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.”

CLICK HERE for original post.

 

#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.”

CLICK HERE for original post.

 

#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.

CLICK HERE for original post.

 

#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.'”

CLICK HERE for original post.

 

#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…

Can You Help Take The Headache Out Of College Recruiting?

College Recruiting Athletes: NCSA

College Recruiting Athletes: NCSA. Photo courtesy: PGF-Recruiting.com

Do you consider yourself a generous person?  Yes?  Good.

Recently, I received the following college recruiting ask from one of my avid readers, Alan Rudy:

“Hey Joey, I don’t want to step out of bounds but recruiting is wild and woolly.  Jack Renkens was invited to give a presentation at East Lansing High School where our oldest plays ball. There was a great deal of really good info in his talk and, at the end, he strongly encouraged us to join and use NCSA.  By contrast, coaches at the HS – and people like Paul Reddeck – have suggested that the NCSA can become a very expensive means of getting access to too many, too expensive meat markets/showcases that rarely pan out.

These people say that Aiden should ask himself where in the country he wants to go to school, what size of school and kind of degree programs he is interested in, what kind of social life/college culture he wants and to explore schools where he’d be likely to get on the field before he’s a junior… and then to contact coaches at those schools with introductions, links to stats and videos, sending emails from HS and travel coaches, etc.

I can’t remember seeing a post from you in this topic. If you have one, could you help me find it? If it’s less trouble do you have someone who’s approach you like that you’d be willing to share?”

Honestly, the topic of college recruiting isn’t in my wheelhouse, and is not where I put my energy.  Here was my email response:

“Alan, I appreciate you reaching out about this. I haven’t done a post on it, and haven’t really spent a ton of time researching this. Back in the day companies like NCSA were a competitive advantage, now everyone does it, so that’s why the price you pay can be ridiculous for what you’re getting. Supply and demand. That aside, I’d still work it because you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. I’d get in touch with area scouts and get an honest opinion from them as to Jack’s current evaluation. That way you know where to focus training efforts. But here’s the reality, your son cannot be ignored if you’re working the process to get to:

  • At least 90 to 95-mph Ball Exit Speeds,
  • At least a consistent 15+ degree Launch Angles,
  • Above average OPS numbers on the field, and have a…
  • Sub 7.0 sec 60-yard sprint time wouldn’t hurt either.

Not to mention a 3.5 GPA in school! These five things make it real easy for his current coach/scout to recommend him, and a college/pro coach/scout to look at him as a reasonable prospect. In the weight room, I’d work on getting him to a 400 to 500-lb dead-lift, that would help A LOT of things on the field. CLICK HERE to see what this training would look like. 

Maybe I’ll do a post on this in the future, asking for advice from other coaches out there that are doing this and are successful in promoting/recruiting players and what they’re looking for.  I hope this helps brother. I really appreciate your continued support, so whatever I can do to help you out. Happy Holidays! – Joey”

Also, I forgot to mention Brian Domenico’s National or International Power Showcase – CLICK HERE for a post I did on that.  After my attempted response on college recruiting, Alan added:

“If you do the post on recruiting, would you see if you can get stuff from coaches at DIII and II as well as I? Just as you’ve insisted that most players aren’t Albert Pujols or Giancarlo Stanton, I think too much recruiting material focuses on “IF YOU WANT TO PLAY DI!!!!!” kinds of hype and it feeds the exploitative side of your business. It is so clear that you care about the guys you work with however they end up finding success in life… but it is also clear that a lot of guys are too much in it for the glory and money.
I’ve loved the last few blog posts!”

College Recruiting: The Ask…

I’ve heard that if you want to get, you have to give, and it is the giving time of year.  To those coaches, Academy owners, instructors, and/or parents out there, can you offer any advice no matter how small, to parents like Alan?  A million THANKS in advance for your generosity… (please REPLY below in the comments)

Matt Nokes Reveals Ways to “Lean In & Compress Ball”, Swing in Same Direction of “Swing Motor”, & Quickly and Easily Get On-Time

I don’t give much of my time to others’ hitting instruction online…

And it’s not because I think I’m God’s green gift to baseball and softball.  Actually,

Since January of 2013, I took a needed break learning hitting mechanics from others in the field, no matter how popular.  I wanted to shed the hitting “BEER GOGGLES” that have stubbornly held this industry back for decades.

People ask me if I know anything about Tewks, Epstein, “Teacher Man”, etc.  I don’t.  And that’s the honest truth.  I see their posts on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t give them anymore thought.

Matt Nokes Snap Drill

Matt Nokes talking about “leaning in and compressing the ball”. Photo courtesy: Matt Nokes’s YouTube channel

The main reason?  I’m still learning my own system!!

Besides, everyone has a different approach, view, and style.  As you probably know, the language can get quite confusing.

Back in 2013, I decided to stick to resources on Bio-mechanics, Physics, Psychology, etc.   Because THIS is where the answers are.  It’s not opinion, or someone’s theory or philosophy based on playing or coaching experience.

My #1 rule is to digest information that is validated by science.  Don’t seek the footsteps of others, but seek the resources the “others” sought.  In other words, don’t just take my word for it.

That being said, there are a couple hitting coaches I do listen to, and one is Matt Nokes.  I think he has an unmatched passionate curiosity for hitting, authentically wants to help hitters, is open to new ideas (can’t say that for many online gurus), and gets dramatic results with his hitters in a reasonably short amount of time.

As always, I’ve taken video notes for you, so you can skip around to what interests you most.  Some of the things you’ll learn in the video are:

  • Swing intention: what Matt Nokes means when he tells his hitters to “lean on it and compress it” (this will upset the ‘bug squisher’ coaches out there),
  • Why hitters MUST swing in the same direction as their “swing motor” (and it’s not what you think),
  • The “Snap Drill” that will easily and quickly get your hitters on-time (an Ah-ha moment for me!), and
  • Much more…

Enjoy!

  • About 1:00 minute mark, Matt didn’t think about Bat Speed when he was playing, he was trying to “lean on it and compress it”.  He calls this “directional force”, in which he says it takes 8,000 pounds per square inch in one direction, to hit a ball 400-feet.
  • About 2:15 minute mark, Matt talks about how hips, knees and feet are the base, core is the motor, and arms are swing levers.  What happens when swinging off the plane of the core motor.  Swing in same direction as swing motor.
  • About 3:30 minute mark, Matt distinguishes between keeping the barrel above hands as a cue versus what really happens.  Don’t miss this.  He uses this oftentimes blanket-used-coaching-cue to get the hitter flattening his/her barrel to the pitch plane.  Barrel MUST match shoulder plane.
  • About 5:30 minute mark, Matt defines an approach as summing up what you’re trying to do mechanically into a one or two word cue.  Ever changing because getting new info, new feelings, new observations.  Talks about 2-3 minute “priming” movements before heading into battle.
  • About 10:15 minute mark, great hitters don’t “keep their hands inside the ball” in a way that creates what Matt calls slack.  He refers to the Fence Swing Drill that exaggerate swinging down.
  • About 12:00 minute mark, Matt talks about transferring force with a bent landing knee, comparing to a Pole Vaulter’s pole when it sticks into the ground before propelling the athlete up.  Landing bent allows for adjustment.  “The front knee isn’t straightened, it gets straightened.  The back leg doesn’t turn, it gets turned.  The core moves the legs.”
  • About 14:45 minute mark, Matt breaks down how to “flatten” the swing.  Tells hitter minimal movement from lower half swings, just focus on moving shoulders, hands, and bat.  Matt gives limited parameters, and let’s hitter learn the lesson…in other words, he doesn’t map out step by step how to move the way he wants the hitter to move.  Gives hitter an outcome and allows them to fill in the blanks.
  • About 16:30 minute mark, Matt talks about swing approach like what you’d do to chop down a tree.  You wouldn’t think about how did I swing the ax yesterday.  You’d just start swinging it!  Finishing low with the hands and following the line of impact. I call this driving the big nail (Matt’s bat in the video) flush into the wall.  At about 20:00 minute mark, Matt adds to this and tells hitter to “lean on this” and “compress it” (referring to his bat).  He says that he just gave hitter permission to hit the crap out of the ball.
  • About 18:30 minute mark, compares big picture hitting cues to Fence Swing Drills.  The latter being ineffective as a default way to hit.  You have to hit with big picture in mind of what you want to do to the ball.  Swing intention.
  • About 21:00 minute mark, Matt begins to talk about timing.  Timing is a distance, and to make it simple by synchronizing timing from release to contact.  Matt talked about how he took a guy hitting the ball 360-380 feet to hitting it 480-feet in 2.5 months…over the fence, 400-feet off a tee.  “Feel” contact…stay sideways and feel contact by leaning and compressing the ball.  Matt talks about the “Snap Drill”. This is golden!  He also talks about the “Ride” part of “Ride & Stride” that Matt promotes within his system.

If you remember one thing from this video, it’s from the 21st minute on… 🙂  Golden.

Unlike most MLB players and coaches, Matt Nokes has an intuitive sense of the swing.  He can explain it from a “real” point of view, and transition that into “feel”.  His system seems to fill in the blanks that I’ve always had about the swing.  The good news about his principles is they’re very simple and easy to implement.  Matt has a very common sense approach to hitting.

Thanks Matt!

Want To Move Better? Simple Adjustments To Move Like Today’s Best Hitters

Tai Chi Combat's Master Wong: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

Watch Tai Chi Combat’s Master Wong in point #4 below: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility. Photo courtesy: Master Wong, from his YouTube video Tai Chi for Beginners.

What Smokin’ Joe Frazier, China’s Tai Chi, the Headspace meditation app, and Ted Williams have in common will become clear moving through this post, I promise.

But first, here’s the glue that connects all these seemingly random things

I recently stumbled onto a post titled, “Want to Move Better? Use These 5 Simple Adjustments to Start Moving Freely” by Ryan Hurst, who’s co-founder of GMB Fitness (Gold Medal Bodies). They focus on Gymnastic type movements.

The first time I read through it, I thought, well this could help hitters…

The second time I read through it, I thought, dang, this could REALLY help hitters

And then the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times, in my head I screamed, “DUDE!!”

Which is WHY I’m bringing it’s information to the attention of my coaches.

Here’s what I have for you…

  • Some quick notes from each of the five main points of the Ryan Hurst GMB Fitness post above,
  • Supporting videos that help put the ideas into “hitting” terms, and
  • A few resources I think are becoming more popular in helping hitters control their breathing (VERY IMPORTANT as you’ll soon see).

ENJOY!

 

1. Slow It Down for Instant Awareness

  • Being mindful is really the key to better movement.
  • Pay attention to how your hips are moving, your weight distribution, your eye gaze, and your breath.
  • Slow down your movement and you’ll be able to pay better attention to the details.

I’m not sure on the name, but I once heard boxer Joe Frazier used to practice a super slow motion punch that would last 20-minutes!  Talk about slowing it down for instant awareness.

Here are swings from different angles to practice specific movements in slow motion…

2. Use Your Hips for Instant Power

  • Hips are your body’s center of mass.
  • The better you can initiate motion from this point, the more efficient your movements will be, as you’ll move with less wasted action.
  • With any stepping motion, rather than your feet propelling you forward, you want your hips to lead.

Yes, I agree with Ted Williams when he said the “Hips Lead the Way”.  But even before the pelvis begins to turn for a hitter, the front hip MUST lead the way during the stride.

Watch this short 1-min Justin Turner slow motion swing video I put together for you, and key in on how his front hip initiates his pre-turn movement in the stride…

3. Use Visual Aim for Instant Control

  • Head is hardwired to follow your eyes, and the body is hardwired to follow your head. Basically, the body will follow the eyes.
  • If your eyes are not gazing in the right place, you won’t be able to control your body properly.
  • If you want to move better, think of it this way: your eyes should always be pointed where you want your spine to be.

This is WHY hitters who “pull their heads”, go chin to chest, back ear to back shoulder, or nose to sky at impact is not good.

My good friend Matt Nokes at Hitting Solutions calls this “swinging across your face”…this cue will help correct pulling the head.  The best hitters “keep their head in the fire”, as Nokes says.  Control the head, and hitter controls the direction and “squaring-up” of impact.

Watch this head movement modeling video of a few top MLB hitters…

4. Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

  • The correct transfer of your weight is the beginning of a smooth and controlled motion.
  • While side stepping (or lunging) to your right, notice that you shifted your weight to the left a split second before you went to the right? It’s a natural loading response that you do without even thinking about it.
  • With any movement, if your body’s natural weight transfer mechanisms are not working properly, it will hurt your balance.

This is natural weight transfer behavior coaches!! If any hitting coach tells a right handed hitter to NOT shift their weight towards their right leg before striding to the left, then RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!

Watch the following three-in-a-half minute video from Master Wong, founder of Tai Chi Combat (over 1.4 million subscribers to his YouTube channel!!), performing a beginner’s Tai Chi movement.  Notice the split second weight shift one way, in order to go the other way…

5. Breathe for Instant Poise and Calm

  • Difference between holding the breath and bracing during movement…for skill-based movements holding your breath isn’t going to help.
  • Breath holding and hyperventilation are signs of anxiety, but in that wonderful body-mind connection loop, it can also create anxiety.
  • Poor breathing creates feelings of anxiety, anxiety, creates tension, and unmediated tension causes poor movement. Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.

This is “bigly”!  The leading resources for this are the following guided meditation apps:

  • Headspace (I’ve been using this one for the best 3 years), and
  • Calm

I can’t speak for the Calm app, but Headspace is not Eastern “woo-woo”.  It focuses on controlling the breath, being aware of the breath, and the use of visualization practice.

These are second-to-none resources for reducing rapid breathing during competition or any other signs of anxiety.

I think this quote bares repeating because it’s VERY important for hitters:

“Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.”