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

Discover this inverted baseball, fastpitch, or slow pitch softball professional batting tee.  Learn about the best hitting tee trainer drills to hit more line drives instead of ground balls.  Check out this batting tee review and grab a 10% OFF coupon code…

Baseball Batting Mechanics Risk Hiding In Your Batting Tee

 

 

This is Part-1 of a 3-part baseball batting mechanics video series coming straight out of the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course…

Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Course

Sick of struggling to reduce your hitters ground balls, swing and miss strikeouts, and non-productive weak fly balls?  This simple 4-Step online video mini-course (7-modules total) will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, barrel the ball more consistently.  Dramatically decrease ground balls, strikeouts, and weak fly balls (no matter the pitch location or speed) by applying human movement rules validated by science.

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

Get Access to The Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Mini-Course

 

In the baseball batting mechanics video, Backspin Batting Tee inventors, Taylor & Jarrett Gardner are going to dive into…

  • Anatomy of ‘on path bottom half’
  • Why are pitchers taught to keep the ball down in the zone? And,
  • How to train hitting the bottom half…

CLICK HERE for an interview post I did with Taylor Gardner in 2015.

Anatomy of ‘On Path Bottom Half’

Baseball Batting Mechanics: 'On Path Bottom Half'

Should the barrel be level to the ground during the swing?  Should it be down to the ball?  Should it be up to the ball?

Baseball pitchers stand on a mound (if regulation) set up to 10-inches.  If we have a 6-foot pitcher with an overhand release, let’s say his arm adds another foot-in-a-half, then we have about a 8.5 foot above flat ground release point.  In addition to the target being a squatting catcher between 45-60 feet away.

The imaginary line connecting the pitcher’s release point to the catcher’s glove is what I like to call the Pitch-Plane, or plane of the pitch.

In fastpitch softball, the Pitch-Plane isn’t quite so drastic, but because of Gravitational Forces, the ball has to travel in an arc nevertheless.

Our objective as coaches is to get baseball batting mechanics to match the plane of the incoming pitch with the barrel.

You can also see from the eFastball.com graphic that line drives and productive balls in the air are hit using the bottom half of the ball.

 

Why are Pitcher’s Taught to Keep the Ball Down in the Zone?

Baseball Batting Mechanics: Backspin Tee

This baseball batting mechanics chart illustrates the importance of backspin on a batted ball. The higher the degree, the more backspin being created. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

Pitchers keep the ball down in the zone to get hitters striking the top half of the ball.  And to create an element of deception.

Pitchers know that ground balls are outs 95% of the time in High School.  In college and professional baseball, ground balls are outs 98-99% of the time.

The reality is, a 90-mph fastball drops 4 feet before it gets to the catcher.  This equates to about a 5-degree downward trajectory.  To the hitter, the ball may seem “flat”, but Gravitational Forces are instantly at work pulling the ball down after the pitcher releases it.

That’s only a fastball.  In baseball, we can see up to a 20-degree downward pitch plane when the pitcher throws a breaking ball!

The other thing that’s happening immediately after the pitcher’s release, is the ball starts to slow down because of a myriad of factors, a couple being Gravitational Forces, and the humidity (or lack thereof) in the air.

In other words, the ball may be leaving the pitcher’s hand at 90-mph, but by the time it reaches the catcher’s glove, it’s lost maybe 4 to 6-mph.

 

How to Train Hitting the Bottom Half

Baseball Batting Mechanics: Backspin Tee

The Backspin Batting Tee photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

Taylor Gardner told me a story about when his hitting mentor Matt Nokes was telling him of when Hank Aaron, shortly after retiring, was ‘touring’ MLB ballparks taking batting practice and playing home run derby.

Hank Aaron wound up crossing paths with Matt Nokes, where a young Nokes asked him what he was trying to do when he hit.  Hank Aaron shared that he was always attempting to hit the bottom half of the baseball.

Traditional batting tees can promote baseball batting mechanics that hit the top half, especially with younger hitters, because they generally fear hitting the tee and knocking it over.

This can have a cascade effect, mechanically speaking, causing a hitter to swing down on the ball.

The BackSpin Tee turns the traditional tee upside down…literally.  Try and swing up or down on a BackSpin Tee and you’ll hit the rubber tee cone, miss the ball completely, and/or get a weak result.  Instant feedback.  Ineffective outcomes.

The BackSpin Tee promotes ‘On Path Bottom Half’.

 

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

Discover the Backspin Batting Tee, which is the best high school baseball, fastpitch, and slow pitch softball professional hitting trainer for learning how to hit more line drives instead of ground balls.  See how it works in this drill review…

Backspin Batting Tee: The Quickest & Easiest Way to Drive the Ball Using A Baseball Hitting Tee

 

 

 

Batting Tees: The Ugly Truth Baseball Hitting Tee Interview

Meet the Backspin Batting Tee team. Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

This is the first in a 3-part baseball hitting tee interview series…

One of the most frustrating things for coaches I’m in touch with (myself included) is finding minds that think alike when it comes to applying human movement science to hitting.

In other words, how do we separate the “weeds” from the grass?  Below is an interview I did with one of the three hitting and movement experts, Taylor Gardner and his innovative batting tee.

First a brief introduction…

Taylor Gardner is the inventor of the Backspin batting tee (I carry the Backspin Tee at TheStartingLineupStore.com), that received “Best In Show” Awards at the 2015 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention in Orlando, Florida.  The baseball hitting tee concept is really simple really, practice hitting the bottom half of the ball (see video above).

At the convention, Taylor had a coach come up to his booth, take swings off his Backspin batting tee, and said that it was nearly impossible to swing “down” on the ball, because of the batting tee design.

The “ugly truth” about the batting tee?

BackSpin Batting Tee

Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

…If youth hitters aren’t coached properly, then they’ll default to hitting the top half of the ball, to avoid knocking the tee over.  Taylor’s Backspin baseball hitting tee turn this ugly truth on it’s head…literally 😛

Not only did Taylor breath new life into the batting tee, but he’s a student of hitting.  He uses human movement science like we do.  I met him on my Facebook fanpage, and after a couple interactions, I had to interview him for the HPL blog…

 

Taylor Gardner BackSpin Baseball Hitting Tee Interview…

If you were to train me for four weeks for a HUGE tournament and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like? What if I trained for eight weeks?

TG: With 4-weeks of training

…we would have time to adjust any swing path flaws with video analysis so that everyone was seeing the same movements. We would do positional strength test to show if their are any weak points in the swing that might be causing a dropping barrel.

Your grip would be looked at to ensure that at contact both wrist were close to 90 degrees, and then keep that grip (don’t just change it for comfort).

Simple soft-toss from in front would show any basic timing issues, as well as your ability to get in position to the ball on time to use a proper swing path. Bad positioning at landing can cause hitters to change their swings regardless.

I practice a “1st baseman” drill where you train your eyes to step towards a ball before you catch it (Learned from Barry Bonds) to help your body learn how to get to the pitch more efficiently.

Depending on how good your timing, body positions, and swing path were, we could then move onto any movements in the body that might need more exaggeration, for example: if you were very stiff with your legs, and had a hard time getting to lower pitches, we could do variations of tee work and soft toss to exaggerate that one body movement, and these same techniques would apply if you had connection problems with your arms, hands, head movement, etc that may need to be fixed more quickly.

After your technique is sufficient in the 4 week time frame, I would have you learn how to “time” a pitcher and practice different fastball speeds. For example: if you are facing mostly 80mph pitching and slower, we would practice speeds of batting practice (with the new exaggerated movements now set) that were no quicker than .47 seconds out of the pitcher’s hand to the front of the plate (a simple stopwatch would get us close).

If you were facing 90mph then we would train your stride timing to adjust to .40 seconds, but no faster. Pitcher’s don’t accidentally throw their fastest pitch 10mph faster….In the 4 weeks we would conquer the technique of the swing first before seeing live pitching. You came to change your swing, and 4 weeks is plenty of time to make physical adjustments, the rest of the time would be focused on the timing and reaction to positions in the zone.

If I had 8-weeks with you,

Backspin Batting Tee

Photo courtesy: BackSpinTee.com

…we would take the same approach, I don’t believe their are quick fixes, unless your swing is already close to doing the right movements, but I would ask you questions about the approach at the plate, and we would keep it as simple as possible. The pitcher throws his fastball 70%+ most of the time, so you can trust that that is what you will see.

You can always buy time (wait) in the swing, but you cannot speed up faster than your body will allow. You would learn to set your timing approach up to hit that particular pitcher’s speed, then time your stride accordingly. Some hitters need to wait longer, or start sooner depending on their tendencies.

Your set up (assuming isn’t an issue) would be able to swing level to a high pitch (considered a pitcher’s mistake in Pro ball) because it is the easiest pitch to get to the bottom half of the ball, and would learn to adjust to the height adjustment of off speed and swing to the pitch accordingly.

Every physical movement that would be instructed would have your own style to it. There is no cookie cutter swing, only movements (and maybe some variations of those movements) that were backed by facts and studied knowledge that can be performed by the human body.

Getting on path with the pitch, hitting the middle/bottom half of the ball at a contact point that is proven for max energy connection into the ball would be taught. How high or low you consistently hit balls (angles) is more important than pulling it or going to opposite field. This has been proven time, and time again.

 

What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you?

TG: Matt Nokes (Silver Slugger Award Winner, New York Yankees) Boots Day (Montreal Expos, and knew Ted Williams), Jarrett Gardner, Professional Pitching Coach

 

What are your favorite instructional books or resources on the subject? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?

TG: DVD-Pyramid Of Hitting. Training tool-The Back Spin Batting Tee.

 

What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in hitting? What are the biggest wastes of time?

TG: Hit the top of the ball to make it rise with backspin. Soft-toss from behind the hitter. Your hips are your main source for power. Quick hands. Pulling with the bottom hand, and pushing with the top hand. You can stay “through” a ball longer if you try, the ball only stays on the bat .0007 seconds, no matter how you hit it. Swing down and through a ball. Keep your hands inside the ball. Get your foot down early. You have to have a straight front leg to hit. You have to rotate your back foot for power. “Don’t worry about timing, just react to the pitcher.” Foul off offspeed and wait for fastball. They all are a waste of time, and I can explain how.

Thank you Taylor!

Here’s how you can stay updated with Taylor Gardner and his BackSpin batting tee:

Please direct baseball hitting tee questions and comments below…

Backspin Batting Tee Placement Tips: How High Or Tall And Drills To Teach Hitting Power For Baseball & Softball Swing

Learn Backspin Batting Tee placement tips on how high or tall to make the tee.  Discover how to do drills off the tee to teach hitting power for the baseball and softball swing.

Backspin Tee: Batting Tee Location Setup

 

 

Answered: “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?”

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 block-ish. 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

Discover the best Backspin batting tee experiment for youth baseball, slow pitch, and fast pitch softball to hit more launch angle style line drives.  Get swing Backspin Tee trainer reviews and coupon codes.  Also learn how to STOP your son (or daughter) from hitting too many weak ground balls to shortstop.

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Here’s A Quick Way To Hit Less Ground-balls

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Background Research

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

Hypothesis

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: ATEC Tuffy Single Batting Tee

ATEC Tuffy Single Batting Tee photo courtesy: ATEC

Okay, so I cheated a little bit…

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

And now, I’m making my Hypothesis official…

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

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

 

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Batting Tee Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Backspin Tee

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

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

Data Collected (Hitting Spray Charts)

Backspin Batting Tee Spray Chart:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: BackSpin Tee Spray Chart

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

Conventional Tee Spray Chart:

Baseball Batting Cage Drills: Conventional (Regular) Tee

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

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

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

 

Notes

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

The Bottom Line?

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

Can Swinging A Baseball Or Softball Bat Cause Pinching Lower Back Pain?

Does your kiddo have pinching lower back pain when swinging a baseball or softball bat?  Or even pitching?  Go from common lower back player injuries like a lumbar strain to teaching a kid the REAL science of how to with with more power.

Hitting May Be Dangerous To Your Spine [Swing Experiment]

 

 

Question: Does Having a ‘Hollowed Posture’ Boost Bat Speed Over NOT?

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

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

 

Background Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last note on the research…

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

Hypothesis

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

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

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

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

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: ‘Hollow Posture’ Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

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

 

Data Collected (Zepp App Screenshot)

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

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

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Learn how to elevate, square up, and hit more line drives instead of hitting too many ground balls in baseball and softball.  This works for slow pitch too!  Discover how to STOP chopping, hitting top half of the ball, and ground out to shortstop.

See How Easily You Can Stop Hitting Ground-balls

 

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

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

Kidding! 😀

I’m not that much of a savage,

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

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

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

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

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

Now, back to The UGLY Truth book…

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

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

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

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

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

—–

Conclusion

I have a treat for you…

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

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

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

Front Knee Action

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

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

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

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

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

Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Planes of Motion

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

There are three main human planes of motion:

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

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

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

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

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

Back Knee Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back Foot Action

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

What was the results of the 200 swing experiment?

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

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

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

Barrel Early on Plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

**UPDATE on this section: the “Verizon” check mark sign barrel path is perfect for middle in and middle up pitches (‘swing down’ cues).  The “Nike swoosh” is perfect for middle down and middle away pitches (Ropebat hitting aid).  For more on this, click here.

Barrel Late on Plane

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

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

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

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

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

***UPDATE on this section.  The deep barrel fits all pitch depths is a MYTH.  We call this deep-deep and it stands for deep barrel, deep contact.  This works fantastically on middle away and middle down.  Using deep-deep middle up and middle in is a nightmare for hitters and a dream for pitchers.  Anybody who says early barrel supination (or snap) can effectively get to the pitch up, or heat in, is toothily chewing magic mushrooms.  Case study in point is Cody Bellinger ALL of 2021 and 2022.  It’s painful to watch a 100% deep “supination snap” guy swing and miss, over and over, on fastballs at and above the waist.  We’ll see how long the league will allow this before, unfortunately, showing him the door.

—–

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

Hitting Trainers: Anchor Bat

Discover where to find the best hitting trainer aids for baseball and softball in 2022.  Learn about batting equipment training tools for youth that are validated by science and are data supported…

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 (the Lite version isn’t available right now).

 

#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

Learn how to REALLY use the legs and lower half in directional place hitting drills for baseball or softball beginners at home.  Discover hip rotation swing loading breakdown tips in this interview with Matt Nokes!

Dangers Over-Rotating Low Half: 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 episodeCLICK HERE to listen to the 30-minute podcast episode.

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!

 

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.

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

Discover the perfect baseball and softball swing plane trainer, bat path truth, and barrel turn hitting drills for contact, power, and quick hands.  Does a one size barrel path fit all pitches?  What is the performance consequence of a deep barrel turn on an inside pitch?  Or what is the effect of swinging up to an elevated pitch?

Best Hitters Baseball Barrel Path – Do We Have It All Wrong?

 

 

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 applies 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.
Giancarlo Stanton: Closed Stance

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

 

What’s the best batting stance for power?  How do we STOP a hitter from stepping in the bucket (out of the box) when hitting a baseball or softball in 2022?  This post will shine light on how to see the ball better, keep the front shoulder in during the swing, and will suggest the best batting stance for power…

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…