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‘Showing Numbers’ to Pitcher is a Quick Way to Solving Consistent Power Problem

 

Question: How does ‘Showing Numbers’ to the Pitcher Effect Bat Speed at Impact versus ‘NOT Showing’ them?

Aaron Judge Showing Numbers to the Pitcher

Aaron Judge (Showing Numbers), unloads a solo home run to center field on 10/17/17 to put the Yankees on the board in the 7th inning.

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if a hitter showing their numbers to the pitcher at landing adds to or takes away from key swing performance metrics like Bat Speed at Impact, Time To Impact, and Attack Angle.  This swing experiment is revisiting two other experiments done analyzing the same thing.

 

Background Research

Since we’re REVISITING two previous swing experiments on ‘Showing Numbers’ versus NOT, here are the original posts and data to get you up to speed:

In 2016 ‘Show Numbers’ swing experiment, this was what the averaged out Zepp data looked like:

  • 5-mph INCREASE in Bat Speed at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • 0.5-mph INCREASE in Hand Speed Max with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • .003 second DECREASE in Time to Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • 3* INCREASE in Bat Vertical Angle at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • 1.5* INCREASE in Attack Angle with ‘Showing Numbers.

Now, let’s see how the Ball Exit Speed averages compare:

  • 76.02-mph BES when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’,
  • 77.32-mph BES  when ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • That’s a 1.3-mph average INCREASE when ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • Translates between 5.2-feet to 7.8-feet of EXTRA batted ball distance – depending on if you calculate using 1-mph BES = 4-feet of distance OR 1-mph BES = 6-feet of distance.

In this experiment, if you look at the ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, they were actually ‘Showing Numbers’.  In other words, the subject in the swing experiment, Preston Scott, already shows his numbers well causing a challenge to not show them.  Therefore on the ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he showed them more.  I think that’s why we didn’t see as much of a difference in Ball Exit Speeds.

In 2014 ‘Show Numbers’ swing experiment, this was what the averaged out Zepp data looked like:

  • Bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 73-mph,
  • Bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 79-mph (+6-mph),
  • Highest bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 82-mph,
  • Highest bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 88-mph (+6-mph),
  • Hand speed max for NOT showing numbers was: 27-mph, and
  • Hand speed max for showing numbers was: 29-mph (+2-mph).

Between both swing experiments, we saw an average Bat Speed at Impact increase between 5 to 6-mph.  In 2016 we saw a .003 second drop in Time To Impact ‘Showing Numbers’, while in 2014 we saw a .003 increase.

The research on increasing bat or ball exit speed can be seen in the following two books on springy fascia and spinal engine mechanics:

You can also get application of previously mentioned books through the following HPL video blog posts.

  1. Miguel Cabrera and the timing of torque.
  2. Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista: how spine engine mechanics are amplified by Gravitational Forces, and
  3. Adrian Gonzalez: how-to naturally spring load the body.

For those versed in Anatomy, for explosive movement on the Transverse Plane (twisting), there must be a protraction of the front scapula (‘showing numbers’), and a retraction of the back Scapula (what’s often referred to as ‘Scap Row’).  Scap Rowing by itself doesn’t engage full range of springy fascia.

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I’m expecting to see a dramatic bump in Bat Speed at Impact, Hand Speed Max, and possibly a reduction in Time To Impact.  I think Attack Angle and Bat Vertical Angle at Impact will remain unchanged.

 

Showing Numbers Swing Experiment Part-3

Equipment Used:

SwingAway Bryce Harper model

This is the SwingAway Bryce Harper model hitting station used for the ‘Showing Numbers’ experiment.

Setup:

  • SwingAway Bryce Harper bungy suspended ball was set equal to the landing foot, and ball height was about knee height.
  • I broke each swing down into three steps: 1) Get to landing, 2) Pause for 2-secs, and 3) Swing.  The reason for this was to better control whether I was showing numbers or not.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • The ‘Showing Numbers’ swing shoulders were set to about 2’o’clock, if pitcher is 12’o’clock.  The ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swing shoulders were set to about 12’o’clock.

 

Data Collected from Zepp Baseball App:

'Showing' v. 'NOT Showing' Numbers to Pitcher Zepp Numbers

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages:

  • Bat Speed at Impact INCREASE of 3-mph ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Hand Speed Max DECREASE of 1-mph ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Time To Impact INCREASE of 0.014 ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Bat Vertical Angle At Impact DECREASE of 4-degree ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • Attack Angle INCREASE of 6-degrees ‘Showing Numbers’.

The drop from previous ‘Showing Numbers’ swing experiments was surprising, in addition to a small 1-mph drop in Hand Speed Max.  There was also a slight increase in Time To Impact.  The interesting numbers were the ones that indicate Launch Angles, both Bat Vertical Angle at Impact and Attack Angle.  We hadn’t experienced such a dramatic uptick in those in past experiments.

A couple notes…

  • The past two experiments were done in a cage, off a tee, so I could see ball flight, and maybe that had an effect on the swing metrics.
  • Some hitting coaches speak highly of Time To Impact and want to reduce at all cost, but I disagree. There’s a healthy range for that, you don’t want it too short or too long.  I’m not going to get into why here, maybe in another post.
  • To explain the dramatic increase of the barrel’s upward trajectory in ‘Showing Numbers’, I may have been getting more of a downward shoulder angle at landing.

Zepp Swing Experiment: Here’s a Quick Way to Fix a Flat Bat at Landing (and WHY!) 

Question: How Does a Flat Bat at Landing Effect Bat Speed, Ball Exit Speed, & Time To Impact?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app and Pocket Radar Ball Coach, I wanted to employ the Scientific Method to analyze how a hitter’s “Flat Bat at Landing”, or toe touch,  adds or takes away from key swing performance metrics including Bat Speed at Impact, Time To Impact, Attack Angle, and Ball Exit Speeds.

Let me define what I mean by ‘Flat Barrel’ versus a ‘Vertical Barrel’…

  • A ‘Flat Barrel’ at landing is anything less than a 30-degree angle (like Cargo in the above video as an example),
  • A ‘Vertical Barrel’ at landing is anything more than a 30-degree angle.

Now that we’ve defined the parameters, let’s look at the…

 

Background Research

Notice where the “dot” is drawn on the two static images left side, and where it’s drawn on the two dynamic images right side. Photo courtesy: GymSmartsCommunity.com

My background research is more experiential, rather than academic.

I have hitters do a mini-experiment by holding the bat in their bottom hand, laid flat (parallel to ground) over their back shoulder.  And then ask them to hold the bat, using the same hand, but vertical.  I then ask them which bat position is heavier/lighter?  Of course they say the vertical bat is lighter.  I then ask WHY?  And I get a few different answers…

What is the answer?  Because we’re not adding or taking weight away from the bat by doing this…

It has to do with center of mass of the bat in relation to the hitter’s.  A ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ pushes its center of mass behind the hitter’s. A human’s center of mass is generally around the belly button.  To find the bat’s center of mass you can balance it between your thumb and forefinger.

I’ve also observed when adjusting a hitter’s ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ to a more ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’, there’s a bump in Ball Exit Speed, which I measure at the beginning (before instruction is given) and end of a hitting lesson.  My hitter’s also share they feel quicker to impact, have a little more ‘pop’, and that it’s easier getting the ball in the air.

It’s also interesting to note that I see quite a bit of early barring of the front arm when the hitter lands with a flat barrel.  I also see the hitter “wrapping the bat” around their head.  In my opinion this is a compensation to manipulate the shifted center mass of the bat from behind the hitter.

CLICK HERE to watch this video on how to fix a ‘Flat Bat at Impact’.

 

Hypothesis

Carlos Gonzalez & Cody Bellinger Illustrating Flat versus Vertical Bat at Landing

Look at the difference in bat angle at landing between Carlos Gonzalez (left) – “Flat” and Cody Bellinger (right) – “Vertical”. Just because a Big Leaguer does it doesn’t mean it’s effective or optimized. Oftentimes they succeed despite ineffective mechanics. Photos courtesy: MLB.com

In support of the Background Research above, I’m hallucinating that we’ll see a bump in Bat and Ball Exit Speeds, in addition to a reduction in Time To Impact.  I also think that we’ll see a more positive move in the barrel’s Attack Angle.

 

Flat Versus Vertical Bat at Landing Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length…I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent.  One was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
  • Backspin tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • I broke each swing down into a couple steps: 1) Get to landing, 2) Pause for 2-secs, and 3) Swing.  The reason for this was to control the bat either flat or vertical at landing.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • The objective of ‘Front Facing Swings’ was to start the ‘belt buckle’ pointing at the pitcher, and to minimize pelvic movement.
  • Experiment Day-1 on 7/5 we completed 150 total swings (75 ‘Flat Barrel at Landing’ & 75 ‘Vertical Barrel at Landing’).  Experiment Day-2 on 7/10 we completed 50 swings (25 ‘Flat Bat at Landing’ & 25 ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’).
  • We had to break the 200 total swings into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later, because of time constraints.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App & Ball Exit Speed Readings):

‘Flat Bat Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

Flat Barrel at Landing swing averages of the averages: 76-MPH Bat Speed at Impact, 26.5-MPH Hand Speed Max, .209 Time To Impact, -32* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 8.5* Attack Angle.

‘Vertical Barrel Swings’ Days 1 & 2 side by side…

Vertical Barrel at Landing swing averages of the averages: 76-MPH Bat Speed at Impact, 27-MPH Hand Speed Max, .206 Time To Impact, 30.5* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 8.5* Attack Angle.

CLICK HERE for the Ball Exit Speed Google document.  The findings?

  •  Flat Barrel at Landing AVERAGE Ball Exit Speed = 79.01-MPH
  • Vertical Barrel at Landing AVERAGE Ball Exit Speed = 81.08-MPH
  • Difference = 2.01-MPH Ball Exit Speed bump with more Vertical Barrel at Landing

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

  • We saw NO change to Bat Speed at Impact between the two swings,
  • We saw a 0.5-MPH boost to Hand Speed Max when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
  • We saw a .003 second reduction in Time To Impact when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
  • We saw a +1.5-degree increase to Bat Vertical Angle at Impact when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’,
  • We saw NO change to the Attack Angle between the two swings, and
  • We saw a 2.01-MPH increase in Ball Exit Speed when holding a ‘Vertical Bat at Landing’.

Based on the above Data Analysis it looks like my Hypothesis was proved right when it came to a boost in Hand Speed Max and Ball Exit Speed, and decrease in Time To Impact, but wrong when it came to Bat Speed at Impact and Attack Angle.  I think the increase in Ball Exit Speed can be attributed to the decrease in Time To Impact.

When we see ineffective movement at the Big League level, we have to understand that these high level hitters are succeeding despite ineffective movements, not because of them.

Scientific Truth Every Coach Ought to Know About Using Batting Weights To Warm-up In The On-Deck Circle

This post may blow the minds of those that didn’t get the memo…

Chris Dozer, who’s father to one of my 10yo online lesson students, sent the following Wall Street Journal article titled: “Watching Your Weight Before Hitting Plate”.

Weighted Bat Swing Comparison

WITH weighted bat warm-up, hitter barreled the ball LESS often. Photo courtesy: SportsScience YouTube video

You can read the article in full by clicking the previous link, but I wanted to include important bullet points from the article and Sports Science video above:

  • “Studies conducted over several decades have concluded that the ritual popular among professionals and emulated by amateurs doesn’t increase bat speed.  It may actually slow it down…’the best is your own bat'”
  •  According to the Zepp app, average professional bat speeds range from 75 to 90-mph, average High School and College bat speeds range from 65 to 80-mph, and average youth bat speeds range from 40 to 70-mph.
  • PLEASE NOTE: there are other batting weight studies with small sample sizes (ranging from 7 to 60 players) comparing High School, College, and recreational hitters in laboratory settings (not LIVE batting practice).  Adrenaline or others batter’s routines could have influenced performance in these. Basically the variable wasn’t properly isolated…that being said, a study with 20 college baseball players found “their performance was statistically unchanged.”
  • Dr. DeRenne, found using a 28-ounce batting weight changed the balance point of the bat and slowed down bat speed.
  • In Sports Science video above, a college hitter in 2008 hit 10 machine pitched balls WITHOUT using a batting weight before, and had an average bat speed of 69-mph, and routinely connected with the sweet spot.  After using the batting weight, then taking another 10 swings off the same pitching machine, his average bat speed dropped to 68.3-mph, and on each swing he missed the bat’s sweet spot by several inches.
  • The above video talked about how because the hitter swings the bat at a slower pace using a batting weight, more red slow twitch endurance muscle fibers get recruited, thereby decreasing the amount of white fast twitch muscle fibers which fire two to three times faster.  Warming up with batting weight in on-deck circle is actually priming the wrong muscles before stepping in the box. 
  • The experience of a single batter can’t be generalized to others, but the results resembled other studies.
  • “People are always looking for an edge,” Dr. Szymanski said, “but just because a professional athlete does something doesn’t mean it’s good or helpful or right.”

 

The Bottom Line?

Now, a 0.7-mph drop in average bat speed doesn’t seem like a lot, but as you saw, it makes a BIG difference in barreling the ball.  As retired Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan says:

  • If ball hits bat 1-inch off sweet spot = then 1 to 2-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 4 to 8-feet less distance!)
  • If ball hits bat 2-inch off sweet spot = then 2 to 3-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 8 to 12-feet less distance!)
  • If ball hits bat 3-inch off sweet spot = then 3 to 4-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 12 to 16-feet less distance!)

So, not only are hitters losing bat speed using a batting weight on the on-deck circle, but by barreling up the ball LESS OFTEN, they’re losing batted ball distance as well.  Aside from swinging the hitter’s own bat, I’d say swinging a lighter bat – faster – would help the body recruit more of those white fast twitch muscle fibers before stepping in the box.

Your thoughts?

Softball Hitting Tips Fastpitch: Is Power ALL In The Hips?

 

This is Part-3 of a 3-part softball hitting tips fastpitch video series coming straight out of the Catapult Loading System online video mini-course…

The Catapult Loading System

Sick of struggling with getting your hitters to hit the ball hard with more consistency?  This is a simple 7-module online video mini-course that will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, hit the ball consistently over 300-feet in 60 days.  You’ll be able to dramatically increase power without sacrificing swing quality.

CLICK the Link below to…

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In this softball hitting tips fastpitch video post, we’re going to answer one of my reader’s questions…

“Ways to use your hips to create bat speed?”

Before I get to the #1 Biggest Lie In Hitting, we’ll cover:

  • Inward hip turn towards catcher to load?
  • Springy ‘X’ Pattern, and
  • Landing open with the front foot.

 

Inward Hip Turn Towards Catcher To Load?

Softball Hitting Tips Fastpitch: Lauren Chamberlain Hitting

Are Lauren Chamberlain’s hips firing on their own, or was her spine pre-loaded earlier by her shoulders? Photo courtesy: YT user – Paul Arebalo

I picked up on this in High School after reading Ted Williams’s book The Science Of Hitting.

But is this really necessary?

After reading Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, I don’t believe that it is.

To me, ‘Loading the hips’ by turning the pelvis inward towards the catcher creates more challenges, than benefits.

The biggest challenge is that if the timing isn’t right, the hitter will get stuck landing with a closed front leg at landing (front toe less than a 45-degree angle).

CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment I did on landing closed versus open, and the affect on average bat speed.

Olympic Javelin Throwers, Boxers, and Sprinters do just fine without using an inward turn of the pelvis, away from their target, before throwing, punching, or running.

 

Springy ‘X’ Pattern

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so here are two great video blog posts I did, that apply to softball hitting tips fastpitch, talking about the Springy ‘X’ Pattern:

 

Landing Open with the Front Foot

The guys at ZenoLink are awesome!  They find the truth behind human movement science.  This video discusses how the lower body position or stride setup will dictate how well you create and utilized ground reaction force to initiate the swing process and develop power and bat speed.

They found the optimal degree that the stride foot must be open at landing to be around 65-degrees (watch around the 2:00 mark)…

So WHY are we teaching our young hitters to stride closed?!!

To summarize…

‘Loading and exploding the hips’ by inwardly turning the pelvis towards the catcher can cause the hitter to land closed.  If the hitter lands closed, then bat speed WILL go down, according to the results of my Zepp swing experiment, and to the guys at ZenoLink.  As a result of bat speed going down, so will Ball Exit Speed.

‘Firing the hips’ is an over-coached cue, if anything, let’s ‘load and explode the shoulders’, not the hips.  Us hitting coaches MUST shift our focus above the pelvis, into the shoulders by way of the Springy ‘X’ Pattern.

So, what is the #1 Biggest Lie In Hitting, as it relates to softball hitting tips fastpitch?

That we MUST ‘load and explode the hips’.

You see,

We have to get away from learning inside baseball and softball hitting circles.  We must first learn human movement science, then break away, and begin thinking creatively about how to apply these human movement “rules”, that are validated by science, to hitting a ball.

Question: Does a Modified Bat Knob Increase Bat & Ball Exit Speeds?

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR Bat Experiment

ProXR bat knobs are similar to an axe handle, but are more rounded…

In this baseball hitting drills for contact bat knob experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app & Bushnell radar gun, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat and Ball Exit Speeds when using the same model and sized wood bat, but the only difference being that one bat has a regular knob, and the other a ProXR knob.

 

Background Research

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR PSI comparison

A Washington University study found there was a 20% to 25% reduction in compression forces in the hands when using a ProXR technology.

My fascination with this all started when Grady Phelan, the Founder and President at ProXR, LLC, wrote this LinkedIn post titled, Baseball’s Broken Hamate Plague.

After I reached out, Grady was open to the idea of doing a Zepp and Ball Exit Speed baseball hitting drills for contact experiment.

Grady shared the following research about his ProXR technology over email…

“One of the experiments we did early on with ProXR, as part of our due diligence before we went to market, was to measure the compression forces in the hands during a swing. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with some researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, Bio-Mechanics lab here in St. Louis. We connected a conventional bat and a ProXR bat to digital pressure sensors and had a batter take some swings. We were able to dial into the area of the hypothenar (the heal of your hand below your pinky) and compare the difference in compression.

What we found was a 20% to 25% reduction in compression forces when using a ProXR technology. The peak compression happens immediately AFTER intended contact when the hands roll over the central axis of the bat and the knob.  The smaller peaks in between the high compression peaks are from the batter getting the bat back into the load position and we took out the time in between swings to condense the chart.”

Around the same time, I saw this USA Today article titled, Dustin Pedroia is on a hot streak with an odd-looking bat designed to help hitters.  I asked Grady if this was his bat, and he replied:

Baseball Hitting Drills For Contact: Dustin Pedroia Victus Ax Handle Bat

Dustin Pedroia swing Victus axe handle bat. Photo courtesy: Sports.Yahoo.com

“Pedroia is actually using something called an axe that is being put on a Victus bat. There is some minor confusion in the market given the axe’s similar look with ProXR.

Here’s the top-line difference between ProXR and the Baden product: if you’ve ever swung an actual axe (chopping wood), which the Baden product is based on, you know that the swing path is linear, meaning it drives the hands to the point of contact AND (this is probably the most important point) the swing ends at contact. This is critical. The oval shape of an axe handle and the general configuration of the axe handle evolved over thousands of years specifically to drive the axe head to the point of contact (this also applies to swords, hammers and other linear-path swing implements). The oval shape locks the hands into alignment with the swing path and PREVENTS the hands from deviating from that swing path. In sharp contrast, you know a baseball swing is rotational – meaning the bat must fully rotate around the batters body and the hands MUST roll over the central axis of the bat to compete the swing. This gives hitter the ability to both, make adjustments during the swing and complete the rotational swing path. Putting an oval axe handle on a baseball bat is counter-intuitive to the requirements of a rotational baseball swing. Imagine trying to adjust your swing on a breaking ball or change-up when the shape of the handle is resisting those adjustments.
In contrast, ProXR was designed from the ground-up specifically for a rotational baseball bat swing. It reduces compression in the hands and gives batters improved performance. Additionally, we tested our designs before we went to market and continue to do ongoing research and testing. As a side note, ProXR was accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 because it is the first angled knob bat ever used in regular season games.”

Hypothesis

Based on the ProXR technology research, I was convinced the bat would alleviate compression forces in the hands, particularly the hitter’s bottom hand.  However, my biggest question was, are we sacrificing performance to be safer?  I think the ProXR technology, although safer, will sacrifice some performance.

The reason I labeled this a “baseball hitting drills for contact” experiment will become clear in the “Notes” section of the post, so stay tuned…

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR Bat Knob Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • All swings for the baseball hitting drills for contact experiment were taken off the tee.
  • 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.
  • CLICK HERE for the Google Drive excel document with all the Ball Exit Speed (BES) readings and calculations.
  • We deleted radar gun mis-reads that registered below 30-mph on the gun.
  • Therefore, we deleted 3 mis-reads from the ProXR bat knob data, and averaged all ProXR BES readings to 97 swings.
  • Also, we deleted 2 mis-reads from the regular bat knob data, and averaged all regular bat knob BES readings to 98 swings.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills for contact experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Swinging the “ProXR Knob” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Regular Knob” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Hitting Drills for Contact: ProXR Bat Knob Experiment

A slight baseball hitting drills for contact advantage goes to the ProXR Knob…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

ZEPP READINGS:

  • Avg. Bat Speed at Impact increased by 1-mph using the ProXR knob bat,
  • Avg. Max Hand Speed didn’t change,
  • Avg. Time to Impact decreased by 0.004 swinging the ProXR knob bat,
  • Avg. Bat Vertical Angle at Impact decreased by 2 degrees using the ProXR knob bat, and
  • Avg. Attack Angle decreased by 4 degrees using the ProXR knob bat.

BUSHNELL BALL EXIT SPEED READINGS (CLICK HERE for Google Excel Doc):

  • Avg. Ball Exit Speed decreased by 0.4-mph using the ProXR bat knob, and
  • Top out Ball Exit Speed was 93-mph using both the ProXR and conventional bat knob.

Notes

  1. In ProXR founder Grady Phelan’s initial testings of professional players, some of the players recorded a 3 to 10-mph bat speed increase using his ProXR knob.  Now, I have a theory as to why my numbers were much smaller…
  2. For all 208 swings I was playing with two baseball hitting drills for contact mechanical elements in my swing: 1) squeezing the bottom three fingers of my top hand only, from the moment I started my swing (picked up my front foot), through impact.  And 2) having more of a “hunched over” posture at the start of the swing.  I did this for all swings, so as not to “muddy up” the experiment.
  3. The finger pressure may have neutralized the affect of the ProXR knob, since most of the “shock” at impact was taken by my top hand.  Whereas a normal hitter not using top hand finger pressure would absorb the shock in the hamate bone, in their bottom hand, using the regular knob bat.
  4. Playing around with both baseball hitting drills for contact elements of #2 above, I compared the Ball Exit Speed numbers from my previous experiment looking at the difference between the Mizuno Generation ($200 bat) to the Mizuno MaxCor ($400) bat where I wasn’t using the two mechanical changes.  Interestingly, my average Ball Exit Speed with the $400 alloy MaxCore was 83.5-mph and top out exit speed was 90-mph.  With the wood bats, my average Ball Exit Speed was 89 to 90-mph, and my top out exit speed was 93-mph.  That’s a 6.5-mph jump in average & 3-mph boost in top out exit speed using a wood bat over a non-wood!!  That’s 26 more feet on average, and 12 more feet in top out distance added using finger pressure and the “hunch”!
  5. By using the two principles in #2 above, I was able to hit the “high-note” more consistently.  I also had less “mis-reads” in this experiment, using the radar gun (5 total out of 208 swings), versus the Mizuno bat model experiment (18 total out of 200 swings).  This is why I labeled this experiment “baseball hitting drills for contact”.
  6. After about 50 swings in the the ProXR bat knob baseball hitting drills for contact experiment, I could tell you what my Ball Exit Speed readings were going to be after each cut, +/-1 mile per hour.  Crazy!

The Bottom Line?

Well, according to the baseball hitting drills for contact ProXR bat knob experiment data, it looks like the ProXR knob holds a slight edge in performance versus the convention knob. Coupled with the fact that the ProXR knob reduces compression forces on the hands by 20 to 25% has me convinced that ProXR bat knob technology is a can’t lose tool for a hitter’s toolbox.

Question: Do More Expensive Bats Increase Bat & Ball Exit Speeds?

 

Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Zepp Swing Experiment

Mizuno MaxCor -3 baseball bat ($150-400 on Amazon)

In this baseball batting practice Mizuno bat model experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app & Bushnell radar gun, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat and Ball Exit Speeds comparing the performance of two different Mizuno bat models, but the same 34-inch, 31-ounce size:

 

Background Research

MIZUNO MAXCOR ($150-400)

According to the Mizuno website, the focus of this bat is maximizing Ball Exit Speed and backspin.  Some key features are (Mizuno site):

  • Viscoelastic Sleeve: Creates a wider circumferential sweet area.
  • New Variable Wall Thickness Alloy Core: Increases the sweet area across the length of the barrel, using aircraft aluminum alloy used to keep overall weight low.
  • Dynamic Damper: Transition piece from barrel to handle absorbs vibration for better feel.
  • New Improved Synthetic Leather Grip: Provides tack and great feel.
  • Lower more balanced swing weight for increased swing speed.
  • BBCOR certified, approved for NCAA & NFHS play
  • Barrel Diameter: 2 5/8″
Baseball Batting Practice Mizuno Bat Model Experiment: Generation Model

Mizuno Generation -3 baseball bat ($70-200 on Amazon)

MIZUNO GENERATION

According to Mizuno’s site, the Mizuno Generation baseball bat was designed with two things in mind:

  1. A bigger sweet spot, and
  2. Balance – (lighter swing weight, which can result in faster bat speeds).

Key features of the baseball batting practice Mizuno Generation bat (Mizuno site):

  • Patented wall thickness technology varies the wall thickness across the barrel, creating a massive sweet area for ultimate forgiveness
  • Single wall aerospace grade aluminum alloy used for maximum combination of performance and durability
  • Balanced swing weight for increased swing speed and bat control
  • Digi-Grip for great feel and durability
  • BBCOR certified, approved for USSSA
  • Barrel Diameter: 2 5/8″

Another factor in this baseball batting practice Mizuno bat model experiment will be breaking in a non-wood bat.  CLICK HERE for a good YouTube video on how to break-in a composite bat.  Now, both Mizuno bats are not composites, but I’m sure the breaking in process with any non-wood, will have an affect on Ball Exit Speeds.

We’ll adjust the data to address breaking in the bat in the Notes section.

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball batting practice Background Research from Mizuno (albeit promotional materials), and the fact the MaxCor is double the price, I’d expect a much better performance in Bat and Ball Exit Speeds using the MaxCor model bat versus the Generation.

 

Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • All baseball batting practice swings were taken off the tee.
  • 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.
  • CLICK HERE for the Google Drive excel document with all the Ball Exit Speed (BES) readings.
  • We deleted radar gun mis-reads that registered below 30-mph on the gun.
  • Therefore, we deleted 11 mis-reads from the Mizuno MaxCor bat data, and averaged all MaxCor BES readings to 89 swings.
  • Also, we deleted 7 mis-reads from the Mizuno Generation bat data, and averaged all Generation BES readings to 93 swings.
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Swinging the “Mizuno MaxCor” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Mizuno Generation” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Experiment

According to the Zepp app, the Mizuno MaxCor came out supreme in all areas except the Attack Angle…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

ZEPP READINGS:

  • Avg. Bat Speed at Impact increased by 3-mph using the Mizuno MaxCor,
  • Avg. Max Hand Speed increased by 2-mph using the Mizuno MaxCor,
  • Avg. Time to Impact decreased by 0.063,
  • Avg. Bat Vertical Angle at Impact decreased by 1-degree using the Mizuno MaxCor, and
  • Avg. Attack Angle decreased by 4-degrees using the Mizuno MaxCor.

BUSHNELL BALL EXIT SPEED READINGS (CLICK HERE for Google Excel Doc):

  • Avg. Ball Exit Speed increased by 4.6-mph using the Mizuno Generation bat,
  • Top out Ball Exit Speed was 95-mph using the Mizuno Generation bat, and
  • Top out Ball Exit Speed was 90-mph using the Mizuno MaxCor bat.

 

Notes

  • Now, we can’t compare apples to apples baseball batting practice data using the Zepp app and Bushnell radar gun.  If I had one more Bushnell radar gun capturing my bat speed readings perpendicular to my chest, then that would’ve been an interesting comparison.
  • I felt much more balance with the Mizuno Generation.  I also felt like I was more consistently hitting the sweet spot, as their marketing suggests.  For some reason it was tough feeling a consistent sweet spot using the MaxCor, maybe because of the “Dynamic Damper: Transition piece from barrel to handle absorbs vibration for better feel”.
  • It takes about 100-200 swings to break in a non-wood bat, at least according to the following YouTube video on How-To Break-in a Composite Bat.  I’m going to share a Zepp app screenshot comparing the first 100 swings using the Mizuno MaxCor (from this experiment), to the first 100 swings using the Mizuno Generation (from the Baseball Swing Tips: Mizuno Bat Size Experiment):
Baseball Batting Practice: Mizuno Bat Model Experiment

Look at the near identical performance Zepp data between the two bats when we compare their first 100 swings…

  • How about comparing the Ball Exit Speeds of the first 100 swings…according to this Google spreadsheet, the Mizuno MaxCor Avg. Ball Exit Speed was: 83.5-mph.  And according to this Google spreadsheet from a couple weeks before, Avg. Ball Exit Speed using the Mizuno Generation 34/31 was:  88.3-mph.

The Bottom Line?

Well, according to the baseball batting practice Mizuno bat model experiment data, it looks like the Generation model holds the performance edge when it comes to Ball Exit Speed, almost a 5-mph difference.  That’s about 20-feet of extra distance!  From how the experiment turned out, I’d save the $200 and buy a Mizuno Generation.  Now, this data doesn’t mean EVERY expensive bat will under-perform it’s more economic brethren, it just means you need to tinker and test to find the truth.

Question: Does a Slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Before Landing Boost Baseball Swing Load & Bat Speed?

In this baseball swing load “shoulder” angle experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat & Hand Speed when we took 100 swings with a slight “Downhill” shoulder angle (about 8-10-degrees) versus another 100 swings with level shoulders.

The Feedback Lab parent testimonial about his 14 year old daughter Mia:

“Hey Coach,

It has been way too long but I wanted to share some information that happened yesterday. We are heading up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the largest showcase in the southeast today. Yesterday was our last day to hit before the showcase and Mia was struggling with her power. We hit about 60-70 balls and Mia was hitting about 10% over the fence (she is usually 40%+). I was looking to make sure she was showing her number, which she was, hiding her hands, which she was, landing with a bent knee, which she was and etc., etc. It was getting late and we had to go and I told Mia she had only 6 balls left. I told her to show me her stance and I noticed that her front shoulder was equal to her back shoulder. I then told her to lower her front shoulder and raise her back one. That was the only change we made to her swing, Mia then hit the next 6 balls over the fence and 2 of them were bombs. I cannot believe the difference this one small change made.

Thanks,
Primo”

 

Background Research

Baseball Swing Load: Miguel Cabrera WSJ Info-Graphic

Wall Street Journal Info-Graphic at: http://gohpl.com/1NFi8qi

The best resource for getting educated on spinal engine mechanics is to pick up Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine.  For a teased out version of this,

CLICK HERE for a post I did that compared the pitching delivery, hitting, and an overhead tennis serve using this “bending sideways” technique.

Another good book from multiple authors on the subject of spinal engine mechanics, locomotion biomechanics, and springy fascia, check out the book Dynamic Body by leading author Dr. Erik Dalton.

Also, here’s a great Wall Street Journal post about Miggy Cabrera titled, Miguel Cabrera: The Art of Hitting.  Check out what the illustration says in the middle of the red circle above…

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball swing load experiment research and one of the other countless online hitting testimonials I get about “bending sideways” benefits, I think using a slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle will boost Bat Speed at Impact by at least 3-mph, and Hand Speed Max by 2-mph.

 

Baseball Swing Load: “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Tyler Doerner, my intern for the summer and a hitter in HPL’s The Feedback Lab, is a redshirt college Freshman.  He did the baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment.
  • Tyler broke the swing into two steps: 1) get to landing position, pause for 1-2 seconds, 2) then swing, to better control the shoulder angle during the tests.
  • So, there was an absence of forward momentum in this experiment.
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  “Level Shoulders” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Downhill Shoulders” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Swing Load: Zepp Screenshot of Shoulder Angle Experiment

Look at the significant jumps in average Bat Speed at Impact & the Attack Angle…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • There’s a significant 4-mph JUMP in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Average Hand Speed Max only increased by 1-mph with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • There was a small change in Time To Impact, in favor of the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Not a big change in the Bat Vertical Angle at Impact.
  • And there was a significant 3-degree angle change in Attack Angle with “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.

Notes

  • We found a slightly bigger increase in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle compared to my Hypothesis (4-mph versus 3-mph).
  • I thought there was going to be a bigger difference in Hand Speed Max, than how it turned out.
  • What was surprising was the 3-degree angle change of the attack angle.  A 10-degree Attack Angle is a typical line drive.  Once you start to get into the 15-20 degree range, you’re looking at more of a home-run launch angle.
  • The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is actually something we’re working in Tyler’s swing.  He tends to let go of his angle a little too soon.
  • I find that before and after Ball Exit Speed readings with my local hitters who’re familiar with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle, can increase from 1-3-mph when this it the only mechanic we’re working on.

The Bottom Line?

In this baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment, we can clearly see with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle that there’s a significant 4-mph jump in Bat Speed at Impact, AND a surprising 3-degree boost in the Attack Angle.  The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is a piece of what I call the Catapult Loading System.  The BIG-3 are:

  1. Downhill shoulder angle,
  2. Hiding hands from the pitcher, and
  3. For #3…

 

Amy Gill and Andrew Marden from KSEE24, a local sports news station here in Fresno, CA, put this video together of an HPL Batted Ball Distance Challenge held about a month ago.

We worked primarily on testing showing the numbers, and the results were interesting…

Twelve total hitters, ranging in ages from 8-17 years old.  Nine of them had been exposed to the HPL system.  Two of them had not, and one had minimal exposure.

The familiar ones (control group) gained or lost between -1 to +1-mph of Ball Exit Speed, while the three “newbies” gained between 3 and 10-mph of Ball Exit Speed in one 30-minute session.  That’s between 15 to 50-feet of added batted ball distance!!

 

The Definitive Guide To Measuring, Tracking, & Boosting Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson: 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speed homer on April 23, 2015. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

On April 23rd, 2015…

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 3rd baseman, Josh Donaldson, hit a two-run homer to left off Chris Tillman that was clocked at 120.5-mph!

And as of August 18th, according to ESPN’s HitTrackerOnline.com, was the highest Ball Exit Speed home-run in 2015.

CLICK HERE to see the 120.5-mph Josh Donaldson two-run dinger.

By the way, this topped Giancarlo Stanton’s highest Ball Exit Speed homer, in the same year, by 3.2-mph (117.3-mph).

How does Josh Donaldson do it?

I mean, come on!

Giancarlo Stanton, also referred to as “Bigfoot”, stands at a gargantuan 6-foot, 6-inches tall, 240-pounds.  And from what I hear, has about 3-4% bodyfat.

On the other hand, Josh Donaldson stands in at mere 6-foot, 220-pounds.

Talk about David & Goliath!

But what little realize about David was that he was an expert marksman from long range.  So he never had to go toe-to-toe with Goliath.

David had a better strategy.  And so do small sluggers like Josh Donaldson.

In this post, we’ll be talking about Ball Exit Speed (BES), also known as Speed Off the Bat (SOB), or simply Exit Speed.  We’ll learn:

  • What affects Ball Exit Speeds?
  • What is the Desirable Minimum Effective Dosage (MED) for Ball Exit Speed? And
  • How-to increase Ball Exit Speed…

What Affects Ball Exit Speeds?

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

Recently, I’ve been using a Bushnell Radar Gun to measure the Ball Exit Speeds of my hitters, off the tee, before and after each session.

It’s not radar gun accuracy we’re looking for here, but an apples to apples comparison.  Here’s what we’re comparing, using the radar gun, before and after each hitting session:

  1. Did the hitter beat a personal record (PR), and/or
  2. How consistent and stable their Ball Exit Speed readings are, or whether they’re jumping all over the place.

Unlike bat speed, there are many things that can affect the speed of the ball coming off the bat:

  • Bat Composition (BESR rating) – Wood v. non-wood.  End loaded v. more balanced weight. Bat size and weight.
  • Ball Composition (COR rating) – Plastic balls v. rawhide.  Corked core v. rubber.  Higher v. lower seams.
  • Hitter’s Body Mass – Dropping a 50-pound plate on your foot will turn out worse for you, versus a 10-pound one.
  • Ball Spin Rate – Backspin and topspin, in addition to the coveted knuckleball will all affect BES differently.
  • Effective Mechanics – the better a hitter is at effectively using human movement rules that are validated by science, the better energy transfer from body to barrel to ball.
  • Pitching Velocity – From what I’ve heard and seen, pitch speed can add between 10-20-mph to Ball Exit Speeds, say from off the tee.
  • Fatigue – sleep, over-training, nutrition, and supplementation.  CLICK HERE for Zach Calhoon’s recovery shake mix.
  • Warm Up Factor – I noticed in my latest Zepp swing experiment, that I didn’t consistently hit 90+mph Ball Exit Speed, off the tee, until I reached about the 75 swing mark.
  • Learning New Hitting Mechanics – I’ve noticed with my hitters that when we introduce a brand new hitting movement into their swing, their Ball Exit Speeds drop between one to four-mph.  But if it’s something we’ve covered before, then they may actually increase by one to four-mph.
  • Timing – If a hitter is too late, and doesn’t allow his or her bat speed to mature, then Ball Exit Speeds will be lower.  If a hitter is too early, and their bat speed has begun to decelerate, then Ball Exit Speeds will also go down.
  • Environment – Humidity dampens Ball Exit Speeds (pun intended).  So does a head wind, duh.  On the other hand, hitting in dry hotter climates OR in Denver, Colorado, Ball Exit Speeds will increase because the air is less dense.
  • Hitting the Sweet Spot – Hitting the ball on the end of the bat, or closer to the hands will decrease Ball Exit Speed, while consistently hitting the sweet spot will boost it.
  • Bat Speed at Impact – Most of the time Ball Exit Speeds will be higher than Bat Speed at Impact.  With my Zepp swing experiments off the tee, it looks to be about a 6-mph difference.
  • Strength and conditioning – this can help but shouldn’t be the highest priority.  This should be the cherry on top.
  • Mobility and stability – if you move better, then you perform better.  Simple as that.  This MUST be a high priority not just to increase BES, but to minimize an athlete’s risk for injury.

 

What is the Desirable Minimum Effective Dosage (MED) for Ball Exit Speed?

“The smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.” – Tim Ferriss on MED, 3-time NY Times Bestselling Author

According to this Wall Street Journal article titled, Yankees Dive Into the Numbers to Find Winning Patterns,

“Computers can track a ball’s exit velocity, launch angle, hang time and spin rate, 100 mph, the
speed necessary for most home runs; 75 mph, commonly the break-even pace for a ground ball to skip through the infield for a hit; and four seconds, the inflection point for fly ball hang-time, with any remaining in the air that long before getting caught.”

You may be wondering, what is the launch angle for a typical home-run?  According to the following Sports Science video, about 20-degrees:

According to a Beyond the Boxscore article titled, Do Hard Hit Ground-balls Produce More Errors?, that there is no significant increase in errorsat the Major League level, until Ball Exit Speeds reach and go beyond 95-mph.

This NY Times article titled, New Way To Judge Hitters? It’s Rocket Science – Sort Of, reports about Ball Exit Speed that:

  • The threshold for hitting a homerun is 95-mph,
  • Ball Exit Speed is being used to evaluate upcoming professionals, and can decide who starts,
  • Managers can use Ball Exit Speeds to see if there’s a drop off in a hitter’s Ball Exit Speed, which may reveal the player is hurt or needs to adjust their mechanics, and
  • Teams can shift their infielders back with hitters clocking higher Ball Exit Speeds.

And lastly, an article from eFastball.com titled, Bat Speed, Batted Ball Speed (Exit Speed) in MPH by Age Group, had this to say:

“MLB average exit speed is 103 mph, bat speed ranges roughly from 70-85 mph. 1 mph of additional exit speed makes the ball go 5 more feet. This would be roughly 4 feet for 1-mph bat speed – which is less than the 7-8 feet we have heard from other studies.”

Based on the information above, ideally the MED Ball Exit Speed, for the average Little Leaguer, would be 40-mph BES (40-mph BES X 5-feet = 200-feet of distance).  I want my Little Leaguers to get to 50-mph BES, for the fields that have 220-foot fences.  And of course launch angle is a huge factor in this.

And on the big field, it looks like 95-mph Ball Exit Speed is the MED because that means the hitter has the ability to hit the ball 475-feet (95-mph BES X 5-feet of distance).  Furthermore, the fact that Beyond the Boxscore’s observations about errors not increasing until Ball Exit Speeds reach 95-mph.

How-to Increase Ball Exit Speed

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

So, what advantage does a small slugger like Josh Donaldson have over Giancarlo “Bigfoot” Stanton?

Here’s the secret to boosting Ball Exit Speeds…

Tinker and Test.

Remember, Peter Drucker’s quote above?

“What gets measured gets managed.”

Here’s what to do to ensure a healthy increase in Ball Exit Speeds:

  • Get yourself a Bushnell Radar Gun and/or a Zepp baseball app,
  • CLICK HERE to read the definitive guide to running swing experiments,
  • Choose an HPL “Topic” in the navigation bar above, or search for one in the upper right hand corner of the website, and start testing.
  • Stop analyzing big hitters.  Instead look at the small sluggers, and see what they’re doing to compete, such as: Cano, McCutchen, Donaldson, Bautista, Vogt, Beltre, Braun, Pedroia (averages 44 doubles and 15 homers a season), Victor Martinez, Edwin Encarnacion, David Wright, Hank Aaron, Sadaharu Oh, and Mickey Mantle.

Do you have anything to add to the discussion?  Please REPLY below…

Question: Do “Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Depress Bat Speed?

 

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: TylerD

Here are the two test swings from my intern for the summer, redshirt college Frosh, Tyler Doerner…

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if the baseball swing mechanics “squishing/squashing the bug”, during the turn, increases or decreases bat speed.  The term “squishing the bug” means rotating the back foot, on the ground, during the turn.  Like you’re squishing a bug.

This can be a very sore subject, and hotly debated with a passion, in the Church of Baseball.  Surprisingly, it’s still widely taught throughout the lower levels.  Although a few images off the internet of effective swingers like Cano, Bautista, McCutchen, etc. will reveal “squishing the bug” isn’t what the best are doing.

So we wanted to test it…

My intern for the summer, redshirt college freshman Tyler Doerner did this experiment.  This post is for you Joe (you know who you are ;-)…

Background Research

One of the main objectives of whether to skip the foot, or keep it on the ground, has to do with transferring linear momentum, better known as un-weighting or forward momentum.  Check out these four HPL posts for a baseball swing mechanics background on this:

  1. Troy Tulowitzki Zepp Swing Experiment: Stride Killing Bat Speed?
  2. Ryan Braun: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #1
  3. Baseball Hitting Video: Gain Distance the Easy Way PART-1
  4. Perfect Swing Hacking with Forward Momentum (feat. Mike Trout)

Now, for you academics, CLICK HERE to watch a short 2-minute PBS video on Circus Physics and the Conservation of Linear Momentum.

So, after reading/watching the above videos and posts, we should be at a common understanding of Forward Momentum.

The next objective of “squishing the bug” versus “skipping the back foot” during the turn, boils down to allowing the body to transfer energy effectively.  This has to do with springy fascia in the body…

In Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, he talks about a cotton candy like springy material that the bones and muscles float it, and what gives muscles their shape called fascia.

Specifically in the book, he talks about the Front & Back Functional Lines.  CLICK HERE for a post I did on this, featuring Ted Williams and Matt Kemp.

In the following video, Thomas Myers explains this idea of Tensegrity, or Tension-Integrity.  There are compression and tension forces acting on the body at all times.  Within the body these two opposing forces are always searching for balance…

For a hitter, if the body moves forward, but the back foot and leg stays behind, then these forces don’t get optimally transferred from body to barrel to ball.  In other words, the backside gets “left behind”.

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I think “squishing the bug” baseball swing mechanics will have a depressing effect on bat and hand speed because it doesn’t allow for full transfer of momentum and release of elastic energy in the springy fascia.

 

“Squish the Bug” Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Forward momentum was taken out of this baseball swing mechanics experiment by hitting from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • Back two “baseball markers” were set at about 3 baseballs apart
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Say “squish the bug” was letter ‘A’, and “skipping back foot’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Squish the Bug Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment

There were significant changes in Average Bat & Hand Speed, Time to Impact, and surprisingly, the hitter’s Attack Angle in this baseball swing mechanics experiment…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • +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”.

 

Notes

  • I think the “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics experiment results were overwhelmingly clear.
  • Tyler did not technically keep his back foot posted to the ground during the “squish the bug” tests, so there still was an element of un-weighting going on with his backside.
  • In which case, measuring Ball Exit Speed (or how fast the ball came off the bat) may have netted interesting data to consider, compared to Impact Bat Speed.  However, with the results with the other readings of Avg. Hand Speed, Time To Impact, and Attack Angle, I think we can put the “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics myth to bed 😀
  • The data and results suggests that when a hitter “leaves behind their backside”, there’s a slowing down of forward momentum, and the body naturally decelerates because the springy fascia is forced to stretch, but not release.
  • Keep in mind what I call the Goldilocks Syndrome.  The back foot can skip too far (porridge too hot), and it can also not skip at all (porridge too cold).  We want the back foot to skip just right.

The Bottom Line?

In this “Squish the Bug” baseball swing mechanics experiment, “Skipping the Back Foot” showed a notable difference in average Bat & Hand Speed, Time To Impact, and the hitters Attack Angle.  I want to encourage you to tinker and test this for yourself.  The objective of these swing experiments is to put modern hitting theory to the test, literally.  We NEED to test based on data, not feelings.  Share these results with friends.

SwingAway Baseball Swing Trainer: How-To Build A Swing You Can Be Proud Of…

 

Baseball Swing Trainer: SwingAway MVP

The SwingAway MVP Bryce Harper model

I’ve wanted to do a “how-to experiment” post for a long time.  But in the past, technology hadn’t quite caught up,

…and NOW it has!

Mark Twain once said:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

I want:

  • …To lay out the landscape, in this Baseball Swing Trainer post, about using the SwingAway for conducting hitting experiments,
  • …This article to empower you to take up arms with me, and turn conventional hitting wisdom on its stubborn little head, and
  • …To inspire you to use modern technology to build a swing we ALL can be proud of.

I’m embarrassed to share the following story…

I did my first hitting experiment in the sixth grade with a buddy, for a school project.

My friend and I ran an experiment to see if a wood or aluminum bat could hit the ball farther.

One day after school, we pitched to each other at the Little League diamond we played our games at.  We used two aluminum Easton baseball bats and a Ken Griffey Jr. signature Louisville Slugger woody.  One aluminum bat was 32-inches and 24-ounces, and the other was 31-inches and 23-ounces.  And I can’t remember what the woody measurements were, but it was comparable.

I think we might have hit about 50 balls with each bat (150 balls total), and get this…measured the distance with our feet! 😀 lol

Based on our results, guess which bat hit the ball the farthest?  Wood or aluminum?  The wood bat!!!  Waaa??

Well, it was only because we weren’t being very scientific with our scientific experiment.  One of the big reasons we didn’t get a good grade on the project was because we DID NOT isolate the variables

  • We threw LIVE batting practice to each other.  We should have used a baseball hitting trainer like a batting tee or SwingAway (wasn’t around at the time).
  • We both took turns hitting, and didn’t separate our individual batted ball distances.
  • We used different sized bats.
  • We measured using our own feet…I was a men’s 8/9 at the time, and my buddy was an 11. We should’ve used a rolling tape measure.
  • We only took a small data sample size. We should’ve hit 100 balls with the wood bat, and then 100 with aluminum.  AND we should have only used one of the aluminum bats (preferably the one closest in size and weight to the woody).  So 400 swings total (200 swings for me, 200 for my friend).  Then compared apples to apples.

Remember, failure is only a detour, not a dead end 😉

The good news is,

You don’t have to be a scientist to run a hitting experiment.

What follows is the exact formula I use now, to run my hitting experiments using the SwingAway baseball swing trainer.  My hopes is that you pick up arms, and join me in the fight…

 

The Definitive Guide to Conducting a Baseball Swing Trainer Experiment

Up until now, here are SIX hitting experiments I’ve run:

 

Equipment & Setup

You can read the full list at the above swing experiment links.  But here are a couple pieces of equipment that will have a drastic effect on bean counting and saving time doing the experiment itself…

Zepp Baseball App
Baseball Swing Trainer: Zepp Baseball App

Zepp Baseball App

Great tool for collecting data.  It’s not perfect, but all we need is an apples to apples comparison.  Unfortunately, the Zepp app DOES NOT allow you to separate experiment swings from recreational ones.  You have to delete ALL swings before doing an experiment, unless you want to do the bean counting yourself.

You’ll also need to create two email accounts with Zepp to separate the two experiment tests.  Zepp allows you to “Add a Hitter” in one account, but it doesn’t allow you to separate that data from other hitters or swings and average the data out.

SwingAway Baseball Swing Trainer
Baseball Swing Trainer: SwingAway Pro XXL

SwingAway Pro XXL model

I just started using a SwingAway for my swing experiments.  I used to hit the ball off an ATEC Tuffy Batting Tee, but it was taking me 2 1/2 to 3 hours to run my experiments.  Fatigue could set in and skew the results.  Some experiments where you’re looking at ball flight (like Bent Back Knee experiment above) will most definitely need to be done off a batting tee.

Using the SwingAway baseball swing trainer took me only 1 1/2 hours!  NO need for:

  • Ball cleanup,
  • Ball setup, or
  • Waiting more than a few seconds for the ball to return to its stationary position.

This saved me a ton of time.  All you need is a 10 X 10 space to conduct your SwingAway baseball swing trainer experiment.

Baseball Swing Trainer Experiment Optimization Tips…

  • Limit Variables – The main objective of a baseball swing trainer hitting Experiment, is to isolate what you’re trying to test.  Like my sixth grade experiment from earlier, there were too many variables that we didn’t control.
  • Priming the Pump – I always start an experiment by warming up my body with a pre-practice routine, similar to this Dr. Stanley Beekman’s post.  You don’t have to do all included exercises, so pick about eight of them.  I’ll also take about 10-15 swings focusing on the specific mechanic I’m going to be testing that day.  For example, if I was testing showing the pitcher my numbers versus not, then I’d do 10-15 swings both ways, so 20-30 swings total before officially starting the experiment.  We prime the pump so nobody can see, “Well, your numbers sucked in the beginning because you weren’t warmed up.”
  • Counter-Balancing – The two tests in the experiment should be counterbalanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Say “showing the numbers” was letter ‘A’, and “not showing the numbers” was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings are to be completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.
  • More Data Points – I take at least 100 swings for both tests in the experiment, so 200 swings total (not counting warm-up swings).  So, taking the “showing numbers” as an example, I’d take 100 swings showing my numbers, and then take another 100 swings not showing my numbers.  The Zepp App is a useful technology, but isn’t super accurate.  But the more data you collect, the closer to the “real” numbers you’ll get.
  • Break the Swing Apart – If you aren’t confident that you can repeat a specific mechanic consistently for 100 swings, then break the swing apart, like I talk about in this YouTube video.  I did this in the showing the numbers experiment above.
  • Collect Ball Flight Data (optional) – for some mechanics, like testing the back leg angle during the turn experiment, it’s critical to collect ball flight data on the Zepp app.  Zepp allows you to manually input where you hit the ball after each swing.  Testing the grip on the bat would be another example.  Also, adding Ball Exit Speed readings could enhance the baseball swing trainer experiment, Bushnell Velocity Radar Gun (about $80), or Stalker Radar Gun ($500+).  ESPN’s HitTrackerOnline.com uses the latter in all MLB ballparks.  Just remember, accuracy isn’t as important as an apples to apples comparison.
  • Recovery – I usually will give my body about 30-minutes rest between the first 100 swing test and the second.  I now use supplement timing like Zach Calhoon maps out in these posts.  I sip on Zach’s “concoction” throughout the full experiment to keep my muscles fueled.  I then take Vitamin C and E capsules afterward to help with soreness.
  • Brainstorming Experiments – Don’t have any ideas on what to test?  I did the heavy lifting for you.  And by no means is this an exhaustive list of possible experiments. CLICK HERE for my brainstormed list.
  • Take Notes – make note of my “notes” in the above experiments.  Basically, the notes section are things that you noticed while doing the tests that may not be apparent to the person reading about the experiment.

 

In Conclusion…

In this baseball swing trainer post about using the SwingAway for hitting experiments, I wanted to lay out the landscape and empower you to help me take up arms.  I want to turn conventional hitting wisdom on its head, and use modern baseball swing trainer technology to build a swing we ALL can be proud of.

Let’s revisit the Mark Twain quote from earlier:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

I need your help and can’t fight this fight alone.  I want you to take action…

My challenge to you is let’s band together and conduct 30 Experiments in the next 30 days.  If all of us do at least one swing experiment, then we should be able to knock this goal out by July 15th.

Just post your baseball/softball hitting experiment results below in the comments section.  Reply with:

  • What experiment you ran (from the brainstorm list above)?
  • How many swings per test (i.e. 100/100), and what order did you do the test?
  • What bat did you use (length, weight, and wood/aluminum)
  • Hit off tee or Swingaway baseball swing trainer?
  • What metric changes were significant (bat speed/hand speed/bat vertical angle at impact/attack angle/ball flight/ball exit speed)?

Thanks in advance for your baseball swing trainer experiment comments!