Posts

Where PRINCIPLED Coaching Is And How To Get It (Coaching Minds Podcast Interview with Justin Lewis)

Coaching Minds Podcast with Justin Lewis

Photo courtesy: CoachingMindsPodcast.com

You just have to have a Growth Mindset.

I wanted to share an interview I recently did on the Coaching Minds Podcast with Justin Lewis.  Somebody interviewed me for a change! 😀

There are a lot of things we covered in this interview, which lasted almost 2 hours!!  I know that's a bit long, but I feel it will be of great value to you as a sticky coach.

Also, I've taken the liberty to chart some of the milestone topics we covered in the interview with the time-stamps below, so you can jump around if you want and circle back.

ENJOY!

  • Why I don't have [and frankly don't want] my own brick and mortar hitting cage, and leveraging the internet (about 3-min mark)
  • What it takes to be a great hitting coach and get productive results with their hitters…the power is in affecting the coach and not so much the player. (about 5-min mark)
  • Where did the beginning of the Hitting Performance Lab come from? (About 8-min mark)
  • Talking about the importance or non-importance of switch hitting (about 13:00-min mark)
  • Olympic 70-foot throwing Shot Putter who said they can only throw as far as his weak side would allow him (about 14-min mark)
  • Justin asked me what qualifies you to come up with your own hitting system?  As a newbie coach, who do you go to for hitting information? How do you pick a hitting mentor?  How do you know if a hitting coach sticks close to human movement principles? (about 18:00-min mark)
  • How to sniff out Bad Science and the Placebo Effect (about the 20-min mark)
  • We discuss if Tony Gwynn could hit for more power? (about 21-min mark)
  • Real versus feel hitting mechanics…making bold adjustments…Mike Trout defending his swing against “chicken winging” by “getting on top of the ball” (about 24-min mark)
  • Talking about softball hitter who was hitting ball well before tweaking mechanics…can we make great hitters better? (about 28-min mark)
  • Breaking down and defining one of my favorite quotes the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote…principles are few, methods are many (about 30-min mark)
  • Question about whether the legs drive the torso, or NOT.  CLICK HERE for the HPL blog post I mentioned here about Dr. Serge Gracovetsky and The Spinal Engine. (about 33-min mark)
  • Talking about the importance of having a mentor…success leaves clues…breaking the One-Joint Rule…saying ‘yes' (McCutchen) or rolling the head (Harper/Fielder) is not good for impact, but saying ‘no' head movement is okay (about 41-min mark)
  • Talk about how UGLY Hunger Pence can look, but how effective his hitting mechanics are (about 46-min mark)
  • Talk about my early childhood and where everything started for me in my quest to find the hitting Holy Grail…transitioning from 46-foot to 60-foot mounds…paralysis by analysis for 4 years (about 47-min mark)
  • Discussed the Fixed versus Growth Mindset…“In order to change, we have to change.  In order for things to get better, we must get better” quote Justin gave. (about 54-min mark)
  • Justin asked me how my family life was growing up…fielding ground-balls palm facing the ground…the fear of having my son play tee ball…get the awful out of the way…we didn't have to teach our toddlers how to walk (about 55-min mark)
  • Justin asked me how I ended up at Fresno State…how to get great jumps in the outfield and what I learned at a Stanford baseball camp…”the hop” and soccer goalies defending a Penalty Kick… (about 1-hour mark)
  • Justin asked me what I studied in college…my answer will SHOCK you (about 1-hour, 4-min mark)
  • What was my path after college getting into training people?  Getting certified in Yoga and other corrective certifications…loving the challenge of tracing back injuries…cultivating my passionate curiosity for human movement (about 1-hour, 6-min mark)
  • Justin asked me where I recommend a newbie should start on my blog…and this is important because there are over 200 FREE blog posts about different aspects of the swing…what makes a good swing experiment (about 1-hour, 11-min mark)
  • Describing what my online video courses are about (about 1-hour, 15-min mark)
  • We talk about Tim Tebow and his Big Leagues prospects (about 1-hour, 17-min mark)
  • Justin asked me about why I decided to do the books and get on Amazon…why I used a Fixed v. Growth Mindset Intro for the Catapult Loading System book, and jam packed the book with testimonials from other coaches getting the same if not better results that I'm getting…the origins of The Science Of Sticky Coaching book…the origins of The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-balls book (about 1-hour, 19-min mark)
  • We discuss how other online hitting gurus have a hard time sharing their information…and why they're hurting the baseball/softball industry doing this (about 1-hour, 26-min mark)
  • Justin asked me what's next for me with the site business-wise (about 1-hour, 28-min mark)
  • Justin asked me if I want to take on a college or pro-ball coaching job at some point (about 1-hour, 31-min  mark)
  • Justin asked me a couple Rapid Fire questions: what other books would I recommend or gift to people? What advice would I give to my Freshman year in college self? Do I have a daily routine that I do everyday? Something that I suck at that some would be surprised with? (about 1-hour, 33-min mark)

I had fun on the show, and I'd highly recommend you check out the Coaching Minds Podcast with Justin Lewis.  Justin's a great guy, a fireman like he mentioned in this episode, and very much a Growth Mindset coach.  He's doing big things with his own hitters, so please go check his Podcast episodes out if you're a coach, drive a lot, and need something productive to listen to.  Here's where you can find Justin and the Podcast:

Question: Does Having a ‘Hunched Posture' Boost Bat Speed Over NO Hunch?

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: Hunter Pence v. Derek Jeter Spine Position

Look at the difference between the spinal positions of Hunter Pence & Derek Jeter. Photos courtesy: MLB.com

In this baseball hitting drills off tee experiment using the Backspin batting tee, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze the benefits of swinging with a ‘hunched posture' versus ‘NO hunch', by taking:

  • 100 swings with a ‘hunched posture' (Global Spinal Flexion) – think Hunter Pence, and
  • 100 swings with ‘NO hunch' (Spinal Lordosis) – think Derek Jeter…

 

Background Research

First I wanted to start off with the application of what a ‘hunched posture' looks like in the MLB.  Look at the following hitters/pitcher, and note the similarities in the shape of their backs (or spine) before they begin rotation:

There are many more, especially in the 1960's and '70's.  These hitters/pitcher either start with the ‘hunch' or move into it before they start turning.

For the science, I recommend you read Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's book The Spinal Engine.  I will go over a few talking points about the Posterior Ligamentous System (or PLS).  Think of the PLS as a connective tissue harness you'd use to scale down a large building.

In Dr. Gracovetsky's aforementioned book, I'd like you to read under the subheading “Lifting While Lordosis Is Maintained” p. 82., and nd “Lifting While Lordosis Is Reduced” on p. 83.

I'm paraphrasing, but Dr. Gracovetsky says when the bend in the lower back is maintained (NO hunch), then we're using a “muscle-predominant strategy”, and when the lower lumbar curve is taken out (hunch), then we're tapping into the “muscle relaxation response”.

What Dr. Gracovetsky found in his research and study was that when a person picks something up from the ground that is heavier than we're used to picking up, the back will round (hunch), muscles will turn off, and the PLS system will kick in.

You can experience the two systems (muscle v. ligament) by trying to see how long you can sit up straight in your seat…once your muscles get tired, then you'll take on the hunched posture, letting the PLS take over.  This is why it's so comfortable to sit slouched, and hard work to ‘keep your back straight'.

The reason for this ‘spinal safety net' as Dr. Serge Gracovetsky alludes to, is to put the vertebrae of the spine into a safer position, also known as decompression.

My friend D @SelfDecompress on Twitter is doing just this with his clients.

One last note on the research…

CLICK HERE and read under the sub-heading “The Hitting ‘Governor'” in this HPL article about how our brain puts a limit on performance because of movement dysfunction.

Hypothesis

Based on Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's research and study,  it is my forecast that taking on a ‘hunched posture' before the turn, will increase average bat speed over not hunching.

I also add the same results is because of the information I included under ‘The Hitting Governor' sub-heading in the aforementioned HPL article.

In other words, by hunching the back, thereby decompressing the vertebrae of the spine, we remove ‘The Hitting Governor' Effect, and allow the body to optimize turning speed.

Not to mention we make the swing safer for our rotating athletes' bodies.

 

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: ‘Hunched Posture' Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • We used the Zepp Labs Baseball app to gain swing data.  Our concern is for an apples to apples comparison between the two sets of 100 swings.
  • All swings for the baseball hitting drills off tee ‘hunched posture' experiment were taken off a Backspin batting tee.
  • I stayed as consistent as I could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent…one was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat's length plus two baseballs in front of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the baseball hitting drills off tee ‘hunched posture' experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Hunched posture' was letter ‘A', and ‘NO hunch' was letter ‘B'.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being sufficiently warmed up” factors.
  • Throughout the baseball hitting drills off tee swing experiment, I was drinking a Strawberry Lemonade Gatorade (because I like it!) and a chocolate milk to replenish my body's protein, sugars, and electrolytes during the 2-hour experiment.
  • I did an 8 exercise dynamic warm up before taking about 15-20 practice swings off the tee.

 

Data Collected (Zepp App Screenshot)

Baseball Hitting Drills Off Tee: Low Back Bend Zepp Swing Experiment

Please pay particular attention to the differences in Time To Impact & Attack Angle from the Zepp metrics…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

As you can see from the baseball hitting drills off tee Zepp screenshot and metrics above, the big differences between the two groups of 100 swings were the average:

  • Time To Impact: the ‘hunched posture' was .004 seconds less than ‘NO hunch', AND
  • Attack Angle: the ‘hunched posture' was 4-degrees more positive than ‘NO hunch'

It looks like my baseball hitting drills off tee swing experiment Hypothesis was wrong in thinking there would be a boost to average bat speed with the ‘hunched posture' swings.  However, there were three MAJOR benefits to swinging ‘hunched':

  • According to Dr. Gracovetsky's research, we can conclude it's safer on the spine,
  • A DECREASE in Time To Impact, which buys a hitter more time to make a decision to swing, and
  • A more POSITIVE barrel Attack Angle, which puts a hitter into a better position to hit more consistent line drives.

Pitching Instruction: 3 Simple Factors to Great Hitting (Madison Bumgarner Approved)

 

Pitching Instruction Secrets For Hitters (Madison Bumgarner)

Madison Bumgarner using human movement science in the 2014 World Series. What can hitters learn from him?

I want to focus on Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants, and how the pitching instruction he's received may help hitters develop repeatable power.  Pitching instruction for hitters!

I read somewhere that when Ted Williams was asked how a hitter could get more efficient with their swing.  He responded by saying to study a pitcher's delivery.  In this pitching instruction for hitters post, we'll look at 3 human movement laws, the:

  1. Head start,
  2. Spinning ice skater, and
  3. Compressed spring.

 

The Head Start

Pitching Instruction Secrets For Hitters (Madison Bumgarner)

Madison Bumgarner “falling” photo courtesy: HNGN.com

Known to proven movement science as the Conservation of Linear Momentum, aka Forward Momentum (FoMo) or the Un-Weighting Principle.  Madison Bumgarner employs Gravitational Forces with a nice easy fall down the mound.  Gravity doesn't care if you're a Shot Putter…Trapeze Artist…Lacrosse player…or a hitter.  As sure as the sun rises and sets, Gravity will be there to flow-with OR fight a hitter's movements.  Here's what happens when we:

  • FIGHT Gravitational Forces (wide no-stride, sit back) – Reciprocal Inhibition occurs.  Muscles and connective tissues typically used to accelerate movements will reverse, slowing them down.
  • FLOW-with Gravitational Forces (FoMo) – Free ride.  Makes the Final Turn seem easier.  Increases max bat speed.  And turns a hitter's body into a projectile missile.  Thanks Bob Hall from Canada for the latter metaphor!

Madison Bumgarner Pitching Instruction for Hitters Factor #1: Mad-Bum has a nice easy fall down the mound with minimal push with the back leg.  Too much push activates Reciprocal Inhibition.  Hitters employ a fall by committing the body-weight to the stride leg at landing, or the Fight Position.

 

The Spinning Ice Skater

Pitching Instruction Secrets For Hitters (Madison Bumgarner)

Madison Bumgarner high angular photo courtesy: ConcordMonitor.com

Known to proven movement science as the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  Madison Bumgarner is also known as the Candor.  As you can see from the photo of him above, his arms are stretched completely away from his body.  Imagine an ice skater who jumps off the ice, bringing her arms in, and spinning really fast.  She's increasing what's called her angular momentum, or rotational speed.

Now, imagine the same ice skater as she's falling back to the ice from her jump, and she lengthens out her arms and one of her legs to slow down her body's rotation.

This is referred to as increasing her moment of inertia, or inertial force.  You can't maximize both rotational speed and inertial force at the same time.  They have an inverse relationship.  When one is up, the other is down.  Although, we can optimize both…

Madison Bumgarner Pitching Instruction for Hitters Factor #2:  Mad-Bum opens his “wings” like a condor right before his torso begins rotation.  As his torso starts rotating, he bends at the elbows and cuts his inertial force in half.  This gives his turning speed a boost.  Hitters like Hunter Pence, can do this by keeping a slight bend in the front arm at the initiation of the Final Turn.  Once the barrel's on the plane of the pitch, then it becomes more important to increase inertial force (extending the front arm) rather than turning speed.

 

The Compressed Spring

Pitching Instruction Secrets For Hitters (Madison Bumgarner)

Madison Bumgarner showing his numbers photo courtesy: MLB.com

According to Thomas Myers (no relation) from AnatomyTrains.com, fascia is:

Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together. Fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that hold them all together in their proper placement. Understanding fascia is essential to the dance between stability and movement – crucial in high performance, central in recovery from injury and disability, and ever-present in our daily life from our embryological beginnings to the last breath we take.”

Fascia is to the human body like steel is to the building industry.  It's very stiff and resist immediate change in shape.  CLICK HERE to see if Andrew McCutchen loads this springy connective tissue.

Madison Bumgarner Pitching Instruction for Hitters Factor #3: 

Mad-Bum compresses the spring in two ways:

  1. Slight uphill shoulder angle, and
  2. Shows hitter his numbers.

A hitter like Hunter Pence will do this slightly different in three ways:

  1. Slight downhill shoulder angle,
  2. Shows pitcher his numbers, and
  3. Hides the hands from the pitcher.