One Of The Best Baseball Hitting Drills For Little League Helping STOP “Racing Back Elbow” Bat Drag

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Little League: Jace Bat Drag

Look at my 11u hitter Jace’s racing back elbow, and the fix a week later. On the left side, he weighed in at 68-lbs, and right before our session, hit his first official homer distancing 180-feet!

Question: Does ‘Top Hand Finger Pressure’ Effect Bat & Hand Speed, and Time To Impact versus Keeping the Hands Loose? (Pre-Turn Hand Tension Revisited)

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to revisit a past experiment I did titled “Babe Ruth Reveals Hand Tension?”  And analyze whether having relaxed hands OR ‘finger pressure’ affects Zepp metrics.

Growing up, I was taught baseball hitting drills for Little League – which are still being taught, that loose hands are quick hands.  Modern research REVEALS that may not be the WHOLE story.

I wanted to revisit the previous ‘Babe Ruth experiment’ because in that test, I wasn’t actively holding the finger pressure through impact.  In this experiment, I will be.

In the Conclusion of this post, I’ll also give a couple examples of my hitters who were suffering from really stubborn bat drag (one for over 1.5 years), and how we used ‘finger pressure’ to correct it within 1-2 weeks.

 

Background Research

In the Babe Ruth Pre-Turn Hand Tension Zepp swing experiment, I used the following Research links:

  • Pavel Tsatsouline Tim Ferriss podcast revealing how the hands can be used to recruit more muscle tissue and connect larger areas of the body,
  • Homer Kelly’s book The Golfing Machine went into describing one of the four power accumulators in the golf swing, and
  • Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, and how Front Arm Fascial Lines are responsible for connecting what an explosive rotational athlete is holding in their hand(s), with the other springy fascial lines inter-weaving throughout the rest of the torso and body.

I also wanted to point out that a few months after publishing the ‘Babe Ruth Pre-Turn Hand Tension’ experiment I met Lee Comeaux, now a good friend of mine, who is a professional golf instructor out in Texas.  He’s been studying Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains for over a decade now.

He simplifies the concept we now call top hand finger pressure.  So THANK YOU Lee!  CLICK HERE to visit Lee’s (Roy) YouTube channel.  And by the way, Lee has a 13u daughter playing fastpitch softball in Texas, and last time I heard she was hitting .800 using the same principles we talk about here.

So yes, this works for both fastpitch and baseball hitters!

Please watch the following interview with Thomas Myers titled, “Tensegrity Applied To Human Biomechanics”:

  • Defining tension & compression Forces (0:10)
  • Applying tension to the structure makes it stronger and more stable (5:55)
  • Applying tensegrity to the human body and tightening up as a benefit to taking on impact (12:35)

I’ve also heard Thomas Myers talk about synovial fluid in our joints.  It’s our lubrication system.  And it’s liquid, between the joints, when we’re relaxed…in the above video, he called this “adaptability”.

However, when we catch a ball in a glove, for instance, we squeeze our hand around the ball turning the synovial fluid to a solid state.  This concept becomes important when we’re talking about ‘finger pressure’ when hitting.

I tell my hitters it’s the difference between the ball feeling like it’s hitting a cinder block (the bat), or a wet pool noodle.

Hypothesis

Baseball Hitting Drills for Little League: Zack Racing Back Elbow Fix

This is my Sophomore in H.S. Zack and his racing back elbow BEFORE & AFTER. This was a 1 week fix employing ‘finger pressure’.

I’m a little biased in this experiment because I’ve seen the research AND how this has worked miracles with my own hitters employing ‘top hand finger pressure’. However, I wanted to conduct another formal experiment comparing the  following Zepp metrics:

  • Bat Speed at Impact,
  • Hand Speed Max,
  • Time To Impact,
  • Barrel Vertical Angle at Impact, and
  • Attack Angle…

…between the two swings.  Whereas the aforementioned ‘Babe Ruth Pre-Turn Hand Tension‘ experiment I held the hand tension before the turn, then let it go.  This experiment I’ll be keeping top hand finger pressure from the moment I pick up my front foot to stride, to all the way through impact.

I predict, by using ‘top hand finger pressure’ longer, we’ll see an effective jump in all metrics rather than the conventional of ‘loose hands are fast hands’.  I also predict holding finger pressure longer will be more effective than the previously mentioned experiment metrics for Pre-Turn Hand Tension.

At the end, I’ll show how ‘finger pressure’ has STOPPED bat drag in two of my hitters at the Conclusion of the experiment.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills For Little League: ‘Finger Pressure’ Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • We used the Zepp Labs Baseball app to gain swing data.
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • 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 plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills for Little League ‘finger pressure’ experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Finger pressure’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘loose hands’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.
  • On the finger pressure swings, I used top hand bottom three finger pressure only, which consisted of tightening up the top hand bottom three fingers (pinky, ring, & middle) from the time I picked my stride foot up, to all the way through impact.  The bottom hand was doing what I call the ‘butterfly grip’…tight enough to keep a butterfly from getting away but not too tight to crush it.
  • Loose hands consisted of trying to maintain a ‘butterfly grip’ throughout the whole swing.
  • Throughout the baseball hitting drills for Little League swing experiment, I was drinking a Lime Cucumber flavored “Pepino” Gatorade (very good btw) and a chocolate milk to replenish my body’s protein, sugars, and electrolytes during the 2-hour experiment.
  • I did an 8 exercise dynamic warm up in this baseball hitting drills for Little League experiment before taking about 15-20 practice swings off the tee.

Data Collected (Zepp App Screenshot)

Baseball Hitting Drills For Little League: Finger Pressure Zepp Experiment

Notice the slight change in bat and hand speed metrics, AND the difference in Time To Impact…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Baseball Hitting Drills for Little League: Bat Path

You can clearly see the negative Attack Angle.  This was a finger pressure swing.

  • Using ‘Finger Pressure’ gained an average of 1-mph Bat Speed at Impact
  • Using ‘Finger Pressure’ gained an average of 1-mph Hand Speed Max
  • Using ‘Loose Hands’ decreased Time To Impact by a whopping 0.017 (17/100th’s of a second)
  • Bat Vertical Angle & Attack Angle showed no differences between the two swings.

These were interesting findings in this baseball hitting drills for Little League finger pressure Zepp swing experiment.

My Hypothesis proved correct in that we saw an increase in average Bat Speed at Impact and Hand Speed Max employing ‘finger pressure’, however it wasn’t a huge change.

Also in my Hypothesis, this experiment didn’t turn out more effective for finger pressure than it did for Pre-Turn Hand Tension (PTHT) in the Babe Ruth Experiment, where I gained an average of 3-mph Bat Speed at Impact using PTHT.

You’ll notice the major decrease in Time To Impact using the ‘loose hands’ method.  Excluding the racing back elbow bat drag hitter, from these results and the Thomas Myers research, we can say using a hybrid of the two methods…loose hands at the start of the turn, and finger pressure slightly pre-, at-, and post- impact would be more effective than not.

On the contrary, for the bat drag hitter with a racing back elbow issue, I think finger pressure MUST be used before the turn happens because these hitters evidently have a ‘fascial connection’ issue between what they’re holding in their hand, and their turning torso.

In other words, they may not intuitively use finger pressure like other hitters without the racing back elbow issue.  So this would be one of the smarter baseball hitting drills for little league.

Besides, according to the Zepp app Time To Impact Goals for Pro hitters are right around .140 anyway, so my .131 with finger pressure is still more effective.

One last thing to note, coming from my experiential knowledge in working with my hitters, I consistently see a 2-3-mph boost in Ball Exit Speed when using finger pressure versus NOT in one 45-minute session.

This just means I’ll have to REVISIT this baseball hitting drills for Little League finger pressure Zepp swing experiment again, but collecting and comparing Ball Exit Speed data.

If you have any other thoughts or questions about this baseball hitting drills for Little League Zepp swing experiment, please respond below in the comments…THANKS in advance!

Question: Does Having a ‘Hunched Posture’ Boost Bat Speed Over NO Hunch?

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: Hunter Pence v. Derek Jeter Spine Position

Look at the difference between the spinal positions of Hunter Pence & Derek Jeter. Photos courtesy: MLB.com

In this baseball hitting drills off tee experiment using the Backspin batting tee, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze the benefits of swinging with a ‘hunched posture’ versus ‘NO hunch’, by taking:

  • 100 swings with a ‘hunched posture’ (Global Spinal Flexion) – think Hunter Pence, and
  • 100 swings with ‘NO hunch’ (Spinal Lordosis) – think Derek Jeter…

 

Background Research

First I wanted to start off with the application of what a ‘hunched posture’ looks like in the MLB.  Look at the following hitters/pitcher, and note the similarities in the shape of their backs (or spine) before they begin rotation:

There are many more, especially in the 1960’s and ’70’s.  These hitters/pitcher either start with the ‘hunch’ or move into it before they start turning.

For the science, I recommend you read Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine.  I will go over a few talking points about the Posterior Ligamentous System (or PLS).  Think of the PLS as a connective tissue harness you’d use to scale down a large building.

In Dr. Gracovetsky’s aforementioned book, I’d like you to read under the subheading “Lifting While Lordosis Is Maintained” p. 82., and nd “Lifting While Lordosis Is Reduced” on p. 83.

I’m paraphrasing, but Dr. Gracovetsky says when the bend in the lower back is maintained (NO hunch), then we’re using a “muscle-predominant strategy”, and when the lower lumbar curve is taken out (hunch), then we’re tapping into the “muscle relaxation response”.

What Dr. Gracovetsky found in his research and study was that when a person picks something up from the ground that is heavier than we’re used to picking up, the back will round (hunch), muscles will turn off, and the PLS system will kick in.

You can experience the two systems (muscle v. ligament) by trying to see how long you can sit up straight in your seat…once your muscles get tired, then you’ll take on the hunched posture, letting the PLS take over.  This is why it’s so comfortable to sit slouched, and hard work to ‘keep your back straight’.

The reason for this ‘spinal safety net’ as Dr. Serge Gracovetsky alludes to, is to put the vertebrae of the spine into a safer position, also known as decompression.

My friend D @SelfDecompress on Twitter is doing just this with his clients.

One last note on the research…

CLICK HERE and read under the sub-heading “The Hitting ‘Governor'” in this HPL article about how our brain puts a limit on performance because of movement dysfunction.

Hypothesis

Based on Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s research and study,  it is my forecast that taking on a ‘hunched posture’ before the turn, will increase average bat speed over not hunching.

I also add the same results is because of the information I included under ‘The Hitting Governor’ sub-heading in the aforementioned HPL article.

In other words, by hunching the back, thereby decompressing the vertebrae of the spine, we remove ‘The Hitting Governor’ Effect, and allow the body to optimize turning speed.

Not to mention we make the swing safer for our rotating athletes’ bodies.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: ‘Hunched Posture’ Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • We used the Zepp Labs Baseball app to gain swing data.  Our concern is for an apples to apples comparison between the two sets of 100 swings.
  • All swings for the baseball hitting drills off tee ‘hunched posture’ experiment were taken off a Backspin batting tee.
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • 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 plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills off tee ‘hunched posture’ experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Hunched posture’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘NO hunch’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.
  • Throughout the baseball hitting drills off tee swing experiment, I was drinking a Strawberry Lemonade Gatorade (because I like it!) and a chocolate milk to replenish my body’s protein, sugars, and electrolytes during the 2-hour experiment.
  • I did an 8 exercise dynamic warm up before taking about 15-20 practice swings off the tee.

 

Data Collected (Zepp App Screenshot)

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: Low Back Bend Zepp Swing Experiment

Please pay particular attention to the differences in Time To Impact & Attack Angle from the Zepp metrics…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

As you can see from the baseball hitting drills off tee Zepp screenshot and metrics above, the big differences between the two groups of 100 swings were the average:

  • Time To Impact: the ‘hunched posture’ was .004 seconds less than ‘NO hunch’, AND
  • Attack Angle: the ‘hunched posture’ was 4-degrees more positive than ‘NO hunch’

It looks like my baseball hitting drills off tee swing experiment Hypothesis was wrong in thinking there would be a boost to average bat speed with the ‘hunched posture’ swings.  However, there were three MAJOR benefits to swinging ‘hunched’:

  • According to Dr. Gracovetsky’s research, we can conclude it’s safer on the spine,
  • A DECREASE in Time To Impact, which buys a hitter more time to make a decision to swing, and
  • A more POSITIVE barrel Attack Angle, which puts a hitter into a better position to hit more consistent line drives.

Question: Does The BackSpin Batting Tee Help Hitters Elevate The Ball?

 

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Tee

Backspin batting tee photo courtesy: TheStartingLineupStore.com

In this baseball batting cage drills experiment using the Backspin batting tee, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to a hitter’s spray chart (ME!!) by taking:

  • 100 swings using a conventional tee (ATEC Single Tuffy Tee), versus
  • Taking another 100 swing using Taylor and Jarrett Gardner’s BackSpin batting tee.

I’ve done a couple posts promoting what Taylor and Jarrett are doing with the Backspin Tee because I really believe in their product and what it can do for young hitters in getting the batted ball off the ground.  Whether we’re talking baseball, fastpitch-softball, and slowpitch-softball…

And to let you know, this experiment has been brewing in my head since the summer of 2015, but the stars just didn’t align…until NOW!

 

Background Research

Here are two baseball batting cage drills posts mentioned earlier, to give some background on the research for The Backspin batting tee:

Hypothesis

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: ATEC Tuffy Single Batting Tee

ATEC Tuffy Single Batting Tee photo courtesy: ATEC

Okay, so I cheated a little bit…

Before the OFFICIAL baseball batting cage drills swing experiment, I’ve been using the Backspin batting tee with my local hitters and the results have been positive.

And now, I’m making my Hypothesis official…

I think by using the Backspin batting tee, it will allow the hitter to cut down on ground-balls, and will empower them to get more effective at putting the ball in the air (line drives primarily).

In addition, I think that not only will the tee reduce a hitter’s ground-balls, but will contribute to above average line drive launch angles.  Average line drives would be within the reach of a fielder.

 

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Batting Tee Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Tee

Closeup of the ‘inverted’ rubber cone that holds the baseball or softball. Photo courtesy: TheStartingLineupStore.com

  • I had two of the same laminated images of the batting cage I was hitting in (Hitting Spray Chart images below).
  • After each swing, I’d use a Sharpy pen to mark where the batted ball hit first (on the ground or the location on the batting cage netting), right after coming off the bat.
  • All swings for the baseball batting cage drills experiment were taken off either a Backspin or ATEC Tuffy Single tee.
  • I used the Backspin batting tee rubber cone for baseballs (they have one for softballs as well).
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for both tees.
  • 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 plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball batting cage drills experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Hitting off the “Backspin Tee” was letter ‘A’, and off the “Conventional Tee” was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.

Data Collected (Hitting Spray Charts)

Backspin Batting Tee Spray Chart:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: BackSpin Tee Spray Chart

The Backspin tee spray chart is cleaner and resembles a bit of a tornado

Conventional Tee Spray Chart:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Conventional (Regular) Tee

As you can see, the spray chart is a bit messy…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  •  The Backspin batting tee spray chart looks much more tidy than the “regular” tee chart (the former looks like a tornado),
  • You can see when using the conventional tee, I tended to pull the ball to left side of the cage.
  • There are definitely a higher concentration of batted balls in the above average line drive spots (not within reach of the fielders), using the Backspin batting tee, and
  • There were more balls hitting the ground or bottom of the cage when using a conventional tee.

 

Notes

  1. Addressing the excessive of pulled balls using the conventional tee, I thought maybe my tee was moving on me (getting too far out front).  I even tried pushing the regular tee slightly deeper than the position I started it in for a couple swings, to counter this, but that wasn’t the issue.
  2. Now, here’s where it gets interesting…remember in the “Setup” section above, I hit on the Backspin Tee (‘A’) FIRST.  I started to notice a pattern after switching tees…I didn’t have an issue getting the ball in the air with the Backspin tee, sometimes getting into the pop-fly territory.  But what I found was after taking a Backspin tee 25-swing chunk, the first 10-15 swing launch angles off the conventional tee mimicked what I was getting with the Backspin Tee.  As the conventional tee round approached the last 10-15 swings, the launch angle slowly creeped downwards into the average line drive arena.  So when I repeated TWO conventional tee 25-swing chunks (the BB in the ABBA pattern), by the time I got to the end I was having a hard time getting the ball back up again using the conventional tee.  And on the last BAAB 25-swing chunk pattern (last 100 swings), I noticed the same thing emerge.
  3. It was like the “magic” of the Backspin tee wore off after 10 swings into hitting on the conventional tee. My Hypothesis?  If I took 100 STRAIGHT swings on a conventional tee, then 100 STRAIGHT on a Backspin tee, I’m willing to bet there would be WAY more ground-balls and average line drives using the conventional tee than I got in this baseball batting cage drills experiment.
  4. The other weird thing (in a good way) I noticed hitting off the Backspin batting tee, was that it trimmed up my spray chart (making it look more like a tornado rather than a cinder block).  I rarely pulled the ball towards the left side of the cage hitting off the Backspin tee.  And the ones I did pull that way, I’d be willing to bet it was after hitting off the conventional tee. CRAZY!

The Bottom Line?

Well, the baseball batting cage drills experiment data showed that not only did the Backspin tee elevate ball launch angles, but it also cleaned up horizontal outcomes.  Meaning, I didn’t hit the ball to the left side of the cage as frequently when using the Backspin tee than I did with the conventional tee when the ball is located virtually in the same position every swing.  Also, the “Backspin tee effect” lasted a good 10-15 swings into switching over and using the conventional tee!

Question: Does a Modified Bat Knob Increase Bat & Ball Exit Speeds?

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR Bat Experiment

ProXR bat knobs are similar to an axe handle, but are more rounded…

In this baseball hitting drills for contact bat knob experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app & Bushnell radar gun, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat and Ball Exit Speeds when using the same model and sized wood bat, but the only difference being that one bat has a regular knob, and the other a ProXR knob.

 

Background Research

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR PSI comparison

A Washington University study found there was a 20% to 25% reduction in compression forces in the hands when using a ProXR technology.

My fascination with this all started when Grady Phelan, the Founder and President at ProXR, LLC, wrote this LinkedIn post titled, Baseball’s Broken Hamate Plague.

After I reached out, Grady was open to the idea of doing a Zepp and Ball Exit Speed baseball hitting drills for contact experiment.

Grady shared the following research about his ProXR technology over email…

“One of the experiments we did early on with ProXR, as part of our due diligence before we went to market, was to measure the compression forces in the hands during a swing. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with some researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, Bio-Mechanics lab here in St. Louis. We connected a conventional bat and a ProXR bat to digital pressure sensors and had a batter take some swings. We were able to dial into the area of the hypothenar (the heal of your hand below your pinky) and compare the difference in compression.

What we found was a 20% to 25% reduction in compression forces when using a ProXR technology. The peak compression happens immediately AFTER intended contact when the hands roll over the central axis of the bat and the knob.  The smaller peaks in between the high compression peaks are from the batter getting the bat back into the load position and we took out the time in between swings to condense the chart.”

Around the same time, I saw this USA Today article titled, Dustin Pedroia is on a hot streak with an odd-looking bat designed to help hitters.  I asked Grady if this was his bat, and he replied:

Baseball Hitting Drills For Contact: Dustin Pedroia Victus Ax Handle Bat

Dustin Pedroia swing Victus axe handle bat. Photo courtesy: Sports.Yahoo.com

“Pedroia is actually using something called an axe that is being put on a Victus bat. There is some minor confusion in the market given the axe’s similar look with ProXR.

Here’s the top-line difference between ProXR and the Baden product: if you’ve ever swung an actual axe (chopping wood), which the Baden product is based on, you know that the swing path is linear, meaning it drives the hands to the point of contact AND (this is probably the most important point) the swing ends at contact. This is critical. The oval shape of an axe handle and the general configuration of the axe handle evolved over thousands of years specifically to drive the axe head to the point of contact (this also applies to swords, hammers and other linear-path swing implements). The oval shape locks the hands into alignment with the swing path and PREVENTS the hands from deviating from that swing path. In sharp contrast, you know a baseball swing is rotational – meaning the bat must fully rotate around the batters body and the hands MUST roll over the central axis of the bat to compete the swing. This gives hitter the ability to both, make adjustments during the swing and complete the rotational swing path. Putting an oval axe handle on a baseball bat is counter-intuitive to the requirements of a rotational baseball swing. Imagine trying to adjust your swing on a breaking ball or change-up when the shape of the handle is resisting those adjustments.
In contrast, ProXR was designed from the ground-up specifically for a rotational baseball bat swing. It reduces compression in the hands and gives batters improved performance. Additionally, we tested our designs before we went to market and continue to do ongoing research and testing. As a side note, ProXR was accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 because it is the first angled knob bat ever used in regular season games.”

Hypothesis

Based on the ProXR technology research, I was convinced the bat would alleviate compression forces in the hands, particularly the hitter’s bottom hand.  However, my biggest question was, are we sacrificing performance to be safer?  I think the ProXR technology, although safer, will sacrifice some performance.

The reason I labeled this a “baseball hitting drills for contact” experiment will become clear in the “Notes” section of the post, so stay tuned…

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR Bat Knob Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • All swings for the baseball hitting drills for contact experiment were taken off the tee.
  • 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 plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • CLICK HERE for the Google Drive excel document with all the Ball Exit Speed (BES) readings and calculations.
  • We deleted radar gun mis-reads that registered below 30-mph on the gun.
  • Therefore, we deleted 3 mis-reads from the ProXR bat knob data, and averaged all ProXR BES readings to 97 swings.
  • Also, we deleted 2 mis-reads from the regular bat knob data, and averaged all regular bat knob BES readings to 98 swings.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills for contact experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Swinging the “ProXR Knob” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Regular Knob” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR Bat Knob Experiment

A slight baseball hitting drills for contact advantage goes to the ProXR Knob…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

ZEPP READINGS:

  • Avg. Bat Speed at Impact increased by 1-mph using the ProXR knob bat,
  • Avg. Max Hand Speed didn’t change,
  • Avg. Time to Impact decreased by 0.004 swinging the ProXR knob bat,
  • Avg. Bat Vertical Angle at Impact decreased by 2 degrees using the ProXR knob bat, and
  • Avg. Attack Angle decreased by 4 degrees using the ProXR knob bat.

BUSHNELL BALL EXIT SPEED READINGS (CLICK HERE for Google Excel Doc):

  • Avg. Ball Exit Speed decreased by 0.4-mph using the ProXR bat knob, and
  • Top out Ball Exit Speed was 93-mph using both the ProXR and conventional bat knob.

Notes

  1. In ProXR founder Grady Phelan’s initial testings of professional players, some of the players recorded a 3 to 10-mph bat speed increase using his ProXR knob.  Now, I have a theory as to why my numbers were much smaller…
  2. For all 208 swings I was playing with two baseball hitting drills for contact mechanical elements in my swing: 1) squeezing the bottom three fingers of my top hand only, from the moment I started my swing (picked up my front foot), through impact.  And 2) having more of a “hunched over” posture at the start of the swing.  I did this for all swings, so as not to “muddy up” the experiment.
  3. The finger pressure may have neutralized the affect of the ProXR knob, since most of the “shock” at impact was taken by my top hand.  Whereas a normal hitter not using top hand finger pressure would absorb the shock in the hamate bone, in their bottom hand, using the regular knob bat.
  4. Playing around with both baseball hitting drills for contact elements of #2 above, I compared the Ball Exit Speed numbers from my previous experiment looking at the difference between the Mizuno Generation ($200 bat) to the Mizuno MaxCor ($400) bat where I wasn’t using the two mechanical changes.  Interestingly, my average Ball Exit Speed with the $400 alloy MaxCore was 83.5-mph and top out exit speed was 90-mph.  With the wood bats, my average Ball Exit Speed was 89 to 90-mph, and my top out exit speed was 93-mph.  That’s a 6.5-mph jump in average & 3-mph boost in top out exit speed using a wood bat over a non-wood!!  That’s 26 more feet on average, and 12 more feet in top out distance added using finger pressure and the “hunch”!
  5. By using the two principles in #2 above, I was able to hit the “high-note” more consistently.  I also had less “mis-reads” in this experiment, using the radar gun (5 total out of 208 swings), versus the Mizuno bat model experiment (18 total out of 200 swings).  This is why I labeled this experiment “baseball hitting drills for contact”.
  6. After about 50 swings in the the ProXR bat knob baseball hitting drills for contact experiment, I could tell you what my Ball Exit Speed readings were going to be after each cut, +/-1 mile per hour.  Crazy!

The Bottom Line?

Well, according to the baseball hitting drills for contact ProXR bat knob experiment data, it looks like the ProXR knob holds a slight edge in performance versus the convention knob. Coupled with the fact that the ProXR knob reduces compression forces on the hands by 20 to 25% has me convinced that ProXR bat knob technology is a can’t lose tool for a hitter’s toolbox.

Question: Do More Expensive Bats Increase Bat & Ball Exit Speeds?

 

Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Zepp Swing Experiment

Mizuno MaxCor -3 baseball bat ($150-400 on Amazon)

In this baseball batting practice Mizuno bat model experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app & Bushnell radar gun, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat and Ball Exit Speeds comparing the performance of two different Mizuno bat models, but the same 34-inch, 31-ounce size:

 

Background Research

MIZUNO MAXCOR ($150-400)

According to the Mizuno website, the focus of this bat is maximizing Ball Exit Speed and backspin.  Some key features are (Mizuno site):

  • Viscoelastic Sleeve: Creates a wider circumferential sweet area.
  • New Variable Wall Thickness Alloy Core: Increases the sweet area across the length of the barrel, using aircraft aluminum alloy used to keep overall weight low.
  • Dynamic Damper: Transition piece from barrel to handle absorbs vibration for better feel.
  • New Improved Synthetic Leather Grip: Provides tack and great feel.
  • Lower more balanced swing weight for increased swing speed.
  • BBCOR certified, approved for NCAA & NFHS play
  • Barrel Diameter: 2 5/8″
Baseball Batting Practice Mizuno Bat Model Experiment: Generation Model

Mizuno Generation -3 baseball bat ($70-200 on Amazon)

MIZUNO GENERATION

According to Mizuno’s site, the Mizuno Generation baseball bat was designed with two things in mind:

  1. A bigger sweet spot, and
  2. Balance – (lighter swing weight, which can result in faster bat speeds).

Key features of the baseball batting practice Mizuno Generation bat (Mizuno site):

  • Patented wall thickness technology varies the wall thickness across the barrel, creating a massive sweet area for ultimate forgiveness
  • Single wall aerospace grade aluminum alloy used for maximum combination of performance and durability
  • Balanced swing weight for increased swing speed and bat control
  • Digi-Grip for great feel and durability
  • BBCOR certified, approved for USSSA
  • Barrel Diameter: 2 5/8″

Another factor in this baseball batting practice Mizuno bat model experiment will be breaking in a non-wood bat.  CLICK HERE for a good YouTube video on how to break-in a composite bat.  Now, both Mizuno bats are not composites, but I’m sure the breaking in process with any non-wood, will have an affect on Ball Exit Speeds.

We’ll adjust the data to address breaking in the bat in the Notes section.

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball batting practice Background Research from Mizuno (albeit promotional materials), and the fact the MaxCor is double the price, I’d expect a much better performance in Bat and Ball Exit Speeds using the MaxCor model bat versus the Generation.

 

Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • All baseball batting practice swings were taken off the tee.
  • 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 plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • CLICK HERE for the Google Drive excel document with all the Ball Exit Speed (BES) readings.
  • We deleted radar gun mis-reads that registered below 30-mph on the gun.
  • Therefore, we deleted 11 mis-reads from the Mizuno MaxCor bat data, and averaged all MaxCor BES readings to 89 swings.
  • Also, we deleted 7 mis-reads from the Mizuno Generation bat data, and averaged all Generation BES readings to 93 swings.
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Swinging the “Mizuno MaxCor” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Mizuno Generation” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Experiment

According to the Zepp app, the Mizuno MaxCor came out supreme in all areas except the Attack Angle…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

ZEPP READINGS:

  • Avg. Bat Speed at Impact increased by 3-mph using the Mizuno MaxCor,
  • Avg. Max Hand Speed increased by 2-mph using the Mizuno MaxCor,
  • Avg. Time to Impact decreased by 0.063,
  • Avg. Bat Vertical Angle at Impact decreased by 1-degree using the Mizuno MaxCor, and
  • Avg. Attack Angle decreased by 4-degrees using the Mizuno MaxCor.

BUSHNELL BALL EXIT SPEED READINGS (CLICK HERE for Google Excel Doc):

  • Avg. Ball Exit Speed increased by 4.6-mph using the Mizuno Generation bat,
  • Top out Ball Exit Speed was 95-mph using the Mizuno Generation bat, and
  • Top out Ball Exit Speed was 90-mph using the Mizuno MaxCor bat.

 

Notes

  • Now, we can’t compare apples to apples baseball batting practice data using the Zepp app and Bushnell radar gun.  If I had one more Bushnell radar gun capturing my bat speed readings perpendicular to my chest, then that would’ve been an interesting comparison.
  • I felt much more balance with the Mizuno Generation.  I also felt like I was more consistently hitting the sweet spot, as their marketing suggests.  For some reason it was tough feeling a consistent sweet spot using the MaxCor, maybe because of the “Dynamic Damper: Transition piece from barrel to handle absorbs vibration for better feel”.
  • It takes about 100-200 swings to break in a non-wood bat, at least according to the following YouTube video on How-To Break-in a Composite Bat.  I’m going to share a Zepp app screenshot comparing the first 100 swings using the Mizuno MaxCor (from this experiment), to the first 100 swings using the Mizuno Generation (from the Baseball Swing Tips: Mizuno Bat Size Experiment):
Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Experiment

Look at the near identical performance Zepp data between the two bats when we compare their first 100 swings…

  • How about comparing the Ball Exit Speeds of the first 100 swings…according to this Google spreadsheet, the Mizuno MaxCor Avg. Ball Exit Speed was: 83.5-mph.  And according to this Google spreadsheet from a couple weeks before, Avg. Ball Exit Speed using the Mizuno Generation 34/31 was:  88.3-mph.

The Bottom Line?

Well, according to the baseball batting practice Mizuno bat model experiment data, it looks like the Generation model holds the performance edge when it comes to Ball Exit Speed, almost a 5-mph difference.  That’s about 20-feet of extra distance!  From how the experiment turned out, I’d save the $200 and buy a Mizuno Generation.  Now, this data doesn’t mean EVERY expensive bat will under-perform it’s more economic brethren, it just means you need to tinker and test to find the truth.

Question: Does a Slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Before Landing Boost Baseball Swing Load & Bat Speed?

In this baseball swing load “shoulder” angle experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat & Hand Speed when we took 100 swings with a slight “Downhill” shoulder angle (about 8-10-degrees) versus another 100 swings with level shoulders.

The Feedback Lab parent testimonial about his 14 year old daughter Mia:

“Hey Coach,

It has been way too long but I wanted to share some information that happened yesterday. We are heading up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the largest showcase in the southeast today. Yesterday was our last day to hit before the showcase and Mia was struggling with her power. We hit about 60-70 balls and Mia was hitting about 10% over the fence (she is usually 40%+). I was looking to make sure she was showing her number, which she was, hiding her hands, which she was, landing with a bent knee, which she was and etc., etc. It was getting late and we had to go and I told Mia she had only 6 balls left. I told her to show me her stance and I noticed that her front shoulder was equal to her back shoulder. I then told her to lower her front shoulder and raise her back one. That was the only change we made to her swing, Mia then hit the next 6 balls over the fence and 2 of them were bombs. I cannot believe the difference this one small change made.

Thanks,
Primo”

 

Background Research

Baseball Swing Load: Miguel Cabrera WSJ Info-Graphic

Wall Street Journal Info-Graphic at: http://gohpl.com/1NFi8qi

The best resource for getting educated on spinal engine mechanics is to pick up Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine.  For a teased out version of this,

CLICK HERE for a post I did that compared the pitching delivery, hitting, and an overhead tennis serve using this “bending sideways” technique.

Another good book from multiple authors on the subject of spinal engine mechanics, locomotion biomechanics, and springy fascia, check out the book Dynamic Body by leading author Dr. Erik Dalton.

Also, here’s a great Wall Street Journal post about Miggy Cabrera titled, Miguel Cabrera: The Art of Hitting.  Check out what the illustration says in the middle of the red circle above…

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball swing load experiment research and one of the other countless online hitting testimonials I get about “bending sideways” benefits, I think using a slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle will boost Bat Speed at Impact by at least 3-mph, and Hand Speed Max by 2-mph.

 

Baseball Swing Load: “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Tyler Doerner, my intern for the summer and a hitter in HPL’s The Feedback Lab, is a redshirt college Freshman.  He did the baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment.
  • Tyler broke the swing into two steps: 1) get to landing position, pause for 1-2 seconds, 2) then swing, to better control the shoulder angle during the tests.
  • So, there was an absence of forward momentum in this experiment.
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  “Level Shoulders” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Downhill Shoulders” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Swing Load: Zepp Screenshot of Shoulder Angle Experiment

Look at the significant jumps in average Bat Speed at Impact & the Attack Angle…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • There’s a significant 4-mph JUMP in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Average Hand Speed Max only increased by 1-mph with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • There was a small change in Time To Impact, in favor of the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Not a big change in the Bat Vertical Angle at Impact.
  • And there was a significant 3-degree angle change in Attack Angle with “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.

Notes

  • We found a slightly bigger increase in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle compared to my Hypothesis (4-mph versus 3-mph).
  • I thought there was going to be a bigger difference in Hand Speed Max, than how it turned out.
  • What was surprising was the 3-degree angle change of the attack angle.  A 10-degree Attack Angle is a typical line drive.  Once you start to get into the 15-20 degree range, you’re looking at more of a home-run launch angle.
  • The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is actually something we’re working in Tyler’s swing.  He tends to let go of his angle a little too soon.
  • I find that before and after Ball Exit Speed readings with my local hitters who’re familiar with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle, can increase from 1-3-mph when this it the only mechanic we’re working on.

The Bottom Line?

In this baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment, we can clearly see with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle that there’s a significant 4-mph jump in Bat Speed at Impact, AND a surprising 3-degree boost in the Attack Angle.  The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is a piece of what I call the Catapult Loading System.  The BIG-3 are:

  1. Downhill shoulder angle,
  2. Hiding hands from the pitcher, and
  3. For #3…

 

Amy Gill and Andrew Marden from KSEE24, a local sports news station here in Fresno, CA, put this video together of an HPL Batted Ball Distance Challenge held about a month ago.

We worked primarily on testing showing the numbers, and the results were interesting…

Twelve total hitters, ranging in ages from 8-17 years old.  Nine of them had been exposed to the HPL system.  Two of them had not, and one had minimal exposure.

The familiar ones (control group) gained or lost between -1 to +1-mph of Ball Exit Speed, while the three “newbies” gained between 3 and 10-mph of Ball Exit Speed in one 30-minute session.  That’s between 15 to 50-feet of added batted ball distance!!

 

The Definitive Guide To Measuring, Tracking, & Boosting Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson: 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speed homer on April 23, 2015. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

On April 23rd, 2015…

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 3rd baseman, Josh Donaldson, hit a two-run homer to left off Chris Tillman that was clocked at 120.5-mph!

And as of August 18th, according to ESPN’s HitTrackerOnline.com, was the highest Ball Exit Speed home-run in 2015.

CLICK HERE to see the 120.5-mph Josh Donaldson two-run dinger.

By the way, this topped Giancarlo Stanton’s highest Ball Exit Speed homer, in the same year, by 3.2-mph (117.3-mph).

How does Josh Donaldson do it?

I mean, come on!

Giancarlo Stanton, also referred to as “Bigfoot”, stands at a gargantuan 6-foot, 6-inches tall, 240-pounds.  And from what I hear, has about 3-4% bodyfat.

On the other hand, Josh Donaldson stands in at mere 6-foot, 220-pounds.

Talk about David & Goliath!

But what little realize about David was that he was an expert marksman from long range.  So he never had to go toe-to-toe with Goliath.

David had a better strategy.  And so do small sluggers like Josh Donaldson.

In this post, we’ll be talking about Ball Exit Speed (BES), also known as Speed Off the Bat (SOB), or simply Exit Speed.  We’ll learn:

  • What affects Ball Exit Speeds?
  • What is the Desirable Minimum Effective Dosage (MED) for Ball Exit Speed? And
  • How-to increase Ball Exit Speed…

What Affects Ball Exit Speeds?

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

Recently, I’ve been using a Bushnell Radar Gun to measure the Ball Exit Speeds of my hitters, off the tee, before and after each session.

It’s not radar gun accuracy we’re looking for here, but an apples to apples comparison.  Here’s what we’re comparing, using the radar gun, before and after each hitting session:

  1. Did the hitter beat a personal record (PR), and/or
  2. How consistent and stable their Ball Exit Speed readings are, or whether they’re jumping all over the place.

Unlike bat speed, there are many things that can affect the speed of the ball coming off the bat:

  • Bat Composition (BESR rating) – Wood v. non-wood.  End loaded v. more balanced weight. Bat size and weight.
  • Ball Composition (COR rating) – Plastic balls v. rawhide.  Corked core v. rubber.  Higher v. lower seams.
  • Hitter’s Body Mass – Dropping a 50-pound plate on your foot will turn out worse for you, versus a 10-pound one.
  • Ball Spin Rate – Backspin and topspin, in addition to the coveted knuckleball will all affect BES differently.
  • Effective Mechanics – the better a hitter is at effectively using human movement rules that are validated by science, the better energy transfer from body to barrel to ball.
  • Pitching Velocity – From what I’ve heard and seen, pitch speed can add between 10-20-mph to Ball Exit Speeds, say from off the tee.
  • Fatigue – sleep, over-training, nutrition, and supplementation.  CLICK HERE for Zach Calhoon’s recovery shake mix.
  • Warm Up Factor – I noticed in my latest Zepp swing experiment, that I didn’t consistently hit 90+mph Ball Exit Speed, off the tee, until I reached about the 75 swing mark.
  • Learning New Hitting Mechanics – I’ve noticed with my hitters that when we introduce a brand new hitting movement into their swing, their Ball Exit Speeds drop between one to four-mph.  But if it’s something we’ve covered before, then they may actually increase by one to four-mph.
  • Timing – If a hitter is too late, and doesn’t allow his or her bat speed to mature, then Ball Exit Speeds will be lower.  If a hitter is too early, and their bat speed has begun to decelerate, then Ball Exit Speeds will also go down.
  • Environment – Humidity dampens Ball Exit Speeds (pun intended).  So does a head wind, duh.  On the other hand, hitting in dry hotter climates OR in Denver, Colorado, Ball Exit Speeds will increase because the air is less dense.
  • Hitting the Sweet Spot – Hitting the ball on the end of the bat, or closer to the hands will decrease Ball Exit Speed, while consistently hitting the sweet spot will boost it.
  • Bat Speed at Impact – Most of the time Ball Exit Speeds will be higher than Bat Speed at Impact.  With my Zepp swing experiments off the tee, it looks to be about a 6-mph difference.
  • Strength and conditioning – this can help but shouldn’t be the highest priority.  This should be the cherry on top.
  • Mobility and stability – if you move better, then you perform better.  Simple as that.  This MUST be a high priority not just to increase BES, but to minimize an athlete’s risk for injury.

 

What is the Desirable Minimum Effective Dosage (MED) for Ball Exit Speed?

“The smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.” – Tim Ferriss on MED, 3-time NY Times Bestselling Author

According to this Wall Street Journal article titled, Yankees Dive Into the Numbers to Find Winning Patterns,

“Computers can track a ball’s exit velocity, launch angle, hang time and spin rate, 100 mph, the
speed necessary for most home runs; 75 mph, commonly the break-even pace for a ground ball to skip through the infield for a hit; and four seconds, the inflection point for fly ball hang-time, with any remaining in the air that long before getting caught.”

You may be wondering, what is the launch angle for a typical home-run?  According to the following Sports Science video, about 20-degrees:

According to a Beyond the Boxscore article titled, Do Hard Hit Ground-balls Produce More Errors?, that there is no significant increase in errorsat the Major League level, until Ball Exit Speeds reach and go beyond 95-mph.

This NY Times article titled, New Way To Judge Hitters? It’s Rocket Science – Sort Of, reports about Ball Exit Speed that:

  • The threshold for hitting a homerun is 95-mph,
  • Ball Exit Speed is being used to evaluate upcoming professionals, and can decide who starts,
  • Managers can use Ball Exit Speeds to see if there’s a drop off in a hitter’s Ball Exit Speed, which may reveal the player is hurt or needs to adjust their mechanics, and
  • Teams can shift their infielders back with hitters clocking higher Ball Exit Speeds.

And lastly, an article from eFastball.com titled, Bat Speed, Batted Ball Speed (Exit Speed) in MPH by Age Group, had this to say:

“MLB average exit speed is 103 mph, bat speed ranges roughly from 70-85 mph. 1 mph of additional exit speed makes the ball go 5 more feet. This would be roughly 4 feet for 1-mph bat speed – which is less than the 7-8 feet we have heard from other studies.”

Based on the information above, ideally the MED Ball Exit Speed, for the average Little Leaguer, would be 40-mph BES (40-mph BES X 5-feet = 200-feet of distance).  I want my Little Leaguers to get to 50-mph BES, for the fields that have 220-foot fences.  And of course launch angle is a huge factor in this.

And on the big field, it looks like 95-mph Ball Exit Speed is the MED because that means the hitter has the ability to hit the ball 475-feet (95-mph BES X 5-feet of distance).  Furthermore, the fact that Beyond the Boxscore’s observations about errors not increasing until Ball Exit Speeds reach 95-mph.

How-to Increase Ball Exit Speed

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

So, what advantage does a small slugger like Josh Donaldson have over Giancarlo “Bigfoot” Stanton?

Here’s the secret to boosting Ball Exit Speeds…

Tinker and Test.

Remember, Peter Drucker’s quote above?

“What gets measured gets managed.”

Here’s what to do to ensure a healthy increase in Ball Exit Speeds:

  • Get yourself a Bushnell Radar Gun and/or a Zepp baseball app,
  • CLICK HERE to read the definitive guide to running swing experiments,
  • Choose an HPL “Topic” in the navigation bar above, or search for one in the upper right hand corner of the website, and start testing.
  • Stop analyzing big hitters.  Instead look at the small sluggers, and see what they’re doing to compete, such as: Cano, McCutchen, Donaldson, Bautista, Vogt, Beltre, Braun, Pedroia (averages 44 doubles and 15 homers a season), Victor Martinez, Edwin Encarnacion, David Wright, Hank Aaron, Sadaharu Oh, and Mickey Mantle.

Do you have anything to add to the discussion?  Please REPLY below…

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

 

Baseball Swing Tips: Mizuno Generation Bat Size Experiment

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

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

 

Background Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hypothesis

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

 

Baseball Swing Tips Mizuno Generation Bat Size Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

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

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Swing Tips: Mizuno Generation Bat Size Experiment

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

Data Analysis & Conclusion

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

Notes

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

The Bottom Line?

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

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

 

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: TylerD

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

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

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

So we wanted to test it…

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

Background Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis

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

 

“Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

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

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Squish the Bug Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

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

Data Analysis & Conclusion

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

 

Notes

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

The Bottom Line?

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

Boost “Top Out” Bat Speed By “Hiding The Hands”, Like JD Martinez…

 

Proper Baseball Hitting Mechanics Zepp Experiment: Hiding Your Hands Like JD Martinez

JD Martinez hiding his hands from the pitcher. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

 

Question: Does Hiding the Hands Increase Bat Speed versus NOT Hiding Them?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if hiding the hands from the pitcher prior to stride landing boosts bat speed, over not hiding them.  Some may call this the “Scap Row”.

And we’ll see what proper baseball hitting mechanics look like with MLB Player of the Week (July 6th) JD Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.

My intern for the summer, red-shirt college freshman Tyler Doerner did the experiment.

Background Research

Most hitting instructors may call this the Scapula Row, or Scap Row for short.  “Hiding the hands” is essentially the same thing, but is a much more sticky coaching cue.

“Hiding the Hands” has to do with loading the springy fascial material in the body.  Without this springy fascia your bones and muscles would drop to the ground.  It’s what gives muscles their shape, and what the bones and muscles ‘float’ in, according to Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains.

“Hiding the Hands” also allows a hitter to be in proper baseball hitting mechanics to achieve high angular velocity early in the turn.  This has to do with the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  Achieving high angular velocity, early in the turn, is critical to Time To Impact and covering more plane of the pitch with the barrel.

On the contrary though, arm barring (or high moment of inertia) early in the turn would cause a challenge for hitters getting to pitches high in the strike zone and inside, according to Perry Husbands work on Effective Velocity.  Here’s a quote from the preceding SBNation.com link about Effective Velocity:

“His [Perry Husband’s] interest lies not in how fast a given pitch travels, but how fast it appears to a hitter.”

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I think proper baseball hitting mechanics, a la “Hiding the Hands”, from the pitcher (pre-turn) will have a big impact on bat speed versus not hiding them.  I think results will be similar to what the “Showing the Numbers” Experiment revealed, where we saw an average bat speed increase of 6-mph over 200 swings.

 

Proper Baseball Hitting Mechanics: JD Martinez “Hiding Hands” Experiment

SwingAway Pro XXL Model

Tyler uses a SoloHitter in the Experiment. The SwingAway Bryce Harper is swinging on is similar.

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app,
  • Solohitter (like the SwingAway which I like better),
  • Camera Phone, Coaches Eye app, and Tripod, and
  • 33 inch, 30 ounce wood bat.

Setup:

  • Forward momentum was eliminated in this experiment, and hitting from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • First 100 baseballs were hit “NOT Hiding the Hands”
  • Second 100 baseballs were hit “Hiding the Hands”
  • There was no break between tests because Tyler was trying to beat the rains coming

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Proper Baseball Hitting Mechanics Zepp Experiment Results: Hiding the Hands

In this proper baseball hitting mechanics “Hiding the Hands” Zepp Experiment, see how “Hiding the Hands” slightly won out in Bat & Hand Speed, and Time to Impact rather than “Not Hiding the Hands”…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • As you can see, “Hiding the Hands” beat almost every category…
  • On average, 1-mph change in Bat Speed,
  • On average, 1-mph change in Hand Speed, and
  • On average, .005 change in Time To Impact.

“Hiding the Hands” didn’t have a significant jump in bat and hand speed, or Time To Impact than “NOT Hiding the Hands.”  But there was a difference in top-out bat speeds:

  • Top-4 “Hiding the Hands” bat speeds (in mph): 85, 84, 84, and 82.
  • Top-4 “Not Hiding the Hands” bat speeds (in mph): 82, 81, and the rest were less than 79.

So, top out bat speed increased by 3-mph, and there were consistent higher bat speeds with “Hiding the Hands”.

Notes

  • The results of the proper baseball hitting mechanics “Hiding the Hands” Zepp Experiment may have been skewed because Tyler didn’t take a break between tests.
  • The following experiments will be using what one of my readers and motor learning and performance researcher Brad McKay suggests, which is counterbalancing the experiment.  Essentially it’s breaking experiment swings into 25 swing blocks, and ordering them a certain way.  For example, “Hiding the Hands” would be block “A”, and “Not Hiding the Hands” would be block “B”.  The 200 swings would be broken into 8 blocks and ordered accordingly: ABBA BAAB.  As Brad McKay says, “The issue with not counterbalancing is that you don’t actually know the effect of time because it is confounded with condition. In other words, you might always do better on the second block of 100 because of a warm-up decrement or a practice effect.”  Thank you Brad for the experiment tip!  We’ll do better next time 😀
  • About JD Martinez…this FanGraphs.com link titled, “JD Martinez on His Many Adjustments” is a great example of players today opening their eyes to how the body really moves, and not what some talking head thinks.  Basically, JD Martinez subscribed to swinging “down on the ball” until he got injured in 2014, I believe.  Then he started analyzing teammates’ and opponents’ swings that were crushing the ball, and found out they weren’t swinging down at all.
  • A week or two after the 2015 All Star break, according to FanGraphs.com, JD Martinez had 27 homers.  His season high before that? 23, in 2014.  To me, JD Martinez is a big slugger at 6’3″, 220-pounds.  But when big sluggers do small slugger things (like being more effective with mechanics), even bigger things can happen.  JD Martinez does a great job of “Showing his Numbers” and “Hiding the Hands”.  This compresses the springy fascia material in the body.

The Bottom Line?

In this proper baseball hitting mechanics “Hiding the Hands” Zepp Swing Experiment, “Hiding the Hands” doesn’t seem to give a hitter a significant jump in Bat and Hand Speed, or Time to Impact.  But definitely an increase nonetheless.  But what using proper baseball hitting mechanics, like “Hiding the Hands”, does appear to do, is boost top-out bat speeds.  AND, make those top-out bat speeds repeatable.