Hitting Drills For Kids: How To Keep Hitters Productive At Home Despite COVID-19

 

(Correction in above hitting drills for kids video: I said this started last Wednesday, March 25th, but I couldn’t get this up in time, so the next day it was!  CLICK HERE to view Today’s Hitting Workout Of the Day – WOD.

 

Self quarantine.  “Shelter-in-place”.  Losing a job.  Tireless work.  Medical care workers, military, police and fire departments.  Sacrificing sport seasons.  Seniors in High School and College losing their 2020 year.  Politicians bickering – as usual.

I totally understand.  It SUCKS.  And I’m sorry who’ve lost a job or loved one because of this nasty virus. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your families.  I hope and pray things get better soon.

But you know what coach?  We’re going to get through this.  Together.  Genghis Khan once said:

“One arrow alone can easily be broken but many arrows are indestructible”.

I understand the uncertainty out there.  And if you’re like my family, we have two little blessings (7yo boy and 4yo girl), running around at home.  The challenge is, we have to keep them in productive mode, or else they’re fighting like cats and dogs.  And at the same time my wife and I are juggling work from home in good ol’ shelter-in-place California.

I’m not going to lie, it’s REAL easy to keep the kiddos on their devices all day.  But I don’t believe that’s the best thing for their little developing minds.  Same is true for the teen-osaurs!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  • How to keep hitters productive at home despite COVID-19,
  • At-home hitting drills for kids challenge rules,
  • Today’s Hitting WOD, and
  • BONUS extra credit to sweeten the deal…

 

How To Keep Hitters Productive At Home Despite COVID-19

One of my online hitting lesson dads posted this Twitter “to-do” list to keep the kiddos busy at home… (he elaborates on this schedule in the comments below)

I would be honored to be a part of your at-home schedule!

 

At-Home Hitting Drills for Kids Challenge Rules

WHEN

The challenge will run from Thursday March 26th, through Easter Sunday, April 12th.  Wishful thinking is that this COVID-19 thing is under wraps by then, and things become as normal as circumstances allow.

Check-in EVERY day at about 8:00AM pacific standard time.  That day’s Hitting WOD will stay up that whole day.  PLEASE NOTE: Each day I’ll take down yesterday’s Hitting WOD and replace with today’s.  So, if you’re busy, I’d suggest stopping in and at least taking notes, so you don’t miss out.

WHAT

Each day, I’ll update this page under “Today’s Hitting WOD” subheadline with a/an:

  • Featured post,
  • Expert interview transcription, or
  • Drill video…

…you can use this as hitting homework.  “Baseball with dad or mom” as Tyson put it in his Tweet.  Each day will guide you in one of 5 areas:

  1. Building more power,
  2. Hitting more line drives,
  3. Getting on-time more often,
  4. Moving better to perform better (body work training), or
  5. Sticky coaching cues.

Like Crossfit, think of this as a Hitting “Workout Of the Day” – or Hitting WOD.

HOW

Every single day, we’ll keep it simple.  I’m just asking at least 5-minutes per day to do the Hitting WOD.

By the way, on some days, I’m going to do random giveaways.  Online hitting lessons.  An autographed copy of my Amazon bestselling book. Possibly hitting aids.  We’ll see what happens.   The more you share this on the socials, the better chance you have at winning!  Best part is, it won’t cost you a thing!

 

Today’s Hitting WOD (DAY-9)

Today’s hitting drills for kids video is one that isn’t public on YouTube.  It’s a part of my NEW secret stash 😉 The swing MUST be safe for hitters.  Learn how to protect your hitter’s lower lumbar.  Here’s the drill video…

In today’s hitting drills for kids ‘Hollow Position’ video, we discuss…

  • Purpose: protect low back,
  • Pelvis is bowl of water, and
  • Pinching belly button and belt buckle.

Hitting homework is: take 5-mins today, and work the hollow pinch.  Progress from dry swings –> tee swings –> soft toss –> then LIVE short or front toss.

 

BONUS Extra Credit to Sweeten the Deal

Hitting Drills For Kids: Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

30-Day FREE Trial of Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly for a Limited Time

Before this whole Chinese Coronavirus thing picked up steam, I was working on a low-cost monthly membership called Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly.  I will be putting a TON of time and effort into each issue.

Once per month, we’ll be offering up:

  • One training tip video on how to fix a certain flaw,
  • One or two expert interviews from “mad” scientists like: Perry Husband, Matt Nokes, Taylor Gardner, Ryan Lehr, Dr. Tom Hanson, and many others,
  • 1-month in review curated content on Sticky Coaching or Moving Better to Perform Better, and
  • Hitting aid review, how it MUST be used for success, & discounts…

The monthly membership fee was going to be $4.95 per month.  And because the low cost, I wasn’t going to offer a free trial.

Then COVID-19 hit. I think you’re gonna LOVE the Newsletter, but may not be able to afford the commitment right now.  So, sign up to grab access to Issue #1 at no-cost for 30-days, then after 30-days you’ll be charged $4.95 per month thereafter.  No upsells.  Just one more email per month with the goodies.

But wait … there’s more! (sorry, that’s my favorite part on infomercials)

I’m sweetening the deal even more … on month two, if you pay the $4.95 for issue #2, but the Newsletter doesn’t live up to the promises, then I’ll refund you, cancel the membership, and you can keep Issue #2.  No worries.  No questions asked.  No hard feelings.

However, if you absolutely LOVE the Newsletter, then by all means, stay on board.  Every 30-days, you’ll receive one email with a new issue.

Please note: I WILL NOT be offering this 30-day free trial again.  After Easter, it’s gone!  Click the button below to grab access to Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

Here Are 6 Christian Yelich Swing Analysis Hitting Mechanic Strategies Helping Him Dominate (or Not? 🤔)

 

 

Christian Yelich Swing Analysis - Hitting Mechanics

Christian Yelich ‘showing numbers’. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

WARNING!  This Christian Yelich swing analysis video has been done tongue-and-cheek…sarcastic…mocking…joking…so please don’t send me HATE email because of this cheeky Christian Yelich hitting mechanics video.

Here are some of the topics we cover…

  1. Head movement,
  2. Back knee inside back foot,
  3. Over rotating back foot,
  4. Getting taller,
  5. “Launch angle” swing!
  6. Keep shoulders square (no counter rotation!!!)

By the way, at the beginning of the video, we look at the following Forbes article titled: “NL MVP Christian Yelich, Bucking The Launch Angle Trend”.

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

Here Are 4 Quick Ways To Fix A Long Casting Barrel…

…One of my favorite hitting demonstrations to do with hitters to help them understand the need to stack the bat’s “belly button” above theirs.  A flat bat at landing can cause a few of the following things:Belly Buttons, Center Of Gravity, & Quick Way To Solve A Flat Bat

  1. Hands drop (CLICK HERE to fix this),
  2. Racing back elbow bat drag (CLICK HERE for a video on how to use Finger Pressure to combat this), or
  3. A long casting barrel (CLICK HERE for a post that sheds light on how to fix this)

Since we’re on the subject of drills fixing specific swing dysfunction, CLICK HERE (solution #4) to see the “Flashlight Barrel Angle” drill to fix a flat bat at landing 😉

I’ve Lied To You For 5-Years Now About The Best Hitters Baseball Bat Path…

Breaking down Khris Davis

Khris Davis is 5'10" with a ton of power. How does he generate it?Sean Casey shows how his back elbow and bat path help him get it done.

Posted by Diamond Demos on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

 

…And I’m sorry.  But I will say this, most are being misled on the best hitters baseball bat path.  The principle you’ll discover shortly also apply to fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball.

In this best hitters baseball barrel path post, we’ll look at:

  • How the best hitters are using the Catapult Loading System,
  • WHY current one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel path approaches are losing, and
  • Hitting different “catcher’s glove” examples of inner, middle, and outer third of the plate pitches…

 

How the Best Hitters are Using the Catapult Loading System

…according to Diamond Demo video above: “Breaking down Khris Davis”.

We published last week’s Khris Davis swing analysis post because of the Diamond Demo “Breaking down Khris Davis” video.  The overwhelming response I received from readers sharing this video with me truly validates the Catapult Loading System seen in the best hitters.  Don’t think so?  Take a look at the following split screen snapshots from the above video (recognize ANY of the hitters??)

Best Hitters Baseball Swings: JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, & Jose Altuve

Observe stride landing positions of JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, & Jose Altuve – ‘showing numbers’, ‘downhill shoulders’, & ‘hiding hands’. Photo courtesy: Diamond Demo video “Breaking down Khris Davis”

And,

Check out stride landing positions of Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, & Mike Trout – ‘showing numbers’, ‘downhill shoulders’, & ‘hiding hands’. Photo courtesy: Diamond Demo video “Breaking down Khris Davis”

We won’t spend a lot of time rehashing last week’s post, BUT I do want to bring up an important point that was talked about in the above Diamond Demo segment.  And it has to do with best hitters baseball barrel path…

Starting at about the 2-min, 15-second video mark, and continuing to the end, they talk about this idea of Khris Davis getting his barrel in the zone early, and keeping barrel in the zone late.  And this is where I’ve lied to you for the last 5-years!  I used to teach my hitters this same one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel path.  But what I found was this IS NOT true of the best hitters baseball bat paths…

 

WHY Current One-Size-Fits-All SUPER Deep Barrel Path Approaches are Losing

Let me tell you a story of how I stumbled onto this principle…

In January of 2018, I was working with one of my hitters, who has been working with me since he was 7 years old.  He’s 15 years old now, in the 8th grade, and consistently hits with a low to mid 80’s Ball Exit Speed off the Backspin Tee, using a wood bat.

His mechanics are pretty clean compared to my other hitters.  At the time, I was teaching my hitters the same one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel acceleration path, as many of you are now.  One day, we were working on hunting pitch zones, inner third pitches specifically, and he responded,

“Coach, I don’t feel like I can get to that inside pitch effectively.  Am I showing my numbers too much?”

This got me thinking, so I jumped on Twitter to look at the best hitters baseball bat paths.  Specifically, I was looking for hitters, like the ones on the split screen images above, crushing 94-mph+ on the inner third of the plate, and guess what I saw??

The ones who demonstrated the Catapult Loading System principles well (namely ‘showing numbers’), still did so at stride landing on inside heat! Did you catch that?!  ‘Showing numbers’ was irrelevant to crushing the inside pitch.  CLICK HERE for a post I did debunking that.  So what were they doing different on the inner third?

It had to do with what we call hitting a different “catcher’s glove”.  I won’t go into the details of that here because I already did at the following post titled: “Accelerate Barrel Rearward Like Mike Trout”.  The best hitters baseball barrel path isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach to all pitches and timing.

Here’s the DANGER for hitters using a one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel acceleration approach…

Signs that pitcher’s are smartening up to countering this seemingly effective low in the zone barrel approach?  Pitchers are now using this, which Perry Husband calls Effective Velocity (EV), to exploit hitters with longer barrel paths.

In short, 2018 homers are down, in addition to having a few months in the season where overall offensive strikeouts outweigh hits in the Big Leagues.  This is troubling.  To give a clue, check out Perry’s video explaining why Chris Davis (Orioles) is having issues with this one-size-fits-all barrel path…

 

If hitting coaches don’t smarten up to this soon, then they’ll be rendered obsolete, irrelevant to the hitting community, and ultimately out of a job.  That’s not an exaggeration, and is where the puck is going, believe me.  Now, let’s look at the behavior of different “catcher’s glove” approaches on inner, middle, and outer third of the plate pitches…

Hitting Different “Catcher’s Glove” Examples of Inner, Middle, & Outer Third of the Plate Pitches

Inner 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Belly Button” Catcher’s Glove)

Mike Trout Homer #38 – 88.1-mph Front View

Chest View

Mitch Haniger Homer #26 – 95.9-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Trevor Story Homer #34 – 93-mph in Front View

Chest View

Middle 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Back Foot” Catcher’s Glove)

Matt Carpenter Homers #36 – 84.9-mph Change-up Front View

Chest View

Javier Baez Homer #33 – 87.4-mph SL Front View

Chest View

Khris Davis Homer #42 – 93.9-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Outer 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Real” Catcher’s Glove)

Mookie Betts Homer #31 Front View

Chest View

Christian Yelich Homer #32 – 88.7-mph Slider Front View

Chest View

Michael Conforto Homer #27 – 94.4-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Now, how do we train this?  I’m going to give you two complimentary drills we use to sync the optimal “catcher’s glove” with the proper direction of force (See – aren’t you glad you read my post to the bitter end!?):

  1. “Shorten Swing” Like An Elite Hitter (Not What You Think), and
  2. How To Optimize Directional Force Using The “Pounding Nail” Drill.

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

 

Let me ask you a question:

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

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

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

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

 

In This Drill Video…

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

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

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

…Did You Catch The Performance Of The Small Slugger That Beat Blaze Jordan?

Some of you saw this video on the socials of Blaze Jordan hitting a couple 500-foot monster shots out of the Texas Rangers Arlington Stadium during Brian Domenico’s 2016 14u/15u home-run derby National Power Showcase:

Well, did you hear about the small-bopper who gave Blaze Jordan a run for his money?

By the way, Blaze Jordan stands in at 6-Foot tall, and 217-Pounds.  And the preceding Blaze Jordan profile link may be a year or two old!

I received this email from Marty, Hudson White’s father, earlier this week:

“Hello, i just wanted you to know that i have followed you for years and teach your principles to my 14u son who just came in second place at the 15u power showcase in Arlington Texas ahead of the world champion Blaze Jordan . he also broke the world record for most consecutive home-runs in a row at 11. he was a year younger and 50-100lbs smaller than all the other contestants who were made up of the best hitters in the country. It was the most amazing thing that anyone had ever seen . i wanted to share the video with you and hopefully you can help make it go viral. all the hype is about Blaze Jordan for hitting a 503 ft home run, but for a smaller younger kid to go out and break the world record for most consecutive and beat blaze in the final round to come in 2nd place is a major feat. my son is a lead off hitter. so all hit hits were 395ft line drives. this is your student. this is the result of your teachings. i am very grateful!”

Blaze Jordan: Got beat by Hudson "The Hawk" White

You can see Hudson “The Hawk” White is exemplifying the Catapult Loading System: ‘showing numbers’, ‘down shoulder angle’, & ‘hiding hands’. Photo courtesy: Hudson’s father Marty.

Here are summary notes about Hudson “The Hawk” White’s 2016 home-run derby performance via his dad:

  • Came In 2nd place.
  • Beat Blaze Jordan.
  • Broke world record with 11 consecutive home runs in a row .
  • High school fences set up.
  • Left park 6 times.
  • Hit 390-ft average.
  • Just turned 14.
  • 5-foot, 7-inches, 130-pounds.
  • Normally a lead off 1,2 hole on nationally ranked teams.
  • Didn’t think he could hang with all the 6’2″ 180 lb 15 year old 4-hole hitters there.

But can Hudson do this in a game?  Here’s a 380-390 foot triple:

What’s even more amazing?!

I didn’t work with Hudson White…his dad did…using the Hitting Performance Lab repeatable power formula.

Why is this HUGE?!

Marty is just one of the hundreds of coaches getting the same results, if not better, than I am with my own hitters – using the same process!!

So, it’s not just me, or that maybe I’m “Tony Robbins” special.

Also, if you believe this was done with a “doctored”, “hot”, or “bouncy” bat,

Here’s a comment from Kevin Freeman on Facebook:

“I know this kid personally. if all put the work in that he does it wouldn’t be so many whiny baby parents saying his bat is altered. I’ve personally watched him hit several balls over 400 ft with an old hickory Wood bat. All excuse making parents need to let their kid follow this kids work ethic and maybe they will get the recognition he does. if he hitting a -5 that is what he is supposed to be hitting at that age.”

Also, the following MLB.com video is President of the Power Showcase, Brian Domenico, talking about the contest, and around the 5:00 video mark, he talks about the bats and balls used:

Please do Hudson, Marty, and HPL a favor and PLEASE SHARE THIS post on your favorite social media networks…Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

This stuff works folks.  We’re producing hitters that are consistently tripling their body-weight in batted ball distance.

— Joey drops the mic —

UPDATE from June 26, 2018 email from dad…

“…This year he was a freshman on varsity at Byron Nelson High School. He was starting 2nd and 3 hole. He led all north Texas in hits most of the season and finished 7th overall with 45.  He was hitting the ball hard somewhere!  Hudson was named District 5-6A Unanimous Newcomer Of The Year and All – Area Newcomer of the year finishing 7th in area with 45 hits, 25 RBI, 21 runs , 16 SB.

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/high-schools/2018/06/21/sportsdayhs-2018-area-baseball-teams-postseason-awards

He also just got back from the Wilson Midwest wood bat championship where he was named MVP for hitting two home runs. He went 9-18 and only 1 single. The rest were doubles, triples and dingers!  Here’s his mvp interview:

He has been on a tear hitting 6 home runs in the last 3 weeks with either wood or an old rusty metal bbcor bat.  Just an FYI update to all the haters and naysayers😂 its the Indian not the arrow.  I appreciate your help and instruction. The proof is in the pudding.”

 

UPDATE #2 from May 4, 2019 email from dad…

“He finished regular season number 8 in texas in hits, number 6 in extra base hits , and number 1 in doubles. Thats 4a,5a,6a. He’s number 2 in extra base hits in 6a and number 1 in doubles. And thats in arguably one of the top 5 toughest districts in the nation with 2 state champions from last year. The 6a champ and last years 5a champ moved up to 6a. Those coaches of the 5a state team go on an on about what a huge difference in competition in 6a where every team has 4 dudes.”

 

Softball Hitting Drills Fastpitch For Timing: Bad Hitting Outcomes Evaluation Checklist

 

Softball Hitting Drills Fastpitch: Brandon Moss Timing Adjustment

Brandon Moss 2014 synced swings. Look at when he picks his front foot up (in relation to what point in pitcher’s delivery) when homering on a 77-mph KB off R.A. Dickey versus hitting a dinger off a 93-mph FB from Felix Hernandez. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

A softball hitting drills fastpitch reader question came in recently that relates well to baseball…

Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?”

Here’s what we’ll cover in this softball hitting drills fastpitch for timing post:

  • Bad Hitting Outcome Evaluation Checklist,
  • The Art of Variance: Bean Bag Study, and
  • Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill…

 

Bad Hitting Outcome Evaluation Checklist

After each 3-5 swing round with one of my hitters, we go through a powerful 3-step Bad Hitting Outcome Eval Checklist (in order of priority):

  1. How many strikes did you swing at?
  2. How many swings felt on-time?
  3. How did we do with our mechanical focuses?

I should probably mention that we do this while working softball hitting drills fastpitch drills such as the Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill.

I use minimal to zero feedback between swings, until the round is over.  Why minimal to zero feedback? CLICK HERE to read this post on “What Every Coach Must Know About Giving Feedback To Hitters”.

Why 3-5 swing rounds and not 15-20?  CLICK HERE to read this testimonial on how to make practice swings game ready.

And within 3-5 rounds of 5 swings each round (so 15-25 total swings), there’s a marked difference in the hitter’s plate discipline, timing, and mechanics…for the good.

And it doesn’t matter the age.

If there IS NOT a progression in their ability to swing at more strikes, get on-time, and hone effective mechanics within that swing round, then either:

  • The coach is instructing too much between swings, OR
  • The player needs a little education on their strikezone, how timing must change at the different distances, or, to take pressure off swing outcomes, and put pressure on executing a specific swing movement instead.

It must be said, that in games, coach will only focus on points one and two of the Bad Hitting Outcomes Eval Checklist.  Players MUST be free to compete in games, not worry about mechanics.

 

The Art of Variance: Bean Bag Study

So I don’t have to beat a dead horse, here are a couple resources to catch you up to speed on this:

Some of my hitting friends, whom I respect in their knowledge and experience, don’t believe we can teach timing.  I disagree however.  Not only can we teach timing, but we can SPEED UP the learning process!

Here’s one of my favorite drills for timing…

 

Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill

Using the same principle as the Bean Bag Toss Study above, I regularly vary reaction times with our hitters.  The following video is how to setup one of my favorite softball hitting drills fastpitch for timing (works well for baseball too):

Distances, whether we’re talking baseball or softball, are different, so use common sense on this.  Depending on the hitter’s official plate to mound distance, I will put 5-15 feet of distance between the two plates.

And remember, the L-screen stays where it’s at…the HITTER moves between the two plates.

“What Baseball Batting Drills Work For Stopping Dipping Of The Back Shoulder?”

 

Baseball Batting Drills: Fascia

Fascia is like a cotton candy or spider webby like material that our bones and muscles float in. Photo courtesy: Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains

PLEASE NOTE: this baseball batting drills post presupposes the hitter is getting an extreme barrel vertical angle at impact.  In other words, they’re dissecting the pitch plane from down to up.  There are natural elements to dipping the back shoulder…this article goes into fixing the extreme.

In this baseball batting drills video, we answer the reader question above.  We go over:

  • Springy fascia & tracking the front shoulder,
  • Mechanical dominos that cause upper cutting, and
  • A couple fixes…

 

Springy Fascia & Tracking the Front Shoulder

Here are past HPL baseball batting drills posts on springy fascia – and the tracking of the front shoulder – in relation to the swing:

 

Mechanical Dominos that Cause Upper Cutting

Baseball Batting Drills: Josh Donaldson

Watch Josh Donaldson drop hands, then bring back up. Also, notice downhill shoulder angle, and him leading with back armpit in the last frame. Photo courtesy: YouTube users PicPlayHost & PastimeAthletics

Here is a baseball batting drills list of faults I find that CAN contribute to upper cutting:

  1. Poor barrel launch angle,
  2. Early arm barring,
  3. Hand drop,
  4. Upward shoulder angle at landing,
  5. Racing back elbow,
  6. Steep front upper arm at landing, and
  7. Too much downhill shoulder angle…

#1 would be a hitter having a flat bat, or close to flat, at stride landing. This shifts the bat’s center of mass behind the hitter (instead of above), which typically brings in #2, to lever the bat into the impact zone.

#3 can be caused by both #1 & #2, but if the hands don’t come back up before landing (a la Josh Donaldson above), to a “knockout punch” position, then this hitter will most likely have to uppercut anything in the zone above the hands.

An upward shoulder angle at landing, #4, will most likely result in uppercutting and/or a collapsing of the backside.

#4 can be observed along with numbers 1 and 2, but not always.  Racing back elbow causes the barrel to get really steep early in the hitting zone, which leads to a lot of weak fly balls to the opposite field.  AND, because of the steep vertical angle of the barrel, a roll over correction will happen later in the barrel’s path resulting in grounders to the hitter’s pull side.

About #5, if the front elbow gets caught ‘tucked in’ at landing (elbow pointing down at the ground), then an uppercut will most likely happen.  And this ‘tucking’ will happen most likely because of #6, too steep of a shoulder angle.

 

A Couple Fixes…

  1. Setting the tee higher in the zone,
  2. Fixing the barrel launch angle from 45 to 55-degrees, shoulder angle about 8-degrees down, and/or front arm angle to about 90-degrees to the spine at landing,
  3. Finger pressure (bottom three fingers of the top hand only),
  4. Have hitter explode into impact with the ‘back arm pit’ (see Josh Donaldson last frame above),
  5. Keeping slight bend in front elbow at start of the turn, or
  6. Using the RopeBat.

(WARNING: this baseball hitting drills for kids post is a 4,500+ word beast, but your hitters will be grateful you took the time, believe me.  Don’t worry, you can thank me later)

PLEASE NOTE: even though I refer to the keywords “baseball hitting drills for kids” in this post quite a bit, it’s not going to give you concrete drills to do.  The objective of this post is to be a guide for coaches to more effectively pick drills to help kids get the ball in the air with authority.  Before getting started, let me preface a couple other points:

  • Getting the ball in the air is off the table in situational hitting scenarios, such as “hit-and-runs” or “move’em-overs” (but please realize, situational hitting only makes up less than 10-15% of game At-Bats).
  • Getting the ball in the air doesn’t mean soft – or in some cases medium – fly-balls (we don’t teach hitters to hit soft fly-balls, just like you don’t teach hitters to hit soft ground-balls).
  • Getting the ball in the air isn’t an extreme uppercut, nor is it an extreme chopping motion (our goal is to match the downward plane of the incoming pitch with the barrel – and YES, even softballs travel down).
  • Remember, all line drives are “balls in the air” (I know duh, but you wouldn’t believe how many coaches try to outrun their common sense).
  • Fast-pitch softball coaches, you aren’t off the hook either (the reasons WHY will become more clear as you work through this post).

Without further adieu, the RANT…

Right off the bat (pun intended), I’m going to pick a fight with the following statement, getting the panties of some coaches in a bunch, as we talk about baseball hitting drills for kids – so here goes.  Drum roll please…

 

Teaching Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids To Primarily Hit Ground Balls Is Dumb

This baseball hitting drills for kids RANT has been brewing in me for some time now, and it came to a boil when I promoted the BackSpin batting tee swing experiment blog post on Facebook, titled Baseball Batting Cage Drills: A Quick Way To Hit Less Ground-balls

You can CLICK HERE to read all the “classic” Facebook comments posted to the BackSpin Tee promo.  A flood of baseball hitting drills for kids Facebook comments came in, mostly from coaches…

  • High School to College…
  • Baseball to softball…

All chiming in about how lovely it is to teach their hitters to hit the ball on the ground.  And claiming how terrible of an idea the Backspin Tee is promoting more productive batted balls in the air. And like I mentioned in the preface above, a line drive is a ball in the air!  They had MANY objections:

  • How many games they’ve won with grounders,
  • How fielding percentage is way lower than fly-balls,
  • That it’s much easier to catch a fly ball,
  • How great outfielders track fly balls,
  • How more can go wrong with the defense keeping the ball on the ground,
  • If their team hit more grounders, then they’d score more runs,
  • How some of the most winningest coaches in college baseball history, Gordie Gillespie and Augie Garrido as examples, stress keeping the ball on the ground to their hitters,
  • How you HAVE TO TEACH a 5’6″, 135-pound High School hitter to hit the ball on the ground because his batted ball distance maxes out at 250-feet!  And,
  • How even pro coaches and “great hitting instructors” never promote hitting fly-balls.

Does that about cover ALL the objections for WHY hitting a ground-ball is far superior than putting a ball in the air?

Baseball Hitting Drills for Kids: On Path Bottom Half

On Path, Bottom Half image courtesy: Backspintee.com

Before I get to addressing the above objections with my infamous (more than famous) Bruce Lee one-inch punch, I wanted bring this to your attention first…

 

You Don’t Put Backspin on a Ball by Swinging Down

Some, not all, of these Facebook comments shared how to put consistent backspin on the ball by swinging down on it.

The keyword in question here is “consistent” backspin.  And we’re talking hardball and fast-pitch here, NOT slow pitch.  By the way, did you know hitters can put too much backspin on the ball?  It’s called a popup!  We want the right amount.

These knucklehead coaches even go so far as to believe that young hitters HAVE TO swing down on the ball to get backspin because they’re not “strong enough” to put backspin on it like Major League hitters!!

Buahahahaha!

Watch the 2014 MLB All-Star home-run derby highlights, and note which part of the ball these guys are hitting (top half or bottom half?)

As the Backspin Tee guys say, “on-path bottom-half” is the answer.  NEWS FLASH!  This is just as true for young small hitters, as it is for MLB hitters.  It’s written into the rules of Physics.  Can’t break those rules if you’re on earth, sorry.  And if YOU STILL don’t believe me, read this MLB article titled, “Jon Lester Shows Importance Of Launch Angle”. The article goes into to say how Lester ranks second among Major League hitting pitchers with an average Ball Exit Speed of 92.5-mph.

So, what’s the problem?  Quoted from the article:

“…(He ended up with four hits on the season in 71 plate appearances, a .065/.108/.065 line.) Part of it is that, like many pitchers, contact was an issue — Lester’s 42.3 percent strikeout rate was above the 37.7 percent average for pitchers.”

How could Lester hit the ball so hard without finding much hitting success?  Again, quoted from the article:

“…it’s because 19 of Lester’s 24 tracked batted balls failed to get above 7 degrees of launch angle. Sixteen of those 19 failed to even achieve positive launch angle, which is to say that he pounded the ball into the ground constantly.”

In other words, to get the ball in the air, the hitter MUST have a positive launch angle. 10+ degrees as a matter of fact.  According to Rob Arthur, author from FiveThirtyEight:

“The effect of speed [running] starts to fade only when launch angles exceed 10-degrees, as exit velocity starts to take over as the biggest determinant of a batted ball’s fate.”

 

Did you catch that? Some coaches out there will teach their faster hitters to put the ball on the ground.  Why?  So they can beat out more ground-balls to infielders, they reason.  Why not teach faster hitters optimized launch angles, to turn singles into doubles, doubles into triples, and triples into inside-the-park homers?

Another valuable thing about optimizing launch angles, and lack of running speed, I was working with a 14-year-old young man, and he ran like he was pulling a tractor tire.  In the beginning, he was behind in Ball Exit Speed for his age (double negative!!), so guess what we worked on?  RIGHT-O!!  Optimizing his launch angles.  It was a quick fix that got him immediate results, until we got his Ball Exit Speeds caught up…and that they eventually did.

One last thing about baseball hitting drills for kids, Aaron Miles, who played 12 years of professional baseball (9 years in the Big Leagues with White Sox, Cardinals, Rockies, and Dodgers), told me these downward swing path hitters got weeded out by AA-ball.  By the way, Aaron Miles is 5’7″, 180-lbs, which is impressive that with his size he competed for 9 Major Leagues seasons and did quite well.  You don’t play that long in the Big Leagues, with his size, UNLESS you’re doing something right.  Success leaves clues right?!

Am I making myself clear on this ‘down swinging’ backspin issue?  Negative launch angles equate to negative playing time on the field.  Before I karate chop the baseball hitting drills for kids coaching objections above,  I wanted to get something else off my hairy chest first…

 

Hitting Ground-balls have their Place

…in situational hitting, which depending on the game, can make up less than 10-15% of a team’s at-bats.  Of course, we don’t want to put a ball in the air on a hit-and-run or with a slap hit.  That’s dumb.  Even I know that.

Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids: Launch Angle Diagram

Launch angle diagram comparing ground-balls to balls-in-the-air. Baseball hitting drills for kids infographic courtesy of the Colorado Rockies and the guys from BackSpinTee.com.

What I have a baseball hitting drills for kids beef with are coaches teaching hitters to hit the ball on the ground…ALL THE TIME!

As I mentioned before, DID YOU KNOW…line drives are balls in the air?  I said it again!!  Doesn’t take a physics professor to see that.

And if you forget every word in this Ground-ball Rant, then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember the following words that are coming from my brain to fingers to keyboard…

 

Pitchers Want Hitters Hitting the Ball on the Ground!

What vertical part of the zone do pitching coaches teach their pitchers to primarily use?  “Keep the ball down!”…is what they say.  Now, what part of the ball are pitchers HOPING hitters hit by keeping the ball down?

That’s right!  The top half of the ball.  Because, as the Backspin Tee ‘On Path Bottom Half’ graphic shows, hitting the top half of the ball induces top spin, driving the ball into the ground.

In other words, PITCHERS WANT HITTERS TO HIT THE BALL ON THE GROUND!!!

It’s all about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.  Pitchers know that they don’t get hurt (as much) with a ground-ball than with a ball-in-the-air.  Look at the Sabermetrics, launch angles increase up in the zone, while they decrease down in the zone.  This is FACT.  So WHY the heck are hitting coaches teaching their hitters to primarily hit ground-balls?!

I seriously don’t know the answer…I’m as some would say, confused.  Or is this some LARGE conspiracy of pitching instructors undermining our hitters?  Let me give you another bit of baseball hitting drills for kids advice…don’t listen to pitching coaches teach hitting.  Unless they’re aware of the strange duality between pitching and hitting strategy.

You see, they’ve been conditioned to induce ground-balls, so whether they’re conscious about it or not, to hitters, they’re promoting the VERY THING they use to get hitters out.  Most of the pitching instructors in my area, who also teach hitting, instruct their hitters to swing down on the ball.  Coincidence?

CLICK HERE for a link to a Beyond the Boxscore article titled, “Scooter Gennett and ground balls”.  The sub-title says it all, “Scooter Gennett’s offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?”

Okay, moving on…

Before getting into Jean Claude Van Damme round-house kicking those ground-ball teaching batting coach arguments included at the beginning of this post, I want you to answer the following question…

Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

Let’s wet the whistle with a FanGraphs.com article titled, “Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher”.  This article is an interesting MUST READ for all.  However, one graphic I wanted to draw your attention to, is this one:

Fangraphs Ground ball Metrics

AVG = Batting Average, ISO = “Isolated Slugging%” or Raw Power, & wOBA = weighted On-Base AVG. Baseball hitting drills for kids graph compliments of FanGraphs.com

What’s obvious in the results for each type of ball in play, is the value of the Line Drive (highlighted in yellow).  I think even “Pro-Ground-ballers” agree that the line drive is the way to go.

But if given a choice to pick the lesser of two evils, the Pro-Ground-ball coach will unanimously pick the ground-ball.

But look at the difference in productivity between the Ground-ball and Fly-ball…

  • A 32-point increase in Batting Average with Ground-ball over a Fly-ball, however
  • A 358-point INCREASE in ISO (or raw power) with Fly-balls over Ground-balls…AND
  • A 115-point INCREASE in weighted On-Base Average with Fly-Balls over Ground-balls, which according to FanGraphs.com,

“Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.”

Well Fly-balls, it’s unanimous…2 out of 3 will get you in the Hall Of Fame 😛 lol

Also, since we’re on the subject, check out this Launch Angle infographic of Bryce Harper that was posted by @PinkmanBaseball:

Oh HAPPY DAY!

Key in on Bryce Harper’s offensive productivity from 10 to 30-degrees of Launch Angle!  Did you pick up on the KEY message?  Killed two birds with one stone there…

  • Key Message #1: This shows hitters aren’t productive unless they’re swinging UP to the ball (not down)…
  • Key Message #2: And if a 9-degree Launch Angle, or less (see ‘Backspin’ image #2 above), is a ground-ball, WATCH how B. Harper’s average AND power numbers skyrocket once he gets to over a 10-degree Launch Angle.

Situational hitting aside, remind me again WHY we’re teaching baseball hitting drills for kids that promote grounders?  So far, I hope this has helped the ‘fence-sitters’ see the light.  Now, let’s zero in on those not even close to the fence.  You know who you are.  I may not get you over to the ‘Light Side’ reading this whole post…

BUT,

The information will fester in a Fixed Mindset brain, like an open wound, and with time, I’m confident you’ll make your way to the Lighter Side of effective hitting. Don’t worry, I’ll be a patient grasshopper.  I don’t care what level of play you coach.

YOU WILL BE MINE Ferris Bueller!

Onwards…

The ground-balls are gross hitting coach will go on and on about…

 

How many games they’ve won with grounders

This is a subjective statement, and an exaggeration at BEST.  First of all, show me the numbers on how many games were won with a seeing-eye single versus a double, triple, or dinger.  Give me 5-years of MLB data.  Better yet, how many “go-ahead runs” were by single or extra base hit?  I’d love to see the REAL numbers.  What is FACT, in the 2017 World Series, the Astros WOULD NOT HAVE WON by hitting a bunch of singles.

Seriously though, of all the baseball and softball games being played on the planet, how many late inning heroic game winners are being hit on the ground?  AND, of those game winning ground-balls, how many of those WERE INTENDED to be on the ground by the hitter and/or coach?

Let’s get personal with you coaches who obsessively LOVE GAME WINNING SINGLES ON THE GROUND, here’s what I want you to do…track your game winning hits, and report back.  Don’t cheat though, and fudge the numbers to save face.  My hypothesis is, ground-balls WILL NOT be the number one game winning or “go-ahead run” vehicle.  I’ve seen too many game winning balls-in-the-air (line drives and fly-balls), in my playing career, to accept that ground-balls get the job done better.

The ground-ball obsessed coaches, go on and on about…

 

How ground-ball fielding percentage is way lower than with fly-balls

This statement proves a statistically flawed argument.  Here’s the information that we need to put it to the test:

The New York Mets infield plays a defensive shift against Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The New York Mets infield plays a defensive shift against Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Baseball hitting drills for kids photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

  • Total number of ground-balls hit in latest MLB season, and
  • Total number of  fly-balls hit in latest MLB season.

I’m willing to bet, there were WAY more ground-balls hit than fly-balls.  More statistical data points translate to lower overall averages.  And the reverse is typically true of less statistical information.

Riddle me this,

…if fielding percentages for outfielders are higher, then WHY don’t we teach our pitchers to pitch to the top of zone, than the bottom?  Doesn’t that sound logical?…“Hey, if our outfielders are the better fielders, then get hitters to hit more balls to them.”

Here’s what I thought up ALL BY MYSELF, there are FIVE fielding infielders (including the pitcher), and only THREE outfielders.  There’s more space in the outfield and less fielders…WHY don’t we hit it out there?  Even my four year old can see the superiority in that baseball hitting drills for kids strategy.

One of my readers Brian Ingram, shared this:

“Just read the article about the flawed ground ball approach and wanted to say I completely agree. also wanted to add on to the idea of 5 infielders vs 3 outfielders, (which I thought of too as soon as I read the title and was happy you touched on it) was that those 5 infielders have less total area to cover on ground balls than the 3 outfielders do on balls in the air.

And the space where ground balls get through is far smaller than the area where balls in the air go for hits. Also, like you showed in the article, ground balls are either hard or soft. Balls in the air though can be shallow line drives, deep line drives, deep fly balls, and bloop hits.

In addition, higher chance of getting on base from things like bad reads, ball getting lost in the sun or lights, wind issues, knuckling line drives, etc.

Also outfielders have a limit of the outfield fence on how far they can go back to catch a ball. Infielders don’t have to deal with those issues, which also count as hits not errors leading to the discrepancy in fielding percentage. All of those things taken into consideration leads to the conclusion that odds of reaching base safely is much high hitting the ball in the air than on the ground. All in all I loved the article and couldn’t agree more.”

Thanks for sharing that Brian (who’s applying to be in the Kinesiology Department at Fresno State in the Fall).  Also worth noting is the fact MLB teams are giving up in an infielder to the outfield to concede the ground-ball…WHY??!  Because they’re taking the easy risk ground-balls don’t do damage like an extra base hit.  Heck, you don’t have to work for NASA to figure this stuff out.

Here’s another thought to consider about this shifted infielder into the outfield…in using a defensive shift, WHY would we put an extra infielder into the outfield, if the outfielders – statistically speaking – were better at fielding?  After all, they don’t NEED anymore help, right?!

Because according to you, outfielders HAVE TO BE BETTER fielders than infielders right?  That’s what the stats tell us!!!

Yoda and The Force

Yoda (The Force) photo courtesy: BusinessInsider.com

Or how about this, since we shifted the infielder positionally into the outfield, does he/she instantaneously inherit the stellar fielding percentage of playing on the luscious outfield grass?  Sounds like “the Force” in Star Wars 😀 lol

Statistically speaking, comparing an infielders fielding percentage to an outfielders is comparing apples to oranges.  Are we done here?  Good.

The ground-ball obsessed coaches, go on and on about…

That it’s much easier to catch a fly ball

Is it?  Steps to processing a ground-ball:

  1. Field it,
  2. Throw it,
  3. Catch it.

Steps to processing a fly-ball:

  1. Move under it,
  2. Catch it.

Hey look!  One less step!  You may be onto something here…but are you?  I played the outfield from my sophomore year in High School through all 4-years at Fresno State, so I know how easy AND difficult it is.  Again, you’re one of three fielders in the biggest part of a baseball or softball field.

Ask Jose Canseco how easy it is to catch this “fly ball”:

Also, ask an infielder going back to catch a fly-ball in the shallow outfield, with a converging outfielder coming towards them, how easy catching that fly-ball is.

At Fresno State, legendary Coach Bob Bennett constantly had us working on this type of drill called “Pop-fly Priorities”. We were drilled to the point of throwing up, AND even still, occasionally the ball dropped into ‘no-man’s land’ in games.

I’d love to take the “ground-ball obsessed coach” out and hit them fly-balls, and have them track it down.  They’re much harder to track than you think.  And things move A LOT faster in the outfield, most of the time you’re on a dead sprint to get from point A to B.

And, when an outfielder makes a mistake, runners advance at least one extra base.  If infielders bobble a ball, typically, they still have time to recover and get the out.  In other words, an outfielder’s mistake is magnified.

Besides, my friends who’ve played in the Big Leagues say the outfield is where misfit infielders go, which brings the quality of overall outfield play down at the highest level.  Ask any converted outfielder how challenging it is to track a ball effectively off a bat 😉

Which leads me to,

The “Ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How great outfielders track fly balls

But you’re thinking, well, MLB and college outfielders (both baseball and softball) are great athletes, and they track and catch everything in the air.  This simply isn’t true.  They don’t.  Not even ‘cans-of-corn’ are off limits to being dropped.  Don’t believe me?  Go to YouTube and type in “mlb dropped fly ball”, and count how many, what you think are ‘cans-of-corns’, are dropped…

And for you college coaches who still don’t agree…this season, track how many balls are dropped by your outfielders this year…AND the run scoring result of that action.  Then track how many ground-balls are dropped by your infielders this year…AND the run scoring result of that action.

My point is, NOT ALL fly-balls to outfielders are caught, and when they aren’t, extra bases are taken.  Heck, extra bases are taken if an outfielder takes a bit too long fielding a line drive/ground-ball in front of them!  I know because I took plenty of extra bases on them in my time.  If an infielder drops a ball, most of the time, it’s no big deal, at least if the runner isn’t fleet of foot.  All is forgiven, minimal damage done.

Not outfielders, no-no.  The “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How more can go wrong with the defense keeping the ball on the ground

My good friend Taylor Gardner, and owner of the BackSpin batting tee, shared a CLASSIC baseball hitting drills for kids response to the aforementioned statement on Facebook (and one I echoed earlier in this post).  He said:

“Groundball supporters…why do pitchers try and keep the ball down in the zone? ……………..They WANT you to hit a groundball. If you don’t believe that, then start telling your pitchers to live about chest high in the zone and see how many pop ups you can get in the game. Ha ha…you should bring your center fielder into the infield and play with an extra infielder because you seem to be so scared of the groundballs (which are better right)?”

This is a common argument amongst Little League coaches…

“Hit the ball on the ground because the other team can’t play catch!”

But what happens when they meet a team that can play catch?  What then?  Let me give a clue…they get beat.  And IF they get a runner on base, then they’re another ground-ball away from a double play!!!  If the other team can play catch, no more getting runners on base because of errors…no more auto-runs to second after a walk.  NOTHING.  Your team is SHUT DOWN.  Did you miss that?  Let me repeat, your misled offensive strategy is SHUT DOWN.

This is WHY, when and if my 4yo son plays baseball, his team will be the most disciplined group of young men at playing catch.  If I come across YOUR ground-ball hitting team, we will CRUSH YOU.  You better have quality pitching, because YOU WILL LOSE!  And you won’t know how it happened…why it happened…or what happened.

Worst of all, your troops won’t be able to recover because you’ve taught them baseball hitting drills for kids that primarily focus on hitting the ball on the ground.  Have you ever been in a hopeless situation like that?  It’s only a matter of time, if you keep doing what you’re doing.  The sad part is if your ground-ball hitting team is lucky enough to make it to the championship game, guess what, most likely the other team will be REAL GOOD at playing catch.  What do you think will happen then?

What’s more,

Guess what happens to ground-ball fielding difficulty after graduating to the BIG field…?

  1. Infielders are deeper – increasing their fielding range,
  2. Athletes get more athletic – enabling them a farther “reach”,
  3. Players get better at playing catch (naturally course of skill acquisition), and
  4. With 90-foot bases (instead of 60 to 70-foot), fielders have more time to field, gather, and throw.  In other words, more can go wrong with fielding a ground-ball, and the defense still recording a putout because they have more time.

But you “ground-ball obsessed” Little League coaches don’t care anyway, it’ll be the next coaches problem when they get into Middle School, right?  Fastpitch softball is a little different…the young ladies will grow into the “smaller” field.  However, points ONE through THREE above still hold true.

One last baseball hitting drills for kids point I want to make on this, comes from a Beyond The Box Score article titled, “Do Hard Hit Ground Balls Produce More Errors?”   The data from the above post analysis suggests errors don’t start consistently climbing until Ball Exit Speeds (the speed of the ball coming off the bat) reaches around 95-mph.  This data comes from Major League players, by the way.

It goes to show that you have to hit the ball pretty dang hard to force the defense to make an error.  To put a 95-mph BES into perspective, this ball has the ability to travel 380-feet with an optimal ball launch angle (1-mph of BES = 4-feet of distance).  Are your High School hitters hitting even 85 to 90-mph Ball Exit Speeds in games?  If not, then maybe you should re-work your ground ball hitting strategy.

The other thing I’ve heard from ground-ball obsessed coaches is, “Well, you can’t get a bad hop in the air.” Really!?  So you’re banking winning versus losing on something out of your control?  In other words, you’re “hoping” and “praying” for the ground-balls your hitters hit to take a bad hop?!  That’s laughable.  Errors are a gift, not something you should expect.  And at the higher levels, there are less “gifts”.  The best coaches (and players) don’t focus baseball hitting drills for kids on the uncontrollable.  Adapt or die.

You gotta check out this post titled, “The Shocking Mistake Killing Run Production (MUST Read For Ground-ball Hitting Coaches): Ground-ball Hitting Approaches May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Producing MASSIVE Runs”

The “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

How some of the most winningest coaches in college baseball history, Gordie Gillespie and Augie Garrido stress keeping the ball on the ground to their hitters

MANHATTAN, KS - APRIL 26: Head coach Augie Garrido of the Texas Longhorns looks out onto the field from the dugout during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Tointon Stadium April 26, 2008 in Manhattan, Kansas. Kansas State defeated Texas 4-1. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

MANHATTAN, KS – APRIL 26: Head coach Augie Garrido of the Texas Longhorns looks out onto the field from the dugout during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Tointon Stadium April 26, 2008 in Manhattan, Kansas. Kansas State defeated Texas 4-1. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

This is where I really get fired up because this kind of baseball hitting drills for kids statement is:

  1. A “That Guy” type of comment,
  2. Dumb.

It’s a great example of making a blanket statement WITHOUT knowing who you’re talking to.  What’s interesting to note is after this person said this, and I responded with the following, they never responded back.

Now, I can’t speak for Coach Gordie Gillespie, but here’s my connection to Coach Augie Garrido…Coach Garrido played for Fresno State (my alma matar) back when Coach Pete Beiden was the head coach.  I believe, Coach Garrido also played with Coach Bob Bennett (but I could be wrong there), who was my coach the first three years I played at Fresno State.

Whether he played with Bennett or not, Coach Garrido learned from Beiden, just as Bennett did.  So having never played for Garrido, I have a pretty good idea that Coach Beiden rubbed off on Garrido as he did on Bennett.

And Coach Bennett, NEVER told us, in the three years I played for him (and even me – a smaller hitter), to ever hit the ball on the ground…UNLESS I was popping up to much, which is adjustment advice.  OR for situational hitting.

So my baseball hitting drills for kids hypothesis with Coach Garrido would echo the same Bennett-Beiden philosophy. I don’t think Coach Garrido compiled a collegiate record of 1950-919-9, and has taken his teams to 15 College World Series primarily by instructing his hitters to hit the ball on the ground.

Somebody close to Coach Garrido, ask him, and get back to me…PLEASE!  I’m dying to be proven wrong.  Besides, head coaches in the college and professional ranks are generalist.  Let me clarify this, they typically don’t meddle in hitting or pitching aspects with a fine tooth comb.  They have assistant coaches whose job it is to do that.  In 3-years, I can count on one hand how many times Coach Bennett gave me hitting advice.

Head coaches should be like the CEO of a corporation…their concern is with big picture strategies, not on how TPS Reports are suppose to be written.  Well, I commend you for making it this far!  Either you’re:

  • NOT one of the “ground-ball obsessed coaches” anymore, OR
  • You’re ONE for a beating! lol

I assure you this rant is almost over, just a few more Karate chops I need to issue…the “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How you HAVE TO TEACH a 5’6″, 135-pound High School hitter to hit the ball on the ground because his batted ball distance maxes out at 250-feet!

Baseball Hitting Drills for Kids: Orin Hirschkorn 300-Foot Homer

Text from dad after 11yo son Orin hit a 300-foot bomb, weighing in at 98-pounds.

I’d LOVE to see the look on the face of the High School coach that said this, after I told him on Facebook that I have multiple 11yo hitters that hit the ball consistently over 300-feet, and get this, they did it while weighing less than 100-pounds…AND not just once, but multiple times!!

I’m sure the look was precious.  Obviously, this coach isn’t teaching effective baseball hitting drills for kids, and doesn’t know any better.  You don’t know what you don’t know, right?  There are certain things, mechanically speaking, that directly influence consistent power, hitting more line drives, and being on-time more often.  Success leaves clues, and we can train it all.

I don’t care the size of the hitter, I’m going to teach them all how to drive the ball.  It’s another tool for their tool belt.  Besides, Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan told me in a phone conversation that bat speed is a better indicator of batted ball distance than body mass.

Yes, a smaller hitter’s role on the team may require them to be better at putting down a sacrifice bunt, hit-and-run, and/or slap hit (especially if they’re faster, or left handed), but ALL hitters MUST know how to drive the ball.  Driving the ball SHOULD BE the default, NOT hitting the ball on the ground.

Look, there are thousands of ways to teach baseball hitting drills for kids.  Just like you can eat soup with a spoon, fork, or knife, but only one tool is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  Stick to applying human movement principles validated by REAL science, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”, to hitting a ball, and your hitters will get predictably positive results.

And last, but certainly not least…the “ground-ball obsessed coaches”, go on and on about…

 

How even pro coaches and “great hitting instructors” never promote hitting fly-balls

This statement is also subjective.  Please define “great hitting instructors”.  Does what Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols say about hitting make them a great hitting instructor?  Did Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn do a COMPLETE job of analyzing in retrospect, how they did what they did?  Ted Williams came close, but still was quite far from filling in between the lines.

How about Dusty Baker in his hitting book.  Mike Schmidt? Charlie Lau?  Look, I’m not putting down any of these legendary people, but we have to have a higher standard than just somebody’s hitting “philosophy” or “bro-science”.  We have to teach human movement principles that are validated by REAL science, to hitting a ball.

Simple as that.

So, my first baseball hitting drills for kids question to you is, if you believe the above statement, then whose kool-aid are you drinking?  Who do you consider a “great hitting instructor”?  And last time I checked on FanGraphs, Ted Williams, Pujols, A-Rod, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Bautista, and Donaldson ARE NOT trying to hit the ball on the ground.  Don’t believe me? Look at their ground-ball, line drive, fly ball, and home-run to fly-ball ratios.  I guarantee you’ll see ALL of them being below average in their ground-balls rates, while being above average in the others.

Please check…I’ll wait.  Oftentimes, what Major League hitters say they’re doing is not what we see them do on slow motion analysis.  What’s real and what’s feel are two totally different things.  I GUARANTEE, most of the effective hitting gurus online, are telling their hitters to drive the ball IN THE AIR with AUTHORITY.  Again, that includes line drives.

Wayne Gretzky looking to pass

Wayne Gretzky image courtesy: http://forum.mmatd.com/

So you can keep telling yourself these baseball hitting drills for kids stories (i.e. the “ground-ball obsessed coaching” statements above), and get mediocre results with your hitters…

Or you can follow what Hockey great Wayne Gretzky says,

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Teaching baseball hitting drills for kids to primarily hit ground-balls is ‘where the puck is.” Teaching them to hit the ball in the air is ‘where the puck is going to be’.

Think it’s impossible for young hitters to learn?  You’re wrong.  You may not know how to teach baseball hitting drills for kids to optimize launch angles.  And that’s okay!  Get educated.  Don’t be an armchair quarterback.  Opinions are NOT facts.

Don’t be afraid of setting young hitters up for failure in teaching them to hit more line drives.  Shoot for the stars to land in the clouds.  Have a higher standard for your hitters. In Pre-Kindergarten, my 5-year-old son’s teachers are getting him ready for Kindergarten.  THE NEXT LEVEL!  Coaches MUST do the same!  Stretching requires some pain, but it’s how we grow.

And if you’re not growing, you’re dying.  Swallow your pride, and come over to the Light Side!