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

The Anatomy Of A Game Winning Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

To be honest with you…

I MISSED watching the Justin Turner walk off homerun LIVE!!

My excuse…?

Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

Justin Turner walk off homerun photo courtesy: DodgerBlue.com

For those of you who can remember when your kids were 2-5 years old, you might recall the Disney channel being on almost constantly in your household.

When I turn on baseball, I get “Why are we watching this…?” from my 5yo.  And not after 30-mins of it being on…no…RIGHT AWAY!

He could be drawing, watching a kid’s show on his Kindle, or playing with his NERF gun, and he knows when the channel is changed.  It’s like he knows it’s going to happen before it does.  That’s another talk for another day.

But I digress…

I did get to see the replay of the game winning dinger via Twitter…

And, I DO know this, Justin Turner’s walk off homerun was a thing of beauty.

As many of you know, I get a lot of Fixed Mindset knuckleheads claiming this system doesn’t work at the higher level on the socials…in baseball and softball circles.

I blame the lenses they look at hitting through, which – let me tell you – are far less effective than picking up a bar fly with “beer goggles”.

Seriously though, here’s some context to put the dinger in perspective, before getting to the info in the video above…

In this Justin Turn walk off homerun swing analysis, we’ll go over…

 

What’s he IS NOT Doing

I know, shocker for a select few out there.  I do define some of the above terms in the video, so make sure you watch that before commenting.  I know some of the cues can be used with the right framing of it.

So let’s see…

 

What he IS Doing

  • Catapult Loading System principles: globally flexed spine, hiding hands, showing numbers, and
  • Pitch Plane Domination: knee action, back foot skip, early barrel on pitch plane, barrel stays on plane for long time, great spine angle at impact.

 

The Catapult Loading System Kindle eBook Giveaway

Just FYI, on this Friday, October 20th, I’m giving away free Kindle versions of my new book The Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet…but here’s the catch, this giveaway is for 5-days ONLY!  Last time I did this, over 1,300 coaches and parents downloaded the ebook.  And you don’t have to have a Kindle to read the book, just download the Kindle app on your mobile device.  If you’ve already downloaded it, then I’d appreciate it if you could let a friend know.  Literally hundreds of coaches across the States are getting the same results – if not better – with their hitters (literally THOUSANDS of them!!) using this system, than I am with mine.  I’ll make the announcement over email and Facebook, so please look out for that in a couple days…

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

How To Effectively Use The Body To Get Pitch-Plane Domination

Yes, I’m releasing ANOTHER book!!The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids

AND YES, I’VE BEEN PULLING ALL-NIGHTERS, DRINKING LOTS AND LOTS OF CAFFEINE, AND LISTENING TO LOTS AND LOTS OF METALLICA TO WRITE THREE BOOKS IN 3 MONTHS!!

Kidding! 😀

I’m not that much of a savage,

But what I have for you today is the Conclusion to my latest book, which is smaller in size – about 60-something pages, and is a re-publishing of my most popular Ground-ball RANT blog post I wrote the beginning of 2016.  This post achieved over 5,400 Likes on Facebook! 😀 (UPDATE: now this was before my Facebook “Like” website plugin broke, and I had to get a new one which erased all those wonderful Likes!!)

I’ll share the Conclusion  to the new book shortly,

Most of you probably didn’t miss the Ground-ball RANT, so the purpose of this book and post are a little different…

What I want for you to do is get this book and give it away as a gift.  Ideally to a coach who teaches their hitters to produce a lot of “worm-burners”, but one who may also be open to being persuaded from that unfounded malarkey.

You see, this subject has become somewhat of a movement on social media – if you haven’t noticed.  CLICK the following link for a fantastic breakdown post from Dan Farnsworth at the Hardball Times titled, “Ground Balls: A Hitter’s Best Friend?”

Now, back to The UGLY Truth book…

On sale, The UGLY Truth paperback will be $9.95, and the Kindle version will be $2.99.  And by the way, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read a “Kindle-version” ebook.  Just download the Kindle app on any mobile device, and BOOYA!  You can access it.

 

Do you have a High School coach in mind that could benefit from this information?  Or perhaps a Little League coach? Just recommend coach download the free ebook within those 5 days.  They have nothing to lose!  It would be to YOUR kid’s best interest 😉

Okay, so now I want to share the Conclusion to the book (which by the way, wasn’t in my original Ground-Ball RANT)

A reader recently emailed me that his son, although having some success before, has switched over to “my stuff”.  Well, switch overs aren’t always smooth, and his son is hitting more ground-balls, so I suggested the following tips to STOP hitting ground-balls

Enter the Conclusion to my new book now on sale at Amazon (with Kindle version free for a short period of time), The Ugly Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids

—–

Conclusion

I have a treat for you…

You may be thinking what I teach my hitters to do since I don’t want them hitting ground-balls.  I very much agree with the Backspin Tee guys’ motto of ‘On Path of the Pitch, Bottom Half of the Ball’.  But how do you put that into practice?

There are five things I look for in a swing to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch longer, so hitters can hit more consistent line drives:

  1. Front knee action,
  2. Back knee action,
  3. Back foot action,
  4. Barrel early on plane, and
  5. Barrel late on plane.

Front Knee Action

There are six benefits to landing with a bent front leg:

  1. Engaging springy fascia in the legs,
  2. Pitch adaptability to off speed pitches,
  3. Shrinking the strike zone,
  4. Using Ground Reaction Forces,
  5. Getting eyes closer to lower pitches in the zone, and
  6. How humans change directions and planes of motion.

We’re not going through all six, but I wanted to highlight the last one…

Please do a YouTube search for: armanti edwards route tree session, and pay attention to how Armanti Edwards and other NFL wide receivers change direction while doing a “Route Tree Session” with trainer Gari Scott…

Watch them run these routes from a big picture point of view.  In other words, not looking for any specific arm or leg angles.  Watch them ‘get lower’ when changing directions, or cutting.  They land on a bent plant leg, then push off the same leg, extending it, to accelerate again.

Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Planes of Motion

Three main planes of motion. Photo courtesy: goldsgymwebsterny.wordpress.com

There are three main human planes of motion:

  1. Saggital (front to back motion) – divides the body into right and left halves
  2. Frontal (a.k.a. side to side motion) – any vertical plane that divides the body into ventral and dorsal (belly and back), and
  3. Transverse (a.k.a. twisting motion) – is an imaginary plane that divides the body into superior and inferior parts. It is perpendicular to the coronal and sagittal planes.

In changing from one plane of motion to the other, to be effective, there MUST be a ‘getting shorter’ of the body’s stature, as the athlete plants and pushes off the ground to change directions.

The wide receivers from the video are changing from the Sagittal (front to back) to Frontal (side to side) Planes.  While a hitter changes from the Frontal (side to side) to Transverse (twisting) Planes.

In other words, just like an NFL wide receiver goes from a bent plant leg to straight at push off, a hitter MUST go from a bent landing leg, to a straight leg at ‘push off’.

Please CLICK the following link to see the other six benefits: http://gohpl.com/whybentfrontknee

Back Knee Action

Back knee angle during the Final Turn does have a significant impact on ball flight.  More bend equals more airtime for the ball.  I’ve seen Little Leaguers to Pro hitters straightening out their back legs during the Final Turn.  And they often wonder why they aren’t able to drive the ball.  Here’s why…

Homer Kelly, an aeronautical engineer for Boeing during the Great Depression, said this about knee bend in his book The Golfing Machine:

“The slant is up in the direction of a straightened Knee. The slant of the Hips affects the degree of the Hip Turn.  Actually, the primary function of Knee Action – as with Waist Bend – is to maintain a motionless Head during the Stroke.”

Homer Kelly’s statement has as much to do with hitting as it does with the golf swing!  During the Final Turn, a hitter like Adrian Beltre uses his flexed back knee (and straightened front one) to slant his pelvis up towards the downward traveling pitch, and as a result, keeps his head motionless during the Final Turn.  Early head movement, pre-stride landing, is okay.  Late head movement is not.

Think of the back leg angle as angling your body like a “ramp”.  CLICK HERE for a great drill for getting hitters at a better “ramp” angle.

In addition, please CLICK the following link to see what happened with a swing experiment where I tested a bent versus straight back knee during the Final Turn: http://bit.ly/whybentbackknee

Back Foot Action

I did another swing experiment looking at the difference in bat speed at impact between ‘squishing the bug’ with the back foot and not squishing the bug…basically letting the back foot skip.

What was the results of the 200 swing experiment?

  • +8-mph difference in average Impact Bat Speed, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,
  • +3-mph difference in average Hand Speed Max, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”,,
  • -0.019 difference in average Time To Impact, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”, and
  • +4-degree difference in average Attack Angle, siding on “Skipping Back Foot”

What does this mean?  That ‘squishing the bug’ is an inferior hitting mechanic.  Not ALL elite hitters “skip” the back foot, but most do “un-weight” it.  I just like teaching my hitters a minimal skip to make sure they’re shifting center mass  into impact, behind the front leg.  I read somewhere that Bryce Harper shifts 150% of his body-weight into impact (skipping his back foot), whereas if he just “squished the bug”, he’d only shift 75% of it.  That’s a HUGE difference!

Please CLICK the following link to read about the whole swing experiment: http://gohpl.com/whybackfootaction

Barrel Early on Plane

I recently did a video blog post case study featuring one of my 15 year old baseball players Liam titled, “Taking The Headache Out Of Teaching Barrel Path”.  We used the Ropebat to change his “Verizon check mark” barrel path into a “Nike Swoosh” sign.

Why one over the other? I want my hitters to build proper bat lag into their swing, or an early barrel on the plane of the pitch.  This helps the hitter barrel the ball more often when their timing may be late.

What’s amazing about Liam’s transformation was that:

  • It only took ten days,
  • It took two total 30-minute sessions (beginning of session three was when the AFTER video was taken), and
  • Liam only had access to the Ropebat during our sessions. After session number-three, his mom went ahead and purchased one for home use.*

*Results aren’t typical. Liam has a primary “feel” learning style, so the Ropebat worked well for him – and not to mention quickly with minimal use.

Please CLICK the following link to see Liam’s full case study transformation: http://gohpl.com/whybarrelearlyonplane

Barrel Late on Plane

The benefit of keeping the barrel on the plane of the pitch longer is to help the hitter when their timing is early, especially on off-speed and breaking balls.  I typically refer to this as the Power-V, however the V-position of the arms MUST happen AFTER impact.  It shouldn’t be a goal to get the hitter to Power-V at impact.  The latter would put hitters at a disadvantage to inside and higher pitches in the zone.

I also use the coaching cue ‘barrel chasing the ball’ when teaching this.  Please CLICK the following link to a video blog post titled, “Addison Russell Grand Slam Video: The Anatomy Of A Dinger”http://gohpl.com/whybarrellateonplane

The last thing I wanted to leave you with besides the Ropebat, as an effective hitting aid to getting the ball in the air, is the Backspin Batting Tee.  I mentioned the Backspin Tee swing experiment in one of the earlier rebuttals to the ground-ball argument, but I wanted to share a link to getting the Backspin Tee at my online store (TheStartingLineupStore.com)

I highly recommend these two hitting aids and my Pitch-Plane Domination online video course, so you can help hitters to:

  • Increase Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) – you’ll learn how tweaking two simple things can super-charge batted ball distance, which means seeing the backs of outfielders, and not the front!
  • Reduce Strikeouts (K%) – you’ll discover how to conquer the root cause of striking out and mis-hits, and see coach get excited each time your hitter gets up!
  • Increase Repeatable Power (OPS) – soak up this one human movement rule and you’ll be a pitcher’s worst nightmare.  The pitcher would be better off, stepping off the mound and throwing the ball in gap!
  • Get More Consistent Multi-Hit Games – getting 3, 4, and 5-hits in a game is not magic.  When all four steps are achieved it makes multi-hit games doable!

—–

Please order the book today – we’re in a position to add gasoline to this movement to banish hitting ground-balls for good!!  Outside of situational hitting of course 😉  Join the movement and order: The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls: How To Choose Baseball Hitting Drills For Kids on Amazon today.

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video Analysis

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video: The Anatomy Of A Dinger

 

Addison Russell Grand Slam Video Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#GroundballsSuck

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

How To Turn Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics Into A High Level Baseball Swing…Can It Be Done?

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Can fastpitch softball hitting mechanics be equal to baseball?

(WARNING: this fastpitch softball hitting mechanics post is a mini-RANT, about 2,000+ words, so please set aside about a 10-min reading time)…

I received this email the other day:

“I cringe when see hitting programs that are designed by baseball players and say they teach softball hitting as a 17 year fastpitch softball coach and 26 year slow pitch player the fundamental difference in the swing many programs ignore especially when teaching fastpitch the swing has to take the most direct path to the pitched generally released at 3 to 4 feet verse a baseball is released at roughly 7 such as right view pro I’ve seen many teams and worse players swings destroyed by coaches teaching baseball to softball players please take this in account, thanks”

Before addressing this reader’s email, I wanted to mention something for those who teach fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

Later in the post, I want to make a BIG ASK to coaches and instructors currently working with fastpitch softball hitters that are using HPL hitting principles, to please share your triumphs and/or sticking points with us.

But before we get there,

I wanted to address a couple fastpitch softball hitting mechanics points from the email above:

  • Translating baseball into fastpitch softball hitting mechanics,
  • Differences between the two swings?
  • The BIG ASK…

 

Translating Baseball into Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Who To Trust?

Who can we trust to give effective information when searching “fastpitch softball hitting mechanics” on YouTube?

The BIGGEST problem with most self-proclaimed “baseball hitting experts” online is…

They promote a hitting ‘philosophy’ or ‘theory’.

Their theories are a mish-mash of popular hitting programs, books, websites, YouTube channels, etc.

Did you know…

There’s a more certain standard – or measuring stick – that most hitting experts ignore, or just plain don’t understand?

Hitting MUST be based off human movement principles, or rules, that are validated by science…NOT philosophy or theory.

We’ve reverse engineered the hitting system promoted at the Hitting Performance Lab.

What does that mean?

Good news for coaches teaching fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

You can bring a certain and more effective hitting standard to teaching your athletes how to hit.

And it WORKS a majority of the time!!

Beautifully.

Do you remember the first time you stumbled into an online hitting forum, discovering how much of a pissing contest it was?

The people who “seemed” to have authority on the subject of fastpitch softball hitting mechanics were coaches who:

  • Had coached the longest,
  • Had played the longest OR had the biggest collection of trophies at the highest level, or
  • Had watched a million hours of slow motion video of ONLY ‘the best’ hitters.

Note to those who’ve coached the longest…

Someone belligerently throwing 30+ years of coaching experience in your face, most likely has the same one year of coaching experience repeated each year for 30+ years.  If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  And if you have to talk about how many years you’ve been coaching to desperately seek significance, then most likely your teaching has been obsolete for some time now.

You don’t hear Coaches Augie Garrido, Gordie Gillespie, or Bob Bennett lurching around online forums shoving their weight around demanding that people listen and respect them.

Note to those who’ve played the longest or have the biggest collection of trophies at the highest level…

The same lurching ego behavior can be seen, and is being used by you too.

As a matter of fact,

I just ran into an ex-pro guy last night on Facebook (I assume he was because he said he has a helluva playing resume, lol).

Brother, I hate to tell you, but…

Playing and teaching are totally different skills sets.  I don’t care what your playing resume is, because you’re starting over as a coach.

Furthermore, you MUST teach the RIGHT things.  The right fastpitch softball hitting mechanics.

Just because you ‘swung down on the ball’ to create backspin, DOES NOT mean that’s what actually happened if we looked at your swing using slow motion video.

I’m sorry, but what’s ‘feel’ and what’s ‘real’ are two totally different things.

Note to those coaches who accumulated a million hours watching slow motion video of ONLY ‘the best’ hitters…

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols photo courtesy: MLB.com

First of all, who are you studying??!

Pujols? McGwire? Griffey Jr.? Bryce Harper? Derek Jeter?

Although these hitters are and were effective in their swings, they also have, and had, ineffective human movement.  I’m sorry, but what’s ‘feel’ and what’s ‘real’ are two totally different things. that MUST not be repeated by younger and/or smaller hitters.

Not just because younger hitters don’t have the capability of doing them, but because THEY SHOULD NOT be doing them, PERIOD.

In other words, they succeed, and succeeded, DESPITE elements of ineffective mechanics, NOT because of them.

Who you study is VERY important.

Big sluggers can get away with murder because of their body mass.  Think of some of the BIGGER hitters you’ve come across, swimming in the fishbowl that is a Little League baseball field.

You’ll learn more of what effective fastpitch softball hitting mechanics look like from smaller sluggers like (6-feet on down):

  • Sierra Romero
  • Lauren Chamberlain
  • Sadaharu Oh (if you don’t know who this is, you need to study up!!),
  • Hank Aaron,
  • Pete Rose,
  • Ty Cobb,
  • Josh Donaldson,
  • Dustin Pedroia,
  • Jose Bautista,
  • Andrew McCutchen, and
  • Robinson Cano.

AND by the way, video analysis is important,

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Sierra Romero

Sierra Romero is a great model for the Catapult Loading System. Photo courtesy: fastpitchnews.org

But MUST come SECOND ONLY to the human movement “rules”.

Now listen close, because this is IMPORTANT to translating fastpitch softball hitting mechanics into baseball…

Once we strip away a coach/player’s elevated credentials and/or experience, then look at their analysis through the lens of human movements “rules”, that are validated by science, and it’s revealed how inconsistently ineffective their teachings really are.

They soften their system’s ineffectiveness by saying,

“Well, every hitter is different and what works for one hitter may not work for another”…OR,

“You can’t teach young hitters to do what MLB hitters are doing.”

BULL.

They’re copping-out.

But it’s not their fault.

They just don’t know any better.

They’re not growing, they’re dying.

And if you believe that what works for one hitter may not work for another, then CLICK HERE to read about the HPL One-Swing-Fits-All system.

The HPL hitting system works…consistently, no matter if we’re talking fastpitch softball hitting mechanics or baseball…7yo or 24yo…black or white…big or small.

We have literally thousands of coaches and parents across the nation putting into practice the HPL hitting principles, and get this…THEY ACTUALLY WORK!!

I get a steady stream of weekly emails, from coaches, sharing their success stories with the system from both the baseball and softball worlds.

(If you go to the HPL homepage, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and you’ll find over 45 rotating testimonials from these coaches and players under “Customer Testimonials”.  It rotates through 5 of them at a time, then if you refresh the screen, then it’ll rotate through another 5).

The good news for the fastpitch softball hitting mechanics coach, is that credentials don’t mean a thing.

It’s outcomes.

Does your system consistently work?

Do you have a:

  1. 98-lb 11yo hitting the ball 300-feet, multiple times?
  2. 95-pounder hitting their first dinger over 270-feet? (this is actually the brother of the above hitter but 2 years younger)
  3. 115-lb 11yo not only hitting the ball 300-feet multiple times, but hitting over 40 homers in one season…to ALL fields?
  4. 66-lb 11yo hitting the ball over 180-feet? OR,
  5. a 115-lb 13yo hitting the ball 330-feet?

The video below is of my hitter #1 above hitting his 300-foot monster shot.  Please note, he was playing on a field in Manteca, CA that had 315-foot fences, so the ‘shot’ was a long double, not a homerun.  Dad played baseball at Division-1 Chico State in the late-90’s, and shared the batted ball’s estimated distance, in the following text message to me:

“This is Orin hitting the farthest ball he’s ever hit.  It landed a couple feet short of the warning track in Manteca, which is right around 300-feet away”.

If you aren’t achieving these types of outcomes with your hitters, then I fear that you should rethink the effectiveness of YOUR hitting system.

Differences Between Two Swings?

Now, before getting into the differences between fastpitch softball hitting mechanics and baseball…

It should be pointed out,

That I’ve spent 10+ years in the corrective fitness industry with too many certifications to count.  I’m self taught and have a passionate curiosity for the science of human movement, by people such as:

  • Dr. Kelly Starrett,
  • Thomas Myers,
  • Ida Rolf,
  • Dr. Erik Dalton,
  • Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, and
  • Many others…

And it’s interesting to note, that I learned more about the swing from the aforementioned people, than in all 17 years of my baseball playing career, the last four of those playing at Division-1 Fresno State!!

The bottom line is this,

There are certain ‘rules’ to human movement that are validated by science.  These “rules” don’t care if you’re male or female…black or white…7 yo or 24 yo…big or small.

THEY WORK FOR ALL HUMANS!!!

The ‘rules’ are like bumpers at a bowling alley.  They’re guidelines to an effective swing.  What happens inside the bumpers doesn’t matter, just as long as you work within them.

Now, on the differences between the two swings…

A friend of mine since High School, made this comment on a Facebook Post of mine:

“As a former baseball player and current fastpitch softball coach. I think hitting a softball at 43ft is harder than hitting a baseball from 60ft. I’m talking about straight fastballs too, special pitches would be difficult for anyone.  My first year coaching softball I had a hard time hitting a pitch. Had to adjust everything I learned from my baseball swing and vision.”

I told him, if he grew up playing fastpitch softball and hitting from the closer distances, he’d be a much better fastpitch softball hitter today!

It’s about collecting data.

The main differences in the two swings are:

  1. Reaction Time (or timing), and
  2. Knee Action.

Reaction Time (or timing)

Getting back to the original reader email, two differences they mentioned:

  1. “…the swing has to take the most direct path to the pitch”,
  2. “…the pitch is generally released at 3 to 4 feet verse a baseball is released at roughly 7″…

Look, the first issue is about reaction time.

Fast-pitch softball hitting mechanics DO NOT call for ‘shorter swings’ than a baseball player.  They have to start their swings sooner!

If we start teaching hitters to ‘swing down on the ball’, be ‘short to it’, or an A to B barrel path, then we set the hitter up for inconsistent productive outcomes.

Why inconsistent productive outcomes?

Because an A to B barrel path is ineffective when looking at it through the lens of validated science:

  • Centripetal v. Centrifugal Forces,
  • Transferring Linear into Angular Momentum, and
  • Inertial Forces changing directions.

Two priority hitting objectives, for ALL hitters, MUST be to:

  1. Get the barrel on the plane of the pitch as early as possible, and
  2. Keep the barrel on plane for as long as possible.

We coaches have to build a large margin for error into the swing, not shorten it.

WHY?

Because of a major dose of uncertainty, hitters don’t know what type of pitch is coming, its speed, or its location beforehand.

By the way, swings can still be compact without an A –> B barrel path.  We MUST be teaching both hitters, more of an A –> B –> C path.  My readers call the latter, the Nike Swoosh barrel path.nike-swoosh-logo

The second reader issue above has to do with the angle of the downward traveling pitch.

And YES, even a softball is traveling down by the time it reaches the hitter, thanks to Gravitational Forces and air density.

As soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand (both fastpitch and baseball), the ball begins slowing down, rotating less, and ultimately falls towards the earth.

Assuming you’re still on earth 😉

Even the “Jenny Finch rise-ball begins to fall 4/5 of way, approx 8 feet away”.

However,

What is clear though, is the down angle of a fastpitch fastball isn’t quite as drastic as a baseball fastball.  A fastpitch fastball just isn’t exposed to Gravitational Forces long enough.

Which is also to say, evidenced in the Sports Science video above, since there’s less distance for the softball to travel, it loses less energy than a baseball will.  So that’s why we see Jennie Finch put a hurtin’ on that force plate!!

If you had the baseball pitcher throw from a distance of 43-foot, I think he’d crush the force plate as well.  Just my thoughts…

So reaction time and the hitter’s barrel attack angle being different,

How does a fastpitch softball hitter manage her barrel attack angle differently than a baseball hitter?

With…

Knee Action

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Lauren Chamberlain

Lauren Chamberlain wide stance, but uses shifting foot pressure and HER KNEES to hit. Photo courtesy: YouTube user Paul Arebalo

In order to compensate for the slight difference in the downward angle of the pitched ball, a hitter should adjust the bending of their knees as follows…

Fastpitch hitter:

  • Front knee at landing should be bent between 160 and 170-degrees (at 180-degrees, the leg is straight) to optimize Ground Reaction Forces, build in margin for error on off-speed and breaking balls, while also not giving up too much on Time To Impact.
  • Back knee at impact should be bent between 105 and 115-degrees to get on path to the bottom half of the ball.

Baseball hitter:

  • Front knee at landing should be bent between 150 and 165-degrees for the same reasons above, but with more access to a longer Time To Impact,
  • Back knee at impact should be bent between 90 and 105-degrees to get on-path to the bottom half of the ball.

The BIG Ask…

I want to make a BIG ASK to those coaches or instructors that are currently working with fastpitch softball hitters using HPL hitting principles.

Please share your triumphs and/or sticking points below…