Posts

Bat Tee Interview

Backspin Bat Tee Co-Founder Interview: If One Of The Best, Mike Trout, Is Giving Up An Average 20-mph Of Ball Exit Speed, How Much Do Mere Mortals Give Up Doing The Same Thing?

 

Here are the Backspin bat tee co-founder interview with Taylor Gardner topics that we discussed:

  • What do bat tee adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?Bat Tee Interview
  • True or False: Hitters MUST straighten their front leg to be effective…
  • What if hitters used a more precision approach like golfers when operating between 90-degrees?
  • Instead of writing off the arm bar as it doesn’t work, why not ask how can it work?
  • Is there ever a time when ‘swing down’ or ‘barrel above the hands’ bat tee cues can work?
  • If one of the best, Mike Trout, is giving up 20-mph of ball exit speed, how much do mere mortals give up doing the same thing?
  • Where can people find more about you Backspin bat tee guys?

The following is the bat tee transcription of the video above.  This is a sneak peak at the expert interviews we’ll be including in Volume-2 of the Swing Smarter book series.  Enjoy!

———-

Joey Myers  00:07

There he is.

Taylor Gardner  00:09

Oh,

Joey Myers  00:10

You hear me? Okay.

Taylor Gardner  00:12

Oh, yeah!

Joey Myers  00:13

Oh, there’s the baby. You got that mixed up? I don’t think that’s supposed to go in your mouth.

Taylor Gardner  00:21

Probably should.

Joey Myers  00:24

Look at you.

Taylor Gardner  00:26

Yeah.

Joey Myers  00:27

Causing your parents so much so many sleepless nights.

Taylor Gardner  00:30

Yeah, momma needed a shower time and dad had an interview here.

Joey Myers  00:38

Double interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:40

Yeah. Oh my

Joey Myers  00:45

Look at that, first time I think we’ve done a zoom interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:49

Oh it has been working out, better adjust my camera?

Joey Myers  00:55

No, I think you’re good. What do you need to adjust?

Taylor Gardner  00:57

All I was going to bring it down a little bit. I think I always fall down.

Joey Myers  01:01

Yeah, I think you’re good. Okay. Are you ready? Let me do the official bat tee start. Hello and welcome to Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com and probably for the half a dozenth interview. I have Taylor Gardner here from Backspin Bat Tee. Welcome to the show. Taylor looks like you brought a little friend.

Taylor Gardner  01:26

That’s right. Yes. Yeah. She has been influenced by any good or bad and…

Joey Myers  01:37

there. There we go. You froze for a little bit. Say it again? Say No. So, she’s been influenced by what?

Taylor Gardner  01:46

I said. No, we got we got a fresh template here. She hasn’t had any good or bad instruction to start working with this.

Joey Myers  01:54

Yeah, yeah. Tie the right arm behind your back and… is your brother? Is he lefty? Or is he righty?

Taylor Gardner  02:03

He’s a switch hitter. You can do both.

Joey Myers  02:05

He does both. But what about throwing? Is he a righty?

Taylor Gardner  02:07

He’s righty.

Joey Myers  02:09

Okay, cool. Well, hey, I wanted to get you on the on the other side of the screen here and wanted to talk about making bat tee adjustments. So that we could go into the hitting side we could go into the strategy side we can go into any different things. So, what do adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?

 

What do bat tee adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?

Taylor Gardner  02:30

The adjustment is, must be understood and adjustment is something if a hitter is already attempting to be on time, it’s really hard to make adjustments if you’re not in the time window to start with. If you’re going up there to hit and you’re just purely reacting your adjustments are also reacting maybe even twice as long or twice as late as they should be.

Taylor Gardner  02:56

Within the understanding that people were syncing up release point we have the timing window of the pitch coming in. Maybe we’re sitting on fastball and all sudden we a pitcher throws a changeup, and whether you recognize the spin or the speed or the trajectory angle, whether an off-speed pitch, what do you do?

Taylor Gardner  03:15

Well, if your plan was there to help you your approach is there to help you not hurt you, so within your plan or approach if you’re on time for fastball, and oh no it’s an off-speed pitch. What do you do? Well, easy answer is, you don’t stop your swing. I know we get told a lot of wait, let that curveball get a lot deeper. Now we’re talking about changing depths and it’s really hard to change depths of timing on the fly. So as instead of being reactive to making your adjustment proactive and making your adjustment one thing that my baby down actually brought a bat here to show you…

Joey Myers  03:55

Use the baby as a bat…how cute she is.

Taylor Gardner  04:02

One thing that we see a lot with hitters. He was left-handed here. I do apologize. Is they’re sideways, they’re pretty lined up with a pitcher in some fashion bat tee stance, and then we start to ride and stride as they start to witness that. Okay, this ball isn’t a perfect fastball down the middle. What do I do?  Well, we see them not only continue to take their head and posture to the ball, but you see a lot of hitters start turn in and sit with the ball.

Taylor Gardner  04:33

As opposed to going uh oh, I’m a little early, let me pull out and then have to release my arms and hands to hopefully start to see hitters actually sit with that ball. Then because, you sit, any movement takes time. And if the plane is correct, you’re on time for the pitchers fastest pitch and then if you’re making an adjustment is to bite. This is where a lot of young hitters especially they don’t do a good job of buying time.

Taylor Gardner  05:00

They end up staying on their backside and opening up too soon and all they have left is like it with their own risk. And yeah, you can hit a ball and do that, and you probably get on base and feel good about yourself. But the faster you know that speed starts to go up and level and the more drastic change of off speed, you get a 90 mile an hour fastball and 80-mph changeup. That’s a little different than facing a 75 mile an hour fastball and 70 mile change-up.

Taylor Gardner  05:27

As a pitcher supposed to extend those timelines, adjustments and variables, the hitters have to as well. The ability to be ready for the fastest pitch and also be able to buy time while staying in a good posture position on the ball is something that we see really good hitters do and you know, quite frankly, amateur hitters don’t do as well.  Oh, sure at some level. Yeah, won’t be a good fastball hitter.  Every great hitter is known to be a great fastball hitter.

Taylor Gardner  05:55

If you’re looking off speed looking for that, that slow curveball every fast ball is going to beat you. On the timeline you got to be prepared for the pitches, pitchers fastest pitch as the fastest timeline. Therefore, your plan is there to help. Yeah, he’s going to be perfect every time, well of course not, it’s baseball. It’s tough. But at least the plan was in place to help you be on time for fastball and buy time for off speed.

Taylor Gardner  06:23

For example, this last weekend, my nephew, faced his first knuckleballer. 13 years old didn’t know this pitcher had a knuckleball it wasn’t his main pitch, so you know first at bat I don’t know hit a fastball for double, second a bat gets a strike or two on him a ball or two and then all the sudden, whack!  He hits a single, steals second base eventually gets to third base and the coach at third goes, “good job Maverick you know you really sat well in your legs on that change up”, he goes “wasn’t a changeup coach, it was knuckleball”. He goes, “Oh, when did you realize it was a knuckleball?”  “After I hit it!”

Taylor Gardner  06:59

It reminded me that he took a good plan to the plate, ready for fastball he happened to adjust instinctively to this crazy knuckleball, but it was more about controlling this contact depth. I’m not quitting on my swing. Did he sit more in his legs, sure.  Did he have a locked out-front leg? No. But he found a way to keep his spinal engine and posture on the ball. By the time he pulled the trigger. Sure, the ball got a little deeper, he barreled it up, he got a good hit out of it. At the end of the day, it didn’t fool him, this random pitch that he really has never seen, didn’t make him react and freeze.

Taylor Gardner  07:36

It didn’t make him react it to slow down and touch it, his reaction was to stay on the ball and give it a chance. And it sounds easy to do until you start seeing a pitch come flying at your body. For us older coaches that aren’t playing anymore, I think sometimes we forget that. There’s a little fear involved. And so, a good plan leads to good adjustments. And sometimes knowing how to get over that fear or filter out your situation really helps that plan starts to stick together better.

Taylor Gardner  07:57

And therefore, those bat tee adjustments really become valuable. As far as other types of adjustments. And that was one type of sitting in your legs, other types of adjustments. We’ve seen Mike Trout sit in his legs; we’ve also seen him bend over a little more at his waist a little side tilt. That’s another way of buying time. Adjustments to me, in our world is a place to buy time, every movement takes time. But unless you’re ready to line your posture up for the ball on time to begin with, adjustments are just going to slow you down. You’ve got to make sure those adjustments are there to help you not hurt you.

Joey Myers  08:48

Well, you said a couple bat tee things that would blow a couple people’s minds they were listening to this… number one is sitting on your backside and swinging from that position number one, and number two, that you don’t have to straighten out your front leg that you can keep that bent. And I love that and that’s something that I’ve learned from you and your brother and Matty, Matty Nokes that the legs really set direction like the lower half basically sets directional force, it does contribute to some of the power.

Joey Myers  09:16

And we’ve learned discussions on that over the last couple of years saying you know, probably between 20 and 30%, it probably contributes to the power of the overall power thing. But the idea that you can use your knees bending your knees at front knee to adjust to pitch height like those are bat tee adjustments that we can make that if you’re from a train of thought that says you have to straighten it you have to brace that leg out, right, I mean that’s really not… We’re trying to like you said buy time.

 

True or False: Hitters MUST straighten their front leg to be effective

Taylor Gardner  09:46

Right. Speaking while the bracing the front leg, the front leg can obviously we can see it YouTube it, Google it. Now of course you can hit with a straight front leg and even sitting in your legs may still turn out to be a brace straightening front leg, you still bend your knee and still walk and brace into that front knee.

Taylor Gardner  10:06

But I think a lot of times as coaches and instructors that usually come to… an issue that I’ve seen come around is their teaching to push the leg straight, as opposed to letting the hip pull the leg straight.  Pitchers do a really good job of this, they don’t just land in their front leg and then push straight up.  Is their vertical ground force? Of course, there is.

Taylor Gardner  10:29

Now in hitting though, there may be little more of that vertical into horizontal ground force, it sounds funny to say, but you’re not just going to push up away from the ball every time. Sure, could you get away with it, of course, and there’s nothing wrong if you are on time and you get the barrel to it, great job. But like you like to say Joey, if it happens too much to ignore, I’ll just start paying attention.

Joey Myers  10:52

Yeah, and on that note, that was the one big bat tee thing that I pulled from you, we’ve been friends for probably over 6, 7, 8 years now, was that idea of staying sideways and keeping that back foot from completely turning over. Like a lot of coaches will say pivot that back foot, pivot that back foot, and meaning, that back heel will turn towards home plate. And it’ll continue to keep rotating. And so, I think we’ve developed almost a generation or two of hitters that are over rotating the lower half.

Joey Myers  11:23

And you say, using Matt Nokes’s lingo is stay sideways, stay sideways, I think is a great one.  And to your point, or to our point that it happens too much to ignore, and you can’t just write it off. Some of our buddies in the past have said well, that hitter can do that because he XYZ that hitter can do that because it’s… no it happens if you take the top 100 hitters, 50 hitters, you’ll see half of them stay sideways and maybe the other half, get to this neutral with it. So that happens a little bit too often to be ignored.

Taylor Gardner  11:57

For anyone that’s listening, if you’ve ever played golf and if you haven’t fine taken a baseball bat take it slow, practice golf swing, go YouTube, Rory McElroy, Tiger Woods, anyone you want. Golfers have figured out how to stay sideways with their back foot.  Now, their balls on the ground and it’s generally between them. Like ball being on a bat tee for hitters.  They’re more allowed to buy but positions of contact with golf. However, you’re going to see baseball players do it too. But since the contact point in baseball can be further out front. Sure, you’re going to see that that back foot rotates a little more before contact. I get that told a lot. “Well, look at this hitter.”

Taylor Gardner  12:33

Yes, but look what happened the first 80% of his swing before contact, he was still sideways, he was still… now was he turning his shoulders, was he loading his core, the spiral engine. Sure, but the back foot was still sideways to hit, the back foot ends up becoming a bit of a rudder.  I won’t even take that too literal. But you wouldn’t start with your back foot facing the catcher, you wouldn’t face with your back foot facing the pitcher. There’s a reason, it’s a natural position for the body.

Taylor Gardner  13:05

The ball is thrown in front of us and quite honestly, ball comes in and it is in front and to the side of us.  If you’ve ever swung an axe, it makes sense to shift your weight and leverage up. That’s why we want to have a little more shift, not only for taking your head to the ball and be able to judge depth before moving very good and feeling your depth and putting a nice sense to it.

Taylor Gardner  13:34

But at the same time spinning against my back foot. Step on my dog… [laughs] spinning too soon. Now the ball is essentially to the side and behind us. Not that you can’t hit from here we opened up too soon. My swing’s wanting to go this way, I crossed my face this way, we want to cross our face into contact with the ball. Again, golfers understand this and their balls in front of them. They want to cross the face you don’t want to spin out and then cross their face too late that ends up turning into a slice and anyone who has played golf, probably vouch for that, my goodness I’m spinning off the ball. balls on never fixed.

Joey Myers  14:19

Well, and what I love the golf analogy is because in golf, you have a ridiculously small margin for error, you have we’re talking in hundreds of yards, not hundreds of feet and your little ball that’s got to get hit by this clubface and then the square center center contact with the clubface in the ball the straighter the ball is going to go. You can take that clubface and slightly like a couple of millimeters you can slightly pull it in like you’re going to hook it or slightly away like you’re going to slice it and those little, teeny millimeters by the end of that 200-yard journey is going to be way pull or slice.

Joey Myers  14:55

What I always tell my hitters, I say when we’re teaching this concept of staying sideways and keeping that back foot from over rotating is, we have to play almost like a golfer, where a golfer’s looking at one shot to the pin, I call it one degree of fair territory. And outside of that 359 degrees of foul territory, because in golf, the objective is the least number of strokes to get it in the hole. In baseball, of course, we have 90 degrees to play with, but we want to act like we’re doing like golf, we want to act like there is a smaller margin, and we have to operate within that smaller bat tee margin, right?

What if hitters used a more precision bat tee approach like golfers when operating between 90-degrees?

Taylor Gardner  15:29

Along those lines, that it’s incredible you say that because the whole outside pitches, let it get deep, inside pitchers you’re magically allowed to pull for some reason, we’re talking about different depths there. Where in golf, obviously, the ball’s not moving, but to their benefit, they’re more precise, they have time to get their stance set up, time to adjust their face angle. So yes, maybe we don’t have that luxury in baseball, but we do have the luxury of knowing our contact depth.

Taylor Gardner  15:58

Do I like hitting the ball more? You know, some hitters like hitting the ball more off their front hip, some even further out front, some like hitting it a little deeper, more or middle of the other ball, whatever it is that you are super comfortable. That’s your decision. That’s what you’re going to battle with the best. And, again, based on your timeline. I have a lot of young hitters, and we constantly have to work on reminding them. Where is your preferred contact?

Taylor Gardner  16:29

And not to make them look like robots, but you’ll see them when uh, I don’t know, maybe like right there or up here. It’s like, Oh, you got to know, if you don’t know, you’re guessing, like your close, good job of being on time. We want to be on time with our contact point. This is a lot more precise. And as you know, aim small miss small, it’s may not always show up in baseball, maybe you had a day where you didn’t hit well. But you know what my plan was good. My adjustments were sound. And maybe I was just a little early or tad late, whatever that may be over under the ball.

Taylor Gardner  17:06

But you can sleep well at night knowing, man I had it at 99% today. And you don’t realize how much you haven’t figured out. You start thinking about more precision, besides movements. And then suddenly you go out three years ago, I was going to battle with a 50%. efficiency.  That shocks a lot of hitters and I really do think a lot of good college players get to pro ball and maybe it doesn’t pan out for whatever reason.

Taylor Gardner  17:32

I think a lot of them whether they can say it or not verbiage that happens to a lot of if they get exposed, we get told at every level of baseball, you better swing faster Jerry, you better figure out how to get that faster pitching, you better, have quicker hands, whatever. Of course, we must make those adjustments because we’re being exposed. What if we got ahead of that being exposed?

Taylor Gardner  17:56

I don’t know if you saw the video that I posted on the baseball Illuminati page. I was actually crow hopping of doing run and guns, a nine-year-old ballplayer shuffle stepping out 25 feet in front of them throwing the ball 60-mph our reaction time stupid fast. So never seen anything that fast in their lives. As far as timing wise. And you know what he did? It took him a bit. He filtered it out. He figured out when to go when to shift, how to track the ball.

Taylor Gardner  18:26

And yeah, that ball was getting to him quicker than any pitch he’s ever going to see in baseball. And he started barreling balls up.  Our brain’s a supercomputer y’all know that problem is if that supercomputer is putting in the wrong formula, it’s still going to, there’s still going to be a glitch. You still have to help it out.

Joey Myers  18:44

Shoot, I’d even go another step with the wrong formula and just saying that it’s becoming impossible, or you hear that from coaches? Well, that’s impossible, that’s not going to happen, or that’s not reality, or it’s not going to happen. And instead of saying that something’s not possible, why not ask why? or How can it be possible, right? We’ve talked about the front arm shape and trying to get that thing extended out. Whereas everybody in their mother seems to teach this bent front arm, right.

Joey Myers  19:13

The question that I always get when I put that post out there, people will go well, you know, I’ve tried to test it out and beer league softball and works there, but it doesn’t work in the big leagues and whatnot. And if you go way back, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, all those guys locked out. So instead of saying, oh, that doesn’t work, today’s pitchers throw too hard and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Why not ask how can we make that work? Yes. How does that work? Right?

 

Instead of writing off the arm bar as it doesn’t work, why not ask how can it work?

Taylor Gardner  19:42

What if we made 90 miles an hour feel slower? Nothing’s any easier to hit. But what if? What if it wasn’t impossible.  And clearly, it’s not, people do it every day. It’s not impossible.  I’d like to say maybe the way we’re rationalizing it and maybe even practicing. Maybe we’re not doing our own job as a baseball coach, making, maybe it’s 75 miles. Now, if you’re struggling, maybe that’s what it is, whatever it is get ahead of that curve, not that you’re going to just start jacking home runs. But don’t be late. There’s no excuse for being late. There’s no excuse for not filtering out and understanding your environment.

Taylor Gardner  20:19

Maybe you don’t get to face a live picture every day or practice, that’s fair. I’m sure you have your work cut out for ya. But there’s no reason to get your doors blown off, when you have all of the potential to be as early as you want. Once you’re late, once the ball gets behind your timeline, and it gets behind your back. Pitcher starts in front of us. We as hitters, let ourselves be late. Maybe because we’re trying to do some crazy swing, like, oh, let it get deep and snap it or something, I don’t know.

Taylor Gardner  20:50

But whatever it may be, again, kind of back to the approach and those adjustments. Got to clean that up. And maybe you got to study more time. Maybe you got to study more spinal engine springy fascia and figure out where to get your running position. To your arm bar point… I think a lot of… uh oh, we have a wandering baby…

Joey Myers  21:13

Wait till she starts walking…

Taylor Gardner  21:15

I know I can’t wait!  I understand folding your levers and engaging muscles, getting correct shapes. That makes sense. But when you see arm bar, and it starts to walk out, or to do slow motion. Yeah, looks funky in slow motion to arm bar. When you engage the body and it starts out, it starts to feel a little more natural golfers do the same thing. Luckily for us that in golf, you get to start with it extended and just connected to your body from there.

Taylor Gardner  21:55

But this bat is heavy, I completely understand why people want to hold it close to their body, it is rational. And it’s still close to the body. It’s not like we’re arm barring out here. If you’re still arm barring across our core, this bat is behind you, want lag and you want leverage, leverage, and just loose and lever sometimes, your hands are so close to your body. And even so close this way to the middle of your body. By the time you do a swing, yeah, you’re getting the barrel off your foot. And it may be a strong position depending upon position.

Taylor Gardner  22:34

But if I never got the benefit of the lag, and a clearing, and time to speed up the bat, it takes time to speed up the bat. This is not an instantaneous thing. I know this swing only takes like point two seconds; I get it.  That’s slow through the world of everything happening, there is plenty of time and so that hand, grips on the bat. For most people they’re bottom hand is the weaker hand.  Not doing anything left-handed if I have to. But you want your dominant arm to do his job.

Taylor Gardner  23:09

Not that you have to do it all with a dominant arm. But you certainly don’t want your weaker arm to be your dominant arm. Now, how do you get them in position? Well, as you get a swing, if it happens to lock out, you’re getting the benefit of lag and leverage. How is that wrong? If I understand timing, if I understand off your positions and swing plane. And armbar is nothing in the scheme of arguments. I’m linked into the lever.  If I do it correctly, then of course, I have more leverage and more bat speed.

Taylor Gardner  23:42

But bat speed takes time. And so, when I see a lot of kids, they start here and the lever pull even more on their hands get across the face really soon, elbows way behind their hand and not even close to be slotted. And next thing you know, you’re chopping down or they slice it, and more important, their swing radius and swing arc may only go so far. Versus if I clear, I can get a further reach. And it’d be right within my wheelhouse of comfortability.

Joey Myers  24:13

If we go back to your contact points, right, knowing what your contact points are. When we work with our hitters on what we call our horizontal approach, or our line-to-line approach. Being able to hit the ball the other way, pull it, and go up the middle things like that. We talked about that there are two main things to be aware of… one is what you’ve already said is your contact point. But number two is when that barrel enters the hitting zone.

Joey Myers  24:38

And it’s going to be different for we call middle in and middle away. It’s going to be different. So middle away and middle down. That snapping early getting the barrel in the zone early makes sense. It’s a great middle down of the strike zone middle away approach. But when it comes to middle in the middle up, it doesn’t make sense, and I use those bad cues that I thought were bad about four years ago. Swing down, barrel above the ball, we do use those but only for middle in, middle up.

 

Is there ever a time when ‘swing down’ or ‘barrel above the hands’ cues can work?

Taylor Gardner  25:05

But right. Speaking along those lines… Yes, have you ever had a kid trying out a new baseball bat and Oh man, he’s struggling with the weight or it was too long for him. But that’s some of the stuff you’ve been told, just remember that when this bat is laying horizontal, is heavier, as far as where the balance is. There’s a reason we stack the barrel. And there’s a reason we hold this bat up, you can hold it with one finger.

Taylor Gardner  25:34

That’s how life, if you will, work how to control the bat, Matt Nokes talks about this, why, the barrel above the hands, it’s taken me a while, the feel can be down, in fact there is a down move in the swing, hold your posture. It’s called your head. The balls is below you. Yes, we want to swing on plane. Of course. But how you get to that barrel entering the zone. And before it starts that actual upswing? That is paramount.

Taylor Gardner  26:07

That also was still wrong with the down early method. Yeah, you’ve got there. But did you give up timing, to get to position at contact.  Did you give up adjustments, because your only move is to get there. If you were able to just keep your hands and be ready for that high and inside pitch, as Perry husband would say we get to focus on EV tunnels.

Taylor Gardner  26:34

If I’m ready for that, then great. And then I can always adjust if I need to.  Wait adjustment patterns, that kind of dynamic plan. Not everyone would agree with me on this, but just from a third party perspective, if the high and inside pitch is the ball that we have to get the barrel out there quickest to, it makes sense to me to be on time with that and adjust down and away with that, because you have more time or space, ball is further away from me to do so, obviously, you get in the baseball stuffs like, well, if you’re looking middle middle, and then that gets tougher if you’re looking away if you’re looking wherever.

Taylor Gardner  27:19

I don’t want to get into the approach part of it. But it just makes sense to me that you can practice, play around practicing with looking high and in, get that pitch locked in, and then we’ll work it down to middle middle, get that adjustment pattern locked in. Maybe for some people, it’s not so much that they have to change their approach, maybe they just need to be comfortable getting to all these pitches vertically, you might not have to worry about what my timing is good, I’m swinging at the right pitches, just getting jammed a lot on high.

Taylor Gardner  27:51

Well, maybe it’s just because you’re dumping your barrel too soon.  It’s okay, you got to find where that issue is, and not fight it. But again, let your plan help you get there. The barrel above the hands is a great plan. It helps me already be ready for that movement pattern… sure, maybe you get to that pitch well maybe you’re facing speeds you can handle and you’re struggling with low and away. So maybe you do have to think about releasing that barrel sooner. Okay, nothing wrong with that.

Taylor Gardner  28:23

I would give everyone hesitation to just go out and put out a YouTube video saying this is the one and only way, of course it’s not. But we must understand all of it so that when you hear someone say something, to filter through what they’re saying, you’ll see why he’s doing it, that makes sense.  When you come out and some of these instructors say just one swing plane for every pitch. And if I just wait longer than I can see it longer. We know that’s not exactly be true.  Eyes don’t see the ball much longer just because we’re not swinging.

 

If one of the best, Mike Trout, is giving up 20-mph of ball exit speed, how much do mere mortals give up doing the same thing?

Joey Myers  28:56

Well and what’s also interesting is what the actual hitting operating system is when you can watch somebody, when you have been around the block and you’ve seen a lot of these different teachings, you can see what their main operating system is. And I know you and I were similar in this and we want to maintain high ball exit speeds.

Joey Myers  29:16

When you get a hitting guy that’s talking about a certain thing like hey, we need to get that at high and inside pitch with the bend in the front arm we need to get there, well we know that Perry Husband said Mike Trout, one of the best in the world will go down is one of the best top five probably, ever top five top 10 and down and away average ball exit speed is 101 miles an hour, not his top out but his average. And that’s where he’s locked out with that elbow at contact.

Joey Myers  29:45

And then at up and in, he’s reduced to a high school baseball player at 80 to 83 miles an hour. So he’s losing almost around 20 miles an hour ball exit speed that’s 80 feet. That’s 80 feet of batted ball distance that he’s giving up by looking away and adjusting in. Well, some people go well, that’s fine. But here’s the deal. And this is what I tell my players I say, Mike Trout is a once in a lifetime player. He’s just one of those people that we will look back on when he’s done with his career. And we will say he’s one of the best. One of the best ever is giving up 20 miles an hour ball exit speed.

Joey Myers  29:50

20 miles an hour.

Joey Myers  30:24

You know what the amateurs are probably giving up. 30-35 miles an hour ball exit speed?  He’s one of the best he can get away with it. You’re going to be given up a lot more.

Taylor Gardner  30:34

Yeah. I can’t remember if it was you or someone else had brought to my attention. It was before COVID happened. I think it was the baseball season before. And they asked, who hit their highest exit speed most often? Try and word that correctly. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know. And there’s Jose Altuve. And Aaron Judge. I was like, oh, okay, wow, two different types of hitter’s sizes body length. They said, Oh, you know how often they hit their hardest exit speeds?

Taylor Gardner  31:06

And at first, I’m like, Oh, these big leaguers? Oh, man, I bet 20% of their hits or they’re popping out near their top exit speeds. It was less than 2%. Wow, less than 2% of all of their hits, on miss hits in the realm of hitting is as hard as you can. What does that mean, though? Does that mean maybe they’re slowing their swing down and touching the ball? No, I don’t think so. And in my opinion, obviously get fooled on some pitches. Okay, fine.

Taylor Gardner  31:33

But I think most of their base hits that they reported, I think their miss hits are that powerful. And once you start to realize that homeruns are the best result, okay, but maybe your best result is a hard line shot, single or double, whatever. However hard you get whatever type of hit is your hardest hit, which for most people is a low launch angle, I dunno, maybe 0-5, maybe 10 degrees. And then that makes sense. Balls coming down about 5, 7, 8 degrees.

Taylor Gardner  32:03

And you can imagine that plane, you’re going to give up exit speed when you raise or lower your launch angle. And I see a lot of people don’t understand that. Oh, no. My hardest hits home runs.  Not exactly. I want to say the highest ball ever recorded was a ground ball. Double play.  It’s okay. It’s okay that if your exit speed fluctuates, based on how well you struck that ball for a single, double, triple based on how high or low you hit it, that’s fine. And you want to start tightening those windows up.

Taylor Gardner  32:33

But Backspin tee, you know Taylor, Joey, you can’t control your launch angles, not saying you can control your launch angles. It’s just like I’m not saying you can even hit why I’m saying though, is you can work on the precision of contact and work on your precision posture and swing plane. And when it lines up, you smoke a ball at the pitcher’s head, you did your job. And when the next at-bat, it probably feels the same and you hit a homerun, guess what you did your job. You hit the ball far. But more importantly, your plan gave you the ability to fall as hard as potentially could that swing.

Taylor Gardner  33:08

And that’s Oh man, how many young kids have you seen? You throw them one change-up… They’re crushing balls… you throw them one change up. And then the next 10 swings are crap. They just can’t find it… it just ruins their world. It’s like, oh, man, you got to filter that out. Trust the plan and get to the next pitch. It’s okay.

Joey Myers  33:29

Yeah, exactly. That’s crazy. Yeah, that’s a good one to end on. And that’s another call for another day. I want to be respectful of your time because you’ve got a little one that’s down there. And she’s been great. By the way.

Taylor Gardner  33:40

She’s sleeping now.

Joey Myers  33:41

She’s asleep. Yeah, she’s asleep. I’m talking too loudly. I’m talking to you loudly. But hey, I want to let you get back to the baby and get back to the family. hopefully get some sleep. Maybe she’ll take take a nap with her. But hey, where can people find you? socials, website, any kind of deals that you got going on right now? Go ahead. And…

 

Where can people find more about you guys?

Taylor Gardner  34:04

Yes, so find us on Google backspin bat tee to find backspintee.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, we have a 20% off code at the moment. If you use the code BATBROS. For those of you that follow the baseball bat pros, I’m very good friends with them. They are great people Bill Taylor and them and they’re amazing people. But you’re also going to find our bat tee in Dick’s Sporting Goods here soon. So be on the lookout.

Taylor Gardner  34:28

Hopefully, Academy is a follow that as well for those that maybe that’s closer to here. And we’re trying hard to get Mark word shields and some other big retail stores. But the Dick’s Sporting Goods we’re shipping that out here in a couple days. Extremely excited to make that next jump to the big retail because we’ve done so well on the individual bat tee sale and it’s time to make that move.

Joey Myers  34:50

Yeah, congratulations, buddy. I’ve been with you for a lot of this bat tee journey. I think we jumped on probably we start building our relationship maybe your second year I think you guys are. So, so I’m just excited for you guys. And I know you guys have been just like all of us been through our ups and downs and stuff and it sounds like you guys are starting to starting to rise again. So yeah,

Taylor Gardner  35:12

Yeah, it all started with Joey Myers experiment video, my bat tee versus the other tee, and we didn’t know each other so you have to watch that video.

Joey Myers  35:20

Again. See how they turned out? Yeah, it was in a very bias thing, I was probably, we had run into each other a couple times. We talked on the phone maybe once or twice and I was like, you know what, let’s try this out. Let’s do a bat tee experiment on it. I think it turned out well for you guys.

Taylor Gardner  35:34

Yeah, I think well back to the precision of contact, just changing that visual. You had a more funnel effect with the Backspin Bat Tee, and with the traditional tee, it was a little more scattered and it just makes you wonder, not promoting my bat tee over another tee… Tee just are you working on your precision and in your vision obviously has a lot to do with that so, pick up a Backspin Bat Tee, give it a shot, if you don’t like don’t like it, then I’ll give you your money back. Yeah, definitely.

Joey Myers  36:01

Right. Then percent off and you get 20% BATBROS. B-A-T-B-R-O-S, and that’s all caps, correct? Cool. All right, brother. Well, thanks. Keep up the good bat tee work. Congrats on everything and congrats on the little girl. My first time seeing her.

Taylor Gardner  36:13

Thank you bud.

Joey Myers  36:14

Alright brother. Take care of yourself.

Taylor Gardner  36:16

Have a good one.

Joey Myers  36:17

Have a good Easter.

Taylor Gardner  36:18

Thank you.

Baseball Hitting Trainer: Curtis Nelson Interview

Baseball Hitting Trainer Interview: How To Transition Cage Swings To The Game With Curtis Nelson

 

Here’s some of what will be discussed in this baseball hitting trainer interview with Curtis Nelson:Baseball Hitting Trainer: Curtis Nelson Interview

  • Rapsodo getting used as a paper weight?
  • What are the top two mistakes that you see coaches doing when they’re teaching hitting?
  • Random pitch training. Explain that a little bit, how you guys do that, and how that looks…
  • How to transition grooved cage swings into the game
  • Do you teach your hitters any kind of plate or pitch approach?
  • How do you evaluate hitters and teach them to make an adjustment?
  • How do you get a pull happy hitter go oppo, and how do you get an oppo happy hitter pulling the ball?
  • “Curtis, so and so said that timing cannot be taught?” What do you think about that?
  • What are some of the adjustments you have hitters make to slow pitchers?
  • Where can people who want more information find you?

The following is the above video’s baseball hitting trainer video transcription.  Let’s get to it!

 

Joey Myers  00:27

Very cool. How did today go?

Curtis Nelson  00:30

It went well. I got a couple guys actually in town from AZ, that was fun and got some good work in, so today went well. My internet was not working at the end there, so always fun but I’m not a big tech guy so the tech stuff for me sometimes gets me a little fired up.

Joey Myers  00:50

What were you using the internet for? Were you just showing them some baseball hitting trainer video and stuff?

Curtis Nelson  00:54

Yeah, so I send a lot of videos from here. When I make either a voice over video or I make myself showing a drill or something, I send from the cage. I try and get most of my work done here. We got a nice little like 6000 square foot cage here.

Joey Myers  01:10

Beautiful.

Curtis Nelson  01:11

370 foot cages with 20 foot ceilings and 25 foot nets. It’s kind of a fun little one. It’s kind of our little home, it’s old school. My boss played at LC state, he has been doing this in the state of Washington for years and years and years and years. He’s got a little bit of that old school, so “you don’t like that cookie cutter” kind of look, you know?

Joey Myers  01:32

Yeah. I agree you guys don’t have HitTrax or any baseball hitting trainer like that either.

 

Baseball Hitting Trainer: Rapsodo getting used as a paper weight?

Curtis Nelson  01:37

Conforto bought me rapsodo, I’d say four years ago now, kind of when it first started coming out. He went out and bought it for me and just kind of gave it to me and I use rapsodo occasionally. I think that you know for some of my young ends or some of my high school guys, I want to go to a PAC 12 school and I don’t know any Pac-12 guys that are below 90 miles an hour on their exit velocity. I think it’s good to be able to show them that obviously with recruiting videos nowadays and in a lot of these colleges are asking for it right? I think that is an important metric.

Curtis Nelson  02:12

Obviously, if you make a swing adjustment and your exit velocity drops a big amount, there’s probably something behind that right so I think that there’s a time and place but in my experience with hit with rapsodo I’ve seen a lot of really good-looking swings and then when they go on rapsodo it starts becoming a little bit more of a slow-pitch softball home-run Derby, but as long as we’re using it the right way.

Curtis Nelson  02:35

I like to use it when I’m doing mixed BP. I like to do it when it’s more of a live setting. You know, we have our pitching rapsodo set up in our hitting rock solo setup in the same cage and we’re doing live stuff, you know, closer to the season time. I think there’s a lot of value there but most of the time a rapsodo is kind of getting used as a paperweight.

Joey Myers  02:52

An $8500 baseball hitting trainer paperweight?

Curtis Nelson  02:57

Yeah, I think that the first one we got was like five grand or 4500. Whatever. Not the second one, but that’s a very expensive paperweight change.

Joey Myers  03:06

Exactly. I’ll keep this in, sometimes it depends on what we talked about before just to get warmed up. I’ll keep it in. I think I’ll keep that stuff in. But are you ready for an official start?

Curtis Nelson  03:18

Yeah.

Joey Myers  03:19

Alright, let’s do it. Hello, and welcome to swing smarter monthly newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from hitting performance lab dot com and with me today is actually our first intro. We had a little phone call earlier today but I’ve heard so much about Curtis Nelson, through a mutual friend Daniel Robertson, I call him D. Rob and Daniel was hitting with Curtis quite a bit in the off-season, this past season that he played in not just last year, but the year before. I think the year before, I think it’s been a couple years but I’ve heard Curtis through D Rob and there’s a lot of mutual hitting minds that surround Curtis. First of all, I want to welcome you into the show. Welcome, Curtis.

Curtis Nelson  04:01

Thanks for having me on. I look forward to it.

Joey Myers  04:02

Thanks for coming on, man. Okay, cool. We had a little conversation, which I’m going to keep in like I said, about rapsodo and different things and got to see your cages, just kind of cool. One of the questions that I wanted to ask you since I’ve seen a lot of your stuff on Twitter, and I agree with I think most of it. You’re one of those guys, we call them lone wolf, mad scientist and the guys that tend to think for themselves and don’t follow others lockstep, right?

Joey Myers  04:06

You take a little bit of something, somebody’s saying, “Hey, I think that works. Let’s go try and experiment with my hitters and see if that’ll work with them”. If it does, you keep it, if it doesn’t, you throw it away. I’m really looking for those lone wolves, the ones like myself, who are on like a passionate curiosity journey to try and find what the truth is what really works. My question to you is, what are the top two things, baseball hitting trainer mistakes that you see out there on whether it’s Twitter or social media, that you see coaches doing when they’re teaching hitting?

What are the top two mistakes that you see coaches doing when they’re teaching hitting?

Curtis Nelson  05:05

I think the first one to me kind of goes back to at a very young age, kind of what is the typical things taught with very young hitters.  You’re typically going to see, you know, take the weight back, take the hands back, as a pretty generic kind of thing taught. I think if you look at a lot of really good swings, there’s so many different guys out there, I love all their swings and their different commonalities but at the same time, I think you see so many hitters that have this certain sequence involved in when they get to a certain position.

Curtis Nelson  05:40

You see, some hitters might have a certain movement in their swing that might be different, but it works for them. I think at a young age, you see a lot of hitters with a big movement backwards, a huge hand load getting outside the body.  It just starts to create these habits at a young age that can really start to affect us as we get older and pitching gets better.

Curtis Nelson  06:02

I really like to see limiting the amount of move, we go back and allowing our hands to kind of get to a good hitting position. More on the forward move, we don’t want it to be rushed, we don’t want it to be something that kind of jerky, it might feel that way for someone and feel smoother for another person. That’s the individuality about it.

Curtis Nelson  06:23

Ultimately, I think that that would be like my number one thing, I see is so many hitters come in, and they’re constantly with a big shift back, a big hand load on the way back and they’re constantly fighting their bodies. That’s the number one for me. We talk a lot about not chasing results and chasing exit velocity. I think at the exit velocity side of things is something that’s important for hitters to know and understand the end.

Curtis Nelson  06:25

Like we were saying before, if you see a big drop in exit velocity, you see a big drop and how the balls coming off the bat, and then there’s some rolls there for us but I see a lot of hitters, a lot of young hitters nowadays on the internet, that are trying to chase results instead of chasing the process that brings about the results.

Curtis Nelson  07:09

Everything for me is about getting hitters better in the game, we have to be better hitters in the game, whatever we’re doing inside in terms of training that needs to translate to the game. If whatever you’re doing, whatever style or thoughts you’re doing, or however your training is translating to the game outside, and you’re a better hitter because of it, then great, we’ll work our way around those things to a certain degree and make sure we understand the difference.

Curtis Nelson  07:35

I think those are my top two things right now, it’s making sure that whatever we’re doing is going to translate to the game. That’s all that matters. We don’t want to be caged hitters; we want to be gamers.

Joey Myers  07:43

Right. I know one thing when D Rob was training before his last year in independent ball, he was doing with you guys, you mentioned it here too, it’s the baseball hitting trainer random pitch training. Explain that a little bit, how you guys do that, and how that looks.

 

Random pitch training. Explain that a little bit, how you guys do that, and how that looks…

Curtis Nelson  07:58

I started doing it as a player when I was young myself and one of my good friends, Cody Atkinson, he’s with the Texas Rangers as a coach now. We started doing it as players and it was just our best way to emulate game pitching. It was just doing mixed BP, we always call it dirty from 30, about 30-35 feet away, we’re not trying to throw as hard as we can, it’s just a crispy BP fastball. We’re just mixing and breaking balls and really just kind of playing games against each other, you go play nine inning game and you get three outs and you will be judging jury and it brought about some good competition between us.

Curtis Nelson  08:34

Ultimately, it taught us how to have an approach, how to be on time than the fastball, how to adjust off the fastball, on some breaking ball stuff. I think it really shows the holes in the swing, it shows where the weaknesses can become and some guys that it might even just be the mentality change, that might be the difference.

Curtis Nelson  08:51

You can see a lot from just doing just kind of a mixed BP, can I cover the fastball away and still cover the breaking ball? Can I cover the fastball in and still take the curve-ball down in a way and it shows this a lot. I’m a huge proponent of it.

Curtis Nelson  09:06

We do our machines, we do our challenge stuff, because I can’t throw the ball 90 miles an hour, but at the end of the day, we do need to see it, that live arm and that kind of mixed it in having to make a decision rather than to seeing a fish down the middle every time on a machine.

Joey Myers  09:21

Very smart and there was a baseball hitting trainer study that was done, I can’t remember the guy’s name offhand on YouTube, but it was a video, not sure. I think it was maybe in one of the books that I’d read but it was a Cal Poly study. It was Cal Poly baseball guys, and it took half the hitters out in the field hitters, they worked with what they call mass practice.

Joey Myers  09:42

They did 15, they took BP where they took 15 fastballs, they hit 15 fastballs, hit 15 curve-balls, hit 15 change-ups and they had the other half of the hitters, fielders, did what you’re talking about a mix of BP and even though the second group that got the mix BP early on wasn’t very good, they’re showing a BP wasn’t very good.

 

Baseball Hitting Trainer: How to transition grooved cage swings into the game

Joey Myers  10:03

What ended up happening is they got better as the season progressed, and their numbers were better, which you’re talking about transitioning into the games, which I hear I’m sure you do, too, from parents and even players, how do we transition these mechanics into the game? Because we’re seeing a great swing in the cage, but then in the game, they’re not really performing and that baseball hitting trainer study what you’re talking about mix BP, I think it’s one of the most important things and that’s a study that shows right there. That was just one season but I bet if you took it over three, four or five seasons, you get the same result, it would just obviously look a little bit different.

Curtis Nelson  10:40

It comes down to kind of open skill and close skill environments, right. In golf, the balls not moving, it’s a very close type skill. We kind of know our outcome before it happens and it actually leads in this to one of my pet peeves, and I grew up hitting like this. You see the outside pitch, and you immediately are trying to go off with it and manipulate that result, where the only thing that dictates where that ball goes is my timing.

Curtis Nelson  11:08

One of the first things I tell hitters, when they walk in the cage with me is, I’m never going to tell you the pull of the inside pitch, I’m never going to tell you to hit the outside pitch the other way, your timing will tell you, your job is to hit through it, and just kind of see what happens and then you can make adjustments off of that.

Curtis Nelson  11:22

That open skill environment of having to basically variable change, you have to have the ability to be on the fastball and then adapt and adjust. I think so much of hitting is about that adjust-ability because how often are we right on time? How often are we perfect, guys in the big leagues, there might be perfect 30, 40, 50 times in a year, and getting paid a lot of money for it, but we’re not getting five 600 at bats, so we have to be a little bit more adjustable, to a certain degree at a younger age level.

Curtis Nelson  11:52

He’s breathing that into them and a younger age level, to have that ability to naturally translate over to the game. A lot of hitters that I see that struggle on that transition from cage to game, they’re doing a lot of machine where it’s in the same place every time, they’re doing a ton of Tee work, a ton of flips, we don’t typically use these in here very often, very, very rare.

Curtis Nelson  12:15

With younger guys, I will, but a lot of times with my college and my professional groups that are coming in, we’re really not using Tees at all, because we want to see the ball moving, sometimes we’ll use a tee for a feel and kind of maybe a specific drill. As a whole, we want to see that thing moving and having to make a decision soon. Just hard, soft flips, or fastball, curve-ball, mix BP or full on, dirty from 30.

Curtis Nelson  12:41

Anytime you get an opportunity to do that, you’re going to be playing the game of baseball in that environment much more like outside, right? It’s going to translate over better. When it doesn’t translate over, now you can start looking at some of those pieces within the swing that might play a role with why it’s not translating over or in the head, you know what I mean in terms of mentality.

Joey Myers  13:01

Do you guys do any kind of baseball hitting trainer approach? You were mentioning, if the ball is away, you don’t have to spray it away, you can pull that ball and my last year in college at Fresno State, we got the new coach, Coach Batesole. Now my last year is 2003, I wasn’t a part of the 2008 College World Series team, but he was a coach at that time.

Joey Myers  13:22

My last year was his first year and one of the things he told us, and the first time I had learned this, was to have two thirds away or two thirds in approach. Two thirds of the plate away or two thirds in, now we just go half, we go half away or half in. That’s how we do it now with my hitters.

Joey Myers  13:38

That was the first time I had heard that to split the plate into two thirds and he said if you’re looking two thirds away, as a righty, he said you can work left center-field all the way to right field. Anywhere in there, you can hit the ball, you don’t have to hit it straight to right and the opposite is true. If you’re looking two thirds in, then you can work right center all the way to left and that was the first time I heard that because most of my coaches would say if it’s away, boom, hit it over there. Hit it where it’s been, you guys do any kind of approach like that?

 

Do you teach your hitters any kind of plate or pitch approach?

Curtis Nelson  14:08

Through the years of doing this now, you’ve seen them all right, there’s so many different approaches. I think that as long as whatever we’re thinking is working, then great, do it but at the same time I think that thinking in general, we talked about open skill, close skill environment, hitting is one of the most purely reactionary sports there is, in terms of hitting a baseball, it’s moving, that can change direction and speed and everything.

Curtis Nelson  14:33

Sometimes approaches, it’s almost too much thinking for some hitters. We’ve done the whole look away reacting, we’ve done the even counts, you’re looking middle away, the positive counts, you’re looking middle in. In the past, I’ve talked about going to your strength is you got a positive count, if your strength is middle out, then look there, then drive into the big part of the field. If you like pulling the ball in your better middle, middle in, in that count looking at those places that you have success.

Curtis Nelson  15:03

I think the best hitters in the world in terms of the best swings and approaches, they can game plan their approaches off the pitcher. If you don’t have any holes in your swing, now you can go off of what the pitcher’s weakness is. Generically, people tend to look at what the pitchers out pitches or how he’s trying to beat you. We try and counteract that instead of going well, how is he going to get ahead of me to get to that point?

Curtis Nelson  15:27

If I’m looking middle in because he’s going to beat me there, but he actually gets hit up in a way then maybe I’m looking up in a way, and I’m going to own that zone based on the guy I’m facing. Now, when you start getting into game planning based off pitchers, you got to have spin rates, you got to have a scouting report of how he is, as a pitcher in general.

Curtis Nelson  15:46

If we don’t have that information, we got to keep it pretty simple. With driveline and what they’re doing with the pitchers nowadays, in terms of tunneling pitches, and making pitches look the same for a longer amount of time, the game is not getting any easier. We want to know where to look.

Curtis Nelson  16:05

We talk a lot about arming pitchers way off to the side more three-quarter arm slot, you should be looking up and out for that guy, you facing Bumgarner, and he’s throwing the ball from second base, we want to be looking up and out, because the ball is coming from that direction, and I think a lot of people make the mistake. It works at a younger age level when the ball is not moving as fast but a lot of people make the mistake of looking at the plate, because not always where it starts is not always where it’s going to finish based on what kind of movement they have.

Curtis Nelson  16:34

Oftentimes, you’re looking middle in and out a hand it looks middle in, and then it’s going to hit you in the hands, or you’re looking middle away, the next thing you know, you get a slider into the batter’s box that you chase. We try and kind of counteract what we’re facing, by how and where we’re looking, to a certain degree, obviously, that depends on the level you’re at.

Curtis Nelson  16:53

With some of my younger teams, we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible. A few years back with one of my teams, we had some pretty darn good hitters and some good swings, we ended up just kind of taking the approach of doesn’t matter what count it is, if it’s a strike, let’s smash it, and just kind of the old see-ball, hit-ball approach, and just make sure we’re on time and adjustable from that point. We had a lot of success with that.

Curtis Nelson  17:16

We basically said, we’re going to flat out own the zone, and we’re going to take balls, and the guys were mature enough to go do that, some hitters need to be a little bit more specific about how they think. I always go full circle with things and making them more individually based for the hitter, right? If I got a hitter that flat out pulls the ball, like there’s no tomorrow, and is a really good pole hitter, then that’s probably where we’re going to look because probably something that you can pull to a certain degree, especially early in counts but that also limits him on his ability to adapt and adjust to what he’s facing to a certain degree.

Curtis Nelson  17:50

To kind of get that complete hitter, the swings got to be able to kind of withstand different zones, different timings and different angles of pitch, to be able to game plan fully, I think the better the swing, the easier it is the game plan off the pitcher and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do.

Joey Myers  18:06

With your young hitters, and I know you when you say that, if you got a hitter, that’s just dead pole and if that’s a strength, you’re probably talking about the older guys, whether it’s high school, college, on up. What about the younger guys? Do you have more of being able to use all field approach, and if so, if you have them set up like what we do, we do small private groups. We have between two and four hitters in a group, with the whole COVID thing, we used to do six, but I try and keep it to four at the max and we’re pretty spread out outside and stuff.

Joey Myers  18:38

What we do is we set up the tee at the beginning, we take our baseball hitting trainer ball exit speeds, but what I’m also looking for is not only the number, but I’m looking for we set that tee up, it’s center center. They should be hitting it right up the middle, right? What I’m looking for and I’m observing is if they’re pulling all five swings that they’re going to get or they’re going the other way, all five swings, where it’s center center, do you do anything like that and eval and try and get them to make an adjustment?

How do you evaluate hitters and teach them to make an adjustment?

Curtis Nelson  19:05

Not so much of the tee. We film everything, I’ll film a rear-view angle, so I can kind of see ball flight, I can see timing, posture, hand path and we’ll do a side view. I’ve always gone to the film, you look at contact points, you look at when the barrel is coming out, you look at timing, and then you look at what’s coming off, right? You’re taking middle pitches, and you’re just hooking them every time into the net, the film is going to show you that you’re around and outside that ball pretty early.

Curtis Nelson  19:34

Ultimately, we want a hitter that can cover the line. I want somebody that can drive a ball, dead straight off, and the ball flies straight with backspin, and then all of a sudden that pitches inside or they’re a little bit early and they can pull it with true fly. Especially in Washington state, we get a lot of hitters that only hit when they’re inside until the game because there’s just not a lot of fields out there that you can hop on and just a lot of hitters are just doing indoor lessons and practicing inside. They just don’t see the ball flight as well.

Curtis Nelson  20:04

That’s where the wraps around the hit tracks can be nice in terms of being able to really truly see where that ball is going. Also, with how cages are built, right, we have these tunnels in cages where we get this tunnel vision going, where a lot of hitters will come in and just pepper their back-net pepper right center, and not pull a single ball into the net.

Curtis Nelson  20:13

We had a lot of hitters in Washington that just pushed the ball in the right field. Learning how to pull the ball correctly, or learning how to drive the ball opposite field correctly. It’s different for everybody, but ultimately, I rely on the film, in the flips. I’m not doing a lot of the tee stuff but if you find value in something, by all means, do it.

Joey Myers  20:45

Now, if you were going to teach a guy, if he was pulling everything into the left side of the net, or even going off way too much, how do you get an Oppo person to learn how to pull the ball? How do you get a pull person to learn? What’s your go to drill for that?

 

How do you get a pull happy hitter go oppo, and how do you get an oppo happy hitter pulling the ball?

Curtis Nelson  21:00

It depends on what the reason is, whether it’s just a mentality thing. That’s where I tapping into each hitter, in learning your hitter and understanding what their thoughts are, what they’re trying to do. You can compare that to the film, we have something called a deep dive, where you kind of dive into the analytics a little bit in terms of professionals. You go look at all the analytics, then you compare it to game film, then you compare it to the indoor cage routine stuff.

Curtis Nelson  21:28

If you have all that information, it starts to paint the picture a little bit of why they might not pull the ball in the air as well, or why they might be pushing the ball off. Ultimately, I think that I’m going to look at the film, I’m going to look at how they’re moving. Obviously, like what you were talking about is putting them on that tee and getting a feel for.

Curtis Nelson  21:49

This was D Rob’s argument to me about the tee stuff because he loves the tee stuff. That’s where I told him, at the end of the day, if that is a routine that has built you, you’re finding comfort in a certain position, that maybe you’re not feeling when the ball is moving, by all means getting on a tee and feeling that contact point out or hitting the ball deeper in the ball more out in front, based on what you’re trying to create, you can gain a feel in that atmosphere.

Curtis Nelson  22:14

I’m not saying that I’m against tees by any means but I’d much rather see the ball moving and how they respond to it moving with some film on it, so we can kind of see that overall picture. I think it’s going to be different for every hitter based on what they’re thinking, based on what their mechanics are and then obviously comparing that to the results or any kind of data that we do have, but that’s a good question, I like that.

Joey Myers  22:38

One of the baseball hitting trainer things I hear a lot of what you’re talking about is timing. There’s a lot of people out there, believe it or not, that say that timing cannot be taught. What would you say to that coach, instructor, parent, that hears that, comes to you and says, “Curtis, so and so said that timing cannot be taught?” What do you think about that?

 

“Curtis, so and so said that timing cannot be taught?” What do you think about that?

Curtis Nelson  22:58

I teach timing every day, every single day. Some hitters are going to grasp some concepts better than others, and some hitters have that ability to be on time more consistently, whether that’s because of their swing, or because of their athleticism, their hand eye coordination, whatever it is, they have a gift to show up on time more than others.

Curtis Nelson  23:23

I would say 95% of the hitters that come through my cage, getting them aware of their move, whether it’s improving the move first, and then making them aware of their move in relationship to time and space, is one of the most important things that I do. I truly believe there are hitters out there that just time naturally, and it’s very natural for them to do so.

Curtis Nelson  23:46

They don’t need to understand their timing, they just show up on time more often than others. For every one of those guys, there’s 150 to 1000 of the other guys that need to understand their timing. We do a lot of timing stuff in here, just really a lot of rear-view films to kind of show hitters, when are you picking up in relationship to where the pitcher is.

Curtis Nelson  24:06

When I was growing up, it was all about getting your foot down early, get your foot down early, get your foot down, and that’s all we ever heard when we were late, that can breed a lot of issues. If you got a swing like Rendon, or Nelson Cruz or Paul Goldschmidt, that is a different type of stride.

Curtis Nelson  24:22

You still see them have a good feel of time, they get that foot down and then the body shifts back to center to a certain degree to hit, everyone’s a little bit different on that aspect. Ultimately, I think rhythm and flow, that we talked a lot about flowing, a lot about dancing with the pitcher. Those are some pretty simple terms that can apply to timing but if you can arrive on time to a good fastball and then you can still have adjust-ability on breaking balls, we got a great opportunity to hit in the game and having markers in the swing or the pitcher.

Curtis Nelson  24:53

Whether it’s some guys like to go on handbrake or some guys like to make their move on arm up or other guys like to just game plan off of “Hey, I’m ready to pull the fastball, even though I’m not trying to.” There’s different ways around that to get somebody on time but making hitters more aware of their timing when they’re on and when they’re off or when they’re late or they’re early, is a really, really crucial piece to what we do here.

Joey Myers  25:18

Before we get to where people can find a little bit more about you, we’re kind of closing in here, I want to ask you just one more question on that. If you got some young hitters that come in, think about the team that you’re talking about that have the young guys where they’re just basically swinging strikes, take balls, if they’re facing a really slow pitcher, which tends to happen quite a bit where the pitcher can break a pane of glass, what are some of the baseball hitting trainer adjustments that you have them make or go through?

 

Baseball hitting trainer: what are some of the adjustments you have hitters make to slow pitchers?

Curtis Nelson  25:42

It’s such a good question. I love answering this question. I think that when I was younger, the generic and you still hear it with hitters, you still hear with coaches, whatever ones taught against that soft lefty. I remember showing up to the field, and we’re facing a PAC 12 recruit throw in 93-94. I’m like, we’re going to score 10 runs today, because we hit this guy like there’s no tomorrow, we prepared for this. You show up, and you face that soft lefty throwing 75 and I’m like, I don’t know, if we’re going to have a hit today, it’s a bad feeling.

Curtis Nelson  26:11

When I was growing up, you saw the slow guy warming up and you’re like licking your chops. Well, I’m about to be free for a couple doubles and a home run and that guy usually didn’t make it out the first ending. I think it goes into kind of training nowadays is a lot of machine, a lot of velocity, a lot of that stuff. We’re better against firm, but I do think that the approaches, and the way we’re taught against those guys can really play a role.

Curtis Nelson  26:12

Growing up, we were all taught to hit that guy off and push that ball into right, hit it off, let it travel, see it, the start your rhythm later, make a forward move later in the process, however you want to say it. That actually is what the lefty pitcher wants you to do, I want you to be defensive, he wants you to push them all off. He wants you to weight back on him.

Curtis Nelson  27:00

The best approach against the soft guy is to shrink the zone, make the zone smaller. He doesn’t have the ability to strike you out unless you chase his pitches, and you’re going to see his pitches better because the ball is moving slower, we see the ball better when it’s moving slower, you can’t argue that.

Curtis Nelson  27:16

At the end of the day, if you shrink your zone and go, “Hey, I’m going to be here, this is my goal zone against this guy. I’m not chasing those pitches out there”. Even if they look hit-able moving slower, I think we’re going to have a lot more success doing that, we’re not necessarily trying to go off, but we’re not trying to go up there and roll over to third first pitch either, I think it’s really just commanding your zone and kind of going back to the simplicity of just trying to hit through the ball and see where it goes.

Curtis Nelson  27:41

I think we tend to manipulate the swing because of what we’re facing, that slow guy is like, “I’m hitting a home run against this guy”. We’re spinning off that slow when away, but we tend to beat ourselves more than maybe they beat us. We try and stay away from the generic hit the ball up against the slow guy kind of mentality. The end just kind of stick to say, “Hey, this guy only beats me if I chase, so we’ve got a good pitch to him.”

Joey Myers  28:07

That’s funny you say that because that’s the same with the same lefties that we’re seeing, that can’t break a pane of glass, you see the guy throwing 93-94. 93-94, it’s Friday night, and then Saturday night, you see the guy can break pane of glass and the way I’m going to just pepper it to the opposite field, but one thing he is slow anyway, so you can have to wait longer and then now you’re saying that you want to hit it the opposite field, and now you got to wait even longer. You got to see it even deeper, it’s almost like it’s two double negatives there. I get that. You’re chasing your tail, basically.

Joey Myers  28:42

Curtis, I appreciate your baseball hitting trainer time. Where can people find you? I know you’re on Twitter, because that’s where I’ve seen you. If you guys have a website, where you guys are in Washington, if anybody wants to come out and check you guys out, where can more people find you.

 

Where can people who want more information find you?

Curtis Nelson  28:58

Our cage out here it’s called Atkinson Baseball Academy. It’s out in Kirkland, Washington. I know there’s a website for the cage. I am separate from that in terms of my hitting instruction. I am on Twitter, it’s @Nelson_Hitting, used to be cheat hack nation. That was kind of a joke that we threw together when I first developed because of all the swings we’re seeing that were a little bit aggressively big. I don’t have my own personal website, I probably should by now, but I spend majority of my time in the cage with hitters, so the internet and social media side of things, I’m still relatively beginner at that. I would say Twitter is the best way to reach out if you have anything, just shoot me a DM and I’ll get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

Joey Myers  29:49

Maybe not 100% probability but you can take a baseball hitting trainer like yourself who’s always in the cage doing stuff. You can take where somebody like you, you think he’s got 20,000 or 100,000 followers because it’s great stuff, if you read your stuff, you watch the videos that you put up and think it’s awesome stuff and you should have like the 50,000 100,000 but the reason you don’t is because you’re not on Twitter all the time, you’re in the cage, working with hitters, so that’s always not always a sign of a good hitting coach but I would say more likely than not, guys like Matt Piers and Jeremy Johnson, they don’t really have big followings but they got great gyms that they put out there and can really help hitters. I really appreciate what you guys are doing out there in Washington, keep up the great baseball hitting trainer work.  If you see D Rob before me, say hi to him. I think he’s up in Seattle, he still lives in Seattle?

Curtis Nelson  30:45

Yeah, he’s over in West Seattle. They got a bridge out so that is a pain in the butt to get out of West Seattle right now, but he’s over there. He pops in the cage, he comes, he hangs out. His experiences and his knowledge is just bar none. He’s been doing it for so long. It’s a lot of fun getting that guy in the cage and kind of just talking.

Joey Myers  31:05

He’s a baseball hitting trainer Yoda for sure. I know he wants to be a GM and I can see that he’s got the chops on the field, he understands intellectually the game and like you said, it’s fun to talk with him. So, tell him hi for me if you see him before me. How far is Kirkland from Seattle? How far are you guys away?

Curtis Nelson  31:27

Very close, if you take away traffic. Right now, with COVID and everything, the freeways aren’t as crazy out here right now. You take away traffic, I can get over to West Seattle, it’s kind of over by the airport, you can get over that direction in 20 minutes, 15 to 20 minutes, but you throw in the traffic of the normal out here, you’re looking at probably more like an hour and a half.

Joey Myers  31:50

Got you. Cool. All right, Curtis, well, I’ll let you go, man. Thanks again for your time and Merry Christmas to you and the fam.

Curtis Nelson  31:58

Merry Christmas, you guys take care. My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Joey Myers  32:01

You got it.

How To Use Legs In Swing Like Rizzo, Altuve, & Trout

Answered: “How To Get My Kid To Stop Rising And For Him To Utilize His Legs More During Batting?”

 

 

Here’s what we cover in the above video:

  • Legs DO NOT equal power – water polo example,How To Use Legs In Swing Like Rizzo, Altuve, & Trout
  • What is leg function in swing & Adjusting to pitch height,
  • Distance between the feet equal more control over line drives,
  • GRF’s but not as much as you think,
  • Buying time – back foot sideways, directional force, & pushing the “pause” button, and
  • How to utilize the legs in the swing?

Hey, what’s going on. It’s Joey Myers again from ‘Hitting Performance Lab’. In this video, we’re going to answer the following reader question:

“How to get my kid stop rising, and for him to utilize his legs more during batting?”

Now this is a question that comes either through a form, survey, or email or even from my local lessons. The coaches out there in the high schools tend to meddle a bit too much, subscribing to the hitting myth that: ‘it’s all about the legs’, or ‘you need to use your legs more’.

In this video, I want to talk about what that means, and what is the function of the legs…

 

Legs DO NOT equal power – water polo example

Legs are only 20-30% of the consistent power equation, and most of that is in the function of the pelvis.  If you’re a coach and power is the deficiency in your hitter’s swing, then it’s the spinal engine you want to focus on.  The Catapult Loading System is where 70-80% of consistent power is found.  The best example I like to share can be found in water polo.

And my favorite demonstration to do for hitters is showing what a beach towel and the spinal engine have in common.

 

What is Leg Function in Swing & Adjusting to Pitch Height

Now a couple things, one is they help to adjust to pitch height. If you’re looking at hitters like Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, Joc Pederson of the Dodgers, Corey Seager, looking at Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs or some of the past players like Adrian Beltre or Pedroia. When the pitch is down in the zone, you tend to see them bend their front knee to go down and get it. They tend to do that consistently on those pitches, those lower in the zone pitches, not locking out their front knee like many teach.

I’ve seen these same hitters Rizzo, Bellinger, I’ve seen them with a bent front knee hit balls 440 to 460 feet.  So, locking out the front knee IS NOT all about power.  So, this raises a question of, if you want a hitter to use their legs more often because you think it has to do with power, well that is just not true – that’s not what we’re seeing. So, adjusting to pitch height, and you can study the hitters discussed as examples.

 

Distance between the Feet Equal more Control over Line Drives

Distance between the feet, this is a big one, that we can use the legs or utilize the legs to allow hitters to hit more line drives. The problem happens when, say if we are teaching our hitters to skip their back foot that they end up skipping their feet too close together.  Or it could be they don’t stride that much. They don’t skip at all and, so their feet tend to be closer together. What we want is what you see with the top 50, top 100 hitters in the big leagues….

You’re going to see distance between their feet. So, whether that is a longer stride and their front foot moves away from their back foot. Whether they don’t skip but they don’t stride as much, you still see that wideness of their feet. You see them scissor, you see different things like that, but what they all have in common, all the top hitters in the big leagues, is they have distance between their feet.  When the feet come close together, it makes the hitter taller, which this reader is asking how to keep the hitter from “rising”.  The taller the hitter gets, the more in the ground the ball is gonna get hit.

If the hitter knows better, and they try and get the ball in the air, even though they have narrow feet during their turn. Then they’re gonna do something unnatural with their hands to try and get under it, which we don’t want them to do either. Because that is going to cause uppercuts.  It’s going to cause inconsistencies in their swing path.

 

GRF’s, but not as much as you think

I just mentioned that hitters don’t have to lock their front knee out for power. When you think about ground reaction forces (GRF’s), they DO play a role. I’m not taking away from ground reaction forces, or saying “Oh, well the legs don’t do anything in the swing”.

No, they do. It’s about a 20 to 30% increase in power by using the legs. Most of that though is in the pelvis, and the rest in the spinal engine. I tell my hitters that the spinal engine, their combination of your shoulders and how you use them.  Neck, shoulders, and pelvis account for about 70 to 80% of the power. That gets you to the wall. The legs help get you over the wall. So, you do need the legs, and it’s like what Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, the author of the Spinal Engine said, that locomotion, the arms and legs aren’t necessary for locomotion, they’re an enhancement, they help enhance movement of the spinal engine.

So, we’re not taking away from the legs, the use of the legs, and how they can benefit the swing. It’s just that they’re an enhancement to the spinal engine, the taller the player is, the longer the levers, the more the force multiplier at the end of that lever. So, guys like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are gonna have longer levers, if they lengthen those levers at impact. When we’re talking about the front arm shape, they’re gonna hit the ball pound-for-pound, apples-to-apples swings farther than Jose Altuve with the locked out-front arm. It’s just because the longer limbs enhance more, they’re more of a force multiplier.

 

Buying Time – Back Foot Sideways, Directional Force, & Pushing the “Pause” Button

Buying time. So, the lower half, the legs can help buy time. Jamie Cevallos in his book Positional Hitting way back, I think it was in the early 2000’s or mid to late 2000’s. He talked about this idea of a ‘Cushion’. You’ll see a hitter especially, if they’re looking fastball, and they see a curve ball or changeup. You’ll see them actually bend, sink, or cushion into their knees. They use their knees by bending them to buy them a little bit of time to get on time a lot better.  It’s pushing the ‘pause’ button.

The other thing we want to do to buy time, is keep the back foot sideways.

We talked about this idea of directional force, Matt Nokes, he says that to hit a ball 400 feet, it takes 8,000 pounds per square inch of force in one direction. In hitting, both in baseball and softball, we have 90 degrees to work with. The other 270 degrees is in foul territory, it doesn’t do a hitter any good or a team any good to play in that 270 degrees outside of a fair territory. We have to stay between the 90s, we have to stay between the lines. If you think about a bowler, every single professional bowler out there, “scissors” their legs.

I’m not saying that all hitters have to scissor. I just give my hitters that option.  But if you think about bowlers, they bowl between a two-foot Lane. I don’t know if that’s correct or not, but it’s somewhere around that. They also put a spin on the ball, so if they over rotated their lower half, not keeping their back foot sideways, they’re over rotating their pelvis. Then what you would see is that ball bouncing into the outside lanes.  Try scissoring your legs, then try and open your hips up more, and it’s almost impossible.

You want to make sure that we’re creating directional force, and that’s another thing the legs do. They help us stay between that 90 degrees, and use all 90 degrees effectively. That comes in handy at the higher levels when hitting to the opposite field is a lot more important, and when we see shifts.  Most of the time, hitters are not very good about going the other way. You can see the hitters that do go the other way very well, their batting averages seem to be higher.

 

How do we Utilize the legs in the Swing?

Now again, if it’s power you want, this isn’t the place. You want to look at the Catapult Loading System, and harness the power of the spinal engine.  If you want a majority of power, 70-80% of consistent power.

Getting Shorter, Staying Shorter

To properly utilize the legs in the swing, you want to look at getting shorter and staying shorter.  You see most great hitters when you draw a line over their head before they stride, by the time they get to stride landing, you’re gonna see distance between where they started, and where their head is at stride landing. You’re gonna see what we call ‘Getting Shorter’.

Then as they swing, it’s almost like that bottom ladder rung they create at landing, they tend to stay under that line. What we do is, we could take a PVC pipe. We can put it at the start of the hitter swing, before they even stride…we can put it maybe at their nose or their chin, and we can have them practice getting the top of their head under that PVC pipe. As they swing, stay under that PVC pipe. I’ve also had my hitters get next to a piece of furniture that’s about the same height, then have them stride, and get their head to where, now they’re under the top of that, say dresser or whatever, or picture frame, could be anything around the house.

When they swing, do some slow motion swings, and they stay under that line. That’s a way to get shorter, stay shorter.

Okay to “bend the knee”

It’s okay to bend the knee, I also get my hitters to do this if necessary. We don’t really practice this, but I tell them it’s okay to bend the knee, if the pitch is down in the zone.

Distance between the feet

Also working distance between the feet, you can either get them to stride longer, or you can cut down on their skip. We usually try to manipulate one of those two things or both things to get that distance between the feet, so that allows them to hit more line drives or at least control their line drives.

Keep back foot sideways

Then keeping their back foot sideways. You can use the VeloPro, they use it in pitching a lot. But in hitting, we use the VeloPro.

We tell the hitter to make sure they keep their back foot, their back heel on the ground as they swing. Almost like you would see with George Springer, or Altuve, or Mike Trout, any of those kinds of hitters or in softball Sierra Romero. They keep their back heel on the ground and it turns sideways, so they stay sideways. They do a better job of staying between those 90 degrees.

One last thing on keeping the back foot sideways, as mentioned, scissoring helps with that as well. So, that’s something that you can play around with, and let your hitters’ experiment with.

Hope this answered the question of “How to get my kid to stop rising, and for him to utilize his legs more during the swing”. Make sure that we’re swinging smarter by moving better, and before I let you go…

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

11 Little League Baseball TBall Drills & Tips, So You Can Be Confident You’re Preparing Players For The Next LevelTBall Drills Little League Baseball: How To Coach Tee Ball Without Going Insane

In researching this coaching tball drills little league baseball post, I did a Google search for “coach tee ball”, and one of the Google pre-populated search terms that came up was coach tee ball without going insane.  Apparently, there’s a book being sold on Amazon with the same title by a Robert Doss…who knew. 

I had to laugh because the dad of one of my online hitters, Lawrence Sutton Jr. (link is to his Perfect Game profile), shared over the phone he was pulling his hair out trying to coach his two twin 7yo daughters how to hit.  Let me give you a little context about [son] Lawrence…

You may remember [son] Lawrence in this post titled, How 175-LB 15yo Is Consistently Hitting The Ball 400-FT With…BBCOR & Wood.  Well now Lawrence is hitting those ugly yellow dimple balls out during batting practice.  He’s hitting baseballs over 360-feet…off a tee!  He’s registering over 94 to 96-mph off a regular tee using a PocketRadar.  He’s also hit balls in games over 425-feet. By the way, he’s about 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pounds…and gets mistaken for a college Freshmen during unofficial visits, but he’s a Sophomore in High School!!

Let me repeat…so now [dad] Lawrence is trying to coach his TWO TWIN 7YO DAUGHTERS…yes, A LOT of patience needed.

Look, I can’t say my situation is exactly like [dad] Lawrence, but I do work with a lot of hitters from 6yo to pro guys and D1 college gals.  Half the hitters I work with are 12yo and younger, and the other half are 13yo and older.  In addition, my son Noah turned 5yo this past December…and this is his first year of tee ball…AND wait for it…I’m now helping coach his tee ball team.  BAM!  A lot of my parents said this day was coming.  Those who can’t see me right now, I’m tipping my cap 😛

In this little league baseball post, I wanted to share with you advice I offered [dad] Lawrence over the phone about “how to coach tee ball without going insane”.  I know some of you coaches out there can offer some advice as well, so please share below in the comments.

Here are my 11 little league baseball tball drills and tips (in no particular order):

  1. Patience through guided meditation apps
  2. Don’t have high expectations
  3. Have a long wick to frustration
  4. Failure is going to happen…A LOT
  5. Build fun into practices and games (joke with the players)
  6. Positive reinforcement training
  7. Minimal to NO mechanical teaching
  8. More emphasis on external cues
  9. Extreme adjustments
  10. Focus on throwing and catching
  11. Getting them ready for the next level

 

#1: TBall Drills Patience through guided meditation apps

First of all, if you’re not going to have the patience for coaching tball drills, then you’re not going to enjoy coaching.  Period.  There are two great guided meditation apps out there:

  • Headspace, and
  • Calm.

I prefer Headspace, which I’ve been using over the past couple years.  Minimal investment of money, and between 2 to 20-mins investment of your time each day.  Helps me focus better, think clearer, expose my creativity, and especially for coaching tee ball – become more aware when you’re losing it, so you can relax in a shorter period of time.  It’s totally transformed my interaction with my wife, kids, and hitters.

 

#2: Don’t have high expectations

David Epstein, in his book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, talks about “learn-ability”.  It’s the ability of an athlete to adapt and learn something new over time.  To help put coaching tball drills into perspective, the bell curve of young athletes looks like this:

  • Left hand side long tail = below average “learn-ability” athletes, take longer to learn something new (these are few),
  • Majority middle bell curve = average “learn-ability” athletes, take a reasonable amount of time to learn something new, and
  • Right hand side long tail = above average “learn-ability” athletes, take a very short time to learn something new (these are few).

Most of your little league baseball tball drills and expectations should be setup for the majority middle bell curve.  You’ll then want to have a regression-progression plan for your below and above average learners, which we’ll discuss later in this post.  The point is, set reasonable expectations, and understand what you’re up against.

 

#3: Have a long wick to frustration

If you haven’t noticed, kids pick up on frustration pretty quickly.  And oftentimes you can’t fool them.  Believe it or not, kids just want their adult counter-parts to be happy.  Studies show that when hot tempered anger or animated frustration enters the mix, learning stops.  The focus falls onto survival.

They’re modeling you when learning how to react to “speed bumps”.  And if coach (or mom/dad), is extremely animated when frustrated or angry, then they’ll learn that’s how you deal with it.  Guided meditation helps hide the mental meltdown button.  Here’s another powerful word I use often with my kids…and hitters…

The following YouTube video is Dr. Carol Dweck doing a speech on the power of “yet”…

 

 

I highly recommend her book Growth Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success.  The power of “yet” will help mold your little league baseball tball drills to be growth mindset oriented.

 

#4: TBall Drills Failure is going to happen…A LOT

Think back to when your kids were learning to walk.  Did you teach them a thing or two on how to do it?  What cues did you use?  Internal ones? External?  “Walk as hard as you can, as far as you can” cues?  NO!  Figure It Out (or FIO) and Gravity were their best teachers.  The best tball drills are designed with failure in mind.  A LOT of it.  Swing and miss.  Swing and miss.  Swing and miss.  And multiple that by 100 at this age!

I’m here to tell you, it’s okay.  They’re 4, 5, or 6 years old.  Even one of the best hitters to ever play the game said hitting a ball is one of the hardest things to do in any sport – Ted William.  You can’t get 7 wrong on a school test and climb the education ladder.  Hall of Famers get it right 3 out of 10 times in baseball.  Keep on a poker face (hold the judgement), give positive reinforcement during tball drills when they get a productive outcome, and encourage the heck out of them.

 

#5: Build fun into practices and games (joke with the players)

Play games at the end of practice like Total Bases, Last Man (or Woman) Standing, Russian Baseball (kind of like cricket), or any other fun game.  Use it as a reward if they get their work done.  Speaking of which, tball drills MUST not go any longer than 60-mins (preferably 45-mins).  Adults forget 4-6 year olds have the equivalent attention span of a gnat.  Keep little league baseball practices short and sweet.

I like to “flirt” with my players and hitters…not in a romantic way, you weirdo!  In a playful way.  I tease my Middle School and High School hitters about the video game Fortnight, and how all the pretty girls are looking to get 100,000 signatures on a petition to ban the video game because it’s robbing them of their “guy time”.

When we’re talking about running to different bases with the tee ballers, they learn about 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and FOURTH base…wait minute, is that right?!  I ask them if they have the key to the batter’s box.  Or if they could fetch me the box of curve-balls.  I tease the heck out of them on down times.  Keep them loose and on their toes.

 

#6: Positive reinforcement training

The best little league baseball resource for this is the book by Karen Pryor titled, Don’t Shoot The Dog:  The New Art Of Teaching And TrainingKaren has trained dolphins, horses, dogs, and humans.  This form of training has taught chickens to turn the page of a book.  True story!  And trained two pigeons to play ping-pong.  Another true story!  Studies show we’re driven more by positive than negative reinforcement.  That’s not to say negative reinforcement training isn’t effective, because it is…give one chimpanzee an apple, then take it away, and they’re peeved!  Give another chimpanzee two apples, then take only one away, and they’re just as peeved!  However, if you want to build lasting habits, positive reinforcement training is the way to go.

Let me give you some examples of this:

  • My 5yo boy Noah gets any $1-2 candy at 7-Eleven immediately after school.  He also gets an ice cream scoop immediately after going to his gymnastics training.  He earns stickers for doing productive things, and after earning 10 stickers, he gets a toy of his choice within financial reason.
  • For the boring redundant parts of my business I play my favorite music in the background (right now it’s Eric Church, songs: “Talladega”, “Springsteen” & “Record Year”), and most times have a sweet green tea within reach.
  • Karen Pryor told a story in her book Don’t Shoot The Dog, of when her daughter took a night class for working professionals.  The Professor would always start the class off with the “Who finished last night’s homework?” question.  Only 25% of the class would raise their hands.  She’d then lectured the class on the importance of doing their homework.  After one of the classes in private, Karen’s daughter talked the Professor into praising those who did do their homework instead of belittling those who didn’t.  After about of week of using positive reinforcement training, 75% of the class were raising their hands after the “who turned in their homework” question.

You MUST read Karen Pryor’s book.  Your little league baseball coaching will never be the same.

 

#7: Minimal to NO mechanical teaching

(Get more information on the Backspin Tee, or the RopeBat at TheStartingLineupStore.com)

Above is my 5yo boy Noah hitting a Smushball laser in a Backspin Tee with a Ropebat.  Look at him ‘show those numbers’!

Remember, they’re 4, 5, and 6 years old.  I have local and online lesson requests from parents with kids in this age range I turn down.  And by the way, it’s possible to teach a 2yo how to hit a moving ball.  I did with my son Noah.  Not forced.  He loved the movie Sandlot at the time and got a little tee ball set for his birthday.  CLICK HERE for a little league baseball post on how I progressed him to hitting an under-hand thrown baseball sized whiffle ball using a long slim yellow whiffle ball bat.

I give the following advice to parents seeking swing help for their 4-6 year old hitters

  • Being athletic in their stance.  Bend at waist, chest over toes.  Bend in the knees.  Start that way and maintain that position to stride landing.  It’s easier to teach if they’re playing other sports like soccer, basketball, gymnastics, dance, and/or martial arts.
  • Grip on the bat.  Handle of the bat lines up in the middle of the hand – base of the finger tips, top meat of the hand.  I’m not even concerned if their hands are together at this stage.
  • Balance when swinging.  They should not be falling toward or away from the plate.  However, we may use these cues to correct one side of the extreme.  In other words, if they’re falling away from the plate, then I would tell them to fall towards the plate, to get them to balance.
  • Fungo toss is great as a progression.  Hitter tosses ball up to him or herself and tries to hit it before it hits the ground.

That’s just about how technical I get with tball drills for hitting.

 

#8: More emphasis on external cues and variance

We do a lot of external cuing.  Hit the ball over there.  Hit the ball up or down there.  Hit the top half of the ball.  Hit the bottom half of the ball.  Hit the ball in on your hands.  Hit the ball off the end of the bat.  Hit the ball in the middle (sweet spot).  Try hitting this ball with this heavy bat.  Try hitting the ball with this Easton Pro Stix whiffle ball bat.  We hit from different distances providing we’re progressing to LIVE toss.  Reverse strike zone drill where they’re swinging at “balls” and taking “strikes”…they like it when I bounce it and they have to hit it!

What’s important is for them to try different ways.

 

#9: Extreme Adjustments

This works like magic.  Check out for following video that’s great for tball drills…

 

#10: Focus on throwing and catching

CLICK HERE for an audio interview I did with NCAA Division-1 Hall of Fame college baseball Coach Bob Bennett.  One of the questions I asked him was if my team was getting ready to win the Little League World Series, but only had 4-weeks to train, what would you work on.  And do you know how he responded?  Playing catch and pitchers throwing strikes (obviously, the latter is irrelevant to coaching tball drills)Fielding ground-balls and playing catch are VERY important because 95% of coaches at the lower levels are teaching their hitters to hit ground-balls.  Why?  Because they know kids can’t play catch at that age!  If you want to win a lot of games, then obsessively teach your players to play catch.  Take advantage, this is low hanging fruit coaches 😉

 

And FINALLY #11: TBall Drills How To Get them ready for the next level

Coaches MUST maintain a Growth Mindset at all time, and should never just coach for the current level.  Like Wayne Gretzky said:

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Coaches MUST be looking forward when developing players…always.  My son’s Pre-K teachers are doing everything they can to prepare him and his classmates for Kindergarten this next year.  So why can’t Little League coaches prepare their troops for the big field?  So in the context of coaching tball drills, start using the progression I used with Noah in the aforementioned linked article on how to teach a 2yo how to hit a moving ball…

  • Hitting off tee is essential at first, but slowly shrink the diameter of the bat, moving the tee up or down after every swing, and use different size and colored balls.  Variance if your coaching tball drills friend.
  • Once they’re consistent hitting the ball off the tee, grab the fat plastic bat and beach balls!  Start underhand tossing, and as they start hitting the ball more often, then slowly shrink the ball down to baseball sized whiffles.  Once they’re hitting those whiffles with the fat barrel plastic bat, then start slowly shrinking the barrel diameter down.

This is a progressive winning strategy that worked for my son.  It may or may not take longer, but that’s the art of learning.  Embrace it.  Have A LOT of patience.  And coaches, go forth and make awesomeness…

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

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Get Rid Of Timing Problems Once & For All

 

This is Part-1 of a 3-part fastpitch softball hitting tips (works well for baseball too) video series coming straight out of the Reaction Time Mastery online video course…

Softball Hitting Tips for Kids: Reaction Time Mastery

Sick of struggling to get your hitters on-time, balanced, and keeping high Ball Exit Speeds, especially while hitting off-speed and breaking pitches?  This online video course (7-modules total) reveals cutting edge science on the topics of: Vision, Tracking, Timing, and Forward Momentum.  Finally, you’ll be able to track pitches crystal clear, accelerate reaction time decision-making, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness with this “secret” online video course you can’t live without.

If you haven’t already, then CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Reaction Time Mastery Online Video Course

 

In this fastpitch softball hitting tips video, we answer the following reader question:

“How to handle fear of pitcher throwing heat?”

We’ll discuss the following fastpitch softball hitting tips:

  • Goal is to keep swing tempo the same,
  • Adjust timing, DO NOT speed up swing tempo, and
  • Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson.

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #1: Goal is to Keep Swing Tempo the Same

All human actions require tempo or cadence…

ca. February 2005 --- Ultramarathon Runner Dean Karnazes --- Image by © Patrik Giardino/Corbis Outline

ca. February 2005 — Ultramarathon Runner Dean Karnazes — Image by © Patrik Giardino/Corbis Outline

The magic for a long distance runner happens when they count their right hand swinging forward 85-90 times per minute. Whether running, up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Have you ever ran downhill sprints, gotten really fatigued, and took a spill?  This was because the body’s slower tired tempo couldn’t keep up with the speed required to stay on your feet.

Furthermore…

The magic for a cyclist happens when they count their right foot/pedal reaching its apex 85-90 times per minute, regardless of moving up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Do you know what they do to stay within that range when going uphill or downhill?

Correct,

They change gears.

And most of you know…

In swinging a bat, the hitter is LIMITED on the amount of time they have to decide and swing.  The hitter must process the following information, as quickly as possible, pitch:

  1. Type,
  2. Speed, and
  3. Location…

This can be real challenging for the brain.  If the hitter’s timing is behind, such as is the case with a pitcher that throws heat, the hitter’s brain will begin “cutting out” excessive movements to get the barrel to the ball.

Essential hitting mechanics I often see getting “cut out” when a hitter’s tempo is behind:

  • NOT landing short, resulting in poor use of Ground Reaction Forces,
  • Front shoulder flying open too early, resulting in NOT effectively pre-loading the springy fascia in the torso,
  • NOT striding, resulting in the absence of getting a ‘head start’ and swinging from a dead stop,
  • NOT staying short, resulting in a ‘taller’ swinger, positive launch angles (not good for driving the ball), and will consistently drive the ball into the ground (VERY unproductive to run production, evidenced in my ‘Ground-ball Rant’), and/or
  • Won’t allow for the natural NIKE-swoosh barrel path to unravel, resulting in using an ineffective hand path to the ball, shortening the time the barrel spends on the plane of the pitch.

And from there, compensations occur, and the hitter loses the ability to optimally transfer energy from body to barrel to ball.

So, even with pitchers that throw heat,

We have to keep a consistent swing tempo

So, in knowing that, what do we have to clean up?

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #2: Adjust Timing, DO NOT Speed Up Swing Tempo 

My biggest fastpitch softball hitting tips advice when it comes to dominating a faster pitcher is to:

Brandon Moss homers off R.A. Dickey knuckle-ball

Brandon Moss homers on R.A. Dickey 76-mph knuckleball. Do you think he had to change his timing to do that? Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Start the swing sooner,
  • ‘Float’ less, or
  • A little of both.

And in the case of a slower pitcher, you’d reverse these elements:

  • Start swing later,
  • ‘Float longer, or
  • A combination of both.

You see, we want our hitter’s natural swing tempo, regardless of whether they’re facing a fast or slow pitcher.

What do I mean by when the swing starts?

I tell my hitters, their swing starts, as soon as they make the decision to pick up their front foot.

What about the ‘Float’?  What is it?

CLICK HERE for this other RANT post I did on that.  Scroll down to the section I sub-titled, “Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #1: Using the ‘Float’”.

Also, CLICK HERE for this post showing a video of Jose Bautista, revealing what critical, but simple, change he made to his timing from the 2009 and 2010 seasons that has transformed him into the Joey Bats of today.

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #3: Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Effective Velocity

Perry Husband diagram demonstrating Effective Velocity and the hitter’s differences in ‘perceived’ velocity. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

When it comes to plate approach, fastpitch softball hitting tips that hitters at all levels MUST put into practice comes from Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity program.

He’s one of the experts I called on to contribute a couple videos to the Reaction Time Mastery online video course.

CLICK HERE for the interview I did with him on the blog.

Basically, Effective Velocity is about a hitter’s perceived pitch velocity.  For example, the radar gun registers a pitcher’s fastball velocity at 90-mph, down the middle of the plate…

However, if the same pitch is located inside or high in the strike zone, the hitter actually sees that ball faster, between THREE to SIX-mph faster.

And the reverse is true of the pitch locating outside or down in the zone.

My friend Taylor Gardner shared a conversation with me that his hitting mentor Matt Nokes had with Hall Of Famer Frank Robinson on his plate approach when facing pitchers that throw heat…

Frank Robinson said he was looking for the pitcher’s fastest pitch up and in, and adjusting to everything else.

Perry Husband did some work with Carlos Pena in 2009, talking about this very thing on the MLB Network:

Not saying this plan will work for everyone, but if you don’t have a plan, it’s a great place to start.