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

How To Use Knowledge To Help Hitters Reach Their Full Potential

(Before getting into this post, I have to pre-frame it with the fact that cuing a hitter to ‘swing down’, ‘keep barrel above hands’, and ‘get on top’ can be helpful for hitters whose barrel paths are extreme upper cuts or for non-productive fly ball outcomes.  Other than that, these cues ARE NOT conducive to scoring A LOT of runs for teams) 

Jake C.: Swinging Down

One of my HS Frosh hitters swinging down at the beginning of one of our first lessons together. We’re using the RopeBat to fix this. Photo courtesy: ME

The objective of this post is to persuade those who disagree with the title, to see hitting through cleaner sharper glasses.

Kudos to Sean T. Plouffe on Twitter for posting the above Tweet…

Seeing this post on my Twitter news feed dang near stopped me in my tracks.

That was actually ME in the above video!

This was a two tee drill video I did a long time ago for my old site SwingSmarter.com, between 2008 and 2010.

Unfortunately for my hitters this was the Dark Ages of my teaching, when I regurgitated swinging down on the ball because it was what I was taught during my playing days.

It felt like looking back at old High School pictures when you were fat and had more craters on your face than the moon 😛 lol

Apparently, I’m not alone in ‘teaching what I was taught’ after my playing days were over…

We’ll discuss:

  • ‘That’s what he was taught’,
  • The journey that led me away from conventional wisdom, and
  • The bottom line… (how to fix)

 

‘That’s What he was Taught’…

Take this email I recently received from one of my readers, Bryan Nugent:

“Good morning,

My predicament is that over the last year or so I have been working with my son using your style  (catapult loading) from your book. My son is like a night and day difference when he doesn’t load like you point out. Some of my cue words I tell him are tuck, hide, see and drive.

  • Tuck – for his shoulder
  • Hide – his hands
  • See – keep his eye on the ball
  • Drive – hit through the baseball

Ok, now to the issue his baseball coach is trying to get him to have a different approach, stance and pretty much a different swing all together. From what we have been working on. How would I or what is the best way to approach the Coach and tell him to leave his swing alone in your opinion?”

And here was Bryan’s response after I emailed him a couple questions…

“Thank you for responding to my email. My son is 10. This past Saturday morning before our first pool play game we went back to the cage and got back to doing what we have learned from you. His results were outstanding including a solo shot that the opposing coach told him he hasn’t ever seen a 10 yr old hit the ball that far before.

The coach is young(23) just graduated from a local college where he played baseball. Not knocking him in any way but when talking to him he states ‘that’s what he was taught’ quite a bit. So maybe since this is his first time to coach young boys he is trying too hard, if that makes sense.

I did talk to him a little bit and told him I would bring him your book so he can see where we are coming from. Hopefully he will see there are 2 ways to skin a cat to get the same result. Which is to be able to get the kids to reach there full potential. Thanks again”

Thank you Bryan for sharing and for your continued support.  And yes, I asked his permission before sharing with you coaches.

 

The Journey that Lead Me Away from Conventional Wisdom

I can honestly say that I was where this young coach is when I first started teaching hitters.  And I know many of you coaches out there, if you’re being honest with yourself, can relate.

I had stopped seeking knowledge about the swing…stopped reading…stopped asking questions.  My mindset was VERY fixed.

Needless to say, I came to the realization that my hitters weren’t getting better.  At the time, my local lessons weren’t growing.  I was teaching what everyone in my area was teaching.  There was zero differentiation.  And you know what Mark Twain once said,

“When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect”.

It wasn’t till about 2011 that I started asking questions, and bought Jaime Cevallos’s book Positional Hitting (who’s a good friend of mine).

Then met Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, and helped him develop an online presence in 2012.

This was a good start, but there were still A LOT of unanswered questions that I had.

You see, I found a passionate curiosity for corrective human movement science back in 2005.  I got educated by gathering a large wicker basket full of alphabet soup certifications.  In a short time, I was training athletes and non-athletes by helping them troubleshoot their mobility and stability issues to improve performance or quality of life.

This led me down a rabbit hole that went pretty deep.

When my son was born at the end of 2012, I had an epiphany after reading a couple highly influential resources.  I digested the following books over and over, using them to reverse engineer the swing from a human movement principles validated by science perspective:

 

The Bottom Line…

If you’re a young coach – or more seasoned – who still teaches swinging down on the ball, squishing the bug, and that the hips are where the power is at…I know how you can feel married to these because you’ve put a lot of time, effort, and emotion into them while coaching and/or playing.

Believe me, I felt the same way.  Looking back now, it was a form of collective wisdom brainwashing that runs rampant in baseball and softball circles.

Here’s what I found teaching young hitters to apply human movement principles that are validated by science to hitting a ball:

  • My hitters see and feel productive outcomes within a reasonably short amount of time (huge for getting them to ‘buy into’ the system),
  • The online and local lesson part of my business has increased 5-fold (the word is getting out!),
  • The coaches that learn this from me are getting the same productive results with their hitters – if not better (and their hitters are raising the eyebrows of other coaches), and
  • The best news is, the knuckleheads on social media have a VERY difficult time arguing the true science of the swing!

My recommendation is this:

  • Educate yourself like I did with previously mentioned books,
  • Question very things you teach by asking, “What don’t I know?”
  • Do swing experiments like I do to see if a hitting mechanic is inferior or superior to its counterpart (CLICK HERE for a post on how to do this), And…
  • Above-all, be big enough to swallow your pride, regardless of how many years coaching or playing, or if you had the privilege to coach or play at the highest level, and admit you may be wrong.  Because let me tell you, many are, so you’re not alone.

Rest assured, if I can change, then so can you.

Believe me, your hitters will THANK YOU.  Learning can start when ignorance admits its ignorant. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?  Well, now you do 😉

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

How To Get Pitch Plane Domination Out Of Minimal Back Foot Rotation

 

Roberto Perez 1st Homer 2016 WS Game 1 to LF

This is Roberto Perez’s 1st dinger in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. It was to LF, and look at the back foot. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

I wanted to do a follow up on the Matt Nokes post from a few weeks ago.

I received quite a few emails, like the following, from coaches who were a little confused as to what Nokes’s referred to as ‘back foot sideways’…

So I decided to do a short video (I know, a rarity these days :-P), seeing if I could bring some clarity to the issue.

Brian Clahane from Canada had emailed a comment about the Nokes post:

“Hey Joey, It’s Brian again…So you really have me thinking about this back foot sideways thing. I have been watching video and looking at still flip screens I have of hitters and I have to tell you I only see evidence of it on outside pitches or pitches hitters were late on.(Mccutchen and Miggie quite often when going other way)

I sent you this video of Cano to look at 1-because I know you use him as an example a lot and 2-because I found it under your name even though Chas Pippitt doing breakdown. Video shows what I keep seeing in that back foot rotated forward and normally as in this case off ground completely (not sideways).  If I am misinterpreting what keeping back foot sideways at contact means, please explain because it’s driving me crazy thinking I’m missing something! I just keep seeing back foot forward at contact.  Thanks, Brian”
The following video Brian had linked in the email from Chas:

 

The bottom line…

Roberto Perez 2nd Homer Game 1 2016 WS to LCF

Here’s Roberto Perez’s 2nd dinger in Game 1 of 2016 WS. It was to LCF. Look at his back foot. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  1. When looking at video, the chest view IS NOT helpful.  Look for pitcher’s, catcher’s side, or over head views.
  2. The principle is to get the pelvis (or hips) perpendicular to impact, NOT to the pitcher.
  3. The back foot skips in some cases, and not so much in others. I’ve seen it skip away from home plate, toward the front foot, and toward the plate (not as often). In other words, you don’t have to have one without the other.
  4. What may also help are these two shifting foot pressure videos (Mickey Mantle AND RopeBat).
  5. One of the cues I liked came from Mark Meger from the Matt Nokes post, “With our 13U kids we do emphasize the rear hip drive but we shun turning that back foot. That should happen after contact as shown here.”
  6. The sideways back foot will deviate slightly depending on an inside v. outside pitch.
  7. This falls in line with this post on the 90-degree to the spine rule.
  8. In YouTube, search “[favorite player’s name] 2016 highlights”, and watch the behavior of the back foot at impact, and make note of batted ball direction.
  9. Also, it doesn’t seem ONLY .300 hitters do this because Roberto Perez, in the images above, is a career .220 hitter.
  10. My observation is the back foot acts like a “governor” to the rotation of the hips.  It’s like it helps anchor down the back hip from over rotating the impact zone.
  11. Doing this helps to align the body on the plane of the pitch better, and may cut down on rolling over versus a full rotation of the hips, on every pitch.
  12. Zepp experiment coming soon from HPL on this 😉

Please post any concerns, counter-arguments, and/or observations below…

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

 

Look,

I’m not going to get into the specifics of head movement with the written part of this video post…

You can go to the following links for that:

But I WILL get into an outstanding drill that helps my hitters get rid of late head movement…

I get asked quite a bit on the ‘Socials’ about posting the “Snapping Towel Drill”.

I learned this drill from Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, which he calls the Lean Drill.

Well, here you go!

This is one of my favorite go-to drills with most of my hitters.

It helps with lunging, which I define as when a hitter continues moving forward during the turn…NOT at stride landing.

It also helps a hitter cover more of the pitch plane with the barrel, which is why I promote it in the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course.

In the above video, we’ll discuss:

  • How the swing is a snapping towel,
  • And define Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT),
  • How to BEWARE of the “C” Shape, and
  • How to setup the Snapping Towel Drill…

The following video I did awhile back, which analyzes Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz’s swings to show the ‘snapping towel’ effect…

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix stepping in the bucket using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).

The following image is Chase B., one of my hitters, that is working on fixing his Reverse ‘C’ shape (by the way, the same fault with a lefty will resemble a normal ‘C’)
chaseb-reversec-shape

It’s not too bad, but I’ve seen worse.  Some of the things to look out for at and post impact:

  • Head floating out over “no man’s land”,
  • Over arching of the low back, and
  • The hitter complaining of low back ‘pinching’ or pain in the Up Dog Yoga Pose

The latter can be because of tight hamstrings and hip flexors, in addition to glutes and low abdominals (psoas) not firing off.  However, please consult a Physical Therapist if there’s discomfort in the Up-Dog Pose.

What is this hitting position suppose to look like?

Check out Sierra Romero (one of my fav. fastpitch hitter’s to model)…

Sierra Romero Post Impact

Sierra Romero in a nice ‘stacked’ position, NO reverse ‘C’ here. Photo courtesy: MichiganDaily.com

Notice the stacking of her head over rib cage, and rib cage over pelvis.  In a perfect world, we’d like to see a slight slant back over the catcher with these three pieces of the body.

Think about three bricks stacked on top of each other, but being stacked slightly off center towards the left hand side (for a righty), and reverse for a lefty.