Posts

Here Are 4 Quick Ways To Fix A Long Casting Barrel…

…One of my favorite hitting demonstrations to do with hitters to help them understand the need to stack the bat’s “belly button” above theirs.  A flat bat at landing can cause a few of the following things:Belly Buttons, Center Of Gravity, & Quick Way To Solve A Flat Bat

  1. Hands drop (CLICK HERE to fix this),
  2. Racing back elbow bat drag (CLICK HERE for a video on how to use Finger Pressure to combat this), or
  3. A long casting barrel (CLICK HERE for a post that sheds light on how to fix this)

Since we’re on the subject of drills fixing specific swing dysfunction, CLICK HERE (solution #4) to see the “Flashlight Barrel Angle” drill to fix a flat bat at landing 😉

Where A Higher Batting Average Can Be Cultivated AND How To Get It (An Over-The-Shoulder Look)…

Here’s Part-3 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…Over Shoulder Look: Hank Aaron Wrist Snap

I get questions every week on how I’d run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

In case you missed the background information of Part-1,

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We’ve had about half a dozen session together in total.  And what I like about Zack is he asks a lot of really good questions during our sessions.

And before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t like some of my other videos.
  • We’re at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I’m asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter’s swing, it’s about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

Swing and coaching suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD…again!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish:

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

Part-3 lands you towards the end of #4 above.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Training something new should feel goofy, that’s normal…if they feel no change in movement at the beginning stages of motor skill development, then they’re repeating the same old thing (about 0:45 mark)
  • The arch and hollow (hunched) positions in Gymnastics.  “Hunch” can have a negative connotation, but reality says it’s a VERY SAFE position for a twisting spine to start in. CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that looked at the benefits of a “Hunched” spine. (about 1:55 mark)
  • Playing around with wrist snap variance using the target ankle resistance bands.  It’s NOT a roll over, it’s like a “waggle” that golfers use pre-swing.  Great defender against off speed and breaking pitches, AND increase BA by controlling the barrel.  Keep main objective in mind: hit ball as hard and far as you can.  (about 3:45 mark)
  • Working the Wrist Snap Variance Drill on the open field hitting targets. Hank Aaron was really good at this.  Watch Hank Aaron video below and watch his wrist action at impact… (about 6:15 mark)
  • The Frog Tape bat…barrel awareness.  Focusing on hitting a certain part of the barrel AND hitting it in a specific direction or target. (about 11:20 mark)
  • Discussing how switching bats between rounds forces a hitter to focus on adjusting their timing. Heavier/top heavy bats have to start sooner…lighter/balanced bats can start later.  (about 15:30 mark)
  • Zack made the observation that Finger Pressure makes the Wrist Snap Variance Drill easier to feel.  (about 17:30 mark)

 

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don’t make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Chunking certain movement together, so they don’t seem like separate pieces,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

Dramatically Improve HOW Your Hitters Learn By Listening In On A Local Lesson of Mine

Here’s what I have for you…

The above video is Part-1 of a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine.

The objective of this video series is to share with coaches – literally – an “over-the-shoulder” look at how I do a local lesson.  More on this in a moment…

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We’ve had about half a dozen session together in total.

Before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn’t mic’d up, so the audio isn’t like some of my other videos.
  • We’re at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Now, what’s in this Part-1 video?

Let me expand on the video’s objective and how it can benefit coaches

I get questions every week on how I’d run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I’m asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter’s swing, it’s about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

With that being said, swing suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.  Also, coaching suggestions are welcomed…but again, be nice.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish (I’ve cut some parts out of this video for the sake of brevity):

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Talking about how to pick the right bat size (1-3:30 min mark),
  • Showing him Miguel Cabrera’s landing position top hand and elbow positioning on my phone after video analysis of Zack’s swing (about 7-min mark),
  • Working on Zack’s top hand Finger Pressure (about 8-min mark),
  • Switching bats – over-loading with heavier end loaded bat with goofy PRX knob (about 13-min mark), and
  • Teasing the Part-2 video where we talk about lowering Zack’s hands to not get above armpit line to landing – and the benefits of (about 15:30-min mark).

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don’t make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

“I am just curious to see what are the steps the coaches are using to teach this system?  There is a ton of great information but what have you done to break it down.  I cant throw all this info and steps at a player and expect them to retain the info.  So, what have you focused on from start to finish?  IE. Grip, Break it apart drill, Tuck front shoulder, Fight Position, Finish?  Thank you”

– Coach Sullivan

The legendary UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden. Photo courtesy: FunctionalTrainingPathBlog.com

I received this on my Coaches Forum recently, which is included as part of any online video course of mine one would invest in.

It’s a great question, and one I don’t feel the coaching community has done a good job of answering (me included…until now).

Sure, an online hitting guru may get favorable results with their hitters, but how do they actually teach and progress the swing mechanics to get those results?

I’m attempting to shed some light on that in this post.

Look, let me be up front…

There’s no perfect place to start with a player’s swing.  Every coach will have a differing opinion on this based on a myriad of factors, so please use the following as a guideline or suggestion, and deviate when necessary.

What I do know is this,

You can’t go wrong with scratching the immediate hitter’s itch.

In this post, we’ll attack Coach Sullivan’s question from above in the following ways:

  • Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch,
  • Breaking down drill progressions,
  • Mindset when working on something new,
  • Transitioning practice into game swings, and
  • Player’s homework for home.

Let’s get started…

 

Mechanical Steps to Focus on First – Scratch the Itch

I ask the parent of my hitters (or the hitters themselves), what part of their swing needs the most help.  Here are the questions I typically ask:

  • Looking back on the season (or past season), where did you hit the ball more…on the ground, line drive, or fly balls?  Can you attach a percentage to each?
  • Looking back on the season (or past season), where did you hit the ball more…to left field, center, or right? Can you give me a percentage of each?
  • Do you feel like there’s more lack of power or solid contact?

To test their answers to these questions,

I can also put the hitter on a tee, setup where they should hit the ball to center-field, and have them take 10 swings, while capturing their Ball Exit Speed with a radar gun.  Generally speaking, this will tell me where they’re hitting the ball direction-wise, and with what kind of impact quality.  And it’s not how high the radar gun goes, but how consistent and stable their numbers are.

Armed with this data, I can now formulate a semi-solid swing plan.  The next step is confirming my assumptions through video analysis, in which I use the HudlTech or CoachesEye app on my phone.  I use Powerchalk.com for my online hitters.

The first session is the same with all my hitters (from 7-years-old to 24-years-old), we address how to consistently get into the box, the gorilla grip, and Finger Pressure.

After these are covered, and I can now hold the hitter accountable for them, then I dive into a swing solution that scratches the immediate itch…

Before jumping into mechanics I make sure my hitters are moving better, so they can perform better by following this simple plan for better mobility and stability.

If a player is struggling with contact, then I start with Footwork, Knee Action, and Barrel Path as described in The Pitch-Plane Domination and Reaction Time Mastery online video courses.

Or,

If a player is struggling with consistent power (radar readings are below average and unstable from swing to swing), then I start with ‘Showing Numbers’, ‘Side Bending’, ‘Hiding Hands’, and Hunched Position as described in my book and The Catapult Loading System online video course.

 

Breaking Down Drill Progressions

How do we teach a brand new motor skill to a budding young athlete?

Please keep in mind, the speed of drill progression will depend on the player’s age, “trainability” as talked about in David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene, and the player’s early movement development.

This is how to teach the teaching of the mechanics, if you will.

So think about drill progressions as what you do in the weight room.

What happens if you do a back squat with the same weight, 2-3 days per week, 3-sets and 12-repetitions every workout, 52-weeks per year?  Right!  You’ll plateau early on and make zero gains the rest of the year.  You’ll be wasting your time and money in the weight room.

In the case of squatting, how do you get a body and/or strength change in the squatter above?

By adjusting the intensity (total weight lifted), accomplished sets, amount of repetitions, type of squat (front v. back), and rest time.  Change MUST be a constant if you want the body to adapt accordingly.  These are drill variables that can drive skill adaptation in hitters as well.

When teaching a brand new hitting technique, I move through the following swing progressions (from easy to more difficult):

  • Dry swings,
  • Tee swings,
  • Soft Toss, then
  • LIVE or front toss.

If the hitter can produce the new swing technique eight out of ten dry swings, then I move them to tee swings, and so on and so forth.  Think of these progressions as weight-lifting for the mind.

I will also slow things down movement-wise for the hitter by breaking the swing apart into three steps at first with the Break-it-Apart Drill (not really a Drill per se, but more of a way to drill the Drills):

  1. Getting to the landing position (Fight),
  2. Pause for a second or two, and then
  3. Swinging.

This allows the player to slow the swing process down to focus on the fix.  So putting these drill progressions together would look something like this:

  • Break apart dry swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Put swing together dry swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Break apart tee swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Put swing together tee swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Break apart soft toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Put swing together soft toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next), and lastly
  • Put swing together LIVE or front toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next).

 

Mindset Working on Something New

What if I timed you 10-times writing your name using all letters and took the average, then timed you 10-times writing your name in half the letters?  So for me, Joey Myers, I would write J-E-M-E-S.

Well, the first few times writing your name in half the letters would be slower, but as your brain learned to do it after the first 2-3 times, you’d actually write your name in half the letters 1/3 the time it takes to write your full name!

Who cares?  Your players do.

I tell my hitters that you’ll take a step back before you take two forward when learning to do something new.

Mindset is EVERYTHING when your players are learning a brand new movement.

Your players MUST know that you’re grading them on the process, NOT the outcomes…at first.

In other words, I tell my hitters that if they swing and miss, but do what I want them to do mechanically…they get an ‘A’ for that swing.  If they hit a fiery hole through the back netting of the cage, while not doing what I wanted them to do mechanically…then they get an ‘F’ for that swing.

You following me here?

They need to go into observe mode on outcomes, not analytical mode, in the beginning.  This is crucial especially with my online lessons because I’m not there to physically work with the hitter.  So when a mom or dad says our hitter is doing what I want them to do off the tee, but not during LIVE batting practice.  Most likely this is a mindset issue.  The hitter is more focused on OUTCOMES hitting LIVE, not solely on the process like they should be.

A lot of times, I throw out plate discipline and timing completely in the beginning (in other words, I’m not grading them on those).

 

Transitioning Effective Practice Swings into Games

I did a comprehensive post on this already, so CLICK HERE for that.  Please read that first, then continue on in this post.

 

Player’s Homework for Home

Look parents, you can’t expect your kids to go to practice three or four times a week and expect them to get better.  Can I get an Amen from the coaches here?!

Most times, the kids don’t even hit at practice.  And if they do, it may be once per week with the team.  And if they do hit every practice, who says the player is even focusing on their specific “new hitting process”?

You see, for the most part, head coaches are generalists.  It’s not until High School that programs get a specified hitting coach.  And many programs at that level, don’t even have that!

Here’s my point…

Don’t count on organized practices to get “new hitting process” work in.

There comes a time when a hitter MUST be accountable for their own success.  And to set the player up for success at home, here’s what I ask of my hitters:

  • Give me at least 4 or 5 days per week (team practice days don’t count), and
  • At least 5-minutes each day.

That’s it!  Most kids play at least 30-60 mins of videos games per day…wanting 5-minutes per day for hitting homework isn’t asking that much.  Just set an alarm, and when it goes off, then the player is done for the day.  Simple.

The hitter can put in more time, but I don’t recommend early on, especially if they’re at a lower motivational level.  Once they start experiencing success at the plate in games, they’ll be inspired to put in more time, trust me.

I prescribe at least four or five days per week for their hitting homework because it’s based on what I’ve seen with my players.  I ask them at the start of a lesson, how many days per week they got their hitting homework in at home?  And typically, the ones sharing three days or less, we’re having to revisit what we worked on last lesson.  For most reporting four or more days, we’re moving forward with their swing.

One last thing that fires up inspiration (good or bad) for my players is to compare  their current swing to the the last one using video analysis.  I tell them it’s our version of a quiz on how they did for the week.

Remember in this post, we went over:

  • Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch,
  • Breaking down drill progressions,
  • Mindset when working on something new,
  • Transitioning practice into game swings, and
  • Player’s homework for home.

Coaches, please share anything else I may have missed that has worked extremely well for your hitters.  THANKS in advance…

How a Dad Turned Around His Struggling 16-year-old Fast-Pitch Softball Daughter’s Swing in 1-Day?

Kelli M BEFORE & AFTER Swings

1-day difference between swings, yes I know one is a game swing and one is off the tee, one is a back view and the other is a chest view, but the changes are still dramatic…

I was blown away by an email I recently received from the dad of Kelli, a struggling 16-year-old fast-pitch softball hitter…

And by the way, the following email was unsolicited, much like Marty White’s testimonial in this post about his son, 14-yo Hudson White, who participated in Brian Domenico’s 2016 National Power Showcase hitting 11 consecutive dingers out of the Texas Rangers ballpark in Arlington, averaging 398-feet, at only 5-foot 7-inches, 130-pounds.

I feel the following story of Kelli’s struggle holds true for quite a few baseball and softball hitters out there, and I wanted to share it.  It breaks my heart to hear the BEFORE stories.  But without the bitter baby, the sweet ain’t so sweet!

Please pay special attention to how Mike introduces new hitting content to his daughter.  Sometimes this can be a slippery slope with parents and their daughters and/or sons.

DISCLAIMER: results aren’t typical. Hitters getting “it” or “not” depends on a few things: 1) Player engages in consistent deep practice, 2) Coach successfully connects player to message (the WHY), 3) Material presented in a way to set player up for success not overwhelm, and 4) Coach taps into player’s primary learning style to name a few of the biggies.  

Enter Mike’s email…

“Joey:  I saw your book “Catapult Loading System” on Kindle and figured I’d take a chance on it because I have always liked to read different philosophies on hitting.  I’ve been coaching my daughter and her teams in fast-pitch softball for over 8 years starting with Rec through Club ball here in AZ.

Lately, to my disappointment my daughter has taken a break from club ball for the last 6 months but has just started playing again on her High School  JV team.  She is a power hitter but has been struggling with weak grounders and pop ups.

After I read your book I asked her to work with me for 10 minutes a night hitting into the net off a T. Catapult Loading System(She’s 16 and this was all could get out of her, so I took what I could get.)

I noticed when I took some videos of her during games that she was stepping into the bucket on her stride and was leading her hands with the back elbow, which I know is a no, no and creates bat drag.

Those two things combined were causing her to dip the bat off plane and not hit the ball solid, causing the pop ups and grounders.   She was basically trying to “lead with the hips and start her swing from the ground up” like I had been teaching her for years.

After reading your book, I didn’t want to overwhelm her or totally change her swing so I just focused on the bottom three fingers of the top hand tightening in the swing and showing the numbers by loading the shoulders as you explain in the book.

I also told her to shorten her stance a bit so she would focus on loading the shoulders (showing the numbers and hide the hands) rather than taking a big stride and stepping into the bucket.

I wish I could send you the videos of the before and after of her swing after one 10 minute session.  I’m not kidding when I say that it was almost an “instant”  change for the better. 

What I noticed by having her tighten her bottom three fingers on the top hand, is it forced her to keep her back elbow in the slot and her hands to stay in front of the back elbow.  This immediately corrected her bat head to stay on plane in the zone longer with no casting or weak bat angle.

I also noticed that by having her load with the shoulders rather than relying on her hips with a big stride, she didn’t step into the bucket or fly open with her hips.

These simple little tweaks helped to correct the things I’ve been working with her for years but to no effect.  I couldn’t believe the difference from such a small simple adjustment.

I’ve told some of my softball friends and fellow coaches about it and they just look at me and chuckle like I’m making up some kind of tall tale.  I’ve even shown them the before and after video and they still seem skeptical.

But here’s the bottom line…

The day after I worked with my daughter for all of 10 to 15 minutes, literally hitting about 35 or 40 balls off the T, against one of the best teams in our division, she got up with two runners on, with two strikes and launched a bomb for a three run HR.  She went 2 for 2 that day. 

That night we spent another 10 minutes working the same drills and the next day, she did the same thing on her first at bat hitting another bomb.  She went 3 for 3 that game. 

Now look, I’m not a scientist nor am I into hockus pockus but I  have to admit I’m a true believer and just had to tell you about our instant success by using some of the small tweaks you talk about.  I plan to keep using these ideas and I’m going to re-read your book again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Thanks for the info and know you have another success story here in Arizona.” – Mike Monaghan

After I asked for Mike and Kelli’s permission to publish her story and for the BEFORE and AFTER videos to do analysis on, I received this follow up from dad…

“I apologize that these two videos are from a back vs front view but the differences can still be seen.  The before video is a game swing with her uniform on and are only a day apart.  If you can run them in slow motion, you’ll notice a couple things that made the world of difference.
In the before:
  • Wider stance (in my opinion, too wide)
  • More lateral movement because she doesn’t load at the shoulders (show her numbers)
  • Steps in the bucket as her hips fly open
  • Back elbow is leading the hands
  • Bat angle is well below the ball plane as she starts her swing
  • Result….pop up to pitcher
After video:
  • All we worked on was tight bottom three fingers on top hand, loading at the shoulders (showing the numbers) and a slightly narrower stance.  Results:
  • Back elbow is behind the hands and she has a much more solid impact on the ball
  • Bat head stays on plane with ball longer allowing a line drive impact on ball (not too much bottom half or top half on the ball)
  • She doesn’t fly open with her hips and her body stays in alignment longer (notice where her foot lands on the second video…..right on the line in the cement on the floor.)  I think the shoulder load (and I know she could probably show even more of the numbers if we keep working on it) prevents her or at least minimizes her from flying open.  You probably have a video link to some sport’s scientist that can explain how the shoulders and spine work together and keep the hips in check….Lol!
Bottom line results….2 HR’s in two games….much more solid impact on other hits.
Stepping in the bucket has been a huge issue we have tried to correct for years with little to no success and although I know we need to keep working a couple minutes a night to turn these tweaks into habit, I still can’t believe how quickly she made a change.  It might also explain why I get so many skeptical looks and opinions when I talk about your book to other coaches and show them the results after a one day difference.  If I hadn’t witnessed this with my own eyes, I’d probably be skeptical too.
Her instant success has also done a few things I never thought possible. She actually likes working with me in the garage hitting into the net at night because it is no more than a 10 minute session and she can still enjoy being a teenager.  She actually will listen to my instruction and corrections and wants me to video her so she can see that she’s doing it correctly.  When she was little, we use to go to the park and hit 100 balls off a machine or soft toss but those days of daddy/daughter time are limited so a 10 minute session is something she is OK with. Its a win/win for both of us.”

Thank YOU Mike I appreciate your support.  Great approach in getting that young lady of yours “hooked” again.  It sounded like a tall order, but you pulled it off nicely Coach.  I’m proud of both of you!

Also Mike, here are my next step swing suggestions:

  1. CLICK HERE for a video on how to fix stepping in the bucket using resistance bands,
  2. Finish up with the rest of the concepts in the Catapult Loading System book, then…
  3. CLICK HERE for the Float Variance Drill, and
  4. CLICK HERE for a definitive guide to forward momentum.

For those of you who may have missed Coach Mike’s effective approach with his teenage daughter, here are a couple key points:

  • Mike set his daughter up for success by telling her to only commit 10-mins per day to this new information (I tell my hitters to spend 5-mins/day, at least 4-days/week in deep practice),
  • He had the humility to admit (to his daughter I assume) that his teachings may have been misplaced in the past (this is part of a Growth Mindset by the way),
  • Didn’t want to overwhelm her, so Mike started with one thing first, “Finger Pressure”, then when she got that, he moved onto “Showing Numbers”, and lastly
  • Mike has a “results don’t lie” story to tell the naysayers, whether they heed his advice only time will tell…but the truth is undeniable.

This works for softball players folks…not just baseball.  If you aren’t growing as a coach, then you’re dying.  Dead things get thrown in the trash.  Cultivate a Growth Mindset coaches or else you’ll be short changing your players, and your significance as an effective coach.

The times are a changin’…

 

UPDATE on Kelli…

Joey:  You had asked me to keep you up to date on how Kelli had progressed after I worked the Catapult Loading System with her.  I’m proud to give you her final stats after 17 games.  You can note that we worked the system after game 7, so her results were really proven in the last 10 games.  Up until we worked the system, she had only one HR and most of her hits were weak ground balls in the gaps and bloopers over the infield.  Although she had decent numbers before working the system as I had told you in previous emails, her hitting really came alive and her hits were much more powerful.  She had very few if any extra base hits in the first 7 games and the triples and doubles really took off in the last 10 games.  Although she was playing JV, we are in the 6A division playing some of the largest and most competitive schools in the state of AZ and she lead the team in almost every category or was in the top three out of 19 girls on the team.

  • Games played: 17
  • Batting Average: .652
  • Plate Appearances: 48
  • At Bats: 46
  • Runs scored: 22
  • Hits: 30
  • RBI: 26
  • Doubles: 9
  • Triples: 2
  • HR: 4
  • BB: 2
  • K: 1
  • OBP: .667
  • SLG: 1.195
  • OPS: 1.863
Addison Russell Grand Slam Video Analysis

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video: The Anatomy Of A Dinger

 

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video Analysis

Nike Swoosh barrel path, pitch plane, and batted ball plane in this Addison Russell grand slam video analysis (434-foot) in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

I had quite a few people ask me what I thought of Addison Russell’s grand slam in game-6 of the 2016 World Series.

I had just missed it minutes before taking my family (wife, 4yo, & 7-month old) to get pizza, where not one television was present :-/

So I set out to do an Addison Russell grand slam video analysis the next morning.

Gosh I love the Playoff and World Series quality of slow motion video…

…10K frames per second, where you can see every wrinkle on a players uniform, AND face!!

And that’s saying something because these are “kids” we’re watching on TV…I can say that now that I’m older 😛

So enjoy this video analysis and please post any comments, questions, or concerns below.

In the following Addison Russell grand slam video analysis, we’ll discuss:

  • Fangraphs comparison on GB%, LD%, FB%, HR/FB%, height/weight (6’0″, 195-lbs),
  • Nike Swoosh barrel path,
  • Barrel matching the plane of the pitch – up to 91-mph FB,
  • Finger Pressure,
  • ‘Barrel chasing’ batted ball – extension (power-V): defense against being out in front on OS & CB/SL,
  • Statcast: 108-mph BES, 23-degree launch angle, 434-foot distance,
  • Somewhat hunched posture,
  • Med/High leg kick (float to fall),
  • Float barrel up (knob flashlight down),
  • Alignment of back foot and leg, and
  • Knee Action at landing and during the turn.

One extra thing I didn’t mention, look at what part of the ball Addison Russell struck 😉

#GroundballsSuck

One Of The Best Baseball Hitting Drills For Little League Helping STOP “Racing Back Elbow” Bat Drag

 

Baseball Hitting Drills for Little League: Jace Bat Drag

Look at my 11u hitter Jace’s racing back elbow, and the fix a week later. On the left side, he weighed in at 68-lbs, and right before our session, hit his first official homer distancing 180-feet!

Question: Does ‘Top Hand Finger Pressure’ Effect Bat & Hand Speed, and Time To Impact versus Keeping the Hands Loose? (Pre-Turn Hand Tension Revisited)

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to revisit a past experiment I did titled “Babe Ruth Reveals Hand Tension?”  And analyze whether having relaxed hands OR ‘finger pressure’ affects Zepp metrics.

Growing up, I was taught baseball hitting drills for Little League – which are still being taught, that loose hands are quick hands.  Modern research REVEALS that may not be the WHOLE story.

I wanted to revisit the previous ‘Babe Ruth experiment’ because in that test, I wasn’t actively holding the finger pressure through impact.  In this experiment, I will be.

In the Conclusion of this post, I’ll also give a couple examples of my hitters who were suffering from really stubborn bat drag (one for over 1.5 years), and how we used ‘finger pressure’ to correct it within 1-2 weeks.

 

Background Research

In the Babe Ruth Pre-Turn Hand Tension Zepp swing experiment, I used the following Research links:

  • Pavel Tsatsouline Tim Ferriss podcast revealing how the hands can be used to recruit more muscle tissue and connect larger areas of the body,
  • Homer Kelly’s book The Golfing Machine went into describing one of the four power accumulators in the golf swing, and
  • Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, and how Front Arm Fascial Lines are responsible for connecting what an explosive rotational athlete is holding in their hand(s), with the other springy fascial lines inter-weaving throughout the rest of the torso and body.

I also wanted to point out that a few months after publishing the ‘Babe Ruth Pre-Turn Hand Tension’ experiment I met Lee Comeaux, now a good friend of mine, who is a professional golf instructor out in Texas.  He’s been studying Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains for over a decade now.

He simplifies the concept we now call top hand finger pressure.  So THANK YOU Lee!  CLICK HERE to visit Lee’s (Roy) YouTube channel.  And by the way, Lee has a 13u daughter playing fastpitch softball in Texas, and last time I heard she was hitting .800 using the same principles we talk about here.

So yes, this works for both fastpitch and baseball hitters!

Please watch the following interview with Thomas Myers titled, “Tensegrity Applied To Human Biomechanics”:

  • Defining tension & compression Forces (0:10)
  • Applying tension to the structure makes it stronger and more stable (5:55)
  • Applying tensegrity to the human body and tightening up as a benefit to taking on impact (12:35)

I’ve also heard Thomas Myers talk about synovial fluid in our joints.  It’s our lubrication system.  And it’s liquid, between the joints, when we’re relaxed…in the above video, he called this “adaptability”.

However, when we catch a ball in a glove, for instance, we squeeze our hand around the ball turning the synovial fluid to a solid state.  This concept becomes important when we’re talking about ‘finger pressure’ when hitting.

I tell my hitters it’s the difference between the ball feeling like it’s hitting a cinder block (the bat), or a wet pool noodle.

Hypothesis

Baseball Hitting Drills for Little League: Zack Racing Back Elbow Fix

This is my Sophomore in H.S. Zack and his racing back elbow BEFORE & AFTER. This was a 1 week fix employing ‘finger pressure’.

I’m a little biased in this experiment because I’ve seen the research AND how this has worked miracles with my own hitters employing ‘top hand finger pressure’. However, I wanted to conduct another formal experiment comparing the  following Zepp metrics:

  • Bat Speed at Impact,
  • Hand Speed Max,
  • Time To Impact,
  • Barrel Vertical Angle at Impact, and
  • Attack Angle…

…between the two swings.  Whereas the aforementioned ‘Babe Ruth Pre-Turn Hand Tension‘ experiment I held the hand tension before the turn, then let it go.  This experiment I’ll be keeping top hand finger pressure from the moment I pick up my front foot to stride, to all the way through impact.

I predict, by using ‘top hand finger pressure’ longer, we’ll see an effective jump in all metrics rather than the conventional of ‘loose hands are fast hands’.  I also predict holding finger pressure longer will be more effective than the previously mentioned experiment metrics for Pre-Turn Hand Tension.

At the end, I’ll show how ‘finger pressure’ has STOPPED bat drag in two of my hitters at the Conclusion of the experiment.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills For Little League: ‘Finger Pressure’ Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • We used the Zepp Labs Baseball app to gain swing data.
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent…one was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills for Little League ‘finger pressure’ experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Finger pressure’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘loose hands’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.
  • On the finger pressure swings, I used top hand bottom three finger pressure only, which consisted of tightening up the top hand bottom three fingers (pinky, ring, & middle) from the time I picked my stride foot up, to all the way through impact.  The bottom hand was doing what I call the ‘butterfly grip’…tight enough to keep a butterfly from getting away but not too tight to crush it.
  • Loose hands consisted of trying to maintain a ‘butterfly grip’ throughout the whole swing.
  • Throughout the baseball hitting drills for Little League swing experiment, I was drinking a Lime Cucumber flavored “Pepino” Gatorade (very good btw) and a chocolate milk to replenish my body’s protein, sugars, and electrolytes during the 2-hour experiment.
  • I did an 8 exercise dynamic warm up in this baseball hitting drills for Little League experiment before taking about 15-20 practice swings off the tee.

Data Collected (Zepp App Screenshot)

Baseball Hitting Drills For Little League: Finger Pressure Zepp Experiment

Notice the slight change in bat and hand speed metrics, AND the difference in Time To Impact…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Baseball Hitting Drills for Little League: Bat Path

You can clearly see the negative Attack Angle.  This was a finger pressure swing.

  • Using ‘Finger Pressure’ gained an average of 1-mph Bat Speed at Impact
  • Using ‘Finger Pressure’ gained an average of 1-mph Hand Speed Max
  • Using ‘Loose Hands’ decreased Time To Impact by a whopping 0.017 (17/100th’s of a second)
  • Bat Vertical Angle & Attack Angle showed no differences between the two swings.

These were interesting findings in this baseball hitting drills for Little League finger pressure Zepp swing experiment.

My Hypothesis proved correct in that we saw an increase in average Bat Speed at Impact and Hand Speed Max employing ‘finger pressure’, however it wasn’t a huge change.

Also in my Hypothesis, this experiment didn’t turn out more effective for finger pressure than it did for Pre-Turn Hand Tension (PTHT) in the Babe Ruth Experiment, where I gained an average of 3-mph Bat Speed at Impact using PTHT.

You’ll notice the major decrease in Time To Impact using the ‘loose hands’ method.  Excluding the racing back elbow bat drag hitter, from these results and the Thomas Myers research, we can say using a hybrid of the two methods…loose hands at the start of the turn, and finger pressure slightly pre-, at-, and post- impact would be more effective than not.

On the contrary, for the bat drag hitter with a racing back elbow issue, I think finger pressure MUST be used before the turn happens because these hitters evidently have a ‘fascial connection’ issue between what they’re holding in their hand, and their turning torso.

In other words, they may not intuitively use finger pressure like other hitters without the racing back elbow issue.  So this would be one of the smarter baseball hitting drills for little league.

Besides, according to the Zepp app Time To Impact Goals for Pro hitters are right around .140 anyway, so my .131 with finger pressure is still more effective.

One last thing to note, coming from my experiential knowledge in working with my hitters, I consistently see a 2-3-mph boost in Ball Exit Speed when using finger pressure versus NOT in one 45-minute session.

This just means I’ll have to REVISIT this baseball hitting drills for Little League finger pressure Zepp swing experiment again, but collecting and comparing Ball Exit Speed data.

If you have any other thoughts or questions about this baseball hitting drills for Little League Zepp swing experiment, please respond below in the comments…THANKS in advance!

“What Baseball Batting Drills Work For Stopping Dipping Of The Back Shoulder?”

 

Baseball Batting Drills: Fascia

Fascia is like a cotton candy or spider webby like material that our bones and muscles float in. Photo courtesy: Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains

PLEASE NOTE: this baseball batting drills post presupposes the hitter is getting an extreme barrel vertical angle at impact.  In other words, they’re dissecting the pitch plane from down to up.  There are natural elements to dipping the back shoulder…this article goes into fixing the extreme.

In this baseball batting drills video, we answer the reader question above.  We go over:

  • Springy fascia & tracking the front shoulder,
  • Mechanical dominos that cause upper cutting, and
  • A couple fixes…

 

Springy Fascia & Tracking the Front Shoulder

Here are past HPL baseball batting drills posts on springy fascia – and the tracking of the front shoulder – in relation to the swing:

 

Mechanical Dominos that Cause Upper Cutting

Baseball Batting Drills: Josh Donaldson

Watch Josh Donaldson drop hands, then bring back up. Also, notice downhill shoulder angle, and him leading with back armpit in the last frame. Photo courtesy: YouTube users PicPlayHost & PastimeAthletics

Here is a baseball batting drills list of faults I find that CAN contribute to upper cutting:

  1. Poor barrel launch angle,
  2. Early arm barring,
  3. Hand drop,
  4. Upward shoulder angle at landing,
  5. Racing back elbow,
  6. Steep front upper arm at landing, and
  7. Too much downhill shoulder angle…

#1 would be a hitter having a flat bat, or close to flat, at stride landing. This shifts the bat’s center of mass behind the hitter (instead of above), which typically brings in #2, to lever the bat into the impact zone.

#3 can be caused by both #1 & #2, but if the hands don’t come back up before landing (a la Josh Donaldson above), to a “knockout punch” position, then this hitter will most likely have to uppercut anything in the zone above the hands.

An upward shoulder angle at landing, #4, will most likely result in uppercutting and/or a collapsing of the backside.

#4 can be observed along with numbers 1 and 2, but not always.  Racing back elbow causes the barrel to get really steep early in the hitting zone, which leads to a lot of weak fly balls to the opposite field.  AND, because of the steep vertical angle of the barrel, a roll over correction will happen later in the barrel’s path resulting in grounders to the hitter’s pull side.

About #5, if the front elbow gets caught ‘tucked in’ at landing (elbow pointing down at the ground), then an uppercut will most likely happen.  And this ‘tucking’ will happen most likely because of #6, too steep of a shoulder angle.

 

A Couple Fixes…

  1. Setting the tee higher in the zone,
  2. Fixing the barrel launch angle from 45 to 55-degrees, shoulder angle about 8-degrees down, and/or front arm angle to about 90-degrees to the spine at landing,
  3. Finger pressure (bottom three fingers of the top hand only),
  4. Have hitter explode into impact with the ‘back arm pit’ (see Josh Donaldson last frame above),
  5. Keeping slight bend in front elbow at start of the turn, or
  6. Using the RopeBat.

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.

Create Pre-Turn Hand Tension Like Babe Ruth

 

Babe Ruth Reveals Hand Tension?

Look at the hands of Babe Ruth… Photo courtesy: PhotoBucket.com (user: BillBurgess)

Question: Do Relaxed Hands Really Lead to Higher Bat Speeds?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether having relaxed hands or “hand-tension” – pre-turn – increases or decreases bat speed.

Background Research

To me, it just always looked like the all-time greats – Babe Ruth – were squeezing the handle of the bat into sawdust before going into their turn.  I’m basing this experiment off the following research and study:

1. Pavel Tsatsouline

From the Tim Ferriss podcast titled, “Pavel Tsatsouline on the Science of Strength and the Art of Physical Performance“, where Tim interviews Pavel.  Pavel trains elite athletes and military, but is best known for commercializing the use of the kettlebell in America.

In the podcast, Pavel talks about how the hands can be used to recruit more muscle tissue and connect larger areas of the body.

2. Homer Kelly

In his book, The Golfing Machine, Homer Kelly talks of four power accumulators…in particular, the first power accumulator (p.70 in the 7th edition):

“…is the Bent Right Arm – the Hitter’s Muscle Power Accumulator.  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 restraints 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.  This results in a smooth, even Thrust For acceleration of the Lever Assemblies from an otherwise unruly force.”

3. Front Arm Fascial Lines

Thomas Myers talks about Front Arm Fascial Lines in his book Anatomy Trains.  These lines travel from the bottom three fingers (pinky, ring, and middle), across the chest, to the bottom three fingers of the opposite hand.  It’s these three fingers that connect these springy fascial lines found within the torso to whatever we hold in our hands.  It’s this hand tension, or finger pressure, that has fixed stubborn bat drag issues in my own hitters.

 

Hypothesis

Because of the previously mentioned research, I think the swing with Babe Ruth “hand-tension” will result in higher bat speed, and possibly other performance metrics, like max hand speed, time to impact, etc., that will be measured using the Zepp Baseball App.

Babe Ruth: “Hand-Tension” Experiment

Babe Ruth Hand-Tension Experiment Setup

Here was how I setup my experiment “work station”

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers = my bat length, plus two baseballs
  • Distance from plate = end of the bat touching inside corner of plate, and knob of bat touching my mid-thigh.
  • Tee was set slightly behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh.
  • First 100 baseballs were hit WITHOUT pre-turn “hand-tension”.
  • Second 100 baseballs were hit WITH pre-turn “hand-tension”.

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Babe Ruth Hand Tension Experiment Results (Zepp)

Check out the difference in average Bat Speed and average Time To Impact…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Babe Ruth Hand Tension Experiment

Look at the difference in the Bat Vertical at Impact and Attack angles. This is the reason for the higher Fly Ball & Line Drive percentages…

When using pre-turn Babe Ruth “hand-tension”:

  • +3 mph average bat speed
  • Higher Max Bat Speed numbers
  • More horizontal bat angle at impact (matching pitch plane)
  • +6 degrees in attack angle
  • More productive outcomes (line-drives & fly-balls).

Notes

  •  I had trouble finding a proper slot for my hands WITHOUT pre-turn hand tension.  With it, I found more consistency with “educated” pre-tension Babe Ruth hands.
  • In the video, you can clearly see a better barrel launch angle when I had pre-turn “hand-tension”.
  • In the video, you can see an earlier barrel on the pitch-plane (probably as a result of the better barrel launch angle).
  • WITHOUT hand tension, my Zepp bat speeds swung wildly from swing to swing.  Whereas with pre-turn hand-tension, my bat speed numbers were more stable, staying within the 72-78 mph range.
  • I warmed up using the ProHammer bat, to prime my swing to not roll over when I started the Experiment.  Interesting to note that WITHOUT pre-turn hand tension, I began rolling over for the first 10-15 swings.
  • My upper half felt much more connected during the swing when I had pre-turn hand-tension.
  • The -1 degree vertical angle at impact was a much better improvement using pre-turn “hand-tension”.  Now, most of my Line Drives were about 8-12 feet off the ground.  My back foot was drifting forward a little much, so taming that and maintaining a 90-degree angle with the back leg, would push that vertical angle at impact even lower.  And as a result, would angle my drives up more.

The Bottom Line?

The Babe Ruth Pre-Turn “Hand-Tension” Experiment highlighted what Homer Kelly calls “educating the hands”.  This Experiment suggests that the old dogma of keep your hands “loose” before you turn holds no water.  This is another example of backwards thinking that’s been taught for decades.  All my hitters, from pro and college to Little League, say how much more bat speed they have when they use pre-turn “hand-tension”.  I urge you all to repeat the same experiment and report what you find in the comments below.  Test…Test…Test these dogmas, so we can finally put the ol’ dog to bed.

*EXPERIMENT UPDATE*: Thanks to my friend Lee Comeaux, who is a professional golf instructor, for further simplifying the finger pressure technique…have the hitter squeeze the bottom three fingers (pinky, ring, and middle) of the top hand ONLY, from the moment the hitter picks up their stride foot to all the way through impact.  This alone has cleared up stubborn bat drag issues with my hitters from TEN to SIXTEEN years old.