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Jaime Cevallos Part-2 Interview: What are the 3 most Important Things to Consistent Power?

 

 

Here's what we're going to discuss in Part-2 of the Jaime Cevallos interview:

  • What are the BIG-3 for consistent power?
  • How do you wind up the body to deliver more force?
  • What is the Main Thing that Separates the Great Hitters from Average?
  • What are the 3 most Important Things to Consistent Power?

The following is the transcription of the above video.  You can find Jaime Cevallos at the following places:

Enjoy!

 

What are the BIG-3 for Consistent Power?How To Wind Up The Body To Deliver More Force

Joey Myers  00:06

…the application of it basically. And in the beginning, there was the big three is what I call it. So that was showing the numbers, so hitters showing their numbers to the pitcher, there was the downhill shoulder angle. So that's the side bend side of it. And then there was the hiding of the hands.

 

Joey Myers  00:20

And I know you came to kind of a conclusion about that front arm shape being barred out or even slight bend, but pretty close to being barred out. So, the hands don't necessarily they used to teach walk away from the hands, right? So that to me is translated as the hands going back towards the catcher, but it's actually should go back at an angle back where we say hiding the hands from the pitcher. So, the hands should end up at landing somewhere above or behind the back heel.

 

Joey Myers  00:49

So if the pitcher is watching this hitter, and again, go look at Mike Trout, go look at JD Martinez. Go look at Mookie Betts. Look at all these guys and you'll see them number one, showing their numbers. Number two, not all of them have a downward shoulder angle but many of them do; Miggy Cabrera, Ted Williams if you want to go back in the day, a lot of hitters in the Stan Musial, they used to say that it looked like he was a little kid peeking around the corner. Right.

 

Joey Myers  01:16

And it was that the showing numbers part of it. And you see them all hiding their hands. So, from the minute they start to at landing, you see their hands disappear. So those are the big three and what's happening fascia wise is we're taking the front shoulder, we're taking the front shoulder and we're bringing it down and in towards the back hip.

 

Joey Myers  01:37

So that gives you that slight down angle and it gets you… we've evolved showing numbers to more creating neck pressure. Because every hitter is different, you and me being a little bit older, although we do a lot of movement work on our own body so we probably move better than people our age. But a lot of hitters are different in how far they can get their head here because one of the biggest…. one of the biggest things that people hated was showing the numbers was that, well, it pulls the hitters eyes off the ball.

 

Joey Myers  02:04

And yeah, if you do it too much, but the head's got to anchor down in a position, so if I go sideways, so the head's got an anchor in a tracking position, not necessarily square off to the pitcher, but intercept where the balls coming in.  All Dr. Peter Fadde's stuff and head anchors and then we just pull that shoulder underneath as far as you can. And that's going to create some tension in the neck.

 

Joey Myers  02:28

So it's like a wringing towel, like we're wringing a towel out. So, where your head is on top, the top hand and that your shoulders are the bottom hand, and we're just wringing as far as we can. We're taking that spine, that section of the spine, and we're just bringing it as hard as we can until landing and then we just let it go.

 

Joey Myers  02:44

So it's kind of like, I call it more of a spring than some people call it rubber bands like get the rubber bands really tight and then let them go like a rubber band system. Kind of but it's more it's more spring, springy. So those are the big three if you connect the dots between what fascia is what the spinal engine is, it's easy way to think about it is a wringing towel, like you're wringing the towel, it's loading that system up and then letting it go.

 

Joey Myers  03:10

And like I said, I ran quite a few swing experiments that proved that showing numbers versus not showing numbers, you add between four to six miles an hour bat speed, and I can't remember if I did a ball exit speed one, but bat speed and ball exit speed are very similar. They're like first or second cousins. So it's very translatable. The down shoulders added four miles an hour of speed. And the showing numbers I think was three miles an hour, or one to two wasn't quite as much. The big one was showing the numbers or creating that neck pressure.

 

Jaime Cevallos  03:41

So what this does is it winds up the body so that you can then deliver more force…

 

How do you Wind up the Body to Deliver more Force?

Joey Myers  03:48

Yes, yeah, it takes the slack out of the system. So slack being a little different than what how the human body because we talked about it's more compression tension forces that's taking slack out, but it's almost like If you think about a car that goes into a ravine and then you have a Jeep with a winch on the front that you can take the cable, hook it up to the bumper of the car that's been dropped in the ravine and to pull that car out, right, so you turn the winch on…

 

Joey Myers  04:15

And if you have slack in the cable that's connected to the bumper, and you turn that winch on right away, because there's slack in the cable, it's going to just pull the bumper off, it's not going to pull the car out of the ravine.

 

Joey Myers  04:25

So what you have to do first is after you hook it, hook the bumper, is you got to slowly take that slack out of the cable of the winch line and then turn it on and it'll pull the whole car out. So that's slack versus no slack. Some people out there have been on a what a toboggan on the lake, and you've been on a boat pulling you along, and you're holding on to the ski line or whatever you hold on to the ski bar, right and they're pulling you along.

 

Joey Myers  04:52

And we had a buddy who did this with us. And at the time, I was super strong. I was lifting a lot and he goes I'm going to do it as hard as I can to you, alright do it, bring it, bring it, man. So, he got it to where he's pulling me at first. So, there was no slack in the line; line was nice and tight. And then he got me to where I started coming up to the side of the boat. So, he kind of slowed it down a little bit. And then I started kind of floating up and started putting slack in the line and then he floored it! And boom, and that I held on and there was one time I think I ended let go, but that amount of force all at once. It was a slack in the line.

 

Joey Myers  05:30

Oh my gosh. So what happens is…

 

Jaime Cevallos  05:34

You're lucky you didn't hurt yourself.

 

Joey Myers  05:36

Right? Yeah, dude, we were like 25 years old, right? ever get hurt. But that's the thing. So when youth hitters, a lot of times what I see is these coaches say, keep your shoulders square. Don't show your numbers to the pitcher for all these different reasons we can go into some other time, but they want the shoulders square. They don't want you tilting them. They don't want you turning them in. They want them square and then they want the hips to do everything.

 

Joey Myers  06:04

And so what's happening is it's putting slack in the system. Because to take slack out we just talked about is like that wringing towel, we have to wring the towel and then let it go. And that's where you get a nice powerful move, consistently powerful move, and it's safe on the spine versus the opposite where the coach wants this shoulder square doesn't want any turn it in or down or anything like that. And they want the swing powered by the pelvis or the hips, they say explode the hips, load and explode the hips.

 

Joey Myers  06:34

And what happens there is you're taking the equipment of the lower back, the set of five vertebrae is in the lower lower back, who actually are not made to rotate. They're not made to, they're not built to rotate the bones. Okay. All they can do is flex and extend. The rotation that you see is about seven to 12 degrees and this is via Tom Myers, and a pretty prominent, I can't remember his name right now, physical therapists been around forever in the strength conditioning world [Charlie Weingroff, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist, a trainer in New York City, and is pretty high up on the human performance food chain], seven to 12 degrees of rotation is all it's allowed because of the muscles surrounding those bones.

 

Joey Myers  07:13

So that's the rotation you see is that set that seven to 12 degrees rotation, you see, is because of the muscles surrounding the bones.  The thoracic spine, so shoulders and then the rest of it that attaches up to the top of the lumbar, the lower back is made to rotate is actually made to rotate 40 degrees, four-zero in both directions.

 

Joey Myers  07:34

So I should be able to do a good moving human body can move 40 degrees to the left and rotate 40 degrees to the right. So when you employ a part of the body that isn't allowed to rotate, to rotate and to not only rotate but explode, like absolutely explode. Now what happens is we start wearing holes in the lower back, we see back spasms. We see herniated discs. 

 

Joey Myers  07:35

We see all kinds of stuff in the swings we were referring to earlier about the barrel moves the body, not the body moves barrel. So those ones that are teaching barrel moving the body, what I see in those swings is I see these hitters on Twitter where their back is arching their arching and you can almost draw for righties, you can draw a reverse C shape. And for lefties, you can draw a C shape like from their head, down their back and out their leg because they're arching so much you can see this kind of C shape going on.

 

Joey Myers  08:32

And the problem with that is extension is okay, so if you arch your back in just a normal, a normal sagittal plane like a front to back plane, like you do a lunge or squat in a normal extension is fine. An arching of the back is fine. You see a gymnast when they swing the bar when they're swinging under the bar, right? You'll see them go into a globally flexed position where their spine kind of looks like this and then as they swing through, they go into a globally arched and global just means the whole body is arch. There's not one little point that's arched, say like in my head if I went and I just dropped my head back and I went into an extended position with my neck and not using my body as well, that's that would be a local extension.

 

Joey Myers  09:17

Those aren't usually good when they're coupled with their rotation. So, when the hitter is going into an arched position, that by itself isn't troublesome. But the minute you add a rotation in with that, now, when you arch you're pushing the vertebrae together in your back when you arch. Okay, now that again isn't a big deal, but the minute you start rotating, now you're grinding and that is a problem and that's what I see when you teach hitters the barrel moves the body and to snap the barrel back way back here.

 

Joey Myers  09:51

When I see those swings, I see those hitters arching their back and turning and it just makes me want to throw up because these coaches either, they're, it's like a cat, right? Cats are either really, really smart or they're really, really stupid. And to me, it looks like those coaches don't know any better. And they're getting their information from some guy who doesn't know any better, who knows better, but he's not teaching the right thing and it's just it's horrible to see these young hitters doing that.

 

Jaime Cevallos  10:25

So, what you would say is the main thing that separates the great hitters from the average or the just the good has to do with this sort of building tension not creating slack in the torso area and the upper legs basically, of the body.

 

What is the Main Thing that Separates the Great Hitters from Average?

Joey Myers  10:51

Right, exactly. So if you go back and Ted Williams you look at Stan Musial, you look at even Babe Ruth, and not all of them have them have every single principle like they could have and they could have done better. You could even look at Tony Gwynn, right? There was an article I do that every time I put it up on social media, I said something in the article or in the headline to the effect of, could Gwynn have had more power?

 

Joey Myers  11:16

And I just did an analysis and took a look at his swing and pointed out areas where he could have maximized or optimized power. A lot of people don't like that. You know, Tony, how could you be? You know, how many hits? Did you get the big leagues in? How could you take on Tony, when you don't know what you're talking about?

 

Joey Myers  11:31

I was like, no, it's dude. It's a thought experiment. I'm not going after the guy, right. He didn't want to hit for power. Although, when he had his talk with Ted Williams, his power numbers sure went up a little bit because Teddy told him, Hey, you might want to pull the ball and own your pull field a little bit more. And that year after he had that talk with him, I think he went from like 11 home-runs a season I think he hit maybe 20 or 18 or something like that.

 

Joey Myers  11:54

But this idea that Ted Williams is probably one of the best one of the best at it, you see the showing numbers, or his in his case “the number” nine, you see his down shoulder angle. You see him hiding the hands. You see this locked out front lead arm when he started his swing.  Like he's got it all, all of it.

 

Joey Myers  12:14

The only thing I don't agree with that it's not a bad thing per se. Extra motion, is the idea where he turned his hips in slightly. So, he kind of turned the hips in like he was turning towards the catcher. And I did this read a book you know that in high school and college and stuff like that because that's where I thought power was in the pelvis.

 

Joey Myers  12:37

But if you think about, when I turn my hips in and I'm creating my neck pressure showing my numbers and I'm pulling the shoulder in well if my hips going away from my back hip, which I'm supposed to be taking my front hip and bringing or my front shoulder and bringing it to my back hip, with my back hip is going away and my front shoulder is chasing what you're continually chasing. So, you never get to that point. Right?

 

Joey Myers  13:00

So if we just keep the pelvis in neutral, so belt buckle, pointing at home plate we don't inward turn or anything, and just let the shoulders do what they do. Creating neck pressure showing numbers going into that position there. Then now we're compressing where we need to and what happens is when you inward the pelvis and we're seeing data on this, ZenoLink.com – Chris Welch.

 

Joey Myers  13:26

So he does a lot of experimentation. He's kind of physical therapist guy, and very, very knowledgeable and he's got a lot of data. He's got force plates he's got all this different stuff. And so, I had one of my online hitters went to him, Chris's on the East Coast, went to him to go through all his testing evaluation stuff.

 

Joey Myers  13:45

And Chris was saying that this particular hitter's barrel speed was super maximized behind him, which is again, the same people that teach barrel swings the body right so the barrel speed was increased or was maximized behind him, but by the time he got to impact it was slowing down. So answer that, how are we teaching something that's actually slowing down your barrel by the time you get to impact…

 

Joey Myers  14:15

And there's a couple different factors in that we can go into if you want, but that was the whole thing he was in inwardly rotating his pelvis and he was a lefty. So he was taken in rotating his pelvis in towards the catcher and then get to landing and then he would he would rotate, he would rotate back, you know the pelvis back and explode into the ball, but that was causing him to have a premature maximizing of bat speed. It wasn't helping him it wasn't maximizing his ball exit speed.

 

Jaime Cevallos  14:46

Now, so the most important thing, you mentioned three things, say those, again…

 

What are the 3 most Important Things to Consistent Power?

Joey Myers  14:54

The spine, of the spine?

 

Jaime Cevallos  14:57

Well, just that I think there were just three things that were…

 

Joey Myers  14:59

You're talking about?

 

Joey Myers  15:02

Oh, oh, oh…the three things the big three, okay, so showing numbers or create neck pressure.  If I'm here, I'm here. So, my head anchors in a tracking position, shoulder comes pulling underneath as far as I can just like you're wringing a towel out right, my head and my shoulders. I'm bringing that towel out, creating pressure in the neck. So that's number one that's showing numbers neck pressure.

 

Joey Myers  15:27

Number two is downward shoulder angle. From this view, is more of a slight down shoulder. So, it's like you're doing a side bend. So, the shoulders the back shoulder goes up, the front shoulder goes down. And with that, you don't want it to be too much. The sweet spot there is like six to 10 degrees down so it's not a lot, but what helps a lot of times is controlling where that elbow goes.

 

Joey Myers  15:54

I back this up a little bit, give you guys a little bit more room. If I can use my elbow to pull the elbow or pull the, or bring the shoulders down, steer the shoulders down. That's a way to do it. But you can also focus on taking this front shoulder down and then towards that back hip that'll help to create this down shoulder. Right.

 

Joey Myers  16:14

And what's interesting in the swing, if we want our body to accelerate and decelerate properly, is we want the shoulders to start down. And then as we swing, then they're going to tilt. This front shoulder starts down, left shoulder, and then as I swing, it's going to go up. And then in my finish, think about the Ted Williams pictures and Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth and all these guys, how did they finish they end up finishing in this position.

 

Joey Myers  16:45

So what we should see is we should see… left shoulder starts down, pops up, and then it should end down. So down, up, and then down on the finish. You know those Ted Williams pictures where he's like, position right. It's this one, it's his left shoulder as a lefty starts, or he starts here. His left shoulder here starts up, and then it goes down. And then it finishes up. Right. So that's a proper accelerating decelerating into the spine. So that's the second thing that's the down shoulder.

 

Joey Myers  17:23

And then the last one is the hiding hands from the pitcher. One more time again. We got so if I start my swing, this way, you can see my hands and the minute I get to landing, I'm creating what you see this back elbow peeking out behind me. So that's they call it a SCAP row, or SCAP load, SCAP pinch wherever you want to call it. So that's the move there. Where now you can't see my hands.

 

Joey Myers  17:49

And now what I'm doing is this front shoulder for those those Kines geeks out there. The front shoulder is a Scap protraction so the scalp is coming in the scapula is coming this way coming across. And then my back SCAP is retracting. They're doing the opposite of each other protraction retraction, right?

 

Joey Myers  18:10

So if you watch any gymnastics, or Olympian doing a spin, ice skater, if they do a spin, that's what you're going to see. And a lot of people out there will say, Well, I like to scap pinch, but I don't want this front shoulder coming in. And like you're not, that's not how the human body works, dude, you're not getting 100% optimization out of the rotation.

 

Jaime Cevallos  18:35

So the showing numbers has been something that people didn't want to do?  I was not aware of that…

 

Joey Myers  18:41

It was and still, yeah, it's crazy.

 

Jaime Cevallos  18:45

Why did they say you didn't want to show numbers?

 

Joey Myers  18:47

Good question. The irony by the way, these same people that don't like it, swear by video, swear by video analysis. They say well we're going to look and see what the best hitters do and that's what we're going to do.  And you see them do it. You can again look at Miggy look at Ted Williams look at Trout look at just look at the top 10 power hitters right now and even in the in the day, and you see all of them do it.

 

Joey Myers  19:13

So I don't understand why they're all about video analysis, but they choose to see what they want to see. Right. So what they say is the problem they say with it is that it takes the hitters eyes off the ball, but I just talked about, we create neck pressure. The head is the important part. That's the piece that's the anchor. It's like a boat and I ask my hitters, what does an anchor do on a boat, it either stops the boat or it slows it down, right?

 

Joey Myers  19:37

So the head is the control piece. Wherever the head goes, the body follows. So the head takes a tracking position and anchors down and then it's the shoulder that comes in as far as it can while we're wringing the towel out. And that's what's going to get you to the show numbers.

 

Joey Myers  19:53

Now lefties if you watch lefties because the camera angle at Major League ballparks is slightly off center towards left field right… (To be continued in Part-3…)

Jaime Cevallos Part-1 Interview: Imagine Hitting Strategy That Is Safe For Hitters

 

 

Here's what we're going to discuss in Part-1 of the Jaime Cevallos interview:How To Turn Garbage Teaching Into Predictable Power

  • How is your understanding of the swing different?
  • Where do you get the principles and where do you get the science information from?
  • How your understanding is different than how people are teaching now?
  • “And the whole, the swing starts from the ground up suddenly wasn't correct to me.”

The following is the transcription of the above video.  You can find Jaime Cevallos at the following places:

Enjoy!

 

Jaime Cevallos  00:07

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here with Joey Myers. And Joey, just to tell you a little bit about Joey Myers. He played four years of D-1 ball at Fresno State, the member of the American Baseball Coaches Association, International Youth and Conditioning Association, and the Society for American Baseball Research.

 

Jaime Cevallos  00:31

He's a certified Youth Fitness Specialist, a Corrective Exercise Specialist and a vinyasa yoga instructor and certified in Functional Muscle Screen. Joey was frustrated with his own hitting in college and wanted to figure out a better way and now he's the author of the Amazon bestseller the “Catapult Loading System How To Teach 100-pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-feet“.

 

Jaime Cevallos  00:55

Joey and I have known each other for a few years now. Joey and I were both fans of Tim Ferriss work. And I was in the Four-Hour Body and Joey heard of me there. And that's one of Tim Ferriss books and reached out to me and we started chatting. This was maybe five or so years ago. And so, we've had a relationship talking about business and baseball and what our strategies are as far as what we teach and all, and just get an understanding of his ideas of the movement. And so, Joey, thank you for coming on.

 

Joey Myers  01:52

Yeah, thanks, Jamie. Thanks for having me. And I got just in case we need any examples or need a demonstration, I got my bat here.

 

Jaime Cevallos  02:00

Nice Yep, I got mine too. You know, we're all set. Um, so, the first thing is what are your thoughts as far as the way the swing is taught out there? How is your understanding of the swing different? And I guess another way I could phrase this is, how is it different from how you understood it in college? And then maybe also how is it different from what you see being taught out there?

 

How is your understanding of the swing different?

Joey Myers  02:39

Yeah, good question. So being taught in college it was the whole down through, swing down, swing through type thing that we often see and hear the Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez is saying that they swing down or Mike trout says he gets on top of the ball. And those were after I got enlightened a little bit. Those are very frustrating cues to hear because “swing down!” That's what I was taught and I didn't make it to the big leagues like these guys, I was taught the same dang things and it didn't work.

 

Joey Myers  03:07

So fast forward to 2013, I we had our first kid a boy, Noah, who is now seven, so seven years ago, and in the sleepless nights the getting up six times a night, the wife was feeding Noah, and the wife made me feel guilty to go back to sleep, which I go to back to sleep really quickly. So she, she felt like, “Hey, you need to be up to if I'm up!”

 

Joey Myers  03:35

So in those nights, I picked up a book I think I was trying to fix something in my own body because of the swinging and things I was in fitness at the time. And so, I picked up Thomas Myers, his book Anatomy Trains.  And Thomas Myers, we aren't related directly, but I'm sure somewhere in the family tree were somewhere directly related. And I read through that book. It took me shoot, I had to read over pages for three or four times…

 

Joey Myers  04:12

Curious, you know that was something that you and I have in common. We have this passionate curiosity for the swing. And that just started a big, long deep rabbit hole that I went through. So, Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains, then it went to there was a book called Dynamic Body and it was a collaboration of different authors that were in that springy fascia Rolfing type of genre in the fitness industry.

 

Joey Myers  04:36

And in that book that steered me over to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's, The Spinal Engine. So, what I was finding before I started going down that rabbit hole was a lot of the probably in the journey that you've been in recently in researching other people and what they teach. It was a lot of things being taught, retaught things that I was trying to reteach myself and it wasn't working.

 

Joey Myers  05:01

And so I figured oh well, it's probably user error. And then finally getting through a lot of that information I started, the lightbulb went on, I was like, you know what, maybe there's something to the human movement principles or rules to human movement. And when you look at it through the lens, you look at hitting through the lens of human movement science, say, physics, or biomechanics, or engineering or anything like that. It changes the game.

 

Joey Myers  05:30

So I always tell the, my coaches that follow me, I say, hey, you need a better standard for your hitters. It can't just be the same, what I call garbage over and over, that doesn't work doesn't really have much experimentation behind it. So that got me into what my thing is now is applying human movement principles that are validated by science to hitting a ball. So that's where I've fast forwarded to where I'm at now.

 

Jaime Cevallos  06:02

And when you say that applying human movement principles, where do you get the principles and where do you get the science information from?

 

Where do you get the principles and where do you get the science information from?

Joey Myers  06:13

Good question. Jamie, turn your camera a little bit. You got a little bit of a glare from the sun. Oh, better. There you go. There you go. That's better. Good just for the readers out there when they're listening to you talk.

 

Joey Myers  06:29

So the principles, the big, big ones that really opened my eyes were from Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's The Spinal Engine. So Dr. Serge is a physicist and electrical engineer. He took one of the biggest I think, case studies for me that sold me on the whole thing was he had a, I don't know if he's a patient client, but whatever, but he was a quadriplegic. He was born that way. So yeah, I think he had nubs for arms. He walked on the bottom of his pelvis. I think they call it the ischium.

 

Joey Myers  07:00

And he had hooked this gentleman up to… put pads on his spine along his spine to measure muscle output to measure the connective tissue output. And if you watch this guy walk and if you just go on YouTube and you put “Serge Gracovetsky Spinal Engine”, it'll come up (video above). It's an old video. It's like in the 80s, I think mid-80s, late 80s. And if you watch this, it's about the four-minute mark. So, he's got video footage of this gentleman walking and if you cover up his lower half like his pelvis basically and just watch him move. You would swear the guy wasn't a quadriplegic.  You'd swear yet legs.

 

Joey Myers  07:43

So he was born without legs and arms, and he was moving like normal people move, but without legs and arms. And so that was to me. I was trying to look for the foundational the foundation of the foundation and locomotion is what Dr. Serge talks about.  So, without locomotion, we aren't human. And he talks about three different and these are the principles, he talks about three different spinal movements, movements that the spine can do…

 

Joey Myers  08:11

There's flexing, so just imagine yourself arching your back, right, but your lower back is already in a has a slight curve to it anyway, so it's already started off, if you just stand there and don't do anything, it's already started off in an extended extension, sorry, extended position, they call it lordosis. The second one, why they put extension and flexion together. So, flexion would be like you doing a crunch where you're crunching up and you're bending your back that way. So those two he puts together, those are number one.

 

Joey Myers  08:44

Number two is side bend. So it's just going side to side. And then the third one, the last one is called axial rotation, which just means that your shoulders can move independent or not independent but your shoulders move one way and your pelvis moves. That's why our right arm and left leg comes forward at the same time.  We don't walk with the right arm and the left leg coming forward the same time. So that is basic locomotion and all three, or four, all three of those movements happen when we walk.

Joey Myers  09:15

And from the minute we start walking… The reason in the beginning, it's so hard for the baby to get into the toddler stage is because that lower back doesn't have the curve in it yet. It's actually straighter if not more flexed, because they're in that that crunch position. And then it's them trying to create that musculature to create that curve in the lower back. And so, once they get that they get more steady.

 

Jaime Cevallos  09:43

That's I'm sorry to interrupt. Yeah, that's really interesting. I didn't know that that that the curve at the bottom of your spine, takes a little while to develop. That must be an ontology recapitulates phylogeny type of thing where we were crawling, in the beginning, and then we needed that curve for upright walking.

 

Joey Myers  10:05

Yep, yep. Yeah, because think about it in in the wild where you have a good example of side bending are sharks. So, sharks when they swim, it's this this movement, right? And if you look at whales our fellow kin, mammals, right? They're extension flexion so their tails this way dolphins same thing, right? Dr Serge talks about a lot of this.  And then if you watch dogs it's similar it's like you see this move that goes like this it's up and down side to side, butt goes one way head the other.

 

Joey Myers  10:40

And what's interesting is there are three sections of the spine. You have the C the cervical, you have the T the thoracic, which is the middle the biggest part 12 full vertebra in the middle, and then you have… so there's seven in the top part and the cervical, two of them we can't see because it inserts into the skull. Then you have the 12 of the thoracic, which is the biggest part of the spine. And then you have the lumbar which is five, five vertebrae.

 

Joey Myers  11:05

And what was interesting to me is if you look at the curve so the neck so imagine the neck is curving this way, the thoracic part curves the opposite can't see it here we go through this way. So the, the thoracic curves the opposite way. And then the L the lumbar lower back curves the same way as the cervical so it's like C, C and then you have backwards C in the middle. Interesting how everything was designed.

 

Jaime Cevallos  11:36

Wow.  So keep going about how it's different from your understanding is different from how you understood in college or how people understand it right now.

 

How your understanding is different than how people are teaching now?

Joey Myers  11:54

Yeah, that's a good one. So connecting the dots of today and I know you've been doing your research and stuff.  There are swing people out there and I won't mention any names. Most of you out there listening to this will probably know who I'm talking about. But they talk about that the barrel moves the body. The body doesn't move the barrel.  Which if you have a human movement foundation, you hear that and it's automatically ignorant automatically.

 

Joey Myers  12:27

So the people that are saying that have no clue how the human body moves, and if they claim that they've read and understand Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's Spinal Engine, that's a lie. It's a con job because and you can go and look up David Weck, who, WeckMethod.com. He was the inventor of the bosu ball, most of you out there have been to a gym you see that ball that's got the big bubble on the bottom and the surface on the top and it's makes exercises really hard to do.

 

Joey Myers  12:58

So he was the inventor of that and then over the last probably four or five years, he's really gotten into the spinal engine stuff. And the guy's a sharp guy, you go on Instagram. He's really, really active on Instagram. Very, very sharp guy. And he's all about spinal engine. And you have so many others like what's his name Dr. Joe LaCaze, he's RotexMotion. There's a another one. I can't think of his name right off the bat. But he he's got a system. It's all based on body, there's a lot of spirals in the body.

 

Joey Myers  13:31

For those parents out there, those coaches out there that want to get involved in this, but have no clue how to start. If you just understand those three types of spinal movement, from there you can pretty much figure out how everything else is supposed to move. So when you have somebody that says that barrel moves the body, that doesn't make sense, because human movement we're fighting gravitational forces, but movement starts from the middle out is what we call it, not from the ground up. It's from the middle out from the spine out basically.

 

Joey Myers  13:31

If you read Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains, he talks about the spiral line that comes across the chest, and it comes back down around the butt and then you see one that comes under as a stirrup under the foot. And so when you understand any…you don't have to be, like again, I was self-taught. I just was curious passionate curiosity about everything. You don't need to know the language per se, but if you can understand the concept of just locomotion.

 

Jaime Cevallos  14:40

Wow. I came to that realization a couple years ago myself. And the whole, the swing starts from the ground up suddenly wasn't correct to me. It's more that it starts in the center of your body and shoots in two directions, almost like they're working against each other.

 

“And the whole, the swing starts from the ground up suddenly wasn't correct to me.”

Joey Myers  15:07

Yep.  That's a great observation man. And I know you're smart Dude, you like to think outside the box philosophically. And that's exactly what's happening. So if we take this idea of springy fascia. So fascia is, if you foam roll, that's what you're trying to do. If you foam roll your IT band and it hurts like the dickens. If you haven't done it in a while. It feels like somebody's stabbing a knife in the side of your leg, right?

 

Joey Myers  15:37

So fascia is a cotton candy or spider webby like material that your bones and muscles float in. It also gives muscles their shape. It's almost like if you think about it, the grocery store if you buy a bag of potatoes, the potatoes are the muscles. The bag itself that the potatoes are wrapped in is the fascia. It's connected. There's a sheet, or one line anatomy train that attaches the top of your eyebrow goes all, it's called the backline. Goes over the head and go straight down the back butt, hamstrings, back of the calves and attaches to the bottom of your or the back of the ball of your foot. It goes through your arch in there.

 

Joey Myers  16:15

So that's one whole sheet and there's nine different ones, I think is what Thomas Myers talks about, that are all intermingled interweaved. You have this idea of compression tension forces. This fascia is comprised of compression tension. Compression force is just a, say a piece of granite on or a brick on a brick, right brick on a brick, they exert forces against each other. That's a compression force.

 

Joey Myers  16:42

A tension force would be like a boom crane, you know a wrecking ball. You have the structure of the boom crane, you have the cable that, and it comes over and it holds the wrecking ball down here. So that cable that's connected to the wrecking ball that's a tension force, so you have force from the structure that's pulling up and you have the Wrecking Ball and gravity that's pulling down and you have this tensional force between the two.

 

Joey Myers  17:07

So with fascia you have both compression tension. What's interesting is this is all Thomas Myers stuff is he says that granite has a very high, granite the rock, like if you had a countertop, granite countertops, that granite has a very, very high tolerance for compression. You can put a ton of weight on top of granite and it's not going to break it's not going to; it's not going to snap break whatever.

 

Joey Myers  17:32

But it has a very low tensional force. So if you hooked up, you drilled holes in two sides of the granite so you had a countertop, a long countertop, drilled big holes in both sides of the granite hooked in like a big fat strong carabiner, you got the chain hooked up to a horse on both sides and you have the horses walk away or run away from each other. That granite's going to pull apart because its tensional force isn't very strong. But fascia in the human body is both strong compression and tension.

 

Joey Myers  18:03

So whether you're in a good posture, good position or you have some bad juju, your body's just not in that, right, you're going to have those compression tension forces but they might be off a little bit and it's going to create, it's going to wear out like mileage on your…say your car, you got a front end that's misaligned, you get the tires out like this. Well, you know, they're guaranteed 80,000 miles if your tires were aligned, but since they're misaligned, you might get about half the mileage on those tires…same thing with fascia, it's going to over time if it's off, then you're going to wear out joints, you're going to wear out shoulders, you're going to wear out necks, you're going to wear out lower backs, whatever.

 

Joey Myers  18:43

So it's amazing when you dig into the fascia side and spinal engine, they're both pretty related because without the fascia, it's like they both are dependent on each other. The fascia is a connective tissue, the spine is what they're saying bones are actually connective tissue as well their fascia, but fascia wound really, really, really dense. Bone does bend, but there's a threshold till finally it breaks but it does bend.

 

Jaime Cevallos  19:14

Okay.  What would you say?  Is your understanding of the swing back then? We keep going off on?

 

What would you say?  Is your understanding of the swing back then?

Joey Myers  19:25

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So how this relates to the swing is loading and unloading. This is the Catapult Loading System. This was the book you mentioned, that was the 2017 Amazon bestseller. This took power to a whole other level. And I ran the experiments when I was going through this, I was seeing what others were doing like Trout, and at the time Andrew McCutchen was doing well, and Bautista, Donaldson and all these guys.

 

Joey Myers  19:52

So I took that information, looked at the players to see how this was being translated how they were translated… (to be continued into Part-2)

Christian Yelich Says Barry Bonds Taught Him A Drill That Changed His Career…

 

 

I agree with ‘swing down'…

Christian Yelich & Barry Bonds: 'Swinging Down' in the 'Launch Angle' Era

Christian Yelich and Barry Bonds swing comparison. Photo courtesy: Jomboy Media YouTube channel

Let that sink in for a bit.

Some are pissed I just said that.  But those who've followed me for some time are nodding their head in confirmation because they know better.

Because guess what?  It depends.

‘Swing down' shouldn't be used as a blanket teach.  I have two things for you…

  1. Jomboy Media VIDEO: “Christian Yelich says Barry Bonds taught him a drill that changed his career” (watching it will reveal its relevance to this post), and
  2. Below is Chapter-2 of the new book I'm working on.  It's a longer post, but I think you'll like it.  Goes well with the Yelich-Bonds video above, like grass fed red meat and a fine red wine.

Thank you Grandpa Mike for sharing the video.  You know who you are.  Enjoy!

———-

WHAT AN OLD SCHOOL SWING FEELS LIKE & THE PROS AND CONS?

In Chapter-2, we'll look at what an old school swing feels like and the pros and cons.  We'll be discussing:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics,
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics, and
  • So, how do we interweave brainless data and confusing real v. feel hitting cues?

How Can Someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they Say about Hitting is Wrong?

Now, some of you out there have seen the video of Alex Rodriguez demonstrating how he swung down. Maybe you saw the preseason interview of Mike Trout discussing how he gets on top of the ball.

Or how about Albert Pujols on the MLB Network revealed he swings knob down to the ball?

‘Swing down'.  ‘Getting on top of the ball'.  ‘Knob to the ball'.  ‘Keep barrel above hands' is another one.  Nowadays, these are some of THE most despised hitting coaching cues on the market.  I was one of them.  “Was”.  About 2-3 years ago.  Now I have a different perspective and approach.  These cues DO work.  But it depends on the case.  And if reading or hearing those words made your blood boil…you can change too, believe me.  Here's how…

First, let's clear up and define “swinging down”. Well yeah, the hands do go down to the ball. And depending on how high or low the ball is, the hands will go down more or less. This is true.  But coaches HATE these cues for a different reason.  Here's the thing… if you watch players like A-Rod, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols physically demonstrate what swinging down means to them, you see them using a chopping motion. Yes. The barrel and hands travel down to the ball. But not ‘hands drop'.  That's different, and is a swing flaw we MUST fix.  In the high level swing, we see the barrel go down before coming up.

Here's my beef with ‘swinging down'…

When swinging down is translated into a NEGATIVE attack angle.  Meaning the barrel is going down towards the impact point.  Is not coming up.  And this is what hitting greats like Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols are demonstrating in interviews.  And where the confusion starts.  If you watch their actual swing on film, slow motion swing, what you're going to see is a POSITIVE attack angle.  Meaning, barrel elevating up to incoming ball descending down. Yes, even in Fastpitch Softball (more about this in Chapter-7).  Barrel coming up to impact, positive. Barrel going down to impact, negative.  We clear?

So if what these great hitters are saying and demonstrating isn't what they're actually doing, then what's REALLY going on?

Well, here's the thing … it's the mysterious case of real versus feel What's really happening on video doesn't square with what the high level hitter feels they're doing.  Two completely opposite things.  Take Mike Trout.  Let's look at his real (9-year career average batted ball numbers before start of 2020 season):

  • Ground-ball rate: 36.8% (League average is 43%)
  • Fly-ball rate: 40.8% (League average is 37%)
  • Line drive rate: 22.4% (League average is 20%), and
  • Homerun to fly-ball ratio: 21.4% (League average is 9.5%).

Significantly below average ground-ball rate.  Check.  Slightly above average fly-ball rate.  Check.  Slightly above average line drive rate.  Check.  And well above average home-run to fly-ball ration.  Checkmate!  This proves his performance – the real – doesn't jive with his feel of ‘getting on top of the ball'.  I want you to go to YouTube, search “Mike Trout slow motion swing”, and watch…

His barrels goes down, then comes up to the ball.  Up.  Positive barrel attack angle.  Not down.  Not on top.  Not a negative attack angle.

Before you get upset I'm telling Mike Trout, “You know ‘nothin'!”  Here's the beautiful crazy of this whole thing.   Coaches, understand this … the body is always one or two steps behind the brain. Thinking happens fast. There's zero friction with thoughts.  Nothing. It just goes, goes, goes, goes, goes.  No heavy bones, muscle, organs, and fascia required to move before a thought can fire off!

The secret to unlocking the real v. feel mystery can be revealed through a psychology term called paradoxical intention…

Pros to Old School Feel Mechanics

We have to understand what Mike Trout is REALLY saying.  Bring context to the numbers.  Remember Chapter-1?  Trout will say, “I'll take 10 swings off the tee or during batting practice to feel like I'm getting on top of the ball”. You see, his natural tendency is to uppercut. An extreme uppercut because he uses a significant shoulder tilt to effectively feast on balls down in the zone.  And this works well with pitchers targeting down in the zone, and away.

Although, this is different than the slight uppercut Ted Williams talked about in his book The Science Of Hitting.  Williams talked about barrel meeting the plane of the pitch.  Trout's natural tendency runs counter to this.  And what he tells himself, remember the body is one or two steps behind the brain, is to do the exact opposite of what his natural tendency is.  He tells himself to get on top of the ball. And what's the result?  The barrel ends up somewhere in the middle of extreme uppercut and negative attack angle downswing.  That's what he's trying to get for his real… to get to the middle.

The true old school hitting tragedy…

Some say hitters like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Pujols, and Trout are – or were – fantastic at doing, but not very good at translating what they did into teaching. Take Barry Bonds. Who was the Florida Marlins hitting coach in 2016.  Then they let him go.  Former Marlins President David Samson said this,

“Bonds was worst hitting coach of my career.”  

So why wasn't Barry Bonds able to translate the way he hit to his prized pupils like Giancarlo Stanton?  Bonds is the career Major League home run leader after all. Some say he can do, but he doesn't know how he does what he did.  I disagree these hitters aren't good at teaching.  Again it's a translation issue.

Dr. Victor Frankl, Psychologist and survivor of four Nazi death camps, in his book Man's Search For Meaning, calls this “paradoxical intention”.  Hitters like Trout and Bonds use extreme physical cues to establish a consistent slight upward swing plane.  This strategy is a “trick” played on the body, which is a step or two behind.   Paradoxical intention.  Take any hitter with an extreme uppercut, tell them to chop down (negative Attack Angle “feel” cue), and their barrel path ends up in a slight uppercut.  Just like Ted Williams said – like magic!  Feel cues are fantastic for making simple swing adjustments.

If you're coaching youth hitters, let's get into that world for a moment…

A lot, and I mean A LOT of youth players ages 7 to 12 years old uppercut.  Extreme uppercuts. Casting.  Loooong swings.  They don't need to be taught this!  This is typical, before they've built enough strength in their bodies.  In their core.  In the dynamic nature of the spinal engine.  They tend to cast the barrel out.  Meaning, the barrel casts away from the body, leaving the back shoulder too early. This causes a long swing.  Thanks to gravitational forces, centripetal and centrifugal forces*.  As they swing, they end up underneath the ball.  On inside pitches, they end up getting jammed a lot.  And swing under a lot of pitches up in the zone.  A LOT.

(*Centripetal Force is a center “seeking” force. Like twirling a rock on a string. The rock exerts force back to the two fingers holding the string. Centrifugal Force is a center “fleeing” force. Letting go of the twirling rock on a swing, causes the rock to shoot off in a tangent direction away from the original circle.)

There are other factors causing an extreme uppercut, like hands drop or constant deep barrel dumping.  But with youth hitters, the rules of Physics are bigger offenders. Here's the good news … swing an overloaded bat.  Overloaded bats help young hitters build strength to do that.  Regardless of mechanics.  More on that protocol later in the book.

Those are the pros of an old school feel mechanics. Now, let's look at the cons…

Cons to Old School Feel Mechanics

These are what the “metrics people” will typically bring up. You're so out of touch.  No numbers to support your gut feelings?  What does that mean?  How can I trust your “gut”?  Because you played or coached 20 years in the Big Leagues?  That's not good enough!!  What's measurable is manageable.  If you can't use numbers to support your gut, then I'm not listening.  This is a common conversation you've probably seen, heard, or participated in.

The old school coaching cues we just discussed in the pros to old school swing section can also be included in that gut conversation.  It's bad if the old school cues are used as a default. In a one size fits all way. For example, Johnny's coach sees Pujols demonstrate a chopping down swing on MLB Network's Diamond Demos. That coach goes to Johnny's 10 year old team practice on Monday evening, and tells every one of his hitters to swing like Pujols does. Chop, chop, chop. And he tells them with the conviction, vigor, and energy of a Sunday Pastor, that they can hit like Pujols.  How can you argue with Senor Alberto?  From his lips to coach's ears out of coaches mouth to kids' ears.  If Albert Pujols said it and it worked for him, then we MUST take the message literally!  He is Prince Albert for jimminies sake!

Here's the problem with that. Remember when I mentioned the translation issue?  By feeding the ‘swing down' or ‘chop down' mantras as a default hitting strategy to every 10 year old on your team, I'm sorry to say it, but you will lose. Let me illustrate with a thought experiment…

Apply the “one-third rule” to your team. In this example, assume a third of your hitters pop the ball up a majority of the time. Another third of hitters hit line drives a majority of the time.  And the remaining third are majority ground-ball hitters.  So, what if you tell the whole team to swing down or get on top of the ball?  A blanket statement to all.  Default old school hitting cue.  What do you think is going to happen?

Based on what was discussed with Dr. Victor Frankl's paradoxical intention – remember extreme uppercut, tell them to ‘get on top', and they end up in the middle?  Slight uppercut.  Inline with incoming pitch.  Here's what will happen to our team if we tell all to chop down … a third of the team that used to pop the ball up a majority of the time, will hit more line drives. Those middle third hitting line drives a majority of the time, are going to hit more ground-balls. And the ground-ball a majority of the time group, are going to hit even more worm burner ground-balls.  So how did the thought experiment turn out with a blanket statement old school hitting cue?

The only group on the team that benefits are the beginning fly ball hitters. The ones hitting fly-balls a majority of the time.  Those are the only ones you'll see a significant difference, for the better.  Look ground-balls are great.  Especially hard ones when the defense can't play catch.  But what happens when they can play catch?  When would your team come across a team that can play catch?  That's right!  In all-stars.  In playoff and championship games.  Not good if you just converted line drive hitters into ground-ball hitters.  And ground-ballers into hitting more worm burners.  Read our infamous Ground-ball Rant post.

Now, let's cook up a different scenario.  A more simple yet elegant solution.  Instead of giving a blanket statement, a blanket swing down, chop down to the whole team. But instead, I let the line drive hitters do their thing. Just keep doing what you're doing. I took the fly ball hitter and told them to swing down, chop down.  And I instructed the ground-ballers to hit the ball in the air.  Like pop the ball up instruction.  How do you think that thought experiment would go?

If I did that…now my pop-fliers AND ground-ballers are both hitting more line drives.  Remember Victor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning paradoxical intention?  Overall, my whole team is hitting more line drives. Now my line drivers aren't lonely.  They have more competition to deal with.  Competition makes everyone better.  Hungrier.  Especially when they're experiencing success.  Does that make sense?

The cons of an old school swing are when we apply a blanket statement shared by one of the best hitters on the planet.  Don't do that.  Bad coach.  You DO NOT pass go, and you DO NOT collect $200.

One swing fits all cues are a bad. And you wouldn't know this without data to measure and optimize. Gut feelings and hunches are like throwing darts in the dark.  It's like shooting an arrow and calling whatever you hit – after the fact.  It's guessing.  If you aren't collecting numbers using a PocketRadar, Rhapsodo, HitTrax, BlastMotion, or SwingTracker, then you're flying blind. You aren't going to know. And those hunches will just be hunches.

Same goes for blindly following what a Hall of Famer or future Hall of Famer says or said about hitting.  Become a scientist.  Test, test, test.  Blindly following a leader without question, will make you nothing more than a sheep.  Question, question, question.  Even question me and EVERYTHING in this book.

So far in Chapter-2, we talked about:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics, and
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics…

We talked about how what's real and what's feel are two totally different things. The scenery can be very confusing. The waters choppy.  How does a coach cut through the clutter and calm the waters?  The simple truth to make hitting easier – it's not easy, but we can make it easier – is called paradoxical intention.  Doing the exact opposite of what just happened to get the middle.  Extreme swing up?  Tell them to swing down – hit a chopper.  Extreme swing down?  Tell them to swing up – hit a pop-fly.  There's more to it of course, and we'll get into it more later.  Let's move on to…

How do we Interweave Brainless Data and Confusing Hitting Cues?

This DOES NOT cause that, and that DOES NOT cause this.  Question: Coincidentally, if I wear a green shirt and it rains, then is it reasonable to think I can make it rain by wearing a green shirt?   This is the exact dilemma many instructors find themselves in with what they teach.

Some teach ONLY using data.  Some teach ONLY using old school hitting cues.  Some claim to base their teachings on millions of hours watching ONLY the best hitters.  Some validate Science with their hitting theories (proudly saying their system can't be found in Science!!).  And others validate their hitting philosophy with Science, which is what we do.  Who's right?  Who's wrong?  Can we use a mix?  And if so, how do we know if we're on the right track?

Are you throwing dynamite in the air and expecting rain?

I want to share a true story from the book Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. The story will illuminate how to filter the hitting information available today. Interestingly…

Right before the Great Depression hit the Oklahoma panhandle, rain was plentiful.  This caused 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 of the era.

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.

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 rain coming.  NO crops growing.  Super high winds are eroding dry barren soil and tossing it up in the air.  Grazing cattle have nothing to eat but tumbleweeds brought over by Russians (people often sprinkled salt to eat them as well).  The livestock soon get sick and die.  The drought is fatal for the majority who stay, others move west.  This is where we get John Steinbeck's book “Dust Bowl”.

Stick with me, because here comes the lesson…

The farmers who stayed behind were so desperate for rain, they hired self proclaimed rain experts to “create” rain, literally out of thin air.  The belief at the time was that an explosion in the air could bring clouds, and with clouds, rain would fall from the sky.  In plenty.  So what did these self proclaimed rain experts do?  What any self proclaimed rain expert would do!!  They sold the idea that if they lit a stick of dynamite, timed the throw just right, they could get a perfectly timed explosion that would bring rain-a-plenty.

…And as luck would find it, the “racket” seemed to work a couple times.  This only fed the foolishness we all see now – hindsight is 20/20.  Yes, this wasn't a proud time in American history.  You have to understand, people back then were DESPERATE.  Their hope blinded them to the MANY times throwing dynamite in the air didn’t work.  People lost limbs, fingers, etc. from timing the throw wrong.  Head scratcher  I know.

When it comes to hitting, we have to be careful of the causation-correlation relationship.  Is studying video and teaching only what the “best” hitters are doing enough?  I would argue it is not.  How do you know what you're looking at, if you don't know what you're looking for?  We see Pujols demonstrating a negative attack angle swing on MLB Network.  But then we see him NOT do that in real-time.  We bring that same Pujols gold nugget to Johnny's team, blanket teach it, and the end result looks nothing like what we see Pujols do during competition.  This DOES NOT cause that, and that DOES NOT cause this.

I'm going to reveal a secret about why coaches are terrible at the causation-correlation relationship.  Like shooting a random arrow and calling whatever is hit.  Here's a quote summing it up from Scott Adams, in his book Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America:

“There are three important things to know about human beings in order to understand why we do the things we do. [1] Humans use pattern recognition to understand their world. [2] Humans are very bad at pattern recognition. [3] And they don’t know it.”

So how do we escape this seemingly inescapable prison of misdiagnosis?  After reading thus far, you know it.  Be less subjective and more objective.  KeyDifferences.com says this about subjective versus objective:

“Subjective means something which does not show the clear picture or it is just a person's outlook or expression of opinion. A subjective statement relies on assumptions, beliefs, opinions and influenced by emotions and personal feelings.  An objective statement is based on facts and observations.”

Use the Scientific Method.  Develop a hitting Question…make a predictive Hypothesis…do the Research…collect the Data…form a Conclusion.  Swing experimentation.  We apply human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  Scientific principles pulled from:

  • Physics,
  • Engineering,
  • Biomechanics, and
  • Body work.

How do we figure out if this DOES cause that?  Or if that DOES cause this?  Not by wearing a green shirt!   To know what you're looking at, you have to know what you're looking for.  DO NOT validate Science through your hitting philosophy.  DO validate your hitting philosophy through Science.  Set a higher standard for your hitters.  It's okay – watch your millions of hours of video…employ those expensive measuring gadgets…and flaunt those old school hitting cues.

But above ALL of that … understand what the rules to human movements are FIRST.  Once you know that, all other domino's fall where they're supposed to.  In conclusion of Chapter-2, we looked at what an old school swing feels like and the pros and cons.  We discussed:

  • How can someone tell Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Alex Rodriguez what they say about hitting is wrong?
  • Pros to old school feel mechanics,
  • Cons to old school feel mechanics, and
  • So, how do we interweave brainless data and confusing real v. feel hitting cues?

In Chapter-3, we'll answer the question of what leads to hitting more predictable line drives and less strikeouts.  Where we'll dive into:

  • What does “predictable” mean and why does probability matter?  And,
  • Difference between ‘Launch Angle’ and ‘Attack Angle’…

Onward…

———-

I’ve Lied To You For 5-Years Now About The Best Hitters Baseball Bat Path…

Breaking down Khris Davis

Khris Davis is 5'10" with a ton of power. How does he generate it?Sean Casey shows how his back elbow and bat path help him get it done.

Posted by Diamond Demos on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

 

…And I'm sorry.  But I will say this, most are being misled on the best hitters baseball bat path.  The principle you'll discover shortly also apply to fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball.

In this best hitters baseball barrel path post, we'll look at:

  • How the best hitters are using the Catapult Loading System,
  • WHY current one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel path approaches are losing, and
  • Hitting different “catcher's glove” examples of inner, middle, and outer third of the plate pitches…

 

How the Best Hitters are Using the Catapult Loading System

…according to Diamond Demo video above: “Breaking down Khris Davis”.

We published last week's Khris Davis swing analysis post because of the Diamond Demo “Breaking down Khris Davis” video.  The overwhelming response I received from readers sharing this video with me truly validates the Catapult Loading System seen in the best hitters.  Don't think so?  Take a look at the following split screen snapshots from the above video (recognize ANY of the hitters??)

Best Hitters Baseball Swings: JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, & Jose Altuve

Observe stride landing positions of JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, & Jose Altuve – ‘showing numbers', ‘downhill shoulders', & ‘hiding hands'. Photo courtesy: Diamond Demo video “Breaking down Khris Davis”

And,

Check out stride landing positions of Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, & Mike Trout – ‘showing numbers', ‘downhill shoulders', & ‘hiding hands'. Photo courtesy: Diamond Demo video “Breaking down Khris Davis”

We won't spend a lot of time rehashing last week's post, BUT I do want to bring up an important point that was talked about in the above Diamond Demo segment.  And it has to do with best hitters baseball barrel path…

Starting at about the 2-min, 15-second video mark, and continuing to the end, they talk about this idea of Khris Davis getting his barrel in the zone early, and keeping barrel in the zone late.  And this is where I've lied to you for the last 5-years!  I used to teach my hitters this same one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel path.  But what I found was this IS NOT true of the best hitters baseball bat paths…

 

WHY Current One-Size-Fits-All SUPER Deep Barrel Path Approaches are Losing

Let me tell you a story of how I stumbled onto this principle…

In January of 2018, I was working with one of my hitters, who has been working with me since he was 7 years old.  He's 15 years old now, in the 8th grade, and consistently hits with a low to mid 80's Ball Exit Speed off the Backspin Tee, using a wood bat.

His mechanics are pretty clean compared to my other hitters.  At the time, I was teaching my hitters the same one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel acceleration path, as many of you are now.  One day, we were working on hunting pitch zones, inner third pitches specifically, and he responded,

“Coach, I don't feel like I can get to that inside pitch effectively.  Am I showing my numbers too much?”

This got me thinking, so I jumped on Twitter to look at the best hitters baseball bat paths.  Specifically, I was looking for hitters, like the ones on the split screen images above, crushing 94-mph+ on the inner third of the plate, and guess what I saw??

The ones who demonstrated the Catapult Loading System principles well (namely ‘showing numbers'), still did so at stride landing on inside heat! Did you catch that?!  ‘Showing numbers' was irrelevant to crushing the inside pitch.  CLICK HERE for a post I did debunking that.  So what were they doing different on the inner third?

It had to do with what we call hitting a different “catcher's glove”.  I won't go into the details of that here because I already did at the following post titled: “Accelerate Barrel Rearward Like Mike Trout”.  The best hitters baseball barrel path isn't about a one-size-fits-all approach to all pitches and timing.

Here's the DANGER for hitters using a one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel acceleration approach…

Signs that pitcher's are smartening up to countering this seemingly effective low in the zone barrel approach?  Pitchers are now using this, which Perry Husband calls Effective Velocity (EV), to exploit hitters with longer barrel paths.

In short, 2018 homers are down, in addition to having a few months in the season where overall offensive strikeouts outweigh hits in the Big Leagues.  This is troubling.  To give a clue, check out Perry's video explaining why Chris Davis (Orioles) is having issues with this one-size-fits-all barrel path…

 

If hitting coaches don't smarten up to this soon, then they'll be rendered obsolete, irrelevant to the hitting community, and ultimately out of a job.  That's not an exaggeration, and is where the puck is going, believe me.  Now, let's look at the behavior of different “catcher's glove” approaches on inner, middle, and outer third of the plate pitches…

Hitting Different “Catcher's Glove” Examples of Inner, Middle, & Outer Third of the Plate Pitches

Inner 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Belly Button” Catcher's Glove)

Mike Trout Homer #38 – 88.1-mph Front View

Chest View

Mitch Haniger Homer #26 – 95.9-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Trevor Story Homer #34 – 93-mph in Front View

Chest View

Middle 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Back Foot” Catcher's Glove)

Matt Carpenter Homers #36 – 84.9-mph Change-up Front View

Chest View

Javier Baez Homer #33 – 87.4-mph SL Front View

Chest View

Khris Davis Homer #42 – 93.9-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Outer 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Real” Catcher's Glove)

Mookie Betts Homer #31 Front View

Chest View

Christian Yelich Homer #32 – 88.7-mph Slider Front View

Chest View

Michael Conforto Homer #27 – 94.4-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Now, how do we train this?  I'm going to give you two complimentary drills we use to sync the optimal “catcher's glove” with the proper direction of force (See – aren't you glad you read my post to the bitter end!?):

  1. “Shorten Swing” Like An Elite Hitter (Not What You Think), and
  2. How To Optimize Directional Force Using The “Pounding Nail” Drill.

Answering Baseball Stride Drills Reader Question: “How Important Is Forward Momentum I Know We Must Go Forward But Does It Matter If Stride Is Big Or Small?”

“…Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks.  She  went for a walk in the forest.  Pretty soon, she came upon a house.  She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.  At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge.  Goldilocks was hungry.  She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

“This porridge is too hot!' she exclaimed.  So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.  ‘This porridge is too cold,' she said.  So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.  ‘Ahhh, this porridge is just right,' she said happily and she ate it all up…”

More in a bit on how Goldilocks and the Three Bears relates to baseball stride drills, but first…

In the following post, we're addressing the following concerns regarding baseball stride drills (also works for softball):

  • Stride direction and amount,
  • Stride type (experimenting with the ‘Float'),
  • Head movement from stride, and
  • Controlling center mass in stride.

Before getting into the how to baseball stride drills guide, I want to preface that the PURPOSE of a stride shouldn't be power.  CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that may confirm this.  If it's power you seek, then I'd advise looking at the Spring Loaded category.  What purpose does a stride serve?  A stride is for timing and initiating directional force.  CLICK HERE for this post on that.

Let's get started…

 

Baseball Stride Drills Direction & Amount

Watch this video from Chris Welch at ZenoLink.  Using data and science, he's found reasonable markers in guiding baseball stride drills

 

Here are highlights from baseball stride drills video above:Baseball Stride Drills: Stepping in Bucket Drill Using Bands

  • Stride length should be about 3.75-times hip width (hip-center-to-hip-center)*,
  • At landing, stride direction is to be closed about 10-degrees (straight forward toward pitcher is zero-degrees), and
  • Stride landing foot position to be about 65-degrees open (pointing perpendicular to home plate is zero-degrees, and straight at pitcher is 90-degrees).

(*Denotes 3.75-times hip-center-to-hip-center is length of stride measured from back foot to stride landing.  NOT the measurement of the stride itself.)

Chris says in the video that if a hitter is under or over striding, then they're hampering body's ability to create torque.  Stride landing MUST align ball of the foot with ball of the foot.

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix “stepping in the bucket” using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).  With the image to the right, it's another one of my baseball stride drills using colored bands to fix stepping in bucket or crashing the plate.  If the hitter is crashing too much with their stride, I get them to feel stepping out, and the reverse is true if they're stepping out.  I use variance to get them in the middle (blue band).

…Goldilocks Golden Rule. 

 

Stride Type (‘Experimenting with the Float')

For most intensive purposes, there are 3 stride types:

  • Leg kick – medium (Mike Trout) or large (Josh Donaldson),
  • Slide step – most Big League hitters use this.  Aaron Judge, Robinson Cano, Joey Votto, and Andrew McCutchen just to name a few.
  • Toe-tap – I recommend this for my younger hitters. Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, and Victor Martinez employ this.

Of course, there are variations to these, but these are the three broad categories of stride types.  I call the stride the ‘float' and ‘fall'.  The ‘float' is a momentary shifting of weight back towards the catcher before falling forward.  Matt Nokes calls this the ‘Ride' and ‘Stride'.  Some hitting coaches don't like this idea, but the reality is this is human movement.  The Chinese have been practicing exactly this move in Tai Chi for thousands of years…in stepping to my right, I have to make a brief weight shift to the left first.  CLICK HERE for a post analyzing this dynamic move.

I included a lot of video examples (CLICK HERE) of MLB hitters using these different stride types to help guide your baseball stride drills. In that post I concluded with this:

“When it comes to [baseball stride drills], Forward Momentum is the objective.  How we get our hitters there doesn’t really matter.  Just give them examples of how to accomplish more FoMo, and allow them to tinker and test until they find something they’re comfortable with doing.”

…Goldilocks Golden Rule.

 

Head Movement from Stride

There's been few online Hitting Guru #57's saying we want minimal to zero head movement when hitting.  They claim, the more the head moves, the less your eyes see the ball.  And they point to Barry Bonds as their champion.  On paper, this conclusion looks great, and with Bonds as their poster child seems argument seems pretty reasonable.

However, what science says and what the top 50 hitters in the Major Leagues are doing reveals something completely different.  The opposite actually.  Listen, I agree minimal to zero head movement when hitter's stride foot lands.  And if baseball stride drills are done correctly, this should be a natural result.  But I don't agree with minimal to zero head movement GETTING TO stride landing – BEFORE the turn starts.

In this post titled, Softball Hitting Tips For Kids: Why Late Head Movement Fails & Early Head Movement Succeeds, we discuss:

  • The Myth of ‘keeping the head still’,
  • Proprioception & dynamic movement,
  • First baseman stretching to receive a throw, and
  • Watching TV upside down.

The biggest bomb NUKING minimal to zero head movement argument, is this 2013 article by Dan Farnsworth at FanGraphs.com titled, Breaking Down the Swing: Best Hitters of 2012.  Farnsworth compiled a list of the top 50 hitters from the 2012 season according to Fangraph's batting component of WAR (this is a big deal metric).

He looked at side views of each of these hitters from highlights of the 2012 season, in which each player hit a home-run.  Farnsworth says the main complaint coaches have with early head movement, is that moving the head forward “speeds up the ball”.  This may be true, however during the stride the hitter hasn’t made a definitive decision to swing yet.  In the Head Movement piece of the article, Farnsworth concludes:

“Next to no relationship here.  I think this one can be considered dead, simply based on the fact that all of them moved forward to some degree.”

Did you catch that?! Farnsworth revealed in his research of top-50 hitters in 2012, that ALL moved their head forward to some degree.  You see, head movement is inevitable in ALL dynamic movement.  Early is okay, late is not.   Don't sit there and point to hitting outliers like Barry Bonds, and tell me the top-50 hitters of 2012 all had it wrong.  It was true then as it is now.

Besides, did you know fresh out of the box, humans come with “video stabilizer” eye software?  Ask an ophthalmologist.  In addition, your knees, ankles (Achilles tendon), and hip joints act as shock absorbers too.  If we start our hitters in an athletic position, and most importantly, they land in one, then the hitter will be fully optimized for minimizing the ball “speeding up”.

If you're still skeptical, then check out this post titled, Perfect Swing Hacking With Forward Momentum.  We discuss:

  • Balance without thinking,
  • Debunking a common objection & a study, AND
  • Perfect swing examples.

Not too much, not too little, just right…Goldilocks Golden Rule.

And last but not least…

 

Controlling Center of Mass in the Stride

Center of Mass (COM) in the human body is located at the belly button.  This was established in the womb.  The umbilical cord is the center of an unborn child's universe.  I say this to demonstrate the importance of COM in controlling human movement.

Now, we don't want baseball stride drills to promote too large or too small of a stride.  Remember? Goldilocks Golden Rule.  Chris Welch from Zenolink said the stride should be about 3.75 times hip-center-to-hip-center, and aligned are back ball of the foot to front ball of the foot at stride landing.  How do we teach this though?  In this post I received the following question from one of my readers…

One specific issue I see in a lot of my players is timing and getting over the front knee too far at contact. What are some good tee drills for staying back and any idea how I can get them to feel it when done correctly.”

In the post titled, Discover Science Of Successful Learning Secret To Fix Lunging (or any swing flaw for that matter!), as it relates to controlling the COM of our hitters, we discuss:

  • Reader question about lunging,
  • “Bean Bag” study from Make It Stick book,
  • WHY we separate PROCESS from PERFORMANCE with hitters learning something new,
  • How it takes time to change ineffective movement momentum into effective, and…
  • Training 4-5 days per week, for AT LEAST 5-mins each day.

And remember the …Goldilocks Golden Rule.

Don’t Teach Rearward Barrel Acceleration Without Understanding Pitch Depth First

 

There are a few “gurus” out there promoting a rearward barrel acceleration, which I agree with.  However, in teaching young hitters the concept over the past few years, with no disregard for pitch depth, some of my most clean hitters – mechanically – were having challenges getting to the inside pitch.  Rearward barrel acceleration is good, but MUST not be a blanket teach for all pitch depths.  The best hitters, like Mike Trout, alter the timing of the barrel's release off the back shoulder.

Mike Trout Swing Case Study: Hitting The Catcher's Glove

Mike Trout swing case study: hitting the “catcher's glove”. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Enter the content of this video.

Here's what I tried to do in the above Mike Trout swing case study:

  • Select Mike Trout home-run swings that were based off similar pitch type, location, and pitch speed,
  • Same game would assume same catcher and catcher's position relative to the hitter,
  • Same camera view, and preferably the same camera zoom setting,
  • Comparing inner third of plate pitch location barrel path versus outer third, and
  • Same pitcher would help control timing variable.

This was A LOT to ask, so truth be told…unfortunately, not all these points are affirmed in this case study.  Let's compare Mike Trout's 200th and 201st career homers on September 29, 2017…

Pitch #1:

  • Gonzalez was the pitcher
  • 86-mph FB? outer third part of the plate, mid-thigh high
  • Homer to LCF

Pitch #2:

  • Vincent was the pitcher
  • 90-mph FB, inner third of the plate, mid-thigh high
  • Homer to LF

A couple notes on Mike Trout's “alligator arm” swing on Pitch #2:

  1. Okay if late on the inner half of the plate (purpose is to barrel up ball and that's what Mike Trout is doing on pitch #2),
  2. NOT okay if doing off a tee, if on-time during soft-toss, or during dry swings (basically when timing is irrelevant or minimal), and
  3. CLICK HERE for a recent post on how to fix alligator arms, and how to practice what Mike Trout is doing with hitting the different “catcher's gloves”.

I’ve Lied To You for A Couple Years Now…Joey Votto On His 2018 Approach

 

The Josh Donaldson interview last year was awesome, but I think THIS interview with Joey Votto may be better.  It doesn't have the same let-the-beast-out-of-cage feeling that Donaldson contributed, but I feel Votto gives us more of a glimpse into the true art of hitting.  What Votto shares confirms what my hitters have been working on this past off season…line drive barrel control.  Precision.

Look, I love teaching my hitters the process of how to increase Ball Exit Speeds and to get the ball off the ground (optimal Line Drive Launch Angles), but as Joey Votto says, it's not the whole story.  And this is where I've been lying to you for a couple years.  Actually, not lying, just not sharing the whole story. 😉

Let me explain…

Joey Votto 2018 Hitting Approach

Joey Votto talking about controlling the line drive, setting goals like getting on base half the time, & using batted ball as feedback for future swing adjustments. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

My friend and professional golf instructor Lee Comeaux knows golf, and brought this idea of “precision” to my attention a few years back.  He understands springy fascia and the spinal engine, which is a PLUS.  Also, over the past few years he's mentored his teenage daughter to hit .600 in Texas fast-pitch softball leagues.  But most importantly, he comes from a sport where precision is king.  Ask any golfer if they're as obsessed about Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles like we are, and they'll look at you as if a third eye grew in the middle of your forehead overnight.

What good is Ball Exit Speed if the ball is not going towards the hole?  And Launch Angles matter depending on the distance to the target.  And by the way, the angled club face kind of takes care of Launch Angles for golfers anyway.

Put yourself in a golf mindset for a moment.  Imagine thinking about hitting, like you would golf?  Precision.  In the above interview, Joey Votto mentions the best hitters can hit the ball where they want, when they want.   This may not be 100% true in games, but during Batting Practice most surely.  How many of your hitters can do that?  Not many of mine, but we're working on it.

Precision.  This is not being talked about or taught in today's baseball and softball circles.  How to control the line drive.  The height AND width of it.  Why are we so obsessed with the vertical aspect of the field and not the horizontal?  So many coaches out there believe a hitter can't have power without sacrificing swing quality.  An increase in power doesn't have to dampen Batting Average and/or increase a hitter's Strikeouts.

Precision.  How to control the line drive.  It's not easy, but it CAN be done.  Hitters CAN have a high Batting Average (even though BA isn't a good indicator of value anymore, according to Sabermetrics), power numbers, and low strikeout totals.  And I think Joey Votto touched on what I feel is just the tip of the iceberg.  Here are the few key things to look out for in the above interview:

  • This idea of Precision. Controlling the line drive.
  • Setting hitting goals and reverse engineering purpose of the swing.
  • The idea of using a batted ball as feedback to make adjustments (not new for golfers btw).

Without further adieu, here are…

 

My Joey Votto Interview Notes on his 2018 Hitting Approach

  • About 0:20 second mark, Votto believes talking Launch Angles isn't telling the whole story, how complete you are as a hitter, rebuts Josh Donaldson's “ignore coach if he tells you to hit a ground-ball” comment, all fly-balls are not good fly-balls,
  • About 1:30 minute mark, Votto talks about how hitters like Donaldson, et al. can hit a ball with any trajectory to any part of the ballpark, he uses golfer with a bag of clubs metaphor, doing anything you want at anytime is the story we're not telling, best hitters can do everything – he brings up Mike Trout (diverse array of skills),
  • About 3:00 minute mark, Eric Byrnes asked Votto how his approach has changed since coming into league in 2007, give away less pitches, anytime he takes a swing there's intent or purpose to each swing (not being reckless), since he's aging as a player, Votto isn't able to make up for swing inefficiencies he could with a young athletic swing,
  • About 4:30 minute mark, Byrnes asks Votto how he is super-human with his walk to strikeout ratio when the league really doesn't care about inflated K quantities, making a conscious effort to cut down on K's, goals – looked to Sabermetrics to see how he could hit .340 or .350 last year and math said he had to strikeout a bit less, mentioned a few years prior his goal was to get on base half the time (OBP would = .500), chokes up, the “con” was it led to softer contact at times, ability to foul off tough pitches, buys a better pitch later in the AB, spreading out, seeing ball a little deeper,
  • About 6:50 minute mark, Votto was asked about how he has the highest batting average in his first AB, how important is starting game off with good momentum, separated each AB like it's their own thing, focusing on one AB at a time, every single game over an entire season, sticking with plan in the long run, Jay Bruce “to hit homer, you have to miss homers”, focus on process,
  • About 8:40 minute mark, Byrnes asked Votto, “I have a 6yo boy at home, what's the #1 thing you'd teach him about hitting?” Let the ball be your feedback.  Spending too much time on mechanics, ball is going straight in the air, ground-ball, in the air, is the ball coming off 4-seam, on a line with backspin, story about watching Albert Pujols with Cardinals on a line with backspin.

Here is a Method Helping Mike Trout Stay Calm Under Pressure (Dr. Tom Hanson Interview)

Tony Robbins has said that success is 80% psychology, 20% mechanics.  Certified Hypnotist and creator of the cartoon comic strip Dilbert, Scott Adams, has said humans are irrational 80% of the time, in his recent book: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter.  We're only rational when deciding on things like which soap to buy!  He adds that we make decisions based on emotion, THEN we rationalize.  Not the other way around.

The best athletes in the world are better at controlling the mental part of the game, and their emotions.  They focus on controlling only what they can control.  Which leads me to this interview with Dr. Tom Hanson…

I stumbled onto a first edition of Heads-Up Baseball back in 1995 when I was in High School.  It helped clear my mind of all the hitting mechanical books I was reading at the time that left me more confused than when I started.  I owe a lot to Drs. Hanson and Ravizza for helping me play 4-years of Division-1 baseball at Fresno State, tuition free.

Without further adieu, here are some time-stamps to help you navigate the interview:

  • About 2:30 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about his experience coaching baseball at UVA and D3 Skidmore College. It's a challenge to find someone who has a PhD in psychology and experience coaching the game at the college level.
  • About 4:30 minute mark, I talk about how I stumbled upon the first version of Heads-Up Baseball, and how the information helped me cut through the white noise at a time when I felt overwhelmed with hitting mechanics, reading every book I could get my hands on.
  • About 6:00 minute mark, what were the top two or three things you and Dr. Ken Ravizza changed in the 2.0 version of Heads-Up Baseball?  One was this idea of changing “Trust” to “Compete”. The purpose of a routine is to compete.  Give 100% of what you have right now to the next pitch.  Problem right now is players are coming to college with a “showcase” mentality.  The importance of hitters being patient AND being aggressive.  Thoughts on including quotes and anecdotes from fresh coach and player faces in the book.
  • About 11:30 minute mark, if you could direct coaches to two concepts in the book, what would they be and why?  I liked the “Heads Up Practice” Chapter, but Dr. Hanson suggested “Chapter 2: The 3 Levels of Learning to Compete”, Know it, Do it, Own it. He also recommends reading Mike Scioscia's Introduction of the book.  The Goldilocks Golden Rule, what's right for the hitter right now (or today – know yourself).
  • About 18:00 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about the importance of having a model to explain the questions that come in about the mental game.  He goes into the RAMP-C model: Responsibility – the ability to respond, choose what you focus on, great question to ask: “How did you choose to respond?”  Awareness – being conscious of and how you typically respond under pressure or when you're hitting well, extrovert/introvert, how are you feeling right now.  Dealing with “yellow” or “red” lights.  Mission – what would you like to have happen, purpose or swing intention.  Preparation – what can I do to get myself to feel a “green” light, training in the off-season, what am I going to prepare for the next pitch or season.  Compete (changed from “Trust”) – give 100% of what you have right now to get to win the next pitch.  Nobody on the Cubs felt like they had a “green” light for Game 7 of the World Series when they win it.  Control, Plan, Trust changed to Control, Commit, Compete
  • About 30-minute mark, what have you found most valuable utilizing information in this book with your own kids while navigating the craziness of travel baseball, son C.J. is 14yo and daughter Angelina is 11yo.  First edition of Heads Up Baseball was before kids, now 20-year reflection period to version 2.0.  Before 13/14yo Dr. Hanson wanted to create an environment of fun for his son.  Helping kid fall in love with sport.  Not constantly picking the kid apart.  It's all about Relationship building.  No matter the message, if the relationship isn't there, then the message doesn't have its optimal effect.  Joe Maddon talked about building relationships as his priority in first 3 weeks of Spring Training with Cubs that first year, was building relationships with players.
  • About 39:00 minute mark, can you be a coach that can stretch out of being the best at conceptualizing and doing, and get more into understanding relationship.  Knowing your players, where they are in life, and how to relate is huge with players.

Unfortunately, the phone recording app I was using cut off another 20 minutes of the interview.  Here are some nuggets that were inconveniently left out:

How to change an athlete that has an emotional “red” or “yellow” light from his book Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players to the Next LevelUsing the ABC model:

  • Act Big,
  • Breath deep, and
  • Compete.

Dr. Hanson shared a conversation he had with Reggie Jackson, where he asked Reggie if he was confident all the time.  Reggie responded with, “Heck no!”  Reggie said he faked it a lot of the time.  Act Big.

Dr. Hanson shared a conversation between Mike Trout and Dr. Ken Ravizza.  Mike Trout likes to finish his exhale before getting in the box.  If he gets in the box without doing that, he steps out and finishes it.  That's Breathing deep.  Mike Trout also said he likes to stride slow to the plate in order to slow down the moment.

We also talked about where you can find Dr. Hanson online and the socials:

 

Book Resources Mentioned in the Interview…

If You're Teaching ‘Squish The Bug', Then You're OLD

This video is a definitive guide when it comes to WHY ‘squishing the bug' is an inferior hitting mechanic.

Right now, if you find yourself asking if people STILL teach this, then sadly, the answer is yes.

I ran into one just the other day on the socials.  Nothing but pseudo science and circular reasoning.  Pretty mind numbing experience actually.

Here's fair WARNING for the small few out there still teaching hitters to ‘squish the bug'…

If after watching this video, you're still not convinced, then you're old.

Consider what Henry Ford once said,

And while we're at it, look at what Ayn Rand said,

In the above video, we discuss the:

  • Science,
  • Experimentation, and
  • Application…

…validating WHY ‘squishing the bug' is DUMB, and no hitter should ever have to go through something as horrifying as that 😛 lol

Here are the resources mentioned in the video:

Also, here's a recent case study post I did on skipping the back foot titled, “How 175-LB 15yo Is Consistently Hitting The Ball 400-FT With…BBCOR & Wood.

DON'T BE OLD.

A Simple Way To Make Adjustments, Build Swing Tempo, AND Elevate The Ball That Works For Mike Trout & Josh Donaldson

I have a treat for you…

A “grab-bag” of golden nuggets…

The following 11 hitting tips come from my most popular social media non-HPL links of 2016.

To give you an idea,

I typically promote 1 non-HPL link per day on the socials, so that's 365 links getting put in front of my 20K+ followers.

I get a front row seat to see what coaches think interesting and worth their time.

The following creme-of-the-crop link montage, is arranged in descending order, least clicks to the most.

You'll find these somewhat of a random sort, but they all relate to hitting, albeit indirectly in some cases.

Happy learning!

 

#11: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: How Mike Trout Approaches Hitting

This is the featured video above.

Sean Casey interviewed Mike Trout during Spring Training of 2016, where Trout discusses his hitting routine…I jotted down 9 key notes for you:

  1. First few rounds he works on hitting to RCF,
  2. Stay up the middle,
  3. A few times hit the ball to LCF, to stay square with the pitcher,
  4. He mentions not getting too ‘chicken wing',
  5. Tee work: set it high and ‘get on top of the ball' (to counteract dropping the shoulder and barrel too much),
  6. 10-20 swings trying to hit a ground-ball every time,
  7. In games, sit fastball, react to off-speed and breaking balls,
  8. On top of the plate, back of the batter's box, and
  9. Work up the middle in games.

All these tips are pretty solid…

…for Mike Trout.

When I posted this, and made a note that Mike Trout is definitely not looking to optimize hitting the high pitch in games,

AND

He's most definitely NOT trying to ‘get on top of the ball' in games (both in reference to tip #5 above)…

There were a few men on Facebook that got their panties in a bunch, saying I was calling Mike Trout a liar…yada, yada, yada.

If we look at Mike Trout's Sabermetrics at FanGraphs.com, the reality is, he's THE BEST at hitting the low ball…and THE WORST at hitting the high ball.

So WHY does he practice hitting off a high tee?

Another look at Mike Trout's metrics, and we see he's:

  • Well below average in Ground-ball percentage (39.6% v. league average is 44%),
  • Above average in Line Drive percentage (22.1% v. league average is 20%),
  • Above average in Fly-ball percentage (38.2% v. league average is 36%), AND
  • Well above average in his Fly-ball to Home-run ratio (19.6% v. league average is 9.5%).

What does this mean?

It's a ‘what's real' AND ‘what's feel' sort of thing…

Because he's definitely NOT trying to hit ground-balls in games (contradicting hitting tips #5 & #6 from above).

So am I calling Mike Trout a liar…

And, WHY would he practice like this?

Earlier, notice how I said,

“All these tips are pretty solid…for Mike Trout.”

No, I didn't say that because Mike Trout is a mutant, and only Mike Trout can do that and get away with it.

When coaches say this, it's a cop out.  It means they have no REAL clue what's REALLY going on.

Here's where I'm going with this,

And it's VERY important…

And also WHY I made popular link hitting tip #11 the featured video…

What John Doe Coach missed in the interview was when Trout mentioned he has a tendency to ‘chicken-wing' and ‘drop his back shoulder and barrel' too much.

In other words, uppercut too much.

Mike Trout is using these seemingly counter-intuitive hitting tips to make adjustments to his swing's extreme tendencies.

I'm not calling Mike Trout a liar.

He's a friggin' smart competitive athlete.

He knows himself and his swing, and makes the necessary adjustments to stay in the black, and not get too far in the red.

There's no secret,

Mike Trout is trying to get the ball in the air.

It's like the advice Lightning McQueen heard in the animated movie Cars, “Turn left to go right”…when attempting to correct a spin-out.

 

#10: Hitting A Baseball – “The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports”

CLICK HERE for this article by Axon Sports.

Some of the things you'll gain by reading this:

  • “Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing.” – Warren Spahn,
  • Why “Keep your eye on the ball”, or “Watch the ball hit the bat” is humanly IMPOSSIBLE according to research, and
  • Awesome info-graphic breaking down the reaction time of a hitter.

 

#9: Hamstring Flexibility: 6 Tips to Loosen Up

CLICK HERE for the full article by GMB Fitness.

98% of my hitters are immobile in the hip.

And oftentimes, this comes in the form of tight hamstrings.

This is a great post looking into factors and strategies you can employ to improve the flexibility of your hitter's hamstrings…and maybe yours 😉

 

#8: Bryce Harper is pounding the ball into the ground to no avail

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

This article was written July 28th, 2016 with a sub-head that reads:

“He’s gotta figure out how to elevate more despite pitchers giving him few pitches to elevate.”

This was when B.H. was struggling to lift the ball early in the season.

The article talks about how Harper's dramatic launch angle change (down), led to a dramatic increase in his ground-ball rate.

The post discusses how pitchers are throwing him more outside and down in the zone.

The bottom line?

…Is that a ground-ball focused hitting strategy SUCKS!!!

It doesn't matter how hard you hit the ball, if you can't elevate, you'll hit A LOT of worm burners that end up as outs at the higher levels.

#7: Are overbearing parents ruining the Westlake baseball program?

CLICK HERE for this LA Times post.

The parent and player behavior is probably not going to surprise you…

However, I want you to ask yourself the question as you read this,

“How did the coaches respond to the parents that clearly didn't work?”

How could coach be more effective in dealing with parents in this environment, if a million dollar bet was on the line?

Look, maybe the athletes are spoiled brats, or maybe the coaches just don't have an effective strategy for dealing with this situation.

In other words, don't label the players or parents “mean” right away…

Be creative, brainstorm, and future pace how you'd handle this situation.

Because chances are, you will run across this scenario, in some form, in your lifetime.

#6: Clayton Kershaw UMPIRE VIEW of pregame warm up

You will get better at Pitch Recognition watching this video.

In the spirit of the playoffs, this video features arguably one of the best pitchers in history, Clayton Kershaw.

Do this for me…

Watch this video for a couple minutes, trying to pick up the “shape” of each pitch he throws, like what Perry Husband talks about in this article.

Then pick a series of pitches, see which pitch Clayton Kershaw signals to the catcher, look at his release, and close your eyes.

This would be like Dr. Peter Fadde's video occlusion training featured in this post.

Then try to pick another series of pitches, don't look at him signal to the catcher what he's throwing, and test yourself.

This is such a cool game to do with hitters.

 

#5: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blasts 33 HR in 60 Swings in Home Run Derby in the DR (Round 2 November 2014) 

I know this isn't Vlad G. the first, but there are a lot of similarities to their swings.  A few notes to look out for while watching him hit…

  • Toe-tap for timing
  • Aggressive move towards the pitcher with stride
  • Back foot stays sideways until follow through
  • Great knee action at landing (front), and during the turn (back)
  • Showing numbers to pitcher as close to landing as possible
  • Downward shoulder angle as close to landing as possible.

What do you see?

 

#4: Donaldson gives a hitting demo

Cool MLB.com interview with Josh Donaldson on developing timing and rhythm at the plate, with Sean Casey.

A couple notes from the video below:

  • Find out what's comfortable for you
  • Leg kick: engaged into back hip not back knee
  • Leg kick: control when get front foot down
  • Being on time, not about getting front foot down on time
  • Soft focus on the pitcher, recognize pitch better at the plate ( stay relaxed)
  • Hit with music on, adds a smooth tempo to the swing
  • Watch Manny Ramirez setup to swing, “boring” rhythm at the plate (again relaxed mindset)
  • Put the work in (Sean Casey)

 

#3: Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

CLICK HERE for this FanGraphs.com post.

I included the following chart from this post on my Ground-ball RANT post

Fangraphs Ground-ball metrics

Most understand Line Drives MUST be the main hitting objective (for a majority of swings), however I want you to compare the Ground-ball metrics to the Fly-ball metrics from the chart above:

  • A 32-point increase in Batting Average with Ground-ball over a Fly-ball,
  • A 358-point INCREASE in ISO (or raw power) with Fly-balls over Ground-balls…AND
  • A 115-point INCREASE in weighted On-Base Average with Fly-Balls over Ground-balls, which according to FanGraphs.com…

“Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.”

So, WHY are we still teaching hitters to hit ground-balls, and NOT to elevate?  Beside situational hitting of course.

What's more…

 

#2: Scooter Gennett and ground balls

CLICK HERE for this Beyond the Box Score post.

I love the sub-header, which reads:

“Scooter Gennett's offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?”

After careful metric analysis, Shawn Brody the post's author, says:

“In my mind, Gennett should be closer to his 2014 level of production, which is something he could return to if he put the ball in the air more often.”

Hitting consistent ground-balls will land you on the bench at the higher levels, unless of course you have plus running speed.

In which case, analysis shows that any launch angle above 10-degrees, makes faster running speed irrelevant.

So, what if a hitter hits the ball just plain hard?

Maybe the following #1 link post from my 20K+ followers will shed light on that…

 

#1: Jon Lester shows importance of launch angleBackspin Tee: Launch Angles

CLICK HERE to read this Cubs.com post.

The great case study article discusses how Jon Lester ranks second among Major League hitting pitchers with an average Ball Exit Speed of 92.5-mph.

So, what’s the problem?

Quoted from the article:

“…(He ended up with four hits on the season in 71 plate appearances, a .065/.108/.065 line.) Part of it is that, like many pitchers, contact was an issue — Lester’s 42.3 percent strikeout rate was above the 37.7 percent average for pitchers.”

How could Lester hit the ball so hard without finding much hitting success?

Again, quoted from the article:

“…it’s because 19 of Lester’s 24 tracked batted balls failed to get above 7 degrees of launch angle. Sixteen of those 19 failed to even achieve positive launch angle, which is to say that he pounded the ball into the ground constantly.”

In other words, to get the ball in the air, the hitter MUST have a positive launch angle.  About 10-degrees positive will get the ball to the outfield grass…on the “big” field.

If the hitter has a negative or less than 10-degree positive launch angle, THEY WILL:

  1. Hit A LOT of worm burners,
  2. Strikeout more,
  3. NOT get many hits, and
  4. Professionally speaking, NOT make it past A-ball (if they’re lucky enough to make it that far).

Even if they're lighting up the BES radar guns.

Here's a BONUS link for ya…

CLICK HERE to read a Cut4 article highlighting Giancarlo Stanton hitting the hardest ball ever recorded by Statcast at 123.9-mph, but it was hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Here's the lesson folks…

Line drives tend to be between 10-20 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Dingers tend to be between 20-40 degree positive launch angles (see image above).

Of course, whether it's over the fence or not will depend on the Ball Exit Speed.

It's not enough to hit the ball hard.

Teach hitters to elevate.

Get barrel on path of incoming pitch.

Focus on striking bottom half of ball.

That, my coaching friend, is how to decrease strikeouts, mishits, and weak fly-balls…AND increase BA, ISO, and wOBA.