front arm shape, we’re locking that front arm out, for some players could be as much as 18 inches. So, it’s going to depend on the age of the hitter. Obviously, if there’s 7 years old you’re not going to put the ball, if you’re working in or third, you’re not gonna put the ball 18 inches out in front of them.

But maybe a high school or college or pro guy or gal, you want to basically use your common sense to where you need to put that, in relation to setting up batting tee locations. It might take a few swings for you to finally find that sweet spot. Because it all depends on the length, and seven-year-olds arms are definitely not as long as a 22 year old’s arm. So, in the inner third, about 6 to 18 inches out in front, of the stride landing foot.

 

How To Set Up Middle Tee

Middle third of the plate, you’re gonna be somewhere around the stride landing foot, in line with it to about 6 inches give or take, 3 to 6 inches, 3 to 8 or so, give or take.

But somewhere at middle should be around stride foot landing, or in line of the stride foot over the middle third of the plate.

 

How To Set Up Outer Batting Tee

Now, the outer third part of the plate you want to set it up on the outer third, and it’s gonna be deeper off the stride foot. So, it’s gonna be farther back, closer to the catcher. So, you want to make sure that that’s gonna be a range. I know, you probably don’t like ranges, it would be nice for me to just say we’ll do it 6 inches from.

But it’s all going to depend on your hitter, the younger the hitter, the less the discrepancy between staggering these balls, the less distance between the contact points. Because the arm, the front arm shape or length isn’t as long as a 22-year old. So, it’s gonna be the range between 6 and 12 inches I would say, or 3 and 12 inches, just again play around with it. But what should happen is when they hit it, when they hit it optimally, they should be on, if it’s on the outer third correctly, should be going to right center field. Inner third, it should be about left center.

Again, the farther out you move it, the more they’re going to pull it off those lines. So, you want to make sure that’s kind of a ballpark of where you want to put it. Think about it this way, this is what I tell my hitters. When we’re talking depth, hitting depth, whether opposite field middle or pulling the ball is think about like a pinball machine. Now, some hitters don’t know or never played on a pinball machine, you can show them. But think about the flappers on a pinball machine, if I had the left side flapper or right-handed, if they’re a right-handed hitter.

So, if I want to hit the ball across the table, opposite field. Then I’m gonna let that ball travel deeper and then my flapper is going to hit ball deeper. If I want to pull it across the table then that ball has to be more inside or coming more where the flapper is, and that flapper has to hit the ball more out in front in order to get it to go. Now obviously, it’s a little bit different when we’re talking about a hitter in a flesh-and-blood human being, but the bat is like the flapper, and the human body is just an extension to that.

That is how you set up the Tee.

Using Art of Variance To Train Off Tee

Now, a couple things that you want to do when you’re working and training off the Tee. Because there are some people out there anti Tee, they are “Never Tee’rs”, never batting Tees. Working on the Tee has its place, it shouldn’t be something that you do all the time. But if you’re gonna work on the Tee, make sure you use what I call the ‘Art of Variance’. So, you want to vary where the pitch height is, and the pitch depth. Whenever we’re on the Tee, we’re on the backspin Tee, or Tanner Tee. We have our hitters, after every swing, we move the Tee up or down.

Doesn’t have to be a lot, just a little bit. Just giving them a different height to it, then what we’ll do is say a five swing round, is the odd swings, the 1, the 3, and the 5 swings, or the first three swings will actually have them swing inside. We will have the Tee set up on the inner third, and we’re moving the ball up and down. Then the last two swings, we’ll move it to the outer third, and we’ll move the swing up and down.

Then, the next round, the next round of five, we will reverse that. So, the first three swings are on the outer third moving it up and down. We’ll move it to the inner third, and then for the last two swings, and we’ll move that up and down.

So, you want to make sure that you’re varying the ball, whether it’s height or depth on the Tee when you’re working off the Tee. Because the pitcher is not going to be throwing it in the same spot every time. So, the Tee definitely has its limitations, it does not obviously simulate a moving pitch. But we can work on the Tee whether, it’s mechanics, we can work on it on getting hitters to understand pitch depth. Where you’re hitting the ball deeper, they hit at the other field, or pulling the ball, we can work on it using especially overload training is really good. We can set the Tee really high and inside, up and in. So, we can get them to work on some things with the overload bat, to get them not getting under the ball.

 

Backspin Tee v. Regular Tee Swing Experiment

So, there’s some cool stuff we can do with the Tee. Just make sure we are smarter with it, and the difference between a backspin Tee and a Tanner Tee or any of any other Tee. Because every other Tee is way different than the backspin Tee, there was an experiment I did. A swing experiment where I hit, I took a hundred swings off a backspin Tee, and a hundred swings off a regular Tee. I split those hundred swings up, I mixed them. So, I had say A, B were split in 25 swing chunks. So, I would say A, where backspin Tee swings. I would go A, B, B, A and then the last round of 100. I would go B, A, A, B.

‘A’ represented backspin Tee swings; the ‘B’ represented regular Tee swings. I took identical pictures of the cage. Then plot it, when I take some swings out the backspin Tee where the ball would go, and then I would do the same on the Tanner T.

But what the difference was, off the backspin Tee, 100 swings looked like a tornado or a tree. The swings off the regular Tee kind of looked blockish. There were some up above the top of the Tee or a top of the gate, but it was more block-ish. What was interesting is the “backspin Tee effect” is what I call it, after changing from a backspin Tee swing to a regular Tee swing. The backspin Tee effect where I was still driving the ball up, lasted for about 10 swings or so. Then, the last 15 of the 25 swings on the regular Tee, I’d noticed that the ball would start to kind of drag down. Then, when I go back to the backspin Tee, would go back up again. It was just an interesting backspin Tee effect.

So, in this video, we answer reader your question:

“I have a question about contact points for hitting inside versus outside pitches. What’s your opinion on how you should set up your Tee for working both of these locations?”

I hope this video answered that question…make sure we’re swinging smarter by moving better. And before I let you go…

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

This post takes a deep dive into how to fix hitting too many ground balls in baseball and softball.  We discuss which part of the ball to hit if a right handed hitter is grounding out to shortstop too much (second baseman for a lefty), swinging over the top of the ball, rolling over, or has too much wrist roll.  Ultimately, you’ll discover how to hit more line drives.

The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls

(WARNING: this baseball hitting drills for kids post is a 4,500+ word beast, but your hitters will be grateful you took the time, believe me.  Don’t worry, you can thank me later)

PLEASE NOTE: even though I refer to the keywords “baseball hitting drills for kids” in this post quite a bit, it’s not going to give you concrete drills to do.  The objective of this post is to be a guide for coaches to more effectively pick drills to help kids hit more line drives.  Although, CLICK HERE for one of my favorite posts to help hitters who have higher than average fly ball and ground balls rates to hit more line drives, it’s called ‘paradoxical intention’.

Before getting started, let me preface a couple other points:

  • Getting the ball in the air is off the table in situational hitting scenarios, such as “hit-and-runs” or “move’em-overs” (but please realize, situational hitting only makes up less than 10-15% of game At-Bats).
  • Getting the ball in the air doesn’t mean soft – or in some cases medium – fly-balls (we don’t teach hitters to hit soft fly-balls, just like you don’t teach hitters to hit soft ground-balls).
  • Getting the ball in the air isn’t an extreme uppercut, nor is it an extreme chopping motion (our goal is to match the downward plane of the incoming pitch with the barrel – and YES, even softballs travel down).
  • Remember, all line drives are “balls in the air” (I know duh, but you wouldn’t believe how many coaches try to outrun their common sense).
  • Fast-pitch softball coaches, you aren’t off the hook either (the reasons WHY will become more clear as you work through this post).

Without further adieu, the RANT…

Right off the bat (pun intended), I’m going to pick a fight with the following statement, getting the panties of some coaches in a bunch, as we talk about baseball hitting drills for kids – so here goes.  Drum roll please…

Teaching Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids To Primarily Hit Ground Balls Is Dumb

This baseball hitting drills for kids RANT has been brewing in me for some time now, and it came to a boil when I promoted the BackSpin batting tee swing experiment blog post on Facebook, titled Baseball Batting Cage Drills: A Quick Way To Hit Less Ground-balls

You can CLICK HERE to read all the “classic” Facebook comments posted to the BackSpin Tee promo.  A flood of baseball hitting drills for kids Facebook comments came in, mostly from coaches…

  • High School to College…
  • Baseball to softball…

All chiming in about how lovely it is to teach their hitters to hit the ball on the ground.  And claiming how terrible of an idea the Backspin Tee is promoting more productive batted balls in the air. And like I mentioned in the preface above, a line drive is a ball in the air!  They had MANY objections:

  • How many games they’ve won with grounders,
  • How fielding percentage is way lower than fly-balls,
  • That it’s much easier to catch a fly ball,
  • How great outfielders track fly balls,
  • How more can go wrong with the defense keeping the ball on the ground,
  • If their team hit more grounders, then they’d score more runs,
  • How some of the most winningest coaches in college baseball history, Gordie Gillespie and Augie Garrido as examples, stress keeping the ball on the ground to their hitters,
  • How you HAVE TO TEACH a 5’6″, 135-pound High School hitter to hit the ball on the ground because his batted ball distance maxes out at 250-feet!  And,
  • How even pro coaches and “great hitting instructors” never promote hitting fly-balls.

Does that about cover ALL the objections for WHY hitting a ground-ball is far superior than putting a ball in the air?

Baseball Hitting Drills for Kids: On Path Bottom Half

On Path, Bottom Half image courtesy: Backspintee.com

Before I get to addressing the above objections with my infamous (more than famous) Bruce Lee one-inch punch, I wanted bring this to your attention first…

 

You Don’t Put Backspin on a Ball by Swinging Down

Some, not all, of these Facebook comments shared how to put consistent backspin on the ball by swinging down on it.

The keyword in question here is “consistent” backspin.  And we’re talking hardball and fast-pitch here, NOT slow pitch.  By the way, did you know hitters can put too much backspin on the ball?  It’s called a popup!  We want the right amount.

These knucklehead coaches even go so far as to believe that young hitters HAVE TO swing down on the ball to get backspin because they’re not “strong enough” to put backspin on it like Major League hitters!!

Watch the 2014 MLB All-Star home-run derby highlights, and note which part of the ball these guys are hitting (top half or bottom half?)

As the Backspin Tee guys say, “on-path bottom-half” is the answer.  NEWS FLASH!  This is just as true for young small hitters, as it is for MLB hitters.  It’s written into the rules of Physics.  Can’t break those rules if you’re on earth, sorry.  And if YOU STILL don’t believe me, read this MLB article titled, “Jon Lester Shows Importance Of Launch Angle”. The article goes into to say how Lester ranks second among Major League hitting pitchers with an average Ball Exit Speed of 92.5-mph.

So, what’s the problem?  Quoted from the article:

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

How could Lester hit the ball so hard without finding much hitting success?  Again, quoted from the article:

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

In other words, to get the ball in the air, the hitter MUST have a positive launch angle. 10+ degrees as a matter of fact.  According to Rob Arthur, author from FiveThirtyEight:

“The effect of speed [running] starts to fade only when launch angles exceed 10-degrees, as exit velocity starts to take over as the biggest determinant of a batted ball’s fate.”

 

Did you catch that? Some coaches out there will teach their faster hitters to put the ball on the ground.  Why?  So they can beat out more ground-balls to infielders, they reason.  Why not teach faster hitters optimized launch angles, to turn singles into doubles, doubles into triples, and triples into inside-the-park homers?

Another valuable thing about optimizing launch angles, and lack of running speed, I was working with a 14-year-old young man, and he ran like he was pulling a tractor tire.  In the beginning, he was behind in Ball Exit Speed for his age (double negative!!), so guess what we worked on?  RIGHT-O!!  Optimizing his launch angles.  It was a quick fix that got him immediate results, until we got his Ball Exit Speeds caught up…and that they eventually did.

One last thing about baseball hitting drills for kids, Aaron Miles, who played 12 years of professional baseball (9 years in the Big Leagues with White Sox, Cardinals, Rockies, and Dodgers), told me these downward swing path hitters got weeded out by AA-ball.  By the way, Aaron Miles is 5’7″, 180-lbs, which is impressive that with his size he competed for 9 Major Leagues seasons and did quite well.  You don’t play that long in the Big Leagues, with his size, UNLESS you’re doing something right.  Success leaves clues right?!

Am I making myself clear on this ‘down swinging’ backspin issue?  Negative launch angles equate to negative playing time on the field.  Before I karate chop the baseball hitting drills for kids coaching objections above,  I wanted to get something else off my hairy chest first…

 

Hitting Ground-balls have their Place

…in situational hitting, which depending on the game, can make up less than 10-15% of a team’s at-bats.  Of course, we don’t want to put a ball in the air on a hit-and-run or with a slap hit.  That’s dumb.  Even I know that.

Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids: Launch Angle Diagram

Launch angle diagram comparing ground-balls to balls-in-the-air. Baseball hitting drills for kids infographic courtesy of the Colorado Rockies and the guys from BackSpinTee.com.

What I have a baseball hitting drills for kids beef with are coaches teaching hitters to hit the ball on the ground…ALL THE TIME!

As I mentioned before, DID YOU KNOW…line drives are balls in the air?  I said it again!!  Doesn’t take a physics professor to see that.

And if you forget every word in this Ground-ball Rant, then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember the following words that are coming from my brain to fingers to keyboard…

 

Pitchers Want Hitters Hitting the Ball on the Ground!

What vertical part of the zone do pitching coaches teach their pitchers to primarily use?  “Keep the ball down!”…is what they say.  Now, what part of the ball are pitchers HOPING hitters hit by keeping the ball down?

That’s right!  The top half of the ball.  Because, as the Backspin Tee ‘On Path Bottom Half’ graphic shows, hitting the top half of the ball induces top spin, driving the ball into the ground.

In other words, PITCHERS WANT HITTERS TO HIT THE BALL ON THE GROUND!!!

It’s all about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.  Pitchers know that they don’t get hurt (as much) with a ground-ball than with a ball-in-the-air.  Look at the Sabermetrics, launch angles increase up in the zone, while they decrease down in the zone.  This is FACT.  So WHY the heck are hitting coaches teaching their hitters to primarily hit ground-balls?!

I seriously don’t know the answer…I’m as some would say, confused.  Or is this some LARGE conspiracy of pitching instructors undermining our hitters?  Let me give you another bit of baseball hitting drills for kids advice…don’t listen to pitching coaches teach hitting.  Unless they’re aware of the strange duality between pitching and hitting strategy.

You see, they’ve been conditioned to induce ground-balls, so whether they’re conscious about it or not, to hitters, they’re promoting the VERY THING they use to get hitters out.  Most of the pitching instructors in my area, who also teach hitting, instruct their hitters to swing down on the ball.  Coincidence?

CLICK HERE for a link to a Beyond the Boxscore article titled, “Scooter Gennett and ground balls”.  The sub-title says it all, “Scooter Gennett’s offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?”

Okay, moving on…

Before getting into Jean Claude Van Damme round-house kicking those ground-ball teaching batting coach arguments included at the beginning of this post, I want you to answer the following question…

Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

Let’s wet the whistle with a FanGraphs.com article titled, “Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher”.  This article is an interesting MUST READ for all.  However, one graphic I wanted to draw your attention to, is this one:

Fangraphs Ground ball Metrics

AVG = Batting Average, ISO = “Isolated Slugging%” or Raw Power, & wOBA = weighted On-Base AVG. Baseball hitting drills for kids graph compliments of FanGraphs.com

What’s obvious in the results for each type of ball in play, is the value of the Line Drive (highlighted in yellow).  I think even “Pro-Ground-ballers” agree that the line drive is the way to go.

But if given a choice to pick the lesser of two evils, the Pro-Ground-ball coach will unanimously pick the ground-ball.

But look at the difference in productivity between the Ground-ball and Fly-ball…

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

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

Well Fly-balls, it’s unanimous…2 out of 3 will get you in the Hall Of Fame 😛 lol

Also, since we’re on the subject, check out this Launch Angle infographic of Bryce Harper that was posted by @PinkmanBaseball:

Oh HAPPY DAY!

Key in on Bryce Harper’s offensive productivity from 10 to 30-degrees of Launch Angle!  Did you pick up on the KEY message?  Killed two birds with one stone there…

  • Key Message #1: This shows hitters aren’t productive unless they’re swinging UP to the ball (not down)…
  • Key Message #2: And if a 9-degree Launch Angle, or less (see ‘Backspin’ image #2 above), is a ground-ball, WATCH how B. Harper’s average AND power numbers skyrocket once he gets to over a 10-degree Launch Angle.

Situational hitting aside, remind me again WHY we’re teaching baseball hitting drills for kids that promote grounders?  So far, I hope this has helped the ‘fence-sitters’ see the light.  Now, let’s zero in on those not even close to the fence.  You know who you are.  I may not get you over to the ‘Light Side’ reading this whole post…

BUT,

The information will fester in a Fixed Mindset brain, like an open wound, and with time, I’m confident you’ll make your way to the Lighter Side of effective hitting. Don’t worry, I’ll be a patient grasshopper.  I don’t care what level of play you coach.

YOU WILL BE MINE Ferris Bueller!

Onwards…

The ground-balls are gross hitting coach will go on and on about…

 

How many games they’ve won with grounders

This is a subjective statement, and an exaggeration at BEST.  First of all, show me the numbers on how many games were won with a seeing-eye single versus a double, triple, or dinger.  Give me 5-years of MLB data.  Better yet, how many “go-ahead runs” were by single or extra base hit?  I’d love to see the REAL numbers.  What is FACT, in the 2017 World Series, the Astros WOULD NOT HAVE WON by hitting a bunch of singles.

Seriously though, of all the baseball and softball games being played on the planet, how many late inning heroic game winners are being hit on the ground?  AND, of those game winning ground-balls, how many of those WERE INTENDED to be on the ground by the hitter and/or coach?

Let’s get personal with you coaches who obsessively LOVE GAME WINNING SINGLES ON THE GROUND, here’s what I want you to do…track your game winning hits, and report back.  Don’t cheat though, and fudge the numbers to save face.  My hypothesis is, ground-balls WILL NOT be the number one game winning or “go-ahead run” vehicle.  I’ve seen too many game winning balls-in-the-air (line drives and fly-balls), in my playing career, to accept that ground-balls get the job done better.

The ground-ball obsessed coaches, go on and on about…

 

How ground-ball fielding percentage is way lower than with fly-balls

This statement proves a statistically flawed argument.  Here’s the information that we need to put it to the test:

The New York Mets infield plays a defensive shift against Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The New York Mets infield plays a defensive shift against Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Baseball hitting drills for kids photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

  • Total number of ground-balls hit in latest MLB season, and
  • Total number of  fly-balls hit in latest MLB season.

I’m willing to bet, there were WAY more ground-balls hit than fly-balls.  More statistical data points translate to lower overall averages.  And the reverse is typically true of less statistical information.

Riddle me this,

…if fielding percentages for outfielders are higher, then WHY don’t we teach our pitchers to pitch to the top of zone, than the bottom?  Doesn’t that sound logical?…“Hey, if our outfielders are the better fielders, then get hitters to hit more balls to them.”

Here’s what I thought up ALL BY MYSELF, there are FIVE fielding infielders (including the pitcher), and only THREE outfielders.  There’s more space in the outfield and less fielders…WHY don’t we hit it out there?  Even my four year old can see the superiority in that baseball hitting drills for kids strategy.

One of my readers Brian Ingram, shared this:

“Just read the article about the flawed ground ball approach and wanted to say I completely agree. also wanted to add on to the idea of 5 infielders vs 3 outfielders, (which I thought of too as soon as I read the title and was happy you touched on it) was that those 5 infielders have less total area to cover on ground balls than the 3 outfielders do on balls in the air.

And the space where ground balls get through is far smaller than the area where balls in the air go for hits. Also, like you showed in the article, ground balls are either hard or soft. Balls in the air though can be shallow line drives, deep line drives, deep fly balls, and bloop hits.

In addition, higher chance of getting on base from things like bad reads, ball getting lost in the sun or lights, wind issues, knuckling line drives, etc.

Also outfielders have a limit of the outfield fence on how far they can go back to catch a ball. Infielders don’t have to deal with those issues, which also count as hits not errors leading to the discrepancy in fielding percentage. All of those things taken into consideration leads to the conclusion that odds of reaching base safely is much high hitting the ball in the air than on the ground. All in all I loved the article and couldn’t agree more.”

Thanks for sharing that Brian (who’s applying to be in the Kinesiology Department at Fresno State in the Fall).  Also worth noting is the fact MLB teams are giving up in an infielder to the outfield to concede the ground-ball…WHY??!  Because they’re taking the easy risk ground-balls don’t do damage like an extra base hit.  Heck, you don’t have to work for NASA to figure this stuff out.

Here’s another thought to consider about this shifted infielder into the outfield…in using a defensive shift, WHY would we put an extra infielder into the outfield, if the outfielders – statistically speaking – were better at fielding?  After all, they don’t NEED anymore help, right?!

Because according to you, outfielders HAVE TO BE BETTER fielders than infielders right?  That’s what the stats tell us!!!

Yoda and The Force

Yoda (The Force) photo courtesy: BusinessInsider.com

Or how about this, since we shifted the infielder positionally into the outfield, does he/she instantaneously inherit the stellar fielding percentage of playing on the luscious outfield grass?  Sounds like “the Force” in Star Wars 😀 lol

Statistically speaking, comparing an infielders fielding percentage to an outfielders is comparing apples to oranges.  Are we done here?  Good.

The ground-ball obsessed coaches, go on and on about…

That it’s much easier to catch a fly ball

Is it?  Steps to processing a ground-ball:

  1. Field it,
  2. Throw it,
  3. Catch it.

Steps to processing a fly-ball:

  1. Move under it,
  2. Catch it.

Hey look!  One less step!  You may be onto something here…but are you?  I played the outfield from my sophomore year in High School through all 4-years at Fresno State, so I know how easy AND difficult it is.  Again, you’re one of three fielders in the biggest part of a baseball or softball field.

Ask Jose Canseco how easy it is to catch this “fly ball”:

Also, ask an infielder going back to catch a fly-ball in the shallow outfield, with a converging outfielder coming towards them, how easy catching that fly-ball is.

At Fresno State, legendary Coach Bob Bennett constantly had us working on this type of drill called “Pop-fly Priorities”. We were drilled to the point of throwing up, AND even still, occasionally the ball dropped into ‘no-man’s land’ in games.

I’d love to take the “ground-ball obsessed coach” out and hit them fly-balls, and have them track it down.  They’re much harder to track than you think.  And things move A LOT faster in the outfield, most of the time you’re on a dead sprint to get from point A to B.

And, when an outfielder makes a mistake, runners advance at least one extra base.  If infielders bobble a ball, typically, they still have time to recover and get the out.  In other words, an outfielder’s mistake is magnified.

Besides, my friends who’ve played in the Big Leagues say the outfield is where misfit infielders go, which brings the quality of overall outfield play down at the highest level.  Ask any converted outfielder how challenging it is to track a ball effectively off a bat 😉

Which leads me to,

The “Ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How great outfielders track fly balls

But you’re thinking, well, MLB and college outfielders (both baseball and softball) are great athletes, and they track and catch everything in the air.  This simply isn’t true.  They don’t.  Not even ‘cans-of-corn’ are off limits to being dropped.  Don’t believe me?  Go to YouTube and type in “mlb dropped fly ball”, and count how many, what you think are ‘cans-of-corns’, are dropped…

And for you college coaches who still don’t agree…this season, track how many balls are dropped by your outfielders this year…AND the run scoring result of that action.  Then track how many ground-balls are dropped by your infielders this year…AND the run scoring result of that action.

My point is, NOT ALL fly-balls to outfielders are caught, and when they aren’t, extra bases are taken.  Heck, extra bases are taken if an outfielder takes a bit too long fielding a line drive/ground-ball in front of them!  I know because I took plenty of extra bases on them in my time.  If an infielder drops a ball, most of the time, it’s no big deal, at least if the runner isn’t fleet of foot.  All is forgiven, minimal damage done.

Not outfielders, no-no.  The “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How more can go wrong with the defense keeping the ball on the ground

My good friend Taylor Gardner, and owner of the BackSpin batting tee, shared a CLASSIC baseball hitting drills for kids response to the aforementioned statement on Facebook (and one I echoed earlier in this post).  He said:

“Groundball supporters…why do pitchers try and keep the ball down in the zone? ……………..They WANT you to hit a groundball. If you don’t believe that, then start telling your pitchers to live about chest high in the zone and see how many pop ups you can get in the game. Ha ha…you should bring your center fielder into the infield and play with an extra infielder because you seem to be so scared of the groundballs (which are better right)?”

This is a common argument amongst Little League coaches…

“Hit the ball on the ground because the other team can’t play catch!”

But what happens when they meet a team that can play catch?  What then?  Let me give a clue…they get beat.  And IF they get a runner on base, then they’re another ground-ball away from a double play!!!  If the other team can play catch, no more getting runners on base because of errors…no more auto-runs to second after a walk.  NOTHING.  Your team is SHUT DOWN.  Did you miss that?  Let me repeat, your misled offensive strategy is SHUT DOWN.

This is WHY, when and if my 4yo son plays baseball, his team will be the most disciplined group of young men at playing catch.  If I come across YOUR ground-ball hitting team, we will CRUSH YOU.  You better have quality pitching, because YOU WILL LOSE!  And you won’t know how it happened…why it happened…or what happened.

Worst of all, your troops won’t be able to recover because you’ve taught them baseball hitting drills for kids that primarily focus on hitting the ball on the ground.  Have you ever been in a hopeless situation like that?  It’s only a matter of time, if you keep doing what you’re doing.  The sad part is if your ground-ball hitting team is lucky enough to make it to the championship game, guess what, most likely the other team will be REAL GOOD at playing catch.  What do you think will happen then?

What’s more,

Guess what happens to ground-ball fielding difficulty after graduating to the BIG field…?

  1. Infielders are deeper – increasing their fielding range,
  2. Athletes get more athletic – enabling them a farther “reach”,
  3. Players get better at playing catch (naturally course of skill acquisition), and
  4. With 90-foot bases (instead of 60 to 70-foot), fielders have more time to field, gather, and throw.  In other words, more can go wrong with fielding a ground-ball, and the defense still recording a putout because they have more time.

But you “ground-ball obsessed” Little League coaches don’t care anyway, it’ll be the next coaches problem when they get into Middle School, right?  Fastpitch softball is a little different…the young ladies will grow into the “smaller” field.  However, points ONE through THREE above still hold true.

One last baseball hitting drills for kids point I want to make on this, comes from a Beyond The Box Score article titled, “Do Hard Hit Ground Balls Produce More Errors?”   The data from the above post analysis suggests errors don’t start consistently climbing until Ball Exit Speeds (the speed of the ball coming off the bat) reaches around 95-mph.  This data comes from Major League players, by the way.

It goes to show that you have to hit the ball pretty dang hard to force the defense to make an error.  To put a 95-mph BES into perspective, this ball has the ability to travel 380-feet with an optimal ball launch angle (1-mph of BES = 4-feet of distance).  Are your High School hitters hitting even 85 to 90-mph Ball Exit Speeds in games?  If not, then maybe you should re-work your ground ball hitting strategy.

The other thing I’ve heard from ground-ball obsessed coaches is, “Well, you can’t get a bad hop in the air.” Really!?  So you’re banking winning versus losing on something out of your control?  In other words, you’re “hoping” and “praying” for the ground-balls your hitters hit to take a bad hop?!  That’s laughable.  Errors are a gift, not something you should expect.  And at the higher levels, there are less “gifts”.  The best coaches (and players) don’t focus baseball hitting drills for kids on the uncontrollable.  Adapt or die.

You gotta check out this post titled, “The Shocking Mistake Killing Run Production (MUST Read For Ground-ball Hitting Coaches): Ground-ball Hitting Approaches May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Producing MASSIVE Runs”

The “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

How some of the most winningest coaches in college baseball history, Gordie Gillespie and Augie Garrido stress keeping the ball on the ground to their hitters

MANHATTAN, KS - APRIL 26: Head coach Augie Garrido of the Texas Longhorns looks out onto the field from the dugout during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Tointon Stadium April 26, 2008 in Manhattan, Kansas. Kansas State defeated Texas 4-1. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

MANHATTAN, KS – APRIL 26: Head coach Augie Garrido of the Texas Longhorns looks out onto the field from the dugout during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Tointon Stadium April 26, 2008 in Manhattan, Kansas. Kansas State defeated Texas 4-1. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

This is where I really get fired up because this kind of baseball hitting drills for kids statement is:

  1. A “That Guy” type of comment,
  2. Dumb.

It’s a great example of making a blanket statement WITHOUT knowing who you’re talking to.  What’s interesting to note is after this person said this, and I responded with the following, they never responded back.

Now, I can’t speak for Coach Gordie Gillespie, but here’s my connection to Coach Augie Garrido…Coach Garrido played for Fresno State (my alma matar) back when Coach Pete Beiden was the head coach.  I believe, Coach Garrido also played with Coach Bob Bennett (but I could be wrong there), who was my coach the first three years I played at Fresno State.

Whether he played with Bennett or not, Coach Garrido learned from Beiden, just as Bennett did.  So having never played for Garrido, I have a pretty good idea that Coach Beiden rubbed off on Garrido as he did on Bennett.

And Coach Bennett, NEVER told us, in the three years I played for him (and even me – a smaller hitter), to ever hit the ball on the ground…UNLESS I was popping up to much, which is adjustment advice.  OR for situational hitting.

So my baseball hitting drills for kids hypothesis with Coach Garrido would echo the same Bennett-Beiden philosophy. I don’t think Coach Garrido compiled a collegiate record of 1950-919-9, and has taken his teams to 15 College World Series primarily by instructing his hitters to hit the ball on the ground.

Somebody close to Coach Garrido, ask him, and get back to me…PLEASE!  I’m dying to be proven wrong.  Besides, head coaches in the college and professional ranks are generalist.  Let me clarify this, they typically don’t meddle in hitting or pitching aspects with a fine tooth comb.  They have assistant coaches whose job it is to do that.  In 3-years, I can count on one hand how many times Coach Bennett gave me hitting advice.

Head coaches should be like the CEO of a corporation…their concern is with big picture strategies, not on how TPS Reports are suppose to be written.  Well, I commend you for making it this far!  Either you’re:

  • NOT one of the “ground-ball obsessed coaches” anymore, OR
  • You’re ONE for a beating! lol

I assure you this rant is almost over, just a few more Karate chops I need to issue…the “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How you HAVE TO TEACH a 5’6″, 135-pound High School hitter to hit the ball on the ground because his batted ball distance maxes out at 250-feet!

Baseball Hitting Drills for Kids: Orin Hirschkorn 300-Foot Homer

Text from dad after 11yo son Orin hit a 300-foot bomb, weighing in at 98-pounds.

I’d LOVE to see the look on the face of the High School coach that said this, after I told him on Facebook that I have multiple 11yo hitters that hit the ball consistently over 300-feet, and get this, they did it while weighing less than 100-pounds…AND not just once, but multiple times!!

I’m sure the look was precious.  Obviously, this coach isn’t teaching effective baseball hitting drills for kids, and doesn’t know any better.  You don’t know what you don’t know, right?  There are certain things, mechanically speaking, that directly influence consistent power, hitting more line drives, and being on-time more often.  Success leaves clues, and we can train it all.

I don’t care the size of the hitter, I’m going to teach them all how to drive the ball.  It’s another tool for their tool belt.  Besides, Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan told me in a phone conversation that bat speed is a better indicator of batted ball distance than body mass.

Yes, a smaller hitter’s role on the team may require them to be better at putting down a sacrifice bunt, hit-and-run, and/or slap hit (especially if they’re faster, or left handed), but ALL hitters MUST know how to drive the ball.  Driving the ball SHOULD BE the default, NOT hitting the ball on the ground.

Look, there are thousands of ways to teach baseball hitting drills for kids.  Just like you can eat soup with a spoon, fork, or knife, but only one tool is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  Stick to applying human movement principles validated by REAL science, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”, to hitting a ball, and your hitters will get predictably positive results.

And last, but certainly not least…the “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How even pro coaches and “great hitting instructors” never promote hitting fly-balls

This statement is also subjective.  Please define “great hitting instructors”.  Does what Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols say about hitting make them a great hitting instructor?  Did Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn do a COMPLETE job of analyzing in retrospect, how they did what they did?  Ted Williams came close, but still was quite far from filling in between the lines.

How about Dusty Baker in his hitting book.  Mike Schmidt? Charlie Lau?  Look, I’m not putting down any of these legendary people, but we have to have a higher standard than just somebody’s hitting “philosophy” or “bro-science”.  We have to teach human movement principles that are validated by REAL science, to hitting a ball.

Simple as that.

So, my first baseball hitting drills for kids question to you is, if you believe the above statement, then whose kool-aid are you drinking?  Who do you consider a “great hitting instructor”?  And last time I checked on FanGraphs, Ted Williams, Pujols, A-Rod, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Bautista, and Donaldson ARE NOT trying to hit the ball on the ground.  Don’t believe me? Look at their ground-ball, line drive, fly ball, and home-run to fly-ball ratios.  I guarantee you’ll see ALL of them being below average in their ground-balls rates, while being above average in the others.

Please check…I’ll wait.  Oftentimes, what Major League hitters say they’re doing is not what we see them do on slow motion analysis.  What’s real and what’s feel are two totally different things.  I GUARANTEE, most of the effective hitting gurus online, are telling their hitters to drive the ball IN THE AIR with AUTHORITY.  Again, that includes line drives.

Wayne Gretzky looking to pass

Wayne Gretzky image courtesy: http://forum.mmatd.com/

So you can keep telling yourself these baseball hitting drills for kids stories (i.e. the “ground-ball obsessed coaching” statements above), and get mediocre results with your hitters…

Or you can follow what Hockey great Wayne Gretzky says,

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Teaching baseball hitting drills for kids to primarily hit ground-balls is ‘where the puck is.” Teaching them to hit the ball in the air is ‘where the puck is going to be’.

Think it’s impossible for young hitters to learn?  You’re wrong.  You may not know how to teach baseball hitting drills for kids to optimize launch angles.  And that’s okay!  Get educated.  Don’t be an armchair quarterback.  Opinions are NOT facts.

Don’t be afraid of setting young hitters up for failure in teaching them to hit more line drives.  Shoot for the stars to land in the clouds.  Have a higher standard for your hitters. In Pre-Kindergarten, my 5-year-old son’s teachers are getting him ready for Kindergarten.  THE NEXT LEVEL!  Coaches MUST do the same!  Stretching requires some pain, but it’s how we grow.

And if you’re not growing, you’re dying.  Swallow your pride, and come over to the Light Side!

Sybervision Systems: How To NOT Squish A Bug, Transfer Weight, & Keep Head Position Still

Discover the power of Sybervision systems motor skill acquisition.  Using elite swing modeling, you can easily see why squishing the bug during the baseball or softball swing is bad.  And what weight transfer and footwork is suppose to look like.  Learn how the best keep their head hitting position still, down, and their eyes “on” the ball.

Watch Perfect Action Over And Over, Subconscious Mind and Muscle Memory Will Start To Incorporate The Actions…

 

 

(Disclaimer: my swing isn’t perfect, so please be nice in the comments.  Not even the fat old guy with the burner accounts and glasses has a perfect swing).

I had heard of Sybervision back in the early to mid-1990’s, when someone told me about a Baseball With Rod Carew instructional VHS hitting video you could watch over and over of him hitting, and “magically” you’d start moving just like him!  At least that’s what I thought about it at the time, but there actually is some merit to it.

Some call Sybervision the Neuropsychology of self discipline, and has a basis in visual modeling — how we  learn and assimilate (neurologically, psychologically, and cognitively) skills and behaviors from the observation of others.

It is based on research conducted by Steve DeVore, and Dr. Karl Pribram, a brain scientist (who postulated the holographic brain theory) at the Stanford University’s Neuropsychological Research Laboratories.

One of the grand-dads of two hitters I worked with this past summer, Paul Rosemont, said this of Sybervision:

“The Sybervision concept is that if someone watches perfect action over and over, their subconscious mind and muscle memory will start to incorporate the actions. It’s ideal to view it before practicing but just viewing it is still supposed to work. The system was used years ago on college and Olympic level athletes.”

By the way, Paul took the time to have my swings edited into the above video we’re sharing with you today, using the Sybervision technique.

Along the same lines, utilizing shorter clips of Big Leaguers, and without the different views, one of my online lesson dads Victor Canseco made the following two videos using the same Sybervision concept.  They’re cropped to specific aspects of the swing, to help his son Harrison get the concepts we were working on with him…

 

Back Foot Skip

 

 

Please CLICK HERE for the Back Foot Variance Drill I use with my hitters.

 

Head Movement & One-Joint Rule

 

 

Please CLICK HERE for the One-Joint Rule Drill I use with my hitters.

Thank you Paul and Victor!

How To Fix Casting, Steep Loopy Swing, & STOP Missing Under Baseball Or Softball

Learn how to fix casting, a steep loopy swing, and STOP consistently missing under the baseball or softball.  Discover how to make a quick short swing and flatten an “up” bat path by swinging down

Here Are 4 Quick Ways To Fix A Long Casting Barrel…

 

 

 

…One of my favorite hitting demonstrations to do with hitters to help them understand the need to stack the bat’s “belly button” above theirs.  A flat bat at landing can cause a few of the following things:

  1. Hands drop (CLICK HERE to fix this),
  2. Racing back elbow bat drag (CLICK HERE for a video on how to use Finger Pressure to combat this), or
  3. A long casting barrel (CLICK HERE for a post that sheds light on how to fix this)

Since we’re on the subject of drills fixing specific swing dysfunction, CLICK HERE (solution #4) to see the “Flashlight Barrel Angle” drill to fix a flat bat at landing 😉

How To Swing A Baseball Bat WITHOUT Pinching Lower Back Pain: Prevention Tips

Discover swinging a baseball or softball bat pinching lower back pain exercises and common youth player injuries found in 14 year olds.  Get exercise resources for Spondylolysis, Sciatic nerve, stress fracture, and Quadratus Lomborum.

Before taking any of the recommendations in this post, PLEASE consult with a board certified physician first if experiencing lower back pain – do the research beforehand.  Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Rolfers, and MAT professionals are a fantastic way to start.  That being said, if the pain isn’t too bad and only occurs during or after swinging, which suggests mechanics may be at fault, then the recommendations in this post will help tremendously.

 

Derek Jeter: These Exercises Accelerate Swing Efficiency

 

 

I was recently introduced to Danilo Collins (pronounced Duh-nee-lo).  A 16-year-old baseball player in Florida.  Over email, he sent impact and follow through pictures (and video) of his swing, saying:

“Hey Joey, I have had this exact problem ever since I started filming my swing. During my final turn, at or near contact I find that my upper body tenses up. My shoulders shrug up, my face tenses up and tilts awkwardly, and my back arches in a weird, unnatural way.”

In this video blog, I want to address Danilo’s swing concerns using Derek Jeter as a model.  We’ll answer these three questions:

  • What does an efficient impact & follow through position look like?
  • What can impact & follow through tell us about movement dysfunction?
  • What exercises can a hitter do to correct this?

If we can get a hitter moving better, they’ll perform better.  Movement dysfunction puts performance on the back burner.  Let’s see how Derek Jeter’s swing compares…

What Does an Efficient Impact & Follow Through Position Look Like?

Last week, I posted this to my Facebook fan-page using Danilo and Derek Jeter’s impact pictures, and received great feedback:

[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/HittingPerformanceLab/posts/571869122942886/” width=”400″/]

Here’s the jist of the Facebook feedback, in comparing Danilo to Derek Jeter:

  1. Batting tee is set too far back for true point of contact,
  2. Detachment of front arm from rib cage – no extension, and
  3. Too much focus on turning faster.  By extending front arm at contact, then back arm after contact Danilo will increase his inertial force (CLICK HERE to see another blog post on this).

Those great Facebook comments aside, I want to focus on something else that most don’t…

 

What Can Impact & Follow Through Tell Us About Movement Dysfunction?

I feel fixing movement dysfunction is just as important as efficient swing mechanics.  Without correction, the body loses the ability to move efficiently.  This dramatically decreases batted ball distance.  Here’s what to key in on at impact and follow through using Derek Jeter as a reference point:

  1. Maintaining strict alignment of head and spine (core stability), AND
  2. Staying low on the pitch plane using back leg (core stability & glute activation).

If we compare Danilo to Derek Jeter, we can see a huge difference in the back leg angle, and how well the head, rib cage, and pelvis stack on top of each other.  When it comes to hitting mechanics my hitters work on the Hollow Pinch, which is pinching the hitter’s belt buckle and belly button together throughout the whole swing – even into finish.  We did a swing experiment on that here.

 

What Exercises Can a Hitter Do to Correct This?

I mentioned Core Stability & Glute Activation.  I want you to do something for me:

  • Stand up with your feet under your shoulders,
  • Squeeze your butt cheeks together as hard as you can (notice your pelvis change position?), and
  • Now, tighten your abs as hard as you can like you’re doing a standing crunch (did this bring your rib-cage down?)

Danilo is arching his back and extending his back leg, resulting in his lower back taking on sheer forces.  In the middle, taking a vacation, are his glutes.  To look like Derek Jeter in the Impact and Follow Through photo to the right, Danilo will have to do these TWO corrective exercises 1-2 times daily:

  1. Hollow Body Hold (core stability) – week 1: 1 set X 20-30 secs hold, week two: 1 set X 30-40 secs hold, week three: 2 sets X 30 secs hold, and week four: 2 sets X 45 secs hold…do every other day.
  2. Super Plank (core stability) – week one: 1 set X 45 secs hold, week two: 1 set X 60 secs hold, week three: 2 sets X 45 secs hold, and week four: 2 sets X 60 secs hold.
  3. Single Leg Floor Bridge (glue activation) – week one: 1 set X 12 reps each leg, week two: 1 set X 15 reps each leg, week three: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, and week four: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg.

The reps and time can change for younger hitters.  Be sure to let the hips down slowly (4-secs) for each repetition for #2.  After 4-weeks on #1, turn up the heat by doing a Super Plank-Pushup.  Make sure to practice the same rules from the Super Plank.  The key is NO rotation of the pelvis.  You should be able to set a drink of water on the back of the pelvis when doing the movement, without spilling.

FINAL NOTE on Derek Jeter’s swing: we want head-spine alignment, but with a slight angle up and back over the catcher for more repeatable power.  Derek Jeter is more vertical like Tony Gwynn.

Importance Of Top Mental Health Coaching In Sports Performance Training

Learn about Dr. Bhrett McCabe, a sports performance psychologist in this podcast interview.  Discover how to improve mental health for young athletes while seeing what Dr. McCabe means by “toughness training” in his mental training coach program.  Perfect for baseball, softball, and golf athletes.

Mental Game Mind Conditioning Interview with Sports Performance
Psychologist Dr. Bhrett McCabe

 

 

 

In this “Importance Of Top Mental Health Coaching In Sports Performance Training” interview with clinical Sports Performance Psychologist, Dr. Bhrett McCabe, we go over:

  • What are the top two mistakes that athletes make when it comes to dealing with those injuries? Psychologically?
  • Dad’s saying you need to tough it out. You need to get out there. What’s your advice for some of those?
  • What’s your advice on a player that is VERY hard on themself?
  • “To me, the first thing we can do as the coach is never assumed that they’re going to be better. I think we must assume that they’re going to struggle.”
  • What do you, and it leads into some tough talks where, we’re talking about suicide rates and things like that. What’s your initial analysis?
  • “Every coach strength, coach hitting coach, every coach should know what to do. If a player comes to them and says, coach, I just don’t think about living anymore.”
  • Where can people find you? Do you have any, so that could be social. That could be the website. I know we mentioned the beginning any kind of workshops or anything coming up?

Click Here to download the PDF transcription of the above interview.  If you’re interested in the Swing Smarter Hitting Training Podcast version of this interview, then Click Here to listen and subscribe.  Click Here for Dr. Bhrett McCabe’s website to get more information on the fantastic work he’s doing.

Free Online Hitting Bat Speed Training Program For Baseball Softball Coaches

Learn about an online hitting training bat speed program risk free trial built for baseball and softball parents, team coaches, and instructors.  Discover the best remote learning way to teach swing instruction skills to your kiddos or other kiddos in the area…

Don’t Buy Into Fear Of Not Having Enough Playing Or Coaching Experience…

 

 

Have you ever wondered why we often fear the irrational?

From the time we were children, we looked under our bed and in our closet for the boogeyman and monsters. Perhaps you were terrified the first time you jumped into the deep end of the pool, or that first day of class. None of these things killed you, yet they felt like they would at the time.

You owe it to yourself to put any fears that no longer serve you aside.

A key factor in improving your kid or team’s hitting by swinging the bat smarter is ditching an irrational fear of not having enough playing or coaching experience.

Game Of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin once said, “Fear cuts deeper than swords.” Well, for hitting enthusiasts like you, this “sword” can slice right through your detecting and correcting swing challenges goals. It can drag you back to the old, ineffective ways of thinking, like falling for “Listen to the Guru because he said so“, the belief that wasting time on information that isn’t validated by REAL Science is the way to go. This can flat-out derail your success.

Currently, ESPN and the Aspen Institute reported on a study indicating that most kids stop playing baseball and softball by age 11. Combine this with the fact that coaches nowadays just want to win games and aren’t focusing on the processes that help them do that. I think buying into this fear is partially to blame, along with video analysis zealots staring at 2-dimensional figures on a screen and well intended coaches who aren’t updated on the research — sources that often support this myth and fan the flames of misinformation.

This has a hefty price tag: it can harm you by focusing on the wrong things.

I remember when I first paid that price. I first noticed it when I trusted MLB players (some Hall of Famers) and prestigious coaches in their books, telling me to do it this way because they said so.

It hurt my progress considerably as a coach following by blind faith because of their “expertness”. Fortunately, I overcame it by doing my own critical thinking and going down the many human movement science-based rabbit holes. You can, too.

I spent the past 18 years working on a fearless approach to hitting and helping friends and colleagues do the same. They were struggling to improve their hitters by swinging the bat more effectively, and more often than not, this fear is one of the reasons their hitters struggled.

Now, it’s true: what’s right for me and other successful hitting enthusiasts may not be right for you. However, if you’ve bought into the fear of not having enough playing or coaching experience, you may want to consider rethinking things.

I hope this helps!

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

When it comes to Online Baseball or Softball Virtual Hitting Coach Lessons, Hitting Performance Lab Reviews its Promise would Change Things for the Better in the Bat and Ball Space

Hitting Performance Lab LLC has reviewed the baseball, fastpitch softball, slow-pitch world since it announced the launch of The Feedback Lab back in 2013. Hitting Performance Lab LLC’s online baseball or softball private hitting coach virtual lessons promised to shake things up and 9 years later, facts are in.Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Previously, with even a passing glance, a person would notice that most private hitting instructors and team coaches lean their credibility on what level they made it to, how many years they’ve coached, how many lessons they’ve done, or their opinion based on someone else’s opinion. The Founder and CEO at Hitting Performance Lab LLC, Joey Myers, makes a point of saying “things were always going to change when The Feedback Lab launched”.

Joey Myers continues…

“Competitors in this niche are typically doing the same old thing. Hitting Performance Lab applies human movement principles that are validated by science to hitting a ball. Science isn’t meant to be trusted; it’s meant to be tested. They ask the question, develop the hypothesis, do the research, collect the data, and form a conclusion.

Playing experience and teaching are completely different. 30 years of coaching can translate into the same year of coaching repeated over 30-years. Doing hundreds of thousands of lessons depends on being effective (doing the right things) versus being efficient (doing those things right). And opinions, are like, well…ahem…everyone has one!

The Hitting Performance Lab knows they’re not perfect. They know the limitations and biases human have. Teaching kids how to hit a baseball or softball can get stale and drift dangerously into dogma, which is the graveyard to consistent long-lasting progress.

Like Bruce Lee once said, ‘A martial artist who drills exclusively to a set pattern of combat is losing his freedom. He is actually becoming a slave to a choice pattern and feels that the pattern is the real thing. It leads to stagnation because the way of combat is never based on personal choice and fancies, but constantly changes from moment to moment, and the disappointed combatant will soon find out that his ‘choice routine’ lacks pliability.’

Ultimately, Hitting Performance Lab knew it was going to be of huge benefit to their customers because by applying human movement principles validated by science to hitting a ball, results become predictable in nature. It’s like getting the cheat codes to the test. Once the rules are known, hitting gets easier. Kids catch on faster. They have more positive results. They stay in the game longer! Hitting a ball consistently hard isn’t easy, but it can be made it easier, and FUN! They actually hope others follow suit.”

Cole Case Study: Online Baseball Private Hitting Coach Virtual Lessons for Beginners Ages 7yo+

Cole BEFORE/AFTER Case Study: Online Baseball Private Hitting Coach Virtual Lessons for Beginners Ages 7yo+

Hitting Performance Lab was established in 2005. It has been doing business 17 years and it has always aimed to help every hitter trade physical ability for academic excellence! They want to make little boys and girls into hard working student athletes.

Currently, the closest thing to The Feedback Lab are VIDEO GAMES! Baseball is one of the slowest most misunderstood sports. At least fastpitch softball is faster paced! Sports are at war with instant gratification nowadays. Delayed gratification MUST get relearned. And it doesn’t help when the sport is being taught as an ineffective dogma that gets unpredictable results.

There’s too much frustration with the misinformation surrounding the craft, kids quit before realizing their full potential. It’s a shame. Applying human movement principles validated by science to hitting a ball can change that!

And The Feedback Lab improved on this by using science as a guide. Engineering, Physics, and Biomechanical principles matched up with what the best are ACTUALLY doing. One can use the online virtual hitting coach format to change the career trajectory of hitters across the country, on a computer.

There are ZERO boundaries. Joey Myers couldn’t imagine in 1996 when he was 16yos, living in Central California, and asking his parents to fly to Florida and work with a well-known hitting coach. Today, it can be done online! This alone was enough to make Hitting Performance Lab LLC’s online baseball or softball private hitting coach virtual lessons more popular with clients in the baseball, fastpitch softball, slow-pitch softball space, quickly.

The Feedback Lab is now available to buy and review at: http://gohpl.com/feedbacklab2