Timing Question Answered About How To Get Kids Consistently On Time In Games

This week I want to share a question that Keith Soldra, one of my coaches, had for me in a recent survey.  Keith is a private hitting instructor who teaches both baseball and softball hitters.  Take it away Coach…

How to get kids consistently on time in games. Most are consistent in a lesson/practice but are struggling to transition that to game ABs. I’ve used the two plate drill, a check swing drill, varying speeds in front toss, throwing live from different distances, the pitching machine, wiffle balls, etc…. I’ve even suggested having their eyes checked. LOL. Still in games they tend to get anxious and everything they’ve learned goes out the window. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the great work Coach!!!”

Fantastic feedback Coach.  You’ve definitely been doing more about this than most, who don’t believe timing can be taught by the way!  Let’s first breakdown how to transition practice swings into game ones…

Whenever there’s a hitting challenge that pops up, whether it’s mechanical or mental, I go to the principles.

PLEASE NOTE: principles are guidelines, then it’s important to channel your inner creativity to solve the problem.  Not using principles is like the following statement:

“Using video analysis WITHOUT setting human movement priorities is like shooting an arrow randomly and calling whatever target you hit.”

I’m a private instructor too, and here are some thing that may be jamming the signal (that I hear from my own players and parents) you’re giving to your hitters because it sounds like you’re pulling the right strings:

  • Coaches not reinforcing what you’re teaching,
  • Coaches using bad cues like “get your front foot down early”, and
  • Players NOT getting their 4 to 5 hitting homework days in on their own at home…

Unfortunately the instructor cannot control any of these.  We can influence, but not control.  But let’s assume the opposite of the above points is true…

 

What is a Coach or Instructor to do About Transitioning Timing, Mechanics, Mental Processes (Approach), etc. into Games?

Here are 12 critical points I’d start with…

  1. What ARE the Sticky Coaching principles that would help solve transitioning practice into games? Answer? 8 Scientific Principles of Successful Learning
  2. Here’s Why Coaches SHOULD NOT Engage in Block Practice…and MUST “Train Ugly” – this is a BIG one!  “Random” Practice is more challenging, will make more mistakes, will be uglier, better for us, prepares us better for game situations.
  3. In this video post, we discuss: over-coaching OR giving instruction during games, promoting focused quality OR unfocused quantity swings at practices, and training timing, plate discipline, and pitch recognition.
  4. The Ugly Truth About Video Gaming, What It Means To The Youth Hitting Industry, & How To Fix… – this post will help coaches aid players and parents on practicing their hitting “homework” at home
  5. Discover Science of Successful Learning Secret To Fix Lunging (or any swing flaw for that matter!) – in this post we discuss: reader question about lunging, talk about “Bean Bag” study from Make It Stick book, WHY we separate PROCESS from PERFORMANCE with hitters learning something new, takes time to change ineffective movement momentum into effective, and training 4-5 days per week, for AT LEAST 5-mins each day.
  6. How To Train 2-Year-Old To Hit A Moving Ball – in this post we’ll discuss: What science of learning says, and regression to progression models for teaching.
  7. Here’s a glimpse of how I teach a one-on-one lesson: https://hittingperformancelab.com/dramatically-cut-hitters-learning-curve-in-half/
  8. How You Can Teach Effective Hitting Mechanics Almost Instantly – in this post we’ll breakdown: Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch, breaking down drill progressions, mindset when working on something new, transitioning practice into game swings, and player’s homework for home.
  9. How To Turn No Improvement Into Outstanding Results – in this post we’ll talk about: Improvement depends on these 5 things, AND How many swings are too much & not enough?
  10. 17 Little Known Ways to Optimize Learning at Home – I’ve done a tremendous amount of research and study into the science of successful learning since 2013, and wanted to share 17 quick down-and-dirty tips with you.
  11. What Every Coach Must Know About Giving Feedback To Hitters – this is a fantastic self evaluation post answering the following three questions: Do you give verbal feedback between each swing? OR, wait till the end of a round?  2. Do you use internal cues like a focus on the feet?  OR, focus on external ones outside the feet?  3.  Do you physically move the player into a better position yourself?
  12. How-To Make Changes & Get Results Faster Coaching Baseball – in this post we’ll talk about:of “massed practice” to long-term learning, fine art of variance as a teaching tool, and how to infuse variance into hitting practices.

Ultimately, my favorite sticky learning principle for timing is variance…also known as random training, training ugly, or chaos training.  We use much of what Coach Keith has done:

  • 2 or 3-plate drill (hitter switches plates set at different distances for a specified amount of swings),
  • Random pitches drill (mixing curveballs and fastballs – approach based),
  • We pick different pitch zone locations to hunt (up/down/in/out),
  • We hit using different bat sizes, weights, end loaded/balanced, skinny diameter (stick), short/long, etc.
  • We hit different ball sizes, weights, and colors, and
  • We started using the ‘showing numbers’ technique as a trigger for the turn, timing it according to different pitching tempo (i.e. windup v. slide step).

I tell my hitters that hitting MUST be harder in the cage than it is on the field.  Use that frustration experienced to grow using a combination of these elements.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

“Hitter Does NOT Keep Head In During Swing & Pulling Their Head Out Before Contact Is Even Made”

 

That’s a comment someone made about one of their biggest frustrations with hitting right now.  The above video will fix it!  A BIG thank you to Coach Matt Nokes for this!

Swinging Across the Face Drill

Swing ‘chasing your face’ VERSUS swinging ‘across your face’. Photo courtesy: ME!!

The following is the bullet point outline to the above video…ENJOY!

 

Swinging Across Face Drill

In this drill video, we discuss:

  • Define Swinging Across Face v. Chasing Face,
  • Where eyes go, head follows, and where head goes, body follows,
  • Process v. Performance,
  • Over-swinging and control, and
  •  Regression-progressions:
    • Beginner – Dry and tee swings
    • Intermediate – Soft toss and LIVE swings
    • Advanced – LIVE swings, 2-plate, random pitch

Is There A Point At Which Doing Less (But Thinking More) Will Actually Produce Better Outcomes?

Photo courtesy: TechGenMag.com

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Coach Bill Masullo sent me an email this week tapping into his network of coaches to answer the following question (btw, I did a couple interviews with him here AND here)

“I had a young coach ask me a question, regarding player commitment during the season…my question is how do you influence or address player motivation?

The short answer?  Priorities.

The following content draws from quotes in the book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown.  I highly recommend reading or listening to it.

What is Essentialism?

“Is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.  Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, of those things almost effortless.”

Questions ARE POWERFUL.

So much so, that Tony Robbins highlighted their importance saying something to the effect of…“The quality of your life originates from the quality of questions you ask.”  

I think coaches, instructors, parents, AND athletes lose a sense of their biggest priorities in life, and is the #1 reason I’ve decided to take the majority of my hitting business online, rather than run a brick-and-mortar facility.

Please note, below you’ll find the word “Question” in bold, so you can skip to them.  Yes, I know the essence of some questions below seem similar, but sometimes the same question asked in a different way turns the light bulb “on”.  Enjoy!

  1. Question: Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?
  2. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
  3. Question: What would happen if we could figure out the one thing you could do that would make the highest contribution?
  4. Question: Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?
  5. We are looking for our highest level of contribution: the right thing the right way at the right time
  6. Question: If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?
  7. Question: Is there a point at which doing more does not produce more?  Is there a point at which doing less (but thinking more) will actually produce better outcomes?
  8. Working hard is important. But more effort does not necessarily yield more results. “Less but better” does.
  9. Sometimes what you don’t do is more important than what you do.
  10. By creating space to think and focus, students can step back to see more clearly.
  11. In order to have focus we need to escape to focus.
  12. Whether you can invest two hours a day, two weeks a year, or even just five minutes every morning, it is important to make space to escape in your busy life.
  13. In every set of facts, something essential is hidden.
  14. He was listening more for what was not being said.
  15. Question: …the question you should be asking yourself is not “What, of my list of competing priorities, should I say yes to?”  Instead, ask the essential question: “What will I say no to?”
  16. Question: If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?
  17. But when people make their problem their problem, we aren’t helping them; we’re enabling them…he doesn’t have a problem because you have taken it from him.
  18. Question: What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you? By systematically identifying and removing this “constraint” you’ll be able to significantly reduce the friction keeping you from executing what is essential.
  19. This approach goes beyond just solving problems; it’s a method of reducing your efforts to maximize your results.
  20. Question: What is the obstacle that , if removed, would make the majority of other obstacles disappear?
  21. *So we introduced a token system.  The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week.  These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week, adding up to $5 or five hours of screen time a week.  If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token, which could also be traded in for screen time or for money.  The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90-percent, reading went up by the same amount, and the overall effort we had to put into policing the system went way, way down…the key is to start small, encourage progress, and celebrate small wins.
  22. Multitasking itself is not the enemy of Essentialism; pretending we can “multi-focus” is…what we can’t do is concentrate on two things at the same time.
  23. After a moment of reflection I realized that until I knew what was important right now, what was important right now was to figure out what was important right now!
  24. Question: What do you need to do to be able to go to sleep peacefully?
  25.  Choosing to regularly spend a whole day on that day’s priority, even if it means doing nothing else on my to-do list.
  26. …know of someone who visits cemeteries around the world when he travel.  I thought this was odd at first, but now I realize that this habit keeps his own mortality front and center.

*This is a great strategy, and one I wanted to include here.  It’s less philosophy, and more application.  My wife and I do something similar with our kids using a “sticker” system.  They earn stickers for doing certain things (productive age appropriate things), and can spend them on getting a toy (within financial reason) after earning 10 of them.  This works fantastically well for motivating young humans…

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  This was a man who understood priorities.  Do you?

The NEW Way Pitchers Are Getting Hitters Out That May Be Hiding Under Your Nose…

Know WHY, according to Baseball-Reference.com, strikeouts (41,207) edged out hits (41,018) in the Big Leagues in 2018?  In my opinion, the above MLB Tonight Brian Kenny interview of Trevor Bauer has the answers.

Carlos Pena Effective Velocity

Carlos Pena fouling a ball off in 2009. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Could it be…

  • The Launch Angle craze? Maybe…
  • Hitters just don’t care about strikeouts anymore? Maybe…
  • The front office putting higher value recruiting players based on key Sabermetrics?  Maybe.

However, in my opinion, these are all symptoms to the direct cause.  Yes, hitters are being taught that ground-balls are gross.  And since the book and movie Moneyball came out, Math revealed key metrics measuring how often:

  • A hitter gets on base, and
  • They hit for extra bases…

…are better predictors to scoring runs.  Here’s a shot across the bow for the hitting coaches…

Back to the Trevor Bauer Evolution of Metrics conversation above,

Perry Husband, of HittingIsAGuess.com, has been sharing Effective Velocity principles for almost 2 decades, and it’s finally getting people’s attention.  WHY?  Because more and more pitchers are starting to apply the timing disruption principles.  Unlike golf, timing is a MAJOR factor in how consistently hard a hitter hits the ball.  And it’s THIS factor of a hitter’s success that’s under MAJOR attack.

Do you think I’m exaggerating?  Read on, because Perry, myself, and many others see the writing on the wall…remember when Wayne Gretzky so famously said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

I speak to MANY MANY coaches, and a majority of them, are disgusted with the sheer number of offensive strikeouts over the last few years, so their solution is to teach a defensive “just get on base” swing.  Are you kidding?!  More pitchers are throwing 96-mph+ at the higher levels nowadays, they LOVE facing hitters being taught a defensive “just get on base” swing.  And it’s not just at the highest levels, overall average velocities are going up across the board because of better training programs.

And by the way, it’s not about the higher pitching velocities per se, because we can train hitters to see faster speeds in the “lab”, making the increased game velocities “seem” slower.  That’s only one-dimension to pitching, as Trevor Bauer puts it in the interview.

It’s what pitchers are being taught to do with added velocity, manipulating hitters’ reaction times.  Don’t you see, the game is speeding up for hitters, and coaches are ill equipped to deal with the adjustment right now.  They’re running east, chasing a sunset!

Rest assured, we’re going to make a better decision and train differently.  Coaches, you’ve been WARNED.  In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • The NEW way pitchers are getting hitters out, and
  • How to counter this strategy…

 

The NEW Way Pitchers are Getting Hitters Out

Trevor Bauer & Effective Velocity

Trevor Bauer interview with Brian Kenny of MLB Network. Photo courtesy: MLB Network

Here are my notes on Trevor Bauer’s scouting report on hitters…

  • At the 40-second mark, Trevor talks about having a specific “pitch mix”.  And he adds that the delivery of that mix is different for every pitcher – how does he utilize it the best. He looks at hitter’s heat map and compares strengths and weaknesses to his “pitch mix” heat map strengths and weaknesses.  What gives a pitcher the best chance of being successful?
  • At the 2-min, 20-second mark, Brian asks Trevor about pitch sequencing – which pitch should follow the next? Taking away as many “tip-off” cues hitters use.  #1: Changing your body (i.e. tilting off while throwing a CB – mechanics have to be consistent). #2: How does the ball come out of the hand – tunneling, hitters can see “up and down” well, but not “side to side”, so he’s trying to minimize the “hump” in his pitches.  The more he can hide pitching cues, the later the hitter sees the ball, and the more likely the pitcher wins.  Neutral and clean mechanics.
  • At the 3-minute, 45-seconds mark, Trevor Bauer talks about starting off his pitches in the middle and let the movement get to the spot he’s trying to hit.  He worked on a new pitch to fill a hole in his pitching repertoire – he needed a pitch that could slide to his glove side that didn’t drop like his curveball.
  • At the 6-minute, 45-second mark, Brian asks when Trevor is getting hit, what’s the checklist he goes through to get back on track? He feels his speed differentials are off, either he’s throwing too hard or too soft, for example in early 2017 the data said he was throwing too high a percentage of hard stuff – 4/2-seam FB and cutters, and not enough slow with the CB, SL, and Change.  Once organized, hitters had a tough time. 3-Dimensional pitching approach: dealing with front to back (differing velos 95 to 85 to 78-mph), left to right (2-seam, 4-seam, cutter, slider), and up to down (4-seam, SL, and CB).

Did you catch that last bullet point?  There’s the Holy Grail of pitchers’ scouting reports right there.  Other than that, a lot of REALLY good intel in almost 9-mins, so how do hitting coaches counter this gameplan?  Take it from a hitter’s point of view, Carlos Pena, who studied under Perry Husband back in 2009, and in the following video, makes a good case to a promising counter-move…

 

How to Counter this Strategy…

Here are my notes on Carlos Pena’s scouting report on pitchers who use Effective Velocity…

  • At the 15-second mark, talks about hunting pitches, addresses the hitting myth of “looking for the ball away and react in”…pick a spot, a speed, and a rhythm to dance to, react within those parameters,
  • At the 1-minute mark, looking for ball away and reacting in would work for one maybe two-dimensional pitchers, objective is to make good contact more often, having an EV plan against a pitcher makes hitting “easier”, setting “coordinates” like latitude and longitude, and work within those parameters, having a “blast radius” and only working within those parameters, match the timing to what you’re looking for, helps hitters to lay off stuff, eliminates half to 3/4 of the strike zone when pitchers get pretty good.
  • At the 2-minute, 40-second mark, Carlos talks about his struggles at the beginning of 2009, he met Perry Husband, and he ended up leading the league in homers by the end of the season.

How To Make Knees Great Again!

Jean Claude Van Damme doing mid split in movie Lion Heart (I think). Splits are a great antidote to a fragile knee.  Photo courtesy: eljueves.es

Fragile.

What a “dumb” joint.

I heard one of my 8th grade hitters, who took a break from lessons to play football, busted his knee requiring surgery, and would be out for 6-8 weeks.

Another one of my 7th grade hitters busted his knee playing soccer, requiring minor surgery.

And yet another hitter of mine, a Junior in High School, tweaked his knee playing basketball at school, and will be undergoing an X-Ray (which will probably turn up negative), followed by an MRI to be safe.

And btw, all these hitters are smart young men, who have performed above and beyond for their age in the batter’s box.  I frequently tell my hitters, you’re no good to your team sitting on the “shelf”, so take care of your body.

So, what’s the answer?

Now, we can’t pull out ye ol’ pocket crystal ball, reveal an injury before it happens, and avoid it.  But…we…can…prevent them!  We’ll get into what we can do in a moment…but first,

Studies show today’s young athletes are sitting 80% of their day.  Athletes are specializing in one sport earlier and earlier in life.  If you read my recent post on 4 Tips On How To Train Springy Fascia, then you’ll remember the first rule of Fight Club is…ahem…training fascia is, to vary training vectors (i.e. be varied in different movement planes of motion)Healthy fascia HATES moving in the same way over and over again – like a 2yo, it gets bored easily!

On top of all that, observe the following reality about young female athletes from a New England Baptist Hospital post titled, “Why Do Female Athletes Suffer More ACL Injuries Than Males?”:

“High school female athletes in the United States suffer 20,000-80,000 ACL injuries per year. The issue isn’t only that female athletes are prone to these potentially season-ending injuries: the National Institutes of Health reports that female athletes are two to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts.”

For young female athletes, factors that contribute to this increased risk are the differences in sports undertaken and in gender anatomy and structure (duh!).  The truth is, a wider lumbo-pelvic-hip complex puts the knees in a structurally compromised position.

For all athletes, the knee is considered a “dumb” joint, oftentimes stuck, or rendered unstable, between two immobile joints – the hip and ankle.  When the “bookends” are tight, stiff, and immobile, then the knee becomes unstable or “fragile”.

So, what can we do to prevent injury, minimize damage, or treat a knee injury?  I wanted to share a list of credible FREE resources parents and coaches can use to reference for knee speed bumps…

  1.  Overcome Knee Pain: Exercises and Solutions for Crunchy Knees (Gold Medal Body Fitness)
  2. Speedy Recovery? Ice Bath Benefits Not What They Seem (Hitting Performance Lab)
  3. 5 Simple Solutions For Anterior Knee Pain (Breaking Muscle)
  4. How To Do The Splits: Proven Hip and Leg Stretches for Splits (Gold Medal Body Fitness)
  5. Are You Weak In The Knees? (Breaking Muscle)
  6. Dr. Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD is one of my favorite resources for troubleshooting injuries.  Click Here for a YouTube link to view the videos he’s done on dealing with knees.
  7. Identifying the What and Why of Valgus Collapse: Part 1: Identifying the What of Valgus Collapse (FunctionalMovement.com)
  8. CLICK HERE for a YouTube video of Charlie Weingroff demonstrating how to fix knee valgus using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).
  9. The Do’s and Don’ts of Training Squats (CharlesPoliquin.com)
  10. Building Your Arsenal: 5 Exercises for Bulletproof Knees (GymnasticBodies.com)
  11. How to build Super Knees (Forum Topic at GymnasticBodies.com)
  12. Have a favorite training website with an overwhelming amount of info on it?  Here’s a trick to filter information for what you’re looking for…go to Google, type the following into search engine: “site:<<insert actual website w/out www. here>> + keyword…for example “site:gymnasticbodies.com knees”
  13. PAY-FOR Local in-a-town-near-you Programs: Yoga and Pilates
  14. PAY-FOR Online Program #1: https://gmb.io/ff/#choose (I have no affiliation with this program)
  15. PAY-FOR Online Program #2: https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/gb-courses/stretch-series/#titleBar

If your athletes move better, then they’ll perform better.  The knee is considered a “dumb” joint, so make knees SMART (aka “antifragile”) again!

The Sooner You Know How To Train Springy Fascia The Better

I frequently get questions on how to train springy fascia. The following 4 tips from Tom Myers, author of the book Anatomy Trains, will help shed light on how to do just that. The following videos are NO MORE THAN 2-mins long each. Enjoy!

 

Tip #1: Varying Vectors

  • Includes tendons, ligaments, and fascial fabric of the body…not the same as training muscles and nerves.
  • Vary the vectors – difference between working on gym machines v. Rope systems, throwing things, etc.
  • Machines are good for rehabbing muscles, but don’t prepare you for life’s movement challenges.

How does this apply to hitters?

Tom Myers Anatomy Trains: Image of Fascia Stretching

How to train springy fascia. Image is of fascia stretching. Photo courtesy: Tom Myers Anatomy Trains YouTube

Functional training in the weight room is great for this. Squatting, lunging, hip hinging, twisting, rolling, crawling, single leg hopping, single arm pressing, horizontal pushing, vertical pushing, horizontal pulling, vertical pulling.

Training on different planes: Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse. Some of the best environments for varying training vectors are Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Dance, Rock Climbing, Yoga, Pilates, and playing on the playground bars.

A quick tip for training this when hitting would be to do the reverse strike zone drill, where the hitter has to swing at pitches outside the strike zone, and take anything in the zone.

Also, CLICK HERE for a great how to train springy fascia YouTube resource of exercises from David Weck at the WeckMethod using the Rotational Movement Club (RMT).

 

Tip #2: Lengthening (Stretch)

  • If trying to lengthen fascia, then to be safe, lengthen slowly. Slow sustained stretching like you’d find in Yoga, this avoids damaging the fascia.
  • Fascia isn’t well vasculated, meaning blood doesn’t move to and through fascia very well, so repair of fascial tears takes a lot of time to heal. Muscles regenerate after 90-days, but ligaments can take over 200-days!!
  • If you want to stretch the fascia, then think Yoga or Tai Chi speeds. NOT athletic speeds.

How does this apply to hitters?

Studies show today’s athletes are sitting 80% of their day, so again, Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Dance, and Rock Climbing are great counter-balancers to this reality. Long slow stretching in the mid-split, front split, and stretching associated with handstand work are great for young athletes spending a lot of time with their seat on a seat, and spilling their brain out on mobile devices developing “text neck”.

 

Tip #3: Hydration

  • Most important that fascia gets hydrated…did you know your Achilles tendon is 63% water?
  • Hydrating fascia IS NOT necessarily about how many bottles of water you drink.
  • The question is, does water get to specific bottlenecked areas of fascial fabric in the body, such as the Achilles tendon. Hydration matters – where the water you drink gets to.
  • “Squeezing the sponge” – big muscular effort helps this, Fascial rolling using a Self-Myofascial Release tool (SMR), self or professional massage, Rolfing.

How does this apply to hitters?

A couple things…

  1. Young athletes MUST drink water, how much? According to world renowned strength and conditioning Coach Charles Poliquin, take half their body-weight, add 30%, and drink that in ounces. A 100-lb player for example, 100-lbs/2 = 50 X 30% = 15 + the halved 50 = 65-ounces of water throughout the day (that’s about FIVE 12-ounce bottles of water).
  2. Remember, what matters is WHERE the water you drink gets to. The best speedy recovery principle to “squeeze the sponge”? Click for this post, “Speedy Recovery? Ice Bath Benefits Not What They Seem”, and
  3. CLICK HERE for a SMR foam rolling routine video I did a few years back.

 

Tip #4: Elasticity (Bounce)

  • Stretch-shortening cycle – we stretch out the muscle to get it to contract (shorten). Fascia works the same way.
  • We can encourage and cultivate elasticity in fascia. Elasticity is a property of youthful tissue. If baby falls down stairs, they bounce. Grandma falls down stairs, she doesn’t bounce.
  • Ballistic stretching. Rhythmic motions such as running, jogging, jumping rope, etc…cultivate “bounce” within a 0.8 to 1.2 second stretch-shortening cycle.  This is the opposite of Yoga and Tai Chi speeds.

How does this apply to hitters?

If you want the fascia to perform, then we have to do rhythmically bouncy movements where the stretch-shortening cycle lasts between 0.8 to 1.2 seconds. Running, jump rope, jogging, skipping, single leg hopping, etc.

I’m beginning to sharpen my thoughts on this as it pertains to the Catapult Loading System. I used to teach the hitter had an option to start in the CLS position, in the stance like Hunter Pence, then hold and maintain until stride landing. But now I’m reconditioning my hitters to do a later CLS move (during the forward momentum phase), and to bounce from that into the turn. Miggy, Trout, Khris Davis are great examples of this. As a matter of fact, most elite hitters you see using the CLS, time the move with a bounce into the turn.

What’s funny is, this post has been “bouncing” around in my head the past week (pun intended), and speak of the devil, my good golfing friend Lee Comeaux recently text me a new-to-me resource for training springy fascia. It’s called the Rotex Motion (YouTube channel). Some cool stuff there!

How To Find Baseball Or Fastpitch Softball “Hitting Instructors Near Me”Hitting Instructors Near Me

Do you consider yourself openly honest and transparent?  If so, then I need your help instructors!

One of the biggest questions I get from readers is:

“How do I find baseball or softball hitting instructors near me that teach what you teach at the Hitting Performance Lab?”

In some cases, I have go-to instructors like Josh Copeland in GA, Jim Ambrosius in Jersey, or Taylor Gardner in OK.  But for most cases, I have no clue.  So I’m putting together an Excel spreadsheet of coaches to be a solution to: “How do I find baseball or softball hitting instructors near me?”

NOTE to Searching Parents

The list will be continually updated and trimmed.  Just like eBay, buyers are protected from BAD sellers with the help of buyer feedback.  That’s WHY it’s CRITICAL you provide us with that same kind of honest and transparent feedback on the “hitting instructors near me” coaches.  For that, you can contact us here.  OR, you can post your “review” below in the comments section. Also note, if there are no “hitting instructors near me” yet, then please feel free to look into our online hitting lesson program The Feedback Lab.

That being said, Click the “GET ACCESS NOW!” button below to access the spreadsheet…

My advice to filter the results is to hold down “control + F” to open the “Find” function on your PC, and type in the desired city or state, and press “enter”.  For example, try typing “California” or “CA”.  I’m not sure how to do that on a Mac, so please Google it.

NOTE to Instructors

If you’re openly honest and transparent, and support the human movement principles validated by REAL Science, then YOU WILL be rewarded with more local hitting lessons.  You’re welcome 😉  That being said, if we get an email or public review in comments down below claiming “bait & switch”, then we reserve the right to remove you from the list.  Instructors, please Click the “FILL OUT FORM” link below to fill out the form…

THANK YOU in advance!

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.
Khris Davis Swing Analysis

Ball Exit Speed & Launch Angle Hacking With Khris Davis [Part-2]

 

Khris Davis swing analysis, and not to be confused with “Chris” Davis, the 1st baseman for the Baltimore Orioles! …they’re having two COMPLETELY different years 😛 lol

Khris Davis Swing Analysis

Khris Davis swing analysis stride landing position photo courtesy: MLB.com

This Khris Davis swing analysis is Part-2 to our series looking at one my 9yo online lessons, Ethan.  In case you missed it, here you go:

  1. Ethan case study The Feedback Lab online hit training video,
  2. Khris Davis swing analysis video [YOU ARE HERE],
  3. How to drills to fix (COMING SOON).

In the above Khris Davis swing analysis video, we’re going to look at:

  • Khris Davis stat analysis comparing 2015 & 2016 seasons to 2018,
  • Khris Davis swing analysis comparing 2015 & 2018 swings (when things seemed to have changed), and
  • Human movement principles 9yo Ethan is working on that Khris Davis does well.

 

Khris Davis Stat Analysis Comparing 2015 & 2016 seasons to 2018

I wanted to share a recent and insightful Beyond The Box Score post on Khris Davis’s 2018 season titled: “Khris Davis is swimming against the current: As home runs continue to decline this season, Davis has counteracted the trend”

From the article, and since 2016, Khris Davis has improved tremendously, and here are just a few highlights:

  • 2016 avg. Launch Angle = 12.9 degrees…2018 avg. Launch Angle =  17.7 degrees, and
  • 2016 avg. Ball Exit Speed = 91.7-mph…2018 avg. Ball Exit Speed = 92.7-mph.

I think everyone understands how important hitting the ball hard is, but a lot out there are rejecting Launch Angles!  They matter, check out this “Parabolic motion – range of a projectile” video (thanks Lee!)

 

Optimized is key!  Goldilocks golden rule, not too high, not to low…just right!

Furthermore,

Khris Davis is someone who has been good at hitting despite, as some will say, being poorly built for it – he’s 5-foot, 10-inches, 195-pounds. Compare him to Aaron Judge who’s 6-foot, 7-inches, and 282-pounds.

What’s also telling, according to Fangraphs.com, Khris Davis has steadily moved away from hitting ground-balls, pulling the ball less, and built a more frequent opposite field hitting approach.  Compare 2015 to 2018 (stats experiencing most significant impact):

  1. 2015: GB% = 42.5%,
  2. 2018: GB% = 36.1%
  3. 2015: Pull% = 41.4%
  4. 2018: Pull% = 36.1%
  5. 2015: Oppo% = 20.1%
  6. 2018: Oppo% = 24.5%

 

Khris Davis Swing Analysis Comparing 2015 & 2018 Swings (when things seemed to have changed)

PLEASE NOTE: very similar pitch type, speed, location, and swing timing in above video:

  • 2015 (w/ Brewers): 96-mph middle/middle, and
  • 2018 (w/ A’s): 94-mph middle/middle-slightly in.

Mechanically speaking, here are a couple things I noticed:

  • Seems to be “stepping out”, slightly opening hips more at stride landing, while keeping shoulders “blocked”,
  • Slight difference in back foot behavior (could be a timing thing),
  • Back knee angle (about 10-degree difference),
  • Head in circle just after impact, could be direct result of change in back knee angle, and
  • Getting shorter from start to the turn (camera angle could be slightly different).

 

Human Movement Principles 9yo Ethan is Working on Khris Davis does well

If you remember in the Ethan case study The Feedback Lab online hit training video, his hitting homework was to work on the following positions at stride landing:

  1. Showing numbers, and
  2. Slight downhill shoulder angle

In the above Khris Davis swing analysis video, we covered:

  • Khris Davis stat analysis comparing 2015, 2016 seasons to 2018,
  • Khris Davis swing analysis comparing 2015 & 2018 swings (when things seemed to changed), and
  • Human movement principles 9yo Ethan is working on that Khris Davis does well.

Stay tuned for Part-3, where we discuss drills…

How Did The Trevor Story 505 Foot Homerun Happen?

 

Was it because of Coors field?  High altitude is part of the equation, adding about 5% to batted ball distance according to bat-ball collision expert Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan.  CLICK HERE, scroll down, and read under the subhead, “Effect of Altitude on Batted Baseballs”.  So the Trevor Story 505 foot homerun at Fenway would have landed about 480-feet from home plate. Still, not bad.

Trevor Story 505 Foot Homerun

Trevor Story 505 Foot Homerun: check out him ‘showing those numbers’ & ‘hiding those hands’! Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Corked bat? CLICK HERE for a paper Dr. Nathan wrote studying the effects of corked bats on batted ball distance and concluded:

“Although the present study shows that corked bats do not result in longer home runs, it makes no statement about whether home runs might be hit more often with a corked bat.” – Top of page 577

Body mass?  According to Baseball-Reference.com, Trevor Story is 6’1″, 210-lbs.  The Trevor Story 505 foot homerun is the longest dinger in Statcast history, at Coors field, surpassing Giancarlo Stanton’s (6’6″, 245-lbs) record by 1-foot at the same ballpark.  Bat speed is a better indicator of batted ball distance than body mass…Dr. Alan Nathan said this to me over the phone.

Any other excuses out there besides good effective hitting mechanics? 😛  ANY hitter with the optimum launch angle, and hitting the right part of the bat is one of the best starts.

Hitting Guru #57 will have a hard time explaining some of the things in the above Trevor Story 505 foot homerun video analysis.  We’ll be answering the question of how the Trevor Story 505 foot homerun happened:

  • Trevor Story 505 foot homerun (and the other 2 other dingers he hit in the same game),
  • Legs v. Spinal Engine – legs not necessary for locomotion, they’re an enhancement,
  • Locomotion of a quadriplegic,
  • Water Polo throw, and
  • Anthony Rizzo homer falling down.

Here are some Hitting Performance Lab posts mentioned in the video: