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Can You Help Take The Headache Out Of College Recruiting?

College Recruiting Athletes: NCSA

College Recruiting Athletes: NCSA. Photo courtesy: PGF-Recruiting.com

Do you consider yourself a generous person?  Yes?  Good.

Recently, I received the following college recruiting ask from one of my avid readers, Alan Rudy:

“Hey Joey, I don’t want to step out of bounds but recruiting is wild and woolly.  Jack Renkens was invited to give a presentation at East Lansing High School where our oldest plays ball. There was a great deal of really good info in his talk and, at the end, he strongly encouraged us to join and use NCSA.  By contrast, coaches at the HS – and people like Paul Reddeck – have suggested that the NCSA can become a very expensive means of getting access to too many, too expensive meat markets/showcases that rarely pan out.

These people say that Aiden should ask himself where in the country he wants to go to school, what size of school and kind of degree programs he is interested in, what kind of social life/college culture he wants and to explore schools where he’d be likely to get on the field before he’s a junior… and then to contact coaches at those schools with introductions, links to stats and videos, sending emails from HS and travel coaches, etc.

I can’t remember seeing a post from you in this topic. If you have one, could you help me find it? If it’s less trouble do you have someone who’s approach you like that you’d be willing to share?”

Honestly, the topic of college recruiting isn’t in my wheelhouse, and is not where I put my energy.  Here was my email response:

“Alan, I appreciate you reaching out about this. I haven’t done a post on it, and haven’t really spent a ton of time researching this. Back in the day companies like NCSA were a competitive advantage, now everyone does it, so that’s why the price you pay can be ridiculous for what you’re getting. Supply and demand. That aside, I’d still work it because you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. I’d get in touch with area scouts and get an honest opinion from them as to Jack’s current evaluation. That way you know where to focus training efforts. But here’s the reality, your son cannot be ignored if you’re working the process to get to:

  • At least 90 to 95-mph Ball Exit Speeds,
  • At least a consistent 15+ degree Launch Angles,
  • Above average OPS numbers on the field, and have a…
  • Sub 7.0 sec 60-yard sprint time wouldn’t hurt either.

Not to mention a 3.5 GPA in school! These five things make it real easy for his current coach/scout to recommend him, and a college/pro coach/scout to look at him as a reasonable prospect. In the weight room, I’d work on getting him to a 400 to 500-lb dead-lift, that would help A LOT of things on the field. CLICK HERE to see what this training would look like. 

Maybe I’ll do a post on this in the future, asking for advice from other coaches out there that are doing this and are successful in promoting/recruiting players and what they’re looking for.  I hope this helps brother. I really appreciate your continued support, so whatever I can do to help you out. Happy Holidays! – Joey”

Also, I forgot to mention Brian Domenico’s National or International Power Showcase – CLICK HERE for a post I did on that.  After my attempted response on college recruiting, Alan added:

“If you do the post on recruiting, would you see if you can get stuff from coaches at DIII and II as well as I? Just as you’ve insisted that most players aren’t Albert Pujols or Giancarlo Stanton, I think too much recruiting material focuses on “IF YOU WANT TO PLAY DI!!!!!” kinds of hype and it feeds the exploitative side of your business. It is so clear that you care about the guys you work with however they end up finding success in life… but it is also clear that a lot of guys are too much in it for the glory and money.
I’ve loved the last few blog posts!”

College Recruiting: The Ask…

I’ve heard that if you want to get, you have to give, and it is the giving time of year.  To those coaches, Academy owners, instructors, and/or parents out there, can you offer any advice no matter how small, to parents like Alan?  A million THANKS in advance for your generosity… (please REPLY below in the comments)

How To Shorten A Swing Like Kris Bryant…

Ask any “self-proclaimed” hitting coach what a “short swing” is, and you’ll get many differing interpretations.

I think the problem is found in the debate of feel versus real.

If you ask professional and MLB hitters what they’re trying to do, and they’ll use phrases like:

  • “I’m trying to stay short to the ball”, or
  • “I’m trying to be compact”...

The challenge is these examples are so vague, they’re widely open to interpretation.  And give coaches that kind of slack, and they tend to “hang” their hitters.

For instance, take the following swing example of Kris Bryant:

 

Some coaches will say his swing is too long, and that ONLY Big Leaguers can have swings like this.  This is an EXCUSE.

Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark McGwire have been quoted as saying they swing/swung down on the ball.

You see, what elite hitters are feeling, and what we’re actually seeing on slow motion video (what’s real) can be two totally different things.

So how do we get our hitters to “swing shorter”, like Kris Bryant…?

…without using hitting aids,

And using effective external coaching cues, which science says are far superior than internal ones (CLICK HERE to read this post about that).

Without further adieu, here’s the…

 

Shorten Swing Path Drill

In the above video we discuss:

  • Drill Objective: to help fix “casting”, “long”, or “bat drag” type swings.
  • Define “Long” versus “Short” swing
  • Finger Pressure for “connection”
  • Hitting the “catcher’s glove”:
    – “Ferris Wheel” versus “Merry-Go-Round”
    – Throwing barrel “sideways”
    – Using Variations
  • Ropebat as a supplemental hitting aid.

How To Turn Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics Into A High Level Baseball Swing…Can It Be Done?

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Can fastpitch softball hitting mechanics be equal to baseball?

(WARNING: this fastpitch softball hitting mechanics post is a mini-RANT, about 2,000+ words, so please set aside about a 10-min reading time)…

I received this email the other day:

“I cringe when see hitting programs that are designed by baseball players and say they teach softball hitting as a 17 year fastpitch softball coach and 26 year slow pitch player the fundamental difference in the swing many programs ignore especially when teaching fastpitch the swing has to take the most direct path to the pitched generally released at 3 to 4 feet verse a baseball is released at roughly 7 such as right view pro I’ve seen many teams and worse players swings destroyed by coaches teaching baseball to softball players please take this in account, thanks”

Before addressing this reader’s email, I wanted to mention something for those who teach fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

Later in the post, I want to make a BIG ASK to coaches and instructors currently working with fastpitch softball hitters that are using HPL hitting principles, to please share your triumphs and/or sticking points with us.

But before we get there,

I wanted to address a couple fastpitch softball hitting mechanics points from the email above:

  • Translating baseball into fastpitch softball hitting mechanics,
  • Differences between the two swings?
  • The BIG ASK…

 

Translating Baseball into Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Who To Trust?

Who can we trust to give effective information when searching “fastpitch softball hitting mechanics” on YouTube?

The BIGGEST problem with most self-proclaimed “baseball hitting experts” online is…

They promote a hitting ‘philosophy’ or ‘theory’.

Their theories are a mish-mash of popular hitting programs, books, websites, YouTube channels, etc.

Did you know…

There’s a more certain standard – or measuring stick – that most hitting experts ignore, or just plain don’t understand?

Hitting MUST be based off human movement principles, or rules, that are validated by science…NOT philosophy or theory.

We’ve reverse engineered the hitting system promoted at the Hitting Performance Lab.

What does that mean?

Good news for coaches teaching fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

You can bring a certain and more effective hitting standard to teaching your athletes how to hit.

And it WORKS a majority of the time!!

Beautifully.

Do you remember the first time you stumbled into an online hitting forum, discovering how much of a pissing contest it was?

The people who “seemed” to have authority on the subject of fastpitch softball hitting mechanics were coaches who:

  • Had coached the longest,
  • Had played the longest OR had the biggest collection of trophies at the highest level, or
  • Had watched a million hours of slow motion video of ONLY ‘the best’ hitters.

Note to those who’ve coached the longest…

Someone belligerently throwing 30+ years of coaching experience in your face, most likely has the same one year of coaching experience repeated each year for 30+ years.  If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  And if you have to talk about how many years you’ve been coaching to desperately seek significance, then most likely your teaching has been obsolete for some time now.

You don’t hear Coaches Augie Garrido, Gordie Gillespie, or Bob Bennett lurching around online forums shoving their weight around demanding that people listen and respect them.

Note to those who’ve played the longest or have the biggest collection of trophies at the highest level…

The same lurching ego behavior can be seen, and is being used by you too.

As a matter of fact,

I just ran into an ex-pro guy last night on Facebook (I assume he was because he said he has a helluva playing resume, lol).

Brother, I hate to tell you, but…

Playing and teaching are totally different skills sets.  I don’t care what your playing resume is, because you’re starting over as a coach.

Furthermore, you MUST teach the RIGHT things.  The right fastpitch softball hitting mechanics.

Just because you ‘swung down on the ball’ to create backspin, DOES NOT mean that’s what actually happened if we looked at your swing using slow motion video.

I’m sorry, but what’s ‘feel’ and what’s ‘real’ are two totally different things.

Note to those coaches who accumulated a million hours watching slow motion video of ONLY ‘the best’ hitters…

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols photo courtesy: MLB.com

First of all, who are you studying??!

Pujols? McGwire? Griffey Jr.? Bryce Harper? Derek Jeter?

Although these hitters are and were effective in their swings, they also have, and had, ineffective human movement.  I’m sorry, but what’s ‘feel’ and what’s ‘real’ are two totally different things. that MUST not be repeated by younger and/or smaller hitters.

Not just because younger hitters don’t have the capability of doing them, but because THEY SHOULD NOT be doing them, PERIOD.

In other words, they succeed, and succeeded, DESPITE elements of ineffective mechanics, NOT because of them.

Who you study is VERY important.

Big sluggers can get away with murder because of their body mass.  Think of some of the BIGGER hitters you’ve come across, swimming in the fishbowl that is a Little League baseball field.

You’ll learn more of what effective fastpitch softball hitting mechanics look like from smaller sluggers like (6-feet on down):

  • Sierra Romero
  • Lauren Chamberlain
  • Sadaharu Oh (if you don’t know who this is, you need to study up!!),
  • Hank Aaron,
  • Pete Rose,
  • Ty Cobb,
  • Josh Donaldson,
  • Dustin Pedroia,
  • Jose Bautista,
  • Andrew McCutchen, and
  • Robinson Cano.

AND by the way, video analysis is important,

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Sierra Romero

Sierra Romero is a great model for the Catapult Loading System. Photo courtesy: fastpitchnews.org

But MUST come SECOND ONLY to the human movement “rules”.

Now listen close, because this is IMPORTANT to translating fastpitch softball hitting mechanics into baseball…

Once we strip away a coach/player’s elevated credentials and/or experience, then look at their analysis through the lens of human movements “rules”, that are validated by science, and it’s revealed how inconsistently ineffective their teachings really are.

They soften their system’s ineffectiveness by saying,

“Well, every hitter is different and what works for one hitter may not work for another”…OR,

“You can’t teach young hitters to do what MLB hitters are doing.”

BULL.

They’re copping-out.

But it’s not their fault.

They just don’t know any better.

They’re not growing, they’re dying.

And if you believe that what works for one hitter may not work for another, then CLICK HERE to read about the HPL One-Swing-Fits-All system.

The HPL hitting system works…consistently, no matter if we’re talking fastpitch softball hitting mechanics or baseball…7yo or 24yo…black or white…big or small.

We have literally thousands of coaches and parents across the nation putting into practice the HPL hitting principles, and get this…THEY ACTUALLY WORK!!

I get a steady stream of weekly emails, from coaches, sharing their success stories with the system from both the baseball and softball worlds.

(If you go to the HPL homepage, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and you’ll find over 45 rotating testimonials from these coaches and players under “Customer Testimonials”.  It rotates through 5 of them at a time, then if you refresh the screen, then it’ll rotate through another 5).

The good news for the fastpitch softball hitting mechanics coach, is that credentials don’t mean a thing.

It’s outcomes.

Does your system consistently work?

Do you have a:

  1. 98-lb 11yo hitting the ball 300-feet, multiple times?
  2. 95-pounder hitting their first dinger over 270-feet? (this is actually the brother of the above hitter but 2 years younger)
  3. 115-lb 11yo not only hitting the ball 300-feet multiple times, but hitting over 40 homers in one season…to ALL fields?
  4. 66-lb 11yo hitting the ball over 180-feet? OR,
  5. a 115-lb 13yo hitting the ball 330-feet?

The video below is of my hitter #1 above hitting his 300-foot monster shot.  Please note, he was playing on a field in Manteca, CA that had 315-foot fences, so the ‘shot’ was a long double, not a homerun.  Dad played baseball at Division-1 Chico State in the late-90’s, and shared the batted ball’s estimated distance, in the following text message to me:

“This is Orin hitting the farthest ball he’s ever hit.  It landed a couple feet short of the warning track in Manteca, which is right around 300-feet away”.

If you aren’t achieving these types of outcomes with your hitters, then I fear that you should rethink the effectiveness of YOUR hitting system.

Differences Between Two Swings?

Now, before getting into the differences between fastpitch softball hitting mechanics and baseball…

It should be pointed out,

That I’ve spent 10+ years in the corrective fitness industry with too many certifications to count.  I’m self taught and have a passionate curiosity for the science of human movement, by people such as:

  • Dr. Kelly Starrett,
  • Thomas Myers,
  • Ida Rolf,
  • Dr. Erik Dalton,
  • Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, and
  • Many others…

And it’s interesting to note, that I learned more about the swing from the aforementioned people, than in all 17 years of my baseball playing career, the last four of those playing at Division-1 Fresno State!!

The bottom line is this,

There are certain ‘rules’ to human movement that are validated by science.  These “rules” don’t care if you’re male or female…black or white…7 yo or 24 yo…big or small.

THEY WORK FOR ALL HUMANS!!!

The ‘rules’ are like bumpers at a bowling alley.  They’re guidelines to an effective swing.  What happens inside the bumpers doesn’t matter, just as long as you work within them.

Now, on the differences between the two swings…

A friend of mine since High School, made this comment on a Facebook Post of mine:

“As a former baseball player and current fastpitch softball coach. I think hitting a softball at 43ft is harder than hitting a baseball from 60ft. I’m talking about straight fastballs too, special pitches would be difficult for anyone.  My first year coaching softball I had a hard time hitting a pitch. Had to adjust everything I learned from my baseball swing and vision.”

I told him, if he grew up playing fastpitch softball and hitting from the closer distances, he’d be a much better fastpitch softball hitter today!

It’s about collecting data.

The main differences in the two swings are:

  1. Reaction Time (or timing), and
  2. Knee Action.

Reaction Time (or timing)

Getting back to the original reader email, two differences they mentioned:

  1. “…the swing has to take the most direct path to the pitch”,
  2. “…the pitch is generally released at 3 to 4 feet verse a baseball is released at roughly 7″…

Look, the first issue is about reaction time.

Fast-pitch softball hitting mechanics DO NOT call for ‘shorter swings’ than a baseball player.  They have to start their swings sooner!

If we start teaching hitters to ‘swing down on the ball’, be ‘short to it’, or an A to B barrel path, then we set the hitter up for inconsistent productive outcomes.

Why inconsistent productive outcomes?

Because an A to B barrel path is ineffective when looking at it through the lens of validated science:

  • Centripetal v. Centrifugal Forces,
  • Transferring Linear into Angular Momentum, and
  • Inertial Forces changing directions.

Two priority hitting objectives, for ALL hitters, MUST be to:

  1. Get the barrel on the plane of the pitch as early as possible, and
  2. Keep the barrel on plane for as long as possible.

We coaches have to build a large margin for error into the swing, not shorten it.

WHY?

Because of a major dose of uncertainty, hitters don’t know what type of pitch is coming, its speed, or its location beforehand.

By the way, swings can still be compact without an A –> B barrel path.  We MUST be teaching both hitters, more of an A –> B –> C path.  My readers call the latter, the Nike Swoosh barrel path.nike-swoosh-logo

The second reader issue above has to do with the angle of the downward traveling pitch.

And YES, even a softball is traveling down by the time it reaches the hitter, thanks to Gravitational Forces and air density.

As soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand (both fastpitch and baseball), the ball begins slowing down, rotating less, and ultimately falls towards the earth.

Assuming you’re still on earth 😉

Even the “Jenny Finch rise-ball begins to fall 4/5 of way, approx 8 feet away”.

However,

What is clear though, is the down angle of a fastpitch fastball isn’t quite as drastic as a baseball fastball.  A fastpitch fastball just isn’t exposed to Gravitational Forces long enough.

Which is also to say, evidenced in the Sports Science video above, since there’s less distance for the softball to travel, it loses less energy than a baseball will.  So that’s why we see Jennie Finch put a hurtin’ on that force plate!!

If you had the baseball pitcher throw from a distance of 43-foot, I think he’d crush the force plate as well.  Just my thoughts…

So reaction time and the hitter’s barrel attack angle being different,

How does a fastpitch softball hitter manage her barrel attack angle differently than a baseball hitter?

With…

Knee Action

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Lauren Chamberlain

Lauren Chamberlain wide stance, but uses shifting foot pressure and HER KNEES to hit. Photo courtesy: YouTube user Paul Arebalo

In order to compensate for the slight difference in the downward angle of the pitched ball, a hitter should adjust the bending of their knees as follows…

Fastpitch hitter:

  • Front knee at landing should be bent between 160 and 170-degrees (at 180-degrees, the leg is straight) to optimize Ground Reaction Forces, build in margin for error on off-speed and breaking balls, while also not giving up too much on Time To Impact.
  • Back knee at impact should be bent between 105 and 115-degrees to get on path to the bottom half of the ball.

Baseball hitter:

  • Front knee at landing should be bent between 150 and 165-degrees for the same reasons above, but with more access to a longer Time To Impact,
  • Back knee at impact should be bent between 90 and 105-degrees to get on-path to the bottom half of the ball.

The BIG Ask…

I want to make a BIG ASK to those coaches or instructors that are currently working with fastpitch softball hitters using HPL hitting principles.

Please share your triumphs and/or sticking points below…

Forward Momentum: Tinker & Test Baseball Batting Techniques

Baseball Batting Techniques: Dustin Pedroia and Forward Momentum

Dustin Pedroia, the King of FoMo. Photo courtesy: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In this baseball batting techniques post, we’ll talk about how elite MLB sluggers employ Forward Momentum (FoMo for short).

I’m going to answer the following questions from my readers:

  1. Does a hitter transfer all their weight to the front leg at some point in the swing?
  2. Does FoMo stride need to be big or small?
  3. Does the back foot “follow” the front with FoMo?
  4. Can a wide no-stride hitter utilize Forward Momentum?
  5. Are FoMo hitters more vulnerable to off speed and breaking stuff?

Keep in mind, forward momentum is the objective, and in this baseball batting techniques post, I’ll show different elite hitter examples of forward momentum.  The important thing isn’t what you use to get Forward Momentum, it’s the Forward Momentum itself.

Let’s get to it…

 

Does a hitter transfer all their weight to the front leg at some point in the swing?

Yes.  With elite sluggers, it’s rare you don’t find them shifting their weight from back to forward.  We typically see one of a few baseball batting techniques associated with FoMo: 1) a “Float”, or a slight weight shift back, then 2) a “Free Fall” forward.

And FYI during the Float, yes it’s okay for the back knee to drift over the foot, and NOT have to unnaturally be ‘shoved’ inside it.

You’ll see the following hitters, who try and start with the back knee inside the back foot (Jose Bautista), will accidently float the knee back out before falling forward.

The dead give away of elite hitters shifting their weight is to look at the weight distribution at impact.  You’ll see a weight-free back leg at the start of the turning pelvis…

Andrew “Cutch” McCutchen

Troy “Tulo” Tulowitzki

Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista

Does FoMo stride need to be big or small?

Whatever the hitter is comfortable with.  In other words, don’t be so specific in teaching certain Forward Momentum baseball hitting techniques.  Remember, the objective is that they’re employing Forward Momentum.  We don’t really care how they get there.

Feel free to recommend your hitters tinker with and test the following FOUR stride types:

Josh “The Bringer of Rain” Donaldson (BIG Leg Kick)

Dustin “Laser Show” Pedroia (MEDIUM Leg Kick)

Robinson “Mercedes” Cano (SMALL Leg Kick/Slide Step)

Victor Martinez (Toe Tap)

Does the back foot “follow” the front with FoMo?

It doesn’t have to, but I like it too.  If a hitter gets too wide with the stride, and the back foot isn’t allowed to follow, then the hitter will have a challenge getting a tight back knee angle, which is responsible for a better ball launch angle.  CLICK HERE for the back knee angle Zepp experiment.

Roberto “The Great One” Clemente (watch at the 0:33 mark and beyond)

Mike “Millville Meteor” Trout

Bryce “Bam Bam” Harper

CLICK HERE for one of my favorite baseball batting techniques, the Back Foot Variance Drill.

Can a wide no-stride hitter utilize Forward Momentum?

Here are my questions for a coach who would ask this about baseball batting techniques:

  • “Why are you hooked on being so wide with the feet at the start, and/or not allowing a stride?…”
  • “Is it about minimizing head movement?”
  • “Is it cutting down on moving parts?”
  • “Is it a timing thing?”

Coaches on Facebook have told me, the stride is too hard to teach, or for a young hitter to get.  Apparently this poison was shared during a speech at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) conference.

I’m not convinced, especially when 3-year-old Chinese females are learning some of the most complex human movements in Gymnastics.

Furthermore,

Look to other explosive athletes that almost NEVER start wide with their feet:

  • Pitchers,
  • Olympic Divers,
  • Olympic Throwers,
  • Soccer Players,
  • Quarterbacks, Linebackers, and Deep Backs…

Sometimes, it’s not about choosing particular baseball batting techniques.  It’s a mindset.  I always stress to my hitters, get athletic from the start, and be athletic when you land, so you can transfer the max amount of energy from your body, into the barrel, then to the ball.

About head movement, it’s going to happen. CLICK HERE for a compelling baseball batting techniques analysis by Dan Farnsworth at FanGraphs.com, that demystifies that elite hitters are keeping their head still (Read under “Keep Your Head Still” section).

If it’s about timing, then it’s the timing that must be adjusted.  There are only two timing elements:

  1. When the hitter starts their swing, and
  2. How long they ‘Float’.

A hitter can change one or the other, or both.  It’s up to them.

Those are the adjustments, it’s not a “stride issue”.  CLICK HERE for my favorite baseball batting techniques for timing.

Even big guys use Forward Momentum.  It just looks more subtle…coming in the form of a ‘sliding’ of the pelvis (Cruz and Pujols are great examples of this below)…

Miguel “Miggy” Cabrera

Nelson “Boomstick” Cruz

Albert “The Machine” Pujols

 

Are FoMo hitters more vulnerable to off speed and breaking stuff?

This is common issue #2 that coaches have with Forward Momentum, a hitter cannot adjust to breaking or off-speed stuff.

I invite you to look at the following sluggers who use FoMo, and their stats don’t reveal they had trouble adjusting to off speed and breaking stuff:

All these hitters had exceptional power, high averages, low strikeouts, and high walks compared to today’s hitters.

Last but certainly not least…

David “Big Papi” Ortiz

And how about Big Papi?  Why wouldn’t we mention him, right?! He just hit his 500th career homer!  He starts and finishes in the same spot, but there’s a whole lot of FoMo going on in-between:

 

In Conclusion

When it comes to baseball batting techniques, Forward Momentum is the objective.  How we get our hitters there doesn’t really matter.  Just give them examples of how to accomplish more FoMo, and allow them to tinker and test until they find something they’re comfortable with doing.

CLICK HERE to Enter for a chance to Win one free account access to The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power online video course (a $77 value).  You have until 12:00pm PST today to enter.  To better your chances of winning, you can spread the word on social media.  I’ll be picking the winner Monday, September 21st, and reaching out via email.  Good luck! 😀

Contest UPDATE: this contest is now closed, and Jon Ball was our winner!

 

In this post I am going to talk about:

  • The importance of traction when going fast,
  • A possible energy leak related to the baseball cleats, and
  • I want to hear from you…

 

The Importance of Traction When Going Fast

When a car goes around a turn, traction is required to prevent sliding.  In the following video, watch how the tire blew out, and the wheels without the tire couldn’t provide adequate traction.

 

A Possible Energy Leak Related to the Baseball Cleats

Watch the slow motion YouTube video of Albert Pujols’s swing, in the BIG video at the top of this post…

Look at the lead heel between 9 and 10 seconds. The heel slides forward about an inch, while the forefoot is stationary.

To his credit, Albert Pujols does get his lead foot stabilized just before contact.

Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters of our generation, and even with the initial sliding of his heel, he hits a home run.

Note from Joey Myers – I read an interesting quote from Dr. Gray Cook, the co-founder of the Functional Muscle Screen (or FMS), and he said that, “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.”  If the foot, especially the landing foot, loses contact with the ground during the turn, then the smaller hitter will have energy transfer issues.  A good solid foundation with the front foot is key.

 

I Want to Hear from You…

What would have happened on a softer surface?

Should we be considering cleats of different lengths for different batter’s boxes?

How does Pujols produce his linear speed in such a short distance?

Give me your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

 

Albert Pujols Video: A Big Misunderstanding

Albert Pujols slightly out front of an 89-mph cutter photo courtesy: MLB.com

People always want to know how to hit the ball harder, with more consistency.  And it all starts with how the head moves during the swing.  Who better to look at for consistency than Albert Pujols, AKA “The Machine”…

According to Baseball-Reference.com, a few key offensive stats based on his 162-game average are:

  • On-Base + Slug% (OPS) – .991…league average is .730
  • Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) – .303 (Fangraphs.com)…league average is .300
  • Homers – 40
  • Doubles – 43

Albert Pujols may not be the same hitter he was with the Cardinals…BUT…what he has working for him is friction-free head movement during the swing.  An oftentimes, misunderstood topic.

In this video post, we’ll hold head movement during the swing to the fire of science:

  • Albert Pujols: understanding the 1/3 Vision Rule,
  • Why breaking the One-Joint Rule bleeds force at impact, and
  • Two most common head position mistakes & how to fix…

 

Albert Pujols: Understanding the 1/3 Vision-Rule

One of my readers, Blake Blackwell, took his son to a Tom House pitching camp.  For those who don’t know Tom House, he’s the founder of the National Pitching Association.  Blake said that Tom House was teaching his pitchers to gear pitch movement for the last 1/3 of the distance to home-plate.

Why?

Studies show that Professional hitters lose sight of the ball within the last 5-7 feet of ball flight.  Consider the 1/3 Vision-Rule…

  • First 1/3 Distance to Plate – hitter sees the pitcher’s release point out of the corner of the front eye,
  • Middle 1/3 Distance to Plate – hitter sees the ball with both eyes, and
  • Last 1/3 Distance to Plate – hitter sees the ball with the corner of the back eye.

Late breaking movement adds to the pitcher’s deception because a hitter like Albert Pujols isn’t picking up pitch detail during the last 1/3 of ball flight.  You see, peripheral vision (out of the corner of the eye) is about picking up motion, not detail.

Understanding this is important to hitting because you’ll learn…

 

Why Breaking the One-Joint Rule Bleeds Force at Impact

Bryce Harper losing spinal integrity

Bryce Harper “kinking the hose” by dropping his left ear to his shoulder.  Photo courtesy: MLB.com

And upsets vision…

CLICK HERE to watch a demonstration of the One-Joint Rule I did with Shak, a Kansas University Jay-hawks wide receiver.  Dr. Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD.com says this about the One-Joint Rule:

“The musculature [in the spine] is designed to create stiffness so that you can effectively transmit energy to the primary engines of your hips and shoulders.  If you don’t preserve trunk stiffness while moving from your hips and shoulders, you will lose power and force.    The is the basis for the one-joint rule: you should see flexion and extension movement happen at the hips and shoulders, not your spine.”

He then adds…

“Hinging at one of the segments [vertebraes in the neck]…when we put a hinge across the central nervous system, the body recognizes that as a primary insult, or threat to the body, because you’re basically guillotining or kinking the nervous system.  You’ve kinked ‘the tube’, so it [force production] just drops off.”

 

Two Most Common Head Position Mistakes & How-to Fix…

Here they are:

  1. Chin to chest (a la Andrew McCutchen), AND
  2. Ear to rear shoulder (a la Bryce Harper).

How do we fix these?

First you have to understand the spine can move Globally or LocallyCLICK HERE to watch this demonstration.

Then, the hitter must understand that their head can ONLY move like it’s rotating on a “spit” (the spine), from side to side.  Unless we’re talking about Global Extenting or Flexing.  In other words, the spine can Globally Flex towards the plate – say on a low pitch – but the head MUST stay in line with the spine as it turns towards contact.

At lastly, train this head movement with variance:

  • Setup up five swing rounds,
  • On swings 1-3-5, practice keeping the head on a “spit”, turning the head to get the nose behind the barrel (the right way), and
  • On swings 2-4, practice moving the chin to chest OR ear to rear shoulder (the wrong way).

Note the difference.  I guarantee Albert Pujols makes a conscious effort to keep efficient head movement during his swing.  Can you see why pitchers armed with the 1/3 Vision-Rule, and hitters getting excessive head movement by breaking the One-Joint Rule can really affect repeatable power?

Does Adrian Gonzalez Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #2 (of 4)…

 

Adrian Gonzalez: Power Secret You Are Missing?

Photo credit: MLB.com

In the second installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, starring Adrian Gonzalez, we discuss why “walking away from the hands” doesn’t make sense.  A-Gon is a bigger hitter (*6’2″, 225lbs) who uses human movement science correctly to generate explosive rotational power.

*(According to Baseball-Reference.com)

We’ll use Adrian Gonzalez’s swing to talk about:

  • The simple science of loading,
  • How big hitters get away with ineffective mechanics, and
  • The power secret you are missing.

Contrary to popular belief, “walking away from the hands” is NOT how we load properly.  It decreases turning speed by arm barring.  In the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, if controversial gold medal winning ice skater Adelina Sotnikova could turn faster by barring an arm out, then don’t you think you’d see her do that?

 

The Simple Science of Loading

Cotton Candy Fascia

Photo credit: Thomas Myers

According to the book Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers, the human body is loaded by connective tissue called Fascia, which is:

  • A cotton candy-like material,
  • To the body, like steel is to the building industry,
  • Connective tissue your bones and muscles float in,
  • Gives muscles their shape, and
  • At a constant battle to balance compression and tension forces within the body…Thomas Myers calls this Tensegrity (Tension-Integrity)

Big Hitters Get Away with Ineffective Mechanics

We’re studying the wrong hitters.  Pujols.  Hamilton.  Griffey Jr.  Paul Goldschmidt.

Ken Griffey Jr. was the perfect example of “walking away from the hands”.  People don’t realize, he succeeded despite ineffective mechanics, not because of them.  Here are some other notable athletes getting away with ineffective mechanics:

  • Kevin Durant, NBA’s leading scorer, succeeds despite flawed shooting mechanics.  His knees crash in, which is called Knee Valgus.
  • Tiger Woods succeeded despite being ineffective mechanically, later in his career (4 knee surgeries, in addition to numerous Achilles and back issues). CLICK HERE to read this “Muscle Power Golf, Not!” post about this.
  • Numerous pitchers throw 95+mph despite career shortening flawed mechanics (Kerry Wood and Mark Prior just to name two)

Spend more time analyzing hitters like: Braun, Cano, David Wright, Jose Bautista, McCutchen, Hank Aaron, and Sadaharu Oh (Japan’s career home run leader).  These small-sluggers have to move friction-free (or nearly) to compete.  Big-sluggers with friction-free swings include: Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Chris “Crush” Davis.

 

Power Secret You Are Missing

Of the nine fascial lines mentioned in Thomas Myers’ book Anatomy Trains, the Spiral Fascial Line (SPL) is very important to hitting…according to Thomas Myers:

Science of Loading the Body

Photo credit: Thomas Myers

“The overall movement function of the SPL is to create and mediate spirals and rotations in the body, and, in eccentric and isometric contraction, to steady the trunk and leg to keep it from folding into rotational collapse.”

I call this the ‘Springy X Pattern’.  Imagine an ‘X’ on the front and back of the torso.  When one leg of the ‘X’ shortens, then the other stretches.  Golf training expert Jason Glass of Jason Glass Performance calls these Rotational Power Slings.

Adrian Gonzalez “spring loads” his swing using what I call the Catapult Loading System (CLS).  It takes the Stability ‘X’ Pattern or Rotational Power Sling concepts and applies them to hitting.

Here are a few other world-class spring loaded athletes who’s movements are very similar to a hitter’s:

  1. Golfers,
  2. Olympic Shot Putters
  3. Olympic Throwers – Javelin, Discus, and Hammer
  4. Lacrosse

CLICK HERE in case you missed Part-1 to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitter’s Make video series.  And CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #3, where we look into why a friction-free hitter SHOULD NOT land with the front toe closed