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)

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

You Too Can Experience More Flexibility & Better Movement Patterns In 5 Minutes A Day With Rotex Motion

 

 

Since this COVID-19 thing, we’ve been busy with a Rotex Motion movement experiment.  The system has been on my radar for a little over a year.  And it was developed by ex-Navy Seal Dr. Joe LaCaze, who’s also a Chiropractor.  By the way, he understands the spinal engine and springy fascia.  Always a good sign.

Anyway,Rotex Motion: Move Better Equals Perform Better

I’ve been testing myself and some of my players using the Rotex Motion movement system.  And I have an excel spreadsheet to share with you.  But before I get to the results, let me explain the phases of the Rotex Motion experiment:

  • Week #1 on myself: Hip Internal/External Rotation
  • Week #2 on myself and my wife: Ankle Dorsiflexion
  • Week #3 on myself: Seated Trunk Rotation
  • Next 4-weeks on my players: Ankle Dorsiflexion
  • Next 4-weeks on my players: Seated Trunk Rotation (this is ongoing)

In this Rotex Motion post, we’ll cover:

  • Highlights from my movement experiments using Rotex Motion…
  • What happened to Ball Exit Speeds, downloading swing mechanics, & hitter feels
  • And next steps to get started using Rotex Motion movement systems…

 

Highlights from my movement experiments using Rotex Motion

CLICK HERE to download the excel spreadsheet, so you can follow along.  Here are some highlights:

  • PLEASE NOTE: I was getting used to the BodyROM app with the Active Hip, got better with Passive Ankle Dorsiflexion measurements, and finally have a handle on the Seated Rotational measurement.
  • Also NOTE: My right hip and ankle were injured during my time in college on two separate occasions, so you’ll see how Rotex Motion really made a difference there.
  • After one week: Internal hip rotation on my right side significantly improved by 21-degrees!  And the left improved by 8-degrees. 26/29 degrees afterwards – almost balanced.  Before, my right side internal hip rotation was REALLY restricted.
  • After one week: Ankle Dorsiflexion on right side improved by 24-degrees!  This may have been a little human error with the measurement.  Left side improved by 9-degrees.  Even if right improved as much as left – to 26-degrees – it still would’ve had a 12-degree jump!
  • After one session: my wife’s Ankle Dorsiflexion improved by 9-degrees on her right, and 13-degrees on her left.  Btw, she has a bum right ankle as well.
  • After one week: my rotation to the right significantly improved by 24-degrees, and my left by 26-degrees!  105/103 respectively, now they’re virtually balanced.
  • For my players, after 4-weeks doing “Foot, Ankle, Calf” exercises one time or less per week didn’t see a big change in range of motion, but did see a balancing of the ankle.
    Rotex Motion: Ankle Inversion & Eversion

    Photo courtesy: Crossfit.com

  • For my players, after 4-weeks doing “Foot, Ankle, Calf” exercises two times per week improved in a range of 4-10 degrees on the right ankle, and 4-6 degrees on the left.  Also, they had a great balancing effect of the ankle, which I think is even more important.

 

What happened to Ball Exit Speeds, downloading swing mechanics, & hitter feels

That’s great, improved range of motion and a balancing of the ankle…so what?!  How did it affect “hitters”?  Here are the observations I found within the four weeks of dorsiflexion with my hitters ranging in age from 10-years-old to High School seniors.  Specifically, this group is mostly made up of High Schoolers…

  • Keep in mind, our weather in California at the time was moderate, 65-70 degrees.  Not super hot, so ball wasn’t flying more than usual.
  • Getting into certain hitting positions like Ankle eversion (keeping back foot sideways), think about turning inside of foot down and outside part up.
  • About 30-40% of the guys broke their highest ball exit speed, or was consistently high with them.  In other words, their numbers weren’t jumping, but stabilized.
  • They frequently said things like: “I feel more stable”, “I have a better connection to ground”, “My swing feels easier”.

 

Next steps to get started using Rotex Motion movement systems

Here are the steps to getting started:

  1. Invest in Rotex Motion system at the TheStartingLineupStore.com (range in price from $149 to $529*),
  2. Download BodyROM app on android or iphone (one-time $4 fee),
  3. Once you get the system, then CLICK HERE and follow instructions on how to use the BodyROM app to measure (you won’t be good at first, so practice, practice, practice),
  4. Of those BodyROM videos, start with the first one, Ankle Dorsiflexion Measurement, & Torso Rotation Measurement
  5. For direction on where to start with the exercises (this would of course depend on what package you invest in), go CLICK HERE and click the “Foot, Ankle, Calf” first.
  6. Follow the “Foot, Ankle, Calf” exercises 2 times per day (morning and evening), everyday, for one week.  These exercises take me 3-minutes to complete.  Measure again to get the after.
  7. After week #1, I’d click the “Rotational Performance” link on the same exercise training page, and do those once or twice per day, everyday for one week.  These exercises take me 5-mins to complete.  Measure again to get the after.
  8. If you invest in the handheld only, then I’d click the “Handheld Exercises Only”, and pick out 3-5 exercises, do them 1-2 times per day, everyday, for a week.  The exercises you group together should revolve around the same joint, then measure that joint using the BodyROM app, and you’re off to the races!
  9. Any other questions, then please let me know.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

How To Train Body To Be More Sensitive To Getting On-Time More Often (Hitting Jam Session #6)

Here’s the Hitting Jam Session Interview Collection with Perry Husband:Perry Husband & Joey Myers Hitting Jam Session #6

  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. 5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent
  6. [YOU ARE HERE] Overload Bat Training: Hitter Has To Work Butt Off To Resist “Casting”

Here’s what we discuss in this episode:

  • WHY a hanging FB (located down/away) is more likely to get hit harder than hanging off speed or breaker,
  • How every Major League hitter locks lead arm, may not talk about it, may not practice it, but when they hit their hardest “bolt” – they’re doing it,
  • Overload training: WHY Heavier weight is better, especially end loaded, hitter has to work their butt off with end loaded to keep from “casting”,
  • How changing length of bat and weight helps hitter learn how to adjust timing – training body to be more sensitive to timing,
  • And much more!

Without further adieu, here’s Hitting Jam Session #6…

 

Show Notes

  • At about the 2-minute mark, Perry and I discuss putting together a subscription based coaching program for coaches which would have access to our courses and have weekly coaching calls to mentor coaches, Twitter bantar…pitching philosophy used to be 70% fastballs, mixed up/down & inside/outside, then moved to away/away and down/down because hitting was hard to lift far away, then hitters started lifting those pitches – Moneyball & analytics, hitters focus now on swinging up and everyone on the field can go oppo bomb, teams will start elevating fastballs which will set in motion more stuff, odds of “up swings” getting to high heat will be more challenging, is the idea of throwing fastballs down “stupid”?  Perry did micro study…MLB – RHP v. RHH: FB up/in = 84.6-mph BES, SL down/away = 82.2-mph BES, CB down/away = 80.1-mph BES, & CH down/in = 86.5-mph BES (chose pitches that would be in that FB tunnel), a hanging FB (located down/away) is more likely to get hit harder than any other hanging off speed or breaker because every hitter is focused on the FB.
  • At about 12-minute mark, Perry study comparing middle three, upper three, and above three part of the zone with off speed and breaking (hanging stuff) versus the bottom three parts of the zone with fastballs…he counted number of hitters that averaged 90-mph BES…12 to 1 hitters favoring fastball down versus changeup up (12X more likely to avg. 90-mph BES), not a fair study, just a ballpark, today more likely to hit a fastball down than a hanging changeup up,
  • At about 14-minute mark, locked lead arm follow up, reader saying not many hitters using locked lead arm…Williams and Choo both lock lead arm and pull the ball – can locked lead arm help going to opposite field, every Major League hitter locks lead arm, may not talk about it, may not practice it, but when they hit their hardest bolt – they’re doing it, Perry talks about one of elite Fastpitch Softball hitters in the country Todd Budke locked lead arm (YouTube video of him hitting oppo dinger) – facing guys that made Randy Johnson look like a thumber 80-86-mph velo from 46-feet, bent front arm results in more balls fouled back, evidence of what happens when guys hit up/in pitch – they’re doing it with bent lead arm, can we do better than that with locked lead arm?  What happens when all fastballs go away EXCEPT the up/in fastball?  The “adjustable” hitting mindset isn’t going to work anymore when pitchers get more EV efficient
  • At about 23-minute mark, do young hitters from High School on down learn how to “hunt” pitches or wait till pitchers get better? Thank God pitchers still make mistakes, but what pitchers are being taught right now is to stay down with fastballs, sliders, etc.  It’s predictable.  When pitchers TRY to be EV efficient, things will be troublesome for hitters, the basic hitting approach of today is like a 2-strike approach (the “adjustable” swing), the adjustment will be much harder for hitters when EV tunnels are enforced, will happen at Big League level first, Greinke example using certain pitches to take hitter’s attention away from where hitter’s strength is, creating shiny objects, get swing down right, then figure out how to apply it,
  • At about 33-minute mark, I ask Perry his advice on how to teach 6-8yo to get more on time, Inner Game of Tennis book drills – 100% on-time 100% effective with swing mechanics (not about swinging as hard as you can), take and control “A” swing – best swing, being on-time to that pitch,
  • At about 38-minute, 30-sec mark, Perry talks about over under load training, we talk about Axe Bat and DriveLine 20% over/under $600 system, Perry asked Gray Cook’s advice about over/under load training in 1992, Babe Ruth did overload training, end loaded is key, does Axe bat’s 20% over/under go far enough? No.  Is it effective? Yes, but it doesn’t go far enough, would you get stronger with light weight in gym?  Heavier weight is better, especially end loaded, hitter has to work their butt off with end loaded +10 and control line drives, hitters will “cast” with an end loaded bat – but hitter MUST keep that from happening, Perry over/under load study +10 and -10 results were astounding looking at video of players and data – consistency numbers went up and recruitment of lower half, fastpitch softball Frosh case study 6-weeks no change in mechanics went from 55-mph to 62 or 63-mph BES, Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT) – this is what overload training is doing, feeding the “mistake”, Cook bands, TheStartingLineupStore.com Anchor Bat +4 to +6 and -5 wood bats over/under load system, locked lead arm, end loaded bat, and releasing barrel into “belly button” catcher’s glove,
  • At about 58-minute mark, Perry’s effective velocity timing sticks, change length of bat and weight – hitter is learning to adjust timing, training body to be more sensitive to timing, using different size, color, weight balls, “Riiiiight Now” Drill for 6-8yos to train timing, keep conscious mind busy, so unconscious mind can get to work,
  • You can find Perry Husband at HittingIsAGuess.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

Are Instructors Confusing What “Casting” Is AND Is Not? (Perry Husband & HPL Hitting Jam Session #5)

 

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 HittingIsAGuess.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

“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 HittingIsAGuess.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

1,000’s Of Swing Experiments Confirm These Benefits Of Releasing Hitter’s Backside…

 

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. [YOU ARE HERE] 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. 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:

  • Answered: “Making teaching of proper weight shift in your swing and more understandable to the hitter?”Perry Husband & Joey Myers Hitting Jam Session #3
  • 1000’s of swing experiments confirm benefits of releasing backside: higher Ball Exit velocity, better ball flight, and swing consistency,
  • How to fix hitters that over stride,
  • Why ‘force plate’ studies DO NOT mean a darn thing, unless they correlate these two critical metrics,
  • And much more!

CLICK HERE for the full Facebook LIVE video and conversation.

 

Show Notes

  • At about the 4-minute mark, what’s missing with current hitting philosophies and what is effective and what is not, filtering through the white noise, Science v. bro-science testing,
  • At about 6-minute mark, What’s #1 struggle with teaching hitting right now?  We answer reader question, “Making teaching of proper weight shift in your swing and more understandable to the hitter?” getting off the back foot, foul ball rate goes down significantly by releasing the back foot, increase in exit velocity when releasing the back foot, Perry’s 10,000 swing tests show these same things, take bat out of hand and try similar movements – i.e. lightly playing catch will allow back foot to “push” and “turn”, forward momentum and rotation, anything you can do to get the backside to release is great to model what we want them to do swinging.
  • At about 10-minute mark, the challenge with teaching hitting mechanics, some players (Rachel Garcia was mentioned) easier to demonstrate then do, what kind of learner that player is (seeing, hearing, feeling), throwing motion (feel learner), video or demonstration (visual), “release-mechanism” that ‘clicks’ hitting aid would be cool for an audio learner.
  • At about 13-minute, 30-second mark, Jim Macarelli responded, “the difference with throwing though as you know is the weight ends up on the front foot.” Centrifugal (center fleeing) v. Centripetal (center seeking), imagine throwing uphill versus throwing downhill, will be harder to get off your backside throwing up hill, not over front side – up against it when hitting, not every player gets off their backside, don’t take our word for it – test it!! Exit velocity, ball flight, and consistency all get better releasing the back side.
  • At about 17-minute mark, sure BAD Science is out there, here’s the key with Science, with what you’re doing – can that end result or outcome be replicated a majority of the time?  Bryce Harper WaPo article addressing biomechanics of shifting weight into the ball, squishing bugs and backside hitting transfers only 75% of hitter’s bodyweight VERSUS releasing backside and transferring 150% of bodyweight into impact, Perry’s swing experiments found a 6-mph increase in Ball Exit Speed, bat speed during back foot skip releases much closer to impact whereas a backside weighted swing top out bat speed is sooner than impact,
  • At about 21-minute 30-second mark, dumping barrel right in front of catcher’s glove regardless of pitch depth is DANGEROUS for hitters career-wise, causes big loop in swing and hole up in the zone, Hank Aaron, Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente all released the back foot, Jim Macarelli asks “I think the challenge with teaching kids is we want them to stride and shift their weight forward, but we want them to FINISH with their weight back, not stay back throughout the swing… if that makes sense. Timing clearly effects the back foot. When of time the backside releases and when late, often not.” Hitters like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams released the back foot, then fell back onto back foot during finish, release first, then fall back,
  • At about 25-minute mark, how do we control our hitters from over-striding, belly button is our center of mass, axis of rotation during front and back flips, using variance to teach hitters not to over-stride: stride with belly button finishing over front knee at landing, then stride and land with belly button behind back knee, then stride keeping belly button in the center of legs, then stride keeping belly button behind front knee, then lastly stride keeping the belly button inside the back knee, all about locomotion, Tai Chi and shifting bodyweight, to do a lunge to the right – I have to shift my weight left to move to the right (and opposite for the opposite direction), Perry talks about the Reebok core board (feedback tool), experimenting with weight shift – downhill versus uphill, using Power Up Wedge
  • At about 31-minute 30-second mark, Nassim Talib’s book Antifragile – the majority of invention and innovation in history stems from tinker and testing NOT research and study, aspirin, penicillin as examples, Mike Ryan from Fastball USA has some great variance or chaos training stuff, David Weck and his Bosu Ball, striding uphill/downhill, try different things, tinker test, 3-D Hitting, Perry going to do stuff with University of Oregon softball, WARNING with some of these “force plate” tests: if it doesn’t include ball flight and exit velocity we don’t want to talk about it, how can we make any kind of conclusion from the data without that? Is happening off tee or LIVE pitching, releasing or spinning on backside, MYTH: the more ground force created is better, how does that translate to ball exit speed and ball flight?
  • At about 38-minute, 30-second mark, how to do these swing experiments, changing one swing variable at a time, then re-test, can take ANY hitter do a control round, change, and re-test to see how the change affected the control swings, Frosh softball High School player did over/under load training ONLY in a 6-week span, after re-testing went from 55-mph BES (control) to 62-mph, whoever you follow hitting guru-wise, get control swings, make the change, re-test, and see how BES and ball flight changed – for better or worse, what’s your main objective teaching hitters – high hard contact rate? Decrease strikeouts?
  • At about 44-minute mark, Perry talks about how effective or ineffective were the 2-strike adjustments Joey Votto made, CLICK HERE for Perry’s analysis article on this, in 2-strike counts: balls fouled back, swung and missed, etc. were balls he could have done damage with, can elite hitters foul balls off on purpose, Votto wasted so many good pitches with a less aggressive approach with 2-strikes, when Perry worked with Carlos Pena in 2009: K’s went down 25%, BA went up 25%, 2-strike BA went from .185 to .240, tripled his output with 2-strikes, Votto approach didn’t make much sense – he may have cut down on his K’s but his production went way down compared to before the change, reactionary hitting will die with EV efficient pitching, Joey Votto FanGraphs article, “Joey Votto Has Just Simply Stopped Striking Out”
  • At about 52-minute mark, discuss how poorly hitters will do when pitchers get more EV efficient, CLICK HERE for a video Perry did analyzing Chris Davis (of the Orioles), perfect example of a hitter gearing his swing to about a stubborn 6-mph EV zone regardless of pitch type, location, or speed, all 50-something of the homeruns he hit pitchers ran the ball right into his bat, when target rich environment goes away (pitchers throwing balls into barrel), it’s going to be a cold dark day in hitting, adjust or die, Carlos Pena’s chase rate went down 18% in 2009, changing the physical can take time (Perry suggests 3-4 months for more entrenched habits) – my research suggests 66-days to change a habit.
  • Find Perry Husband at HittingIsAGuess.com, use EV25 coupon code at checkout for online video courses.  If coupon code doesn’t work, then contact Perry and he’ll reset for you.
  • 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

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

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

Photo courtesy: MopUpDuty.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving on,

As a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Showing Numbers’ to Pitcher is a Quick Way to Solving Consistent Power Problem

 

Question: How does ‘Showing Numbers’ to the Pitcher Effect Bat Speed at Impact versus ‘NOT Showing’ them?

Aaron Judge Showing Numbers to the Pitcher

Aaron Judge (Showing Numbers), unloads a solo home run to center field on 10/17/17 to put the Yankees on the board in the 7th inning.

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if a hitter showing their numbers to the pitcher at landing adds to or takes away from key swing performance metrics like Bat Speed at Impact, Time To Impact, and Attack Angle.  This swing experiment is revisiting two other experiments done analyzing the same thing.

 

Background Research

Since we’re REVISITING two previous swing experiments on ‘Showing Numbers’ versus NOT, here are the original posts and data to get you up to speed:

In 2016 ‘Show Numbers’ swing experiment, this was what the averaged out Zepp data looked like:

  • 5-mph INCREASE in Bat Speed at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • 0.5-mph INCREASE in Hand Speed Max with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • .003 second DECREASE in Time to Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • 3* INCREASE in Bat Vertical Angle at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • 1.5* INCREASE in Attack Angle with ‘Showing Numbers.

Now, let’s see how the Ball Exit Speed averages compare:

  • 76.02-mph BES when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’,
  • 77.32-mph BES  when ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • That’s a 1.3-mph average INCREASE when ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • Translates between 5.2-feet to 7.8-feet of EXTRA batted ball distance – depending on if you calculate using 1-mph BES = 4-feet of distance OR 1-mph BES = 6-feet of distance.

In this experiment, if you look at the ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, they were actually ‘Showing Numbers’.  In other words, the subject in the swing experiment, Preston Scott, already shows his numbers well causing a challenge to not show them.  Therefore on the ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he showed them more.  I think that’s why we didn’t see as much of a difference in Ball Exit Speeds.

In 2014 ‘Show Numbers’ swing experiment, this was what the averaged out Zepp data looked like:

  • Bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 73-mph,
  • Bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 79-mph (+6-mph),
  • Highest bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 82-mph,
  • Highest bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 88-mph (+6-mph),
  • Hand speed max for NOT showing numbers was: 27-mph, and
  • Hand speed max for showing numbers was: 29-mph (+2-mph).

Between both swing experiments, we saw an average Bat Speed at Impact increase between 5 to 6-mph.  In 2016 we saw a .003 second drop in Time To Impact ‘Showing Numbers’, while in 2014 we saw a .003 increase.

The research on increasing bat or ball exit speed can be seen in the following two books on springy fascia and spinal engine mechanics:

You can also get application of previously mentioned books through the following HPL video blog posts.

  1. Miguel Cabrera and the timing of torque.
  2. Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista: how spine engine mechanics are amplified by Gravitational Forces, and
  3. Adrian Gonzalez: how-to naturally spring load the body.

For those versed in Anatomy, for explosive movement on the Transverse Plane (twisting), there must be a protraction of the front scapula (‘showing numbers’), and a retraction of the back Scapula (what’s often referred to as ‘Scap Row’).  Scap Rowing by itself doesn’t engage full range of springy fascia.

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I’m expecting to see a dramatic bump in Bat Speed at Impact, Hand Speed Max, and possibly a reduction in Time To Impact.  I think Attack Angle and Bat Vertical Angle at Impact will remain unchanged.

 

Showing Numbers Swing Experiment Part-3

Equipment Used:

SwingAway Bryce Harper model

This is the SwingAway Bryce Harper model hitting station used for the ‘Showing Numbers’ experiment.

Setup:

  • SwingAway Bryce Harper bungy suspended ball was set equal to the landing foot, and ball height was about knee height.
  • I broke each swing down into three steps: 1) Get to landing, 2) Pause for 2-secs, and 3) Swing.  The reason for this was to better control whether I was showing numbers or not.
  • 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.  ‘Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ 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 ‘Showing Numbers’ swing shoulders were set to about 2’o’clock, if pitcher is 12’o’clock.  The ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swing shoulders were set to about 12’o’clock.

 

Data Collected from Zepp Baseball App:

'Showing' v. 'NOT Showing' Numbers to Pitcher Zepp Numbers

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages:

  • Bat Speed at Impact INCREASE of 3-mph ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Hand Speed Max DECREASE of 1-mph ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Time To Impact INCREASE of 0.014 ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Bat Vertical Angle At Impact DECREASE of 4-degree ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • Attack Angle INCREASE of 6-degrees ‘Showing Numbers’.

The drop from previous ‘Showing Numbers’ swing experiments was surprising, in addition to a small 1-mph drop in Hand Speed Max.  There was also a slight increase in Time To Impact.  The interesting numbers were the ones that indicate Launch Angles, both Bat Vertical Angle at Impact and Attack Angle.  We hadn’t experienced such a dramatic uptick in those in past experiments.

A couple notes…

  • The past two experiments were done in a cage, off a tee, so I could see ball flight, and maybe that had an effect on the swing metrics.
  • Some hitting coaches speak highly of Time To Impact and want to reduce at all cost, but I disagree. There’s a healthy range for that, you don’t want it too short or too long.  I’m not going to get into why here, maybe in another post.
  • To explain the dramatic increase of the barrel’s upward trajectory in ‘Showing Numbers’, I may have been getting more of a downward shoulder angle at landing.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Controversial Swing Experiment Video: What Happens To Ball Exit Speeds When We Eliminate Use Of Lower Half?

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) recently did a small thought provoking swing experiment that looked at how much value the pelvis contributes to the swing.  Most popular hitting instructors treat the pelvis like a JoBu shrine in the movie Major League.  Don’t get me wrong, the pelvis 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 pelvis 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 pelvis 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 pelvis in the swing, compared to the “pelvis 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 pelvis 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

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

 

 

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.