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Backspin Tee: How To Set Up Batting Tee Locations

Backspin Tee: “I have a question about contact points for hitting inside/outside pitches. What’s your opinion on how you should set up your tee for working both of these locations?”

 

 

Good question…here’s what we discuss in this Backspin tee video above:

Backspin Tee: How To Set Up Batting Tee Locations

Photo courtesy: Yours truly.com

Hey. What’s going on? It’s Joey Myers from ‘Hitting performance lab’. In this video, we’re gonna answer another reader question:

“I have a question about contact points for hitting inside versus outside pitches. What’s your opinion on how you should set up your Tee for working both of these locations?”

This is a great question, and this is what I got in from email. I thought, I have gotten it quite a few times, it’d be nice to just put in a post, and that when people ask, I can just send that out to them instead of having to explain it.

So, here’s the general rule in setting up Tee for the pitch depth, whether it’s inside, middle, or away. Now, I know this requires some visuals. I will take a picture (image to the right), and during this video, I will put it up, so that you can see that image while I’m actually talking you through it. Because I realized that it would be kind of tough to do that in this video setting without actually being out on the field…

 

How To Set Up Inside Batting Tee

So, on the inner third of the plate, realize that when you set the Tee up you want to be on the inside inner third of the plate.

The other thing that you want to make sure you’re doing is ‘at stride’ landing. So, all these positions are at stride landing, okay. It’s not at the start of the swing. So, you have to get your hitter at the stride landing, and then you can kind of figure out how far up, middle, or deep you want to put the Tee. On the inner third of the plate, ball is on the inner third, you want the ball to be set up whether using a BackSpin Tee or Tanner Tee or whatever Tee. You want it to be set up about six inches to a foot out in front of the stride foot, okay.

Again, lined up on the inner third of the plate. But in relation to where the foot is, you want it to be about 6 inches to 12 inches. Perry Husband actually says when we’re using the front arm shape, we’re locking that front arm out, for some players could be as much as 18 inches. So, it’s going to depend on the age of the hitter. Obviously, if there’s 7 years old you’re not going to put the ball, if you’re working in or third, you’re not gonna put the ball 18 inches out in front of them.

But maybe a high school or college or pro guy or gal you want to basically use your common sense to where you need to put that in. It might take a few swings for you to finally find that sweet spot. Because it all depends on the length, and seven-year-olds arms are definitely not as long as a 22 year old’s arm. So, in the inner third, about 6 to 18 inches out in front, of the stride landing foot.

 

How To Set Up Middle Tee

Middle third of the plate, you’re gonna be somewhere around the stride landing foot, in line with it to about 6 inches give or take, 3 to 6 inches, 3 to 8 or so, give or take.

But somewhere at middle should be around stride foot landing, or in line of the stride foot over the middle third of the plate.

 

How To Set Up Outer Tee

Now, the outer third part of the plate you want to set it up on the outer third, and it’s gonna be deeper off the stride foot. So, it’s gonna be farther back, closer to the catcher. So, you want to make sure that that’s gonna be a range. I know, you probably don’t like ranges, it would be nice for me to just say we’ll do it 6 inches from.

But it’s all going to depend on your hitter, the younger the hitter, the less the discrepancy between staggering these balls, the less distance between the contact points. Because the arm, the front arm shape or length isn’t as long as a 22-year old. So, it’s gonna be the range between 6 and 12 inches I would say, or 3 and 12 inches, just again play around with it. But what should happen is when they hit it, when they hit it optimally, they should be on, if it’s on the outer third correctly, should be going to right center field. Inner third, it should be about left center.

Again, the farther out you move it, the more they’re going to pull it off those lines. So, you want to make sure that’s kind of a ballpark of where you want to put it. Think about it this way, this is what I tell my hitters. When we’re talking depth, hitting depth, whether opposite field middle or pulling the ball is think about like a pinball machine. Now, some hitters don’t know or never played on a pinball machine, you can show them. But think about the flappers on a pinball machine, if I had the left side flapper or right-handed, if they’re a right-handed hitter.

So, if I want to hit the ball across the table, opposite field. Then I’m gonna let that ball travel deeper and then my flapper is going to hit ball deeper. If I want to pull it across the table then that ball has to be more inside or coming more where the flapper is, and that flapper has to hit the ball more out in front in order to get it to go. Now obviously, it’s a little bit different when we’re talking about a hitter in a flesh-and-blood human being, but the bat is like the flapper, and the human body is just an extension to that.

That is how you set up the Tee.

 

Using Art of Variance To Train Off Tee

Now, a couple things that you want to do when you’re working and training off the Tee. Because there are some people out there anti Tee, they are “Never Tee’rs”, never batting Tees. Working on the Tee has its place, it shouldn’t be something that you do all the time. But if you’re gonna work on the Tee, make sure you use what I call the ‘Art of Variance’. So, you want to vary where the pitch height is, and the pitch depth. Whenever we’re on the Tee, we’re on the backspin Tee, or Tanner Tee. We have our hitters, after every swing, we move the Tee up or down.

Doesn’t have to be a lot, just a little bit. Just giving them a different height to it, then what we’ll do is say a five swing round, is the odd swings, the 1, the 3, and the 5 swings, or the first three swings will actually have them swing inside. We will have the Tee set up on the inner third, and we’re moving the ball up and down. Then the last two swings, we’ll move it to the outer third, and we’ll move the swing up and down.

Then, the next round, the next round of five, we will reverse that. So, the first three swings are on the outer third moving it up and down. We’ll move it to the inner third, and then for the last two swings, and we’ll move that up and down.

So, you want to make sure that you’re varying the ball, whether it’s height or depth on the Tee when you’re working off the Tee. Because the pitcher is not going to be throwing it in the same spot every time. So, the Tee definitely has its limitations, it does not obviously simulate a moving pitch. But we can work on the Tee whether, it’s mechanics, we can work on it on getting hitters to understand pitch depth. Where you’re hitting the ball deeper, they hit at the other field, or pulling the ball, we can work on it using especially overload training is really good. We can set the Tee really high and inside, up and in. So, we can get them to work on some things with the overload bat, to get them not getting under the ball.

 

Backspin Tee v. Regular Tee Swing Experiment

So, there’s some cool stuff we can do with the Tee. Just make sure we are smarter with it, and the difference between a backspin Tee and a Tanner Tee or any of any other Tee. Because every other Tee is way different than the backspin Tee, there was an experiment I did. A swing experiment where I hit, I took a hundred swings off a backspin Tee, and a hundred swings off a regular Tee. I split those hundred swings up, I mixed them. So, I had say A, B were split in 25 swing chunks. So, I would say A, where backspin Tee swings. I would go A, B, B, A and then the last round of 100. I would go B, A, A, B.

‘A’ represented backspin Tee swings; the ‘B’ represented regular Tee swings. I took identical pictures of the cage. Then plot it, when I take some swings out the backspin Tee where the ball would go, and then I would do the same on the Tanner T.

But what the difference was, off the backspin Tee, 100 swings looked like a tornado or a tree. The swings off the regular Tee kind of looked blockish. There were some up above the top of the Tee or a top of the gate, but it was more blockish. What was interesting is the “backspin Tee effect” is what I call it, after changing from a backspin Tee swing to a regular Tee swing. The backspin Tee effect where I was still driving the ball up, lasted for about 10 swings or so. Then, the last 15 of the 25 swings on the regular Tee, I’d noticed that the ball would start to kind of drag down. Then, when I go back to the backspin Tee, would go back up again. It was just an interesting backspin Tee effect.

So, in this video, we answer reader your question:

“I have a question about contact points for hitting inside versus outside pitches. What’s your opinion on how you should set up your Tee for working both of these locations?”

I hope this video answered that question…make sure we’re swinging smarter by moving better. And before I let you go…

How To Fix The Hitting “Guru” #57 Problem Once And For All – A New Year’s Resolution…

Consider the following Tweet from Matt Pierce, who I highly respect in hitting circles…

I love what Matt is saying here, and I agree with him 100%!  I’ve wanted to address this for some time, but couldn’t figure out how to frame it without coaches thinking I’m delusional.  However, I’m about to reveal this is a Mount Everest “ask” because:

  1. We can’t control what we can’t control (e.g. other people’s actions or reactions).
  2. We don’t know what we don’t know (knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking).
  3. People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe” (when we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary).
  4. Fixed Mindset is a REAL thing (nothing is more fragile than a 40-year-old male ego).

At the end of this post, I will share 11 things I think cuts to the heart of the debate (HINT: it has to do with a case of “mistaken identity”)

PLEASE NOTE: I’m no saint in this conversation, so let me get that out of the way.  I’ve been called “unprofessional” in some of my responses on the Socials.  I own that.  I’m not a robot devoid of emotion.  To my defense though, I do let people have their say, and seldom “hide” or delete Social media comments – no matter how ridiculous – because I feel coaches should see us with all bumps and bruises.

Now, let’s address Matt’s big asks:

  • Want for coaches to stop mocking other coaches.
  • Want for coaches to stop blasting guys bc of the level they coach.
  • Want for coaches to stop using the word guru in describing a coach that they disagree with.
  • Want for coaches to spread info without the need to attack others in their teach…

It starts with the fact…

 

We can’t control what we can’t control (e.g. other people’s actions or reactions)

Here is one of my personal rules for posting on Social media: DO NOT respond to another hitting person’s Social media post, Tweet, etc. that I don’t agree with.  And I see A LOT of garbage out there, believe me.  But I don’t feel the need to tell them so…I keep my hands to myself.  Imagine for a moment, you sell a hitting aid, book, or online course, and you get one the following dandy comments… (think about how you’d react)…

And here’s a YouTube comment on one of my videos…

If you can’t read the YouTube comment, then it’s because the image is too small…here you go (incorrect spelling and grammar intact)

“This video is silly to me.  First and most importantly, you do not teach any player especially a young player how to hit deep fly balls or “in the air with power.  Why and the hell would you do that? Don’t pollute the internet with this garbage any longer.  Btw, every hitter “gets shorter”. It is impossible to gain any ground and not drop. There is no strategic advantage in it nor should it be stressed in instruction.  It’s a natural part of any swing and has nothing to do with power or hitting fly balls.  Your messing up swings with shit.”

By the way, the above comments aren’t too bad, I have others 10X as bad.  Look, I don’t mind healthy debate, but it MUST be respectful, and no respectful conversation can start with any one of the above comments.  Sue me for coming off as “unprofessional” in responses.  Good times is Taylor Gardner (Backspin Tee), Matt Lisle, and I snapshotting them on our phones, and laughing over drinks…true story.

So NO, we cannot control how others react or respond.  Building the case of our “mistaken identity” solution is starting to take shape.  Now, let’s address the fact…

 

We don’t know what we don’t know (knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking)

As you were reading those dandy comments above, were you thinking, “I don’t think this person knows about the Hitting Performance Lab.”  Therein lies the frustration.

To their defense, they’ve only seen ONE post or ad from us on the Socials.  They…

  • Don’t know us from “Adam”.
  • Haven’t done their homework.
  • Have been burned by others in the industry (a clue to our “mistaken identity” solution…).

I don’t take the comments personal anymore.  They don’t understand how we’re:

  • Applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”.
  • Leading close to 40,000 coaches on this journey.
  • Sharing nearly 300 FREE blog posts that hold nothing back when it comes to breaking down the what, how, and why of our system.
  • Blessed to have an Amazon best selling book on hitting, over 11,500 books sold and downloaded, and has accumulated well over 100 Amazon books reviews with an average star rating of 4.3 out of 5 (includes both first and second edition of The Catapult Loading System).
  • Gifted frequent positive testimonials from our readers on a weekly basis via Social media and over email, which you can read on our About page.

So yes,

  • We’re dealing with people who don’t know what they don’t know.  And,
  • We can’t control what we can’t control.

…Coaches, we MUST understand this.  Building the case of our “mistaken identity” solution is picking up speed.  Now, let’s address the fact…

 

 

People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe” (when we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary)

I talked to Dr. Tom Hanson about this recently.  Consider the “Church of Baseball” or “Politics of Baseball”.  The idea is that based on our life experiences, we stick close to our current “tribe” for fear of missing out, being ostracized, and/or being abandoned when seeking another tribe.  Even if the “other” tribe provides a mountain of evidence to the contrary of our thinking.

I call it wearing hitting “beer goggles”.  Refusing to take off the distorted glasses to seek real facts and actual truth.  In 2013, I completely jumped out of the hitting industry, refused to read or watch anything hitting, and completely pivoted to researching Physics, Bio-mechanics, Engineering, Body Work, etc.  I didn’t understand it at first, but kept reading and re-reading – eventually it started to sink in.

We’re seeing this “beer goggle” theory play out in the Politics right now.  Most of you have seen ridiculous comments on your Facebook feed from others…past or current friends about Political issues. I’ve seen people on both sides “un-friend” each other because one believes one thing and the other believes the complete opposite.  People are retreating to their tribe’s boxing corner, and staying there.

Look familiar?  Because it’s happening to our hitting community.  People become attached to certain hitting “gurus”, a word I know Matt said not to use.  I had quite a few talks with a current professional hitter, who has had quite a few cups of coffee in the Big Leagues, saying many “gurus” are out there trying to reinvent the wheel.  And what he means by that is, they’re teaching the same thing as everyone else but calling it something different and claiming ownership.

The reality is originating something new occurs with far less frequency than innovating something new.  Give credit where credit is due coaches.  If people took the time to research where ideas originated, then the number of “tribes” people stick to would shrink to one or two.  And even with those, hitting agreement would probably reach 98%.

So yes,

  • We can’t control other people’s actions or reactions.
  • Knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking. And,
  • When we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

We’re almost done building the case for our “mistaken identity” solution.  Now, let’s look at the fact…

 

Fixed Mindset is a REAL thing (nothing is more fragile than the 40-year-old male ego)

I won’t get into this here because I got into it here AND here.  But I will say this, I’ve fallen into the Fixed Mindset trap.  It’s like a cozy warm blanket, and much easier to misplace blame when we don’t know the answer.  For example, how do you explain a kid by the name of Hudson White at 14-years-old blasting 11-dingers in a row at the National Power Showcase, averaging 395-feet in batted ball distance – when he’s only 5-foot, 7-inches, weighing 135-pounds?

“What bat did he use?” …a few may ask…metal minus-5…“See!!” they exclaim, “The bat is HOT!!”  But what if I were to tell you eye-witness accounts have said that Hudson consistently hit balls 395-feet with an old Hickory wood bat?  How do we explain something we may not understand?

  • “He’s just a special case”
  • “He’s using a HOT bat”
  • “He can’t do that in a game though”
  • “They’re lying or mistaken about the distance”

These are FIXED Mindset coaching responses (from real people by the way!).  Look, it’s okay to say you don’t know, and here’s an even better TIP…if one does not know something, then keep the “pie-hole” shut.  The above bullet point comments take away from the hard work these hitters have and are putting into their swings.  Shameful.

Instead acknowledge maybe your knowledge is limited and seek to understand, not to be understood.  Ask “WHY”, not “Why Not”.  Every day, ask: “Is there something I may be missing”.  This is what Growth Mindset coaches do.

So yes,

  • We can’t control what we can’t control.
  • We don’t know what we don’t know.
  • People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe”. And,
  • Nothing is more fragile than the 40-year-old male ego.

 

Fixing the issue of “mistaken identity”

Before getting to fixing the issue of “mistaken identity”, let’s review Matt’s big asks:

  • Want for coaches to stop mocking other coaches.
  • Want for coaches to stop blasting guys bc of the level they coach.
  • Want for coaches to stop using the word guru in describing a coach that they disagree with.
  • Want for coaches to spread info without the need to attack others in their teach…

Before agreeing to his “asks”, I want to scribble in a few more…

  1. Parents and coaches start conversations with respectful first comments.
  2. Parents and coaches seek to understand first, then to be understood.
  3. Parents and coaches be willing to try a new-to-them concept first, before resorting to being a negative Nancy armchair quarterbacks.  And,
  4. I think if the previous three are checked off, then setting ego aside and looking at issue from a Growth Mindset perspective will be 10X easier.

Possible?  Maybe, but it’s a TALL order.  If those points cannot get checked off, then I claim my 1st Amendment right to call out Hitting “Guru” #57.  Do we have a deal Matt!?

Now, to solve the case of mistaken identity…

For those who know how we operate at the Hitting Performance Lab, remember reading through those Facebook and YouTube comments in the beginning of this rant, and thinking they’re falsely associating and projecting a bad experience they may have had with another hitting “guru”?  Here are my BIG “asks”:

  1. Quit basing your teachings on because-I-said-so “bro-science” (What is that? CLICK HERE). It doesn’t work predictably.  I know because I used to base my teachings on it, and can now compare our hitters’ performance to what we teach now – WOW! What a difference.  Apply human movement principles validated by REAL Science.  Success leaves clues, and principles work predictably.  Btw, failure leaves clues too!
  2. It’s not about how many years you’ve coached.  It’s not about what high level you played at.  It’s not about how many hours of video analysis you’ve masterbated with.  It’s not even about how many long hours you’ve put into the cages.  At the end of the day, it’s about getting your hitters predictably positive hitting results.  Think of human movement principles as a shortcut (a good one) to spotting common patterns amongst elite hitters – saving you many hours of spinning the tires.  Work smarter not harder.
  3. Data IS NOT Science.  Data is a component of the Scientific Method, not the end-all-be-all.  Basing your teachings ONLY on data or video analysis without human movement priorities is like randomly shooting an arrow and calling whatever you hit.
  4. Don’t strike fear into parents that if they don’t spend money with you, they’ll be doomed to hitting purgatory for eternity.  This is a bonehead move, and I’m tired of getting these projected comments thanks to bad business practices.
  5. Help people by actually helping them.  Over the years, we’ve written nearly 300 free blog posts that detail our system.  Don’t just try and sell people…help people…then selling becomes the next logical step.
  6. Ben Brewster Twitter quote: “In the process, a few percent of our followers are willing to invest big time to know that last 2%. But I hate the paranoid, protective mentality thinking that people might steal your one good idea or philosophy. They might. Keep innovating and learning, you’ll have many more.” Right on!  SHARE what’s working.  Keep learning.  Keep innovating.  Give credit where credit is due.  You will be greatly rewarded, believe me.
  7. Moderation is key.  Hitting IS NOT rotational OR linear.  It’s not Launch Angles OR ground-balls.  It’s not sacrificing swing quality for power.  It’s NOT swing down OR swing up.  We can build a hitter that embodies linear AND rotational elements…who hits more line drives…who can hit for power AND average without dramatically increasing strikeouts…who can use “swing down” cues to fix an uppercut AND use “swing up” cues to fix a down swinger.
  8. Understand we can eat tomato soup with a spoon, fork, or knife but only one tool is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  There may be many ways to teach hitting but there’s one MORE effective way…by applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  The principles remain constant and limited, but I do agree there are hundreds – if not thousands – of ways (methods) to teaching them.  Listen, I don’t “own” these principles, I just happened to look where most weren’t looking, and stumbled onto them.
  9. If someone posts a video of a swing online, DO NOT pick apart without the owner asking you.  Video analysis of a hitter is a snapshot in time of the swing.  It’s a work in progress.  So unless otherwise solicited to give your advice, don’t.  I see a few “gurus” out there “red-lining” through swings of 8yos, 12yos, and 16yos – unsolicited, to prove a point.  That’s a real kid, someone’s son or daughter…niece or nephew…or client.  STOP doing this, or you’re a bully.
  10. Don’t drunk dial Social media.  Don’t lie, you’ve done this (I know I have)Don’t drink the liquid courage and then comment.  Remember what I said about taking off your hitting “beer goggles”?
  11. Coaches, if you promote digital products, books, and/or membership programs, then STOP “tricking” people into signing up.  Be upfront and honest with people.  It gives the rest of us working to do it right a BAD name.

I think a combination of Matt Pierce’s “asks” and my additional “asks” will turn this ship around.  OR, we’ll get much of the same thing in 2019!  Coaches, go forth and make awesomeness…

 

 

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

Breaking down Khris Davis

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

Posted by Diamond Demos on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

 

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

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

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

 

How the Best Hitters are Using the Catapult Loading System

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

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

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

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

And,

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Mike Trout Homer #38 – 88.1-mph Front View

Chest View

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

Chest View

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

Chest View

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

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

Chest View

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

Chest View

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

Chest View

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

Mookie Betts Homer #31 Front View

Chest View

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

Chest View

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

Chest View

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

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

11 TBall Drills & Tips, So You Can Be Confident You’re Preparing Players For The Next LevelTBall Drills

In researching this coaching tball drills 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 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 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: 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 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 tball drills to be growth mindset oriented.

 

#4: 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 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 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 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 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: Getting 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…

How “Loading & Exploding The Hips” Can Be VERY Dangerous To The Lower Back…

We’ll get to the above video, but first let me be clear…

I’m not saying the pelvis doesn’t play a role in the swing, because it does.  However, I feel this spot reserved in the swing’s sequence of movements is hyper-focused on by a majority of hitting gurus.  More and more research is saying extreme “hip thrust” or “loading and exploding the hips” can be VERY damaging to the lower back over time.  You’ll see why in a moment, but for now please note that in this podcast episode, former USA Men’s Gymnastics Coach Sommers says the lower back portion of the spine isn’t made for a high degrees of rotation, but the T-Spine is.

Another thing I want to clear up,

We don’t teach a 100% pure rotational mechanics here.  We teach a blend of linear-rotational.  Please CLICK HERE to read our thoughts on this.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • How the spine stacks up (quick anatomy lesson),
  • Does consistent power come from the ground? And,
  • Teaching hitters a safer more effective swing.

Let’s get started…

 

How the Spine Stacks Up

Photo courtesy: MayfieldClinic.com

Here’s a quick anatomy lesson of the spine:

  • Cervical – the vertebrae in your neck, consists of 7 vertebrae, are allowed to flex, extend, and rotate,
  • Thoracic – the vertebrae in the middle of spine including shoulders, consists of 12 vertebrae, which are also allowed to flex, extend, and rotate, and
  • Lumbar – the vertebrae in lower back, consist of 5 vertebrae, and are allowed to flex and extend ONLY.
  • Sacral & Coccyx – there are 5 fused vertebrae here, and the Coccyx is sometimes referred to as the “tail” bone.

Did you catch that about the Lumbar?  It’s important, so it bares repeating…the vertebrae in the lower back IS NOT built to rotate!  Right now, you may be thinking: “Wait a minute, how’s that?!  I’ve seen millions of swings, and the hitter’s pelvis (and lower back) are rotating!!”

According to Charlie Weingroff, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist, a trainer in New York City, and is pretty high up on the human performance food chain, says this:

“Only your thoracic spine (which consists of the 12 vertebrae in your upper and middle back) is designed to rotate significantly — about 40 degrees in each direction, according to Weingroff — when under compression. The lumbar spine (lower back) should rotate no more than about 12 degrees.”

Some movement experts (like Thomas Myers, author of the book Anatomy Trains), says the lower back can rotate no more than 7-degrees.  So according to the experts, 7 to 12-degrees is a good rotational range for the Lumbar section of the spine. That’s NOTHING compared to the 40-degrees of rotation – in each direction – of the middle and upper back section of the spine (which includes shoulders).

So what’s happening then?  You see, since the lower back vertebrae are not designed to rotate, it’s the surrounding muscles that are rotating a fixed object (non-rotating Lumbar), and is why you do see rotation.   The T-Spine vertebrae are built to rotate (again, this includes the shoulders), hence is why hitting coaches should put their rotational focus there and NOT the hips, pelvis, or low back.

Is rotating back hip through the zone necessary for power? Not in the way most coaches think.  Consider this quote from Physicist, Electrical Engineer, and author of the book The Spinal Engine, Dr. Serge Gracovetsky:

“The axial rotation of the spine cannot happen unless the spine is flexed by the right amount on the correct side. Coaching an athlete to throw without a proper spinal position is an invitation to severe torsional injuries.”

Dr. Gracovetsky is referring to this “flex” as a side bend with the shoulders.  The point is, USE THE SHOULDERS to accomplish rotational power.  Warning for coaches: if you shrug this information off because of ego or pride, and continue to teach pelvis, hip, or lower back dominant twisting swings, then you’re wearing holes in the low backs of your hitters.  Be careful because the link is there, and one can be held liable.

Don’t worry, I’ll show those coaches doing this unknowingly a safer way, at the end of this post…

 

Does Consistent Power Come from the Ground?

Water Polo Throw

Water Polo throw photo courtesy: YouTube Egy image from video

You may be thinking, but consistent power comes from the ground…the pelvis is the first to interact with Gravitational Forces, and that’s why you teach “hip thrust”. I agree with Ted Williams that the ‘Hips Lead the Way’, but they don’t contribute as much to consistent power as most think.  I know this may sound earth shattering for some, so please stay with me here.

CLICK the following link to a post I did titled, “The Swing DOES NOT Start From The Ground & Move Up?”

This brings me to the water polo throw video above…

Let me ask you a question, what do you think the “fastest throw in Water Polo” is?  Doing a Google search using those keywords brings up the following statement:

The overhand shot from a Croatian senior men’s national team player is recognized as the fastest shot in the world at 60 MPH (96.5 KPH). The overhand shot is the standard throwing motion in water polo. It is the same arm motion as a pitcher uses in baseball.”

So, let’s think about this.  In water, there are little to no Gravitational Forces, and the best human floating in water, can throw a volleyball-sized ball 60-mph?  What do you think the speed would be if this person was floating in water and threw a baseball-sized ball instead?  75-mph?  80-mph? 90-mph?  Okay, so let’s say this top-of-the-food-chain water polo player throws a baseball floating in water 80-mph.  You’re telling me a top-of-the-food-chain pitcher in the Big Leagues, throwing down a mound, can only throw 20-mph more (assuming 100-mph) than someone throwing the same ball floating in water?!

I dunno, but this begs the question, does the pelvis (and lower Lumbar), OR the shoulders (and T-Spine) contribute the most to pitching velocity AND Ball Exit Speeds?

If you need to see more examples about this, then CLICK HERE for a swing experiment titled, “How Much Ball Exit Speed Does Pelvis Contribute To A High Level Swing?” 

Consider this Tweet from one of my readers…

And I added the following comment…

So what role do I think the pelvis and low back play in the swing, if not power?  Directional force.  Allows the hitter’s swing to convert Centripetal into Centrifugal Force.  In a nutshell, the hitter’s “belt buckle” must point in the direction of the batted ball.

So what’s the answer?

 

Teaching Hitters a Safer more Effective Swing

Here are some resources to get you started, outside of the ones already mentioned:

Coaches, PLEASE get educated.  Don’t let ego or pride get in the way of helping hitters swing safe.  Like Tony Robbins says,

“If you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.”

Giancarlo Stanton: Closed Stance

STOP Pulling Off The Ball, Increase Batting Average, and Boost Power By Using The Closed Stance?

 

I know, I know,

Some well meaning coaches will think, “Well, a closed stance cuts off a hitter’s vision, and/or restricts hip movement”

I get it.  I used to believe the same thing a couple years ago,

…But what I found in my research was counter-intuitive, yet very promising for hitters.

Giancarlo Stanton: Closed Stance

Giancarlo Stanton using his “closed stance”. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

You don’t know what you don’t know, right?

My process is to chew and digest the science, observe how elite hitters apply the movements, and then try it out!

As you’ll soon find out, Giancarlo Stanton did his homework before making this particular change in his swing.

Since there may be many of you raising the same objections I started with, I wanted to discuss:

  • Addressing the above “Study of Planes” video, then we’ll move on to…
  • Analyzing the small change that has netted BIG results for Giancarlo Stanton this season.

 

Study of Planes

My good friend Seo Perales shared the above video with me a few years ago.  By the way, he’s a multiple level black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu.

We love comparing notes because we both like to seek and explore human movement principles that are validated by science.  The only difference is, in his line of work as a Jujitsu instructor, he wants to learn how to break down the body, and I’m into maximizing its effect.

The above video demonstrates the science of movement planes.  What are considered weak and strong planes of movement from a Judo perspective.

I think you’ll find the video enlightening.

Now, you may be thinking, “A Judo video? Really?!  What can I learn from a video about Judo?”

If you find yourself camped out in ONLY baseball or softball circles, then you’re missing out on A LOT of useful information that will take your hitters to a whole other level.

The video is very applicable to hitting.

Furthermore,

My good friend Lee Comeaux from Texas, who teaches professional and amateur golfers, also brought the power of movement planes to my attention about a year ago…

He told me draw an “X” in the batter’s box from opposite corners, and have the hitter stand on either line when hitting.  He’s very versed in Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains.  He says hitters standing on one diagonal leg of the “X” encourages the springiness of fascia.  He taught this to his 15yo daughter, who has hit over .600 the last couple years playing Fast-Pitch Softball in Texas, which is one of the hotbeds for both baseball and softball competition in the country.  Oh and by the way, she also hit a half dozen homers as well.

The second part of this post, I wanted to share the tipping point in addressing Giancarlo Stanton’s new closed stance…

Giancarlo Stanton & The “Dreaded” Closed Stance

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me in writing this post, came from this MLB.com article by David Adler titled, “Closing time: Stanton’s stance fueling surge: Marlins slugger’s home run tear lines up with change to batting stance in June”.

You can go there and read the full article, but I wanted to tease out the quotes from Giancarlo Stanton (and some of David Adler’s commentary), and how Stanton arrived at the batting stance change…

I just said I was going to try it. Honestly, I had about 30 minutes of work, maybe 45 minutes, before the game,” Stanton told MLB.com Sunday, when he crushed his Major League-leading 45th home run against the Mets at Citi Field. “And then 10 minutes before the game, I was like, ‘This feels more comfortable.'”

Stanton was already having a helluva year, so it’s interesting to me that he made the change when he did, typically a change like this follows a slump.  However, this wasn’t a spur of the moment decision – like it sounds from that quote – he did his homework, which you’ll read about shortly…

“My best striking position is closed,” Stanton said. “It’s not smart to try to completely change something in the middle of the season. But if you are 100 percent committed to it … well, you’ve got to be. You’ve got to trust what you’re trying to do. If you change something, you want results right away, otherwise you try to go back. But I trusted it completely and let it ride.”

Sounds contradictory doesn’t it?  To have the attitude that you can’t completely change something in the middle of the season – especially when you’re already doing well!!  But then he says you MUST commit to giving the change time – that is – IF you’ve done your homework beforehand.

I’ve heard some parents and coaches say mid-season changes aren’t smart.  I don’t like to think that way…WHY?  Because if you don’t guide the hitter, the hitter will make changes on their own.  And if they don’t get highly resourceful on the subject, then this could lead to DISASTER with all the junk hitting info on the net these days.

David Adler did fantastic research illustrating the evolution of Giancarlo Stanton’s closed stance in this Tweet:

In the earlier mentioned article, Adler states…

“Stanton’s closing of his batting stance has correlated with his massive power surge. On June 18, he had 17 home runs in 282 plate appearances; since June 19, he has 28 in 236.

When Stanton hits from those positions [open or straight up], his front side can come open before the pitch arrives, leaving him exploitable.

The closed stance is a natural counter. When Stanton is already turned inward to start, his rotation drives him into the pitch, instead of causing him to fade away from it.”

By the way, for those not doing the math:

  • From start of season to June 18th, he hit 1 homer every 16.5 plate appearances, and
  • From June 19th on, he hit 1 homer every 8.4 plate appearances

He cut his rate in half!!!!  The closed stance was the ONLY change to his swing in that time frame, so this makes an interesting case study with a decent sample size of plate appearances.  See for yourself with the following David Adler Tweet:

David Adler adds some terms of comparision you may be familiar with…

“With his adjusted stance, Stanton has been driving the ball in the air more often. His rate of fly balls and line drives, per Statcast™, has risen from 41.5 percent prior to June 19 to 50.3 percent since. Stanton’s average exit velocity on those balls has increased from 97.6 mph to 100.8 mph, the highest in the Majors over that time.”

I don’t care that Stanton is a beast, if you increase your Line Drive and Fly Ball Rates (Launch Angle), and Ball Exit Speeds that much, you’ll make a lot of Ground-ball teams VERY VERY upset.  Small hitters CAN and DO take advantage of this formula too.  Statcast has given hitters the cheat codes to increase offensive productivity!

Furthermore, in the Adler article…

“[His stance] gets him in the position he wants to be in. It looks like it’s keeping him on the ball more, and he seems like he’s seeing it better,” said Christian Yelich, who’s played alongside Stanton as long as any current Marlin — since 2013, when he was 21 and Stanton 23. “Some guys have different problems than others. You go about fixing them or covering them in different ways. It’s all about feel. That’s what works for him, that feel.”

Look at that bold sentence once more because that is one of the most critical keys to this whole thing.  Yelich is also tapping into making extreme adjustments, for example, Stanton’s challenge in the past has been pulling off, maybe because of when he tragically got hit in the face a few years ago.  Whatever the reason, the extreme adjustment (a closed stance), helps him stay on the ball longer.

CLICK HERE for a video I did on how to make adjustments…the scientific term for this is “Paradoxical Intention”.

Now, here is where the article gets into the research that brought Giancarlo Stanton to the point of taking the stance change seriously…

“But at a level of the game where emulation is fundamental, success begetting imitators, Stanton found his prototypes: Nolan Arenado, Matt Kemp, Adrian Beltre, prominent hitters who do close off. He recognized past greats, too: Hall of Famer Andre Dawson works as a special assistant to the Marlins, and he hit with a closed stance in his playing career. Stanton didn’t copy the technical aspects of their batting stances, but their accomplishments gave him precedent to actually make the change himself.

Some on Twitter have written this change off as a band-aide, avoiding a true fix.  A true fix?  Are you kidding me?!  Cutting his home-run per plate appearance rate in half IS NOT a true fix!?  Dude!!  Success leaves clues.  These people are saying Giancarlo Stanton is “playing to the slice”, where a golfer who chronically slices the ball will angle his body at setup so they don’t have to fix the real problem…which is not squaring up the club face at impact.

This is a poor attempt to protect an inflexible teaching philosophy, and sheer laziness on their part to get educated on their craft they claim to know a lot about.  You instructors seriously think Giancarlo Stanton is not “squaring the ball up” at impact since June 19th and is just “playing the slice”?  That is laughable.  You don’t know what you don’t know, right?

This is the problem I have with instructors with inflexible hitting systems…they’re WILLFULLY IGNORANT to experimenting with things that could push their hitters forward, especially movements validated by science.  We’re ALL in this together, and we’re ALL helping hitters.  It’s NOT about your ego or protecting “your brand” coaches.

But I digress…

Here’s some insight into Giancarlo Stanton’s thought process with the change…

“I just know the guys with success,” Stanton said. “Arenado and Kemp, those guys, you know you can have a high average with it. So that kind of gave me the green light to try it…I knew it could work. Not very many people did it. But I know people like Hawk and them did it in the old days — and it worked for them, too.”

 

The Bottom Line…

Giancarlo Stanton: Tweet About Closed Stance

A day or two after re-tweeting Homer Bush’s Tweet about Giancarlo Stanton’s closed stance, I received this response from @Omaha_Outlaws4…

I understand your objections that a closed stance may cut off a hitter’s vision, and/or restricts hip movement.  You’ve heard me talk a lot about “keeping the back foot sideways”, well, this plays right into that.

Matt Nokes is religious on restricting hip movement to the point of impact with keeping the back foot sideways.  Homer Bush agrees in this interview.  So are the Backspin Tee guys Taylor and Jarrett Gardner.  LIGHT BULB! The closed stance does this naturally.

The main benefit of restricting hip movement at impact (includes keeping back foot sideways) that you’ll hear from Nokes, Bush, and the Gardner Brothers, is to keep the barrel in the hitting zone longer.  This increases BA and Slug%.

Here’s my advice:

  1. Chew and digest the science,
  2. Observe how elite hitters apply the movements, and then
  3. Try it out!

If it doesn’t work after giving it the ol’ college try, then toss it.

As many of you know, I will gladly eat crow and change my hitting system IF you can show me the science, swing experiments, and many elite hitting examples that I can’t ignore the issue.

This is an informal Part-1 to a Zepp swing experiment I’ll be doing on the Giancarlo Stanton closed stance in the near future.  So stay tuned…

Zepp Swing Experiment Attempting To Put Value On Role Of Pelvis In Swing

Question: How Much Does Pelvis Add to Bat Speed at Impact?

According to InnerBody.com, the pelvis is a sturdy ring of bones that protects the delicate organs of the abdomino-pelvic cavity while anchoring the powerful muscles of the hip, thigh, and abdomen. Several bones unite to form the pelvis, including the sacrum, coccyx (tail bone), and the left and right coxal (hip) bones. Photo courtesy: OrthoInfo.aaos.org

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to employ the Scientific Method to analyze how much turning the pelvis (some refer to this as the hips) adds to Bat Speed at Impact.  The ‘Front Facing Swings’ are an attempt to isolate out the role of the pelvis in the swing, so we can analyze how much the pelvis adds to swing performance.

Just a heads up, the “pelvis” and “hips” are not the same thing.  The hips are a small part of the pelvis.  However, most coaches refer to “hips” when instructing the swing, when most likely they mean “pelvis”.

 

Background Research

For those coaches with a Growth Mindset that want to find out more about the science of locomotion.  I’d recommend reading the following technical books:

If working through the weeds isn’t for you, then you can click the following HPL posts that synthesize the information contained in the previously mentioned books:

I’ve done two swing experiments revealing the role of the shoulders in the swing that tested the value of ‘Showing Numbers’ versus ‘NOT’.  These showed an average increase to Bat Speed at Impact – Showing Numbers – of between 5 to 6-mph.  In addition, one of the experiments showed an average increase to Ball Exit Speed of over 9-mph ‘Showing Numbers’! That’s between 38 to 48-feet of ADDED batted ball distance by ‘Showing Numbers’:

This Zepp swing experiment is attempting to put value on the role of the pelvis in the swing.

 

HypothesisThe Science of Hitting by Ted Williams

Ted Williams, in his book The Science Of Hitting, said the ‘hips lead the way’.  This observation is irrefutable when watching slow motion video of elite hitters.  A majority of coaches teach primarily a ‘hips only’ strategy, which I disagree with.  I feel ‘firing the hips’ is over-taught and over-valued, while the role of the shoulders is under-taught and under valued.  The objective of this experiment is to see what benefit the pelvis (or hips) add to swing performance.

I predict ‘Regular Swings’ will have a substantial increase in Bat Speed at Impact than the ‘Front Facing Swings’.

 

Performance Benefit of Pelvis Swing Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length…I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent.  One was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
  • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Front Facing Swing’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Regular Swing’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • The objective of ‘Front Facing Swings’ was to start the ‘belt buckle’ pointing at the pitcher, and to minimize pelvic movement.
  • Experiment Day-1 on 6/19 we completed 75 total swings (25 ‘Front Facing’ & 50 ‘Regular’).  Experiment Day-2 on 6/26 we completed 125 swings (75 ‘Front Facing’ & 50 ‘Regular’).
  • We had to break the 200 total swings into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later, because of time constraints.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

‘Front Facing Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

Front Facing Swing Averages

‘Front Facing Swing’ AVERAGES for the following metrics: 77-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 30-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.177-secs Time To Impact, -24.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 3* Attack Angle.

‘Regular Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

‘Regular Swing’ AVERAGES for the following metrics: 81.5-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 33-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.130-secs Time To Impact, -28.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 0* Attack Angle.

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

  • 4.5-mph INCREASE to Bat Speed at Impact in ‘Regular Swings’,
  • 3-mph INCREASE to Hand Speed Max in ‘Regular Swings’,
  • 0.047 DECREASE to Time To Impact in ‘Regular Swings’,
  • -4-degree DECREASE to Bat Vertical Angle at Impact in ‘Regular Swings’, and
  • -3-degree DECREASE to Attack Angle in ‘Regular Swings’.

 

Notes

  • The increase in Bat Speed at Impact and Hand Speed Max confirmed my hypothesis, and didn’t surprise me since the first piece of The Spinal Engine to interact with Gravitational Forces is the pelvis.
  • It’s also interesting to note, that you can see from the side-by-side video of the swing, that I wasn’t able to keep the “belt buckle” ‘front facing’ as much as I would have liked to on ‘Front Facing Swings’, so possibly the pelvis could have added a bit more.  I was feeling inside right knee tightness when forcing pelvis to stay facing forward.
  • The DECREASE in Time To Impact with ‘Regular Swings’ could have been due to the increased step and/or unfamiliarity with the movement, while doing ‘Front Facing Swings’.
  • In past swing experiments testing ‘Down Shoulders’ and ‘Showing Numbers’ I increased my Attack Angle – in the positive.  I think the 3-degree increase in positive Attack Angle for ‘Front Facing Swings’ was due to better execution of those elements.
  • We were testing Ball Exit Speed in the beginning but had equipment malfunction (batteries went dead).  I was too many swings in when the equipment was fixed, so we threw BES out in this experiment.  I’d love to see BES measured in a future review of this swing experiment.
  • One last thought, because my pelvis inwardly turned toward the catcher – drastically – on ‘Front Facing Swings’, we saw quite a drop-off in production.  Does this give evidence that an inward turn before the swing may be inferior to keeping the pelvis in neutral (or belt bucket facing plate)?

How To Effectively Use The Body To Get Pitch-Plane Domination

Yes, I’m releasing ANOTHER book!!The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids

AND YES, I’VE BEEN PULLING ALL-NIGHTERS, DRINKING LOTS AND LOTS OF CAFFEINE, AND LISTENING TO LOTS AND LOTS OF METALLICA TO WRITE THREE BOOKS IN 3 MONTHS!!

Kidding! 😀

I’m not that much of a savage,

But what I have for you today is the Conclusion to my latest book, which is smaller in size – about 60-something pages, and is a re-publishing of my most popular Ground-ball RANT blog post I wrote the beginning of 2016.  This post achieved over 5,400 Likes on Facebook! 😀 (UPDATE: now this was before my Facebook “Like” website plugin broke, and I had to get a new one which erased all those wonderful Likes!!)

I’ll share the Conclusion  to the new book shortly,

Most of you probably didn’t miss the Ground-ball RANT, so the purpose of this book and post are a little different…

What I want for you to do is get this book and give it away as a gift.  Ideally to a coach who teaches their hitters to produce a lot of “worm-burners”, but one who may also be open to being persuaded from that unfounded malarkey.

You see, this subject has become somewhat of a movement on social media – if you haven’t noticed.  CLICK the following link for a fantastic breakdown post from Dan Farnsworth at the Hardball Times titled, “Ground Balls: A Hitter’s Best Friend?”

Now, back to The UGLY Truth book…

On sale, The UGLY Truth paperback will be $9.95, and the Kindle version will be $2.99.  And by the way, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read a “Kindle-version” ebook.  Just download the Kindle app on any mobile device, and BOOYA!  You can access it.

 

Do you have a High School coach in mind that could benefit from this information?  Or perhaps a Little League coach? Just recommend coach download the free ebook within those 5 days.  They have nothing to lose!  It would be to YOUR kid’s best interest 😉

Okay, so now I want to share the Conclusion to the book (which by the way, wasn’t in my original Ground-Ball RANT)

A reader recently emailed me that his son, although having some success before, has switched over to “my stuff”.  Well, switch overs aren’t always smooth, and his son is hitting more ground-balls, so I suggested the following tips to STOP hitting ground-balls

Enter the Conclusion to my new book now on sale at Amazon (with Kindle version free for a short period of time), The Ugly Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids

—–

Conclusion

I have a treat for you…

You may be thinking what I teach my hitters to do since I don’t want them hitting ground-balls.  I very much agree with the Backspin Tee guys’ motto of ‘On Path of the Pitch, Bottom Half of the Ball’.  But how do you put that into practice?

There are five things I look for in a swing to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch longer, so hitters can hit more consistent line drives:

  1. Front knee action,
  2. Back knee action,
  3. Back foot action,
  4. Barrel early on plane, and
  5. Barrel late on plane.

Front Knee Action

There are six benefits to landing with a bent front leg:

  1. Engaging springy fascia in the legs,
  2. Pitch adaptability to off speed pitches,
  3. Shrinking the strike zone,
  4. Using Ground Reaction Forces,
  5. Getting eyes closer to lower pitches in the zone, and
  6. How humans change directions and planes of motion.

We’re not going through all six, but I wanted to highlight the last one…

Please do a YouTube search for: armanti edwards route tree session, and pay attention to how Armanti Edwards and other NFL wide receivers change direction while doing a “Route Tree Session” with trainer Gari Scott…

Watch them run these routes from a big picture point of view.  In other words, not looking for any specific arm or leg angles.  Watch them ‘get lower’ when changing directions, or cutting.  They land on a bent plant leg, then push off the same leg, extending it, to accelerate again.

Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Planes of Motion

Three main planes of motion. Photo courtesy: goldsgymwebsterny.wordpress.com

There are three main human planes of motion:

  1. Saggital (front to back motion) – divides the body into right and left halves
  2. Frontal (a.k.a. side to side motion) – any vertical plane that divides the body into ventral and dorsal (belly and back), and
  3. Transverse (a.k.a. twisting motion) – is an imaginary plane that divides the body into superior and inferior parts. It is perpendicular to the coronal and sagittal planes.

In changing from one plane of motion to the other, to be effective, there MUST be a ‘getting shorter’ of the body’s stature, as the athlete plants and pushes off the ground to change directions.

The wide receivers from the video are changing from the Sagittal (front to back) to Frontal (side to side) Planes.  While a hitter changes from the Frontal (side to side) to Transverse (twisting) Planes.

In other words, just like an NFL wide receiver goes from a bent plant leg to straight at push off, a hitter MUST go from a bent landing leg, to a straight leg at ‘push off’.

Please CLICK the following link to see the other six benefits: http://gohpl.com/whybentfrontknee

Back Knee Action

Back knee angle during the Final Turn does have a significant impact on ball flight.  More bend equals more airtime for the ball.  I’ve seen Little Leaguers to Pro hitters straightening out their back legs during the Final Turn.  And they often wonder why they aren’t able to drive the ball.  Here’s why…

Homer Kelly, an aeronautical engineer for Boeing during the Great Depression, said this about knee bend in his book The Golfing Machine:

“The slant is up in the direction of a straightened Knee. The slant of the Hips affects the degree of the Hip Turn.  Actually, the primary function of Knee Action – as with Waist Bend – is to maintain a motionless Head during the Stroke.”

Homer Kelly’s statement has as much to do with hitting as it does with the golf swing!  During the Final Turn, a hitter like Adrian Beltre uses his flexed back knee (and straightened front one) to slant his pelvis up towards the downward traveling pitch, and as a result, keeps his head motionless during the Final Turn.  Early head movement, pre-stride landing, is okay.  Late head movement is not.

Think of the back leg angle as angling your body like a “ramp”.  CLICK HERE for a great drill for getting hitters at a better “ramp” angle.

In addition, please CLICK the following link to see what happened with a swing experiment where I tested a bent versus straight back knee during the Final Turn: http://bit.ly/whybentbackknee

Back Foot Action

I did another swing experiment looking at the difference in bat speed at impact between ‘squishing the bug’ with the back foot and not squishing the bug…basically letting the back foot skip.

What was the results of the 200 swing experiment?

  • +8-mph difference in average Impact Bat Speed, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,
  • +3-mph difference in average Hand Speed Max, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,,
  • -0.019 difference in average Time To Impact, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”, and
  • +4-degree difference in average Attack Angle, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”

What does this mean?  That ‘squishing the bug’ is an inferior hitting mechanic.  Not ALL elite hitters “skip” the back foot, but most do “un-weight” it.  I just like teaching my hitters a minimal skip to make sure they’re shifting center mass  into impact, behind the front leg.  I read somewhere that Bryce Harper shifts 150% of his body-weight into impact (skipping his back foot), whereas if he just “squished the bug”, he’d only shift 75% of it.  That’s a HUGE difference!

Please CLICK the following link to read about the whole swing experiment: http://gohpl.com/whybackfootaction

Barrel Early on Plane

I recently did a video blog post case study featuring one of my 15 year old baseball players Liam titled, “Taking The Headache Out Of Teaching Barrel Path”.  We used the Ropebat to change his “Verizon check mark” barrel path into a “Nike Swoosh” sign.

Why one over the other? I want my hitters to build proper bat lag into their swing, or an early barrel on the plane of the pitch.  This helps the hitter barrel the ball more often when their timing may be late.

What’s amazing about Liam’s transformation was that:

  • It only took ten days,
  • It took two total 30-minute sessions (beginning of session three was when the AFTER video was taken), and
  • Liam only had access to the Ropebat during our sessions. After session number-three, his mom went ahead and purchased one for home use.*

*Results aren’t typical. Liam has a primary “feel” learning style, so the Ropebat worked well for him – and not to mention quickly with minimal use.

Please CLICK the following link to see Liam’s full case study transformation: http://gohpl.com/whybarrelearlyonplane

Barrel Late on Plane

The benefit of keeping the barrel on the plane of the pitch longer is to help the hitter when their timing is early, especially on off-speed and breaking balls.  I typically refer to this as the Power-V, however the V-position of the arms MUST happen AFTER impact.  It shouldn’t be a goal to get the hitter to Power-V at impact.  The latter would put hitters at a disadvantage to inside and higher pitches in the zone.

I also use the coaching cue ‘barrel chasing the ball’ when teaching this.  Please CLICK the following link to a video blog post titled, “Addison Russell Grand Slam Video: The Anatomy Of A Dinger”http://gohpl.com/whybarrellateonplane

The last thing I wanted to leave you with besides the Ropebat, as an effective hitting aid to getting the ball in the air, is the Backspin Batting Tee.  I mentioned the Backspin Tee swing experiment in one of the earlier rebuttals to the ground-ball argument, but I wanted to share a link to getting the Backspin Tee at my online store (TheStartingLineupStore.com)

I highly recommend these two hitting aids and my Pitch-Plane Domination online video course, so you can help hitters to:

  • Increase Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) – you’ll learn how tweaking two simple things can super-charge batted ball distance, which means seeing the backs of outfielders, and not the front!
  • Reduce Strikeouts (K%) – you’ll discover how to conquer the root cause of striking out and mis-hits, and see coach get excited each time your hitter gets up!
  • Increase Repeatable Power (OPS) – soak up this one human movement rule and you’ll be a pitcher’s worst nightmare.  The pitcher would be better off, stepping off the mound and throwing the ball in gap!
  • Get More Consistent Multi-Hit Games – getting 3, 4, and 5-hits in a game is not magic.  When all four steps are achieved it makes multi-hit games doable!

—–

Please order the book today – we’re in a position to add gasoline to this movement to banish hitting ground-balls for good!!  Outside of situational hitting of course 😉  Join the movement and order: The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids on Amazon today.

Question: Does Having a ‘Hunched Posture’ Boost Bat Speed Over NO Hunch?

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: Hunter Pence v. Derek Jeter Spine Position

Look at the difference between the spinal positions of Hunter Pence & Derek Jeter. Photos courtesy: MLB.com

In this baseball hitting drills off tee experiment using the Backspin batting tee, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze the benefits of swinging with a ‘hunched posture’ versus ‘NO hunch’, by taking:

  • 100 swings with a ‘hunched posture’ (Global Spinal Flexion) – think Hunter Pence, and
  • 100 swings with ‘NO hunch’ (Spinal Lordosis) – think Derek Jeter…

 

Background Research

First I wanted to start off with the application of what a ‘hunched posture’ looks like in the MLB.  Look at the following hitters/pitcher, and note the similarities in the shape of their backs (or spine) before they begin rotation:

There are many more, especially in the 1960’s and ’70’s.  These hitters/pitcher either start with the ‘hunch’ or move into it before they start turning.

For the science, I recommend you read Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine.  I will go over a few talking points about the Posterior Ligamentous System (or PLS).  Think of the PLS as a connective tissue harness you’d use to scale down a large building.

In Dr. Gracovetsky’s aforementioned book, I’d like you to read under the subheading “Lifting While Lordosis Is Maintained” p. 82., and nd “Lifting While Lordosis Is Reduced” on p. 83.

I’m paraphrasing, but Dr. Gracovetsky says when the bend in the lower back is maintained (NO hunch), then we’re using a “muscle-predominant strategy”, and when the lower lumbar curve is taken out (hunch), then we’re tapping into the “muscle relaxation response”.

What Dr. Gracovetsky found in his research and study was that when a person picks something up from the ground that is heavier than we’re used to picking up, the back will round (hunch), muscles will turn off, and the PLS system will kick in.

You can experience the two systems (muscle v. ligament) by trying to see how long you can sit up straight in your seat…once your muscles get tired, then you’ll take on the hunched posture, letting the PLS take over.  This is why it’s so comfortable to sit slouched, and hard work to ‘keep your back straight’.

The reason for this ‘spinal safety net’ as Dr. Serge Gracovetsky alludes to, is to put the vertebrae of the spine into a safer position, also known as decompression.

My friend D @SelfDecompress on Twitter is doing just this with his clients.

One last note on the research…

CLICK HERE and read under the sub-heading “The Hitting ‘Governor'” in this HPL article about how our brain puts a limit on performance because of movement dysfunction.

Hypothesis

Based on Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s research and study,  it is my forecast that taking on a ‘hunched posture’ before the turn, will increase average bat speed over not hunching.

I also add the same results is because of the information I included under ‘The Hitting Governor’ sub-heading in the aforementioned HPL article.

In other words, by hunching the back, thereby decompressing the vertebrae of the spine, we remove ‘The Hitting Governor’ Effect, and allow the body to optimize turning speed.

Not to mention we make the swing safer for our rotating athletes’ bodies.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: ‘Hunched Posture’ Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • We used the Zepp Labs Baseball app to gain swing data.  Our concern is for an apples to apples comparison between the two sets of 100 swings.
  • All swings for the baseball hitting drills off tee ‘hunched posture’ experiment were taken off a Backspin batting tee.
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent…one was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills off tee ‘hunched posture’ experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Hunched posture’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘NO hunch’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.
  • Throughout the baseball hitting drills off tee swing experiment, I was drinking a Strawberry Lemonade Gatorade (because I like it!) and a chocolate milk to replenish my body’s protein, sugars, and electrolytes during the 2-hour experiment.
  • I did an 8 exercise dynamic warm up before taking about 15-20 practice swings off the tee.

 

Data Collected (Zepp App Screenshot)

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: Low Back Bend Zepp Swing Experiment

Please pay particular attention to the differences in Time To Impact & Attack Angle from the Zepp metrics…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

As you can see from the baseball hitting drills off tee Zepp screenshot and metrics above, the big differences between the two groups of 100 swings were the average:

  • Time To Impact: the ‘hunched posture’ was .004 seconds less than ‘NO hunch’, AND
  • Attack Angle: the ‘hunched posture’ was 4-degrees more positive than ‘NO hunch’

It looks like my baseball hitting drills off tee swing experiment Hypothesis was wrong in thinking there would be a boost to average bat speed with the ‘hunched posture’ swings.  However, there were three MAJOR benefits to swinging ‘hunched’:

  • According to Dr. Gracovetsky’s research, we can conclude it’s safer on the spine,
  • A DECREASE in Time To Impact, which buys a hitter more time to make a decision to swing, and
  • A more POSITIVE barrel Attack Angle, which puts a hitter into a better position to hit more consistent line drives.

Question: Does The BackSpin Batting Tee Help Hitters Elevate The Ball?

 

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Tee

Backspin batting tee photo courtesy: TheStartingLineupStore.com

In this baseball batting cage drills experiment using the Backspin batting tee, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to a hitter’s spray chart (ME!!) by taking:

  • 100 swings using a conventional tee (ATEC Single Tuffy Tee), versus
  • Taking another 100 swing using Taylor and Jarrett Gardner’s BackSpin batting tee.

I’ve done a couple posts promoting what Taylor and Jarrett are doing with the Backspin Tee because I really believe in their product and what it can do for young hitters in getting the batted ball off the ground.  Whether we’re talking baseball, fastpitch-softball, and slowpitch-softball…

And to let you know, this experiment has been brewing in my head since the summer of 2015, but the stars just didn’t align…until NOW!

 

Background Research

Here are two baseball batting cage drills posts mentioned earlier, to give some background on the research for The Backspin batting tee:

Hypothesis

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: ATEC Tuffy Single Batting Tee

ATEC Tuffy Single Batting Tee photo courtesy: ATEC

Okay, so I cheated a little bit…

Before the OFFICIAL baseball batting cage drills swing experiment, I’ve been using the Backspin batting tee with my local hitters and the results have been positive.

And now, I’m making my Hypothesis official…

I think by using the Backspin batting tee, it will allow the hitter to cut down on ground-balls, and will empower them to get more effective at putting the ball in the air (line drives primarily).

In addition, I think that not only will the tee reduce a hitter’s ground-balls, but will contribute to above average line drive launch angles.  Average line drives would be within the reach of a fielder.

 

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Batting Tee Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Tee

Closeup of the ‘inverted’ rubber cone that holds the baseball or softball. Photo courtesy: TheStartingLineupStore.com

  • I had two of the same laminated images of the batting cage I was hitting in (Hitting Spray Chart images below).
  • After each swing, I’d use a Sharpy pen to mark where the batted ball hit first (on the ground or the location on the batting cage netting), right after coming off the bat.
  • All swings for the baseball batting cage drills experiment were taken off either a Backspin or ATEC Tuffy Single tee.
  • I used the Backspin batting tee rubber cone for baseballs (they have one for softballs as well).
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for both tees.
  • I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent…one was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball batting cage drills experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Hitting off the “Backspin Tee” was letter ‘A’, and off the “Conventional Tee” was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.

Data Collected (Hitting Spray Charts)

Backspin Batting Tee Spray Chart:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: BackSpin Tee Spray Chart

The Backspin tee spray chart is cleaner and resembles a bit of a tornado

Conventional Tee Spray Chart:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Conventional (Regular) Tee

As you can see, the spray chart is a bit messy…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  •  The Backspin batting tee spray chart looks much more tidy than the “regular” tee chart (the former looks like a tornado),
  • You can see when using the conventional tee, I tended to pull the ball to left side of the cage.
  • There are definitely a higher concentration of batted balls in the above average line drive spots (not within reach of the fielders), using the Backspin batting tee, and
  • There were more balls hitting the ground or bottom of the cage when using a conventional tee.

 

Notes

  1. Addressing the excessive of pulled balls using the conventional tee, I thought maybe my tee was moving on me (getting too far out front).  I even tried pushing the regular tee slightly deeper than the position I started it in for a couple swings, to counter this, but that wasn’t the issue.
  2. Now, here’s where it gets interesting…remember in the “Setup” section above, I hit on the Backspin Tee (‘A’) FIRST.  I started to notice a pattern after switching tees…I didn’t have an issue getting the ball in the air with the Backspin tee, sometimes getting into the pop-fly territory.  But what I found was after taking a Backspin tee 25-swing chunk, the first 10-15 swing launch angles off the conventional tee mimicked what I was getting with the Backspin Tee.  As the conventional tee round approached the last 10-15 swings, the launch angle slowly creeped downwards into the average line drive arena.  So when I repeated TWO conventional tee 25-swing chunks (the BB in the ABBA pattern), by the time I got to the end I was having a hard time getting the ball back up again using the conventional tee.  And on the last BAAB 25-swing chunk pattern (last 100 swings), I noticed the same thing emerge.
  3. It was like the “magic” of the Backspin tee wore off after 10 swings into hitting on the conventional tee. My Hypothesis?  If I took 100 STRAIGHT swings on a conventional tee, then 100 STRAIGHT on a Backspin tee, I’m willing to bet there would be WAY more ground-balls and average line drives using the conventional tee than I got in this baseball batting cage drills experiment.
  4. The other weird thing (in a good way) I noticed hitting off the Backspin batting tee, was that it trimmed up my spray chart (making it look more like a tornado rather than a cinder block).  I rarely pulled the ball towards the left side of the cage hitting off the Backspin tee.  And the ones I did pull that way, I’d be willing to bet it was after hitting off the conventional tee. CRAZY!

The Bottom Line?

Well, the baseball batting cage drills experiment data showed that not only did the Backspin tee elevate ball launch angles, but it also cleaned up horizontal outcomes.  Meaning, I didn’t hit the ball to the left side of the cage as frequently when using the Backspin tee than I did with the conventional tee when the ball is located virtually in the same position every swing.  Also, the “Backspin tee effect” lasted a good 10-15 swings into switching over and using the conventional tee!