Christian Yelich Says Barry Bonds Taught Him A Drill That Changed His Career…

 

 

I agree with ‘swing down’…

Christian Yelich & Barry Bonds: 'Swinging Down' in the 'Launch Angle' Era

Christian Yelich and Barry Bonds swing comparison. Photo courtesy: Jomboy Media YouTube channel

Let that sink in for a bit.

Some are pissed I just said that.  But those who’ve followed me for some time are nodding their head in confirmation because they know better.

Because guess what?  It depends.

‘Swing down’ shouldn’t be used as a blanket teach.  I have two things for you…

  1. Jomboy Media VIDEO: “Christian Yelich says Barry Bonds taught him a drill that changed his career” (watching it will reveal its relevance to this post), and
  2. Below is Chapter-2 of the new book I’m working on.  It’s a longer post, but I think you’ll like it.  Goes well with the Yelich-Bonds video above, like grass fed red meat and a fine red wine.

Thank you Grandpa Mike for sharing the video.  You know who you are.  Enjoy!

———-

WHAT AN OLD SCHOOL SWING FEELS LIKE & THE PROS AND CONS?

In Chapter-2, we’ll look at what an old school swing feels like and the pros and cons.  We’ll be discussing:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics,
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics, and
  • So, how do we interweave brainless data and confusing real v. feel hitting cues?

How Can Someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they Say about Hitting is Wrong?

Now, some of you out there have seen the video of Alex Rodriguez demonstrating how he swung down. Maybe you saw the preseason interview of Mike Trout discussing how he gets on top of the ball.

Or how about Albert Pujols on the MLB Network revealed he swings knob down to the ball?

‘Swing down’.  ‘Getting on top of the ball’.  ‘Knob to the ball’.  ‘Keep barrel above hands’ is another one.  Nowadays, these are some of THE most despised hitting coaching cues on the market.  I was one of them.  “Was”.  About 2-3 years ago.  Now I have a different perspective and approach.  These cues DO work.  But it depends on the case.  And if reading or hearing those words made your blood boil…you can change too, believe me.  Here’s how…

First, let’s clear up and define “swinging down”. Well yeah, the hands do go down to the ball. And depending on how high or low the ball is, the hands will go down more or less. This is true.  But coaches HATE these cues for a different reason.  Here’s the thing… if you watch players like A-Rod, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols physically demonstrate what swinging down means to them, you see them using a chopping motion. Yes. The barrel and hands travel down to the ball. But not ‘hands drop’.  That’s different, and is a swing flaw we MUST fix.  In the high level swing, we see the barrel go down before coming up.

Here’s my beef with ‘swinging down’…

When swinging down is translated into a NEGATIVE attack angle.  Meaning the barrel is going down towards the impact point.  Is not coming up.  And this is what hitting greats like Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols are demonstrating in interviews.  And where the confusion starts.  If you watch their actual swing on film, slow motion swing, what you’re going to see is a POSITIVE attack angle.  Meaning, barrel elevating up to incoming ball descending down. Yes, even in Fastpitch Softball (more about this in Chapter-7).  Barrel coming up to impact, positive. Barrel going down to impact, negative.  We clear?

So if what these great hitters are saying and demonstrating isn’t what they’re actually doing, then what’s REALLY going on?

Well, here’s the thing … it’s the mysterious case of real versus feel What’s really happening on video doesn’t square with what the high level hitter feels they’re doing.  Two completely opposite things.  Take Mike Trout.  Let’s look at his real (9-year career average batted ball numbers before start of 2020 season):

  • Ground-ball rate: 36.8% (League average is 43%)
  • Fly-ball rate: 40.8% (League average is 37%)
  • Line drive rate: 22.4% (League average is 20%), and
  • Homerun to fly-ball ratio: 21.4% (League average is 9.5%).

Significantly below average ground-ball rate.  Check.  Slightly above average fly-ball rate.  Check.  Slightly above average line drive rate.  Check.  And well above average home-run to fly-ball ration.  Checkmate!  This proves his performance – the real – doesn’t jive with his feel of ‘getting on top of the ball’.  I want you to go to YouTube, search “Mike Trout slow motion swing”, and watch…

His barrels goes down, then comes up to the ball.  Up.  Positive barrel attack angle.  Not down.  Not on top.  Not a negative attack angle.

Before you get upset I’m telling Mike Trout, “You know ‘nothin’!”  Here’s the beautiful crazy of this whole thing.   Coaches, understand this … the body is always one or two steps behind the brain. Thinking happens fast. There’s zero friction with thoughts.  Nothing. It just goes, goes, goes, goes, goes.  No heavy bones, muscle, organs, and fascia required to move before a thought can fire off!

The secret to unlocking the real v. feel mystery can be revealed through a psychology term called paradoxical intention…

Pros to Old School Feel Mechanics

We have to understand what Mike Trout is REALLY saying.  Bring context to the numbers.  Remember Chapter-1?  Trout will say, “I’ll take 10 swings off the tee or during batting practice to feel like I’m getting on top of the ball”. You see, his natural tendency is to uppercut. An extreme uppercut because he uses a significant shoulder tilt to effectively feast on balls down in the zone.  And this works well with pitchers targeting down in the zone, and away.

Although, this is different than the slight uppercut Ted Williams talked about in his book The Science Of Hitting.  Williams talked about barrel meeting the plane of the pitch.  Trout’s natural tendency runs counter to this.  And what he tells himself, remember the body is one or two steps behind the brain, is to do the exact opposite of what his natural tendency is.  He tells himself to get on top of the ball. And what’s the result?  The barrel ends up somewhere in the middle of extreme uppercut and negative attack angle downswing.  That’s what he’s trying to get for his real… to get to the middle.

The true old school hitting tragedy…

Some say hitters like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Pujols, and Trout are – or were – fantastic at doing, but not very good at translating what they did into teaching. Take Barry Bonds. Who was the Florida Marlins hitting coach in 2016.  Then they let him go.  Former Marlins President David Samson said this,

“Bonds was worst hitting coach of my career.”  

So why wasn’t Barry Bonds able to translate the way he hit to his prized pupils like Giancarlo Stanton?  Bonds is the career Major League home run leader after all. Some say he can do, but he doesn’t know how he does what he did.  I disagree these hitters aren’t good at teaching.  Again it’s a translation issue.

Dr. Victor Frankl, Psychologist and survivor of four Nazi death camps, in his book Man’s Search For Meaning, calls this “paradoxical intention”.  Hitters like Trout and Bonds use extreme physical cues to establish a consistent slight upward swing plane.  This strategy is a “trick” played on the body, which is a step or two behind.   Paradoxical intention.  Take any hitter with an extreme uppercut, tell them to chop down (negative Attack Angle “feel” cue), and their barrel path ends up in a slight uppercut.  Just like Ted Williams said – like magic!  Feel cues are fantastic for making simple swing adjustments.

If you’re coaching youth hitters, let’s get into that world for a moment…

A lot, and I mean A LOT of youth players ages 7 to 12 years old uppercut.  Extreme uppercuts. Casting.  Loooong swings.  They don’t need to be taught this!  This is typical, before they’ve built enough strength in their bodies.  In their core.  In the dynamic nature of the spinal engine.  They tend to cast the barrel out.  Meaning, the barrel casts away from the body, leaving the back shoulder too early. This causes a long swing.  Thanks to gravitational forces, centripetal and centrifugal forces*.  As they swing, they end up underneath the ball.  On inside pitches, they end up getting jammed a lot.  And swing under a lot of pitches up in the zone.  A LOT.

(*Centripetal Force is a center “seeking” force. Like twirling a rock on a string. The rock exerts force back to the two fingers holding the string. Centrifugal Force is a center “fleeing” force. Letting go of the twirling rock on a swing, causes the rock to shoot off in a tangent direction away from the original circle.)

There are other factors causing an extreme uppercut, like hands drop or constant deep barrel dumping.  But with youth hitters, the rules of Physics are bigger offenders. Here’s the good news … swing an overloaded bat.  Overloaded bats help young hitters build strength to do that.  Regardless of mechanics.  More on that protocol later in the book.

Those are the pros of an old school feel mechanics. Now, let’s look at the cons…

Cons to Old School Feel Mechanics

These are what the “metrics people” will typically bring up. You’re so out of touch.  No numbers to support your gut feelings?  What does that mean?  How can I trust your “gut”?  Because you played or coached 20 years in the Big Leagues?  That’s not good enough!!  What’s measurable is manageable.  If you can’t use numbers to support your gut, then I’m not listening.  This is a common conversation you’ve probably seen, heard, or participated in.

The old school coaching cues we just discussed in the pros to old school swing section can also be included in that gut conversation.  It’s bad if the old school cues are used as a default. In a one size fits all way. For example, Johnny’s coach sees Pujols demonstrate a chopping down swing on MLB Network’s Diamond Demos. That coach goes to Johnny’s 10 year old team practice on Monday evening, and tells every one of his hitters to swing like Pujols does. Chop, chop, chop. And he tells them with the conviction, vigor, and energy of a Sunday Pastor, that they can hit like Pujols.  How can you argue with Senor Alberto?  From his lips to coach’s ears out of coaches mouth to kids’ ears.  If Albert Pujols said it and it worked for him, then we MUST take the message literally!  He is Prince Albert for jimminies sake!

Here’s the problem with that. Remember when I mentioned the translation issue?  By feeding the ‘swing down’ or ‘chop down’ mantras as a default hitting strategy to every 10 year old on your team, I’m sorry to say it, but you will lose. Let me illustrate with a thought experiment…

Apply the “one-third rule” to your team. In this example, assume a third of your hitters pop the ball up a majority of the time. Another third of hitters hit line drives a majority of the time.  And the remaining third are majority ground-ball hitters.  So, what if you tell the whole team to swing down or get on top of the ball?  A blanket statement to all.  Default old school hitting cue.  What do you think is going to happen?

Based on what was discussed with Dr. Victor Frankl’s paradoxical intention – remember extreme uppercut, tell them to ‘get on top’, and they end up in the middle?  Slight uppercut.  Inline with incoming pitch.  Here’s what will happen to our team if we tell all to chop down … a third of the team that used to pop the ball up a majority of the time, will hit more line drives. Those middle third hitting line drives a majority of the time, are going to hit more ground-balls. And the ground-ball a majority of the time group, are going to hit even more worm burner ground-balls.  So how did the thought experiment turn out with a blanket statement old school hitting cue?

The only group on the team that benefits are the beginning fly ball hitters. The ones hitting fly-balls a majority of the time.  Those are the only ones you’ll see a significant difference, for the better.  Look ground-balls are great.  Especially hard ones when the defense can’t play catch.  But what happens when they can play catch?  When would your team come across a team that can play catch?  That’s right!  In all-stars.  In playoff and championship games.  Not good if you just converted line drive hitters into ground-ball hitters.  And ground-ballers into hitting more worm burners.  Read our infamous Ground-ball Rant post.

Now, let’s cook up a different scenario.  A more simple yet elegant solution.  Instead of giving a blanket statement, a blanket swing down, chop down to the whole team. But instead, I let the line drive hitters do their thing. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I took the fly ball hitter and told them to swing down, chop down.  And I instructed the ground-ballers to hit the ball in the air.  Like pop the ball up instruction.  How do you think that thought experiment would go?

If I did that…now my pop-fliers AND ground-ballers are both hitting more line drives.  Remember Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning paradoxical intention?  Overall, my whole team is hitting more line drives. Now my line drivers aren’t lonely.  They have more competition to deal with.  Competition makes everyone better.  Hungrier.  Especially when they’re experiencing success.  Does that make sense?

The cons of an old school swing are when we apply a blanket statement shared by one of the best hitters on the planet.  Don’t do that.  Bad coach.  You DO NOT pass go, and you DO NOT collect $200.

One swing fits all cues are a bad. And you wouldn’t know this without data to measure and optimize. Gut feelings and hunches are like throwing darts in the dark.  It’s like shooting an arrow and calling whatever you hit – after the fact.  It’s guessing.  If you aren’t collecting numbers using a PocketRadar, Rhapsodo, HitTrax, BlastMotion, or SwingTracker, then you’re flying blind. You aren’t going to know. And those hunches will just be hunches.

Same goes for blindly following what a Hall of Famer or future Hall of Famer says or said about hitting.  Become a scientist.  Test, test, test.  Blindly following a leader without question, will make you nothing more than a sheep.  Question, question, question.  Even question me and EVERYTHING in this book.

So far in Chapter-2, we talked about:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics, and
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics…

We talked about how what’s real and what’s feel are two totally different things. The scenery can be very confusing. The waters choppy.  How does a coach cut through the clutter and calm the waters?  The simple truth to make hitting easier – it’s not easy, but we can make it easier – is called paradoxical intention.  Doing the exact opposite of what just happened to get the middle.  Extreme swing up?  Tell them to swing down – hit a chopper.  Extreme swing down?  Tell them to swing up – hit a pop-fly.  There’s more to it of course, and we’ll get into it more later.  Let’s move on to…

How do we Interweave Brainless Data and Confusing Hitting Cues?

This DOES NOT cause that, and that DOES NOT cause this.  Question: Coincidentally, if I wear a green shirt and it rains, then is it reasonable to think I can make it rain by wearing a green shirt?   This is the exact dilemma many instructors find themselves in with what they teach.

Some teach ONLY using data.  Some teach ONLY using old school hitting cues.  Some claim to base their teachings on millions of hours watching ONLY the best hitters.  Some validate Science with their hitting theories (proudly saying their system can’t be found in Science!!).  And others validate their hitting philosophy with Science, which is what we do.  Who’s right?  Who’s wrong?  Can we use a mix?  And if so, how do we know if we’re on the right track?

Are you throwing dynamite in the air and expecting rain?

I want to share a true story from the book Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. The story will illuminate how to filter the hitting information available today. Interestingly…

Right before the Great Depression hit the Oklahoma panhandle, rain was plentiful.  This caused Doctors and Lawyers to quit their practices and join the ranks of farmers to buy land and plant crops that were being subsidized by the US government.  In other words, the gold-in-them-hills was harvesting and selling wheat and other bumper crops of the era.

Millions of acres of 6-foot high beautiful Buffalo blue grass were plowed under to make room for crops.  Fast forward to the beginning of the Great Depression, the rain dried up, and so did the crops.  Unbeknownst to the “new” farmers who moved to the area, typically rain was sparse in the location, and by coincidence, they had just experienced a rare wet 5-10 year period.

Now there’s NO rain.  And you know the 6-foot high beautiful Buffalo blue grass they cut down?  Well, it used to hold the soil down despite seasonal 60 to 70 mile-per-hour wind gusts.  So NO rain coming.  NO crops growing.  Super high winds are eroding dry barren soil and tossing it up in the air.  Grazing cattle have nothing to eat but tumbleweeds brought over by Russians (people often sprinkled salt to eat them as well).  The livestock soon get sick and die.  The drought is fatal for the majority who stay, others move west.  This is where we get John Steinbeck’s book “Dust Bowl”.

Stick with me, because here comes the lesson…

The farmers who stayed behind were so desperate for rain, they hired self proclaimed rain experts to “create” rain, literally out of thin air.  The belief at the time was that an explosion in the air could bring clouds, and with clouds, rain would fall from the sky.  In plenty.  So what did these self proclaimed rain experts do?  What any self proclaimed rain expert would do!!  They sold the idea that if they lit a stick of dynamite, timed the throw just right, they could get a perfectly timed explosion that would bring rain-a-plenty.

…And as luck would find it, the “racket” seemed to work a couple times.  This only fed the foolishness we all see now – hindsight is 20/20.  Yes, this wasn’t a proud time in American history.  You have to understand, people back then were DESPERATE.  Their hope blinded them to the MANY times throwing dynamite in the air didn’t work.  People lost limbs, fingers, etc. from timing the throw wrong.  Head scratcher  I know.

When it comes to hitting, we have to be careful of the causation-correlation relationship.  Is studying video and teaching only what the “best” hitters are doing enough?  I would argue it is not.  How do you know what you’re looking at, if you don’t know what you’re looking for?  We see Pujols demonstrating a negative attack angle swing on MLB Network.  But then we see him NOT do that in real-time.  We bring that same Pujols gold nugget to Johnny’s team, blanket teach it, and the end result looks nothing like what we see Pujols do during competition.  This DOES NOT cause that, and that DOES NOT cause this.

I’m going to reveal a secret about why coaches are terrible at the causation-correlation relationship.  Like shooting a random arrow and calling whatever is hit.  Here’s a quote summing it up from Scott Adams, in his book Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America:

“There are three important things to know about human beings in order to understand why we do the things we do. [1] Humans use pattern recognition to understand their world. [2] Humans are very bad at pattern recognition. [3] And they don’t know it.”

So how do we escape this seemingly inescapable prison of misdiagnosis?  After reading thus far, you know it.  Be less subjective and more objective.  KeyDifferences.com says this about subjective versus objective:

“Subjective means something which does not show the clear picture or it is just a person’s outlook or expression of opinion. A subjective statement relies on assumptions, beliefs, opinions and influenced by emotions and personal feelings.  An objective statement is based on facts and observations.”

Use the Scientific Method.  Develop a hitting Question…make a predictive Hypothesis…do the Research…collect the Data…form a Conclusion.  Swing experimentation.  We apply human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  Scientific principles pulled from:

  • Physics,
  • Engineering,
  • Biomechanics, and
  • Body work.

How do we figure out if this DOES cause that?  Or if that DOES cause this?  Not by wearing a green shirt!   To know what you’re looking at, you have to know what you’re looking for.  DO NOT validate Science through your hitting philosophy.  DO validate your hitting philosophy through Science.  Set a higher standard for your hitters.  It’s okay – watch your millions of hours of video…employ those expensive measuring gadgets…and flaunt those old school hitting cues.

But above ALL of that … understand what the rules to human movements are FIRST.  Once you know that, all other domino’s fall where they’re supposed to.  In conclusion of Chapter-2, we looked at what an old school swing feels like and the pros and cons.  We discussed:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics,
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics, and
  • So, how do we interweave brainless data and confusing real v. feel hitting cues?

In Chapter-3, we’ll answer the question of what leads to hitting more predictable line drives and less strikeouts.  Where we’ll dive into:

  • What does “predictable” mean and why does probability matter?  And,
  • Difference between ‘Launch Angle’ and ‘Attack Angle’…

Onward…

———-

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting Mentioning 1 Shocking Swing Mistake He Didn’t Make…

 

 

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Check out the iconic Gary Sheffield barrel tilt-waggle – almost parallel to the ground! Photo courtesy: MLB Network

In this Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting video, 500 Home Run Club member Gary Sheffield talks about his hitting style, plate approach and adjustments to different ballparks with Mark DeRosa, Bill Ripken and Robert Flores on MLB Central.  Some of what you’ll find in the video:

  • 1 shocking swing mistake Sheffield didn’t make,
  • Pitch recognition that Gary Sheffield is talking about,
  • Change your stance depending on the field?
  • What does focus on staying to the right of your left side mean? And,
  • Making swing adjustments because of injury to compete…

For your convenience below, I’ve time stamped my notes, so you can jump to wherever the conversation interests you…

  • At about the 3-minute, 20-second mark, Sheffield talks about how after hitting 40+ homers between his AA and AAA season, he was brought up to MLB club and the powers at be tried to “flatten his bat” (for him a mistake he didn’t make).  Because they wanted a leadoff speed guy who hits the ball to right field.  When he got to San Diego, they wanted him to pick up the ball at 3rd base, they didn’t expect him to hit.  This was disrespectful to Sheffield.  He went from a guy not just trying to get on base, but to do damage.
  • At about the 4-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about his famous bat tilt-waggle, and how it’s all in the fingers. To get a nice relaxed crisp move with the fingers.  Like dancing.
  • At about the 5-minute mark, Sheffield talks about picking pitcher up at release to differentiate what he’s throwing.  Pitch recognition.  He doesn’t care what the pitcher does before that moment.  He said he looked for the heater and nothing changed on that approach throughout his career.  He wants the pitcher to fool him.  He doesn’t want to miss on the fastball.  All he wants to know is what is the pitcher’s out pitch – the one he goes to the most when he needs it. Doesn’t swing at fork balls.  He groups the fastball and slider together – as one pitch.
  • At about the 7-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about how he adjusts his stance depending on the park he’s playing in.  Examples…in San Diego the dimensions are fair, so he uses all fields.  At “fair” parks he didn’t feel like hitting the ball oppo made him lose something.   In Florida with the Marlins, he got closer to the plate and became strictly a pull hitter because of short fence in left field. Homers came by way of left and left center, rarely to center.  Goal of double digit homers to opposite field, so he was almost guaranteed 30 to 40 homers per year.  Billy Ripken made the comment that he’s never heard of anyone else who did this, except maybe when hitting at Fenway.  Dodger stadium was “fair” to him.  Mentioned at night it got dewey there, ball didn’t fly as far.  His strength was center field in LA.
  • At about 9-minute mark, Sheffield talks about his right elbow position to be ready to “punch”.  Athletic position.  Legs up under him.  When hitting he just thinks about his left side.  Tells his kids to cut the left side out.  Focus on being to the right of your left side.  Walking in the batter’s box sideways, so he knows he’s in the same spot every time.  He wants to work sideways, so he can stay behind his left side.
  • At about 11-minute mark, Sheffield his swing is dominant front arm.  Front arm goes straight to the ball.  Billy Ripken talks about “squashing a bug“.  They all comment on Gary Sheffield’s bat waggle and how parallel the barrel got to the ground at one point in the swing.  Sheffield talked about an injury he had to his right foot, plantar fasciitis, that required him to skip/hop his back foot.  Had to unlearn later.  Interesting confession on making an adjustment to compete.

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

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

Anyway,Rotex Motion: Move Better Equals Perform Better

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

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

In this Rotex Motion post, we’ll cover:

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

 

Highlights from my movement experiments using Rotex Motion

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

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

    Photo courtesy: Crossfit.com

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

 

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

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

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

 

Next steps to get started using Rotex Motion movement systems

Here are the steps to getting started:

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

The Biggest Lie In The Baseball Showcase?

 

 

In the above baseball showcase video, I answer the following question from one of our readers…

Baseball Showcase: PBR Tyler Davis

PBR Baseball Showcase: Tyler Davis (one of my local hitters). Photo courtesy: PrepBaseballReport.com

“What are your thoughts on scouting services like PBR, Perfect Game, etc. who base their player rankings almost exclusively on numbers – EV, batted ball distance…”

If you’ve thought this, then you’re not alone.  I’ve heard some of the same concerns from other coaches and parents.

Let me ask you this…would you take a hitter who can’t hit in a game, but can light up Pocket Radar with a 100-mph ball exit speed …OR, would you take a hitter who can hit in games, but can only reach 80-mph ball exit speeds?

I know, not a tough choice.

Unfortunately no grading system is perfect.  And as many of you know, I love data and numbers.  But numbers don’t have brains.  Humans do.  Look, ultimately players MUST perform in games.  Analyzing things like game stats, division played in, strength of schedule, accolades collected, etc. are very relevant to a balanced scouting service.

The purpose of baseball showcase evaluations should be to forecast the probability of that player performing well in games.  Period.  Is that possible?  To create evaluations that can truly test a hitter, reflecting how they will do in a game?

Some of the things we cover:

  • Are Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles enough?
  • How can you test a hitter’s barrel control when it comes to restoring balance to ground-balls, line drives, and fly-balls?*
  • What value would knowing whether a hitter can adapt from pull to oppo?  Can you test that?
  • What’s the ultimate timing test you could throw at a hitter that would give you a glimpse into their adaptability?
  • And finally, can you effectively evaluate a hitter’s approach against mixed pitches?

*CLICK HERE for a post Perry Husband shared his ‘Launch Angle’ test chart.  This is a great start to getting more accurate performance information about hitters.

Is this all doable for a baseball showcase like PBR to do?  Maybe.  It will take more time than what they’re doing now.  But how much value will it add to their showcases?  How much credibility would their programs gain from the extra time spent?  How much more trust would they get from parents and coaches?

I dunno, you tell me…

Josh Karr

To Coaches That Want To Fill A 2021 Roster Spot Despite COVID19

(CLICK HERE for the full transcription of the interview)

I’m doing something a little different in this post…

I want to help college coaches.  But most importantly, I want to help support one of my High School Seniors that got stuck in this COVID-19 season ending cyclone.  What follows is an interview to help coaches fill a 2021 roster spot with a solid student athlete…

The NCAA has allowed a 5th year for seniors in college impacted by COVID-19 season shutdown.  I agree with this.  It was a good move.  However, what about High School seniors who only got to play 15-20 games in 2020, without the opportunity to commit?

I’ve interviewed one of those seniors, Josh Karr.

FULL DISCLAIMER: I’ve worked with Josh in the past, and his dad reinforces our system with him as well.  I wanted to conduct an interview as if I was a college coach recruiting Josh.

 

Quick stats and highlights from the interviewJosh Karr

  • 6-foot, 2-inches, 215-pounds. From: Wills Point, Texas. Goes to: Wills Point High School.
  • 96-mph ball exit speed off tee using PocketRadar app. Hit 100-mph on LIVE pitching but didn’t record that.
  • Infield corner position player: 1B/3B, has played outfield before (RF).
  • .960 to .970 Fielding%
  • 60-yard time: 7.2
  • Pop-time: 1.99
  • 3.62 grade point average.  1040 SAT.
  • Loves Math.  Wants to major in Biology, end up in the medical field.  Possibly wants to be an NPA.
  • 2019 stats (Junior year): .329 BA, .451 SLG%, .537 OBP%. 27 hits, 4 homers, 5 doubles. 26 RBI’s.
  • Named “player-to-watch” for his region.  Out of roughly 540-550 players of the whole region. Josh was one of top 40 they picked for it.
  • His main focus hitting right now is line drives

If you want to reach out and contact Josh, you can at the following spots:

  1. Email – jmkarr at SBCGlobal dot net (formatted this way, so Josh doesn’t get a lot of SPAM)
  2. Phone – 661-889-5543
  3. MaxPreps page
  4. On the socials – His personal page on Twitter is: @JoshKarr16 … and his baseball page is: @BaseballKarr …you can DM him there as well.

Final thoughts: yes, I’m a little biased in Josh’s case. And no, I don’t do this that often.  But I’m going to vouch for this graduating High School Senior.  Josh comes from a solid family.  They’re hard workers.  Highly disciplined.  And focused on what they set their mind to.  Josh is a fantastic student.  And since I’ve known him, he does what he needs to to compete at the next level.  He needed to cut weight, so he cut 10% body fat and dropped 10-15 pounds last fall.  His weakness is pitches down in the zone.  He’s currently working on driving those pitches on a line.  The point is, this is a coachable student athlete that is looking to compete for you.  Please reach out…

 

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-17 and Final Day)

Today’s hitting drills for kids videos are coming to an end.  Sadly.  But the good news is… Today and tomorrow (Easter) I want to giveaway one FREE online hitting lesson from our own The Feedback Lab program…


How can you win?  Simply by leaving a comment below.  I pick a random comment and declare the winner on the Monday after Easter.  Good luck and I hope you all have a Happy and Safe Easter!  PLEASE NOTE: this offer is closed and we’re no longer taking winners.

 

BONUS Extra Credit to Sweeten the Deal

Hitting Drills For Kids: Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

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 $9.95 per month.  We’re also offering a 30-day money back guarantee to take the risk away.  Cancel within that period and we’ll give you your money back.  No worries.  No questions asked.  No hard feelings.

Click the button below to grab access to Swing Smarter Newsletter Monthly

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics: Hit Top Part Of Cage? Or Back Part?

 

 

In this Albert Pujols hitting mechanics talk, some questions Pujols and Harold Reynolds answer:

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols & Harold Reynolds Interview, MLB Network 30 Clubs in 30 Days. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Hitting ball off same spot off tee or vary?
  • Dangers of a purely opposite field approach…
  • When is using ‘hands inside the ball’ okay?
  • Hit top part of the cage of the back?
  • How many swings until you should take a break to reflect?
  • Inside pitch barrel path: is it different than away?
  • Should hitter get “taller” to hit a high pitch?

Make sure you watch the 8-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Albert Pujols interview on grooving his swing, before diving into my notes.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:10 second mark,  tsk, tsk…notice Harold Reynolds isn’t following the 4-foot social distancing rule!! (for those watching this well after the craziness of the Coronavirus has passed – lol).  
  • At the 0:30 second mark, interesting Pujols talks about building a consistent swing, hitting off the tee in one spot.  He references variance training with some hitting coaches moving the ball up and down, in and out.  I do agree with him, but it depends on the end result.  If you’re just introducing a new hitting mechanic, then keep the tee in one spot.  If you’re looking to deeply embed a well worn hitting mechanic, then variance or chaos training is key.
  • At the 0:45 second mark, Albert Pujols talks about setting tee up slightly off center of the plate towards outer part.  He likes to work gap to gap and not force or push the ball to right field.  He mentions if he focuses too much on right field, then he gets under the ball too much.
  • At the 1:30 minute mark, Pujols dispels the myth of “staying inside the ball”.  He says of course you’re inside the ball…you don’t see hitters EVER getting their hands outside the ball.  ‘Hands inside the ball’ can be a great cue for those hitters doing the opposite – casting barrel early.  It’s not a perfect cue, but may work in some cases.  Then to throw gas on the fire, he mentions ‘knob to the ball’.  Real v. Feel.  There’s a reason you keep hearing this kind of stuff from guys like Pujols, A-Rod, and Bonds.  It has to do with top hand dominance and pronation.  We call it the “wrist snap”.
  • At the 2:00 minute mark, Albert Pujols talks about working on the liner, not trying to hit the top part of the cage. He picks a spot in the cage he wants the ball to travel.  External cue.  He wants the ball to come off the bat as high as the tee is set.  Harold brings up that some people are teaching to hit the top of the cage (I used to be one of them!!).  But Albert plays the politician and comments that he doesn’t want to say what those coaches are doing is wrong, but that he wouldn’t teach that.  And right now, I’d agree with him.
  • At the 3:00 minute mark, Harold asked Pujols if there’s a rhythm to working on gapping the ball, and Pujols says he tries to hit 3 or 4 in a row, then take a break to reflect on the feeling.  He tries not to rush when working out.  He tries to take his time.  Process what he just did.  Great advice!
  • At 4:00 minute mark, Harold asks Albert about his inside approach.  How to hit the inside pitch.  Watch how Pujols demos his barrel path to get to it … barrel above hands?  This Adam Eaton video reveals the same thing.  Interesting huh?  We call this knocking the “belly button” catcher’s glove off.  He says he’s just reacting to the inside pitch.  Typically, he’s looking out over the plate.  He doesn’t try to focus on one area of the plate.  He looks middle, then adjusts in or out from there.  Definitely works for Albert.  And Mike Schmidt also talked about it in his book the “Mike Schmidt Study”. Only downside is when pitchers start using EV tunnels Perry Husband talks about.  It’s easier to cover middle in/out/up/down (50% of the plate), based on pitcher’s pattern.  Obviously, this is more effective the better the pitcher is.
  • At 5:00 minute mark, in the above Albert Pujols hitting mechanics video, Pujols talks about keeping his shoulders “square” or keep front shoulder pointing at “400-foot” mark in straight center.  Not to close shoulders off.  Albert never really did ‘show numbers’ much, but he does a lot of other things right.
  • At 6:00 minute mark, Pujols talks about not getting “taller” to get to the pitch up in the zone, but to stay sink down and use hands to get to it.  Again demonstrates keeping barrel above hands.  We talk about getting shorter and staying shorter.  And middle in, middle up pitches are addressed by knocking off belly button catcher’s glove or telling hitter to keep barrel above hands.  Real v. Feel.  Now, this isn’t actually what’s going to happen.  The result of this hitting cue is a tighter, shorter, more compact barrel path.  Much needed closer the ball is to the hitter or the eyes.  He talks about using his legs to get to pitches down in the zone.
Tee Drills With Adam Eaton

Tee Drills: Adam Eaton Speaks High Inside Pitch Approach Truth

 

 

Tee Drills With Adam Eaton

Adam Eaton photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this tee drills with Adam Eaton video, some main points Adam Eaton covers:

  • Ball flight tells you everything,
  • Demonstrates how REAL high level barrel path is on high inside pitches,
  • How most get the cue ‘stay inside the ball’ wrong, and how to use it properly, and
  • Tee drills tip for putting the high tee on steroids!

 

Make sure you watch the brief 5-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Adam Eaton interview before diving into my notes below.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:45 mark, Adam Eaton talks about how tee drills are the most important part of the day.  According to the tee drills naysayers out there, man oh man, how many Big Leaguers are doing it “wrong”.  Haha!
  • At the 1:30 mark, while working tee drills, DeRo asks if Adam Eaton is worried about his hands, bat path, what?  And Adam responds by saying, ball flight tells you everything.  If ball flight is clean, he knows his body is in the right position.
  • At the 2:30 mark, Adam talks about letting ball get to belt buckle on pitches away.  He clarifies you aren’t actually going to hit it there in the game.  Feel cue, pure and simple.  Interesting he mentions getting on plane quickly here in reference to outside pitch.  This is when deep barrel dump is okay.  Adam mentions his powerful impact position checkpoints: palm up palm down, hardly any bend in the front arm (he actually works on this!!), and nice bend in back arm (90-degrees).
  •  At the 2:55 mark, Adam Eaton talks about high inside tee drills. Uncomfortable drill because it feels like you’re crowding yourself.  But it teaches body control and to control the shoulders.  “Blackout moment” defined as an experience when body takes over without thinking because you’ve practiced it so many times.  And just before the 4-minute mark watch him demonstrate how he gets to that high inside pitch — he keeps the barrel up, above his hands, until last possible second.  Much different barrel path he’d take to a pitch away.  I talk to my hitters about the difference between hitting a catcher’s glove perpendicular to the hitter’s “belly button” (inner third part of plate), versus knocking off the real catcher’s glove (outer third part of plate).
  • On these tee drills, Adam Eaton talks a lot about ‘keeping hands inside the ball’.  The cue is great for hitters that do the opposite – hook the ball a lot.  And ‘get barrel around the ball’ works brilliantly for hitters with racing back elbow or who tend to push the ball opposite a lot.  Over the years I’ve learned that every hitting feel cue has their place.  We used to laugh, cajole, and mock Major Leaguers when we’d hear them say things like ‘get on top’, ‘swing down on the ball’, or like in Adam Eaton’s case ‘stay inside the ball’.  These cues do work, but mostly to the hitters who do the opposite of what these cues suggest.  It’s called Paradoxical Intention.
  • Also note on Adam Eaton’s slow motion game swings how virtually straight his front arm is at stride landing.  He’s not a big guy, 5-foot, 8-inches, and only 176-pounds.  He can lever up that front arm because of a shorter wingspan for sure.  I’ve seen him do this on outside pitches as well as inside.  Although, here’s the catch on the inner half of the plate, you have to take the barrel path approach he demonstrated on the high tee drill.  In addition to training my hitters to use a longer front arm on the high pitch, I also make them do it with an end loaded heavy bat.  Makes the drill even more uncomfortable – as Adam Eaton put it – BUT if they can accomplish it at that pitch location, everywhere else is gravy.

Mike Trout Hitting Golf Ball: Same As Baseball Swing?

 

 

Mike Trout Hitting Golf Ball at Top Golf

Photo courtesy: MLB.com

What we go over in this Mike Trout hitting golf ball compared to baseball swing video:

Let’s get started…

 

“…rear leg is slave to middle of body” Mike Trout Hitting Golf Ball Quote

 

Shifting Foot Pressure

A couple recent posts I’ve done complimenting above video…

 

Catapult Loading System – BIG-3

Recent posts I’ve done on this topic…

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Metrics, Shifting Foot Pressure, OK Head Movement, & When Barrel Enters Zone Matters…

 

 

Hey, what’s going on it’s Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab.  In this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we’re going to go over a few different things…

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman swing analysis photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • We’re going to look at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs – put a little context to him,
  • Talk about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we are going to end with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

Let’s get started…

Part of this Matt Chapman swing analysis is looking at the context of his numbers and metrics.He’s about six-foot two hundred and twenty pounds. In 2019, he had 36 homers, 36 doubles, hit about .249 the year before. Hit .278 with 24 homers and 42 doubles.

A little moderate on the strikeout versus his walk ratio. It looks a little bit more like a three to one type ratio. And if we look at his batted ball totals, 15.5 percent line drive rate in 2019, the league average is 20 percent. So that’s a little bit below average.

His ground ball percentage, 41.5, League average is about 43 percent. So he’s right about league average there.

But you can see here in his fly ball percentage 43.1 Percent, he’s well above average there, average is 37 percent. So definitely something there, to get the ball out of the air a little bit and more on the line drive level.

His home run to fly ball ratio is 19 percent. So it’s actually pretty good. Well above average at 9.5 percent as the league average.

 

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Shifting Foot Pressure

All right. Let’s take a look at shifting foot pressure in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, but before we get there…

I want to give context to a couple of the pitches. We’re going to look at three different at bats on three different nights. And with this pitch here from Bartolo Colon, you’re going to see it’s a way out or third. And the pitch speed is about 89-mph, possibly some sort of slider, maybe, that he keeps on the outside corner.

The plate over here, we can see that it’s still outer third, maybe a little bit closer to the middle than the pitch before. 84-mph, probably some sort of change up or slider.

Let’s take a look at the swing here on the left first. We’re looking for shifting foot pressure. And what we want to see up until stride landing, is we want to see foot pressure on the outside of the front one, we want inside of the front one.

And then what we’re going to see is, we’re going to see that switch and over here on this swing, you can see that that toe almost picks up a little bit as he’s transitioning from the outside to the inside. Here you can see the switch happening, swing and transfer.

Now we’re going to switch to inside of the back foot, outside of the front foot. And you can see on the back big toe on that big toe knuckle back here that he is staying on that back big toe knuckle to keep that foot pressure.

And then you see the front foot on the outside portion of the foot. Now, this swing over here, you’re going to see a similar thing happen where he’s going to be more foot pressure on the outside, inside of the front foot as that front foot approaches the ground. You’re going to see this shift happen where you might see the bottom of the foot, slightly. Where it kind of peels off where the pressure transfers from inside to outside.

This time, instead of the back big toe knuckle, you’re seeing it more to the inside of the back, big toe. The third swing in this Matt Chapman swing analysis was located down and in 85-mph. Maybe a cutter or slider down and in.

And you’re seeing the same type of foot pressure where it starts outside the back foot, inside the front foot, till about right here. And then we start to see it shift over and the sides reverse. So, we go inside the back foot, outside the front foot.

A little too much focus is being put with coaches, nowadays, on this back knee, and trying to keep it inside the back foot, where I think an easier solution would be to work foot pressure with hitters.

And this is something that they can just do in the room. They don’t have to hit off of a tee. But I’ve seen hitters that over rotate their lower half, young ones, almost miraculously start looking like Matt Chapman with his shifting foot pressure … when they start doing the shifting foot pressure.

 

Forward Momentum – Is Head Movement Okay?

Now let’s talk about forward momentum and head movement. A lot of coaches out there don’t like to see head movement at all. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis, you’re going to see that him, much like many others, have head movement.  Head goes forward and down. Some just go forward.

What we should see is this forward and down or just forward. Let’s take a look here on the left. You’re going to see the head move from the top back circle to the bottom forward circle.

And then the other important note here is that at landing, the head stops moving, and should stay within that circle there. A lot of times with younger hitters, we see their head move outside of this circle. It keeps moving as they start their turn. We do not want head movement during that turn itself. But all the way from the start of the swing to stride landing, head movement is OK.

Over here in the same, different swing, you’re going to see the same head just shift and stay within that bottom ring. But we see the head move from up and back to down and forward. And then just stay within that circle through the turn itself.

Here’s the other swing on the right. You’re going to see again head starts in the up back circle, and it’s going to end up in the forward down circle. And then from there during the turn, you’re going to stay in the middle of that circle.

Head movement is OK until stride foot landing, and then the head must stay between that circle.

 

Getting Shorter, Staying Shorter

Let’s talk about getting shorter and staying shorter. A lot of coaches out there will teach their hitters to stay tall or to get tall. The problem is, is we don’t see that in elite hitters. We see them getting shorter, staying shorter.

You take the top 50 hitters in the big leagues, the top 100, they’re all going to get shorter and stay shorter. They’re going to create space between their feet. This helps them to control their verticals or their launch angles or attack angles, however you want to think about it. They’re just numbers, they’re just metrics, that we can measure and compare hitters.

But you can see on the left, you can see in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, him drop below that second line and he’s going to stay below that second line.

Getting shorter and then staying shorter over here on the right, you can see the same thing, different swing on a different day. But it’s still the same swing, get shorter and staying shorter.

And the third swing here on the right. You’re going to see him start tall. He will get shorter and then he will stay shorter.

And you saw the difference in those pitches – the first two I showed. Now, these aren’t as synched up as that. But when we first showed, the first two pitches were more away. The last pitch was more down and in.

Barrel Path – Being On-Time versus Being Out-In-Front

OK. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis let’s talk about barrel path, on time vs. being out in front.

Now, typically, if a hitter is on time, we use the different catcher’s gloves. You can see over here is a better example. You can see where the real catcher’s glove is over here. So, we say, imagine you got the real catcher’s glove. You have to imagine a catcher’s glove off the back foot, still where the catchers at, but in line at the back foot.

And then we get a catcher’s glove that’s in line with the hitter’s belly button. Now an on-time hitter…

Outer third part of the plate wants to knock or is what we see…we want to knock this real catcher’s glove off and hit the ball deeper than the stride foot.

If the ball’s middle third, we want to knock off the back-foot catcher’s glove, if there is a catcher’s glove in line with the hitter’s back foot. In line with the straight foot as the impact point.

And if the ball is inner third, we want to knock off the belly button catcher’s glove – to hit the ball more out in front of the front foot. When the barrel enters the zone matters. And the best do this. They aren’t perfect. They tend to stay between. They usually never will go across.

For instance, if the ball is inner third part of the plate, they’re not going to knock this deep catcher’s glove off or do a deep barrel dump, and still be able to hit this pitch out in front of their front foot as an inside pitch.

The same is true in reverse. You’re not going to see them knock the bellybutton catcher’s glove off and hit a ball deeper because a barrel is not in the zone very long. So, can either be barrel in the zone too long, which is a fact, or not long enough.

We generally see them stay between the two. If the ball is middle third of the plate right down central…. sometimes we see them knock the real catcher’s glove off, but they end up hitting it more inside the sweet spot and still can hit it pretty well. I’ve seen home runs it that way.

Or in reverse…it could be, to where maybe they are a little short. Maybe it’s middle of the plate and they’re a little shorter here because they’re trying to catch up. They’re thinking maybe fastball and they end up being a little bit more on front.

So that being said, that is on time. That is optimized. Now, this view over here is a little bit angled than this one. This one’s straighter on, but he’s out in front of all these, for the most part, you can tell just from the swing itself. You can see where he makes contact…

This first one was away, was outer third was the probably the farthest away. And he’s making contact quite a bit out in front. Again, this camera angle’s a little bit skewed, but you can see just by his body how he’s a little bit more out in front of this.

Look at his barrel path. Look where the catcher’s glove is. Again, if we were more side angle, chest view, this catcher’s glove might be more in line at the back foot. I don’t think the catch will be dumb enough to be that close. I think it’s just the angle is causing that to look that way.

But you can see Alex Rodriguez, Pujols, Mike Trout, all of them would be super proud with this “swinging down” type of demonstration. This is actually happening in a game. You can see that the barrel staying above the hands a lot longer … till about right here, it levels off or slightly dips and then you get here because he’s catching this ball a little bit out in front. And he’s cutting the corner with his barrel path.

He’s not starting it back here, and then getting it to here to have a really long barrel path, like some coaches teach, he’s actually cutting the corner in order to get to this ball more effectively. This is OK.

Over here, this was the last swing if you can remember, and this was the one that was down and in. You’re going to see a similar path again … down, middle down, middle away. You want to have a deeper barrel path. But he’s a little bit out in front. He’s going to cut the corner. You can see the barrel appear blurred.

About here, you still see the white of his batting gloves and you can see everything kind of blurring up this way. Barrel above his hands here and then he’s letting it go. A little bit more out in front, but both of these swings are almost more of hitting the belly button catcher’s glove like we just talked about, even though, this one over here was away.

This one is down, which is the middle away versus middle down. We’re going to take similar barrel paths, but we’re going to be deeper. When they’re out in front, you’ll see them cut the corner.

This swing was a little bit more over the middle of the plate, but still middle away. You can see where the catcher’s gloves at. It’s well behind him. You’re going to see this is a little longer swing. He’s going to cast it back, almost hitting the back-foot catcher’s glove. A little bit more optimized on this swing, hitting it a little bit deeper, as you can see. You can see the blur of the ball and the blur the bat kind of meeting at one.

He’s hit this one about where he should be hitting it. Optimizing. Again, he probably could have been a little bit deeper and maybe he hit this one, I think, to straightaway center instead of right center field.

He could have been a little bit more optimized by going back here, but this is imperfect, timing is imperfect. And as long as our hitters are between two close catchers’ gloves there was the real one in the back foot or the back foot in the front, the belly button one, as long as they’re between there somewhere.

We we say there’s three different barrel paths optimizing three different parts of the plate, but we cut it up into two. We say middle in and middle away … middle up, middle down. And then we just allow our hitters to … if it’s middle down, middle away, then we want to be between these two catcher’s gloves back here.

If it’s middle in or middle up, then we want to be between the back foot and belly button catcher’s gloves.

Remember, in this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we went over a few things…

  • We looked at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs,
  • Talked about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we finished with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

I hope you like this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post. Make sure that you’re swinging smarter by moving better, like our YouTube channel, like this video, share on Facebook, Twitter.

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