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

How to fix hitting inside out, casting, bat drag, a loopy and disconnected swing for baseball and softball players.  Perry Husband (EffectiveVelocity.com) and I will discuss bat lag drills for power validated by science.

5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Out Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent

 

Here’s the Hitting Jam Session Interview Collection with Perry Husband:

  1. Why You Should Not Teach Hitters To Hit Homers?
  2. What’s The Biggest Mistake Coaches Make In Boosting Ball Exit Speeds
  3. How To Make Teaching Proper Weight Shift In Swing More Understandable To Hitter
  4. Teach: How To STOP Hitting Excess Of Ground-balls & Fly-balls
  5. [YOU ARE HERE] 5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent
  6. Overload Bat Training: Hitting Has To Work Butt Off To Resist “Casting”

Here’s what we discuss in this episode:Perry Husband & Joey Myers Hitting Jam Session #5

  • Instructors confusing what “casting” is and is not,
  • What if only fastball Mike Trout gets is what produces the 80.8-mph avg. BES, would that change his offensive stats?
  • Hitter using bent lead arm comes at a cost,
  • “Deep barrel dump” – great barrel path for down/away pitches, but TERRIBLE for up/inside pitches,
  • And much more!

Hitting Jam Session 5 above jumps right into the conversation already started…

Show Notes

  • At about the 2-minute mark, disclaimers…I was a skeptic on the locked lead arm since about 2 years ago, some out there cannot subscribe to a locked lead arm BECAUSE of what they teach – the “deep barrel dump” on every pitch depth, instructors are confusing what “casting” is and is not, it’s not a locked lead arm, it is a deep barrel dump regardless of pitch depth, nobody is 100% right or wrong, if stay in Science, then most will come to the same conclusions (on macros – maybe not micros),
  • At about 5-minute mark, what is and is not working for Mike Trout – bent lead up arm v. locked lead arm, fastballs up and in 80.8-mph avg. BES in 2018 (bent lead arm), and down and away 101.8-mph avg. BES (locked lead arm), what if the only fastball he gets is what produces the 80.8-mph avg. BES would that change Mike Trout’s offensive stats?  Trout is hitting in a target rich environment where pitchers are throwing fastballs DOWN and off speed and breaking stuff UP, which puts timing that sequence VERY similar – easier to hit, pitchers are STUPID to keep fastballs down to him, Perry’s categories for pitches: #1’s – fastest version of the fastball – 96+ mph, #2’s – slowest version of the FB and fastest version of off speed (splitter/cutter/slider up in the zone), #3’s – slower versions of splitter/cutter/slider down in the zone, and #4’s – curveballs, Trout killed 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, Perry referenced the SBNation article about Trout on Effective Velocity, article had wide reach and pitchers started pounding Trout up – and he adjusted to an up/in approach, changed his attention of where he focused and hunted, can only cover so much as a hitter when it comes to hitting 1, 2, 3, and 4’s,
  • At about 14-minute, 30-secs mark, hitter using bent lead arm comes at a cost, in Trout’s case 80-mph avg. BES v. 101-mph BES, split A/B testing metaphor on Facebook ad changing only 1 thing – see what ad wins out over being shown randomly to an audience, split A/B test locked lead arm versus keeping it bent, what if all FB’s down/away disappear to Trout?  What would happen to his numbers?  What happens when an EV minded pitcher like DeGrom, Scherzer, Verlander, Bauer face Trout or Miggy? What about bettering reaction time? What happens to policeman when you take away time?  Ugly stuff – they have less time to make a decision (Perry referenced the book Blink), give extra time, see pitches easier, slow down fast stuff and speed up slow stuff…allows Trout to cover A LOT of pitches with same timing, as a pitcher you’re more likely to get away with hanging off speed or breaking stuff up in the zone than a fastball down and/or away,
  • At about 27-minute, 30-secs mark, Perry talks about how Jacob DeGrom ONLY mixed in a higher percentage of fastballs up in the zone (61% of the time – avg. postseason team was 44%) one year and cut his ERA in half!  Debunking the “deep barrel dump” – great for pitches on the outer 1/3 of plate or lower in the strike zone, but is TERRIBLE barrel path for inner 1/3 to inner half part of plate, some confuse “long swing” with locked lead arm, but it’s because of casting or deep barrel dump, Perry talks about the ball bungee attached with surgical tubing experiment: found bigger the stretch, the faster and less time it takes ball to hit wall, connection to hitting is taking slack out of the system (more elastic energy built up!),  fence drill – can do drill with locked lead arm if hold angle of bat close to following shoulder, keep 90-degree wrist angle tension w/ locked lead arm versus bent,
  • At about 36-minute, 30-sec mark, Stanton, Donaldson – when they hit 114-mph BES they’re in a closer to lead arm lock out position, why not find out how to figure out how to get hitters doing it versus explaining it away, multiple 100-mph BES younger hitters hitting balls off the tee, how many 100-mph BES players are being cheated by inferior mechanics, locked lead arm doesn’t just increase power but it also improves consistency of sweet spot to ball, Perry’s done 5,000 swing experiments on locked out front arm (Jay Bell was most known), in golf if golfers could hit it farther with a bent lead arm, then driving ranges across the world would be using bent lead arm, goal is still the same in baseball as in golf – hit it at max
  • At about 42-minute, 30-sec mark, locked lead arm being longer…it’s not a question of locked lead arm causes long or casting swing – it’s about when the hitter “releases” the barrel from the rear shoulder that causes the long or casting swing, the stubborn “deep barrel dump” barrel path being taught will become extinct when pitchers get more EV efficient and begin using hard stuff up in the zone, even if pitchers miss their mark by a foot they’ll still be effective – execute one in three pitches, you’ll be a super star just as long as you understand what your misses are doing, hitters must apply 100/100 all the time – 100% on-time, 100% effective, pitchers like Scherzer will be the norm and not the exception, dumping barrels on all pitches WILL NOT work, can lock at load or at start of the turn – objective is to take slack out before the turn,
  • At about 56-minute mark, pitcher and hitter adjustments over the decades: Bob Gibson days attacking up, hitters adjust and get good at driving up, then in 70’s and 80’s pitchers attacked down in the zone, now pitchers are beginning to adjust back up again, Perry says we’ll see one more drop with hitting, which will force hitters to rock bottom, buy a little more time swinging with bent front arm but at what costs, going to be really hard when hitter sees 100-mph up, then followed up with curveball that looks the same in the tunnel and drops, how longer arms effects contact points, all data right now is based on control of bent front arm, JUST TEST IT!  CLICK HERE for testing protocol Perry and I have talked about in these Jam Sessions, any change you make MUST positively affect ball exit speed AND frequency of line drives, message to those who are anti-tee, bent lead arm ball exit will be close to the same off tee and LIVE
  • You can find Perry Husband at EffectiveVelocity.com, use EV25 coupon code for any of the online courses.  @EVPerryHusband on Twitter, and @PerryHusband on Facebook
  • My offer…FREE Catapult Loading System 2nd edition print book – just pay $8.95 shipping and handling (retails on Amazon for $19.97) – in addition you’ll get our essential consistent power online video mini-course Power Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alphahttps://www.truthaboutexplosiverotationalpower.com/pl/60039
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Do you want to STOP chopping and hitting ground balls for baseball or fastpitch softball?  Or you may be hitting too many pop flies?  Do you want to hit more line drives instead?  Try some of the drills mentioned in this interview with Perry Husband (EffectiveVelocity.com) and I…

“Put Hitters In Charge…Our Job Is To Eliminate Our Job” Perry Husband & HPL Hitting Jam Session #4

 

Here’s the Hitting Jam Session Interview Collection with Perry Husband:

  1. Why You Should Not Teach Hitters To Hit Homers?
  2. What’s The Biggest Mistake Coaches Make In Boosting Ball Exit Speeds
  3. How To Make Teaching Proper Weight Shift In Swing More Understandable To Hitter
  4. [YOU ARE HERE] Teach: How To STOP Hitting Excess Of Ground-balls & Fly-balls
  5. 5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent
  6. Overload Bat Training: Hitting Has To Work Butt Off To Resist “Casting”

Here’s what we discuss in this episode:

  • “How do I get my son to stop hitting an excess of ground-balls (or fly-balls)?”Perry Husband & Joey Myers Hitting Jam Session #4
  • How swing intention is great, but its benefits can be suppressed by physical limitations,
  • The key ‘tinker & test’ learning principle helping hitters learn faster,
  • Why a hitting coach’s job is to eliminate their job,
  • And much more!

Hitting Jam Session 4 above jumps right into the conversation already started…

Show Notes

  • At about the 1-minute mark, question: how do I get my son to stop hitting ground-balls OR how do I get my son to stop uppercutting? What drills and mechanics?  What’s most essential get barrel on plane of the pitch.  If hitting too many ground-balls, then tell hitter to swing up.  If hitting too many popups, then tell hitter to swing down.  Perry talks about ground-balls most likely indicate being too early, and fly balls swinging too late.  Take BP round, up solid, down solid, then find the middle solid.  Matching feel and real, set up targets at distances on the field, like at a driving range in golf, and have hitter hit different target distance…hit a one-hopper v. 3-hopper v. 5-hopper v. NO hopper.  Now coach can cue that to correct extreme barrel angles.  Hitter can feel it but not see it, while coach can see it but not feel it.  Match real and feel.
  • At about the 7-minute, 30-secs mark, Carlos Pena really struggled on the up and in part of the strike zone (in 2009), what did Perry do to fix that…part was physical: he was really bent over at the waist (was at a 50-degree hip hinge – straightened him up a bit), the other part was approach: INTENTION…hunting up and in, trust ball flight to get what the reality is, using Bernstein’s Law of intent to change ball flight
  • At about the 12-minute mark, Joey Votto trying to cut down on strikeouts and wanting to match the pitch plane to give up some homers, Votto talked about how Mike Trout could put the ball anywhere on the field you asked him, don’t be obsessed with Launch Angles – gotta take care of the horizontals too, Ben Hogan willing changes to happen, Perry talked about demonstration of holding paper clip tied to a string, and paper clip starts spinning in a circle if you think it, control knobs in fingertips, intent is great but may be limited to physical ability, on Votto’s 2-strike approach changes – missing more balls he should’ve driven because he puts more emphasis on weighting the backside
  • At about 17-minute mark, if hitter swings up and is late, they’ll hit a lot of grounders, how to develop feel for things, swinging different sized and weighted bats (end loaded, balanced, and knob weighted), hitting different sized and weighted of balls, swinging at different points in the zone, hitting targets on the field at different depths, Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown on the power of variance, the Bean Bag study and the 2 bucket challenge, building multiple reference points, Perry played game with hitters in the cage, based on his 10-degree Launch Angle target in the cage 1-5 point scale, only get 10 balls (minimize 1’s and 2’s) – once they think about getting a 5, hitting the 3’s and 4’s are easier…intention: focus on ball flight
  • At about the 25-minute mark, Aaron Miles and our phone conversation about quality v. quantity swings, screwed up a bunt in game and next day cranked machine up to 95-mph on the field before game and bunted, Miles went on a tear after that, quantity reps are great but they better be quality reps, Aaron Miles coaches indy team in NorCal and says he’ll take a hitter who can hit 40 line drives out of 50 versus only 20, CLICK HERE for Perry’s launch angle tee test chart, I do similar test to get a ballpark of where the hitter is at – before lesson I have tee setup middle-middle and let them take 5 or so swings and make note of where they’re hitting the ball vertically and horizontally, if it’s measureable, then it’s manageable – even if you’re measuring distance (or eyeballing it)
  • At about the 33-minute, 30-secs mark, I asked Perry’s advice on the following comment from a 13yo hitter I received on one of my YouTube videos…

“I have been doing your catapult loading system method for hitting for about a month and a half now. I am the hitting ball harder than ever and it feels great. A coach yesterday, (while I was was hitting front toss at the beginning of practice) said that he thought I was rotating my shoulders too much and should keep a better posture in my swing. I got the hunch from your book. So I explained to him the catapult loading system method and he didn’t like it. He said it will cause me to pull off the ball and that no big leaguers do it. Then I named josh Donaldson, Aaron judge, and Andre mccutchen and said they all do it. He didn’t give me a really definitive answer after that. This coach uses the method of making a “positive move” towards the ball and “walking away from your hands” which I remember in your book you said is not what you teach. I am 13 and I was wondering how should I tell coaches about the catatpult loading system and why you don’t you like the “waking away from hands” method. I have had 3 coaches now comment on me showing the numbers and hiding the hands and they all said I won’t be able to hit faster pitching with it, but I have been smashing the faster pitchers (70-75 mph) and have done fine with it. Thx

  • …Perry asks hitters whose swing do you have, put hitters in charge, our job is to eliminate our job, hitter tells coach “Thank you, I’m going to give it a shot”, takes time to make changes in swing, not going to happen overnight, this player is on the right track, listen, soak it in, let some things leak back out
  • At about 38-minute mark, comment on my blog from alphabet soup acronym expert bashing tee use (CLICK HERE for link to comment)…you can hit a curveball farther because it arrives with backspin (from hitter’s perspective) and bat-ball collision wouldn’t have to reverse spin like a fastball arriving with topspin, Perry talked about how much farther hitters hit a ball off the “hover-ball” tee when backspin is put on ball before hitting it, 211 players averaged over .400 hitting 100-mph+ ground-balls, type of spin hitter puts on batted ball ball IS NOT predetermined by starting spin from pitched ball.
  • At about 49-min mark, how batting tees (like the Backspin Tee) can be beneficial to hitters, doing “circle drill” pitch recognition using tee in ideal situation, the only bad thing about hitting off tees is turning the head to see ball hit bat, in reality the brain doesn’t every see this happen, anti-tee people would be a difficult thing to promote,
  • At about 53-minute, 30-secs mark, Perry shows swing analysis swing-and-miss example of Spring Training game, being late on the pitch and where the barrel is at certain point in time, line of ball is at 4-degrees – barrel path is at about 13-degrees, clearly not in line with line of ball, pitcher ended up throwing right into this guy’s barrel middle away after throwing 3-pitches by him – dinger!  Target rich environment out there, most hitting approaches will work until pitchers go EV,
  • You can find Perry Husband at EffectiveVelocity.com, use EV25 coupon code for any of the online courses.  @EVPerryHusband on Twitter, and @PerryHusband on Facebook
  • My offer…FREE Catapult Loading System 2nd edition print book – just pay $8.95 shipping and handling (retails on Amazon for $19.97) – in addition you’ll get our essential consistent power online video mini-course Power Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alphahttps://www.truthaboutexplosiverotationalpower.com/pl/60039
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Longest Home Run Ever “Principles” May SURPRISE You…

 

 

Is the 700 foot home run the longest ever?  And how hit it?  Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, or Aaron Judge?  The answer will shock you.  What about the longest MLB home run in 2021?  Or in the World Series?  What is the optimal home run launch angle and exit velocity formula?  And how do you get it?  Interesting swing experiment…

Longest Home Run Ever? 696-Feet!

Photo Courtesy of: SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel

Popular player longest home runs:

But before analyzing the longest home run ever ‘principles’, I want to share a few important resources…

Some of you may remember first reading Physics Professor Robert Adair’s book The Physics Of Baseball.  Think of the above video as the “engineering” of baseball – ahem, hitting specifically.  Many of you know our motto here at Hitting Performance Lab and HOW our hitting approach is different than most out there …

We apply human movement principles that are validated by Science, to hitting a ball … (unlike the willfully ignorant ‘bro-science’ approach to hitting).  

Another good longest home run ever engineering principles book resource is The Golfing Machine authored by Homer Kelley, who was an aeronautical engineer that worked for Boeing during the Great Depression.  He fell in love with golf and applied engineering principles to the golf swing, which were meticulously described in the book.

A fantastic post on the topic of longest home run ever comes from Dr. Alan Nathan over at PopularMechanics.com titled, “What’s The Longest Possible Home Run”. Alan Nathan is a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois who has spent a career tracking physics, especially as it relates to baseball. He says two primary factors guide how far a ball is going to fly: exit velocity and launch angle.  Click the PopularMechanics.com link to read more.

The SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel is a MUST subscribe.  They’re a bunch of engineering geeks that put together fascinating experiments and tests that challenge things like the longest home run ever (above) to the backwards brain bicycle.  Their videos are very entertaining, funny, and extremely informative.

What I have for you below are time marked bullet points I found interesting in the above longest home run ever SmarterEveryDay video.  Big THANK YOU to the golfing sensei, and my good friend, Lee Comeaux for the share…

  • At 1-min, 25-sec mark, he acknowledge the “Launch Angle” craze, their focus is to “…point at the fence and swing a bat as fast as we can.”
  • Safety first kids!!  These guys took many many safety precautions when running this experiment defending against batted balls (200+ mph!), broken flying wood and metal bats, or even broken shards of machine.
  • At 2-min mark, they discuss how they setup the scenario for higher probability of moving ball hitting moving bat
  • At 2-min, 45-sec mark, talked about who these guys are and 3-phase power, “…dads who love to build things.”
  • At 4-min, 40-sec mark, discussed how wood bat broke during first phase of experiment, “tension” break
  • At 5-min, 45-sec mark, 2nd phase of experiment, metal bat broke off at plastic knob (slo mo at 6:40), and flew 581-feet!!
  • At 7-min, 45-sec mark, interesting to note the imbalance of the “Mad Batter Machine” when one of two metal bats break off…think about a hitter that isn’t counter-balancing their body when swinging (e.g. breaking one-joint rule – rear ear closing in on rear shoulder during turn, OR shifting weight during stride, then continuing to go forward during turn – lunging).
  • At 10-min, 15-sec mark, fantastic frame-by-frame of bat ball collisions – ground-ball, high fly-ball, hit too early … as power was turned up, they started breaking bats … crazy how much fun these guys were having doing this.  I’m so envious!
  • At 11-min- 35-sec mark, talked about fastest ball exit speed being Giancarlo Stanton (123.9-mph), one hop double play grounder to second baseman, their pitching machine was throwing balls at 50-mph, while their high speed bat was hitting batted balls at 240-mph!  This goes to show pitching velocity isn’t the best predictor of batted ball distance (1-mph of added pitching velocity only adds 1-mph to ball exit speeds) … bat speed is (1-mph of added bat speed adds 4-mph to ball exit speeds).
  • Thought experiment … imagine if these guys angled the Mad Batter Machine in an extreme downward or upwards plane – what would happen?  I think this experiment would take them months, not days.  Think about it, a couple engineering guys, didn’t care about the ‘Launch Angle’ craze, and just angled it to where it’d hit the majority of balls … hmmmm, let that sink in 😉
  • At 12-min, 10-sec mark, history of longest home run ever tape measure shots: Mickey Mantle – 565-feet, Babe Ruth – 575-feet, and Joey Meyer – 582-feet (no immediate relation :-P)
  • At 12-min, 45-sec mark, they show the longest home run ever… (full power!!!)
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Discover how bat size “drop” (bat length minus bat weight) affects performance for baseball and softball hitters in this swing experiment.  It’ll bring perspective to choosing an adult league, High School, or t-ball bat.  CLICK HERE for a fantastic weight-length dimensions chart calculator resource by body weight and age.

Question: How is Bat & Ball Exit Speed Affected by Bat Size?

 

Baseball Swing Tips: Mizuno Generation Bat Size Experiment

This was the model I used in the bat size experiment…

In this baseball swing tips experiment using the BlastMotion Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat Speed at Impact and Ball Exit Speed if I used a Mizuno Generation 33-inch, 30-ounce BBCOR versus a 34-inches, 31-ounces, same model.

 

Background Research

CLICK HERE for an article titled “The Physics of Baseball”.  Read under the subhead titled, “Swing speed vs. bat weight”.

The following information I received from a long time PocketRadar rep.  It’s what he does for a living.

In this baseball swing tips Mizuno Generation bat experiment, a good rule of thumb when looking at ball exit speed is:

A 1-mph of ball exit speed (BES) increase, adds 4-feet of distance to a batted ball (a 1:4 ratio).

So for instance, if an 9 year old hits the ball with 50-mph of ball exit speed, then they have the capability of hitting the ball 200-feet (50 X 4 = 200).

On the professional side of things, I’ve heard that scouts are actively looking for 95-mph+ ball exit speed in games because that hitter has the ability to hit the ball at least 380-feet.  That’s hitting the ball out down the lines, and to the gaps, at most ballparks.

It’s also interesting to note that you can add about 5-15-mph to ball exit speeds taken off a tee, to simulate what it would be in a game.  That extra 5-15-mph will depend on the pitcher’s velocity.

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball swing tips experiment research, I think swinging with the Mizuno Generation 34/31 will, on average, increase my ball exit speed.  I think that my bat speed will come down a bit using the 34/31 over the 33/30 because of the added weight and length.  Also, “trading up” a bat size will depend on how much forward momentum a hitter uses.  The less FoMo, the harder it will be to trade up.

 

Baseball Swing Tips Mizuno Generation Bat Size Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • A friend of mine, Juan Ortiz, took Ball Exit Speed gun readings while inputting into this Google Doc spreadsheet.
  • You’ll notice on the baseball swing tips experiment spreadsheet that there are missing numbers, these were radar gun mis-reads (where the radar gun lost coverage of the batted ball’s trajectory).  We eliminated ten mis-reads using the 33/30, and thirteen mis-reads using the 34/31.  We then adjusted the average swings in each test.  For instance, we eliminated 13 mis-reads using the 34/31, so spreadsheet added all swing ball exit speeds for that test, then divided by 87 total swings.
  • However, the Zepp app readings were all averaged over 100 total swings.
  • Dimple ball feedback markers were set at the bat’s length plus two baseballs
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  “33/31 Mizuno bat swings” were letter ‘A’, and
    “34/31 Mizuno bat swings” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.
  • Now, we took readings with the Zepp app and with the Bushnell radar gun.  Please note, these aren’t an apples to apples comparison, so we’ll be looking at them in separate detail.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Swing Tips: Mizuno Generation Bat Size Experiment

Check out the little baseball swing tips experiment changes in average Bat Speed Impact & Time To Impact…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • Zepp app findings – as you can see, there was an average increase of 1-mph  in Bat Speed at Impact using the 34/31 Mizuno Generation bat.
  • Zepp app findings – there was also average 0.057 sec drop in Time To Impact with the 34/31 Mizuno Gen. bat.
  • Bushnell BES radar gun findings (Google Doc) – there was an average Ball Exit Speed increase of 2-mph when using the 34/31 Mizuno Gen. bat.

Notes

  • I did not expect to see a major difference in Time To Impact like we did in the baseball swing tips bat size experiment.
  • I thought that average Bat Speed at Impact when using the 34/31 Mizuno Gen. bat was going to be less than the 33/30, but it actually increased by 1-mph!
  • In looking at the BES Google Doc spreadsheet, I topped out at 95-mph (twice) using the 33/30.  And topped out at 94-mph using the 34/31.  Btw, a week prior, one of my 12yo hitters wanted to see what “Coach Joey” could hit in ball exit speed.  And after about 5-6 swings, I hit 92-mph off the tee with wood.  Not tooting my own horn here, just interesting to see a ballpark difference between wood and the Mizuno Gen. BBCOR bats.  Also, I’m only 5’10” on a “good day”, and 165-pounds.  Add about 10-mph in a game, and I’m hitting 102-mph BES, which translates to 408-feet of batted ball distance.  My point is, you don’t have to be a big hitter to crush the ball B-)
  • What else is interesting in looking at the baseball swing tips experiment spreadsheet, that after about 75 total experiment swings, I started to consistently hit more 90+mph’s and find my highest BES readings.  Similar to how many pitches it takes a pitcher to actually “get warm”.  This is why we counter-balance the experiments now, to sidestep the “warm-up factor”.

The Bottom Line?

In this baseball swing tips experiment, using two different sized Mizuno Generation -3 BBCOR bats, we found that (for me), the 34/31 added 1-mph of Bat Speed at Impact and 2-mph to Ball Exit Speed, on average.  I was amazed to learn that using the bigger bat actually cut down on Time to Impact.  Some interesting findings and ones I hope others will test for themselves in the future.  My parents ask me the “bat size” question all the time.  So, by investing in a Bushnell radar gun or PocketRadar gun, you can gather some pretty convincing data as to which bat to use.

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

How Much Ball Exit Speed Does Lower Body Contribute To A High Level Swing?

 

In this baseball and softball video post, we’ll be looking at whether preloading upper body hitting torque or using lower half hip rotation contributes for more power.  Check out this swing drills over rotating experiment…

Do you consider yourself an open minded coach?  If not, then this post MAY NOT be for you.

Do you consider yourself a coach willing to try new movements before criticizing them?  If not, then this post MAY NOT be for you.

Fair WARNING…this video will make most feel uneasy because it strikes at the heart of their teaching.  I believe the quality of our lives and the success we experience in it, depends solely on the questions we’re willing to ask our-self.

In this video, the Backspin Tee Gardner Brothers (Taylor & Jarrett Interview here) did a small thought provoking swing experiment that looked at how much value the lower half contributes to the swing.  Most popular hitting instructors treat the lower half like a JoBu shrine in the movie Major League.  Don’t get me wrong, the lower half has a role, but I disagree on the importance most put on it.

Using the Scientific Method…

 

Question

Backspin Tee Swing Experiment on Not Using Hips

Taylor Gardner doing a Jumping No Hips Swing

They looked at how much value (measured in Ball Exit Speed) the lower half contributes to the swing by restricting its movement.

 

Background Research

Taylor read my book The Catapult Loading System: How To Train 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, and it got him thinking about how much the lower half actually contributes to power compared to the shoulders?  Earlier I mentioned how much the movement of the pelvis in the swing is worshiped by so many hitting coaches.  “Fire the hips!” “Hip Thrust baby!” Sadly, the torsional forces are taken to the point of being unhealthy for a young hitter’s low back.

Consider what Charlie Weingroff, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist and trainer in New York City said this:

“Only your thoracic spine (which consists of the 12 vertebrae in your upper and middle back) is designed to rotate significantly — about 40 degrees in each direction, according to Weingroff — when under compression. The lumbar spine (lower back) should rotate no more than about 12 degrees.”

Let me give a clue, coaches want better separation, torque, lag, etc. in their hitters right?  We see that a high level right handed hitter’s pelvis starts rotating counter-clockwise at the start of the turn, leaving the shoulders temporarily behind, this is the essence of “lag” or “torque”.  But what coaches aren’t seeing is what’s happening before the ‘hips lead the way’?  The compression and tension forces happening in the torso beforehand, to make that move possible.

If hitting coaches would do their homework on basic bio-mechanical locomotion and function of the spinal engine as a whole, then they’d find they’re missing  60-70% of the performance puzzle (as you’ll soon see), and quite possibly wearing a hole in the lower backs of their hitters.

I constantly see well intention coaches posting videos on Twitter of their young hitters savagely twisting the pelvis and low back (lumbar), in addition to the hyper-extension of the lower lumbar.  Quite frankly, it’s painful to watch.  CLICK HERE for an exercise to correct this.

Did you know there’s a much safer way to achieve those high BES numbers and more?  Some books to get you started on the right track:

By the way, Dr. Serge Gracovetsky is a Physicist and Electrical Engineer.  He said the Spinal Engine can operate in space without Gravitational Forces.  His research shows arms and legs aren’t necessary for locomotion, they’re an improvement.  Please read that sentence again because it’s important to understand locomotion.

Can explosive high level athletes perform without the aid of Gravitational Reaction Forces?  Check out the following videos:

Derek Jeter makes jump throw…

Jeter is jumping up and away from his target, taking his momentum in the opposite direction of first base. This should put him at a disadvantage, but it doesn’t hurt him too much, as you can see.

Big air motocross freestyle jumps…

Notice how these athletes use the head to control their body.  No Gravitational Reaction Forces to help here either.  But man can these athletes put a big smile on your face while watching this video!

Don’t seek the footsteps of others, seek the footsteps they sought.

 

Hypothesis

The Gardner brothers thought this mini swing experiment would show more of a minimal role of the lower half in the swing, compared to the “lower half worshiping” hitting coaches out there.

Experiment Setup Details

  • 4 different hitters (Taylor – High School level hitter College Track & Field athlete, Jarrett – professional pitcher, Rookie in pro ball, home-run record holder at Div-1 college)
  • Took Full Swings prior to experiment swings (the Control group), so they could compare to when the lower half was restricted
  • Backspin Tee used on all swings (I know, shocker!)
  • Chair used to hit ball while falling
  • Pocket Radar to measure BES
  • Used 2 judges for checks and balances
  • Goal was to eliminate use of lower half
  • Every one used the same metal bat, a Copperhead C405 34 inch, 30 ounce (-4)

 

Data Collected

Based on control swings, this graph shows average BES as % of the control swings, Highest BES as %, & Lowest BES as % of each of the four hitters. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

 

Graph shows top BES per hitter on control swings, when Stationary No Hips, when Jump Float No Hips, Falling Float No Hips, Lead Leg Only No Hips, and Avg. BES. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Small sample sizes can cause a lot of problems, so there definitely needs to be more data points to make a conclusive decision.  However, with the data we have, the fact four different hitters participated on all swing experiments, in looking at the last graph, you can see that when the lower half was restricted, Ball Exit Speeds were around two-thirds of top exit velocity of control swings (normal swings).  Think Jeter making his jump throw!  So from this small sample size, we can say the lower half contributes about one-third to the Exit Speeds of these four hitters.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.  Be nice, be respectful.

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

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Squash The Bug Ineffective?

 

This post discusses youth hitting fundamentals of why squishing the bug is bad for baseball and softball players in 2022?  Learn basic how to hit the ball in a certain direction beginner swing tips experiment.  This information is great for 10-year old’s and younger.

Question: Do “Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Depress Bat Speed?

 

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: TylerD

Here are the two test swings from my intern for the summer, redshirt college Frosh, Tyler Doerner…

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if the baseball swing mechanics “squishing/squashing the bug”, during the turn, increases or decreases bat speed.  The term “squishing the bug” means rotating the back foot, on the ground, during the turn.  Like you’re squishing a bug.

This can be a very sore subject, and hotly debated with a passion, in the Church of Baseball.  Surprisingly, it’s still widely taught throughout the lower levels.  Although a few images off the internet of effective swingers like Cano, Bautista, McCutchen, etc. will reveal “squishing the bug” isn’t what the best are doing.

So we wanted to test it…

My intern for the summer, redshirt college freshman Tyler Doerner did this experiment.  This post is for you Joe (you know who you are ;-)…

Background Research

One of the main objectives of whether to skip the foot, or keep it on the ground, has to do with transferring linear momentum, better known as un-weighting or forward momentum.  Check out these four HPL posts for a baseball swing mechanics background on this:

  1. Troy Tulowitzki Zepp Swing Experiment: Stride Killing Bat Speed?
  2. Ryan Braun: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #1
  3. Baseball Hitting Video: Gain Distance the Easy Way PART-1
  4. Perfect Swing Hacking with Forward Momentum (feat. Mike Trout)

Now, for you academics, CLICK HERE to watch a short 2-minute PBS video on Circus Physics and the Conservation of Linear Momentum.

So, after reading/watching the above videos and posts, we should be at a common understanding of Forward Momentum.

The next objective of “squishing the bug” versus “skipping the back foot” during the turn, boils down to allowing the body to transfer energy effectively.  This has to do with springy fascia in the body…

In Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, he talks about a cotton candy like springy material that the bones and muscles float it, and what gives muscles their shape called fascia.

Specifically in the book, he talks about the Front & Back Functional Lines.  CLICK HERE for a post I did on this, featuring Ted Williams and Matt Kemp.

In the following video, Thomas Myers explains this idea of Tensegrity, or Tension-Integrity.  There are compression and tension forces acting on the body at all times.  Within the body these two opposing forces are always searching for balance…

For a hitter, if the body moves forward, but the back foot and leg stays behind, then these forces don’t get optimally transferred from body to barrel to ball.  In other words, the backside gets “left behind”.

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I think “squishing the bug” baseball swing mechanics will have a depressing effect on bat and hand speed because it doesn’t allow for full transfer of momentum and release of elastic energy in the springy fascia.

 

“Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Forward momentum was taken out of this baseball swing mechanics experiment by hitting from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • Back two “baseball markers” were set at about 3 baseballs apart
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Say “squish the bug” was letter ‘A’, and “skipping back foot’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Squish the Bug Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

There were significant changes in Average Bat & Hand Speed, Time to Impact, and surprisingly, the hitter’s Attack Angle in this baseball swing mechanics experiment…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • +8-mph difference in average Impact Bat Speed, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,
  • +3-mph difference in average Hand Speed Max, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,,
  • -0.019 difference in average Time To Impact, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”, and
  • +4-degree difference in average Attack Angle, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”.

 

Notes

  • I think the “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics experiment results were overwhelmingly clear.
  • Tyler did not technically keep his back foot posted to the ground during the “squish the bug” tests, so there still was an element of un-weighting going on with his backside.
  • In which case, measuring Ball Exit Speed (or how fast the ball came off the bat) may have netted interesting data to consider, compared to Impact Bat Speed.  However, with the results with the other readings of Avg. Hand Speed, Time To Impact, and Attack Angle, I think we can put the “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics myth to bed 😀
  • The data and results suggests that when a hitter “leaves behind their backside”, there’s a slowing down of forward momentum, and the body naturally decelerates because the springy fascia is forced to stretch, but not release.
  • Keep in mind what I call the Goldilocks Syndrome.  The back foot can skip too far (porridge too hot), and it can also not skip at all (porridge too cold).  We want the back foot to skip just right.

The Bottom Line?

In this “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics experiment, “Skipping the Back Foot” showed a notable difference in average Bat & Hand Speed, Time To Impact, and the hitters Attack Angle.  I want to encourage you to tinker and test this for yourself.  The objective of these swing experiments is to put modern hitting theory to the test, literally.  We NEED to test based on data, not feelings.  Share these results with friends.

SwingAway Trainer: Pro Baseball Traveler

SwingAway Baseball Swing Trainer: How-To Build A Swing You Can Be Proud Of…

 

This article presents a general framework to conduct 8th grade science fair project hitting experiment ideas for baseball and softball players. Sweet spot swing experiment topics should include Physics articles, books, facts, and questions.  Using the scientific method is key…

I’ve wanted to do a “how-to experiment” post for a long time.  But in the past, technology hadn’t quite caught up,

SwingAway Trainer: Pro Baseball Traveler

SwingAway Trainer: Pro Baseball Traveler

…and NOW it has!

Mark Twain once said:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

I want:

  • …To lay out the landscape, in this Baseball Swing Trainer post, about using the SwingAway for conducting hitting experiments,
  • …This article to empower you to take up arms with me, and turn conventional hitting wisdom on its stubborn little head, and
  • …To inspire you to use modern technology to build a swing we ALL can be proud of.

I’m embarrassed to share the following story…

I did my first hitting experiment in the sixth grade with a buddy, for a school project.

My friend and I ran an experiment to see if a wood or aluminum bat could hit the ball farther.

One day after school, we pitched to each other at the Little League diamond we played our games at.  We used two aluminum Easton baseball bats and a Ken Griffey Jr. signature Louisville Slugger woody.  One aluminum bat was 32-inches and 24-ounces, and the other was 31-inches and 23-ounces.  And I can’t remember what the woody measurements were, but it was comparable.

I think we might have hit about 50 balls with each bat (150 balls total) and get this…measured the distance with our feet! 😀 lol

Based on our results, guess which bat hit the ball the farthest?  Wood or aluminum?  The wood bat!!!  Waaa??

Well, it was only because we weren’t being very scientific with our scientific experiment.  One of the big reasons we didn’t get a good grade on the project was because we DID NOT isolate the variables

  • We threw LIVE batting practice to each other.  We should have used a baseball hitting trainer like a batting tee or SwingAway (wasn’t around at the time).
  • We both took turns hitting, and didn’t separate our individual batted ball distances.
  • We used different sized bats.
  • We measured using our own feet…I was a men’s 8/9 at the time, and my buddy was an 11. We should’ve used a rolling tape measure.
  • We only took a small data sample size. We should’ve hit 100 balls with the wood bat, and then 100 with aluminum.  AND we should have only used one of the aluminum bats (preferably the one closest in size and weight to the woody).  So 400 swings total (200 swings for me, 200 for my friend).  Then compared apples to apples.

Remember, failure is only a detour, not a dead end 😉

The good news is,

You don’t have to be a scientist to run a hitting experiment.

What follows is the exact formula I use now, to run my hitting experiments using the SwingAway baseball swing trainer.  My hopes is that you pick up arms, and join me in the fight…

 

The Definitive Guide to Conducting a Baseball Swing Trainer Experiment

Up until now, here are SIX hitting experiments I’ve run:

 

Equipment & Setup

You can read the full list at the above swing experiment links.  But here are a couple pieces of equipment that will have a drastic effect on bean counting and saving time doing the experiment itself…

BlastMotion Baseball App
Baseball Swing Trainer: Zepp Baseball App

Zepp Baseball App

Great tool for collecting data.  It’s not perfect, but all we need is an apples to apples comparison.  Unfortunately, the Zepp app DOES NOT allow you to separate experiment swings from recreational ones.  You have to delete ALL swings before doing an experiment, unless you want to do the bean counting yourself.

You’ll also need to create two email accounts with Zepp to separate the two experiment tests.  Zepp allows you to “Add a Hitter” in one account, but it doesn’t allow you to separate that data from other hitters or swings and average the data out.

SwingAway Baseball Swing Trainer

I just started using a SwingAway for my swing experiments.  I used to hit the ball off an ATEC Tuffy Batting Tee, but it was taking me 2 1/2 to 3 hours to run my experiments.  Fatigue could set in and skew the results.  Some experiments where you’re looking at ball flight (like Bent Back Knee experiment above) will most definitely need to be done off a batting tee.

Using the SwingAway baseball swing trainer took me only 1 1/2 hours!  NO need for:

  • Ball cleanup,
  • Ball setup, or
  • Waiting more than a few seconds for the ball to return to its stationary position.

This saved me a ton of time.  All you need is a 10 X 10 space to conduct your SwingAway baseball swing trainer experiment.

Baseball Swing Trainer Experiment Optimization Tips…

  • Limit Variables – The main objective of a baseball swing trainer hitting Experiment, is to isolate what you’re trying to test.  Like my sixth grade experiment from earlier, there were too many variables that we didn’t control.
  • Priming the Pump – I always start an experiment by warming up my body with a pre-practice routine, similar to this Dr. Stanley Beekman’s post.  You don’t have to do all included exercises, so pick about eight of them.  I’ll also take about 10-15 swings focusing on the specific mechanic I’m going to be testing that day.  For example, if I was testing showing the pitcher my numbers versus not, then I’d do 10-15 swings both ways, so 20-30 swings total before officially starting the experiment.  We prime the pump so nobody can see, “Well, your numbers sucked in the beginning because you weren’t warmed up.”
  • Counter-Balancing – The two tests in the experiment should be counterbalanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Say “showing the numbers” was letter ‘A’, and “not showing the numbers” was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings are to be completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.
  • More Data Points – I take at least 100 swings for both tests in the experiment, so 200 swings total (not counting warm-up swings).  So, taking the “showing numbers” as an example, I’d take 100 swings showing my numbers, and then take another 100 swings not showing my numbers.  The Zepp App is a useful technology, but isn’t super accurate.  But the more data you collect, the closer to the “real” numbers you’ll get.
  • Break the Swing Apart – If you aren’t confident that you can repeat a specific mechanic consistently for 100 swings, then break the swing apart, like I talk about in this YouTube video.  I did this in the showing the numbers experiment above.
  • Collect Ball Flight Data (optional) – for some mechanics, like testing the back leg angle during the turn experiment, it’s critical to collect ball flight data on the Zepp app.  Zepp allows you to manually input where you hit the ball after each swing.  Testing the grip on the bat would be another example.  Also, adding Ball Exit Speed readings could enhance the baseball swing trainer experiment, Bushnell Velocity Radar Gun (about $80), or Stalker Radar Gun ($500+).  ESPN’s HitTrackerOnline.com uses the latter in all MLB ballparks.  Just remember, accuracy isn’t as important as an apples to apples comparison.
  • Recovery – I usually will give my body about 30-minutes rest between the first 100 swing test and the second.  I now use supplement timing like Zach Calhoon maps out in these posts.  I sip on Zach’s “concoction” throughout the full experiment to keep my muscles fueled.  I then take Vitamin C and E capsules afterward to help with soreness.
  • Brainstorming Experiments – Don’t have any ideas on what to test?  I did the heavy lifting for you.  And by no means is this an exhaustive list of possible experiments. CLICK HERE for my brainstormed list.
  • Take Notes – make note of my “notes” in the above experiments.  Basically, the notes section are things that you noticed while doing the tests that may not be apparent to the person reading about the experiment.

 

In Conclusion…

In this baseball swing trainer post about using the SwingAway for hitting experiments, I wanted to lay out the landscape and empower you to help me take up arms.  I want to turn conventional hitting wisdom on its head, and use modern baseball swing trainer technology to build a swing we ALL can be proud of.

Let’s revisit the Mark Twain quote from earlier:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

I need your help and can’t fight this fight alone.  I want you to take action…

My challenge to you is let’s band together and conduct 30 Experiments in the next 30 days.  If all of us do at least one swing experiment, then we should be able to knock this goal out by July 15th.

Just post your baseball/softball hitting experiment results below in the comments section.  Reply with:

  • What experiment you ran (from the brainstorm list above)?
  • How many swings per test (i.e. 100/100), and what order did you do the test?
  • What bat did you use (length, weight, and wood/aluminum)
  • Hit off tee or Swingaway baseball swing trainer?
  • What metric changes were significant (bat speed/hand speed/bat vertical angle at impact/attack angle/ball flight/ball exit speed)?

Thanks in advance for your baseball swing trainer experiment comments!

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

Create Pre-Turn Hand Tension Like Babe Ruth

 

What is the proper youth hand bat grip for right and left-handed baseball softball hitters? Is door knocking knuckles the correct hold or is the “box” grip better.  I’d argue the gorilla grip is best, evidenced in this swing experiment.

Babe Ruth Reveals Hand Tension?

Look at the hands of Babe Ruth… Photo courtesy: PhotoBucket.com (user: BillBurgess)

Question: Do Relaxed Hands Really Lead to Higher Bat Speeds?

Using the Zepp knob sensor which you can’t get anymore, so instead grab a BlastMotion sensor.  I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether having relaxed hands or “hand-tension” – pre-turn – increases or decreases bat speed.

Background Research

To me, it just always looked like the all-time greats – Babe Ruth – were squeezing the handle of the bat into sawdust before going into their turn.  I’m basing this experiment off the following research and study:

1. Pavel Tsatsouline

From the Tim Ferriss podcast titled, “Pavel Tsatsouline on the Science of Strength and the Art of Physical Performance“, where Tim interviews Pavel.  Pavel trains elite athletes and military but is best known for commercializing the use of the kettlebell in America.

In the podcast, Pavel talks about how the hands can be used to recruit more muscle tissue and connect larger areas of the body.

2. Homer Kelly

In his book, The Golfing Machine, Homer Kelly talks of four power accumulators…in particular, the first power accumulator (p.70 in the 7th edition):

“…is the Bent Right Arm – the Hitter’s Muscle Power Accumulator.  Even though the Right Biceps is active, the Backstroke is always made with the Right Arm striving to remain straight.  But the straight Left Arm restraints this continuous Extensor Action of the right triceps with an effortless Checkerin Action.  Consequently, during Release, the Right Arm can straighten only as the Left Arm moves away from the Right Shoulder.  This results in a smooth, even Thrust For acceleration of the Lever Assemblies from an otherwise unruly force.”

3. Front Arm Fascial Lines

Thomas Myers talks about Front Arm Fascial Lines in his book Anatomy Trains.  These lines travel from the bottom three fingers (pinky, ring, and middle), across the chest, to the bottom three fingers of the opposite hand.  It’s these three fingers that connect these springy fascial lines found within the torso to whatever we hold in our hands.  It’s this hand tension, or finger pressure, that has fixed stubborn bat drag issues in my own hitters.

 

Hypothesis

Because of the previously mentioned research, I think the swing with Babe Ruth “hand-tension” will result in higher bat speed, and possibly other performance metrics, like max hand speed, time to impact, etc., that will be measured using the Zepp Baseball App.

Babe Ruth: “Hand-Tension” Experiment

Babe Ruth Hand-Tension Experiment Setup

Here was how I setup my experiment “workstation”

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app (BlastMotion),
  • ATEC Tuffy Batting Tee (we use Backspin Tee now),
  • Rawlings Official NCAA Baseballs,
  • Two yellow dimple baseballs (feedback markers),
  • Flip Video Camera and Tripod, and
  • 33 inch, 30 ounce Pinnacle Bamboo bat.

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers = my bat length, plus two baseballs
  • Distance from plate = end of the bat touching inside corner of plate, and knob of bat touching my mid-thigh.
  • Tee was set slightly behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh.
  • First 100 baseballs were hit WITHOUT pre-turn “hand-tension”.
  • Second 100 baseballs were hit WITH pre-turn “hand-tension”.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Babe Ruth Hand Tension Experiment Results (Zepp)

Check out the difference in average Bat Speed and average Time To Impact…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Babe Ruth Hand Tension Experiment

Look at the difference in the Bat Vertical at Impact and Attack angles. This is the reason for the higher Fly Ball & Line Drive percentages…

When using pre-turn Babe Ruth “hand-tension”:

  • +3 mph average bat speed
  • Higher Max Bat Speed numbers
  • More horizontal bat angle at impact (matching pitch plane)
  • +6 degrees in attack angle
  • More productive outcomes (line-drives & fly-balls).

Notes

  •  I had trouble finding a proper slot for my hands WITHOUT pre-turn hand tension.  With it, I found more consistency with “educated” pre-tension Babe Ruth hands.
  • In the video, you can clearly see a better barrel launch angle when I had pre-turn “hand-tension”.
  • In the video, you can see an earlier barrel on the pitch-plane (probably as a result of the better barrel launch angle).
  • WITHOUT hand tension, my Zepp bat speeds swung wildly from swing to swing.  Whereas with pre-turn hand-tension, my bat speed numbers were more stable, staying within the 72-78 mph range.
  • I warmed up using the ProHammer bat, to prime my swing to not roll over when I started the Experiment.  Interesting to note that WITHOUT pre-turn hand tension, I began rolling over for the first 10-15 swings.
  • My upper half felt much more connected during the swing when I had pre-turn hand-tension.
  • The -1 degree vertical angle at impact was a much better improvement using pre-turn “hand-tension”.  Now, most of my Line Drives were about 8-12 feet off the ground.  My back foot was drifting forward a little much, so taming that and maintaining a 90-degree angle with the back leg, would push that vertical angle at impact even lower.  And as a result, would angle my drives up more.

The Bottom Line?

The Babe Ruth Pre-Turn “Hand-Tension” Experiment highlighted what Homer Kelly calls “educating the hands”.  This Experiment suggests that the old dogma of keep your hands “loose” before you turn holds no water.  This is another example of backwards thinking that’s been taught for decades.  All my hitters, from pro and college to Little League, say how much more bat speed they have when they use pre-turn “hand-tension”.  I urge you all to repeat the same experiment and report what you find in the comments below.  Test…Test…Test these dogmas, so we can finally put the ol’ dog to bed.

*EXPERIMENT UPDATE*: Thanks to my friend Lee Comeaux, who is a professional golf instructor, for further simplifying the finger pressure technique…have the hitter squeeze the bottom three fingers (pinky, ring, and middle) of the top hand ONLY, from the moment the hitter picks up their stride foot to all the way through impact.  This alone has cleared up stubborn bat drag issues with my hitters from TEN to SIXTEEN years old.

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

Zepp Swing Experiment: Here’s a Quick Way to Fix a Flat Bat at Landing (and WHY!) 

 

 

Discover fundamental how to coach quick hands, contact, and power hitting drills, techniques for beginners, and basic youth drills for baseball and softball players in the 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 year old age range, in 2022.  This Zepp swing experiment targeting a ‘flat’ bat at stride landing is VERY age appropriate for the ages previously mentioned.

Fundamental Baseball Question: How Does a Flat Bat at Landing Effect Bat Speed, Ball Exit Speed, & Time To Impact?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app and Pocket Radar Ball Coach, I wanted to employ the Scientific Method to analyze how a hitter’s “Flat Bat at Landing”, or toe touch,  adds or takes away from key swing performance metrics including Bat Speed at Impact, Time To Impact, Attack Angle, and Ball Exit Speeds.

Let me define what I mean by ‘Flat Barrel’ versus a ‘Vertical Barrel’…

  • A ‘Flat Barrel’ at landing is anything less than a 30-degree angle (like Cargo in the above video as an example),
  • A ‘Vertical Barrel’ at landing is anything more than a 30-degree angle.

Now that we’ve defined the parameters, let’s look at the…

Background Research

Fundamental Baseball: 'Flat Bat' Swing Experiment

Notice where the “dot” is drawn on the two static images left side, and where it’s drawn on the two dynamic images right side. Photo courtesy: GymSmartsCommunity.com

My background research is more experiential, rather than academic.

I have hitters do a mini-experiment by holding the bat in their bottom hand, laid flat (parallel to ground) over their back shoulder.  And then ask them to hold the bat, using the same hand, but vertical.  I then ask them which bat position is heavier/lighter?  Of course they say the vertical bat is lighter.  I then ask WHY?  And I get a few different answers…

What is the fundamental baseball answer?  Because we’re not adding or taking weight away from the bat by doing this…

It has to do with center of mass of the bat in relation to the hitter’s.  A ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ pushes its center of mass behind the hitter’s. A human’s center of mass is generally around the belly button.  To find the bat’s center of mass you can balance it between your thumb and forefinger.

I’ve also observed when adjusting a hitter’s ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ to a more ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’, there’s a bump in Ball Exit Speed, which I measure at the beginning (before instruction is given) and end of a hitting lesson.  My hitter’s also share they feel quicker to impact, have a little more ‘pop’, and that it’s easier getting the ball in the air.

It’s also interesting to note that I see quite a bit of early barring of the front arm when the hitter lands with a flat barrel.  I also see the hitter “wrapping the bat” around their head.  In my opinion this is a compensation to manipulate the shifted center mass of the bat from behind the hitter.

CLICK HERE to watch this fundamental baseball video on how to fix a ‘Flat Bat at Impact’.

 

Hypothesis

Fundamental Baseball Swing Experiment: Carlos Gonzalez & Cody Bellinger Illustrating Flat versus Vertical Bat at Landing

Look at the difference in bat angle at landing between Carlos Gonzalez (left) – “Flat” and Cody Bellinger (right) – “Vertical”. Just because a Big Leaguer does it doesn’t mean it’s effective or optimized. Oftentimes they succeed despite ineffective mechanics. Photos courtesy: MLB.com

In support of the Background Research above, I’m hallucinating that we’ll see a bump in Bat and Ball Exit Speeds, in addition to a reduction in Time To Impact.  I also think that we’ll see a more positive move in the barrel’s Attack Angle.

 

Flat Versus Vertical Bat at Landing Experiment

Equipment Used:

Fundamental Baseball Experiment Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length…I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent.  One was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
  • Backspin tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • I broke each swing down into a couple steps: 1) Get to landing, 2) Pause for 2-secs, and 3) Swing.  The reason for this was to control the bat either flat or vertical at landing.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • The objective of ‘Front Facing Swings’ was to start the ‘belt buckle’ pointing at the pitcher, and to minimize pelvic movement.
  • Fundamental baseball Experiment Day-1 on 7/5 we completed 150 total swings (75 ‘Flat Barrel at Landing’ & 75 ‘Vertical Barrel at Landing’).  Experiment Day-2 on 7/10 we completed 50 swings (25 ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ & 25 ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’).
  • We had to break the 200 total swings into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later, because of time constraints.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App & Ball Exit Speed Readings):

‘Flat Bat Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

Fundamental Baseball: Swing Experiment

Flat Barrel at Landing swing averages of the averages: 76-MPH Bat Speed at Impact, 26.5-MPH Hand Speed Max, .209 Time To Impact, -32* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 8.5* Attack Angle.

‘Vertical Barrel Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

Fundamental Baseball: Swing Experiment

Vertical Barrel at Landing swing averages of the averages: 76-MPH Bat Speed at Impact, 27-MPH Hand Speed Max, .206 Time To Impact, 30.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 8.5* Attack Angle.

CLICK HERE for the Ball Exit Speed Google document.  The findings?

  •  Flat Barrel at Landing AVERAGE Ball Exit Speed = 79.01-MPH
  • Vertical Barrel at Landing AVERAGE Ball Exit Speed = 81.08-MPH
  • Difference = 2.01-MPH Ball Exit Speed bump with more Vertical Barrel at Landing

 

Data Analysis & Fundamental Baseball Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

  • We saw NO change to Bat Speed at Impact between the two swings,
  • We saw a 0.5-MPH boost to Hand Speed Max when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
  • We saw a .003 second reduction in Time To Impact when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
  • We saw a +1.5-degree increase to Bat Vertical Angle at Impact when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
  • We saw NO change to the Attack Angle between the two swings, and
  • We saw a 2.01-MPH increase in Ball Exit Speed when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’.

Based on the above Data Analysis it looks like my Hypothesis was proved right when it came to a boost in Hand Speed Max and Ball Exit Speed, and decrease in Time To Impact, but wrong when it came to Bat Speed at Impact and Attack Angle.  I think the increase in Ball Exit Speed can be attributed to the decrease in Time To Impact.

When we see ineffective movement at the Big League level, we have to understand that these high level hitters are succeeding despite ineffective movements, not because of them.

Baseball Analytics: Miguel Cabrera Launch Angles

How Fast (or Slow) Until a Data-driven Swing Replaces an “Old School” One? (Baseball Analytics Shenanigans)

Baseball Analytics: Miguel Cabrera Launch Angles

Baseball Analytics Photo courtesy: HittingNow.com

Why extremes are ALMOST never good

(Estimated reading time: 18-minutes)

Has the new way of baseball analytics changed baseball in 2022?  Or are they ruining sports?  I want to present a how to guide that translates data science metrics into hitting mechanics.  Old school versus new school.

How did we get here with baseball analytics? The ‘Launch Angle’ era.  Where did it originate?  What was the tipping point of choosing Sabermetrics over traditional scouting?  You’ll find out in the coming post.  But first,

We’ll be discussing what a data-driven swing looks like – we’ll be covering:

  • Story of Minor League hitting coaches having almost ZERO hitting experience,
  • Pros of a data-driven swing,
  • Cons of a data-driven swing, and
  • How it’s bad (or good) to track ball exit speed and launch angle in the batting cage.

Once upon a time in the Minors…

Story of Minor League hitting coaches having almost ZERO hitting experience

I have an interesting story to talk about. A true story. In an almost magical land called the Minor Leagues.  At the time, a little birdy playing for a National league professional organization whispered in my ear.  This little birdy told me…

Their are budding baseball analytics hitting coaches sprouting up in some professional organizations – having almost zero hitting experience.  No this isn’t fake news.  These whirlybird propeller seeds are traveling by wind from the sparkling land of economics … planting their baby hitting coach seeds in fresh dark batter’s box soil.  With a little gray water, bright sunlight, and the swift tap of a fairy’s wand… instantly sprouts an economics hitting fairy!

These magical Econ-hitting fairies are now happily coaching professional hitters on what they need to be feeling as a hitter … regardless of whether they’re hitting line drive after line drive … AND, with no more playing experience than Little League.  Imagine the Mathlete schooling the High School Baseball Jock in everything hitting.  And the Jock MUST listen or … YOU’RE FIRED!

Okay, so I may have embellished the story a bit.  The Minor Leagues ARE NOT magical lands – just ask any Minor Leaguer.  It wasn’t a little birdy that shared the story – it was a professional baseball human being.  And sorry to kill your hopes and dreams, but magical Econ-hitting fairies aren’t born by adding gray water, sun, and the tapping of a fairy wand.  C’mon man, everyone knows those aren’t real!  Magical Econ-hitting fairies, I mean.  Fairy wands are VERY real.

It is true though – how this story sounded in my head. It was an interesting story coming from a single-A ballplayer.  That is, the state of  professional baseball in the so-called ‘Launch Angle’ era.  It does beg the question…

How are these baseball analytics Econ-hitting fairies, who have zero college, professional, or Major League experience, finding themselves coaching professional hitters on what they need to be doing, and how they need to be doing it?  Listen, this may sound counter to what I just spent a few sarcastic paragraphs mocking.  But listen closely…

As a coach you DO NOT need to have extensive experience to teach hitters to be effective in their movements.  Just as long as you understand how to apply human movement principles that are validated by real science to hitting the ball. In other words, as long as you understand the rules of the human movement game, you can help hitters at all levels succeed, regardless of experience.

So what is happening?

From my understanding, these data-driven Econ-hitting fairies with extensive backgrounds in economics DO NOT understand the rules of the human movement game.  Let me take you back to the future…

For those with your head in the sand the last two decades, there’s been a revolutionary baseball movement since 2001.  Just after Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball.  You may or may not have read the book, but may have seen the movie starring the always dreamy Bradley Pitt.

At the heart of the story is former General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane (played by Bradley Pitt). Beane reached out to Paul DePodesta, a Harvard alum, with a background in economics.  And coincidentally had a knack for baseball statistics.  DePodesta would soon become Beane’s first analytics department.

And it was here, Billy Beane transformed a low budget, bottom of the barrel, SEEMINGLY professional franchise known as the Oakland Athletics, into a real David and Goliath story.  Beane and DePodesta used key player statistics to recruit.  Stats that optimized scoring more runs, and as a result would win more games.  Like how often a hitter gets on base – or On-base Percentage.  And how often a hitter gets an extra base hit – known as Slugging Percentage.  Think about it.  How do you score more runs?  Get more runners on base, and have hitters who can drive them in.  Nowadays there are more advanced stats that measure run scoring value, but the point is this changed the game forever.  For the better, and for the worst.  I’ll get into why in the coming pages.

Furthermore…

This helped the baseball analytics powered A’s be highly competitive against top budget franchises.  I apologize, but I’m going to spoil the ending … this was until other big market teams caught on.  Oops!  The cat was out of the bag.  Yuge budget teams like Boston and New York were able to take the same system, but now pay BIG sums of money for the same undervalued players Oakland was getting at a steep discount.  Yes, Oakland shot themselves in the foot.  It wouldn’t be the last time.  The jig was up.  The A’s magic run was over.  But not before Billy Beane and the A’s proved the system worked.  Regardless of a franchise’s budget.  Like a fairy’s wand, player valuation metrics transformed the game.

And it was a good thing at the time, because you had players and coaches still in the game or retired, that were helping teach the game through their personal experiences.  They’re now considered “old school” coaches.  Filling a gap on the coaching side of things that the Econ majors and analytics departments weren’t able to do.  It was a healthy debate between old and new school methods.  Friction and debate in a system are a good thing.  But now this friction is like the political climate between Republicans and Democrats.  Toxic.

This healthy balance of baseball analytics debate went MIA somewhere along the way.  Like crabgrass in your lawn, metrics soon took over.  Pushing many of the experienced baseball minds out of the game.  Labeling them dinosaurs.  Or maybe, the experienced minds couldn’t keep up.  Or didn’t want to keep up.  In my humble opinion, player valuation using metrics has its place.  But it should not be the totality of scouting, recruiting and developing players.  I’m not a Math-hater or numbers-denier.  I love Math.  Love Geometry, Economics, and Statistics. I did hate Algebra 2 though.    My point is, data without context is not optimized.  Data is a puzzle piece.  NOT the whole thing.

Teaching hitters isn’t just about metrics.  Doesn’t have to be completely data-driven.  AND, teaching isn’t just about old school teaching methods.  It’s a blend of both. Mutually inclusive. Not mutually exclusive.  We can use data AND we can also use old school teaching methods to help hitters at all levels. We don’t have to be on one side or the other.  You don’t have to be Tom OR Jerry.  Bert OR Ernie.  Han Solo OR Chewbacca.  When it comes to hitting, the following will replace ‘Or’ with ‘And’.

Let’s make the Mathletes happy and discuss the…

Pros of a data-driven swing

Here are some pros to a data driven baseball analytics swing. Famed business management consultant, Peter Drucker once said,

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

You business owners and managers understand this. You understand that you can optimize certain operations. You can optimize certain metrics in a business, it could be using Profit First in finances, it could be building Software as a Solution (SaaS) in technology, it could be optimizing sales funnels in marketing.  Optimization is working on the right things, and then doing those things right.

How can numbers help hitters?  Swing experiments.  In online marketing, we can run what’s called split A/B test.  Meaning, we can test whether a green button gets more clicks than a pink one over a period of time.  Like online marketing, we can split A/B test the swing by running swing experiments.

One of the things we used to accomplish this, when we started HittingPerformanceLab.com back in 2013, was technology such as the Zepp swing app, a knob tech swing analyzer.  Like BlastMotion and SwingTracker today. We can compare key swing metrics, whether it’s bat speed, attack angle, or time to impact and contrast two different swing movements.  It’s the ultimate baseball analytics split A/B test for hitters!

Here are the 5 steps to applying the Scientific Method to running swing experiments…

We start off with a QUESTION: “Are loose hands fast hands to a hitter?”  We can do a swing experiment using a BlastMotion or SwingTracker bat knob sensor. And we can test that. We can test it comparing apples to apples.

We then form a HYPOTHESIS on how we  think the experiment will turn out: “I think loose hands ARE fast hands”.  And then,

We go down the rabbit hole of RESEARCHING other studies that confirm and deny our hypothesis.

Then we COLLECT THE DATA from using the Zepp, BlastMotion, SwingTracker, or a PocketRadar for measuring ball exit speed.

For example in our ‘loose hands are fast hands’ swing experiment … we would take one hundred swings with loose hands. And one hundred swings doing the opposite.  In this case, using what we call finger pressure.  So the top hand, bottom three fingers squeezed tight, eight out of ten squeeze, from the moment the hitter picks up their front stride foot, to the swing follow through. Then we counterbalance those swings. This helps remove any warm-up or getting tired biases out of the experiment.

We break the two hundred swings into twenty five swing chunks, and layer them so that loose hand swings are symbolized with the letter ‘A’, and finger pressure swings are symbolized with the letter ‘B’. Remember, each letter represents one 25-swing chunk.  The first 100 swings will be broken into the following sequence: ABBA. And the last 100 swings will be broken into the following reverse sequence: BAAB.  This is how to do split A/B testing, from a hitting perspective.

After all 200 counterbalanced swings, we extract the averaged out data from the BlastMotion, SwingTracker, Zepp device, or PocketRadar.  Then we can base our CONCLUSION on the averages.  Which factor, loose hands or finger pressure swings contributed to better bat speed, hand speed, time to impact, attack angle, etc.?  By the way, Finger Pressure won out in our own swing experiments.

Simply put, here’s the Scientific Method…

  1. Question
  2. Hypothesis
  3. Research
  4. Data
  5. Conclusion

Essentially, we use the above process, take one hitting myth, and test it against its opposite. Don’t get me wrong, no swing experiment is perfect.  Experiment findings are based on probability.  Experiments are repeated by others, and the findings are either proven or proven false.  Over time, this increases or decreases confidence in the findings.  The bottom line is this, using the Scientific Method may not be perfect, but it’s one step in the right direction.  It gives us a process and path towards the truth. Take of from Peter Drucker: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

We satisfied the Mathletes – somewhat – talking about the Pros of a data-driven swing, especially when it comes to Moneyball. Billy Beane, all that stuff.

Now, let’s make the old school athletes happy and look at the…

Cons of a data-driven swing

Outside of applying the Scientific Method to optimizing the swing, here are the Cons to a baseball analytics data driven swing. Typically, in a data driven swing, not enough attention is given to the context of the numbers.

I always say, numbers don’t have brains. People do. Here’s the problem … take the example of our Econ-hitting fairy story.  Knowing zero about hitting.  Having virtually zero experience hitting.  Teaching hitters based on hearsay. Basically guessing on connecting the dots.  This presents quite a challenge.  It would be like asking me to re-roof your house … I have a lot of skill sets, but that ain’t one of them!  You’d be better off making YouTube your friend and doing it yourself!

In today’s game, these hitters are in the Big Leagues because their statistics work for ‘Launch Angle’ era Econ-scouts. On paper, the numbers work.  Aaron Miles played 9-years in the Big Leagues, from 2003-2011.  Played for almost half a dozen teams.  Most notable, he played with Albert Pujols on the St. Louis Cardinals.  He was a switch hitting middle infielder and third baseman.  Standing in at 5-foot, 8-inches, 180-pounds.  Beautiful .281/.320/.352 career average slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage).  Note that he played when the baseball analytics ‘Launch Angle’ era was just getting warmed up.  When there was a somewhat healthy balance of old and new school.  That’s the context.

Let me set the scene…

I’ve had a few enjoyable phone conversations with Aaron Miles over the years.  Great dude.  Not afraid to challenge the status quo.  He told me a pretty revealing story once.  Which will say a lot about the hitting times we find ourselves in.  I asked him what decision he made in the past that now – looking back – he sees was a mistake?

He was slumping one year, and was briefly demoted.  Before the demotion, he knew he was a small-ball situational hitting guy being smaller, faster, and a switch hitter.  But with the demotion, he didn’t have much to lose, so he decided to air out his swing.  Again, this was the start of the ‘Launch Angle’ era.  Interestingly, he began smashing more extra base hits.  At one point, a coach came up to him saying something to the effect of, “C’mon Miles, you’re a role player, don’t swing beyond your role”.

Remember, at this time there was still a strong old school hitting mentality present in the game.  So what did Miles do?  What any rational, logical, smart Big Leaguer would do in that scenario … he got back to being a role playing hitter.  You see, the respect for the “numbers community” wasn’t as high as it is now.  So in Aaron’s case, old school hitting was more representative of the times.

Here’s the point…

Here’s how Aaron Miles answered the question of what decision he made in the past that now – looking back – he sees was a mistake…  In this day and age of rewarding hitters that get on base more often and get more extra base hits … he expressed that he would have given the “air-it-out” swing more time.  Maybe he could have added another year to his career.  Maybe 2?  3?  4 maybe?  Who knows!  Give up some strikeouts.  Hit more dingers and doubles.  This formula seems to work out better for hitters in the Launch Angle era.

Let me be clear.  This blog post isn’t about giving up a hundred strikeouts and fifty batting average points a season to hit for more power.  What we believe is having your cake and eating it too!  Power AND average.  Mutually inclusive, NOT mutually exclusive.  Just like Batman AND Robin!

Getting back to our baseball analytics Econ-hitting fairy friends taking numbers out of context…

They’re looking at a hitter’s high ground ball percentage – say 50 percent, while league average is 43 percent. And they’re telling that hitter to get the ball in the air.  You may agree with this. And I can see where you’re coming from.  But there’s a catch…those numbers don’t mean anything, if you don’t understand what mechanics are causing a higher than average ground-ball rate.

Let me give an example…

Christian Yelich in 2015 had a ground-ball rate of 62.5-percent!  Remember league average is 43-percent.  Then, that rate steadily dropped in the years that followed 56.5, 55.4, 51.8, and in 2019 he finally arrived at a league average 43.2-percent ground-ball rate.  Do you know how many doubles he hit in those respective seasons, starting in 2015?  30, 38, 36, 34, and 29 doubles in 2019 – where he had about 100 less plate appearances than prior years.  Dingers? Starting in 2015 with 7, 21, 18, 36, and 44 in 2019.

Yes, hitting less ground-balls will lead to more extra base hits.  But what in a hitter’s mechanics (or timing) cause an above average ground-ball rate?  Do you know?  Off the top of your head, what can you point to mechanically?  Believe me, if you tell a hitter to get the ball in the air without looking at mechanical ground-ball choke points, then you’ll most likely get an extreme uppercut.  Not to mention, most young hitters will make unnatural compensations to get the ball in the air.   This collapses consistency!  Low batting average and high strikeouts will be the ultimate result.  Believe me.

Baseball analytics numbers by themselves are dumb. Numbers don’t have brains, people do. So hitting coaches have to understand how mechanics translate into metrics. Back to our Econ-hitting fairy friends. That’s the problem.  Not having the ability to translate metrics into mechanics.  To optimize the numbers, we have to understand the context.  The good news for our Econ-hitting fairy friends?  This can be learned and applied in today’s ‘Launch Angle’ era.  Regardless of playing level experience.

How it’s bad (or good) to only track ball exit speed and launch angle in the batting cage

There are some hitting coaches that will say tracking ball exit speed and launch angles in the batting cage is really dumb, is REALLY not smart.  And then there are those who do it all the time.  And their hitters are successful versus doing nothing.

Look, I treat the batting cage as a Laboratory.  It’s a place to experiment.  To work out the kinks.  To be free to make mistakes and learn.  Use data to measure and manage swing mechanics.  Logical coaches get this.  Others?  They’re just guessing.

Same polarized perspective about tee work. Some coaches don’t like hitting off batting tees.  Because at the end of the day, the hitter has to translate what they’re doing mechanically to a LIVE pitch.  Agreed.  But when teaching something new, a batting tee has its place.  It can also help coaches understand cause and effect in mechanics.  How?  By isolating the variable.  If you can’t isolate the variable, you’re guessing.  And guessing is an anti-optimization strategy.  If you don’t know what’s causing what, then how do you know what works and what doesn’t?

Isolating the variable?  Brilliant.org defines it:

“Isolating a variable means rearranging an algebraic equation so that a different  variable is on its own. The goal is to choose a sequence of operations that will leave the variable of interest on one side and put all other terms on the other side of the equal sign.” 

I know, rough definition when comparing against baseball analytics.  Let me rephrase … in relation to hitting mechanics, it’s finding out what in the swing contributes to the majority of power…  Hitting more line drives…  Getting on-time more often…  How would one go about isolating those mechanical variables?  I can tell you it’s not hitting LIVE pitching.  WHY?  Because LIVE pitching is too random.  Humans.  Pitch speed.  Pitch depth.  Pitch height.  Pitch type.  Pitch distance.  Pitch reaction time.  All this can be controlled in a swing experiment off a tee.

I believe, there’s a time and place for the tee.  I subscribe to the Goldilocks Golden Rule – not too hot, not too cold…I like my hitters using the tee just the right amount.  The brain has to organize in a certain way.  With LIVE pitching, there is a lot of data collection the hitter has to take in.  Pitch recognition.  Tracking.  Timing.  Learning a new mechanic also taxes the brain.  High cognitive load.

Consider this…

What if I asked you to write your first and your last name in half the letters. In other words, what if I asked you to write every other letter of your name? So for me, JOEY MYERS, I would write it as J-E-M-E-S.  Now, I’ve never done that before.  So, if I was timing myself, the first five out of ten tries would be slow. The more I practice though, the faster I’d be writing half my name.  Why?  Because I’m writing it in half the letters!

But it takes a little time for my brain and body to connect and figure this out.  To learn how to do it.  Learn how to do something that I’m not used to doing.  It is the same exact thing when learning something new mechanically. Keep this in mind when thinking about your seven, eight, nine year olds learning something they’re not comfortable doing.  Hitting off the batting tee is an okay thing to do in the beginning. When something’s new.

Again, the batting tee shouldn’t be something you spend a lot of time using, but it is a proper regression-progression when compared to dry swings, soft toss, or LIVE toss.  In connecting tee work to ball exit speeds and launch angles … they give us a unit of measure off the tee with a uniquely controlled environment.  Apples to apples comparison.

Launch angles are a data point. A lot of these coaches don’t like the launch angle swing. Well, launch angle is a number. The launch angle is the angle of the ball coming off the bat. It’s hard for hitters to control it.  However, hitters can control their barrel Attack Angle.  The angle the barrel takes to the incoming pitch.  Launch and Attack Angles don’t have to be the same. And most likely they aren’t going to be.  But hitters can better control the latter, not so much the former.

What’s measurable is manageable.  We can use swing experiments to do it. Hitting off the tee shouldn’t be something we hang our hat on, but it is something that gives us a data point, a standard data point that we can give baseball analytics context to.  Not like analyzing metrics without looking at context.  Remember numbers don’t have brains, people do.  What are the causes of an above or below average fly ball, ground ball, or line drive percentage?  Home run to fly-ball ratio?  Higher percentage of pulling the ball or going the other way too much? What is the mechanical causation-correlation relationship making those metrics above or below average?

We’ll find out in upcoming blog posts…

We covered A LOT:

  • Story of Econ-hitting fairies in the Minor Leagues – having almost ZERO hitting experience and knowledge.  What’s going on here?
  • Pros of a data-driven swing – what’s measurable is manageable.  Using the Scientific Method: 1. Asking a question, 2. Forming a hypothesis, 3. Doing the research, 4. Collecting the data, and 5. Formulating a conclusion,
  • Cons of a data-driven swing – numbers by themselves are dumb. Numbers don’t have brains, people do. Hitting coaches have to understand how mechanics translate into metrics.  What does a hitter with an above average ground-ball rate mean?  How do you bring him or her to average or below average? And…
  • How it’s bad (or good) to track ball exit speed and launch angle in the batting cage – if you’re not collecting data and comparing with strategic swing changes, then you’re guessing. Tracking ball exit speeds, attack angles, and launch angles are part of data collection.  And using a tee is essential when isolating the variable and teaching something new.