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  • How To Fix The Hitting “Guru” #57 Problem Once And For All – A New Year’s Resolution…

Consider the following Tweet from Matt Pierce, who I highly respect in hitting circles…

I love what Matt is saying here, and I agree with him 100%!  I’ve wanted to address this for some time, but couldn’t figure out how to frame it without coaches thinking I’m delusional.  However, I’m about to reveal this is a Mount Everest “ask” because:

  1. We can’t control what we can’t control (e.g. other people’s actions or reactions).
  2. We don’t know what we don’t know (knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking).
  3. People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe” (when we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary).
  4. Fixed Mindset is a REAL thing (nothing is more fragile than a 40-year-old male ego).

At the end of this post, I will share 11 things I think cuts to the heart of the debate (HINT: it has to do with a case of “mistaken identity”)

PLEASE NOTE: I’m no saint in this conversation, so let me get that out of the way.  I’ve been called “unprofessional” in some of my responses on the Socials.  I own that.  I’m not a robot devoid of emotion.  To my defense though, I do let people have their say, and seldom “hide” or delete Social media comments – no matter how ridiculous – because I feel coaches should see us with all bumps and bruises.

Now, let’s address Matt’s big asks:

  • Want for coaches to stop mocking other coaches.
  • Want for coaches to stop blasting guys bc of the level they coach.
  • Want for coaches to stop using the word guru in describing a coach that they disagree with.
  • Want for coaches to spread info without the need to attack others in their teach…

It starts with the fact…

 

We can’t control what we can’t control (e.g. other people’s actions or reactions)

Here is one of my personal rules for posting on Social media: DO NOT respond to another hitting person’s Social media post, Tweet, etc. that I don’t agree with.  And I see A LOT of garbage out there, believe me.  But I don’t feel the need to tell them so…I keep my hands to myself.  Imagine for a moment, you sell a hitting aid, book, or online course, and you get one the following dandy comments… (think about how you’d react)…

And here’s a YouTube comment on one of my videos…

If you can’t read the YouTube comment, then it’s because the image is too small…here you go (incorrect spelling and grammar intact)

“This video is silly to me.  First and most importantly, you do not teach any player especially a young player how to hit deep fly balls or “in the air with power.  Why and the hell would you do that? Don’t pollute the internet with this garbage any longer.  Btw, every hitter “gets shorter”. It is impossible to gain any ground and not drop. There is no strategic advantage in it nor should it be stressed in instruction.  It’s a natural part of any swing and has nothing to do with power or hitting fly balls.  Your messing up swings with shit.”

By the way, the above comments aren’t too bad, I have others 10X as bad.  Look, I don’t mind healthy debate, but it MUST be respectful, and no respectful conversation can start with any one of the above comments.  Sue me for coming off as “unprofessional” in responses.  Good times is Taylor Gardner (Backspin Tee), Matt Lisle, and I snapshotting them on our phones, and laughing over drinks…true story.

So NO, we cannot control how others react or respond.  Building the case of our “mistaken identity” solution is starting to take shape.  Now, let’s address the fact…

 

We don’t know what we don’t know (knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking)

As you were reading those dandy comments above, were you thinking, “I don’t think this person knows about the Hitting Performance Lab.”  Therein lies the frustration.

To their defense, they’ve only seen ONE post or ad from us on the Socials.  They…

  • Don’t know us from “Adam”.
  • Haven’t done their homework.
  • Have been burned by others in the industry (a clue to our “mistaken identity” solution…).

I don’t take the comments personal anymore.  They don’t understand how we’re:

  • Applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”.
  • Leading close to 40,000 coaches on this journey.
  • Sharing nearly 300 FREE blog posts that hold nothing back when it comes to breaking down the what, how, and why of our system.
  • Blessed to have an Amazon best selling book on hitting, over 11,500 books sold and downloaded, and has accumulated well over 100 Amazon books reviews with an average star rating of 4.3 out of 5 (includes both first and second edition of The Catapult Loading System).
  • Gifted frequent positive testimonials from our readers on a weekly basis via Social media and over email, which you can read on our About page.

So yes,

  • We’re dealing with people who don’t know what they don’t know.  And,
  • We can’t control what we can’t control.

…Coaches, we MUST understand this.  Building the case of our “mistaken identity” solution is picking up speed.  Now, let’s address the fact…

 

 

People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe” (when we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary)

I talked to Dr. Tom Hanson about this recently.  Consider the “Church of Baseball” or “Politics of Baseball”.  The idea is that based on our life experiences, we stick close to our current “tribe” for fear of missing out, being ostracized, and/or being abandoned when seeking another tribe.  Even if the “other” tribe provides a mountain of evidence to the contrary of our thinking.

I call it wearing hitting “beer goggles”.  Refusing to take off the distorted glasses to seek real facts and actual truth.  In 2013, I completely jumped out of the hitting industry, refused to read or watch anything hitting, and completely pivoted to researching Physics, Bio-mechanics, Engineering, Body Work, etc.  I didn’t understand it at first, but kept reading and re-reading – eventually it started to sink in.

We’re seeing this “beer goggle” theory play out in the Politics right now.  Most of you have seen ridiculous comments on your Facebook feed from others…past or current friends about Political issues. I’ve seen people on both sides “un-friend” each other because one believes one thing and the other believes the complete opposite.  People are retreating to their tribe’s boxing corner, and staying there.

Look familiar?  Because it’s happening to our hitting community.  People become attached to certain hitting “gurus”, a word I know Matt said not to use.  I had quite a few talks with a current professional hitter, who has had quite a few cups of coffee in the Big Leagues, saying many “gurus” are out there trying to reinvent the wheel.  And what he means by that is, they’re teaching the same thing as everyone else but calling it something different and claiming ownership.

The reality is originating something new occurs with far less frequency than innovating something new.  Give credit where credit is due coaches.  If people took the time to research where ideas originated, then the number of “tribes” people stick to would shrink to one or two.  And even with those, hitting agreement would probably reach 98%.

So yes,

  • We can’t control other people’s actions or reactions.
  • Knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking. And,
  • When we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

We’re almost done building the case for our “mistaken identity” solution.  Now, let’s look at the fact…

 

Fixed Mindset is a REAL thing (nothing is more fragile than the 40-year-old male ego)

I won’t get into this here because I got into it here AND here.  But I will say this, I’ve fallen into the Fixed Mindset trap.  It’s like a cozy warm blanket, and much easier to misplace blame when we don’t know the answer.  For example, how do you explain a kid by the name of Hudson White at 14-years-old blasting 11-dingers in a row at the National Power Showcase, averaging 395-feet in batted ball distance – when he’s only 5-foot, 7-inches, weighing 135-pounds?

“What bat did he use?” …a few may ask…metal minus-5…“See!!” they exclaim, “The bat is HOT!!”  But what if I were to tell you eye-witness accounts have said that Hudson consistently hit balls 395-feet with an old Hickory wood bat?  How do we explain something we may not understand?

  • “He’s just a special case”
  • “He’s using a HOT bat”
  • “He can’t do that in a game though”
  • “They’re lying or mistaken about the distance”

These are FIXED Mindset coaching responses (from real people by the way!).  Look, it’s okay to say you don’t know, and here’s an even better TIP…if one does not know something, then keep the “pie-hole” shut.  The above bullet point comments take away from the hard work these hitters have and are putting into their swings.  Shameful.

Instead acknowledge maybe your knowledge is limited and seek to understand, not to be understood.  Ask “WHY”, not “Why Not”.  Every day, ask: “Is there something I may be missing”.  This is what Growth Mindset coaches do.

So yes,

  • We can’t control what we can’t control.
  • We don’t know what we don’t know.
  • People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe”. And,
  • Nothing is more fragile than the 40-year-old male ego.

 

Fixing the issue of “mistaken identity”

Before getting to fixing the issue of “mistaken identity”, let’s review Matt’s big asks:

  • Want for coaches to stop mocking other coaches.
  • Want for coaches to stop blasting guys bc of the level they coach.
  • Want for coaches to stop using the word guru in describing a coach that they disagree with.
  • Want for coaches to spread info without the need to attack others in their teach…

Before agreeing to his “asks”, I want to scribble in a few more…

  1. Parents and coaches start conversations with respectful first comments.
  2. Parents and coaches seek to understand first, then to be understood.
  3. Parents and coaches be willing to try a new-to-them concept first, before resorting to being a negative Nancy armchair quarterbacks.  And,
  4. I think if the previous three are checked off, then setting ego aside and looking at issue from a Growth Mindset perspective will be 10X easier.

Possible?  Maybe, but it’s a TALL order.  If those points cannot get checked off, then I claim my 1st Amendment right to call out Hitting “Guru” #57.  Do we have a deal Matt!?

Now, to solve the case of mistaken identity…

For those who know how we operate at the Hitting Performance Lab, remember reading through those Facebook and YouTube comments in the beginning of this rant, and thinking they’re falsely associating and projecting a bad experience they may have had with another hitting “guru”?  Here are my BIG “asks”:

  1. Quit basing your teachings on because-I-said-so “bro-science” (What is that? CLICK HERE). It doesn’t work predictably.  I know because I used to base my teachings on it, and can now compare our hitters’ performance to what we teach now – WOW! What a difference.  Apply human movement principles validated by REAL Science.  Success leaves clues, and principles work predictably.  Btw, failure leaves clues too!
  2. It’s not about how many years you’ve coached.  It’s not about what high level you played at.  It’s not about how many hours of video analysis you’ve masterbated with.  It’s not even about how many long hours you’ve put into the cages.  At the end of the day, it’s about getting your hitters predictably positive hitting results.  Think of human movement principles as a shortcut (a good one) to spotting common patterns amongst elite hitters – saving you many hours of spinning the tires.  Work smarter not harder.
  3. Data IS NOT Science.  Data is a component of the Scientific Method, not the end-all-be-all.  Basing your teachings ONLY on data or video analysis without human movement priorities is like randomly shooting an arrow and calling whatever you hit.
  4. Don’t strike fear into parents that if they don’t spend money with you, they’ll be doomed to hitting purgatory for eternity.  This is a bonehead move, and I’m tired of getting these projected comments thanks to bad business practices.
  5. Help people by actually helping them.  Over the years, we’ve written nearly 300 free blog posts that detail our system.  Don’t just try and sell people…help people…then selling becomes the next logical step.
  6. Ben Brewster Twitter quote: “In the process, a few percent of our followers are willing to invest big time to know that last 2%. But I hate the paranoid, protective mentality thinking that people might steal your one good idea or philosophy. They might. Keep innovating and learning, you’ll have many more.” Right on!  SHARE what’s working.  Keep learning.  Keep innovating.  Give credit where credit is due.  You will be greatly rewarded, believe me.
  7. Moderation is key.  Hitting IS NOT rotational OR linear.  It’s not Launch Angles OR ground-balls.  It’s not sacrificing swing quality for power.  It’s NOT swing down OR swing up.  We can build a hitter that embodies linear AND rotational elements…who hits more line drives…who can hit for power AND average without dramatically increasing strikeouts…who can use “swing down” cues to fix an uppercut AND use “swing up” cues to fix a down swinger.
  8. Understand we can eat tomato soup with a spoon, fork, or knife but only one tool is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  There may be many ways to teach hitting but there’s one MORE effective way…by applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  The principles remain constant and limited, but I do agree there are hundreds – if not thousands – of ways (methods) to teaching them.  Listen, I don’t “own” these principles, I just happened to look where most weren’t looking, and stumbled onto them.
  9. If someone posts a video of a swing online, DO NOT pick apart without the owner asking you.  Video analysis of a hitter is a snapshot in time of the swing.  It’s a work in progress.  So unless otherwise solicited to give your advice, don’t.  I see a few “gurus” out there “red-lining” through swings of 8yos, 12yos, and 16yos – unsolicited, to prove a point.  That’s a real kid, someone’s son or daughter…niece or nephew…or client.  STOP doing this, or you’re a bully.
  10. Don’t drunk dial Social media.  Don’t lie, you’ve done this (I know I have)Don’t drink the liquid courage and then comment.  Remember what I said about taking off your hitting “beer goggles”?
  11. Coaches, if you promote digital products, books, and/or membership programs, then STOP “tricking” people into signing up.  Be upfront and honest with people.  It gives the rest of us working to do it right a BAD name.

I think a combination of Matt Pierce’s “asks” and my additional “asks” will turn this ship around.  OR, we’ll get much of the same thing in 2019!  Coaches, go forth and make awesomeness…

 

 

What Deserves The Label: “Bro-science Fixed Mindset Garbage”?

I want to share a story…

Right before the Great Depression hit the Oklahoma panhandle, rain was plentiful, causing Doctors and Lawyers to quit their practices and join the ranks of farmers to buy land and plant crops that were being subsidized by the US government.  In other words, the gold-in-them-hills was harvesting and selling wheat and other bumper crops.

Millions of acres of 6-foot high beautiful Buffalo blue grass were plowed under to make room for crops.  Fast forward to the beginning of the Great Depression, the rain dried up, and so did the crops.  Unbeknownst to the new farmers who moved to the area, typically rain was sparse in the location, and by coincidence, they had just experienced a rare wet 5-10 year period.

So now there’s NO rain.  And you know the 6-foot high beautiful Buffalo blue grass they cut down?  Well, it used to hold the soil down despite seasonal 60 to 70 mile-per-hour wind gusts.  So NO crops are growing now.  Grazing cattle have nothing to eat but tumbleweeds brought over by the Russians (people often sprinkled salt to eat them as well).  The livestock soon get sick and die.  Wind is eroding dry soil and tossing it up in the air.  The drought is fatal for the majority who stay, while other smarter – in hindsight – individuals move west.  Enter the “Dust Bowl”.

The farmers who stayed behind were so desperate for rain, they hired so-called rain experts to “create” rain.  The bro-science at the time went that an explosion in the air could bring clouds, and with clouds, rain would fall from the sky.  So what did these so-called experts do?  They sold the idea that if they lit a stick of dynamite and timed the throw just right, they could get the explosion that would bring water.

…And doggonit, it worked on the rare occasion, convincing everyone that this was a predictable-enough strategy for “creating” rain.  I know this sounds like a stupid idea, but you have to understand, the people were DESPERATE for rain.  However, nobody paid attention to the countless other times that followed, where it didn’t work and people lost limbs, fingers, etc. from timing the lit dynamite wrong.*

(*By the way, the above passage – in which I paraphrased – came from interviewed first hand accounts in the book Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History.  Fascinating stories of how a dust storm rolling in looked like a slow moving wet dog haired tornado turned on its side, miles high and wide.  True story.)

So what deserves the label: “Bro-science Fixed Mindset garbage”?

Hitting “bro-science” is:

  • Blindly trying methods, ignoring principles.
  • Like throwing dynamite in the air and expecting it to rain.
  • Running east looking for a sunset.
  • Missing the forest for the trees.
  • Shooting an arrow randomly and calling whatever you hit.
  • A bad decision waiting to happen.

Urban dictionary defines “bro-science” as:

“Word of mouth knowledge passed off as fact, primarily among bodybuilders + weightlifters. Generally spouted most by guys who have used loads of steroids and are huge, have no idea what is happening to their bodies and then share that same cluelessness with others who make the false assumption that their experience means that they have knowledge.”

Furthermore, Bodybuilding.com defines “bro-science” as:

“Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.”

You can easily substitute “bodybuilders”, “weightlifters”, & “bodybuilding” in the above definitions with “baseball” and “softball” hitting coaches.  It’s a Fixed Mindset. Believe it or not, I saw a comment on Twitter, with my own eyes, of a so-called hitting guru (I won’t mention him by name so as not to give him oxygen, but you would know him), claim what he teaches isn’t found in Science – Ha!!  True story.  He’s as fraudulent as those dynamite “rain men”.

Look, we have to be careful as coaches with the correlation equals causation link.  Just because the dynamite might have worked on the rare occasion, doesn’t mean it will work bringing rain on a predictable basis.

REAL Science, the opposite of “bro-science”, is held to a higher standard.  The Scientific Method, as a matter of fact.  Sure, there’s Bad Science out there, but we’re looking for testing, experimentation, and research showing that correlation and causation of specific inputs are more predictable, not less.  Just like how success leaves clues, so does failure.

A Growth Mindset coach will zero be hyper-focused on this.  Sure there are 100’s of ways to teach hitting, but if you had the choice to eat tomato soup with a spoon, fork, or knife, which tool would you use to be most effective?

Teaching hitters is the same.

By applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball, you’ll be eating tomato soup with a spoon.  NOT shooting an arrow randomly and calling whatever you hit.  And definitely NOT strategically throwing dynamite in the air hoping and praying the explosion will make it rain.

The above video and following Chapter are from the Introduction to my 2017 Amazon best selling book: The Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, which has amassed over 100 Amazon reviews with an average 4.3 out of 5-star ratings!  Over 11,500 copies have been sold or downloaded.  The Chapter topic?  Growth v. Fixed Mindset coaches…enjoy!

 

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffe

Fixed Versus Growth Mindset Coaching

When it comes building consistently powerful hitters, this book will provide you with the mechanical pathway to get there.  However, I think the most important aspect to coaching has to do with Mindset.  Coaches can be split up into two categories:

  1. Fixed, or
  2. Growth Mindset.

…and which Mindset a coach falls into a majority of the time, can make or break a young athlete’s development.  Don’t believe me?  According to Dr. Carol Dweck, in her bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

Here are some things you hear FIXED Mindset coaches saying,

  • You can’t teach a Little Leaguer to hit like a Major Leaguer because they aren’t strong enough.
  • Hand speed can’t be coached.
  • Natural hitters are just born.
  • Hitting is subjective and is different for everybody (this leaves them off the hook if player doesn’t succeed with their guidance).
  • The greatest hitters just have great hand-eye coordination.
  • That 12u 100-pound hitter can consistently hit the ball 300-feet because they’re hitting with a HOT bat.
  • He/She can hit the ball hard and far because of their body mass.

All of those are to the contrary of Dr. Dweck’s definition of a Growth Mindset coach:

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

These coaches find a way. They ask the right questions. They ask, “Why not?”  They don’t rest on elite-level playing or decades of coaching experience.  The objective of a Growth Mindset coach is to learn human movement principles first, or the “rules”. Then, design methods to stay within those lines.  Predictably positive hitting results don’t work the other way around. You’ll learn more about this in CHAPTER 1.

I’ll let Billy Murray give Growth Mindset coaches a heads up in dealing with Fixed Mindset coaches:

“It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.”

I’m not saying Fixed Mindset coaches are “stupid”.  What I am saying, in my experience in dealing with them, is they let their ego and pride get in the way of helping hitters get consistently better.  They make emotional arguments, NOT rational.  Here’s more evidence from Henry Ford:

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, then you’re right.”

One puts the forest before the trees (versus missing the forest for the trees), while the other is swatting a piñata with one eye blindfolded and both arms pinned behind their back!  Trust me, I get it.  We all want to be heard and validated as being knowledgeable in a subject, but seemingly high credibility in the wrong place is misleading for everyone involved.

Some go to extreme lengths to IMMEDIATELY make their presence known. Here are some Fixed Mindset saying tip-offs:

  • “I’ve played [X-number of] years professionally and I should know.”
  • “I’ve been coaching for 30+ years, and this is why you should listen to me.”
  • “I’ve studied millions of hours of video analysis of only the best hitters. I know what I’m talking about”
  • “I’ve put a lot of work into the cages, and that’s how I know what I’m talking about”

Don’t get me wrong, the last two points have their place and can be effective in learning and seeing successful movement patterns, BUT massive effort going in the wrong direction can be gross negligence.  Besides, it takes A LOT of effort in the cages and hours of video analysis to stumble onto the right answers.  The problem I have with this process is it takes too dang long!  Especially for the new coach.  Rest assured, I have a more elegant solution that will dramatically cut your learning curve in half!  You’ll know what to look for, so you can SUPERCHARGE your time in the cages and when doing video analysis.  You’ll read about this in CHAPTER 2.

Willful ignorance.

As you probably already know, coaches defend their hitting philosophy and theories to the death, even if human-movement principles validated by REAL science, reveal the opposite.  Just like in Politics and Religion.  I mentally play the “What if I strip them of…” game with Fixed Mindset coaches.  WHAT IF this person NEVER…

  • Played in the Big Leagues…
  • Coached for 30+ years…
  • Studied millions of hours of video…
  • Put a lot of work into the cages…

…IF we stripped them of their primary credibility indicator(s), THEN I ask:

  • What do they actually know and why?
  • Who or what have they studied? (i.e. Physics, Bio-Mechanical, Psychology, Exercise Science sources? Not baseball or softball)
  • What kind of consistent or inconsistent results do they get with their hitters? (Truthfulness in scale is key).  Look, a blind squirrel can find a nut every once in awhile, but it’ll inevitably starve.

Don’t worry, we’ll get deeper into the Credibility Fallacy in CHAPTER 3, so you can navigate the red flags effectively.  Look, Fixed Mindset coaches are stuck, and what I find is they regurgitate the same information they’ve been taught in the past without question. They may even say their hitting philosophy is a science, but it’s not.  It’s a pseudo-science, or what I like to call a “because I said so ‘bro-science'”.  Their copy and duct-taped together hitting philosophy reeks of uncertainty. It’s a paper tiger.  A house built on sand.  Their hitters deserve better information…and can be better. We’ll get more into that in CHAPTER 4.  Consider one of my favorite quotes by Dan Farnsworth:

“Doing a thing and understanding a thing do not automatically qualify you to teach a thing.”

It’s so true!  I can tell with 100% confidence that I have not:

  • Played Professional baseball,
  • Coached for over 30 years (yet!),
  • Studied millions of hours of only the best hitters on video, or
  • Put in as much work in the cages as others say they do…

So, why listen to me?  Because of:

  • What I actually know,
  • Who and what I’ve studied (outside baseball/softball circles), and
  • The predictably positive results my hitters are getting.

We’ll drill deeper into these points in the following CHAPTERS.  What I think is VERY IMPORTANT to know, for those who never played ball past Little League or 12u softball, is that you too can be a hitting expert.  Yes!  You don’t need professional playing experience (or even college!).  You can be new to coaching.  You don’t have to clock in millions of hours of video analysis.  You can even be new to instruction.

All you need is a passionate curiosity to learn and apply the human-movement principles that are validated by REAL science, NOT “bro-science”, to hitting a softball or baseball.  I’m going to teach you how to conduct fool-proof swing experiments, so that you can use your findings to show people who won’t take you seriously.  You’ll learn my swing experiment blueprint in CHAPTER 4.  And I’m going to break it down for you, so don’t worry if you didn’t do well in science class.

CHAPTER 5 will take you through the science of springy fascia and spinal-engine-mechanics. This is the WHY behind the methods we discuss in the later chapters. You can skip this one, but please return to it later, so you have ammunition for Fixed Mindset coaches who won’t believe the predictably positive results your hitters are getting.

CHAPTERS 6 through 11 will take you through the practical methods my hitters are using to consistently triple, or at least double, their body-weight in batted ball distance.

Lastly, CHAPTER 12 will walk you through how to train these newly-learned hitting techniques. I believe the training is as important, if not more critical, than the mechanics you’ll be learning in this book.  To give you an example of the value, I had a third-year pro-hitter drive up from San Diego (about a 7-hour drive, one way, without running into Los Angeles traffic), comment that he thought the training by itself was worth the trip! And he spent a small fortune in time and money to work through a whole weekend with me.

What You’ll Learn

Here’s what you’re going to learn in the upcoming pages:

  • Why hitting philosophy fails and principles that are validated by science succeed.
  • Why you shouldn’t make video analysis FIRST-priority, when modeling elite hitters.
  • What 30+ year coaching experience and pro players won’t tell you, and how the information source you focus on can dramatically cut down your learning curve.
  • How to become a hitting expert when you’ve never played higher than Little League.
  • There’s a BIG advantage to learning how the body actually loads (and it’s not what you’re thinking).
  • A simple method that helped Babe Ruth to consistently crush the ball with some of the heaviest bats ever used.
  • Elite-hitters revealing ways to hit balls with High-Exit-Speeds, swing after swing, using three elements even a 4-year-old can understand.
  • At last, the secret to transitioning grooved batting practice swings into game at-bats is revealed.

And to reiterate what’s new in the 2nd edition of this book:

  • This Preface addressing major objections to the first edition,
  • “How to drill” section at end of each Principles Chapter complete with drill video, sticky coaching cues, and STEP-BY-STEP breakdown to teach,
  • Appendix Chapters covering: science of successful learning, how to transition practice into game swings, is rotating back hip through zone necessary for power, how to smooth out ineffective swing paths, & hitting low in the zone and to opposite field,
  • Updating of each Chapter, new sticky coaching cues, metaphors to help get concepts, condensed paragraphs (more formal paragraph structure and less like I write for the blog), less bold font, and fixing of minor spelling mistakes,
  • And lots more links to free blog posts to see elite MLB hitting examples applying the principles.

WHY is this Important to you now?

There are four reasons…

Most “hitting stuff” we’ve learned is DEAD WRONG. It’s based off philosophy, theory, and “bro-science”, and with the technology available today, we can test the value of those hitting philosophies.

Nowadays, everyone seems to be Hitting Guru #57. How do we differentiate between an effective versus an ineffective approach? This is important because it’s not how PRO someone is, how many years of coaching they’ve accumulated, how many man-hours of video analysis they’ve done, or even how many hours of lessons they do in a given year. There are hitting academies out there teaching wonky information, working with literally thousands of hitters in a year, and one parent would be better off wiping their butt with the money. Don’t worry, we’ll help you navigate these waters.  You can’t argue with REAL science and predictably positive results.

“Confusion” between mechanical causation equaling correlation. Can you put backspin on a ball by swinging down on it (i.e. negative barrel Attack Angle)? Yes, you can. But, will the hitter consistently get the ball in the air that way? No. Unless you’re playing slow pitch softball.  In the case of hard-ball and fast-pitch softball, swinging down does not consistently put the ball in the air with authority, and IS NOT what the best are REALLY doing.

Big difference between what’s “real” and what’s “feel”. When Mike Trout says he works at ‘getting on top of the ball’, that doesn’t mean Johnny’s coach should go out and share with his team this method. In fact, Mike Trout says this to himself to protect his swing from HIS natural tendency to upper cut too much, like he says to ‘chicken wing’. The cues that MLB and professional hitters use are often lost in translation to the coach, and inevitably with the younger-end user.  We can use these cues too, but it depends on specific hitting adjustments.  You’ll discover what’s referred to in psychology as “Paradoxical Intention” in the Appendix Chapters.  This will teach how to make educated hitting adjustments.

Is the Information in this Book for you?

First, we WILL NOT be talking about:

  • ‘Squishing bugs’,
  • ‘Swinging down on the ball’, OR
  • ‘Loading & exploding the hips’ (this is harmful to your lower back by the way).

Second, this is specifically about how to apply human movement ‘rules’ to hitting a moving ball, and not about hitting ‘philosophies’, ‘theories’, or ‘bro-science’ that DO NOT predictably work in LIVE case studies at scale.

Third, the information in this book is based on the success my personal hitters have had both online and locally, plus literally thousands of coaches who’ve duplicated the results, if not bettered them, by using this system.

The House Rules

Enough of what this book is promising, now let me be clear about what it’s not…

  1. No “get powerful hits, quick”.
  2. No “do nothing, and crush the ball”.
  3. My results aren’t remotely typical.
  4. Most people who buy ANY “consistent power” hitting product, will not have success with getting consistent power in their hitters.

I addressed this previously, but it bares repeating…

Some of my 12u hitters and younger, weighing around 100-pounds, don’t start consistently driving the ball 300-feet right away. Some take 2.5 years to get to consistency, whereas before they do it “every once in awhile”. Other hitters, although rare, achieve this in less than 6-months.  It depends on good old fashion effort, work ethic, and the athlete’s ‘learn-ability’.

I encourage my hitters to work hard on the things we go over, and to keep on trying even after hitting major obstacles.  Most young hitters don’t do that. They just show up for a lesson or gather information and “get ready” to work…or they throw in the towel and quit at the first bump in the road.  It took a lot of hard work for my hitters to start seeing favorable hitting outcomes.  Interestingly, it was the work with my hitters that gave me the inspiration to write this book.

The bottom line is, I have no idea what your results may or may not be.  And it’s not my place to try to predict that. Your success is up to you, as always.

In following, you’re going to discover why the coach who understands human movement principles, can successfully select his own hitting drills. But the coach who tries drills, ignoring principles, will have trouble optimizing hitters.

 

11 TBall Drills & Tips, So You Can Be Confident You’re Preparing Players For The Next LevelTBall Drills

In researching this coaching tball drills post, I did a Google search for “coach tee ball”, and one of the Google pre-populated search terms that came up was coach tee ball without going insane.  Apparently, there’s a book being sold on Amazon with the same title by a Robert Doss…who knew. 

I had to laugh because the dad of one of my online hitters, Lawrence Sutton Jr. (link is to his Perfect Game profile), shared over the phone he was pulling his hair out trying to coach his two twin 7yo daughters how to hit.  Let me give you a little context about [son] Lawrence…

You may remember [son] Lawrence in this post titled, How 175-LB 15yo Is Consistently Hitting The Ball 400-FT With…BBCOR & Wood.  Well now Lawrence is hitting those ugly yellow dimple balls out during batting practice.  He’s hitting baseballs over 360-feet…off a tee!  He’s registering over 94 to 96-mph off a regular tee using a PocketRadar.  He’s also hit balls in games over 425-feet. By the way, he’s about 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pounds…and gets mistaken for a college Freshmen during unofficial visits, but he’s a Sophomore in High School!!

Let me repeat…so now [dad] Lawrence is trying to coach his TWO TWIN 7YO DAUGHTERS…yes, A LOT of patience needed.

Look, I can’t say my situation is exactly like [dad] Lawrence, but I do work with a lot of hitters from 6yo to pro guys and D1 college gals.  Half the hitters I work with are 12yo and younger, and the other half are 13yo and older.  In addition, my son Noah turned 5yo this past December…and this is his first year of tee ball…AND wait for it…I’m now helping coach his tee ball team.  BAM!  A lot of my parents said this day was coming.  Those who can’t see me right now, I’m tipping my cap 😛

In this post, I wanted to share with you advice I offered [dad] Lawrence over the phone about “how to coach tee ball without going insane”.  I know some of you coaches out there can offer some advice as well, so please share below in the comments.

Here are my 11 tball drills and tips (in no particular order):

  1. Patience through guided meditation apps
  2. Don’t have high expectations
  3. Have a long wick to frustration
  4. Failure is going to happen…A LOT
  5. Build fun into practices and games (joke with the players)
  6. Positive reinforcement training
  7. Minimal to NO mechanical teaching
  8. More emphasis on external cues
  9. Extreme adjustments
  10. Focus on throwing and catching
  11. Getting them ready for the next level

 

#1: Patience through guided meditation apps

First of all, if you’re not going to have the patience for coaching tball drills, then you’re not going to enjoy coaching.  Period.  There are two great guided meditation apps out there:

  • Headspace, and
  • Calm.

I prefer Headspace, which I’ve been using over the past couple years.  Minimal investment of money, and between 2 to 20-mins investment of your time each day.  Helps me focus better, think clearer, expose my creativity, and especially for coaching tee ball – become more aware when you’re losing it, so you can relax in a shorter period of time.  It’s totally transformed my interaction with my wife, kids, and hitters.

 

#2: Don’t have high expectations

David Epstein, in his book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, talks about “learn-ability”.  It’s the ability of an athlete to adapt and learn something new over time.  To help put coaching tball drills into perspective, the bell curve of young athletes looks like this:

  • Left hand side long tail = below average “learn-ability” athletes, take longer to learn something new (these are few),
  • Majority middle bell curve = average “learn-ability” athletes, take a reasonable amount of time to learn something new, and
  • Right hand side long tail = above average “learn-ability” athletes, take a very short time to learn something new (these are few).

Most of your tball drills and expectations should be setup for the majority middle bell curve.  You’ll then want to have a regression-progression plan for your below and above average learners, which we’ll discuss later in this post.  The point is, set reasonable expectations, and understand what you’re up against.

 

#3: Have a long wick to frustration

If you haven’t noticed, kids pick up on frustration pretty quickly.  And oftentimes you can’t fool them.  Believe it or not, kids just want their adult counter-parts to be happy.  Studies show that when hot tempered anger or animated frustration enters the mix, learning stops.  The focus falls onto survival.

They’re modeling you when learning how to react to “speed bumps”.  And if coach (or mom/dad), is extremely animated when frustrated or angry, then they’ll learn that’s how you deal with it.  Guided meditation helps hide the mental meltdown button.  Here’s another powerful word I use often with my kids…and hitters…

The following YouTube video is Dr. Carol Dweck doing a speech on the power of “yet”…

I highly recommend her book Growth Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success.  The power of “yet” will help mold your tball drills to be growth mindset oriented.

 

#4: Failure is going to happen…A LOT

Think back to when your kids were learning to walk.  Did you teach them a thing or two on how to do it?  What cues did you use?  Internal ones? External?  “Walk as hard as you can, as far as you can” cues?  NO!  Figure It Out (or FIO) and Gravity were their best teachers.  The best tball drills are designed with failure in mind.  A LOT of it.  Swing and miss.  Swing and miss.  Swing and miss.  And multiple that by 100 at this age!

I’m here to tell you, it’s okay.  They’re 4, 5, or 6 years old.  Even one of the best hitters to ever play the game said hitting a ball is one of the hardest things to do in any sport – Ted William.  You can’t get 7 wrong on a school test and climb the education ladder.  Hall of Famers get it right 3 out of 10 times in baseball.  Keep on a poker face (hold the judgement), give positive reinforcement during tball drills when they get a productive outcome, and encourage the heck out of them.

 

#5: Build fun into practices and games (joke with the players)

Play games at the end of practice like Total Bases, Last Man (or Woman) Standing, Russian Baseball (kind of like cricket), or any other fun game.  Use it as a reward if they get their work done.  Speaking of which, tball drills MUST not go any longer than 60-mins (preferably 45-mins).  Adults forget 4-6 year olds have the equivalent attention span of a gnat.  Keep practices short and sweet.

I like to “flirt” with my players and hitters…not in a romantic way, you weirdo!  In a playful way.  I tease my Middle School and High School hitters about the video game Fortnight, and how all the pretty girls are looking to get 100,000 signatures on a petition to ban the video game because it’s robbing them of their “guy time”.

When we’re talking about running to different bases with the tee ballers, they learn about 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and FOURTH base…wait minute, is that right?!  I ask them if they have the key to the batter’s box.  Or if they could fetch me the box of curve-balls.  I tease the heck out of them on down times.  Keep them loose and on their toes.

 

#6: Positive reinforcement training

The best resource for this is the book by Karen Pryor titled, Don’t Shoot The Dog:  The New Art Of Teaching And TrainingKaren has trained dolphins, horses, dogs, and humans.  This form of training has taught chickens to turn the page of a book.  True story!  And trained two pigeons to play ping-pong.  Another true story!  Studies show we’re driven more by positive than negative reinforcement.  That’s not to say negative reinforcement training isn’t effective, because it is…give one chimpanzee an apple, then take it away, and they’re peeved!  Give another chimpanzee two apples, then take only one away, and they’re just as peeved!  However, if you want to build lasting habits, positive reinforcement training is the way to go.

Let me give you some examples of this:

  • My 5yo boy Noah gets any $1-2 candy at 7-Eleven immediately after school.  He also gets an ice cream scoop immediately after going to his gymnastics training.  He earns stickers for doing productive things, and after earning 10 stickers, he gets a toy of his choice within financial reason.
  • For the boring redundant parts of my business I play my favorite music in the background (right now it’s Eric Church, songs: “Talladega”, “Springsteen” & “Record Year”), and most times have a sweet green tea within reach.
  • Karen Pryor told a story in her book Don’t Shoot The Dog, of when her daughter took a night class for working professionals.  The Professor would always start the class off with the “Who finished last night’s homework?” question.  Only 25% of the class would raise their hands.  She’d then lectured the class on the importance of doing their homework.  After one of the classes in private, Karen’s daughter talked the Professor into praising those who did do their homework instead of belittling those who didn’t.  After about of week of using positive reinforcement training, 75% of the class were raising their hands after the “who turned in their homework” question.

You MUST read Karen Pryor’s book.  Your coaching will never be the same.

 

#7: Minimal to NO mechanical teaching

(Get more information on the Backspin Tee, or the RopeBat at TheStartingLineupStore.com)

Above is my 5yo boy Noah hitting a Smushball laser in a Backspin Tee with a Ropebat.  Look at him ‘show those numbers’!

Remember, they’re 4, 5, and 6 years old.  I have local and online lesson requests from parents with kids in this age range I turn down.  And by the way, it’s possible to teach a 2yo how to hit a moving ball.  I did with my son Noah.  Not forced.  He loved the movie Sandlot at the time and got a little tee ball set for his birthday.  CLICK HERE for a post on how I progressed him to hitting an under-hand thrown baseball sized whiffle ball using a long slim yellow whiffle ball bat.

I give the following advice to parents seeking swing help for their 4-6 year old hitters

  • Being athletic in their stance.  Bend at waist, chest over toes.  Bend in the knees.  Start that way and maintain that position to stride landing.  It’s easier to teach if they’re playing other sports like soccer, basketball, gymnastics, dance, and/or martial arts.
  • Grip on the bat.  Handle of the bat lines up in the middle of the hand – base of the finger tips, top meat of the hand.  I’m not even concerned if their hands are together at this stage.
  • Balance when swinging.  They should not be falling toward or away from the plate.  However, we may use these cues to correct one side of the extreme.  In other words, if they’re falling away from the plate, then I would tell them to fall towards the plate, to get them to balance.
  • Fungo toss is great as a progression.  Hitter tosses ball up to him or herself and tries to hit it before it hits the ground.

That’s just about how technical I get with tball drills for hitting.

 

#8: More emphasis on external cues and variance

We do a lot of external cuing.  Hit the ball over there.  Hit the ball up or down there.  Hit the top half of the ball.  Hit the bottom half of the ball.  Hit the ball in on your hands.  Hit the ball off the end of the bat.  Hit the ball in the middle (sweet spot).  Try hitting this ball with this heavy bat.  Try hitting the ball with this Easton Pro Stix whiffle ball bat.  We hit from different distances providing we’re progressing to LIVE toss.  Reverse strike zone drill where they’re swinging at “balls” and taking “strikes”…they like it when I bounce it and they have to hit it!

What’s important is for them to try different ways.

 

#9: Extreme Adjustments

This works like magic.  Check out for following video that’s great for tball drills…

 

#10: Focus on throwing and catching

CLICK HERE for an audio interview I did with NCAA Division-1 Hall of Fame college baseball Coach Bob Bennett.  One of the questions I asked him was if my team was getting ready to win the Little League World Series, but only had 4-weeks to train, what would you work on.  And do you know how he responded?  Playing catch and pitchers throwing strikes (obviously, the latter is irrelevant to coaching tball drills)Fielding ground-balls and playing catch are VERY important because 95% of coaches at the lower levels are teaching their hitters to hit ground-balls.  Why?  Because they know kids can’t play catch at that age!  If you want to win a lot of games, then obsessively teach your players to play catch.  Take advantage, this is low hanging fruit coaches 😉

 

And FINALLY #11: Getting them ready for the next level

Coaches MUST maintain a Growth Mindset at all time, and should never just coach for the current level.  Like Wayne Gretzky said:

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Coaches MUST be looking forward when developing players…always.  My son’s Pre-K teachers are doing everything they can to prepare him and his classmates for Kindergarten this next year.  So why can’t Little League coaches prepare their troops for the big field?  So in the context of coaching tball drills, start using the progression I used with Noah in the aforementioned linked article on how to teach a 2yo how to hit a moving ball…

  • Hitting off tee is essential at first, but slowly shrink the diameter of the bat, moving the tee up or down after every swing, and use different size and colored balls.  Variance if your coaching tball drills friend.
  • Once they’re consistent hitting the ball off the tee, grab the fat plastic bat and beach balls!  Start underhand tossing, and as they start hitting the ball more often, then slowly shrink the ball down to baseball sized whiffles.  Once they’re hitting those whiffles with the fat barrel plastic bat, then start slowly shrinking the barrel diameter down.

This is a progressive winning strategy that worked for my son.  It may or may not take longer, but that’s the art of learning.  Embrace it.  Have A LOT of patience.  And coaches, go forth and make awesomeness…

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

How To Turn Your Fixed Mindset Into A Growth Mindset (and WHY your Hitters will THANK YOU later)…

 

Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset

Fixed versus Growth Mindset illustration photo courtesy: KaylaCelliott.com

Nothing is more frustrating – and disappointing – than running into a Fixed Mindset coach…

All you get are excuses…excuses…EXCUSES!!

Think about the Fixed and Growth Mindsets, from Dr. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, like the operating system for your computer or mobile device.  Each Mindset (or operating system) will take you down a different path to problem solving.

Some may say, well, the examples you give are reveal “closed minded coaches”, not a Fixed Mindset.  I disagree.

Look, I’m sure at times there are some closed minded Growth Mindset coaches, but I’m willing to bet my first born on that there are exponentially more closed minded Fixed Mindset coaches.  You see, closed mindedness is a subset of a Fixed Mindset coach, NOT a Growth Mindset one.

Before I get into taking you through the story, I wanted to let you know what I have for you:

  • An 8-min, 25-sec video from Trevor Ragan outlining the difference between a Fixed v. Growth Mindset (video above)
  • Address 7 DEVASTATING Fixed Mindset coaching EXCUSES that are killing the progress of smaller power hitters, and
  • The Fixed versus Growth Mindset Introduction from my new book.

Back to the story…

I ran into a couple of them on social media this past week about the promise I make in my Catapult Loading System book: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet.

Particularly, they were commenting that Hudson White, the hitter I covered in this blog post, weighing 130-pounds hitting the ball 398-feet – and that includes wood – was an over-exaggeration.

To their credit, they did concede it’s possible.  But then oh man, here came ALL the excuses, taking credit away from the hitter’s dedication to his craft…

  1. “The bat was hot”,
  2. “Isn’t the norm, or has athletic ability – I wouldn’t take credit for that”,
  3. “Average kids don’t use there body’s efficiently as someone with above average athleticism can regardless of training”,
  4. “Only in batting practice and not in games”,
  5. “130-pound hitter wouldn’t make our Varsity team”,
  6. “Working with the exception, not the rule”, and the kicker comment about hitting ground-balls…

“I’ve never played or coached this game from a text book or a state sheet and never will. I do just what I’m doing here, I talk shop with knowledgeable people. Scouts, college coaches, minor league players and coaches and once in a blue moon with hitting instructors. I have very rarely come across any one of them that is as passionate about getting the ball in the air so much. Most of them try to keep things as simple as possible, which means barrel the ball, hit it hard. Period. No emphasis on air v ground, just barrel it.”

Addressing Excuse #1

Hudson White has hit balls over 398-feet with a Hickory wood.  My over half a dozen hitters tripling their body-weight in batted ball distance (i.e. 100-pounder hitting ball 300-feet), are not using hot bats, and neither did Hudson at the National Power Showcase Home-Run Derby Competition put on my Brian Domenico at the Texas Rangers ballpark in Arlington in 2016.

Addressing Excuses #2 &3

What does athleticism mean exactly? What are your rules that say one kid is athletic and another is not? I’d hallucinate yours are different than mine.  However, the question is, can we make a seemingly nonathletic kid average or even above average athletically?  Not all, but I think we can make EVERY kid move better.  And next week’s post interview with the founder of the Bosu Ball, David Weck, will shine more light on how to do this.

I brought up examples of Michael Jordan, Tim Tebow, and one of the best cricket players in the world weren’t able to or currently are not doing well enough to make it to the Big League level. It can be argued these are non-baseball athletic examples, but you’re saying above average athletic ability is one of the main causes for young hitters tripling their body-weight in batted ball distance.  It’s speculation.

I’d argue “train-ability”, as referenced in the Heritage Study from David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, as a more crucial element than above average athleticism in explaining why my hitters (and other coaches’) can triple their body-weight in batted ball distance.  Learning is learning, but they still have to learn the most effective mechanics.

Take for instance my 67-pound hitter blasting a 180-foot dinger – in a game – after working with me for 6-months.  When we first started he couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag.  So in 6-months did he auto-magically go from below average to above average athletically?

Addressing Excuse #4

I have game footage film of two of my hitters tripling their body-weight in batted ball distance:

By the way, Temo now is around 135-lbs and is consistently driving the ball 370+ feet.  Also, Hudson White is driving the ball 400-feet in games as well.

Addressing Excuse #5

Are you KIDDING ME!?  To write a player off based on the “eye test” is ignorant. It makes me sad how many of these “under-weighted” young hitters are not being given a chance because some coach DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE how to get educated in all things effective.

Coach, if this is you, then you’re going to love the Introduction to my book that follows, on Growth v. Fixed Mindsets…

But first,

Addressing Excuse #6

This one made me laugh.  I responded back with something like, man I must be running into all these exceptions then!  Myself and the hundreds of coaches – who’re getting the same, if not better, results than I am by the way – teaching the same system, must be exception magnets!!! lol

Addressing Bonus Excuse #7

Look I agree, line drives and barreling the ball AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE should be every coaches objective for their hitters.  However, the question is raised, if you were to have your hitters miss, would you rather have them miss hit the ball in the air or on the ground?  I’m not going dive deep into this here, because I did that already in the Ground-Ball Rant, but I do want to say High School coaches (on down) are getting a false sense of achievement with the ground-ball because fielders aren’t what they are at the D1 and Pro levels.

Now, listen closely…

If you’re not teaching your hitters to consistently drive the ball (in the air), then YOU WILL HAMSTRING them at the higher levels, if they make it that far.  And by then, it’s too late.

I was just on the Coaching Minds Podcast by host Justin Lewis (Please follow him on Twitter @The_Coach_Mind), our interview I’ll be posting in 3 weeks or so, shared that he works almost exclusively with High School and College level fast-pitch hitters.

The horror stories he revealed the new hitters he’d get in college, reported they were only taught to slap the ball their whole life because of how “tiny” they were.  What happens to these girls at the college level?  When a hitting situation would come up to drive in runs, you know what the college coach does to these “tiny” slap hitting specialist?  

They pinch hit them.

If ground-balls were so great, then why not let this slapping specialist slap?!  Ground-balls are her specialty!!  Let me give you a clue, ground-balls work less at the college level…and EVEN LESS at the Pro level.  Don’t let this happen to your hitters.

And after hearing ALL these excuses, it was refreshing to get this email message from a coach after watching my webinar (I can’t say he uses my system though, but the message speaks for itself):

“The 135-lb pound kid…that is good but not that impressive…not too many kids at the age of 12 and 13 that weigh 135 pounds…he should be hitting the ball that far…now the 67 pound kid…that is impressive (one of my players at 75 pounds can hit the ball 225)” – ulley13usparks (username)

Now, he was talking about my two 13u  hitters Eddie S. and Temo C. both weighing 135-lbs and driving the ball 370+ feet, and my 67-lb hitter I spoke of earlier in this post.  “…should be hitting the ball that far…”, man, how refreshing to hear.

This leads me to the MAIN ISSUE…the above excuses are from Fixed Mindset coaches.  The video above is fantastic education on the Fixed versus Growth Mindset debate in under 10-minutes.  Rest assured you’ll be a more effective coach after watching the video.  And if you like the video, then you’ll love Dr. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset.

And to drive the nail home, below I’m including the Introduction to my new book The Catapult Loading System: How To Train 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, that people are loving by the way…just read the Amazon book reviews so far.

Without further adieu, here’s the Fixed v. Growth Mindset Intro…

—–

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

– Eric Hoffe

Fixed Versus Growth Mindset CoachingGrowth Mindset: The Catapult Loading System Book

When it comes building consistently powerful hitters, this book will provide you with the pathway to get there.

However, I think the most important aspect to bridging the gap between what the coach teaches and what the player absorbs has to do with Mindset…

Coaches can be split up into two groups.

  1. Fixed Mindset
  2. Growth Mindset.

According to Dr. Carol Dweck, in her bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

Here are some things you hear FIXED Mindset coaches saying,

  • You can’t teach a Little Leaguer to hit like a Major Leaguer because they aren’t strong enough.
  • Hand speed can’t be coached.
  • Natural hitters are just born.
  • Hitting is subjective and is different for everybody.
  • The greatest hitters just have great hand-eye coordination.
  • That 12u 100-pound hitter can consistently hit the ball 300-feet because they’re hitting with a HOT bat.
  • He/She can hit the ball hard and far because of their body mass.

All of those are to the contrary of Dr. Dweck’s definition of a Growth Mindset coach:

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

These coaches find a way. They ask the right questions. They ask, “Why not?”  They don’t rest on elite-level playing experience or decades of coaching experience.

The objective of a Growth Mindset coach is to learn principles first, or “rules”. Then, design methods to stay within those lines, not the other way around. You’ll learn more about this in CHAPTER 1.

I’ll let Billy Murray give Growth Mindset coaches a word of caution in dealing with Fixed Mindset coaches on social media:

“It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.”

Why?

From Henry Ford:

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, then you’re right.”

One puts the forest before the trees (versus missing the forest for the trees), and the other is swatting a piñata with one eye blindfolded!

I get it, we all want to be heard and validated as being knowledgeable in a subject, but high credibility in the wrong place is highly misleading.

Some go to extreme lengths to IMMEDIATELY make their presence known. Here are some Fixed Mindset saying tip-offs:

  • “I’ve played [X-number] years professionally and I should know.”
  • “I’ve been coaching for 30+ years, and this is why you should listen to me.”
  • “I’ve studied millions of hours of video analysis of only the best hitters. I know what I’m talking about”
  • “I’ve put a lot of work into the cages, and that’s how I know what I’m talking about”

Don’t get me wrong, the last two points above have their place and CAN be effective in learning and seeing success patterns, BUT massive effort going in the wrong direction can be gross negligence.

Besides, it takes A LOT of effort in the cages and hours of video analysis to stumble onto the right answers.  But, I have a more elegant solution that will dramatically cut your learning time in half!

You’ll know what to look for, so you can SUPERCHARGE your time in the cages and also for when you’re doing video analysis.  You’ll read about this in CHAPTER 2.

Willful ignorance.

I heard this term on Facebook and love it!  People online defend their hitting philosophy and theories to the death, even if human-movement principles validated by science, reveal the opposite.

I mentally play the “What if…Strip” game with Fixed Mindset coaches…

WHAT IF this person NEVER…

  • Played in the Big Leagues…
  • Coached for 30+ years…
  • Studied millions of hours of video…
  • Put a lot of work into the cages…

…IF we stripped them of their primary credibility indicator, THEN I ask:

  • What do they actually know?
  • Who or what have they studied? (Physics, Bio-Mechanical, Psychology, Exercise Science sources? Not baseball or softball)
  • What kind of consistent or inconsistent results do they get with their hitters?

We’ll get deeper into the Credibility Fallacy in CHAPTER 3.

Fixed Mindset coaches are stuck. They regurgitate the same information they’ve been taught in the past without question. They may even say their hitting philosophy is a science, but it’s not.  It’s a pseudo-science.  Their copy and duct-taped together hitting philosophy reeks of uncertainty. We’ll get more into that in CHAPTER 4.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes by Dan Farnsworth:

“Doing a thing and understanding a thing do not automatically qualify you to teach a thing.”

And it’s so true!

I can tell with 100% confidence that I have not:

  • Played Professional baseball,
  • Coached for over 30 years,
  • Studied millions of hours of only the best hitters on video, or
  • Put in as much work in the cages as others say they do…

So, why listen to me?

Because of:

  • What I actually know,
  • Who and what I’ve studied, and
  • The results my hitters are getting.

We’ll drill deeper into these points in the following CHAPTERS, but what I think is VERY IMPORTANT for those who never played ball past Little League or 12u softball,

…That you too, can be a hitting expert.

All you need is a passionate curiosity to learn and apply the human-movement principles that are validated by science, to hitting a softball or baseball.  I’m going to teach you how to conduct fool-proof swing experiments, so that you can use your findings to show people who won’t take you seriously.

You’ll learn my swing-experiment-blueprint in CHAPTER 4.

And I’m going to break it down for you, so don’t worry if you didn’t do well in science class back in school.

CHAPTER 5 will take you through the science of springy fascia and spinal-engine-mechanics. This is the WHY behind the methods we discuss in the later chapters. You can skip this one, but please return to it later, so you have ammunition for Fixed Mindset coaches who won’t believe the results your hitters are getting.

CHAPTERS 6 through 11 will take you through the practical methods and drills my hitters are using to consistently triple, or at least double, their body-weight in batted ball distance.

Lastly, CHAPTER 12 will walk you through, how to train these newly-learned hitting techniques. I believe the training is as important, if not more critical, than the mechanics you’ll be learning in this book.

I had a third-year pro-hitter drive up from San Diego (about a 7-hour drive for me, one-way), comment that he thought the training by itself was worth the trip! And he spent a fortune in time and money to work through a whole weekend with me.

What You’ll Learn

Here’s what you’re going to learn in the upcoming pages:

  • Why hitting philosophy fails and principles that are validated by science succeed.
  • Why you shouldn’t make video analysis FIRST-priority, when modeling elite hitters.
  • What 30+ year coaching experience and pro players won’t tell you, and how the information source you focus on can dramatically cut down your learning curve.
  • How to become a hitting expert when you’ve never played higher than Little League.
  • There’s a BIG advantage to learning how the body actually loads (and it’s not what you’re thinking).
  • A simple method that helped Babe Ruth to consistently crush the ball with some of the heaviest bats ever used.
  • Elite-hitters revealing ways to hit balls with High-Exit-Speeds, swing after swing, using three elements even a 4-year-old can understand.
  • At last, the secret to transitioning grooved batting practice swings into game at-bats is revealed.

WHY is this Important to you now?

There are four reasons…

Most “hitting stuff” we’ve learned is DEAD WRONG. It’s based off philosophy and theory, and with the technology available today, we can test the value of those hitting philosophies.

Nowadays, everyone is a hitting “expert”. How do we differentiate between an effective versus an ineffective approach? This is important because it’s not how PRO someone is, how many years of coaching they’ve accumulated, how many man-hours of video analysis they’ve done, or even how many hours of lessons they do in a given day. You can’t argue with science and powerfully consistent results.

“Confusion” between mechanical causation equaling correlation. Can you put backspin on a ball by swinging down on it (i.e. negative barrel Attack Angle)? Yes, you can. But, will the hitter consistently get the ball in the air that way? No. In this case, swinging down does not consistently put the ball in the air with authority, and IS NOT what the best are REALLY doing on slow motion video.

Big difference between what’s “real” and what’s “feel”. When Mike Trout says he works at ‘getting on top of the ball’, that doesn’t mean Johnny’s coach should go out and share with his team this method. In fact, Mike Trout says this to himself to protect his swing from HIS naturally tendency to upper cut too much, like he says to ‘chicken wing’. The cues that MLB and professional hitters use are often lost in translation with the younger-end user.

Is the Information in this Book for you?

First, we WILL NOT be talking about:

  • ‘Squishing bugs’,
  • ‘Swinging down on the ball’, OR
  • ‘Loading & exploding the hips’.

Second, this is specifically about how to apply human movement ‘rules’ to hitting a moving ball, and not about hitting ‘philosophies’ or ‘theories’ that DO NOT predictably work in LIVE case studies.

Third, the information in this book is based on the success my personal hitters have had both online and locally, plus the hundreds of coaches, who’ve duplicated the results, if not bettered them by using this system.

The House Rules

Here’s what I’m not promising…

  1. No “get powerful hits, quick”.
  2. No “do nothing, and crush the ball”.
  3. My results aren’t remotely typical.
  4. Most people who buy ANY “consistent-power-swing” training, will not have success with getting consistent power in their hitters.

Addressing point numbers one and two above…

Some of my 12-years-old and under hitters, weighing around 100-pounds, don’t start consistently driving the ball 300-feet right away. Some take 2.5 years to get to consistency, whereas before they do it “every once in awhile”. Other hitters, although rare, achieve this in less than 6-months. This seems to be the range for the hitters I work with.

It depends on work ethic and what David Epstein calls ‘learn-ability’, in his book, The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance.

Addressing point numbers three and four above…

I encourage my hitters to work hard on the things we go over, and to keep on trying even after hitting major obstacles.

Most young hitters don’t do that. They just show up for a lesson or gather information and “get ready” to work…or they throw in the towel and quit at the first bump in the road.

It took a lot of hard work for my hitters to start seeing favorable hitting outcomes.

Interestingly, it was the work with my hitters that gave me the inspiration to write this book.

The bottom line is, I have no idea what your results may or may not be.

And it’s not my place to try to predict that. Your success is up to you, as always.

Onward…

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CLICK HERE to order your copy of The Catapult Loading System on Amazon today…

Why Coaches SHOULD NOT Engage in Block Practice…and MUST “Train Ugly”

 

Train Ugly

“Train Ugly” while putting golf balls scattered randomly around the cup. Photo courtesy: Trevor Ragan YouTube video

My friend and colleague, Lee Comeaux,

Shared this video with me, and I just had to share it with you.

CLICK HERE for a post I did awhile back, showcasing 8 science of successful learning principles that are validated by empirical research.

This video goes into one of the principles mentioned in that post, the art of variance.

…Or “training ugly” as Trevor Ragan calls it in the video (CLICK HERE for his website).

Below are my bullet point notes from the above video:

  • 1:10 – performance is best because you do things that have higher levels of retention – does practice promote better retention?
  • 2:00 – What is a skill? Just Technique? 1/3 of the equation
  • 2:45 – Read, Plan, Do
  • 6:00 – How to practice this…Block (or Massed) Practice
  • 7:00 – Random Practice
  • 8:00 – Studies showing the benefits of Block versus Random Practice
  • 9:15 – Coach Tom Black explains WHY Block Practice is more attractive to coaches: ego and/or seeing immediate gains with it, answer the WHY – easier for coach to let go of Block Practice…find better ways to track progress (transfer and retention to games test)
  • 11:15 – WHY do we see dramatic gains transferred to competition with random practice? When Block Practice, we’re eliminating Reading and Planning from the motor learning equation. Random is like the game!  “You play volleyball, you don’t drill volleyball”.
  • 14:25 – taking a Growth Mindset into practice…Random Practice is more challenging, will make more mistakes, will be uglier, better for us, prepares us better for game situations

TRAIN UGLY Coaches!!

PLEASE share below how you’ve used this OR will use this with your hitters and players…

THANKS in advance for your responses 😀