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The Anatomy Of A Game Winning Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

To be honest with you…

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

My excuse…?

Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

Justin Turner walk off homerun photo courtesy: DodgerBlue.com

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

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

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

But I digress…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s he IS NOT Doing

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

So let’s see…

 

What he IS Doing

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

 

The Catapult Loading System Kindle eBook Giveaway

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

Discover The Back Foot Variance Drill Secret

I wanted to share a couple things in this post…

  • An updated video of the Back Foot Variance Drill, and
  • A testimonial from one of my online lesson dads from Tennessee (I’m in California!).

 

Back Foot Variance Drill UPDATED

Since putting this drill together a few years ago, I’ve improved on it to reflect what the best are really doing.  Here’s an outline of what we talk about in the above video:

  • Objective: to shift body-weight into ball and un-weight the back foot,
  • Squishing bug?
  • Variance Drill – fix hitters who skip too much v. not skipping, and
  • Options: skip backwards (scissoring).

 

Back Foot Variance Testimonial

I prescribed the Back Foot Variance Drill to Lawrence (Jr.) back on July 9th, along with the Babe Ruth Drill (forward momentum), and the Snapping Towel Drill (angling the body back over the catcher during turn).

Before I show you a couple BEFORE/AFTER images of his swing, please read what dad emailed me…

“Joey

Wanted to sit down and let you and your readers know how much of an impact you make on players lives. The key is to listen and follow what you say. 

First my background. I played at the Juco level, independent ball and amateur ball until i was 39. I pride myself on knowing the game and thought I was a pretty good hitter and taught hitting. I walked away with three amateur world series rings and no regrets on my playing career. 

I have taught my son hitting since he was 4.  As any parent has, I am proud of my son with probably some dad goggles on. But fact is he is a gifted physical specimen at 15, he is 6’1 and 175-lbs

For this I’m just going to focus on the facts. He ran into some hitting issues I was having trouble correcting this Spring. But I know hitting, right? And my son still listens to me so I should be able to help him. But it was not happening, we both were getting frustrated. As a freshman he still hit over .300 in varsity. But something was off.

Then while researching, (yes people if you or your coach does not have a growth mindset do yourself a favor and go do something else.) I ran across you this Spring. After studying what you were saying and swallowing my pride I decided to have you give my son video lessons online. 

Best thing I ever did for my son. We are only half way through the lessons taking our time to digest and work on what you have suggested, but here are the results. This after 3 months and 2 lessons

My son exit velocity before you was 86-mph it now sits at 91-mph. He recently did a show case with perfect game. On the hitting metrics they use he is between the 93-98 percentile on all players they have seen. In batting practice he would routinely hit the ball 325-350 feet using wood or bbcore. He is now hitting balls in excess of 400 feet.

While taking batting practice on a high school field yesterday dimensions of 320 down the line and 370 to center he hit 16 out of 45 pitches out including 3 in excess of 400 feet. I sent you video of a game he played last night. To have you evaluate, that home-run was to dead center which was 360 feet. The ball was a line drive and landed in the road over 40 feet behind the fence.

Yes the catapult loading system works. He is hitting baseballs with a wood or bbcore bat at 2.5x his body weight. Using those bats and at his age is just as impressive as 3x body weight. 

I mentioned before he is a big kid at 15. But he is still a kid, he has not begun to physically mature yet. He does not shave, no hair on chest, no definition of muscles. I fully expect to see within the year as he starts maturing he will be hitting baseballs over 500-ft. In three months working with you he has gained over 50 feet consistently. It now looks like he is on the little fields again taking bp.

Thank you for what you do and giving my son confidence moving forward, you helped a young man more than words I’m writing will ever be expressed.

Here is what he accomplished since we started using you. Named all world series team for the 15u babe ruth world series where his team finished second. Playing for 15u south east team Rawlings led team in batting average for the summer. That team went 6-1 in the wwba perfect game world series where he was named to the all tourney team. 

Named all tourney to perfect game summer showdown as well. Before you he had played in three events with perfect game with no all tourney nominations. He has also been approached as a rising sophomore by a high level D1 head coach that is interested in him. 

Thanks Joey for everything, and for not only being a great person to get to know, but being so knowledgeable on the scientific metrics on hitting. 

All the best
Lawrence Sutton”

Thank YOU Lawrence for such a glowing testimonial.  And thank you Junior for being such a respectful and coach-able student of the game.  By the way, originally Lawrence (dad) left this as an UNSOLICITED message on my phone, and I asked him to put it down on virtual paper, so I could share it with you.

Before sharing the BEFORE/AFTER images, let me address naysayer objections I frequently read on the Socials, speaking out against my book, “The Catapult Loading System: Teaching 100-Lb Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet”, this email clearly dispels:

  • “In High School homers virtually disappear because of BBCor bats”,
  • “15yo High School hitters can’t hit balls in excess of 400-feet at 175-pounds”,
  • “Sure, your system may increase power, but it will be at the cost of Batting Average and Strikeouts”, and
  • “This kid is just a freak [or they may use the word ‘mutant’]”

All this is FAKE NEWS Coaches!!

The last one always makes me laugh…I say take me to VEGAS then, because I’m running into A LOT of mutants!! Buahahaha

And you know why homers “virtually disappear” with BBCor bats in High School?

Because many of these coaches are teaching their hitters to HIT THE BALL ON THE GROUND!  Please STOP!  It’s insane these coaches don’t want their offense to score more runs and win more games.  Ground-balls SUCK for hitters!  The reverse is true for pitchers by the way 😉

I have faith, “winners” will make the adjustment and not whine, complain, and come up with every excuse in the book as to why hitting the ball HARD IN THE AIR doesn’t work.  Sad.

Boosting Ball Exit Speed and Launch Angles is a formula folks.  With hard work, attention to detail, and dedication, more hitters can achieve what we’re sharing.  The Catapult Loading System takes care of the former, and Pitch-Plane Domination the latter.

Here’s a BEFORE/AFTER image of Lawrence’s back foot skip (too much) on July 9th…

Lawrence’s feet are too close together in these swings…

Here’s a BEFORE/AFTER image of his August 25th 360-foot dinger…

This angle is a challenge, but use the catcher’s belt as a reference point to the back foot in both images. In addition, look at the gap between his feet.

Now, as you remember, we made three changes to Lawrence’s swing back in early July:

  • Increase forward momentum,
  • Create more space between his feet, and
  • Increase spinal tilt during the turn…

…so it’s hard to tell which one of these was THE ONE thing that made the biggest difference.  My argument for the Back Foot Variance is this:

  1. In past swing experiments, Forward Momentum hasn’t been shown to increase Bat Speed at Impact significantly.
  2. Increasing spinal tilt is great, but doesn’t work if the hitter’s feet are close together – like a golfers.
  3. The greater the distance between the feet (although not too much), the more consistent the hitter can get to the bottom half of the ball.

Also, if you read this Washington Post article titled, “Bryce Harper: A Swing of Beauty”, you’ll discover:

“Glenn Fleisig, an expert in the field of biomechanics, said the majority of hitters he’s studied transferred 90 percent of their weight to their front foot and kept 10 percent on their back leg at contact. Harper, of course, would move 100 percent of his weight forward at contact when his back leg lifts. That, Fleisig said, would enable him to generate a ground rotational force equal to 150 percent of his body weight.”

At Bryce Harper’s current weight of 215-lbs, that would be 322.5-lbs of force transferred at impact!  Any weight transfer less than 100% would be an inferior model, so that’s why ‘squishing bugs’ isn’t optimized.

Coaches, be careful who you’re following.  Make sure they’re sticking close to the human movement principles that are validated by science.  If not, then quickly abandon ship.

Please keep me updated on your hitters’ progress using the Back Foot Variance Drill below…

Ground-ball Hitting Approaches May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Producing MASSIVE Runs

Joey Votto: Plane of the Pitch

Joey Votto is one of the best at keeping his barrel on the plane of the pitch for a long time. Photo courtesy: RantSports.com

Now, before getting your panties in a bunch, let me start off by saying, the ONLY time ground-balls are okay, is for situational hitting scenarios. Other than that, ground-balls should be banned.

My friend and retired Major Leaguer Homer Bush, in his book Hitting Low In The Zone: A New Baseball Paradigm, uses Sabermetrics to show how hitters can hit .300 with consistent power, IF they can do two things consistently well:

  1. Elevate the low pitch, and
  2. Hit to ALL fields.

CLICK HERE for an interview I did with him here.

If you’re a Ground-ball Hitting Coach, then I address A LOT of your objections in this Ground-ball Rant post, which amassed over 5,400 LIKES on Facebook.

However, the biggest head scratcher for me is the fact that a large majority of pitching coaches around the nation teach their pitchers to keep the ball down in the zone.  WHY?  Because they want hitters striking the top half of the ball, which drives the ball into the ground.  Pitchers want hitters hitting ground-balls!  Then why are hitting coaches teaching hitters to hit the ball into the ground and/or swinging down on the ball?  By the way, the latter produces MORE “worm-burners”, NOT less.

I know, I know, these coaches point to terrible defenses at the lower levels or that there are no “bad hops” in the air, but where those arguments lose traction is:

  • What happens when you face a team with a better defense?  FACT: teams – at any level – that tend to end up in Championship games can play catch better than others.  And,
  • If you’re a coach pinning your “hopes” and “dreams” on the other team making an error or booting a ground-ball, then you’re teaching your players to control the uncontrollable.  No elite athlete or coach in their right mind – in any sport – focuses on uncontrollables.  This means you’re teaching an inferior model.

In this post, I wanted to share the growing MOUNTAIN of evidence being produced by Sabermetric sites, such as Beyond The Box Score, that are churning out, with increased frequency, Major League case study after case study showing that ground-ball hitting approaches are non-conducive to scoring MASSIVE amounts of runs, and non-productive for hitters at ALL levels and genders.

Onward and “upward”…

What Addison Russell’s swing adjustment means for 2016

Addison Russell made a change to his swing during the 2015 season, which could alter his offensive impact significantly in 2016.

By: Randy Holt

“The declining ground-ball rate will likely be a bit more significant in the long-term, as those changes continue to go into effect, given that Russell’s changed stance means he isn’t swinging down at the ball so much. So it’s only natural, and perhaps beneficial, that that number comes down. His line-drive rate didn’t change significantly, but the uptick in his fly-ball percentage was nice. Especially if you’re of the belief that as Russell continues to grow and develop, his strength will increase, leading to a nice uptick from his 11.4% homer to fly-ball ratio.”

Swinging down DOES NOT get the ball consistently AND productively in the air, getting the barrel on an upward plane with the downward traveling pitch does.  Ted Williams said this in his book The Science of Hitting.

 

Scooter Gennett and ground balls

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

By: 

It’s obvious that an increased amount of grounders is diminishing Gennett’s ability to tap in to his power, and is behind the drop in his offense over the last couple seasons. It’s easier said than done to put the ball in the air than on the ground, but without overwhelming speed it is tough for hitters to last by putting the ball on the ground. It is one of the main reasons we have seen his BABIP deflate from the .380 total he posted in his rookie season. To think that he could return to that total and sustain it is ridiculous, but the he also has gone from well above average to essentially average.”

I included this BTBS post in my book on Amazon titled, “The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls”.  Piggy-backing on this, here’s a more recent follow up about Gennett’s dramatic turnaround…

 

Scooter Gennett: power hitter

Home runs are up all around the league, and Scooter Gennett has joined the power party.

By: 

“In the interest of keeping up with the fads, the first thing I checked was his launch angle difference between 2016 and 2017. He went from 11.7 degrees to 15.0 degrees, which is certainly a change worth noting. It is not, however, in the range of launch angle darlings Yonder Alonso and Ryan Schimpf, who jumpted to 22.1 degrees and 30.2 degrees respectively. Despite not reaching the astronomical levels we’ve seen from some players this season, Gennett appears to have settled in a reasonable range that yields line drives, doubles, and a fair share of home runs as well.

His move towards better contact based on the change in launch angle can be seen through a 5.8 percentage point decrease in ground balls in tandem with a 1.3 percentage point increased in line drives and 4.4 percentage point increase in fly balls. Even with a 21.6 percent HR/FB that’s bound to regress, the underlying improvement of putting balls in the air should allow his increased level of power to continue. That may manifest itself in more doubles than home runs, but that’s still a productive profile.

The Reds got Gennett for nothing. He was in the midst of a multi-year slump in which he provided nearly zero additional value to the Brewers. Then Gennett, like so many others this season, added some lift on the ball and power to his game. The addition of power has helped him become a well above average hitter that should be able to provide 2-3 fWAR by the end of the season. That’s a huge win for the Reds, who simply claimed Gennett off waivers.”

This is pretty damning evidence for those coaches promoting a primarily ground-ball offensive approach.  COACHES QUIT SABOTAGING YOUR HITTERS!!!

 

Has Hanley Ramirez lost his power forever?

Hanley Ramirez is having the worst offensive season of his career. Can he rediscover his power stroke, or are the underlying signs of decline too strong to counteract?

By: 

“Since it is usually advantageous to pull for power, it is no surprise that Hanley’s decreasing pull rate has coincided with his rapidly falling ISO and home run totals. Over the past three seasons, Ramirez has seen a simultaneous increase in ground ball rate and decrease in pull rate. These factors, along with increasing age, are probably the main causes of his diminishing power.

So will the power come back? Probably a little bit. As his HR/FB ratio returns to normal levels, some of Hanley’s fly balls will likely turn into home runs. And since his hard hit rate has remained consistent, it is reasonable to expect a higher ISO going forward. However, if Ramirez’s launch angle remains as low as it has been thus far, a steady stream of ground balls can be expected, which will put major limitations on his power.

Please re-read that last sentence.  On second thought, memorize and burn it into your brain.

 

Bryce Harper is pounding the ball into the ground to no avail

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

By: Kevin Ruprecht, Jul 28, 2016

“The batted ball distribution clearly reflects the launch angle, though perhaps the trend up in ground-ball rate started earlier than 75 games into the season.

Harper is walking a ton and striking out less than last year, but his overall production has gone the way of his launch angles – down. His 116 wRC+ this year is a far cry from his 197 wRC+ last year. Pitchers are throwing more outside and lower than last year out of fear of his power, so Harper just isn’t getting many good pitches to hit. Harper will have to adjust to reverse this slump.”

There are beautiful radar charts illuminating the differences in his launch angles in this post (just click the article “title” link above to see them).

Evan Gattis fixed his ground ball problem

With a move back to catcher and a more patient approach Evan Gattis seems to have cured what ailed him early in 2016.

By: Chris Anders, Sep 26, 2016

“Early in the season it looked like Evan Gattis might have been finished as a productive hitter. A player who is limited to DH and doesn’t hit the ball in the air enough to maximize his power is simply not an appealing roster option for most teams. Thankfully for both Gattis and the Astros the early season struggles seem to be merely a blip on the radar. As it turns out, a move back behind the plate and an increase in launch angle was all that was needed to re-energize his career.”

Here’s a more recent Beyond The Box Score piece on Gattis about the difference in the two halves of his 2016 season…

 

Evan Gattis’s power surge: Is it real?

The Astros DH/catcher smacked a lot of extra-base hits in the second half of the year. Is this the new normal, or did he run into a few?

By: Evan J. Davis, Jan 8, 2017

“Where the swing might come into play is his batted ball types. Grounders fell nearly 13 percentage points between halves (47.1 percent in the first, 34.4 percent in the second), while fly balls jumped accordingly. Statcast confirms this: Gattis’s average launch angle jumped from 10.8 degrees in the first half to 13.1 degrees in the second. The sizable decrease in his pop-ups (from 5.3 percent to 3.9 percent), in tandem with the softly-hit and ground ball percentage drops, also suggests that Statcast wasn’t missing too many of his batted balls.

Gattis was finding more optimal launch angles to hit the ball. He was getting more loft, and keeping the barrel through the zone.

There’s a formula coaches, on how to consistently barrel the ball more often.  Sabermetrics have given hitting coaches the answers to the test!!!

 

Franklin Gutierrez is wasting his hard contact

It helps a player’s cause to hit the ball hard, but that alone won’t make him great. Just ask Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

By: Ryan Romano, Sep 30, 2016

“In 2015, Gutierrez put 46 balls in play in the lower part of the strike zone, according to Baseball Savant. 25 of those, or 54.4 percent, went on the ground, which ranked him in the 42nd percentile. In 2016, his ground ball rate on low pitches has leapt to 74.2 percent, moving him up to the 98th percentile. When given a higher offering, Gutierrez will still put it in the air, but that can’t compensate for the spike in grounders down below.

If Gutierrez remains at this level of offense, he’ll be a solid player. Most teams will find a spot for a capable (in theory) defender who can hold his own at the plate. He won’t go back to being elite, however, unless he cuts down on the ground balls. Making hard contact is half the battle; the other part is making sure that contact goes where you want it to go.”

The next piece for those of you Ground-ball hitting coaches addressing the objection that hitting for higher Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles contribute to more strikeouts (HINT: causation DOES NOT necessarily equal correlation here)

 

Whit Merrifield is here to elevate and celebrate

The Royals’ breakout infielder is the latest to embrace the launch angle revolution and is making sure he gets a chance to put the ball in play.

By: Anthony Rescan, Aug 5, 2017

“Arguably the most impactful change is what happens when Merrifield makes contact. Currently, his average, observed launch angle is up from 16.89° to 20.51° and he’s seeing a spike in exit velocity from around 84 mph to north of 87 mph.

This has caused a massive shift in how his batted balls enter the field of play. Both line drives and ground balls have been siphoned off to fuel his fly ball spike.

In addition to that, Merrifield has been much more successful at turning those fly balls into long balls. The effect of this change is seen across the board with Merrifield — a near-80-point spike in ISO [Raw Power – Slug% w/out singles factored into the equation] certainly isn’t anything to scoff at.

Merrifield has also become more efficient at the plate. Though he’s experienced a slight dip in walk rate, he’s drastically cut his strikeouts. His previous mark of 21.7 percent has been struck all the way down to 13.1 percent. When looking at his plate discipline statistics from Pitch Info, we can spot the changes. His O-Swing rate has dropped two percentage points, but resulted in a 6.7 percentage point increase in O-Contact rate. He also is swinging at more pitches in the zone by a 3.8 percentage point margin, but his contact rate there dropped from 92.1 percent to 90.9 percent. Overall, his contact rate has jumped to 84.4 percent from 82.6 percent. So, he’s offering at less pitches out of the zone, but doing more with them and also swinging at better pitches.”

Look coaches, the longer the hitter can match the plane of the pitch with the barrel, the more opportunity to drive the ball.  Increasing power doesn’t have to sacrifice swing quality.  Plate discipline and pitch recognition MUST also play a MAJOR role in the hitter’s development.

Francisco Lindor is enjoying a big power surge

It’s almost as if hitting the ball in the air is better than hitting it on the ground!

By: Luis Torres, May 15, 2017

“What really jumps out at you is the change in his ground-ball and fly-ball rates. He went from hitting way more ground-balls than fly-balls, to being a fly-ball hitter. His fly-ball rate went from 28 percent to 45 percent. That is a huge change.

It used to be that coaches at all levels would encourage their hitters to swing down and keep the ball on the ground. In recent years, hitters are learning how ineffective that really is. Ground-balls will go for base hits more often than fly-balls will, but will go for extra bases less often. It is really hard to score by stringing together a bunch of singles.”

At this point in the post, if you still find yourself a Ground-ball hitting coach, you may be thinking, “So should I teach my hitters to hit fly-balls?!”  Check out this FanGraphs.com article…

 

Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

“Let’s take a look at a little bit of data to get started. Here are the results on each type of ball in play from 2014:

Type AVG ISO wOBA
GB .239 .020 .220
LD .685 .190 .684
FB .207 .378 .335

You can see that line drives are bad news for pitchers any way you slice them. They lead to more hits and huge run values compared to the other types of balls in play. But there’s a trade off in the ground ball-fly ball department. Ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls but fly balls go for extra bases much more often when they do drop in for hits.

In other words, if you’re a fly ball pitcher, you can usually sustain a below average BABIP, but you might get tagged for a few extra doubles, triples, and homers as a result. Ground ball artists, on the other hand, don’t often allow homers and extra base hits, but they allow singles to squeak through more often.”

Let me clarify the above graph…ISO refers to Isolated Slugging% (aka Raw Power), which is like Slugging% but with singles factored OUT of the equation.  Weighted On-Base Average (or wOBA) measures a player’s overall offensive contributions per plate appearance.

I think every hitting coach can agree on Line Drives being the ultimate hitting objective, but picking between the two “evils” of either a GB or FB is where hitting camps diverge.

And according to the graph above, even though Fly-balls lose 32-points in Batting Average compared to ground-balls, I’ll take a boost of 358-points in Raw Power (ISO), and a jump of 115-points in a player’s offensive contribution per plate appearance (wOBA) ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

I want to end with this beast of an article by The Hardball Times, authored one of my favorite authors Dan Farnsworth…

 

Ground Balls: A Hitter’s Best Friend?

“Alan Nathan [retired Physicist] has a great research article posted on his website detailing the math behind hitting a home run based on experimental measured ball flight. In it, he summarizes the results pertinent to this common teaching axiom:

‘For a typical fastball, the batter should undercut the ball by 2.65 cm and swing upward at an angle 0.1594 rad.’

That value in radians converts to a 9.13° uppercut swing, representing the maximized swing path for energy transfer and backspin using a typical major league hitter’s bat speed.

I do not believe this is common practice or knowledge in major league baseball, which is unfortunate. I have heard a lot of second-hand horror stories about the philosophies of many organizations in the game. Especially at the big league level, there is little evidence that a true ground-ball swing will lead to success. Line drives are the key to hitting, regardless of hitter attributes. Speed appears to have less of an impact on a hitter than what popular belief says. While speed may help boost a player’s batting average on balls in play, fast hitters do not have an automatic incentive to hit the ball on the ground, based on these results. They can turn doubles into triples rather than just outs into singles.

The bottom line: leave swinging down to bad hitters at the amateur level, who have no chance at playing at the highest levels of the game. Otherwise, hit the damn ball in the air.”

There is A LOT of great stuff in this Farnsworth article, so I advise you read the whole thing.

And if you think teaching speedy hitters to hit the ball on the ground is a good thing, then let me share this fact from Rob Arthur from FiveThirtyEight:

Let me repeat,

The effect of speed starts to fade only when launch angles exceed 10-degrees, as exit velocity begins to take over as the biggest determinant of a batted ball’s fate.”

My friend and retired Big Leaguer Aaron Miles once told me that even the Dee Gordon’s of the hitting world have to learn how to drive the ball at the Big League level because the infielders’ arms are well above average.

Ground-ball hitting coaches, are you starting to run out of excuses yet?

Let me leave you with some quotes from some “pretty good” hitters, talking about the importance of Launch Angles and Ball Exit Speeds

Now look,

If you still aren’t convinced that higher Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles are the way to go, then I chalk it up to willful ignorance.  You don’t know what you don’t know, right?  Hopefully this post moved you to more of a conscious incompetence.  In other words, you now know what you don’t know.

Don’t worry, I understand, you may not be familiar with how to teach your hitters how to elevate the ball with authority.  The good news is, there are resources.  Get educated because your hitters are DEPENDING ON YOU.

There are quite a few individuals on Twitter teaching this approach (this is by no means an exhaustive list, if you know of others, then please post in the comments section):

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my online video course titled Pitch-Plane Domination.  Sorry, shameless plug 😛

Mark my words, this hitting approach will be the norm in the next few years.  Just remember that I told you so 😉

Also, if you’re on the Twitters, then use the hashtags #GBsSuck, #GroundballsSuck, or #PitchPlaneDomination to spread the “elevate to celebrate” gospel.

“I am just curious to see what are the steps the coaches are using to teach this system?  There is a ton of great information but what have you done to break it down.  I cant throw all this info and steps at a player and expect them to retain the info.  So, what have you focused on from start to finish?  IE. Grip, Break it apart drill, Tuck front shoulder, Fight Position, Finish?  Thank you”

– Coach Sullivan

The legendary UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden. Photo courtesy: FunctionalTrainingPathBlog.com

I received this on my Coaches Forum recently, which is included as part of any online video course of mine one would invest in.

It’s a great question, and one I don’t feel the coaching community has done a good job of answering (me included…until now).

Sure, an online hitting guru may get favorable results with their hitters, but how do they actually teach and progress the swing mechanics to get those results?

I’m attempting to shed some light on that in this post.

Look, let me be up front…

There’s no perfect place to start with a player’s swing.  Every coach will have a differing opinion on this based on a myriad of factors, so please use the following as a guideline or suggestion, and deviate when necessary.

What I do know is this,

You can’t go wrong with scratching the immediate hitter’s itch.

In this post, we’ll attack Coach Sullivan’s question from above in the following ways:

  • Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch,
  • Breaking down drill progressions,
  • Mindset when working on something new,
  • Transitioning practice into game swings, and
  • Player’s homework for home.

Let’s get started…

 

Mechanical Steps to Focus on First – Scratch the Itch

I ask the parent of my hitters (or the hitters themselves), what part of their swing needs the most help.  Here are the questions I typically ask:

  • Looking back on the season (or past season), where did you hit the ball more…on the ground, line drive, or fly balls?  Can you attach a percentage to each?
  • Looking back on the season (or past season), where did you hit the ball more…to left field, center, or right? Can you give me a percentage of each?
  • Do you feel like there’s more lack of power or solid contact?

To test their answers to these questions,

I can also put the hitter on a tee, setup where they should hit the ball to center-field, and have them take 10 swings, while capturing their Ball Exit Speed with a radar gun.  Generally speaking, this will tell me where they’re hitting the ball direction-wise, and with what kind of impact quality.  And it’s not how high the radar gun goes, but how consistent and stable their numbers are.

Armed with this data, I can now formulate a semi-solid swing plan.  The next step is confirming my assumptions through video analysis, in which I use the HudlTech or CoachesEye app on my phone.  I use Powerchalk.com for my online hitters.

The first session is the same with all my hitters (from 7-years-old to 24-years-old), we address how to consistently get into the box, the gorilla grip, and Finger Pressure.

After these are covered, and I can now hold the hitter accountable for them, then I dive into a swing solution that scratches the immediate itch…

Before jumping into mechanics I make sure my hitters are moving better, so they can perform better by following this simple plan for better mobility and stability.

If a player is struggling with contact, then I start with Footwork, Knee Action, and Barrel Path as described in The Pitch-Plane Domination and Reaction Time Mastery online video courses.

Or,

If a player is struggling with consistent power (radar readings are below average and unstable from swing to swing), then I start with ‘Showing Numbers’, ‘Side Bending’, ‘Hiding Hands’, and Hunched Position as described in my book and The Catapult Loading System online video course.

 

Breaking Down Drill Progressions

How do we teach a brand new motor skill to a budding young athlete?

Please keep in mind, the speed of drill progression will depend on the player’s age, “trainability” as talked about in David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene, and the player’s early movement development.

This is how to teach the teaching of the mechanics, if you will.

So think about drill progressions as what you do in the weight room.

What happens if you do a back squat with the same weight, 2-3 days per week, 3-sets and 12-repetitions every workout, 52-weeks per year?  Right!  You’ll plateau early on and make zero gains the rest of the year.  You’ll be wasting your time and money in the weight room.

In the case of squatting, how do you get a body and/or strength change in the squatter above?

By adjusting the intensity (total weight lifted), accomplished sets, amount of repetitions, type of squat (front v. back), and rest time.  Change MUST be a constant if you want the body to adapt accordingly.  These are drill variables that can drive skill adaptation in hitters as well.

When teaching a brand new hitting technique, I move through the following swing progressions (from easy to more difficult):

  • Dry swings,
  • Tee swings,
  • Soft Toss, then
  • LIVE or front toss.

If the hitter can produce the new swing technique eight out of ten dry swings, then I move them to tee swings, and so on and so forth.  Think of these progressions as weight-lifting for the mind.

I will also slow things down movement-wise for the hitter by breaking the swing apart into three steps at first with the Break-it-Apart Drill (not really a Drill per se, but more of a way to drill the Drills):

  1. Getting to the landing position (Fight),
  2. Pause for a second or two, and then
  3. Swinging.

This allows the player to slow the swing process down to focus on the fix.  So putting these drill progressions together would look something like this:

  • Break apart dry swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Put swing together dry swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Break apart tee swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Put swing together tee swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Break apart soft toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next),
  • Put swing together soft toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next), and lastly
  • Put swing together LIVE or front toss swings (after 8/10 successful reps, move onto the next).

 

Mindset Working on Something New

What if I timed you 10-times writing your name using all letters and took the average, then timed you 10-times writing your name in half the letters?  So for me, Joey Myers, I would write J-E-M-E-S.

Well, the first few times writing your name in half the letters would be slower, but as your brain learned to do it after the first 2-3 times, you’d actually write your name in half the letters 1/3 the time it takes to write your full name!

Who cares?  Your players do.

I tell my hitters that you’ll take a step back before you take two forward when learning to do something new.

Mindset is EVERYTHING when your players are learning a brand new movement.

Your players MUST know that you’re grading them on the process, NOT the outcomes…at first.

In other words, I tell my hitters that if they swing and miss, but do what I want them to do mechanically…they get an ‘A’ for that swing.  If they hit a fiery hole through the back netting of the cage, while not doing what I wanted them to do mechanically…then they get an ‘F’ for that swing.

You following me here?

They need to go into observe mode on outcomes, not analytical mode, in the beginning.  This is crucial especially with my online lessons because I’m not there to physically work with the hitter.  So when a mom or dad says our hitter is doing what I want them to do off the tee, but not during LIVE batting practice.  Most likely this is a mindset issue.  The hitter is more focused on OUTCOMES hitting LIVE, not solely on the process like they should be.

A lot of times, I throw out plate discipline and timing completely in the beginning (in other words, I’m not grading them on those).

 

Transitioning Effective Practice Swings into Games

I did a comprehensive post on this already, so CLICK HERE for that.  Please read that first, then continue on in this post.

 

Player’s Homework for Home

Look parents, you can’t expect your kids to go to practice three or four times a week and expect them to get better.  Can I get an Amen from the coaches here?!

Most times, the kids don’t even hit at practice.  And if they do, it may be once per week with the team.  And if they do hit every practice, who says the player is even focusing on their specific “new hitting process”?

You see, for the most part, head coaches are generalists.  It’s not until High School that programs get a specified hitting coach.  And many programs at that level, don’t even have that!

Here’s my point…

Don’t count on organized practices to get “new hitting process” work in.

There comes a time when a hitter MUST be accountable for their own success.  And to set the player up for success at home, here’s what I ask of my hitters:

  • Give me at least 4 or 5 days per week (team practice days don’t count), and
  • At least 5-minutes each day.

That’s it!  Most kids play at least 30-60 mins of videos games per day…wanting 5-minutes per day for hitting homework isn’t asking that much.  Just set an alarm, and when it goes off, then the player is done for the day.  Simple.

The hitter can put in more time, but I don’t recommend early on, especially if they’re at a lower motivational level.  Once they start experiencing success at the plate in games, they’ll be inspired to put in more time, trust me.

I prescribe at least four or five days per week for their hitting homework because it’s based on what I’ve seen with my players.  I ask them at the start of a lesson, how many days per week they got their hitting homework in at home?  And typically, the ones sharing three days or less, we’re having to revisit what we worked on last lesson.  For most reporting four or more days, we’re moving forward with their swing.

One last thing that fires up inspiration (good or bad) for my players is to compare  their current swing to the the last one using video analysis.  I tell them it’s our version of a quiz on how they did for the week.

Remember in this post, we went over:

  • Mechanical steps to focus on first – scratch the itch,
  • Breaking down drill progressions,
  • Mindset when working on something new,
  • Transitioning practice into game swings, and
  • Player’s homework for home.

Coaches, please share anything else I may have missed that has worked extremely well for your hitters.  THANKS in advance…

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

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

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

Kidding! 😀

I’m not that much of a savage,

But what I have for you today is the Conclusion to my latest book, which is smaller in size – about 60-something pages, and is a re-publishing of my most popular Ground-ball RANT blog post I wrote the beginning of 2016.  This post achieved over 5,400 Likes on Facebook! 😀

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

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

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

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

Now, back to The UGLY Truth book…

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

 

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

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

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

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

—–

Conclusion

I have a treat for you…

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

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

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

Front Knee Action

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

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

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

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

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

Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Planes of Motion

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

There are three main human planes of motion:

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

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

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

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

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

Back Knee Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back Foot Action

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

What was the results of the 200 swing experiment?

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

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

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

Barrel Early on Plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barrel Late on Plane

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

Here Is A Formula That Is Helping Corey Seager Or Trevor Story Win NL Rookie Of The Year

 

Corey Seager & Trevor Story Hitting Anlysis

Corey Seager getting great knee action here, being slightly out front of the pitch. Photo by Jon SooHoo/© Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2016

I’ve been watching quite a bit of the Los Angeles Dodgers lately (because of my fanatic mother-in-law),

And am really impressed with Corey Seager’s swing, who’s 6’4″, 215-lbs (according to FanGraphs.com).

So I decided to do a comparison between a couple leading 2016 NL Rookie of the Year candidates, Seager and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies, who’s 6’1″, 175-lbs (according to FanGraphs.com).

Granted, at the time of this writing (8/23), Story has cooled down a bit, and is sitting on the Disabled List with a torn ligament in his thumb.

So, here’s what we cover in the Corey Seager v. Trevor Story hitting analysis video:

  • Talking metrics,
  • Catapult Loading System swing elements,
  • Pitch-Plane Domination swing elements,
  • Reaction Time Mastery swing elements, and
  • Adjustments to off-speed or breaking stuff.

 

Talking Metrics

First let me define a couple of the metrics we’ll be looking at:

  • ISO – Isolated Slug%, basically raw power, and
  • BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play, a loose measure of how consistently a hitter hits the ball hard.

Okay, so now let’s compare their lines according to Fangraphs.com…

Corey Seager

Corey Seager Metrics

Compliments of Fangraphs.com

And…

Trevor Story

Trevor Story Metrics

Compliments of Fangraphs.com

In comparing Corey Seager to Trevor Story’s metrics, you can see Seager has a bit more consistency baked into his swing, but Story has a bit more power…possibly due to the thin air in Colorado, I dunno, just sayin’. lol

And if you look at the percentages of:

  • Ground-balls (GB%, league average is 44%),
  • Line Drives (LD%, league average is 20%),
  • Fly-balls (FB%, league average is 36%), and
  • Homers to Fly-Balls (HR/FB, league average is 9.5%)…

…Between the two hitters, you can see there’s no secret to what Trevor Story is trying to do with his swing…get the ball in the air!!  The thin air!

Corey Seager

corey-seager-gb-ld-fb-metrics

And…

Trevor Story

trevor-story-gb-ld-fb-metrics

 

NOTES about Video Analysis

Trevor Story & Corey Seager Hitting Analysis

Trevor Story getting a significant positive attack angle, one of the reasons he gets the ball in the air so well. Photo courtesy: Deadspin.com

The Corey Seager homers analyzed…

Game footage was from 8/8/2016 – 2 homers:

  • 91-mph FB, down-middle
  • 75-mph CB, down-middle

The Trevor Story homer analyzed…

Game footage was from 7/24/2016 – 1 homer:

  • 81-mph CU, down-inner 1/3

The rest of the video, after discussing metrics, was looking at how well Corey Seager and Trevor Story used the following HPL formula:

  • Catapult Loading System,
  • Pitch-Plane Domination, and
  • Reaction Time Mastery.

What’s interesting to note on adjustments to off-speed or breaking balls…both hitters “get shorter” and “stay shorter” to buy themselves some time, while also trying to “stay underneath” the ball.

Both Corey Seager and Trevor Story are great examples of the formula we use at HPL to help hitters triple their body-weight in batted ball distance…

They don’t have to hit all the ‘musical notes’, but definitely a majority.

It’s a great formula for winning NL Rookie of the Year 😉

 

Look,

I’m not going to get into the specifics of head movement with the written part of this video post…

You can go to the following links for that:

But I WILL get into an outstanding drill that helps my hitters get rid of late head movement…

I get asked quite a bit on the ‘Socials’ about posting the “Snapping Towel Drill”.

I learned this drill from Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, which he calls the Lean Drill.

Well, here you go!

This is one of my favorite go-to drills with most of my hitters.

It helps with lunging, which I define as when a hitter continues moving forward during the turn…NOT at stride landing.

It also helps a hitter cover more of the pitch plane with the barrel, which is why I promote it in the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course.

In the above video, we’ll discuss:

  • How the swing is a snapping towel,
  • And define Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT),
  • How to BEWARE of the “C” Shape, and
  • How to setup the Snapping Towel Drill…

The following video I did awhile back, which analyzes Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz’s swings to show the ‘snapping towel’ effect…

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix stepping in the bucket using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).

The following image is Chase B., one of my hitters, that is working on fixing his Reverse ‘C’ shape (by the way, the same fault with a lefty will resemble a normal ‘C’)
chaseb-reversec-shape

It’s not too bad, but I’ve seen worse.  Some of the things to look out for at and post impact:

  • Head floating out over “no man’s land”,
  • Over arching of the low back, and
  • The hitter complaining of low back ‘pinching’ or pain in the Up Dog Yoga Pose

The latter can be because of tight hamstrings and hip flexors, in addition to glutes and low abdominals (psoas) not firing off.  However, please consult a Physical Therapist if there’s discomfort in the Up-Dog Pose.

What is this hitting position suppose to look like?

Check out Sierra Romero (one of my fav. fastpitch hitter’s to model)…

Sierra Romero Post Impact

Sierra Romero in a nice ‘stacked’ position, NO reverse ‘C’ here. Photo courtesy: MichiganDaily.com

Notice the stacking of her head over rib cage, and rib cage over pelvis.  In a perfect world, we’d like to see a slight slant back over the catcher with these three pieces of the body.

Think about three bricks stacked on top of each other, but being stacked slightly off center towards the left hand side (for a righty), and reverse for a lefty.

Like Jose Altuve, You Can Compete With BIG Sluggers…

 

Jose Altuve Hitting Analysis

Look at Jose Altuve’s ‘bat lag’ and weight off the back foot. Photo courtesy: Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle

In doing Jose Altuve hitting analysis, here’s what I hear…

“Well, he’s a big hitter, that’s why he can hit for power”…

…Is the EXCUSE from coaches who’re removing any responsibility to help their smaller hitters hit the ball farther and harder.

Or, oftentimes I hear this about a hitter like Dustin Pedroia (5’9″, 175-lbs – these numbers are fudged “up” btw):

“He’s just gifted.”

Wa?!!

ALL Major Leaguers are GIFTED!!! lol

Tell me one physical advantage that Dustin Pedroia has over most…??!

Don’t say eye hand coordination or vision because that’s another common rebuttal.

There are countless other MLB hitters with the same superior eye-hand coordination and vision.

The reality is, smaller sluggers MUST be MORE effective, in order to compete with sluggers bigger than them.

Now, this Jose Altuve hitting analysis post isn’t about the ‘laser show’…however,

Standing in at 5’6″,

…and weighing in at a soaking wet 165-pounds, we’ll look at Jose Altuve (his height and weight numbers are a little closer to reality I think).

Although,

I do think Jose Altuve has one thing over the ‘laser show’, and that’s dancing (parental guidance is recommended 😉:

In this Jose Altuve hitting analysis video, we’ll go over:

  • Jose Altuve stats,
  • Presents of Forward Momentum (FoMo)?
  • How well he dominates the plane of the pitch,
  • Where his power comes from, and
  • Does he practice Pitch Recognition?

FYI: the pitch Jose Altuve is hitting in the video analysis looks like an 87-mph FB straight down broadway, and it does look like he’s on-time.

Without further adieu, here are the notes for the…

 

Jose Altuve Hitting Analysis Stats (the averages of averages)

CLICK HERE for the FanGraphs.com post  I pulled the following stats from*:

  • ISO = +20 points
  • BABIP = +34 points
  • GB% = +4%
  • LD% = +1%
  • FB% = -6%
  • HR/FB% = -3.5%

(*a (+) denotes how many points OR percentage points or above league average, and a (-) denotes below league average.)

 

Presents of Forward Momentum (FoMo)?

  • Is FoMo present?
  • Shifting foot pressure (mentioned landing with closed front foot), and
  • Moving Center of Gravity (COG).

 

How Well he Dominates the Plane of the Pitch

  • Knee Action – ‘getting shorter’ and ‘staying shorter’
  • Barrel Plane – keeping barrel on plane for as long as possible

 

Where his Power Comes from…

  • Showing numbers,
  • Hiding hands from the pitcher,
  • Hunch – Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT), and
  • Down shoulders? (not so much here).

 

Does he Practice Pitch Recognition?

My friend Aaron Miles, who was small (5’8″, 180-lbs), and played 9 years in the Bigs, talks about how his High School coach was forward thinking…in that he did Pitch Recognition training with his troops, and Aaron’s coach said he had the best PR on the team.

My hypothesis in this Jose Altuve hitting analysis is that he does some sort of PR training, OR has a God given early pitch recognition ability that allows him to hit the ball so hard, so often.

Sure, according to this Jose Altuve hitting analysis,

…Altuve may not hit over 30 homers per year, but he sure will hit a boat load of doubles, which is just as good to contributing to team wins…just look at his above average (average) ISO and BABIP scores above!

Baseball Hitting Tips For Youth: Can We Teach One Swing To ALL Hitters?

 

This is Part-3 of a 3-part baseball hitting tips for youth video series coming straight out of the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course…

Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Course

Sick of struggling to reduce your hitters ground balls, swing and miss strikeouts, and non-productive weak fly balls?  This simple 4-Step online video mini-course (7-modules total) will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, barrel the ball more consistently.  Dramatically decrease ground balls, strikeouts, and weak fly balls (no matter the pitch location or speed) by applying human movement rules validated by science.

If you haven’t already, then CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Mini-Course

 

“The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I received the following reader question:

“Do you believe in one swing fits all hitters?”

In this baseball hitting tips for youth video post, we’ll:

  • Define ‘one-swing-fits-all’,
  • Reveal a human movement formula, and
  • Talk about how Principles are like bowling “bumpers”.

Before you get your panties in a bunch, let’s…

 

Define ‘One-Swing-Fits-All’

Baseball Hitting Tips For Youth: Kevin Youkilis "dainty hands"

Kevin Youkilis “Dainty” hand grip photo courtesy: njjewishnews.com

Is there truly a ‘one-swing-fits-all’ baseball hitting tips for youth hitting approach?

Most baseball or softball hitting savants will tell you that you can’t mold every hitter into cookie cutter mechanics.

But I’m here to tell those people,

You’re WRONG.

DEAD wrong.

Look, I know this will piss some people off.

And it may sound like I’m setting the hitting community back 4-decades for saying it.

But hear me out,

I’m not talking about messing with a hitter’s “style”

  • Babe Ruth’s unique feet together position pre-pitch….OR
  • Joe Morgan’s ‘chicken-wing’ back elbow…OR
  • The patented Kevin Youkilis dainty hand grip position pre-swing (pictured above).

Here’s what I’m saying,

Hitting is quite frankly…

A Human Movement Formula

Hammer Throw: Centripetal/Centrifugal Forces

Olympic Hammer Thrower uses Centripetal/Centrifugal Forces. Photo courtesy: i.eurosport.com/

Like Tony Robbins always says, success leaves clues.

And there are certain players that dominate the Pitch-Plane, like I covered in this Joey Votto baseball swing slow motion analysis video.

What are the baseball hitting tips for youth clues hitters like Joey Votto are leaving behind for us to model?

Or better yet, what natural forces on the planet empower him to be such a tough out, while also hitting the ball consistently harder than others?

Let’s revisit the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote from above:

“The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

A ‘one-swing-fits-all’ hitting approach has to do with, The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods”.

Think of ‘methods’ as the hitting drill or movement being practiced.  And the ‘principle’ as the objective that that hitting drill is based upon.

What baseball hitting tips for youth principles govern human movement, are validated by science, and are clues that are left behind by hitters, like Joey Votto, who effectively dominate the Pitch-Plane?

What’s more…

Principles are like ‘Bowling Bumpers’

Bowling Bumpers: Principles to Human Movement

“Bowling Bumpers” photo courtesy: sellabitmum.com

Think of these baseball hitting tips for youth human movement principles, or “rules”, as bowling bumpers.

Whenever we teach a ‘one-swing-fits-all’ approach, be careful that you’re not to mess with a hitter’s style.

HOWEVER, what does NEED to be analyzed is whether the hitter is using the myriad of principles mentioned above.  These are the “bumpers”.

When analyzing any hitter…male OR female…Little Leaguer OR professional,

We need to know whether Johnny or Sally are applying Ground Reaction Forces (or GRF’s) properly.  Are they loading and unloading their body correctly?  Are they using rotation and anti-rotation forces effectively?  Are they moving their spine in a way that’s safe, but also optimizes the body’s energy transfer?

This is where I believe in a ‘One-Swing-Fits-All’ hitters.  It has NOTHING to do with a hitter’s style, and MORE to do with a hitter’s use of naturally occurring forces on the planet.

If you aren’t teaching the swing between these ‘bumpers’, then you’ll be left far behind.  And most certainly will your hitters.

Dominate The Pitch Plane Like Joey Votto (Baseball Swing Slow Motion Analysis)

This is Part-2 of a 3-part baseball swing slow motion analysis video series coming straight out of the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course…

Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Course

Sick of struggling to reduce your hitters ground balls, swing and miss strikeouts, and non-productive weak fly balls?  This simple 4-Step online video mini-course (7-modules total) will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, barrel the ball more consistently.  Dramatically decrease ground balls, strikeouts, and weak fly balls (no matter the pitch location or speed) by applying human movement rules validated by science.

If you haven’t already, then CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Pitch Plane Dominator Online Video Mini-Course

 

“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” – Tony Robbins

I received the following reader question:

“If you could only teach one swing, whose would you teach?”

And what follows in this baseball swing slow motion analysis of Joey Votto video, is my answer, as it relates to getting the barrel on, and staying on the plane of the pitch for as long as possible.

We’ll discuss Joey Votto’s:

  • Pitch-Plane consistency metrics,
  • 2015 ESPN’s HitTracker spray chart, and
  • Mechanics as they apply to Pitch Plane Domination.

Let’s build Joey Votto’s case as the best to copy for Pitch-Plane Domination…

 

Joey Votto Pitch-Plane Consistency Metrics

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Joey Votto’s 162-game averages (over 9 years in the League) are as follows:

Baseball Swing Slow Motion Analysis: Joey Votto Metrics

Look at the “yellow” highlighted line…

Here are the Joey Votto Metrics to pay particular attention to (definitions are according to FanGraphs.com):

  • On-Base% (OBP) – measures the most important thing a batter can do at the plate: not make an out…Joey Votto: .423, League Average is: .320
  • Isolated Slugging% (ISO) – measure of a hitter’s raw power and tells you how often a player hits for extra bases…Joey Votto: .223, League Average is: .140
  • OBP + SLG (OPS) – the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage…Joey Votto: .957, League Average is: .710
  • OPS+ – This statistic normalizes a player’s OPS — it adjusts for small variables that might affect OPS scores (e.g. park effects) and puts the statistic on an easy-to-understand scale…Joey Votto: 156, League Average: 100

As you can see, Joey Votto is well above average in “not making an out”,  and “raw power”.  What’s also interesting is Joey Votto’s strikeout and walk percentages (averaged over his career):

  • Strikeout%Joey Votto: 18.6%, League Average: 18.5%, and
  • Walk%Joey Votto: 15.9%, League Average: 8.5%.

Joey Votto 2015 ESPN’s HitTracker Spray Chart

Check out the HitTrackerOnline.com spray chart of Joey Votto’s 29 homers in 2015 (keep in mind he’s a left handed hitter):

Baseball Swing Slow Motion Analysis: Joey Votto spray chart

Joey Votto 2015 spray chart courtesy: HitTrackerOnline.com

CLICK HERE for a FanGraph.com article titled, “Joey Votto on Hitting”. It goes into how:

  • Cerebral a hitter he is about his mechanics,
  • He purposely tools his swing to limit defensive shifts, and
  • He’s given up some power (dingers in particular) to cover the Pitch-Plane more effectively.

The aforementioned link is a GREAT read.  From the above spray chart and metrics, I’d say he “NAILED IT!!”

 

Joey Votto Mechanics as They Relate to Pitch-Plane Domination

Baseball Swing Slow Motion Analysis: Joey Votto Batting

Joey Votto photo courtesy: Red-Hot-Mama.com

In the above 17:23-minute baseball swing slow motion analysis video of Joey Votto’s swing, we go into more detail about the following FIVE human movements rules for Pitch-Plane Domination:

  1. Front Knee bend before swing initiation, and during the Final Turn,
  2. Back Knee bend during the Final Turn,
  3. Back foot skip during the Final Turn,
  4. Barrel matching the plane of the pitch early, and
  5. Barrel ‘chasing the ball’ passed impact getting to ‘Power-V’ after impact.

As Tony Robbins said,

“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” 

Joey Votto is your hitter to dominate the Pitch-Plane when looking at baseball swing slow motion analysis.