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Cody Bellinger Swing Dissection: How To Get “What’s Real” Out Of “What’s Feel” 

Thome on Bellinger – MLB Tonight

“His hands are absolutely electric.” – Jim Thome on Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Cody Bellinger

Posted by MLB Network on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I have a treat for you (and it involves the swing of hot hitting rookie sensation Cody Bellinger)…

…an analysis of an analysis if you will! lol

I’ve been licking my chops over the past week, to share the above video that multiple reader-friends asked my opinion on.

This was a perfect opportunity to discuss the “real” versus “feel” debate that confuses many new coaches.

Cody Bellinger Swing Analysis: Jim Thome

Look how well Cody Bellinger uses Knee Action to consistently “get under” the ball. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

And here are interesting Jim Thome talking points from the above video (watch this first, don’t jump ahead to the video below):

  • “Hit through the middle…not hook the ball”.  Not letting top hand get out in front at impact…wanting to keep “bat flat” or flush at and through impact (about 1-min & 3:00 mark)
  • Want wrists to come through impact towards the pitcher, Harold Reynolds using terminology “stay inside the baseball”, Thome saying “stay through the baseball”…Thome makes comment that this game will tell you what to work on next (about 2:00 min mark)
  • About Cody Bellinger’s swing: “Hands are absolutely electric”, back leg is straight (during stance), knob points down to back foot, back foot has a little bit of turn in it…allows hips to get through? Everything stays straight (he mentions “level” later in the video) to the baseball with shoulders and pelvis, hands are above the baseball (about 3:30 mark)
  • “King of the Mountain” Drill…down to the baseball means level to the baseball, barrel flat and level with the baseball, hit middle to a little bit below. Hit middle of the ball, not bottom or top. Hands above the baseball.  (about 4:50 mark)
  • Load slower and control my breathing…”diving steep”, not falling forward committing too much weight forward.  Good drill for controlling forward momentum (about 6:50 mark)
  • Straight back leg, turning the back toe slightly forward toward the pitcher.  Creates torque in the back hip. (about 8:15 mark)

I was just going to do a post and ask for your thoughts on this Cody Bellinger swing analysis, but some of the talking points fired me up, so I couldn’t help myself with the following analysis of the Jim Thome analysis… 😉

Yes, I know, the video is a bit long, but there are MANY gold nuggets in there I think Jim Thome touched on, EVERY coach can learn and share with their hitters.

Here’s a list of my talking points (in this order)…

 

Addressing Jim Thome Comments of Cody Bellinger’s Swing

  • “Hands electric”,
  • Back Leg Straight,
  • Knob points down at stride landing,
  • Back foot turned slightly in towards pitcher (Supple Leopard book by Dr. Kelly Starrett), and
  • Shoulders/Pelvis should be straight or level.

And,

Jim Thome General Swing Comments

  • Hit through middle – “flat” or flush with impact,
  • Game tells you what to work on next (Golf Flow book by Dr. Gio Valiante)
  • Load slower, control breathing (CLICK HERE for this Jose Bautista video that discusses “load slow and early”,
  • “Diving deep” cue,
  • Swing down, and
  • Barrel above the hands.

Please share any comments, questions, or criticisms below… 😀

#1 Shocking Mistake Killing Your Mindset (Baseball Batting Quotes)

It’s a blessing…

And a curse.

It empowers people to do GREAT things…

While others, it imprisons to mediocrity.

One word can offer us a detour…

And at the same time can make us feel like we’re at a dead end.

How we look at this one word can make suffering feel like a learning process

Or can make us want to quit, and never try again.

What’s ‘the word’?

We’ve heard Ted Williams say that “Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports.”  The word, ‘Failure’, has separated Hall Of Famers from players getting just one  cup of coffee in “The Show”.

What follows are SIX of my favorite inspirational quotes on Failure. I wish this was something that was put in front of me when I felt my struggles were insurmountable during my playing days.  So, please share this baseball batting quotes post to your social media, to spread the word, you never know who they’ll help.

What’s more…

Not only are these my favorite quotes on the topic of Failure, but they were the TOP-6 baseball batting quotes when I posted them to my Hitting Performance Lab Facebook fanpage and Twitter page.  “Like” and “Follow” me there (if you haven’t already) because I posting more great hitting content daily.

The baseball batting quotes are arranged from least to most engaged with on my Facebook fanpage.  Let’s start with…

#6:

Baseball Batting Quotes: Maxwell Maltz

#5:

Baseball Batting Quotes: John Wooden

#4:

Baseball Batting Quotes: John Wooden

#3:

Baseball Batting Quotes: Denis Waitley

#2:

Baseball Batting Quotes: Michael Jordan

And #1!

Baseball Batting Quotes: Sumner Redstone

Here’s what I feel the #1 mistake is…we treat Failure like it’s a terrible thing. When we are conditioned to look at Failure as a bad thing, then we stop trying.  Or at best, become standoffish when  giving it another shot because the pressure begins snowballing.  There’s no release, just build up.

Young hitters NEED to be encouraged to tinker and test.  To make their own adjustments.  To look at Failure as feedback.  To question the status quo.  This is where creativity and problem solving flourish!

Here are FOUR other articles or books that I love, related to the topic of Failure:

  • “5 Reasons To Stop Saying “Good Job!” by Alfie Kohn – blog post that the title is self explanatory.  After reading, you’ll see why this can lead kids to the “Failure as a dead end” mindset.
  • Golf Flow by Dr. Gio Valiante – sports performance psychologist, Dr. Gio, who works with the top PGA tour players. This book has nothing and everything to do with the baseball.
  • The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle – how the body learns, and that greatness isn’t just in our DNA code.
  • Brain Rules For Baby by John Medina – John brings up some great research and study, and one in particular says that telling a kid, “You’re so smart!” will handicap them, rather than saying, “You must’ve worked hard for that.”

As Tony Robbins says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” So focus your attention on Failure as only a feedback mechanism.

Giving Feedback To Hitters: My 2yo Son Noah

This is Noah (2yo at time) hitting the beach-ball with Grandma Alice…

Giving Feedback To Hitters: A How-To…

My in-laws had just come over for Easter Sunday,

And we were watching my 2-year-old son Noah hit balls off his little tee in the backyard.

What transpired was an ah-ha moment for me in giving feedback to hitters…

My brother-in-law was the fielder, and in between swings, my mother-in-law was feeding his tee more balls.

Whenever Noah would angle to hit the ball away from my brother-in-law,

My mother-in-law would come over and help Noah angle correctly, by moving his body with her hands.

It dawned on me that I’d never given him feedback like that before.

I typically just tell him to “hit it that way,” and he angles his body naturally.

Which is the better way?  And does it matter?

There’s a growing body of research and study that reveals the science of giving feedback to hitters.

First, let’s see how you’d answer the following 3 questions…

1. Do you give verbal feedback between each swing?

OR, wait till the end of a round?

2. Do you use internal cues like a focus on the feet?  

OR, focus on external ones outside the feet?

3.  Do you physically move the player into a better position yourself?

OR, do you allow the player to make adjustments on their own?

How’d you do?  Don’t worry about being wrong…

In this post, we’re going to look at how science answers the 3 previous questions on giving feedback to hitters…

 

1. Do you give verbal feedback between each swing? OR, wait till the end of a round?

The Science Of Giving Feedback: The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle

To give this section some context, check out Daniel Coyle’s post about the Z-Boys by CLICKING the image above…

Daniel Coyle, in his book The Talent Code, talks about The Language Of Ignition.  He shares a story from Skip Engblom, the guy who coached the Z-Boys surf/skateboarding team in the 1970’s.

Enter Coach Skip… (by the way ‘unowaime?’ is Skip-Talk for ‘you know what I mean?’):

“When it came to skateboards, we got all systematic about it, practiced a couple hours a day, four days a week.  There’s no instant gratification, man.  Everything boils back down to training; doing it over and over.  So I never said much.  I would just be mellow and say ‘good job, dude’ or ‘nice shred,’ and sometimes somthing to up the ante, toss in a little carrot, you know, like ‘I heard so-and-so did that trick last week.’  And then they’d all be trying like crazy to do that one, unowaime?”

…”Here’s the deal.  You’ve got to give kids credit at a younger age for feeling stuff more acutely.  When you say something to a kid, you’ve got to know what you’re saying to them.  The stuff you say to a kid starting out — you got to be super careful, unowaime? What skill-building really is, is confidence-building.  First they got to earn it, then they got it.  And once it gets lit, it stays lit pretty good.”

In giving feedback to hitters, pretend words are precious.  Imagine that every word you say costs YOU money.  The less words you use, the smaller your bill is at the end of a session.  Make your words more impactful, more purposeful.

I wait till the end of a round (5-swings or so) to give feedback.  And even then, I’m quizzing THEM on what they did or felt, NOT telling what I think.  This works wonders in giving feedback to hitters that makes coaching sticky.

 

2. Do you use internal cues like a focus on the feet?  OR, focus on external ones outside the feet?

Giving Feedback To Hitters: Stabilometer

Stabilometer, photo courtesy: hospimedicaintl.com

I found a study by Charles H. Shea & Gabriele Wulf that was published at ScienceDirect.com titled, “Enhancing Motor Learning Through External-Focus Instructions and Feedback”, that illuminates a piece of the giving feedback to hitters puzzle… (CLICK HERE for the study abstract):

They had four groups who practiced balancing on a Stabilometer:

  • Group 1 – Focused on balancing with their feet (internal),
  • Group 2 – Focused on balancing by looking at a marker on the Stabilometer (external),
  • Group 3 – Concurrent feedback watching deviations from the horizontal on a computer screen and telling them the line represented their feet (feedback/internal focus), and
  • Group 4 – Concurrent feedback watching deviations from the horizontal on a computer screen and telling them the line represented the markers (feedback/external focus).

Study conclusions:

  • Both external focus of attention and feedback enhanced learning.
  • Learning benefits of an external attentional focus seem to generalize the feedback given to the learner.
  • Feedback generally enhanced performance and learning, suggesting that one function of feedback might be to promote an external focus of attention.

According to sports performance psychologist and distinguished PGA Tour mental coach, Gio Valiante, elite golfers use an external focus during tournaments by “moving towards the cup”.  In other words, they aren’t focusing internally about their mechanics.

Giving feedback to hitters works in the same way…I use feedback markers when working on footwork.  I urge them to “get to the markers” (external) instead of a focus on their feet (internal).

 

3.  Do you physically move the player into a better position yourself? OR, do you allow the player to make adjustments on their own?

Giving Feedback To Hitters: Golf Flow book by Gio Valiante

Great golf book on the mental process.  It’s has nothing to do with hitting, but at the same time has everything to do with it.


In a book by Gio Valiante called Golf Flow, he recalls a class session where he’s also a professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida…

In the middle of class, that was being video recorded, he asked a female student to walk up and try her hand at sinking a putt on a 6-foot artificial turf green he had set up.

The first try was rushed, and she missed horribly beyond the cup.

The second try she took more time to line up, and the putt came up a bit short.

The third try she took a little more time, made a few mechanical adjustments, then sank the putt!

Please note that during the test, not a word was said to her.

Dr. Gio Valiante then had everyone in the class watch the video back of her whole session.  He instructed the class to analyze what key adjustments she made after her misses.

The key here is that the female student made the adjustments on her own.  Just like the Z-Boys skateboarding example above.

This has major implications on giving feedback to hitters…

Returning back to my mother-in-law’s reaction to Noah, when he was lining up to hit the ball off the tee…

The ah-ha moment for me was seeing Noah’s brain turn off as my mother-in-law did the dirty work of moving him into the right position.  In other words, he didn’t have to think about the adjustment, and make it himself.

Based on the research of this post, this leads to a longer learning curve.  So:

  • Keep verbal feedback (or cues) short and punchy,
  • Use external focuses (i.e. video analysis, “hit it over there!”), and
  • Make sure when you’re giving feedback to hitters, that you allow for natural adjustments to be made like in the case of Dr. Gio’s female student and my son Noah.