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Bat Tee Interview

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

 

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

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

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

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Joey Myers  00:07

There he is.

Taylor Gardner  00:09

Oh,

Joey Myers  00:10

You hear me? Okay.

Taylor Gardner  00:12

Oh, yeah!

Joey Myers  00:13

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

Taylor Gardner  00:21

Probably should.

Joey Myers  00:24

Look at you.

Taylor Gardner  00:26

Yeah.

Joey Myers  00:27

Causing your parents so much so many sleepless nights.

Taylor Gardner  00:30

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

Joey Myers  00:38

Double interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:40

Yeah. Oh my

Joey Myers  00:45

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

Taylor Gardner  00:49

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

Joey Myers  00:55

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

Taylor Gardner  00:57

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

Joey Myers  01:01

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

Taylor Gardner  01:26

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

Joey Myers  01:37

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

Taylor Gardner  01:46

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

Joey Myers  01:54

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

Taylor Gardner  02:03

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

Joey Myers  02:05

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

Taylor Gardner  02:07

He’s righty.

Joey Myers  02:09

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

 

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

Taylor Gardner  02:30

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

Taylor Gardner  02:56

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

Taylor Gardner  03:15

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

Joey Myers  03:55

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

Taylor Gardner  04:02

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

Taylor Gardner  04:33

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

Taylor Gardner  05:00

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

Taylor Gardner  05:27

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

Taylor Gardner  05:55

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

Taylor Gardner  06:23

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

Taylor Gardner  06:59

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

Taylor Gardner  07:36

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

Taylor Gardner  07:57

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

Joey Myers  08:48

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

Joey Myers  09:16

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

 

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

Taylor Gardner  09:46

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

Taylor Gardner  10:06

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

Taylor Gardner  10:29

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

Joey Myers  10:52

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

Joey Myers  11:23

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

Taylor Gardner  11:57

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

Taylor Gardner  12:33

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

Taylor Gardner  13:05

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

Taylor Gardner  13:34

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

Joey Myers  14:19

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

Joey Myers  14:55

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

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

Taylor Gardner  15:29

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

Taylor Gardner  15:58

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

Taylor Gardner  16:29

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

Taylor Gardner  17:06

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

Taylor Gardner  17:32

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

Taylor Gardner  17:56

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

Taylor Gardner  18:26

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

Joey Myers  18:44

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

Joey Myers  19:13

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

 

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

Taylor Gardner  19:42

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

Taylor Gardner  20:19

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

Taylor Gardner  20:50

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

Joey Myers  21:13

Wait till she starts walking…

Taylor Gardner  21:15

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

Taylor Gardner  21:55

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

Taylor Gardner  22:34

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

Taylor Gardner  23:09

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

Taylor Gardner  23:42

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

Joey Myers  24:13

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

Joey Myers  24:38

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

 

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

Taylor Gardner  25:05

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

Taylor Gardner  25:34

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

Taylor Gardner  26:07

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

Taylor Gardner  26:34

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

Taylor Gardner  27:19

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

Taylor Gardner  27:51

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

Taylor Gardner  28:23

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

 

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

Joey Myers  28:56

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

Joey Myers  29:16

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

Joey Myers  29:45

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

Joey Myers  29:50

20 miles an hour.

Joey Myers  30:24

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

Taylor Gardner  30:34

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

Taylor Gardner  31:06

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

Taylor Gardner  31:33

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

Taylor Gardner  32:03

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

Taylor Gardner  32:33

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

Taylor Gardner  33:08

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

Joey Myers  33:29

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

Taylor Gardner  33:40

She’s sleeping now.

Joey Myers  33:41

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

 

Where can people find more about you guys?

Taylor Gardner  34:04

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

Taylor Gardner  34:28

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

Joey Myers  34:50

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

Taylor Gardner  35:12

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

Joey Myers  35:20

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

Taylor Gardner  35:34

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

Joey Myers  36:01

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

Taylor Gardner  36:13

Thank you bud.

Joey Myers  36:14

Alright brother. Take care of yourself.

Taylor Gardner  36:16

Have a good one.

Joey Myers  36:17

Have a good Easter.

Taylor Gardner  36:18

Thank you.

Hitting Trainers: Anchor Bat

Hitting Trainers: How To Filter The Gimmicks

Where can one find the best hitting trainers on the planet?  That are:

  • Made in the USA,
  • Supported by data,
  • Validated by Science, and
  • Quality guaranteed…

The Starting Lineup Store!!  That’s where 😉  Munchie’s testimonial above is for the sea foam blue wood Anchor Bat.

Here are the TOP-4 most popular products… drum roll please…

#4 – Overload Training Bat: “Goliath” End Loaded Wood Bat

Texas Tech’s Hudson White in the above video, is swinging the “Goliath” candy apple red end loaded wood bat. +4 to +6 overload bat is perfect for dramatically increasing batted ball distance without touching swing mechanics.  In a reasonably short period of time.

Here’s a post I did listing some of the best wood bats on Amazon filtered by Customer Rating.

 

#3 – “Don’t Let Good Enough Be Good Enough” T-shirt

Hitting Trainers: Don't Let Good Enough Be Good Enough T-Shirt

The ultimate patriotic baseball or softball t-shirt for any player who doesn’t compromise putting time and effort into their craft, or for the supportive parent looking to make a positive statement.

This updated unisex essential fits like a well-loved favorite. Super soft cotton and excellent quality print makes one to fall in love with it over and over again.

Brandie T. says,

“Great looking, high quality tshirts!”

 

#2 – Best Batting Tee Hitting Trainers – Backspin Tee Pro Lite Model

Hitting Trainers: Backspin Tee Pro Lite Model

Learn how to teach hitters to consistently hit line drives without teaching them. Before I knew these guys I did a swing experiment comparing the Backspin Tee to the conventional tee.  Shocking.  See how it turned out.

The customers spoke, and they listened! You now have a super lightweight tee, that you can practice any and all angles with. Can attach the Elite Angle Attachment, as well as easily change the heights with easy push buttons.

The price is over $200 CHEAPER than their Pro Heavy Model Tee, which makes this the most affordable Backspin Tee ever made.

 

#1 – Rotex Motion: Move Better to Perform Better

Hitting Trainers: Rotex Motion

Just a few of the Rotex Motion benefits:

  • Fix movement issues fast such as frozen shoulder, lat release, rotator cuff injuries, and lower back tightness.  Helps with Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Issues, Lower and Upper Crossed Syndromes, & Sports Related Injury Prevention and Recovery.
  • Built Tough – over built. Two structural engineers, robotics engineer, two 3D printing engineers, and a Doctor worked on this.  So much ‘honeycombing’ in this that it will support 500-pounds each.  Several NFL and college linemen from LSU, Alabama, and Michigan use this that go around 350-pounds.
  • Scientifically Proven – for example, floor model is scientifically proven to dramatically increase range of motion in the hips.
  • Join elite athletes using Rotex Motion that are on the PGA TOUR, in the NFL, MLB, NHL and numerous other professionals.  CLICK HERE to see who uses Rotex Motion professionally.

Here’s a post I did sharing performance gains some of my hitters experienced as a result of using the Rotex Motion system.

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

Hitting Training: What is Directional Force?  And WHY is it Important?

 

 

This hitting training interview with Matt Nokes was pulled from the seventh issue of our Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter.  What is that?  On a monthly basis,

  • We pick a hitting theme,
  • Write a Newsletter around the theme,
  • Give favorite hitting drill addressing the theme,
  • Prescribe corrective exercises to amplify the drill’s goal, and as if that wasn’t enough,
  • We also include 2 expert interviews on the subject…

EVERY month!

This hitting training post is POWER packed!!  The above video, Matt put together special for this episode.  The following is the 30-minute audio interview…

Here are some of the hard hitting training points we cover in the Nokes interview (pun intended of course):

  • What’s the Major Benefit to “Staying Sideways”,
  • What is Making the Hips Turn?
  • Dangers to Performance of Over-Rotating the Lower Half,
  • What is Directional Force?  And Why is it Important?  And,
  • Around the Zone Drill for Staying Sideways.

What follows is copy and pasted transcript from the 30-minute hitting training audio interview.  If you want to download the pdf version, so you can print it out, and highlight the heck out of it, then you can download that here: https://gohpl.com/33XxDcI

Enjoy!

Hitting Training - Matt Nokes Staying Sideways

Hitting Training – Staying Sideways image courtesy: Matt Nokes

 

Joey Myers  00:00

All right, hello and welcome to Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com, and on with me as a special guest a special surprise Mr. Matt Nokes, former Major Leaguer, two time All Star, Silver Slugger award winner.

 

Joey Myers  00:14

And the day that I met Matt was probably three or four years ago, I was introduced, the Backspin tee bros… Taylor and Jarrett Gardner, and we were talking hitting the whole time down in San Diego. I think it’s when they had the all-star game there in San Diego. And we were even talking hitting training in parking structures at the different levels. We went to a library we went all over the place. So Matt Noakes, welcome to the show.

 

Matt Nokes  00:41

Good Joey. First, thank you for inviting me.

 

Joey Myers  00:44

You got it, sir. Hey, I wanted to kick off. I wanted to talk about because we’re going to be looking at the idea of staying sideways with the lower half, directional force, all that. So, I wanted to get your view, since you introduced it to me and introduced it to the backspin tee guys, what’s the major benefit of staying sideways? And maybe a detriment to not staying sideways? Maybe over rotating? Which I see a lot of young hitters do?

 

What’s the Major Hitting Training Benefit to “Staying Sideways”

 

Matt Nokes  01:13

Well, I think there are several reasons. I mean, it’s a whole system, right? It’s your lower body. And it’s been misinterpreted for so many years. Because of well, the communication wasn’t necessary.  Let’s just say when a major leaguer’s talking to another major leaguer, they’re just spouting out hitting training words that don’t mean a whole heck of a lot. Or it could mean 50 different things. But they’re talking to someone who’s been watching their teammate. They know what they’re going through. It’s what they say just a little bit. They know what they’re saying.

 

Matt Nokes  01:53

And so a lot of the conversation is nonverbal. And so, this whole thing of using your hips, it’s just something that has been brought up to people. And if you think about it, when you’re hitting, for people who haven’t been hitting, or who don’t know how to hit, they don’t see the patterns that you and I see or that a high school, college, pro player, or major leaguer, they don’t see the patterns that we see.

 

Matt Nokes  02:27

And so, the varying levels of, there’s a huge amount of information that you need to know just to see certain things. Right? And so, it’s what, it’s why there’s this confusion. And people just haven’t really taken the time to, or they just didn’t feel like, feel the need to explain any more. Because, as one of my good friends Darrell Evans always said is well, I can’t tell you everything.

 

Matt Nokes  02:56

Like he’ll explain some awesome conflict. I go, why don’t you tell me that, you know, 20 years ago when we were in the big leagues? Because I can’t tell you everything, because you knew.  He hit 400 or over 400 home-runs. But there were some hitting training things that he didn’t question. And things that I questioned, and vice versa, I wish I would have had that information from the beginning.

 

Matt Nokes  03:22

And it’s not so much that we see the patterns, because everyone sees oh, you know, that front leg straightens out at some point, that must be important. Okay, well, it kind of straightens out when you block. Sometimes it doesn’t when your way into your legs.  But the point is, it’s blocked, blocking. And because there’s rotation, it’s going to straighten out, close to contact.

 

Matt Nokes  03:54

Like everybody knows, if you ever thought about straightening out your front leg thinking that that’s going to be key, that’s going to be one of my adjustments. One of my adjustments, that I’m going to get three hits tonight, you know that, that would be like the worst thing to think about, right? You would leak. You would just pole vault, leak your way up and out over the top.

 

Matt Nokes  04:17

So having said that, it’s not enough to see a pattern, you have to be able to go beyond that and see the model, you have to be able to model what’s going on, you have to know get to see hitting training in three dimensions as opposed to, drawing triangles, you need to see the pyramid.  You need to see more of really what’s happening to understand it. So, when you look at somebody hit, you see their hips turning.  It’s like no, they do turn, you know, I mean, I am watching them turn, but you have to look past that and say, what is making it turn?

What is Making the Hips Turn?

 

Matt Nokes  05:03

And when it comes to, why does it turn? And when it comes to all the other comments about using the ground, which is, you hit from the ground up and lead with ground force, and it starts from the bottom and goes up, back foot turns, the back-knee turns, hips turn, in the core turns the shoulders turn, and then you swing.

 

Matt Nokes  05:26

That makes sense if it was geared that way, but it’s not. Because your power source is your well, is your trunk, your upper body, or let’s call it the core. But I think it’s even more general than that, I think you just hit with your upper body, but you use a weight shift, and you need something to swing against.

 

Matt Nokes  05:47

Like, if you’re hanging on a rope, you can’t really turn.  I mean you could, but you just wiggling.  If you get your feet on the ground, then you can turn your upper body. Anybody that sat on a machine to work their core rotationally, they know that when you sit into the machine, it clamps your lower body down, or your upper body one or the other. So that you can forcefully rotate.

 

Matt Nokes  06:20

Okay, so that’s the hitting training concept. If you want to rotate, you need something to rotate against. And yet, we still see the core, I mean, the hips turn, okay? Well, that’s because they’re attached. And at contact, you’ve unloaded your backside. And because you’ve unloaded it, of course, it’s free to turn. But it’s that much more important that you get in a really good position.

 

Matt Nokes  06:55

The idea of a sideways approach is, you have to get in a good position, it needs to be a consistent position. And you have to be on time. What that does is it helps you be on the ball. So that may just sound some random, random to some people. But I’ll give you a hitting training illustration, or I’ll give you an analogy. Let’s say you’re hitting soft toss from the side, I mean, directly from the side. And you know how easy that is. Now, I’m a left-handed hitter, how easy it is to crush the ball over the shortstop head.

 

Matt Nokes  07:39

The opposite way, if it’s coming from the side, because you just shift right past it, you smoke it!  You know you’re not supposed to pull the ball, but what happens to your lower body.  Think about what is your lower body do when you get soft toss from the side?  It firms up and is basically, it’s certainly not as open as it does, from the front, or I’m sorry, like on an inside pitch.

 

Matt Nokes  08:09

So basically, it’s that feeling of being on the ball. It’s really important that you are sideways, in order to be on the ball. So that you’re in position into a consistent position, you know how when you’re hitting…let’s say soft toss again, when you hit your first ball, and you think, my shoulder needs to be a little bit more closed. And then you hit it again go, oops, my hips are at position, my foot’s in the wrong position, you make those fine-tuning adjustments.

 

Matt Nokes  08:38

Well, you can do that. On soft toss because you can almost automatically manage variables, which you have to manage. Because you’re in a controlled setting, it’s unlikely, you back it up to 60 feet, and the same hitting training variables that you could manage automatically, without even thinking, the scenario enables your automatic mind to relate it to something you already know or to just be familiar with the motion for it to be common sense. And you can do it.

 

Matt Nokes  09:15

But when you add more variables, well then you have to make sure that your routines and how you practice, that you have those things in mind so that you’re prepared to not pull off the ball. But if you do pull off, you know how to make an adjustment to position yourself.

 

Matt Nokes  09:35

And it’s one last thing, it’s like if you had never seen a Phillips head screwdriver, never seen it or never even seen a screwdriver. And you were showing me that this is how I’m going to hang a painting. And you found the stud finder, and you found the stud, and then you basically shorten it, you screwed it. You twisted in a screw into the wall. And then hung the painting with that wire, right? It’s kind of hung and then even it up.

 

Matt Nokes  10:04

So how do you use the screwdriver? Well, there’s some utility there. You know what you’re doing? Because you’ve seen it, it didn’t take a lot of examples. You’re holding the screwdriver in your hand, you’re like, I know how to do this. And how long does it take you to become an expert? With that movement? I mean, he says well, it doesn’t take expert movement. Oh, yeah?  How does a monkey do that? Or a child?

 

Matt Nokes  10:34

Where a monkey could do other complex things. But not that, because they can’t look at it and see the utility. But you and I, and everyone on the planet can be basically an expert in five minutes. Context matters.

 

Joey Myers  10:54

And you know what’s unique about our sport is that we only have 90 degrees of fair territory to work with. And whereas you look at bowling you maybe it’s what three and a half feet a lane and then even in golf, you can argue that you only have one degree of fair territory and 359 degrees of foul territory, because you get rewarded for the shortest number of strokes to the pin.

 

Joey Myers  11:16

One of the hitting training stories that you told was really cool on this. I don’t know if it was Frank Robinson, or who it was that you were talking to. But I think you had gone away from staying sideways. And you started to like, what most coaches and young kids do is over rotate the lower half. And then you said you broke away from what you were naturally doing. And you slumped, and then you came back.  Tell that story?

Dangers to Performance of Over-Rotating the Lower Half

 

Matt Nokes  11:39

Yeah. Okay. So, I always think it’s important to add empirical evidence, which is that which can be verified or falsified by your senses, or your experience, your personal experience at the highest level. My first year in the big leagues…well, anyway, I just got up to the big leagues. And it was the all-star break. And I was sitting at the all-star break with 20 home runs, hitting like .320. And like 57 RBI’s, you could say I was doing well.  And I was hot. And I was young.

 

Matt Nokes  12:24

And Dave Bergman and Bill Madlock, teammates of mine, were shagging balls at first base. And I guess they were talking to each other. And they came up to me, and they said, man Nokesy, you must really feel on the ball. And I said, Yeah. Because your back foot stays sideways. And well, I didn’t know what to make of that. And because I had worked that out that I just knew I was on the ball. I thought, okay, I thought they were saying, well, it’s unorthodox Matt, but you make it work.

 

Matt Nokes  13:01

I get to the All-Star game. And I’m watching up on the diamond vision. That’s what they called it then.  And watching the highlights and stuff. And I started to notice that that back-knee pinch.  You got to remember; I wasn’t really familiar, familiar with the exact things that were going on.  And most major league guys really aren’t as much as you would think.  They have a general sense. But there are things that they don’t, I mean, they know what it feels like. And they can replicate because of that, and they understand that through feel.

 

Matt Nokes  13:40

I thought, man that back knee looks like it’s rotating. So maybe the back foot turns too.  I’m sitting at 20 home-runs, maybe I would have had 30 or 40 home runs by now. I thought, man, I’m going to really drop that knee and kind of now they’re saying you got to try the back knee, that kind of thing. It’s just as bad as rotating back foot. Even though it does collapse, because…it does collapse because it’s passive.  It’s passive because you unloaded it, and your upper body doing the rotation.

 

Matt Nokes  14:17

And for the next couple of weeks, I focused on that I focused on my back-knee kind of collapsing and my back-foot rotating. And I didn’t get a hit for two weeks. But I felt great in batting practice, I was hitting home runs, I was launching balls, as usual. And my timing was good because, so I couldn’t really see the difference in batting practice in order to make an adjustment because I was crushing balls still, but I knew there was something missing.

 

Matt Nokes  14:49

In pitchers shagging were used to me hitting a certain way, actually approaching. They said something wrong. I mean, you’re hitting balls well, but it’s just not coming off the bat the way used to. And I agreed. I haven’t had a hit in a couple weeks. And finally, Dave Bergman and Bill Madlock came up to me after a couple of weeks, because I’m sure you know, they had their own life, their own hitting training problems they were dealing with, and they didn’t notice why I was going into a slump.

 

Matt Nokes  15:21

And they came up and said, what are you doing? Like, what do you mean? You’ve never rotated your back foot like that, ever? And I go, oh, didn’t you? Didn’t you say I was being unorthodox. I just thought I’d make it better. And they go, you idiot. No, that’s your problem. And so, they’d have to say much other than it just shocked me so much that I got back in the batting cage, just start smoking balls, keeping it sideways. And oh, I hit two home runs that game. And then from then on, I was, I knew that that was a hitting training rule. That was a principle I needed to follow it. Even though back then I didn’t really understand it.

 

Joey Myers  16:09

That is one of the, of all my young hitters from I mean, now I just work with 11 or 12, all the way up to junior high, high school, college and stuff. I don’t work with any hitters lower than that. But usually the ones lower than that age, typically, if they haven’t been over coached, do that naturally. They do stay sideways, right? They get coached out of it, for the most part.

 

Matt Nokes  16:32

Absolutely.

 

Joey Myers  16:33

And I would say the ones that have been coached out of it, and I’m just getting them. And it’s probably about 40 to 50% of them over rotate that lower half. You talk about this idea of directional force. Talk a little bit about that.

What is Directional Force?  And Why is it Important?

 

Matt Nokes  16:47

Well, you know, it takes 8,000 pounds per square foot, or I’m sorry, per square inch into the baseball to hit baseball 400 feet. And I have no question that even High School players generate way, way more energy than that swinging a bat, that large of an arc, the sweet spot of the bat is moving, you can generate a lot of force with a baseball bat.

 

Matt Nokes  17:16

It’s not that they can’t generate the energies that can’t direct the force. And it’s going all over the place. They’re not getting the bulk of the energy through the ball in one direction. And, yeah, so basically…

 

Joey Myers  17:34

Being sideways helps with that.

 

Matt Nokes  17:36

Yes, because it stabilizes your lower half, so that your upper body rotation is pure, there’s no leak in it. Your energy is not going in a lot of directions. You brought up the point about, there’s a lot of fair territory and foul territory. So that’s confusing, because the basic 90 degrees, it’s that you’re hitting the ball in. There’s that sliver, where you get a hit, you know, maybe 10 degrees, 36 degrees, it pretty much everything is either a popup or ground ball, right?  And then you got a lot of foul territory, it’s not cricket.

 

Matt Nokes  18:18

And then you can hit a ball to the left that you thought you should have pulled, or you could hit ball the right, they just thought you should have hit the other way, or whatever it is, that can get confusing, because you don’t necessarily understand right out of the box, where the direction of force should be, or you’re not aware of your personal direction of force, until you experience it until you create a scenario where you can actually rehearse it.

 

Matt Nokes  18:46

Because if you get a hit, you don’t think you need to go into it very much more. But if you’re hammering a nail, there’s going to be some consequences. The nail is going to go flying, if you don’t hit it with the right force in the right direction. But with hitting, it’s confusing, because you can still get a hit and lose a lot of energy, you can still hit it hard and lose a lot of energy. But ultimately, so that’s confusing in itself, you hit a ball the other way, one time, you pull the ball the other time. And you think you did it right, even though you lost energy in both directions. And yet, you don’t get a hit.

 

Matt Nokes  19:26

The amount of time that you’re actually driving the ball consistently goes down. But you’re not concerned with direction of course, because you’re hitting the ball in all directions. It just gets confusing.  You don’t know what’s wrong, you don’t know what’s going on, what’s wrong, what’s right, what hitting training is working, what’s not.

 

Joey Myers  19:44

And you have a hitting training drill, the around the world drill. You can explain that one. That’s a pretty good one, I think for demonstrating what you’re talking about the direction of force.

Around the Zone Drill for Staying Sideways

 

Matt Nokes  19:54

Yeah, well, in short. Every major leaguer, and advanced hitter has a feel for certain things. And if you get to that level, you figured out a way to rehearse or do a drill. So that it reinforces good habits. Good positions, good timing, good directional force, you may not be aware of it, but you just see the results, the empirical results.

 

Matt Nokes  20:23

And, yes, so the around the zone is around the world there. If you begin from the side, and you get the ball, coming from the side. There are rules, and why the rules? Well, there are rules because you can’t just do the drill any way you want, there’s a certain way that it’ll be effective, there’s a certain technique that will be effective, if you don’t do it that way, you’re not going to get anything out of it.

 

Matt Nokes  20:54

It’s the same for every drill, every rehearsal, if you don’t know what you’re doing, how you’re supposed to do it, what it’s for, what you’re doing, how you’re supposed to execute it, why you’re doing it, and what it’s going to feel like, what feel you’re searching for, then you’re just wasting your time.

 

Matt Nokes  21:15

And as a young player, I remember some of my great coaches as a young player, you know, they just see me work and work and work and hit it. And I’m hitting up 300 balls into the net, and they’re like, stop!  You need to be strategic when you’re doing it, like, what are you trying to accomplish right here? I don’t know. I just figured if I just keep hitting, it’ll come to me.  No, all that’s going to do is lead to a million different desperate fixes. That’s all that’s going to do.

 

Matt Nokes  21:45

And then I’m addressing every system, with timing, the mechanics, and your mindset.  Not addressing those, in keeping the balance between them. There are certain rules. You get a ball from the side. You want me explain it?

 

Joey Myers  22:01

Yeah. So when you say side, you mean chest on? So perpendicular to the hitter?

 

Matt Nokes  22:06

Yeah. Okay. You get, I’m a left-handed hitter. So, imagine you’re in the right-handed batter’s box, and then just behind it, and so you’re throwing it from the side. And so maybe you’re throwing it at my back hip, or that kind of thing. The way you set up the drill, and I call a drill with a ball and a rehearsal without the ball, and there’s reasons for that, which I’ll go into later.

 

Matt Nokes  22:31

But setting up the drill, so you’re throwing on it. What I say is, okay, the arc that the ball’s coming in on forms the line.  And you need to pay attention to that line, and then draw 90 degrees from that line from where you’re standing Joey.  The ball’s coming in at me, and then from you out to center field is, would approximately be 90 degrees.

 

Matt Nokes  23:01

And I say, okay, now where’s your 45 degrees? And then as long as you hit it inside of the 45, you’ll crush it with your weight, you’ll get your weight into the ball, because you’re shifting into the swing, and past the line that you see. And that may be complicated. Because there’s a certain amount of information that you need to know to actually kind of visualize it and understand why it works like that…

 

Joey Myers  23:29

And I can include a link to your drill video too. [The following is the “Around the Zone Soft Toss Drill” video as promised:

 

Matt Nokes  23:31

Yeah, okay, yeah, I break it down. And I show you, I mean, you go 46 degrees, it’s going to be a topspin ground-ball. And so, you have to address the drill, you have to follow the rule, that’s the easiest way, if I’m going to give a player action steps and not just try to convince them of some hitting theory. And I was like hey, let’s get into action. Let’s not worry about hitting theory until you already feel what you got to do.

 

Matt Nokes  24:01

Because once you feel it, then all of a sudden, your intuition about why you’re doing it, and what it’s fixing will be enhanced, and you’ll be able to see things that you couldn’t ordinarily see. You go from the side. And so now the ball, let’s say I’m hitting in that as a left-handed hitter. Initially, I’m hitting the ball, right down the left field line. And then as you work your way around, but you know, maybe at eight, eight or 10 ball down in the left field line, opposite field, because it’s being thrown from the side, as long as I shift my weight perpendicular to the line and get beyond the line. I’m getting my weight to the ball.

 

Matt Nokes  24:45

Because good timing is transferring your weight into the ball on time and what you’ll find is you’ll gain incredible power increases because you’re transferring to the ball on time, you’re able to regulate that system really well and make fine tuning adjustments, and you’re actually hitting the ball in the correct direction.

 

Matt Nokes  25:11

For those of you who don’t quite understand it, I can give you an example of, one extreme example, if I was getting that same ball, that I would normally hit down the left field line, which is opposite field, if I’m throwing a ball from the side, I’ve seen guys in the batting cage, and I would walk in the cage, and they’re hitting balls up the middle of that, and I walk by a coach and they say, Hey, do you see anything Nokesy? And, you know, okay, and, and then I’ll take the tee and put it out front.

 

Matt Nokes  25:45

Well, they have the tee in the center of their legs, like inside, and like, behind the front foot, or between the legs, and they’re hitting the ball up the middle. Well, if you got a ball that far back, you got to hit that ball the other way. But it’s not very exciting to hit a ball on into the net three feet away, it’s just not that exciting.  But that’s the direction you need to be hitting, you need to get your weight beyond that ball, to transfer your weight in the ball, because we’re talking about directional force.

 

Matt Nokes  26:19

But what a player will do is they’ll run away from the ball, shift, try to stay on their back foot to clear, to give them some kind of room to hit that ball, to hit that ball up the middle.  Because they’re thinking about what they’re doing incorrectly, they’re trying to hit a ball up the middle that they’re not supposed to hit up the middle.

 

Matt Nokes  26:41

And so you just work that drill correctly. And then you start moving your soft tosser, you start moving them around, until eventually they’re in the front, and you’re hitting it down the right field line. And actually, when you do it correctly, you can’t hook it foul. Now you think what do you mean?  You could literally have someone right in front of you. Throwing it at your front hip, he can’t hook it foul. Why? Because you’ve got your weight into the ball and your weight is in the ball at contact, you’re in line.

 

Matt Nokes  27:11

It may not even be a lot of lag, just enough lag to get that whip. It’s just pre final whip. It’s just pre where you rollover, it’s always going to be if your weight is into the ball.  Think about it, if you don’t shift your weight into the ball on time. That’s a slap. That’s a hook. That’s called quitting. So yeah. What you’re getting yourself out of is from quitting.

 

Matt Nokes  27:37

And that’s what happens when someone is trying to hit a ball that’s deep between their legs and trying to hit it up the middle. The only way to hit that ball up the middle is to quit.

 

Joey Myers  27:49

Got it. That’s a great drill. And again, I’ll add the drill video that you have on YouTube in the post. Well, hey, man, I would love to do a part two at some point, but to be respectful of your time. Where can people find you? Are there any special projects you’re working on right now? Just a little bit about where people can go to get more information on you.

 

Matt Nokes  28:10

Yeah, thanks, Joey. You can go to MattNokes.com. I have courses available. And I have a free advanced hitting workshop. And after if you’d like to consult with me, there’s a link at the end of the workshop. But you can also go to CallNokes.com and schedule a call with me. We figure out what’s working what’s not, and create a blueprint. And if I can help you I certainly will. You can also go to YouTube and find my videos you punch my name in, punch in Matt Nokes and you can find a lot of my videos on YouTube like case studies and things like that. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks, Joey. Thanks for inviting me on the program.

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 batting tee for working both of these locations?”

 

 

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

Backspin Tee: How To Set Up Baseball Hitting Tee Locations

Photo courtesy: Yours truly.com

Hey. What’s going on? It’s Joey Myers from ‘Hitting performance lab’. In this batting tee 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 batting tee 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 relation to setting up batting tee locations. 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 Batting 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…

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

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…

 

 

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

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 Baseball 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,

Best Hitters Baseball Swings: Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, & Mike Trout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#1: TBall Drills Patience through guided meditation apps

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

  • Headspace, and
  • Calm.

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

 

#2: Don’t have high expectations

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

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

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

 

#3: Have a long wick to frustration

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

#6: Positive reinforcement training

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

Let me give you some examples of this:

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

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

 

#7: Minimal to NO mechanical teaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#8: More emphasis on external cues and variance

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

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

 

#9: Extreme Adjustments

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

 

#10: Focus on throwing and catching

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

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

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)?