How Your Central Hitting “Operating System” May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Scoring More Runs

How To Maximize A Hitter's Contribution To Run Scoring Process  

Photo courtesy: MopUpDuty.com

Recently, I had a conversation with a coach on Facebook who thought the following quote from Josh Donaldson was “horrible advice”:

“If you’re 10-years-old and your coach tells you to get on top of the ball…tell him NO.”

I’m not getting into the positive or negative of Donaldson’s statement, but the coach’s responses that followed his “horrible advice” comment got me thinking.  Come to find out, the loud and clear message was this coach despises when hitters strikeout. Often referring to this offensive outcome as “disgusting”.  What was interesting was this one principle was central to how and what he teaches his hitters.

So I wanted to do a hitting “operating system” thought experiment.  In reading what follows, please keep in mind what the main objective to offense is, according to FanGraphs.com

“In baseball [or softball], we care about run scoring (and prevention) and so when looking at offensive statistics, we want to find statistics that tell you something about how much a player contributes to the run scoring process…again, we care about a player’s contribution to run scoring and if you treat everything equally you’re not getting a very accurate measure of those contributions.” 

In this thought experiment, we’ll discuss…as a hitting instructor, what would happen if:

  • The Time To Impact Metric was Central to the “Operating System”?
  • Minimizing a Hitter’s Strikeouts were Central to the “Operating System”?
  • Maximizing Batting Average were Central to the “Operating System”? And,
  • Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

Now, that being said…as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

The Time To Impact Metric was Central to the “Operating System”? 

If you’re new to this term, here’s the definition of Time To Impact according to Zepp:

“TIME TO IMPACT is the amount of time (in seconds) from the start of the downswing until impact of the bat with the ball. The closer to ZERO your swing is, the quicker your bat is to the ball. The faster the time to impact, the longer the hitter can wait to start the swing. Time to Impact also measures how short a player’s swing is. Time to Impact measures their coordination of both their hand and the bat barrel to maximize swing efficiency to the ball.”

CLICK HERE for amateur, High School, and Pro ranges for both baseball and softball.  What would be the top 2-3 priority hitting concepts guided by this principle?

  1. Point-A to B barrel path (shortest distance between two points). Default hitting strategy would be “Knob to the ball”.  “Swing down”. “Barrel above the hands”.
  2. Most likely using more linear elements in the swing for both upper and lower half (i.e. ‘showing numbers’ will be a no-no).  Maybe similar to a Charlie Lau style of hitting.
  3. Minimalist view of the swing…wide feet, no stride, minimal hand and head movement, etc.  May not believe a hitter can train timing, so the view is that it’s all about bettering the hitter’s reaction time.

Look, there’s a healthy range for Time To Impact, not taking too long, and not being so quick the barrel is not in the impact zone long enough.  You can see that range in the previous Zepp link.  Remember, we want to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process 

Moving on,

As a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

Minimizing a Hitter’s Strikeouts were Central to the “Operating System”? 

What if you despised hitters striking out so much, you often referred to this outcome as “disgusting”, like our coaching friend above.  What would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • Protecting hitters from swing and misses at all cost.  Very defensive just make contact swings, especially with 2-strikes.  May subscribe to barrel on plane of pitch early and stay on plane longer.  Less margin for error.
  • Believes in hitting ball hard and on a line.  However, low liners and ground-balls are preferred, especially with 2-strikes.  Don’t care as much about extra base hits, doubles maybe, but not homers.  They aren’t worth the risk.  Swings taught at the advent of astro turf fit this type of hitting perfectly.  Hard and on the ground.
  • Mechanics may look like: wide no-stride feet, bug squishing, minimal head movement from start of swing to finish, choking up (especially with two strikes).  Very defensive type of swing.  On board with boosting Ball Exit Speeds, but will not agree with optimizing Launch Angles.  Besides hitter strikeouts, this coach absolutely hates getting the ball in the air (too much of an out risk for them), unless it’s a low level line drive.  High batting average and low strikeouts are very important to this coach.

Listen, if this is you, I’d highly advise checking out this VERY popular post titled, “The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground Balls”.  I’m not going into every argument here, but the math and geometry don’t lie in demonstrating ground-balls are gross.  The main reasons are:

  1. Ask any pitcher, and most (if not all) will tell you they’re taught to keep the ball down in the zone, to get the ground-ball.  So, if the default strategy – or safety net to the line-drive – is to hit ground-balls, then you’re teaching hitters to do what pitchers want them to do.
  2. Because of reason #1, there are 5 fielders on the infield (yes, the pitcher is considered a fielder) with less space to cover.  There are only 3 outfielders with A LOT of space to cover.  And lastly,
  3. Most double plays are turned on the infield (probably THE WORST hitting outcome in the sport), and if you’re pinning hopes and dreams on an infielder making an error or ball taking a weird bounce, then you’re focusing on things you can’t control.  High level coaches and players don’t think that way.  WHY? Because it’s silly.

Again, we want to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process.  A defensive swing doesn’t do this. 

Next, as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

 

Maximizing Batting Average were Central to the “Operating System”?

In Golf, precision is key.  The least strokes possible.  Being able to control the club head has a lot of value because one small deviation at impact is exponentially compounded hundreds of yards from the tee box.  The last hitter to hit .400 was Ted Williams in 1941.  Tony Gwynn came close in the strike shortened year of 1994, hitting .394, and hitting around .370 in three separate full seasons.  And Gwynn had a mere fraction of the power Williams did.

Before I get to what a hitting coach would focus on here, I wanted to address the elephant in the room.  In the day and age of Sabermetrics, Batting Average isn’t a useful statistic in deciding a player’s value.  In a FanGraphs post titled, “Stats to Avoid: Batting Average”, they put forth two reasons to avoid looking at BA as a useful metric:

  1. “Batting average ignores a segment of offensive actions just because they aren’t “hits,” and 100 years ago, someone decided a hit and a walk were fundamentally different.”  And,
  2. “The second major flaw is that batting average treats every hit equally even though certain hits are more valuable than others. Batting average treats a single and a double like the same thing, even though a hitter who only hit doubles would help his team score a lot more runs than a hitter who only hit singles.” 

That being said, maybe a better stat would be Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). Not the best, but better than BA.  FanGraphs.com defines BABIP as:

“Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. A ball is “in play” when the plate appearance ends in something other than a strikeout, walk, hit batter, catcher’s interference, sacrifice bunt, or home run.”

Okay, so what would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • Getting on the plane of the pitch early with the barrel, and maximizing that time.
  • Place a high emphasis on barrel control, both horizontally (across the field) and vertically (optimizing Launch Angles).  The best hitters in the world can put the ball where they want, when they want, during batting practice.
  • This Joey Votto interview post describes this approach, it’s titled, “Joey Votto: Why Coaches SHOULD NOT Be Obsessed With Launch Angles”

I LOVE this approach, and I feel coaches have done a poor job of training their hitters in it in the past (including me).  Teaching hitters to hit the ball where they want, when they want.  Why can’t we have hitters in High School batting .600 to .800?  Or Little Leaguers hitting .880?  I know it can be done because I did it when I was 12yo, in addition to hitting 30+ homers.  Using Batting Average (BA), or better yet Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), is a great start to encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process.

The challenge I have with it though, neither of the BA or BABIP metrics take walks and/or homers into account.  Remember “contribute to run scoring process”.  Which leads me to, as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…  

 

Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

Have you read the book MoneyBall by Michael Lewis, or watched the movie with Brad Pitt?  If you haven’t…THEN WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!!!  lol, kidding.  OPS stands for On-Base Percentage PLUS Slugging Percentage.  There are better metrics, but this is a good one to start with if this is new to you.  FanGraphs.com defines it as:

“On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) is exactly what it sounds like: the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. Many sabermetricians don’t like OPS because it treats OBP as equal in value with SLG, while OBP is roughly twice as important as SLG in terms of its effect on run scoring (x1.8 to be exact). However, OPS has value as a metric because it is accepted and used more widely than other, more accurate statistics while also being a relatively accurate representations of offense.”

It’s one of the best metrics to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process.  On-Base Percentage (OBP) measures how often a player gets on base.  And Slugging Percentage (Slug%) measures how many extra base hits a hitter hits.  ISO, or Isolated Slugging (aka “raw power”, takes singles out of the equation), is better than Slug%, but I don’t want to complicate matters. Remember, the object of this game is to get runners on, and knock’em in.

 Okay, so what would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • High frequency of hitting the ball hard.  Increase Ball Exit Speed, or how fast the ball comes off the bat.  However high Ball Exit Speeds with low Launch Angles are no good.  A few years ago Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball 123.8-mph…on the ground, one-hopper to the second baseman…double play. Ouch.
  • Optimize launch angle range between 15 to 25 degrees.  This is the ideal line drive range, and optimizes batted ball distance.  Some hate talking about Launch Angles, but every batted ball has a launch angle, even bunts.
  • Mechanics that optimize both of these are key.  How do we optimize Ball Exit Speeds?  (Hint: that’s what Power Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alpha does).  What mechanics optimize Launch Angles and hitting more line drives?  (Hint: that’s what The Pitch-Plane Dominator does).  And importantly, my hitters don’t sacrifice swing quality for power.  We get both!  My hitters lower their strikeouts, mis-hits, fly-balls, and gross ground-balls with these online video courses.

I think there’s success on whatever part of the spectrum coaches find themselves on.  However, what if you lived on a planet that used forks and knives to eat soup?  What would happen if an alien came down and surprised them with a spoon?  Teaching hitting is the same.  There may be thousands of ways to teach hitters, but one way is most effective.  What is that way?  Applying human movement principles validated by REAL science, NOT “because-I-said-so ‘bro-science'”, to hitting a ball.   Have a higher standard for your hitters.

We as coaches have to reverse engineer the our swing strategy based on what the game values, which are runs!  The more runs your team can score (and prevent), the more WINS you get.  Don’t lose sight of that coaches.

Don’t Teach Rearward Barrel Acceleration Without Understanding Pitch Depth First

 

There are a few “gurus” out there promoting a rearward barrel acceleration, which I agree with.  However, in teaching young hitters the concept over the past few years, with no disregard for pitch depth, some of my most clean hitters – mechanically – were having challenges getting to the inside pitch.  Rearward barrel acceleration is good, but MUST not be a blanket teach for all pitch depths.  The best hitters, like Mike Trout, alter the timing of the barrel’s release off the back shoulder.

Mike Trout Swing Case Study: Hitting The Catcher's Glove

Mike Trout swing case study: hitting the “catcher’s glove”. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Enter the content of this video.

Here’s what I tried to do in the above Mike Trout swing case study:

  • Select Mike Trout home-run swings that were based off similar pitch type, location, and pitch speed,
  • Same game would assume same catcher and catcher’s position relative to the hitter,
  • Same camera view, and preferably the same camera zoom setting,
  • Comparing inner third of plate pitch location barrel path versus outer third, and
  • Same pitcher would help control timing variable.

This was A LOT to ask, so truth be told…unfortunately, not all these points are affirmed in this case study.  Let’s compare Mike Trout’s 200th and 201st career homers on September 29, 2017…

Pitch #1:

  • Gonzalez was the pitcher
  • 86-mph FB? outer third part of the plate, mid-thigh high
  • Homer to LCF

Pitch #2:

  • Vincent was the pitcher
  • 90-mph FB, inner third of the plate, mid-thigh high
  • Homer to LF

A couple notes on Mike Trout’s “alligator arm” swing on Pitch #2:

  1. Okay if late on the inner half of the plate (purpose is to barrel up ball and that’s what Mike Trout is doing on pitch #2),
  2. NOT okay if doing off a tee, if on-time during soft-toss, or during dry swings (basically when timing is irrelevant or minimal), and
  3. CLICK HERE for a recent post on how to fix alligator arms, and how to practice what Mike Trout is doing with hitting the different “catcher’s gloves”.

I’ve Lied To You for A Couple Years Now…Joey Votto On His 2018 Approach

 

The Josh Donaldson interview last year was awesome, but I think THIS interview with Joey Votto may be better.  It doesn’t have the same let-the-beast-out-of-cage feeling that Donaldson contributed, but I feel Votto gives us more of a glimpse into the true art of hitting.  What Votto shares confirms what my hitters have been working on this past off season…line drive barrel control.  Precision.

Look, I love teaching my hitters the process of how to increase Ball Exit Speeds and to get the ball off the ground (optimal Line Drive Launch Angles), but as Joey Votto says, it’s not the whole story.  And this is where I’ve been lying to you for a couple years.  Actually, not lying, just not sharing the whole story. 😉

Let me explain…

Joey Votto 2018 Hitting Approach

Joey Votto talking about controlling the line drive, setting goals like getting on base half the time, & using batted ball as feedback for future swing adjustments. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

My friend and professional golf instructor Lee Comeaux knows golf, and brought this idea of “precision” to my attention a few years back.  He understands springy fascia and the spinal engine, which is a PLUS.  Also, over the past few years he’s mentored his teenage daughter to hit .600 in Texas fast-pitch softball leagues.  But most importantly, he comes from a sport where precision is king.  Ask any golfer if they’re as obsessed about Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles like we are, and they’ll look at you as if a third eye grew in the middle of your forehead overnight.

What good is Ball Exit Speed if the ball is not going towards the hole?  And Launch Angles matter depending on the distance to the target.  And by the way, the angled club face kind of takes care of Launch Angles for golfers anyway.

Put yourself in a golf mindset for a moment.  Imagine thinking about hitting, like you would golf?  Precision.  In the above interview, Joey Votto mentions the best hitters can hit the ball where they want, when they want.   This may not be 100% true in games, but during Batting Practice most surely.  How many of your hitters can do that?  Not many of mine, but we’re working on it.

Precision.  This is not being talked about or taught in today’s baseball and softball circles.  How to control the line drive.  The height AND width of it.  Why are we so obsessed with the vertical aspect of the field and not the horizontal?  So many coaches out there believe a hitter can’t have power without sacrificing swing quality.  An increase in power doesn’t have to dampen Batting Average and/or increase a hitter’s Strikeouts.

Precision.  How to control the line drive.  It’s not easy, but it CAN be done.  Hitters CAN have a high Batting Average (even though BA isn’t a good indicator of value anymore, according to Sabermetrics), power numbers, and low strikeout totals.  And I think Joey Votto touched on what I feel is just the tip of the iceberg.  Here are the few key things to look out for in the above interview:

  • This idea of Precision. Controlling the line drive.
  • Setting hitting goals and reverse engineering purpose of the swing.
  • The idea of using a batted ball as feedback to make adjustments (not new for golfers btw).

Without further adieu, here are…

 

My Joey Votto Interview Notes on his 2018 Hitting Approach

  • About 0:20 second mark, Votto believes talking Launch Angles isn’t telling the whole story, how complete you are as a hitter, rebuts Josh Donaldson’s “ignore coach if he tells you to hit a ground-ball” comment, all fly-balls are not good fly-balls,
  • About 1:30 minute mark, Votto talks about how hitters like Donaldson, et al. can hit a ball with any trajectory to any part of the ballpark, he uses golfer with a bag of clubs metaphor, doing anything you want at anytime is the story we’re not telling, best hitters can do everything – he brings up Mike Trout (diverse array of skills),
  • About 3:00 minute mark, Eric Byrnes asked Votto how his approach has changed since coming into league in 2007, give away less pitches, anytime he takes a swing there’s intent or purpose to each swing (not being reckless), since he’s aging as a player, Votto isn’t able to make up for swing inefficiencies he could with a young athletic swing,
  • About 4:30 minute mark, Byrnes asks Votto how he is super-human with his walk to strikeout ratio when the league really doesn’t care about inflated K quantities, making a conscious effort to cut down on K’s, goals – looked to Sabermetrics to see how he could hit .340 or .350 last year and math said he had to strikeout a bit less, mentioned a few years prior his goal was to get on base half the time (OBP would = .500), chokes up, the “con” was it led to softer contact at times, ability to foul off tough pitches, buys a better pitch later in the AB, spreading out, seeing ball a little deeper,
  • About 6:50 minute mark, Votto was asked about how he has the highest batting average in his first AB, how important is starting game off with good momentum, separated each AB like it’s their own thing, focusing on one AB at a time, every single game over an entire season, sticking with plan in the long run, Jay Bruce “to hit homer, you have to miss homers”, focus on process,
  • About 8:40 minute mark, Byrnes asked Votto, “I have a 6yo boy at home, what’s the #1 thing you’d teach him about hitting?” Let the ball be your feedback.  Spending too much time on mechanics, ball is going straight in the air, ground-ball, in the air, is the ball coming off 4-seam, on a line with backspin, story about watching Albert Pujols with Cardinals on a line with backspin.

How To Hit A Ball 400-Feet By Streamlining 8,000-Pounds Per Square Inch Of Force In ONE Direction

Most likely, Little Leaguers and 12-year-old young ladies won’t be driving the ball 400-feet anytime soon.  I know that. However, the point of this “Pounding the Nail” drill video post is how to train hitters to direct their swing force optimally.  In the above video, we go over…

  • Thanks to Matt Nokes,
  • Define Directional Force, takes 8,000 pounds per square inch, in one direction, to hit ball 400-feet,
  • What is a Lumberjack trying to do? Lean in and compress the baseball,
  • Using colored bands on ground to simulate pitch location directional force (see image of plate and colored bands below), and
  • Stand out front of hitter with external image (nail).

I like to pair the above “Pounding the Nail” drill with the following “Shorten Swing” drill…

 

However, I’ve evolved my thinking on the latter video.  And here it is:

  1. The “catcher’s glove” ball marker closest to the actual catcher is outer 1/3 of plate right-center approach (for righty, reverse for lefty),
  2. The “catcher’s glove” ball marker inline with the back foot is middle 1/3 of plate dead-center field approach, and
  3. The “catcher’s glove” ball marker inline with hitter’s belly button is inner 1/3 of plate left-center field approach (for righty, reverse for lefty).
    Pounding the Nail Hitting Drill

    It takes 8,000 pounds per square inch of force, in ONE DIRECTION, to hit a ball 400-feet.

I see coaches generally teaching a “kicking back” of barrel towards the catcher.  I found deeply accelerating barrel same for all pitch depths to be ineffective for my hitters.  As you’ll see in the syncing of these two drills, the distance between what catcher’s glove the hitter hits and the depth of impact is the same.

For example, the DISTANCE between hitting catcher’s glove position #1 above to optimum impact on the outer 1/3 of the plate SHOULD MATCH hitting catcher’s glove position #3 above to optimum impact on the inner 1/3 of the plate.  You still following me?

I was teaching the same blanket “deep barrel” acceleration as everyone else, but my cleaner hitters mechanically were having a challenge barreling up the inner 1/3 pitch.  You see, their swing path was taking too long in getting to the inner 1/3 pitch with the generalized “deep barrel” approach.

I recommend watching video of top hitters smashing the inside versus the away pitch and in most cases, you’ll see a difference in what catcher’s glove they’re hitting.  Remember the objective is directional force.  Matt Nokes says that is takes 8,000 pounds per square inch of force, in ONE DIRECTION, to hit a ball 400-feet.  Practice syncing these two drills with your hitters in the following progression:

  • Dry swings first,

    “Pounding Nail” Drill colored band staggered impact setup to simulate pitch depth (for a righty, reverse for a lefty)

  • Tee next,
  • Then soft toss (DO NOT work the “deep” catcher’s glove position here, unless you’re okay with donating your teeth!)
  • And when you get the hitter to LIVE, make sure they understand before pitcher throws the ball, they default to the middle approach, and make the smaller adjustment in or out, depending on pitch depth.

PLEASE NOTE: once the hitter gets to LIVE, make sure they understand the following:

  • Most optimized force = pounding nail over correct part of plate (ex. for righty, driving inner 1/3 to left-center),
  • Optimized force = slipping lines, and pounding one nail over (ex. for righty, driving middle 1/3 to left-center), and
  • Sub-optimal force = slipping lines, and pounding two nails over (ex. for righty, driving outer 1/3 to left-center).

Just think about it, if it takes 8,000-pounds per square inch of force in one direction to hit a ball 400-feet, and that’s optimal…what happens if the hitter uses “Sub-optimal force” like in the above bullet point?  Right! It’s going to take more force to hit it farther.  I dunno how much, but taking a guess in the aforementioned sub-optimal example, it may take 12,000 or 16,000-pounds per square inch of force to hit the ball 400-feet pounding two nails over, so make it easy..hit it where it’s pitched!

After this lesson, typically the “light-bulb” goes on with my hitters.  I hope this helps!

You Don’t Have To Gather 30+ Years Of Coaching To Be An Effective Teacher

 

In the above video, I mentioned the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter C. Brown.  If you’re serious about helping get young athletes better, then you’ll read or listen to that book.  The information in it is supported by empirical research, NOT “because I said so ‘bro-science'”.

Here’s what is discussed in the above video:

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

 

Original reader’s question I summarized in the above video:

“Joey, First off thank you for gathering and sharing the knowledge you have. I have become intrigued by the science of the swing and delivering it in a message that my 14u softball team related to.

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. I’m sure it will click once they figure it out.

Too much thinking in the box right now. Good thing it’s winter!  Thank you”

– Eric McConnell, Coach Linden Warriors 14u. Black

My email reply…

“Eric, Thank you for reaching out! I know what you’re saying. Here’s what I want you to try with those young ladies:

  1. Have them experiment with shifting their weight forward in different ways…
  2. Reference their belly button because this is the body’s center of mass…
  3. Have them stride while keeping their belly button inside their back foot… (this will feel like they aren’t moving forward at all, while front foot goes forward)
  4. Have them stride while keeping their belly button behind their front knee at landing… (this will be closer to where you want them in games)
  5. Have them stride while keeping their belly button behind their front foot at landing…
    And have them stride while keeping their belly button over their front foot at landing… (this will look like old Ty Cobb still shots of his swing finish).

Do you see what we’re doing? Give them many reference points to pull from. The learning principle here is variance. I use this all the time when teaching hitters to show their numbers to the pitcher. Please keep me updated with this Coach. And thank you for your continued support of HPL…Joey”

I hope this helps coaches!

The Biggest Lie In Teaching Hitters How To Run Faster & Move Better

 

David Weck: "Head Over Foot" Technique, Side Bending, & Pulsers

David Weck demonstrating the “Head Over Foot” technique, side bending, and Pulsers. Photo courtesy: WeckMethod on YouTube

The purpose of this post:

  1. How to make hitters faster, and
  2. How to apply David Weck’s “Head Over Foot” technique and “Pulsers” to hitters?

Most sprint coaches will teach athletes to get faster by using a “braced core” (instead of a Coiling Core), and “hip to lip” arm action.  This is DEAD WRONG, and one of the biggest lies in teaching athletes to run faster and move better.  These coaches aren’t understanding the basics of human locomotion.  Consider the following…

 

How to Make Hitters Faster

Here are a few notes from the video above:

  • To balance on one foot most effectively, we need head over “ground” foot.  Try balancing on one foot bending spine and head far outside or inside ground foot.  You can probably balance, but not as effectively as head over foot.  Under the body’s “plum line”.
  • We want the forces transferring cleanly throughout body.  When you don’t land balanced (head over foot), compensation is the end result.  Back pain has been linked to head not being over foot.
  • Side bending is key to rotational power, and is what most coaches DO NOT understand or choose to ignore.  Imagine throwing without a side bend.

Watch this Facebook video from David Weck looking at how the runner moves “head over foot”, and side bends while stealing second (You can also CLICK HERE to see an interview I did with David Weck here)…

Which brings me to how to train this.  CLICK HERE for a Facebook video post where David Weck explains the how of his sprint “Pulsers”.  And CLICK HERE to get the “Pulsers” at David’s website (I don’t get a commission on this, by the way).

 

How to Apply David Weck’s “Head Over Foot” Technique or “Pulsers” to Hitting

Do you consider yourself a think-outside-of-the-box type of person?  Please sound off in the Comments below, on how you can apply this technique or Pulsers with your hitters (thanks in advance!!)

Get Rid Of A Hitter Dropping Their Hands At Stride Landing Once And For All Using RNT

 

Let me ask you a question:

“Does your hitter (or hitters) swing and miss, foul back, or pop-up on pitches up in the zone abnormally often?”

The video above may have the fix.  One of the pro hitters I work with was told by his team’s hitting coach that he must be able to “catch-up” to pitches elevated in the zone.  And I agree.  Weak spots, or holes in the hitting zone, can and will be used by pitchers as a weapon.  I tell my hitters to turn a pitcher’s weapon against them.

The challenge I find watching slow motion swing video, with some hitters, is there hands drop (towards the waist) at stride landing 2-4 frames from the back armpit line.  Less than two frames and I generally don’t fix.  The rule of thumb for my hitters is the hands MUST end up – height-wise –  around the back armpit.  Slightly above, in-line, or below is okay.  Think about a boxer delivering a knockout punch.  Watch the “line” Mike Tyson creates right before he delivers a knockout punch (uppercuts excluded)

If a hitter’s hands end up too low, then they’ll consistently swing and miss, foul back, or popup pitches elevated in the strike zone.  Learn how to turn a pitcher’s weapon against them.

 

In This Drill Video…

  • We define “hands drop”,
  • We define RNT (or Reactive Neuromuscular Training),
  • How to setup the drill, and
  • Focus on process, NOT performance.

If you don’t have them already, then here’s equipment you’ll need for this drill:

Please try this out and let me know how it works for your hitters in the Comments section below… (Thanks in advance!)

Here Are Our Top-10 2017 “Best-Of” Non-HPL Links Shared On Social Media (plus BONUSES)

I wanted to put together a 2017 year-in-review of the Top-10 links we shared on our Facebook fan-page.  How popular a post is depends on Shares, Likes, and Comments.  And I have over 27,066 Facebook fan followers, which is a big study group to judge the helpfulness of these links.

By the way, the following linked resources don’t include Hitting Performance Lab blog posts.  ENJOY!

 

#10 Most Shared Link in 2017

What should you do if…?

“Your child plays in a league that mandates minimum playing time for each player. Your child consistently plays the minimum amount, and never when the game is on the line. The same players always play more than the minimum and are in at crunch time. You don’t think this is fair.”

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#9 Most Shared Link in 2017

Like Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan told me, body mass isn’t the best indicator of batted ball distance, bat speed is.  If bat speed isn’t at top speed, then Ball Exit Speed won’t be either.  This is GREAT news because teaching bat speed is within the control of EVERY player, body mass?  Not so much.  CLICK HERE for original post.

 

#8 Most Shared Link in 2017

From the post:

“Throughout the recruiting process, [Chris] Collins, Head Basketball Coach at Northwestern University, says he observes parents in the stands to help identify the sort of environment the recruit grew up with. In the recruiting process, coaches should begin to notice if parents are supportive and positive, or negative while encouraging individualistic behavior that only regards their son or daughter rather than the entire team.”

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#7 Most Shared Link in 2017

From the post:

“These 8 movements take just a short amount of time, so you can add them in throughout your day to break up long bouts of sitting, or you can even use them as a warm-up to your regular training routine…Our hips are incredible structures that allow us to be mobile and strong and perform everything from the most mundane activities as walking to amazing feats of strength and power shown by the finest athletes.  Take the time to take care of your hips and your life will be the better for it.

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#6 Most Shared Link in 2017

One of the best quotes in this Wall Street Journal article?

“These self-made hitting gurus didn’t play in the big leagues, operate outside the mainstream and are convinced there is a better way to hit than what’s being taught at the major-league level. And they are rattling the baseball establishment.

CLICK HERE for original post.

 

#5 Most Shared Link in 2017

From the post:

“Colt McCoy says this is because specialization limits the skills kids can learn, both motor and relationship skills, from playing multiple sports. Being on different teams gives kids an opportunity to learn and grow.  The other benefit of playing multiple sports is that you don’t get burned out. McCoy shares here that he didn’t know he was going to play football in college until his junior year in high school!  He continued to play basketball, golf, and other sports through high school because he liked being a part of different teams. McCoy strongly feels that when kids specialize at too young an age they miss out ‘on what sports truly encompass.'”

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#4 Most Shared Link in 2017

Many of you know how I feel about the ground-ball hitting approach.  I think the biggest push back from pro GB hitting coaches is because they have no clue how to optimize line drive Launch Angles in their hitters.  Do you have a hitter with above average speed?  Then why not teach him or her to drive the ball with authority too?  Gives them another tool for their toolbox.  Teaching a fast runner to JUST hit the ball on the ground is just plain lazy.  Be better than that.  When coaches aren’t growing, they’re dying.  Make hitters better.  Give them more tools.  CLICK HERE for the original post.

 

#3 Most Shared Link in 2017

Shameful conduct.  Bullies.  I feel bad for the young ladies on this team who were seen as guilty by association. CLICK HERE for the original post.

 

#2 Most Shared Link in 2017

How cool is this?!  From the post:

“Joe Jackson was at the Rangers’ Spring Training complex on Friday, and no, you did not somehow step into a time machine and travel back to the 1910s. It was Joe Jackson, the 24-year-old Minor Leaguer who, yes, is the great-great-grandnephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson”. 

CLICK HERE for the original post.  And our MOST SHARED non-HPL link in 2017 was…(drum-roll please)

 

#1 Most Shared Link in 2017

This video is well worth your time. George Springer’s dad was interviewed after World Series Game-7 ended, and after his son received the MVP award.  Great insight into what dad taught Junior growing up, even discussing a unique perspective to the stuttering challenges George Springer (son) grew up with.  CLICK HERE for the original post.

And for the BONUSES…

 

BONUS #11 Most Shared Link in 2017

As many of you know, I love getting athletes to move better.  If we do that, then they’ll perform better. This is a great routine to help with stiff hamstrings, which surprisingly is what most of my hitters have!  CLICK HERE for the original post.

 

BONUS #12 Most Shared Link in 2017…ahem…I mean First Week January 2018

This was a recent popular January 2018 post, but I wanted to include it here.  Preaching the ‘Sticky Coaching’ gospel for parents.  CLICK HERE for the original post.

 

Audio Interview Talking About: 2nd Edition of Catapult Loading System Book, REAL Science Versus “Bro-science”, Difference Between Hitting Principles Versus Theories, Improving Hitters, & More

James Ernest from The Grueling Truth recently interviewed me on his sports podcast episode, “Sports of All Sorts: Joey Myers Author of “The Catapult Loading System” Baseball Hitting Book”.  Thanks again James for having me on!

(PLEASE NOTE: the audio isn’t quite the best on my end, since he was interviewing me over the phone.)  

I’ve included time-stamps below, so you can freely navigate through the audio interview…ENJOY!

  • At about 0:10 second mark, James asked me to tell him about the Catapult Loading System (CLS) book, working on the second edition of the book now and new additions to it.
  • At about 2:40 minute mark, what the Hitting Performance Lab is all about, applying human movement principles validated by REAL science, to hitting a ball, Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers, The Spinal Engine by Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, Dynamic Body by Dr. Erik Dalton. Base system off higher standard: REAL science, not “bro-science”, data (experiments, stats, etc.) and technology (Zepp, SwingTracker, BlastMotion, HitTrax) are great to measure, test, re-measure.
  • At about 6:30 minute mark, James asked what the difference between hitting “philosophy” versus hitting “principles”, talk about bowling “bumper” analogy, “Theories” are okay but MUST have a REAL science to back them up, is body-weight a good indicator of batted ball distance? Are athletic “freaks” the only ones who can triple their body-weight in batted ball distance?
  • At about 10:30 minute mark, James asked me to clarify “body loading”, is the body just a rubber band system?  The difference between compression and tension forces and springy fascia, what is fascia and why the secret to consistent power is found in it.  How an elite hitter loads these compression and tension forces, the Springy ‘X’ Pattern, and the Goldilocks Golden Rule, how to match the plane of the pitch, not teaching hitters to hit “pop-flies” or ground-balls.
  • At about 15:30 minute mark, James asked how we teach the Springy ‘X’ Pattern to younger hitters, ‘Showing Numbers’ and “back eye test“, using back elbow for Downhill Shoulder Angle, to get the ‘Scap Row’ we use “hiding their hands from pitcher” cue, “Finger Pressure”, the “Hollow” or “Hunched Position“, head positioning and following the “One-Joint Rule“,
  • At about 21:00 minute mark, James asked who taught or supported me in this information?  Where learning this originated from, self taught, started from trying to fix a chronic knee tightness, reverse engineered the swing through human movement principles validated by science, Aaron Judge and Sierra Romero as great models for an effective swing.
  • At about 24:00 minute mark, follow up question on the difference between first and second edition of the CLS book, the path to finding the truth to consistency in the swing, how the tens of thousands of coaches reading and applying the principles are getting the same results – if not better – with their hitters that I am with mine!  How we improved free agent Professional hitter recently using a wood bat off Backspin Tee, 75-mph Ball Exit Speed to 85-mph in one hour.
  • At about 28-minute mark, where can people learn more about what we’re doing here at Hitting Performance Lab? Where you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, etc., BIG ask from the audience: SHARE, SHARE, SHARE

Here is a Method Helping Mike Trout Stay Calm Under Pressure (Dr. Tom Hanson Interview)

Tony Robbins has said that success is 80% psychology, 20% mechanics.  Certified Hypnotist and creator of the cartoon comic strip Dilbert, Scott Adams, has said humans are irrational 80% of the time, in his recent book: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.  We’re only rational when deciding on things like which soap to buy!  He adds that we make decisions based on emotion, THEN we rationalize.  Not the other way around.

The best athletes in the world are better at controlling the mental part of the game, and their emotions.  They focus on controlling only what they can control.  Which leads me to this interview with Dr. Tom Hanson…

I stumbled onto a first edition of Heads-Up Baseball back in 1995 when I was in High School.  It helped clear my mind of all the hitting mechanical books I was reading at the time that left me more confused than when I started.  I owe a lot to Drs. Hanson and Ravizza for helping me play 4-years of Division-1 baseball at Fresno State, tuition free.

Without further adieu, here are some time-stamps to help you navigate the interview:

  • About 2:30 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about his experience coaching baseball at UVA and D3 Skidmore College. It’s a challenge to find someone who has a PhD in psychology and experience coaching the game at the college level.
  • About 4:30 minute mark, I talk about how I stumbled upon the first version of Heads-Up Baseball, and how the information helped me cut through the white noise at a time when I felt overwhelmed with hitting mechanics, reading every book I could get my hands on.
  • About 6:00 minute mark, what were the top two or three things you and Dr. Ken Ravizza changed in the 2.0 version of Heads-Up Baseball?  One was this idea of changing “Trust” to “Compete”. The purpose of a routine is to compete.  Give 100% of what you have right now to the next pitch.  Problem right now is players are coming to college with a “showcase” mentality.  The importance of hitters being patient AND being aggressive.  Thoughts on including quotes and anecdotes from fresh coach and player faces in the book.
  • About 11:30 minute mark, if you could direct coaches to two concepts in the book, what would they be and why?  I liked the “Heads Up Practice” Chapter, but Dr. Hanson suggested “Chapter 2: The 3 Levels of Learning to Compete”, Know it, Do it, Own it. He also recommends reading Mike Scioscia’s Introduction of the book.  The Goldilocks Golden Rule, what’s right for the hitter right now (or today – know yourself).
  • About 18:00 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about the importance of having a model to explain the questions that come in about the mental game.  He goes into the RAMP-C model: Responsibility – the ability to respond, choose what you focus on, great question to ask: “How did you choose to respond?”  Awareness – being conscious of and how you typically respond under pressure or when you’re hitting well, extrovert/introvert, how are you feeling right now.  Dealing with “yellow” or “red” lights.  Mission – what would you like to have happen, purpose or swing intention.  Preparation – what can I do to get myself to feel a “green” light, training in the off-season, what am I going to prepare for the next pitch or season.  Compete (changed from “Trust”) – give 100% of what you have right now to get to win the next pitch.  Nobody on the Cubs felt like they had a “green” light for Game 7 of the World Series when they win it.  Control, Plan, Trust changed to Control, Commit, Compete
  • About 30-minute mark, what have you found most valuable utilizing information in this book with your own kids while navigating the craziness of travel baseball, son C.J. is 14yo and daughter Angelina is 11yo.  First edition of Heads Up Baseball was before kids, now 20-year reflection period to version 2.0.  Before 13/14yo Dr. Hanson wanted to create an environment of fun for his son.  Helping kid fall in love with sport.  Not constantly picking the kid apart.  It’s all about Relationship building.  No matter the message, if the relationship isn’t there, then the message doesn’t have its optimal effect.  Joe Maddon talked about building relationships as his priority in first 3 weeks of Spring Training with Cubs that first year, was building relationships with players.
  • About 39:00 minute mark, can you be a coach that can stretch out of being the best at conceptualizing and doing, and get more into understanding relationship.  Knowing your players, where they are in life, and how to relate is huge with players.

Unfortunately, the phone recording app I was using cut off another 20 minutes of the interview.  Here are some nuggets that were inconveniently left out:

How to change an athlete that has an emotional “red” or “yellow” light from his book Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players to the Next LevelUsing the ABC model:

  • Act Big,
  • Breath deep, and
  • Compete.

Dr. Hanson shared a conversation he had with Reggie Jackson, where he asked Reggie if he was confident all the time.  Reggie responded with, “Heck no!”  Reggie said he faked it a lot of the time.  Act Big.

Dr. Hanson shared a conversation between Mike Trout and Dr. Ken Ravizza.  Mike Trout likes to finish his exhale before getting in the box.  If he gets in the box without doing that, he steps out and finishes it.  That’s Breathing deep.  Mike Trout also said he likes to stride slow to the plate in order to slow down the moment.

We also talked about where you can find Dr. Hanson online and the socials:

 

Book Resources Mentioned in the Interview…