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Baseball Swing Drills: Improve Bat Lag & Forward Momentum On The On-Deck Circle With The RopeBat

 

 

This is Part-2 of a 3-part baseball swing drills Ropebat (works well for softball too) video series coming straight out of the Reaction Time Mastery online video course…

Baseball Swing Drills Ropebat: Reaction Time Mastery

Sick of struggling to get your hitters on-time, balanced, and keeping high Ball Exit Speeds, especially while hitting off-speed and breaking pitches?  This online video course (7-modules total) reveals cutting edge science on the topics of: Vision, Tracking, Timing, and Forward Momentum.  Finally, you’ll be able to track pitches crystal clear, accelerate reaction time decision-making, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness with this “secret” online video course you can’t live without.

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

In this baseball swing drills video, we'll discuss the following:

  • Rope Bat benefits to bat lag,
  • Forward Momentum Drill using Rope Bat, and
  • Top-hand finger pressure bat lag drill…

A single Rope Bat goes for $100 shipped.  CLICK HERE to visit my store TheStartingLineupStore.com to order yours or CLICK HERE to get it on Amazon…

 

Baseball Swing Drills RopeBat Benefits to ‘Bat Lag'

Baseball Swing Drills Ropebat: Josh Donaldson Bat Lag

Look at the tip of Josh Donaldson's barrel in relation to the catcher's glove. April 13, 2015: Toronto Blue Jays Third base Josh Donaldson (20) [7086] bats during the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON

‘Bat Lag' is the beautiful result of fascial lines in the torso being CONNECTED to what the explosive rotational athlete is holding in their hand or hands.

See image of Josh Donaldson to the right.  Look how his hands are positioned between his elbows (odd camera angle to see this I know).

Which is to say, the barrel position in space and time in this image is perceived by A LOT of coaches as being waaaaay too long.

They add that Josh Donaldson is just strong and can get away with a ‘long barrel' like that.

And they're WRONG.  Dead wrong!!

The difference between ‘The Bringer of Rain', and those youth hitters that DO HAVE long swings is this…

‘Bat Drag' (the evil one) is one of, or a combination of, the following two swing faults:

  1. An early arm bar, and/or
  2. A racing back elbow.

The following baseball swing drills using the Rope Bat, particularly the Top-Hand Finger Pressure Drill, will be a lethal combination to crushing the ‘EVIL ONE'…

Forward Momentum using Rope Bat

Baseball Swing Drills Ropebat: Mickey Mantle Shifting Foot Pressure

The Mick's first phase of shifting foot pressure. Photo courtesy: http://s685.photobucket.com/user/BillBurgess

In the HPL article titled, “Crush the Ball Like Mickey Mantle”, I went over his shifting foot pressure (aka Forward Momentum.  Quoted from the article,

“We can see from the moment he lifts his stride foot to that foot touching down that his foot pressure looks like this:

  • Back foot pressure – is on the outside, and
  • Stride foot pressure – is on the inside.

As Mickey Mantle’s stride foot lands the foot pressure shifts as follows:

  • Back foot pressure – moves to the inside, and
  • Stride foot pressure – moves to the outside.”

Before using shifting foot pressure baseball swing drills using the Rope Bat, a hitter must FIRST get comfortable executing shifting foot pressure without a bat, then with, then progressing to using the Rope Bat.

These are the proper progressions to get a younger hitter acclimated to the new skill.

 

Top-Hand Finger Pressure Bat Lag Drill using RopeBat

Baseball Swing Drills Ropebat: Finger Pressure

We used a couple ‘racing back elbow' fixes for Zack, but it wasn't until we used top hand finger pressure, that the fix stuck. It took two 30-min sessions, a week apart.

Nothing banishes Bat Drag like top hand finger pressure…

Bottom three fingers of the top hand only (pinky, ring, and middle fingers)…

Start squeezing these fingers when the hitter picks up their front foot, and hold the finger pressure well past impact.

This activates the springy fascia connecting what Thomas Myers, in his book Anatomy Trains, calls the Front Arm Lines to the multiple lines mapped throughout the torso.

CLICK HERE for the “Babe Ruth Reveals Hand Tension?” Zepp swing experiment I did testing this.  And a big THANKS goes out to Lee Comeaux for shedding even more light on this strategy.

Like I mentioned earlier, combining top hand finger pressure while swinging the Rope Bat, is a LETHAL combination for crushing ‘Bat Drag'.

Improve a hitter's ‘Bat Lag' and shifting foot pressure by having them swing the Rope Bat on the on-deck circle.

Unfortunately, you can't hit baseballs, softballs, or tennis balls with it.  But whiffles are fine.  However, I think the magic in the Rope Bat, is in dry swings anyway. Baseball swing drills (works well with softball too) that promote a hitter's tempo and cadence are worth their weight in gold.

 

Okay, I'll admit it…

Baseball Hitting Instruction: Zack Racing Rear Elbow

It took 30-mins to clean up my Sophomore in High School, Zack May's, Rear Racing Elbow using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT)…

The one hitting fault that is a bugger to fix is,

Rear Racing Elbow.

Unfortunately: I find that a baseball hitting instruction fix for one player with this challenge, may not work for another.

Fortunately: I do see symptoms that tend to haunt specific Rear Racing Elbow bat drag hitters.

Unfortunately: I also find that the same combination of symptoms may not be present for every hitter.

Fortunately: For this baseball hitting instruction drill to work, the symptoms must be present.

In this post:

  • We'll define Rear Racing Elbow,
  • Look at the symptoms of this particular case study,
  • Front knee action at landing: slightly bent or straight? and
  • How we fixed the issue in one 30-min session, using RNT…

 

What is Rear Racing Elbow?

It's when the rear elbow “races” passed the hands towards the middle of the body (see “BEFORE” image up and to the right).

It can cause the hitter to:

  • Dump the barrel prematurely, which leads to flares OR misses completely to the opposite field, OR
  • Roll over or get jammed on inside pitches.

It's a nasty bug to fix with conventional baseball hitting instruction, and one my readers sounded off on at the following two HPL posts:

  1. Hitting Tips to Boost Barrel Time on Pitch-Plane, and
  2. Baseball Online: Never Suffer from Bat Drag Again.

Symptoms of Rear Racing Elbow Bat Drag

In this particular baseball hitting instruction case study, one of my local hitters Zack May, a Sophomore in High School, over the past year, has been haunted by these three things…NOT getting the:

  1. Front leg to straight at or passed impact,
  2. Back knee to 90-105 degrees during the turn, and
  3. Downhill shoulder angle before landing.

 

Front Knee Action at Landing: Slight Bend or Straight?

19 Aug 2001: Mark McGwire #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals gets a single against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/ALLSPORT

Mark McGwire front knee bend at impact. Photo courtesy: Elsa/ALLSPORT

This is a major baseball hitting instruction debate among instructors I respect.  They teach their hitters to keep a slight bend in the front knee at or passed impact.

They point to big sluggers like Mark McGwire (pictured to the right) and Mark Teixeira, among others, as examples.

The amount of bend in the front knee up to impact will depend on the amount of forward momentum (FoMo) the hitter uses.

The more FoMo a hitter uses, the more Ground Reaction Forces (GRF) are needed to transfer planes of motion from the Frontal/Coronal* (sideways) to the Transverse* (twisting).  In which case, a straightening of the front knee would be highly recommended.  Hitters like Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson come to mind.

On the contrary though, like a lot of big sluggers, the less forward momentum (wide to little striders), there doesn't seem to be a need to straighten the front knee during impact.

Think of a wide receiver running a 10-yard 90-degree cut route.  He uses GRF and FoMo just like a hitter, but he's transferring from Sagittal* (front) to the Frontal/Coronal* (sideways) plane of motion.  In this case, he's reaching a maximum forward running speed (FoMo), then has to cut very quickly, so you'll see his plant leg go from bent to straight as he uses Ground Reaction Forces.  Evidenced by him dropping down (or getting shorter) before making the cut.

My hitter Zack is both tall (6'4″), and uses quite a bit FoMo.  So, for him, when that front knee doesn't get to straight, that's a problem.  Coupled with the issue of not getting sufficient bend in his back knee during the turn causes the pelvis to not fully rotate.  And as a result, his back shoulder and arm feel like they have to do extra work.  And Rear Racing Back elbow is born!

*CLICK HERE for a more in-depth overview of planes of motion on Wikipedia.

 

Baseball Hitting Instruction: How We Fixed Zack's Bat Drag in 30-Mins…

To get you up to speed, check out this Dustin Pedroia & how to fix stepping in the bucket post I did that will explain the use of Reactive Neuromuscular Training, or RNT.

Baseball hitting instruction and RNT drill we used with Zack,

  • We used two long resistance bands positioned as close to his pelvis as possible (high up the thigh without damaging “the goods”),
  • Both resistance bands pull in opposite directions (feeding the mistakes – front knee wants to stay bent, and back knee wants to straighten during the turn), and
  • We worked on getting him to “resist the resistance” during the turn.

One thing we also used that seemed to be the permanent fix was finger pressure (see below…)

Baseball Hitting Instruction SAFETY Issue: Please be careful with this drill.  The person facilitating the front band is in the way of a swinging bat!!!  To be done with adults who know better, not teammates.  Please watch video above for clarification on this.

Baseball Online: Ryan Bruan
Baseball Online: Never Suffer From Bat Drag Again

One of my High School hitters Keenan, using the Swing Blaster to ADD more barrel on the plane of the pitch (swings are synced).

Since it's the end of 2014/beginning 2015, I wanted to do a baseball online re-cap article on my TOP-3 blog posts in 2014, based on my Google Analytic Metrics.  The top-3 were:

  1. Baseball Training Aids: Long Slow Swing Fix? (4,425 page views – 12 page views/day),
  2. Josh Donaldson: Stay CLOSED & Add Ball Exit Speed (4,250 page views – 11.5 page views/day), and
  3. Youth Baseball Online ALERT: Hitting Fix For Bat Drag (2,956 page views – 8 page views/day)…

Apparently, you guys dug the “bat drag” stuff this past year B-).  PLEASE NOTE that along long those lines, I recently tapped into my readers' knowledge-base with this article titled, Hitting Tips To Boost Barrel Time On Pitch-Plane, that offered up some handy gold nuggets for correcting bat drag.  There almost 30 comments!  So go check it out and get involved in the discussion.

To refresh your BEST-of 2014 memory, let's recap…

 

Baseball Training Aids: Long Slow Swing Fix?

Speed Hitter Review

SpeedHitter promo featuring Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton. Photo courtesy: Momentus Sports YouTube video

In this baseball online post, we talked about:

  • Speed Hitter baseball training aid review,
  • Barrel path science, and
  • A better alternative…

CLICK HERE for the latest 2-minute Swing Hitter demo video.  Momentus Sports promises the Speed Hitter will help a hitter achieve four ingredients all great hitters do (watch the video to see what they are).  When proven human movement science is applied to the Speed Hitter, it doesn't deliver on any of the promises.

Unbeknownst to Momentus Sports, the question the Speed Hitter attempts to answer is, “When is the barrel suppose to accelerate?”  Is it at impact or before impact?  The answer is the latter, but the Speed Hitter's focus is the former.  So, what better alternative is there?  The Swing Blaster.  Focus should be on hearing a clear audible “click” before impact, NOT at contact.

 

Josh Donaldson: Stay CLOSED & Add Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson "staying closed" with this shoulders

Josh Donaldson “staying closed” with his shoulders at landing. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this baseball online video, we analyzed:

  • Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista metrics,
  • What “staying closed” means to spine engine mechanics, and
  • Where Josh Donaldson might be leaking force at impact.

How eerily similar Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson's body types AND swings are.  CLICK HERE to listen (start at the 1 min, 10 sec mark) to Josh Donaldson discuss how he modeled his swing after Jose Bautista.  This was an interview after being traded from Oakland to Toronto.  By the way, this post got some air time on Canada's National Post!

In the above post, “staying closed” DOES NOT mean an inward turn of the hips – towards the catcher – to “load”.  It also has ZERO to do with striding with a closed front foot.  But what this baseball online BEST-of post does do, is go into the counter-rotation of the shoulders – versus the pelvis – during the fall.  Or what my hitters will tell you, “showing the pitcher their numbers.”

Upon analysis, it was interesting to note that Josh Donaldson didn't commit his weight to his front side like Jose Bautista did.  And this led to inferior ball exit speeds and a lower average home-run distance because of an inefficiency to use Gravitational Forces.

 

Youth Baseball Online ALERT: Hitting Fix For Bat Drag

Baseball Online: Charles fixing his early arm bar

One of my local High School hitters Charles fixing an early arm bar.

In this baseball online post, we went over:

  • What is Bat Drag?
  • The science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch), and
  • How-to fix Bat Drag.

This post along with a few other ones are really pissing people off.  Why?  Because the “old guard” is still using Ken Griffey Jr.'s swing as a gold standard.  Griffey Jr. was efficient in many ways, but he was also inefficient in others.  Specifically, he arm bars too early.  Before he starts his turn.  Not on certain pitches, speeds, or locations…nope.  On every pitch.  And this is why later in his career, after joining the Reds, his inefficiencies were exploited, and his Metrics suffered.

Hitting an unknown pitch makes what baseball and softball players do, a truly unique skill.  We have to handle two factors in the Conservation of Angular Momentum, carefully:

  1. Angular velocity (turning speed), AND
  2. Moment of inertia (inertial force).

We want the barrel to be a “motorcycle” (light weight but fast) to the plane of the pitch.  Once here, we want the barrel to be a “Mack Truck” (sacrificing some bat speed for inertial mass).  The latter is where the front arm is okay to bar out.

And we fix Bat Drag with a mix of fascial loading and spinal engine mechanics.   Also please re-visit this “Hitting Tips” post to listen to my readers help fix arm barring and the racing back elbow.  Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

I Need Your HELP!

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane. Photo courtesy: JTA.org

I often get caught up in my own ways of doing things that I sometimes lose sight of better hitting tips others are using for the same outcomes.  I'm not perfect.  And I'll readily admit that I don't know all the answers.  This my wife will surely echo 😉

But I do take pride in submitting and standing on the shoulders of giants.  This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson changed my life:

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Think of methods as “the drills.”  This post is for you hitting instructors or coaches who're applying human movement principles, and successfully selecting your own methods.  I want to pick your brain, and hear your thoughts below.

But first, here's the gist of the hitting tips assignment…

 

Hitting Tips from the Collective Few…

Ryan Braun Hitting Tips: staying long on the plane of the pitch

Ryan Braun staying long on the plane of the pitch. Photo courtesy: SportsWorldNews.com

I want to focus on efficiently increasing barrel time on the plane of the pitch using the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  By the way, it doesn't matter if you come from baseball or softball.  So drawing from your teaching experience, what are your thoughts on the following (PLEASE leave your pearls of wisdom in the hitting tips comment section below):

  • Your go-to hitting drill for boosting barrel time on the pitch plane (pics or vids are welcome),
  • The best sticky coaching cue (or cues) that you use with young hitters, and/or
  • Any kind of underground (i.e. DIY) hitting aids that help with boosting barrel time on the pitch plane.

Keep in mind, inefficiencies such as arm barring, bat drag (racing back elbow), rolling over, and staying “attached” through the finish are issues you can address.   After a week, I'm going to have my readers vote on the best approach, and we'll announce a winner.  Please share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

#1 Youth Baseball Swing Fix To Deflating Bat Speed

 

 

Awhile back I posted the following youth baseball post to my Hitting Performance Lab Facebook fan-page (CLICK HERE if you haven't “Liked” my fan-page yet…new content daily):

[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/HittingPerformanceLab/posts/565739680222497/” width=”400″/]

This video blog post will target one of the worst youth baseball swing offenders to deflating bat speed…bat drag.  In this article, we're going over:

  • What is Bat Drag?
  • The science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch), and
  • One way to fix Bat Drag.

 

What is Baseball Youth Bat Drag?

#1 Youth Baseball Swing Fix To Deflating Bat Speed

Notice the difference in Charles's barrel angle.

This is when the front arm “bars out” before the Final Turn.  Also known as “Casting.”  And it's an oftentimes frustrating youth baseball hitting fix.

I received an email awhile back from James Brown (NOT the singer), that said:

…”I watched a video that perry husband had at the hitting hot stove at the abca in Dallas that showed analysis of the Homerun derby, and the furthest home runs by each individual competitor happened when their lead arm was extended early.  I think swing mass and leverage has a lot to power to the ball…  Think about having your hand slammed in a door.  Would you want a door with a short distance from hinge to knob, or a long distance?  Short would close faster, but do less damage.  Long will impart more force at a slower speed.”

James Brown's email response was after I produced this youth baseball Shin-Soo Choo: Can Front Arm KILL Bat Speed? video post.

Here's how I responded…

 

The Science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch)

…”I see what you're saying and agree…to hit the ball the farthest, a straight front arm would be ideal. Look at golfers for instance. But here's the problem…a hitter in a game doesn't know with 100% certainty: pitch location, speed, and pitch type.

So a hitter needs to turn quicker for the first half of the Final Turn, to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch as soon as possible.  Then extend on the pitch plane, depending on pitch location and speed.”

In the home run derby, hitters know the pitch speed, type – and for the most part – location.

I agree with Perry Husband in that hitters should make it a goal to get to impact with a long front arm.

However, I don't agree in getting a hitter to bar that front arm out early on, pre-turn.

It's a simple Conservation of Angular Momentum issue.  CLICK HERE for a short 2-minute Circus Physics video from PBS on this movement Principle.

An ice skater speeds up by tucking her arms in towards her rotating middle.  She slows down by extending her arms away from her rotating middle.

What's going on here?

Rotating speed goes up when the rotation is tighter (bending the arms), but inertial mass decreases.  Inversely related, when the arms go out, her inertial mass increases, but her rotating speed decreases.  This is how Angular Momentum is conserved.

So, unless like Perry teaches, Pitch Recognition and Strategic hitting game plans against specific pitchers is supplemented, I don't see the logic in teaching hitters to early arm bar, pre-turn.

Why?

Because barring the front arm out early will slow rotation down (think arm extended ice skater), and on higher perceived velocities to the hitter, high or inside the strike-zone, why would we want our hitters to turn slower at the beginning of the turn?

The bottom line? Youth baseball (or softball) swing game mechanics are slightly different than in batting practice.  “Five-o-clock” hitters typically aren't very effective in games.  And let me tell you, all my pitching friends LOVE pitching to early arm bar hitters because they have a weakness to exploit.  Just like hitters that swing down on the ball and extreme upper cutters do.

One Way to Fix Bat Drag

Youth Baseball ALERT: Stop Arm Barring

See Cutch pulling his top hand, while bottom hand restrains that pull forward (look at muscles in left forearm and triceps). Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Typically, I have my youth baseball hitters practice the Catapult Loading System when we have an arm barring issue.  The finer points before a hitter lands in the Fight Position are:

  • Showing pitcher your numbers,
  • Hiding hands from pitcher, and
  • Slight downhill shoulder angle.

Another piece I've just added to the puzzle comes from Homer Kelly in his book The Golfing Machine.  The following quote may shed additional light on “educating the hands” to combat arm barring…

“Power Accumulator #1 (for right handed golfer) – is the bent right arm. Even though the right biceps is active, the backstroke is always made with the right arm striving to remain straight. But the straight left arm restrains this continuous extensor action of the right triceps with an effortless checkerin action. Consequently , during release, the right arm can straighten only as the left arm moves away from the right shoulder.”

You see, the problem with bat drag at the youth baseball level isn't the move itself, but how the compensation is triggered.  What's happening before the front arm bars out?  Is the hitter properly activating the springy fascia within the torso?

If you “Click here to ‘Get Instant Access'” button below, you can get a free video that explains:

  • Why the following advice: “Power is all in the hips”, “Load and explode the hips”, and “The hips lead the way” won’t produce the repeatable power you’re looking for…

  • Where power really comes from – the answers to how the body actually loads are validated by science…

  • The 3 Do’s & Don’ts that will help you execute this simple strategy without any hitches in swing quality…

In This Andrew McCutchen Baseball Hitting Video (2 of 4), 

 

…of the Do This For Longer Drives series, we're going to: Andrew McCutchen Baseball Hitting Video

  • Discuss when barring the front arm is okay,
  • Explore the science of spinning fast,
  • See how effective The Cutch is at turning, and
  • Look at how to work on this at home.

CLICK HERE to watch the – 2 min, 5 second – PBS Circus Physics video about the Conservation of Angular Momentum, or turning faster.

 

Straightening the Front Arm Out…Good or Bad?

Also referred to as bat drag, arm barring, or casting.  Let me clarify:

  • Arm barring GOOD: to make an impact adjustment to outside or lower pitches, and through extension
  • Arm Barring BAD: before and during the front heel touching down, and before  barrel whips back towards catcher's glove

 

The Science of Spinning Fast

IF straightening the front arm out before the front heel touches down proves for a faster turn, then why doesn't controversial 2014 Gold Medal winning ice skater Adelina Sotnikova do this during one of her big turning jumps?

Because it's ineffective for humans to quickly turn this way.  When Adelina wants to slow down, she extends her arms and legs away from her body.  In hitting, it's important to turn fast, stay compact, and do it early.  Before the barrel gets onto the plane of the pitch.  In which case, the front arm needs to stay slightly bent.

WHY?

Because if the hitter bars the front arm out early, they will spin slower, which will force the hitter to make a decision to swing the bat sooner.  Translation, the hitter has LESS reaction time!  AND will be vulnerable to inside and higher pitches in the zone because of their higher perceived velocity to the hitter, according to Perry Husband's EV system.

If we keep a slight bend in the front elbow, then we have the option to keep it bent and spin faster (if we need to on the inside or high pitch), or we can let the front arm extend on pitches down or outside because these pitches are perceived slower (via Perry's EV system), and the hitter has more time to get to those pitches.

 

Did Cutch Pass the Turning Speed Test?

In the above Andrew McCutchen baseball hitting video, science clearly says that ‘Cutch' can in fact turn faster during his Final Turn.

However in this Andrew McCutchen baseball hitting video, he can get away with it because of his shorter arm span in comparison to a hitter with a longer one, like Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera would have to stand farther off the plate to make an early arm bar work.  Similar to what Ken Griffey Jr. did.

And as we'll discover what force bleeding compensation he makes – possibly – because of his early arm barring in Part-3 of the Andrew Mccutchen baseball hitting video: Do This For Longer Drives video series.

 

How Do We Practice a Faster Turn at Home?

  1. Break the swing into two-steps: 1) To the Fight Position (Landing), and 2) the Final Turn
  2. Use a mirror or batting tee
  3. Video analysis feedback – either Coach's Eye app (free for android) or Ubersense app (free for iphone)
  4. Hitter “hides their hands from the pitcher”, while keeping a slight bend in the front arm
  5. Going into the Final Turn, the hitter will try and “crush the catcher's glove” without extending the front arm

CLICK HERE for Part-3: Do This For Longer Drives: Andrew McCutchen baseball hitting video series, where we look to see if Cutch breaks the One-Joint Rule…If you missed Part-1, then CLICK HERE.