Posts

Hitting Timing Drills: Get Rid Of Hitters Feeling Dominated By Upper Level Pitchers Once And For All

 

In this timing hitting drills post, I’ll be addressing the following reader question…Hitting Timing Drills Strategy For Upper Level Pitchers & Hard Throwers

“How to teach fearlessness when facing upper level pitchers and timing the hard throwers?”

We’ll be addressing the following in the above video:

  • Barry Bonds one step towards machine after every swing,
  • Two or three-plate drill, and
  • Develop hunting approach at the plate…

 

Barry Bonds One Step Toward Machine After Every Swing

  • CLICK HERE for a link to get more information on the golf whiffle ball MaxBP pitching machine at The Starting Lineup StoreGet 15% OFF by using the: GET15OFF coupon code at checkout.

 

Two or Three Plate Drill 

 

Develop Hunting Approach at the Plate

If You’re Teaching ‘Squish The Bug’, Then You’re OLD

This video is a definitive guide when it comes to WHY ‘squishing the bug’ is an inferior hitting mechanic.

Right now, if you find yourself asking if people STILL teach this, then sadly, the answer is yes.

I ran into one just the other day on the socials.  Nothing but pseudo science and circular reasoning.  Pretty mind numbing experience actually.

Here’s fair WARNING for the small few out there still teaching hitters to ‘squish the bug’…

If after watching this video, you’re still not convinced, then you’re old.

Consider what Henry Ford once said,

And while we’re at it, look at what Ayn Rand said,

In the above video, we discuss the:

  • Science,
  • Experimentation, and
  • Application…

…validating WHY ‘squishing the bug’ is DUMB, and no hitter should ever have to go through something as horrifying as that 😛 lol

Here are the resources mentioned in the video:

Also, here’s a recent case study post I did on skipping the back foot titled, “How 175-LB 15yo Is Consistently Hitting The Ball 400-FT With…BBCOR & Wood.

DON’T BE OLD.

Reader Question: “How to get youth hitters to be more aggressive to hit and not look to walk?”

 

There were times when I was playing Fall Ball as a Sophomore in High School, privileged to be playing against Juco competition,

That I found myself falling into an 0-2 hole quite frequently.

I’d say to myself, “WTFudge, why have I been in the hole my last 4 AB’s?”

Then, I’d make a conscious decision to swing at the first pitch,

No matter what the pitch was, or where it was located.

In other words, I decided to make a bold adjustment, going from being too passive at the plate, to being too aggressive…

In hopes that with future at-bats was I would land somewhere in the middle.

In those days it was just a feeling that I got…

Fast forward to a few years ago,

A good friend of mine Bob Hall, whose son Quin (a physical incarnate of Bo Jackson), had just finished performing at an MLB scouting camp in Canada.

Quin was about 15 years old at the time, and Bob shared the advice Quin received from one of the leading scouts at this camp.

And this is what we’re discussing in the above video:

  • The Hunter mindset, versus
  • The Fisherman.

My goal with this video post is to give coaches a practical strategy to use with your hitters (that I use with mine), which will give them a solid game plan at the plate.

PLEASE NOTE: like anything else, you have to work with your hitters on this at practice, if they have any chance at getting better at it.

 

The Hunter Mindset

Vladimir Guerrero Hitting

Vlad Guerrero – “The Hunter”. Photo courtesy: ProSportsBlogging.com

What does a hunter do?

They stalk their prey.

When would we use this mindset against a pitcher?

When they’re around the strike zone.

We SHOULD NEVER default to such hitting rules as, “NEVER swing at the first pitch.”

This is how I dug myself into holes during my career.

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Boxscore article which asks the question, “Does hitting performance change based on the number of pitches a hitter sees during a plate appearance?”

Look at what happens to Batting Average in:

  • 0-2,
  • 1-2,
  • 2-2, and 3-2 pitching counts…

Like a snake, strike fast when a pitcher is around the zone.

Think of some of the greatest Dominican, or Latin America, hitters.  As the saying goes, “You don’t get off ‘the island’ unless you swing the bat.”

 

The Fisherman Mindset

Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants launches his 762nd career home run off of Ubaldo Jimenez

Barry Bonds – “The Fisherman”. Photo credit should read DOUG PENSINGER/AFP/Getty Images (Newscom TagID: gettylive963981) [Photo via Newscom]

What does a fisherman do on the boat all morning?

Sit…AND wait.

When would we use this mindset with a pitcher?

When he or she cannot find the zone.

This approach requires a little more plate discipline not to swing out of the zone, AND

To know the strike zone.

Because when the pitcher throws one over, the hitter MUST be trained to jump on it.

Think about Barry Bonds from 2001 to 2004.  According to Baseball-Reference.com, he walked a total of 755 times.  That’s an average of 188 BB’s per year!

What’s more…

He hit a total of 209 homers, for an average of 52 dingers per year, in the same span.  Last time I checked PED use DOES NOT help with plate discipline.

How about his consistency over that same time period?

Bonds’s Batting Average over those four years, starting with 2001 was: .328, .370, .341, and .362 respectively.

How about how many times he struck out?

We have power hitters like Chris Davis and Ryan Howard routinely striking out 200+ times per season.

How about Bonds…?

  • 2001: 93 K’s
  • 2002: 47 K’s (he struck out one more time than homered)
  • 2003: 58 K’s
  • 2004: 41 K’s (he hit more homers than struck out!!)

By the way, his 162-game average strikeouts are 83.  83!!!  Over 22-years in the Big Leagues!

My point is, when Bonds got his pitch…he GOT IT!

He knew how to be a ‘fisherman’.

But can plate discipline be taught?

Sure it can!

It’s a muscle in the brain, and like any other body muscle, can be focused on and strengthened.

Here are my favorite 4 resources for training vision, tracking, and plate discipline:

“How Do You Get Kids To Buy Into These Movements When Every Hitting Instructor In The Area Is Teaching Robotic, Sequential Hitting Positions?”

 

Girls Softball Hitting Tips: Batting Robot

Baseball Batting Robot photo courtesy: www.technovelgy.com

In this girls softball hitting tips video, we answer the reader question above.

(By the way, this information is applicable to baseball as well.)

We’ll go over:

  • Hypnosis: GOOD or BAD?
  • Internal v. external cues, and
  • Listing successful case studies…

But before we get into these, some housecleaning…

And the elephant in the room…

Any new hitting movement a hitter learns, regardless of the content, will look robotic and mechanical, until they’ve put enough repetitions in.

For kids to ‘buy into’ the process, they must understand this.

For instance, if I taught a hitter to reverse their hands on the bat (ex. right handed batter – right hand on bottom, left hand on top), it would feel real awkward at first, but after 66 days of constant practice, it would feel comfortable.

Imagine what it would be like if you experimented with switching up how to steer a bike:

The initial learning process for young hitters may look, sound, and/or feel like this.

I tell my hitters that we take one step back, to take two forward when learning a new hitting mechanic.

Arnold Schwarzenegger outlines his path to making the unreal, REAL, in his book Total Recall:

  1.  Goals,
  2. Steps, and
  3. Reps.

Whether Arnold was talking about how he won Mr. Olympia, prepping for a movie like Terminator 2, or being Governor of California, he stuck to these three objectives.

Setting specific GOALS, with a timeline, and focusing on the things that athlete can control are crucial.

Where girls softball hitting tips start to get fuzzy is whether these hitters are being shown the right STEPS to get there.  Or as Tony Robbins calls it, the most effective ‘pathway to power’.

In other words, are they focused on learning the right things?

What are the ‘right’ things?

Are the hitting movements they’re learning following human movement principles that are validated by science?

When the right things are being taught, doubts seldom rise in the minds of my hitters.  PLEASE NOTE: we’re NOT talking about girls softball hitting tips philosophy or theory here.

Our hitters MUST live and die by a better and more secure hitting standard.

Validation through REAL science.  NOT pseudo science that is subjective, versus being objective.

And lastly, are hitters focused on doing those things right (efficiency – putting in the REPS).

Now, let’s dive into the main content of this girls softball hitting tips post…

Hypnosis: GOOD or BAD?

Girls Softball Hitting Tips: Hypnosis

Hypnosis photo courtesy: www.phxnews.com

Hitters MUST NOT work with instructors that are teaching ineffective mechanics, technique that’s unsupported by science.

PERIOD.

Or they’re wasting their time and their parent’s money.

If we rule out the instructor, then most likely their school coach will be reinforcing ineffective hitting hypnosis.

How do we get kids to buy into the system?

What are some girls softball hitting tips and tactics to deal with this kind of scenario?

Give the hitter a heads up

They MUST know what they’ll be hearing at practice, and how it may be different than what an effective instructor is teaching, and most likely COMPLETELY backwards!!

Also, passively listening to the BAD hypnosis over time will manifest physically, even if the hitter knows it’s bad.  The more we hear the same message over and over, it’s only a matter of time before what’s subconscious, becomes conscious.

The fix?

The hitter MUST consciously hear what the coach is saying, and actively compartmentalize that information as ineffective in their brain.  Where there’s awareness, there’s power of control.

The ‘bobblehead nod’

Use this when coach is telling you to:

  • Swing down on the ball,
  • Chop down on the ball, or
  • Knob to the ball…

Then you nod your head up and down, saying “Yes Coach”.  And when they leave your presence, go back to what an effective swing path should look like.

Preach Science, NOT hitting theories

Other ways to reinforce GOOD hypnosis is to preach how the movements they’re learning are validated by human movement science.  Promote curious experimentation with specific hitting movements.  Cite hitting experiments.  Encourage hitters to try it the wrong way, then the right way, and have them compare their visual, auditory and/or feel feedback after 5 swings.

Inspire your hitters to seek out specific hitters on YouTube like McCutchen, Pedroia, Sadaharu Oh, Hank Aaron, Bautista, and Donaldson, and encourage them to look for what it is you’re teaching them.

You can also do movement tests like Dr. Kelly Starrett’s One-Joint Rule from one of the links above.

 

Internal v. External Cues

Girls Softball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

Barry Bonds gets and stays short like the best of them. Photo courtesy: www.johnpaciorek.com

There seem to be two groups of coaches online…ones who believe effective teaching is using 100% external cues…and the other? Using 100% internal cues!  Both are wrong.  It’s a blend.  Just like the swing is either rotational or linear…it’s a blend.  Just like superior athletes are either born with it or work at it…this too is a blend.  And if someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying to you.  And probably not teaching the game on a consistent basis.

That being said, sticky coaching cues are key to getting kids to buy into the system.

When you sink the blade of an ax into a block of wood, are you thinking about keeping your right arm at X-degree angle, or slotting your back elbow?

No.

You’re thinking of taking that handled ‘blade thing’ in your hand, and splitting that ‘wooden thing’, sitting on a platform in front of your feet, in half.

Talking about  limb angles and back elbows slotting as girls softball hitting tips are internal cues…and can, with the right coaching cues, be effective.

But not quite as effective as external cues such as:

  • ‘Get shorter’ at landing or ‘stay shorter’ throughout the turn,
  • ‘Let the barrel chase the ball’ after impact,
  • ‘Hit the bottom half of the ball’, or
  • ‘Skip the barrel across the lake’.

I like to use external cues to kill 2, 3, or 4 birds with one stone.  I call it the “lazy” coaches way to success, again, I use these myself.  However, if I need to target specific movements and external isn’t working, I go internal.  This does require knowledge about human movement validated by science, which I’ve found some coaches don’t want to take the time to learn.  Additionally, it can depend entirely on the hitter and their learning style.  CLICK HERE to read what science says about this in a post I did titled, “What Every Coach MUST Know About Giving Feedback To Hitters…”

 

Girls Softball Hitting Tips – Listing Successful Case Studies…

Girls Softball Hitting Tips: Liam Wolf

Liam Wolf is one of my 11u hitters. Photo courtesy: his parents.

Successful case studies are the lifeblood of getting your hitters to buy into the system.  These can be your own, or borrowed from someone else.

These are powerful for young hitters.

Remember the time when your kids were learning how to swim?

Did they learn better watching adults swim OR when they saw kids their own age or slightly younger/older swimming?

Here is a current list of my case studies I often bring up to my hitters:

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

Here’s video footage of #1 above (which was hit on a field in Manteca where the fences were set at 330-feet):

And I have many more, but these are the easiest to rattle off without having to give too much context.  If you don’t have any, then feel free to borrow mine, just please give credit where credit is do.

To recap…

Girls softball hitting tips to get your kids to buy into the system:

  • They MUST hear GOOD hitting hypnosis,
  • They MUST hear sticky coaching cues, and
  • They MUST hear this stuff working with hitters close to their age.
Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

Online Baseball Lessons: Dead Simple Plan I Used To Help Aidan in Illinois…

 

…when I’m in California!!

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

Aidan B. (15 yo) all AFTER photos courtesy: Dad

Aidan B. (15 yo) signed up for online baseball lessons back in the middle of April 2014 when I opened The Feedback Lab.  What is The Feedback Lab?

It’s the #1 strategy to repeatable power. It’s clear focused step-by-step video feedback & accountability in less than 48-hours.

The 90-Day Sprint empowers parents and coaches to help young hitters achieve their full potential of consistent power through scientific movement principles, and sticky coaching strategies proven with empirical research.

This baseball lessons blog post will show the dead simple plan we used to build repeatable power into Aidan B.’s swing.  We’ll go over:

  • Aidan’s before and after swing (2-week difference),
  • The “WHY” behind the change, and
  • 2-steps to spinal extension & “getting shorter”.

 

 Aidan’s Before & After Swing (2-week difference)

This video is a snapshot of Aidan’s swing from June 6-17th, 2014).  The swing was captured during soft toss.  In my notes,

  • BEFORE – on June 6th, Aidan had an excessive side bend at the waist after contact, and had a back leg angle of 115 degrees after impact.
  • AFTER – on June 17th, Aidan was extending up and over the catcher with his spine, and had a 105 degree bend in his back leg after contact.

Baseball lessons result?  More repeatable power.

 

The “WHY” Behind the Change

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

The challenges Aidan B. from Illinois was having were faulty spine engine mechanics, and not getting on plane with the pitch…here’s the baseball lessons breakdown:

  • Spine Engine Mechanics (according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky) – During the Final Turn, the spine NEEDS to freely spring up and back over the catcher (extend through the head).  This is because we’ve already engaged two of three possible spine engine movements: 1) Side bending (down shoulder angle), and 2) Axial rotation (showing pitcher our numbers) before stride foot lands.
  • Get on Pitch Plane – And in order to get on a level plane with a downward traveling pitch, we must “get shorter” with the back leg.  The back foot placement has a role of swing stability as well.

To see the latter point in action, CLICK HERE for my YouTube video analysis of Barry Bonds.

 

2-Steps to Spinal Extension & “Getting Shorter”

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

  1. Back Foot Variance Drill – sets the back foot into a more stable position to get a good efficient stacked spinal lean.
  2. Lean Drill – using RNT (Reactive Neuromuscular Training) to “feed the mistake”.

If you’re interested in baseball lessons online (or softball), then CLICK HERE to get more information about The Feedback Lab.  

 

 

 

Does Miguel Cabrera Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #3 (of 4)…

 

Miguel Cabrera REVEALS Torque Timing

Photo courtesy: MLB.com

The third installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, stars 8-time All-Star & 2-Time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.  I’ll show you how hitting instructors get torque timing wrong, causing reciprocal inhibition to occur in reverse.

In this Miguel Cabrera video, we’ll look at:

  • Why walking mechanics hold the key to repeatable power,
  • Whether we should land front foot closed or open?  And
  • Why the timing of torque is important.

Thanks to Bob Hall from Canada for the subject of this video blog article.

 

Walking Mechanics: Key to Repeatable Power?

The following “compression signal” sequence is according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s spine engine mechanics:

  1. Left front leg heel strike – compression signal travels up the leg into the pelvis telling it to open to the right,
  2. The signal continues up the spine into the shoulders, telling them to counter-rotate (left), and
  3. This is why your opposite arm and leg come forward at the same time.
Walking Mechanics

Photo courtesy: WalkezStore.com

Land Front Foot Closed OR Open?

Ryan Braun Front Toe Open

Photo courtesy: OnMilwaukee.com

Big guys like Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera land closed (less than 45-degrees). Small guys such as Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista tend to land open (more than 45-degrees).  Which way is the right way?

4 reasons to keep the front toe open (minimum of 45-degree angle):

  1. Joint Connection – Toe closed? So is knee and pelvis.  The compression signal travels fast after heel strike, so pelvis must be in neutral (or parallel to the plate) in order to open without friction,
  2. NO Separation – If toe, knee, and pelvis are closed after compression signal, then front shoulder has to compensate by flying open the same time as the pelvis.  This doesn’t engage our elastic energy systems.
  3. Compensation is Inevitable – We find the closed toe in hitters like Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera just end up peeling or jumping open anyway at or shortly after contact.  So why not get the toe out of the way to begin with?
  4. Pitchers Land Open – And also if you look at Olympic Throwers and Shot Putters, they all land open before they throw or “put” their objects.

 

Why the Timing of Torque is IMPORTANT

Jose Bautista Front Toe Open

Photo courtesy: OttawaLife.com

Torque timing in the swing, also known as shoulder-pelvis separation, is often cued wrong.  Instructors often yell, “Fire the Hips!”  In high level swing mechanics, we find the hips (or pelvis) does fire first.  But, the timing coaches cue on is all wrong.  Shoulder-pelvis separation occurs before the front heel touches down, NOT after.

If you missed the following parts to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series:

  • CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #1 featuring Ryan Braun
  • CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #2 featuring Adrian Gonzalez

Stay tuned for Common Mistake #4, where we debunk whether the friction-free swing is pushing or pulling the backside through

Baseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

In This Baseball Hitting Tips Video,

 

…we’re going over howBaseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

  • To use the body – not the hands – to get “on-plane” with the pitch,
  • Barry Bonds makes hitting the long ball look easy, and
  • Most young hitters get the #1 long ball secret wrong (and how to correct it).

A few weeks ago I worked with a 12-U Little League team from Bakersfield California called the Sliders.  They recently came to Fresno for a tournament and DOMINATED.

One of the moms Sheri – her son is Alex in the above video – emailed me a testimonial:

“The boys won first place! Ben, Paul and Dylan hit their first home runs ever! They went undefeated for entire tourney! We’re going to round table pizza to treat all the boys!”

The three young men who hit their first home-runs had worked with me for the first time, a week before the tournament.  Now, this wasn’t all me, but wasn’t a coincidence either.  Before I worked with them, all three boys naturally had a little forward momentum working for them.  And, Sliders Coach Justin Karr has been working the baseball hitting tips system with his team for over a year now.

In the baseball hitting tips video, Barry Bonds gets on plane with the pitch very well by lowering his body.  He does this by creating an “L” with his back leg to and through contact.  Whereas the moment Alex’s front heel hits the ground, he ‘stands up’ causing ball flight to be low.  Alex would have to get “on-plane” with his hands, which is very inconsistent.

 

Snapping Towel (Lean) Drill Setup:

  • NEED: light exercise band with handles, AND decent sized carabiner,
  • Loop exercise band handles to carabiner, then to chain link fence, OR
  • Parent/Coach holds exercise band handles, and finally
  • Have hitter loop band under armpits.

In the baseball hitting tips video above, I mentioned breaking the swing apart into two steps:

  1. To the Fight Position (landing), and
  2. The Final Turn.

You’ll see Olympic Hammer Throwers lower their backside as well.  This enables the release of the hammer at an optimal forty-five degree angle.  CLICK HERE to watch a World Record holding Hammer Thrower lower his backside while rotating.