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How To Hit A Baseball Interview

“You Can Have Average Mechanics and If You Have A Good Approach, You Can Still Be Successful” – Mark Gonzalez Dad Advice on How To Hit a Baseball

 

 

How To Hit A Baseball Interview

How to hit a baseball interview with super parent Mark Gonzalez, and his 7+ tips for other parents out there raising an athlete in a competitive sports environment.

In this how to hit a baseball post interview with Mark Gonzalez, aka East Bay Mark – @NorCal_Trojan on Twitter, and inspirational parent coaching his High School Junior hitter, joined me on the Swing Smarter Hitting Training Podcast and here’s what we covered:

  • What do you find to be the biggest mistake, one or two mistakes on how to hit a baseball that you see out there?
  • Was there an aha moment at some point where you finally said Oh, you know what, I might be over overdoing this being the helicopter parent?
  • “You can have average mechanics and if you have a good approach, you can still be successful…”
  • Is it all about hitting dingers and doubles?
  • What ever happened to playing Whiffle Ball in the street, and can kids learn anything from video games?
  • What things have you guys been doing on the recruiting side?
  • “If this college wants a certain type of hitting approach and if that’s the hitting approach you really don’t like well maybe that’s not the school for you…”
  • Any other how to hit a baseball parting thoughts that you would give to those parents out there with freshmen, sophomores, juniors in high school, coming from a dad who’s coaching their own kid?
  • Where can people find you Coach Mark and powerful BONUS tips???

The following are timestamps and transcription of this how to hit a baseball interview.  CLICK HERE to download and save the transcript PDF.  This article is about 34-minutes reading time long.

Enjoy!

 


 

Joey Myers  00:06

Hello and welcome to the Swing Smarter Hitting Training Podcast, it’s your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com and today with me is coach Mark Gonzalez aka East Bay Mark.

Joey Myers  00:19

I want to welcome you to the show Mark.

Mark Gonzalez  00:21

Thank you for inviting me.

Joey Myers  00:24

I just want to let everybody know what kind of how to hit a baseball call this is going to be, I like to have my parents on that have worked with their kids and in Mark’s case, is Atticus a sophomore or junior?

Mark Gonzalez  00:36

He’s a junior now.

Joey Myers  00:37

Junior this year, yes. So, Mark’s been a follower of mine for a while and he’s been doing the thing on his side of the computer and in California because he’s East Bay, right? Are you still in East Bay?

Mark Gonzalez  00:48

Yes.

Joey Myers  00:50

San Francisco kind of area.

Mark Gonzalez  00:52

Just outside of Oakland.

Joey Myers  00:54

Just outside of Oakland. He’s been working with his son and doing the thing like many of you parents out there that are listening, and I always like to get the take of those parents that are getting their elbows dirty, their knees dirty, and are in the trenches so there you go, Coach Mark Gonzalez.

Joey Myers  01:11

First question I have for you, maybe we’ll start with today so it’s more recent. What do you find to be the biggest mistake, one or two mistakes on how to hit a baseball that you see out there?

 

What do you find to be the biggest mistake, one or two mistakes on how to hit a baseball that you see out there?

Mark Gonzalez  01:27

From a coaching perspective, in terms of a dad-coach to a kid anywhere from 10 to 17 is over coaching and this is something that has just taken me years and years to figure out that I just need to get this little thing right here and zip it up.

Mark Gonzalez  01:53

The human body is smart, and kids are smart and a lot of times they can figure it out for themselves and so a lot of times they’re just sort of a difference between what I say I want to happen and what I actually do.

Mark Gonzalez  02:13

For example, I’ve been telling my Junior, my son, for years and years and years that my goal is to become unnecessary but then if I’m always over coaching, always over correcting well there’s a gap between what I’m saying and what I’m doing which I think is important for dad coaches out there.

Mark Gonzalez  02:39

You can work with your son, give them basic instructions, and this is something I got from you Joe, but it’s like let them take five or six or seven swings and then ask questions.

Mark Gonzalez  02:51

A lot of times you can say, what are you feeling? What do you think? Were you on time there? A lot of times they know, and as my son is 16 years old now, he’s much more vocal and he can tell me Hey, Dad, let me figure this one out on my own. I’m like Oh, yes.

Mark Gonzalez  03:19

I think that’s great because that’s the goal, that’s not just a goal for coaching, it’s the goal for being a dad, right? You want to get your kids out there in society and become productive human beings of a good character and the only way that you can do that is a lot of times stepping aside and letting them sort of try to figure things out on their own.

Joey Myers  03:47

I love that. Was there a how to hit a baseball aha moment at some point where you finally said Oh, you know what, I might be over overdoing this being the helicopter parent or coach or whatever.

 

Was there an aha moment at some point where you finally said Oh, you know what, I might be over overdoing this being the helicopter parent?

Mark Gonzalez  03:59

Absolutely. Atticus might have been 10 or 11 years old and the aha moment was whenever I was too busy at work and I couldn’t go to a game Atticus would start hitting home runs, maybe there’s a correlation between my involvement and his performance.

Mark Gonzalez  04:22

That was like an aha moment, you don’t want to be the dad who the kids are looking over for instructions and that’s a balance sometimes because you want to work with your sons, and you want them to develop a good hitting technique, good mentality, and all that stuff.

Mark Gonzalez  04:24

There’s a time to work with them and then there’s a time the game is you should pretty much just shut up and let them play.

Joey Myers  04:53

I love that and I heard a similar story, probably not quite as nice a story but one of my hitters, one of my younger hitters was playing with another one. I know the dad and the dad’s a good dude, I played with him at Fresno State but maybe something’s going on at home or whatnot, and he’s got three kids.

Joey Myers  05:11

It’s the oldest one that my hitter was playing with, and dad was usually the coach, dad was out there as kind of the head coach, assistant coach, whatever. But the games that dad wasn’t out there, he did well, he was well mannered.

Joey Myers  05:26

The days that his dad was out there, he was very combative, not just with dad, but just with the other team players, I guess there was at one point, he was taking a throw from shortstop, they’re trying to turn a double play, the runner slid into him, and then he punches the runner for sliding into him.

Joey Myers  05:44

We’re talking 11-12 year old kids. It was interesting to hear that there was one player, same player, when dad was there, and one player when dad wasn’t there. Again, I’m not making how to hit a baseball assumptions, I don’t know what’s going on in the house, I don’t know any of that stuff. All I know is that you got A and you got B, so that’s a great thing that you kind of found that out when you’re busy.

Mark Gonzalez  06:10

99% of boys out there, they grow up and they want to please their dads, right, and that’s a really good thing, but you need to sort of impart the wisdom to your kid that they really can’t do anything for you to make them love them anymore, right? That’s already there.

Mark Gonzalez  06:32

If you’re going to love them, no matter what they do, that kind of takes the pressure off that sometimes I think younger kids can sort of think what they do, in sports, or in school, or whatever.

Mark Gonzalez  06:48

That sort of condition on the parents loving them and it’s not, and that’s something that as a parent, you really try to tell your kids every day, whatever they’re doing, that their performance has no way indicative of your love for them.

Joey Myers  07:07

Right. Great point. Is he driving now?

Mark Gonzalez  07:12

He’s driving, yes.

Joey Myers  07:13

It’s a whole new world, ain’t it?

Mark Gonzalez  07:15

It’s a whole new world. It has made it a lot easier where he gets to go to tournaments, and I sleep in. For you dads out there, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, getting up on those weekends then driving to wherever, you drive, there’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mark Gonzalez  07:40

Maybe you can still show up, but it’s on your schedule, and maybe you see one game or maybe you don’t or maybe you just show up one day, and I think that kind of creates a much different father-son dynamic.

Joey Myers  07:56

Do you miss it, though? Or not yet? Are you still on vacation?

Mark Gonzalez  07:59

I’m still on vacation.

Joey Myers  08:01

You’re still enjoying it.

Mark Gonzalez  08:02

Yeah, and it’s nice. He has all his friends on the team. He’s always recording his at bat. He’s trying to do the college recruiting thing, so he’s always filming at bat and putting them on the social media.

Mark Gonzalez  08:20

It’s been an interesting transition where we started out more with the mechanics, and now we’re sort of transitioned more now to feel and he asked me for hitting advice more on the well what should my approach be.

Mark Gonzalez  08:49

Years ago, I’m 55 years old, but I played a few years of college baseball, back in the 1980’s. I understand approach and feel and what you should be looking for and all of those things that I think are the inner workings of hitting that are very helpful that a lot of times people focus too much on the mechanics of hitting.

 

“You can have average mechanics and if you have a good approach, you can still be successful…”

Mark Gonzalez  09:13

You can have average how to hit a baseball mechanics and if you have a good how to hit a baseball approach, you can still be successful. I think a lot of times people overly focus on the mechanics, now you want to have good mechanics, but when you’re in the game facing like 88 with hard sliders, and it’s not about mechanics. It’s about the mental toughness there.

Joey Myers  09:37

Right. It’s all about competing. If I forget, tell me to send you a video on that. This year, we really moved.

Joey Myers  09:47

Every year, it seems like there’s an aha moment, it’s either a how to hit a baseball mechanical thing or whatnot. This year, little bit of 2020 we started working with what you’re talking about the hitting, we call them hitting strategies, and we have six of them.

Joey Myers  10:01

It’s from the point of controlling your verticals, right? Controlling your flyball, line drive, groundball ratios, right? Controlling your line-to-line approach or your horizontals so being able to pull the ball or go oppo and your curveball approach.

Joey Myers  10:17

You’d mentioned an 88 mile an hour fastball pitcher, we call it fast guy pattern, that fast guy pattern, the fast guy tends to have different patterns where he locates the ball, what pitches he throws, that kind of thing versus a slow guy pattern so we have a fast guy pattern, slow guy pattern.

Joey Myers  10:33

We have a two strike we just started doing probably about two three months ago, we started doing a two-strike approach and nothing to do with the physical side not choking up, none of that widening out your stride, none of that.

Joey Myers  10:46

It’s all based on brain observations, what they do when they’re ahead, what they do when they’re behind that kind of thing. I’ll send that to you. When you talk about how to hit a baseball approach, what do you talk to Atticus about?

Mark Gonzalez  11:00

A lot of patterns and situations, you’re in the number three batter and he bats third, so if you’re the number three batter and it’s first and second and nobody out and you’re coming up, you’re probably not going to get a fastball. It’s interesting.

Mark Gonzalez  11:00

Like last season, Atticus had a few good games against this one team and so we were driving back from practice one day and I said, you know, they’re not going to throw you any fastballs next year.

Mark Gonzalez  11:12

He had an idea and it’s just little things, just little things about the pitches you’re going to expect. If you pay attention to the pitchers, like you’re saying, humans are creatures of habits and if you’re paying attention, it’s the same habits repeatedly.

Mark Gonzalez  12:04

There’s also of course situational, everyone wants their kid to mash, I get that. But hey, if you’re in a tight ballgame, you need that run, you got to try to figure a way to hit a groundball to the right side, if that’s bringing the tying run in.

Mark Gonzalez  12:22

If you’re not thinking about those things, if you’re not practicing those things, I think so much in the baseball community, it’s either or it’s like, well, you must be going yard every single swing or you’re not going to be an effective baseball player.

Mark Gonzalez  12:38

I’m all for hitting the ball long and far in the right situation. Situational baseball, you look at the major leagues, I think they lost a little bit of the situational skills that they might have had 30-40 years ago, but 30-40 years ago, dudes weren’t dotting 101 on the outside corner either, so that might have something to do with it.

Joey Myers  13:09

You’ve been with me for a while and at one point, I think you were probably as far back when we were talking about the ground balls are horrible and no bunting and all that kind of stuff. You were that far back.

Joey Myers  13:20

You probably noticed the how to hit a baseball change probably within the last three- four years where we said, it was really Perry Husband from hittingisaguess.com, we became pretty good friends. It was him that really turned me around, well, hey, in the big leagues, for every ground ball that’s 95 miles an hour and above the batting average is like 550. That’s interesting.

Joey Myers  13:42

We’re saying bad ground balls but there are good ground balls, the one hopper, maybe two hoppers that are getting through the infield, those are good as well.

Joey Myers  13:52

Anytime I see a far one side how to hit a baseball approach so like you said, the launch angle swing, they say whether it’s all dingers and doubles and that’s all you need to do, or all situational hitting and you got the coaches on the other side, they go oh, they hate that launch angle thing and they would rather be 100% situational hitting, which is 15% of the game or depending on the game.

 

Is it all about hitting dingers and doubles?

Joey Myers  14:15

But it could be 2% of the game, it could be 30% of the game. But like you said there has to be a middle ground where situational hitting is great and you should be able to have barrel control to be able to do a hit and run or like you said hit a ball to the right side of the diamond or hit a deep fly ball to the outfield to score run from third base, you should be able to do that kind of stuff and I agree with you, I think major league has really gone away from that the last five years if not the last decade.

Mark Gonzalez  14:45

Yes, it’s interesting in youth baseball, I don’t think I’ve seen kids play pepper like in 10 years, maybe even 15 years.

Mark Gonzalez  14:51

Where I grew up that’s all you would do before a game and in my estimation, it helps with bat control. If you can’t play pepper, then it’s going to be hard to hit a ball the other way when you really need to.

Mark Gonzalez  15:07

Also, another challenge for dads and youth out there is young kids don’t watch as much baseball as you and I did growing up, I coached a number of youth teams and recreational youth teams and even some travel and you would be surprised of the lack of just baseball foundation that’s out there because kids don’t watch as much baseball as they used to.

Mark Gonzalez  15:39

Even my son who really enjoys baseball, he doesn’t watch that much baseball. He enjoys playing baseball. He has the MLB app; he sees the home runs. He’s not sitting there watching two outs and on like June 3rd.

Mark Gonzalez  15:39

I think that’s the big change that I think a lot of dads need to really consider that a lot of kids just don’t have the foundation of baseball because we’re in a much different world right now.

Joey Myers  16:14

I agree and even playing baseball video games because we were outside, you and I we had like both feet in each world, right? We were at the beginning of the tech world, the video game world, Atari, the Nintendo and then kind of went from there, but we played baseball stars and R.B.I. baseball and watched baseball.

Joey Myers  16:34

The other thing that I was thinking when you were talking about that was whiffle ball. When do kids play whiffle ball anymore, we did that with my eight-year-old, our son who’s in third grade, this last year, we didn’t really like how our league took the whole COVID thing this last year, so we went independent, we went on our own and this was like the transition year between machine pitch in our league and player pitch.

Joey Myers  17:01

I really wanted to take that year and help that transition and help the kids, the hitters, especially, well both the pitchers and the hitters, but the hitters, especially with the fear of getting hit by their own peer as they’re throwing.

Joey Myers  17:15

What we did big time this summer, so we practice, did our thing we were able to get some games in, we scrimmage ourselves quite a bit just because other teams were playing in their leagues, and they didn’t have as much time and room for us to play and we just got started in the travel thing.

Joey Myers  17:31

I’m starting to build relationships with travel ball coaches and whatnot. We pretty much scrimmage each other more than anything but in the summer, we decided to keep going like one day a week.

Joey Myers  17:41

What we would do is we would do a couple of how to hit a baseball drill things, couple things like hit the heavy bag, because you know a lot of them, they stop they’re bat at contact, and I have a thing called a V flex. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Joey Myers  17:51

It’s like the ring that floats in the middle, it looks like a dreamcatcher, a big dream catcher and it has a ring in the middle and so the thrower will go under hand, and we just throw balls through that little circle whiffle balls, golf whiffle ball sized balls, and they only swing if it goes through the ring.

Joey Myers  18:09

If it goes outside the ring, they don’t swing so a little bit of strike zone awareness and at the end we would do whiffle ball, we would play whiffle ball games, so we play their Home Run Derby or we play an actual game where they play against each other and got to get each other out and stuff like that but whiffle ball, what happened to that?

 

What ever happened to playing Whiffle Ball in the street, and can kids learn anything from video games?

Mark Gonzalez  18:27

The funny story is that I was always a good opposite field hitter growing up and the reason why I was a good opposite field hitter because I was left-handed and right field was closed in our neighborhood.

Mark Gonzalez  18:38

You just have to figure stuff out on your own but those MLB games right now and this is sort of like a point enter your kid’s life where they are, and my kid plays a lot of MLB like the show, the game or whatever it is, but it’s so good now if you’re really paying attention, you can really get a lot of lessons there in terms of pitching sequences.

Mark Gonzalez  18:41

If you’re paying attention and as a dad you can kind of point out a little bit of things, you can get a lot of really good information from those video games because it tries to follow normal pitch sequencing so if you’re going low outside soft you can kind of come back up and in …

Joey Myers  19:28

I agree, that’s a great how to hit a baseball point. I think that’s how some of us learn the game just growing up even though it wasn’t quite as complex as like you said now, the games are so lifelike now and the sequencing so lifelike, whereas back in the day, it was almost 2D, we’re seeing 3D on these video games, right?

Joey Myers  19:47

But you’re still learning the rules of the game. We got Wii during COVID so that keep them active and stuff like that in the house. They have that baseball game with the Wii which they have the weird faces and the bodies that seem to be floating, big heads that float on top of the bodies.

Joey Myers  20:06

You learn what the rules are, you can’t go back to the base at least in those video games, and we got to get ahead of the runner. If they hit it in the gap, well, you’re not going to get that player out at first, so you got to get it in either the second or the third, to be able to get them off, that was my thing in the outfield.

Joey Myers  20:27

We were always about cutting off that extra base. If a guy headed to the wall, you got to make sure you get to it and get it to your cut off guys so that they can either throw it to third if they’re fast and try and break for third, or you can get him in second or whatnot.

Joey Myers  20:41

I love that. It’s a great point about the video games.

What things have you guys been doing on the recruiting side?

Joey Myers  20:43

I have a question, so you guys are in the recruiting side right now. Junior year, that’s a great year to start the recruiting process. For some of those dads out there that may be freshmen, they got freshmen, sophomores, you mentioned that Atticus has been putting his stuff out on social media video and things like that. What things have you guys been doing on the recruiting side?

Mark Gonzalez  21:05

Well, one of the things, I kind of try to use this as a sort of developmental process in terms of life skills. I started off by sitting Atticus down and trying to go over, okay, well, why don’t you send some emails to coaches at universities that you think meet your skill set, and I was pretty laid back in terms of getting to some basic points, but I wasn’t writing his emails.

Mark Gonzalez  21:36

He sent some horrible emails, that’s how you’re going to learn. One day you’re going to be going out looking for a job and you need the skill of how to communicate and writing to sort of potential employers and recruiting is very much similar.

Mark Gonzalez  21:55

You are writing to future college coaches, and you want to put your best self forward, you want to show yourself to be a smart person, a person of good character, you want to show your baseball abilities, and you want to show that you’re interested in that college.

Mark Gonzalez  22:13

Now, he writes good emails, and he texts back and forth with the particular coaches, and guess what, I’m not involved.

Joey Myers  22:24

I love it.

Mark Gonzalez  22:25

That’s it really and then, he does a lot of stuff on Twitter in terms of posting at bats and highlights from games and like working out and stuff. I’m not really involved in that either.

Mark Gonzalez  22:40

Maybe a little bit sort of like from, hey, what type of colleges you’re looking at, why, where, what do you expect to get out of it, even have your major just to make sure he’s approaching the college recruiting thing the right way.

Joey Myers  22:59

What’s he looking for? What schools and why? I love hearing the answers to those questions.

Mark Gonzalez  23:07

He’s changed. I think it’s fair that he’s changed, when he was a freshman, it was like, I just want to go anywhere, you know, D1, they kind of started very broad, and now he’s sort of narrowing things.

Mark Gonzalez  23:20

Right now, he’s looking at California schools, he’s looking at California schools, but he knows that that’s going to be a challenge. I’ve been part of the wisdom that, it doesn’t have to be D1, it’s about fit, you go somewhere, and if it’s a good fit for you, and the rule is, you want to go somewhere where people want you.

Mark Gonzalez  23:47

In my opinion, you don’t want to be the last guy to get on a D1 team, I think that makes it really, tough. I’d rather be the first guy on a D3 recruiting board or D2 recruiting board.

Mark Gonzalez  24:02

We’re looking across the board. We’re looking at California, we have some out of California schools, too, that we’re looking at. I’ve been open with my finances in terms, I’ve been open with all my kids, this is how much we have budgeted for you for college.

Mark Gonzalez  24:21

I’ve just gone through the process with a daughter, she’s now majoring in bio engineering at Cal Berkeley. She applied to a number of colleges, and we had to sit down and look at the math and see what would work and talk about whether you’re going to have Cal Berkeley that’s something within my budget.

Mark Gonzalez  24:51

Some other schools that she had gotten into, like certain Ivy League schools she got into but that would have been alone, so I had to sit her down, Okay, well if you want to borrow this much money, how much are you going to make in five years?

Mark Gonzalez  25:05

What the loan payment is going to be? Here’s what your rent payments going to be, here’s what your car payments going to be, and it was like, well, Cal Berkeley is looking pretty good.

Joey Myers  25:14

I love it. That’s a great approach. I love that and I don’t know maybe he’s doing this in his emails. I don’t know what his emails look like, but with my hitters, my local ones, the ones that are about that age Junior, seniors, I mean, sophomores, hopefully not seniors.

Joey Myers  25:30

They’re hopefully thinking about this a little bit earlier, but sophomores-juniors, one of the things I picked up, there was a book, it was a book on negotiation, it was something like, “negotiate as if your life depended on it”.

Joey Myers  25:42

It was an FBI guy. His name will pop into my head here, but he was an FBI guy for like 30 years and he was the one on the negotiation team for like child abduction that was outside of the United States.

Joey Myers  25:58

It could be child abducted, an American family in Southeast Asia, could be Vietnam, something like that. He was called in to do the negotiating and stuff. He had a son who was playing football in high school, and the same time came Junior, and he had to do some recruiting.

Joey Myers  26:17

One of the interesting things that he said, it was like, oh the light bulb went on with me, was when you send those emails out, letters out to those recruiting coaches, is to ask them how do you evaluate your hitters?

Joey Myers  26:31

Or how do you evaluate your pitcher? How do you evaluate your pitchers? How do you recruit hitters? What is it that you’re looking for? Because some hitters, hitting recruiting coaches will say, well we’re looking for the launch angle swing and then you’ll have another coach that will say the opposite, we’re not looking for a launch angle swing.

Joey Myers  26:50

What I tell my hitters, they want to be a little bit lazier and make one video that has a little bit of everything and send it out to all the coaches, but I told them, I said if you do that and you send a launch angle piece of your big video as launch angle, they’re going to go this is disgusting, I don’t like this.

Joey Myers  27:09

I tell them just create videos of different things of your ball exit speeds of your games of you maybe during BP spraying the ball around the infield or around the field, showing that you can go up, oh you can pull the ball, you can go straight away center, show that you can hit a double dinger, show that you can hit a 10 degree line drive, show that you can hit a one hop screamer.

Joey Myers  27:31

You have all these little how to hit a baseball pieces and then based on what the coaches are telling you, then you just piece together the right pieces that they’re looking for and then send it out to them.

Mark Gonzalez  27:41

I think that’s great advice, I’ll probably give that to Atticus, see what he wants to do with it, I just think that really kind of hit it on the nail on the head that you’re trying to make yourself attractive to colleges and everyone has a different sort of idea of what they’re looking for.

 

“If this college wants a certain type of hitting approach and if that’s the hitting approach you really don’t like well maybe that’s not the school for you…”

Mark Gonzalez  28:06

That also helps the like the kid because if this college wants a certain type of hitting approach and if that’s the hitting approach you really don’t like well maybe that’s not the school for you.

Joey Myers  28:19

Exactly.

Mark Gonzalez  28:22

It’s not a match, but I think today with all of the technology and I think that’s something that I probably started using two to three years ago where you have the little blast motion stuff, you can get a lot of data there, a lot of data where it really helps to have a dad just you can kind of see, hey look where you were six months ago and now look where you are now in terms of bat speed or attack angle or all those things you’re working on.

Mark Gonzalez  28:51

That also helps sort of settle just give them the cage where someone know, oh that’s an absolute bomb, I’m like, Are you sure? Yeah, let’s see what the blast motion says on that one.

Joey Myers  29:03

Do you guys have hit trax up there, yeah?

Mark Gonzalez  29:05

Yes.

Mark Gonzalez  29:06

Speak of a reality show video game to be able to go on, we would have a hell of a time, fun time back in the day if we had hit trax.

Mark Gonzalez  29:16

Yes, I grew up the same way, just a whiffle ball. When I was in college, we would play a doubleheader and then we would go back to the dorm and eat dinner and then we would come out and play whiffle ball.

Joey Myers  29:33

Totally different now, they get on their headphones, and they listen to their music, or they play video games instead. I’m not saying video games are bad, in moderation, I would think but, like you said you can learn a lot from playing MLB The Show.

Mark Gonzalez  29:49

I think so.

Joey Myers  29:52

So I want to be respectful of your time, before I let you go , I want to also let people if they want to get contact with you and stuff we’ll go over that but before we get there any other how to hit a baseball parting thoughts that you would give to those parents out there with freshmen, sophomores, juniors in high school, coming from a dad who’s coaching their own kid?

 

Any other how to hit a baseball parting thoughts that you would give to those parents out there with freshmen, sophomores, juniors in high school, coming from a dad who’s coaching their own kid?

Mark Gonzalez  30:15

I would say, number one, it just depends on who you are. Having played baseball myself, I would say it was like, a blessing and a curse.

Mark Gonzalez  30:30

The blessing, I have a general understanding of baseball, but the curse is, I had a general understanding of baseball from 35 years ago.

Mark Gonzalez  30:41

There was a lot of unlearning that I had to do a lot of things really developed over the years, so I had to just completely relearn things and it was fun. I would say, for the dads, have an open mind and just go out there and look at all of the leaders in the field.

Mark Gonzalez  31:06

Now with Instagram and Twitter, you can follow some really, excellent coaches out there who can give you all the information you need that you can pass along to your sons, and I say don’t assume you know baseball because you played baseball.

Mark Gonzalez  31:26

I think that’s a big mistake that I made early on, but I sort of develop myself, I was able to say, you know what, I just assume, I don’t know anything, and I’m entering this like someone with no baseball experience.

Mark Gonzalez  31:43

I think that’s when I was able to get a lot of information, really good information that I was able to pass on to my son. Now my son, he just has so much information, I hear him sometimes cooking up other kids, you know, move this way, do that way.

Mark Gonzalez  32:01

That’s where I was like, okay, at least I’ve accomplished something, I passed on some really good information. If he can understand that information enough, where he could pass it on to other people, I think he’s in the right place and it makes me feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of sort of passing on my baseball knowledge or even my new baseball knowledge, but all baseball knowledge as well to my son.

Mark Gonzalez  32:28

I think that’s what it’s all up. That’s what it’s all about. For dads out there who have no baseball background, I think that’s perfectly fine. I think you can coach your team, have a good time.

Joey Myers  32:45

Learn everything, they don’t have to buy anything.

Mark Gonzalez  32:48

Yes. My wife, she coached my daughter’s volleyball team, she never even been on a volleyball court. She just got some books and there was like some Stanford volleyball player who lived in our neighborhood, so she talked to her, and she ended up taking the team to the CYO finals, she was second out of 32 teams, because she knows how to run things.

Mark Gonzalez  33:21

If you know how to run things, well, then you can do well running a baseball team and then just outsource the baseball knowledge. Usually, when you go to rec ball or travel ball, it’s like the one coach who’s just doing everything, he’s organizing, and he’s doing the baseball and sometimes that can get kind of lost a lot of times for running a team and it’s rewarding.

Mark Gonzalez  33:45

You can have a good time with running a team, I’ve coached a bunch of teams, I don’t like running the team. Whenever people would come to me and say hey, do you want to coach and I was like, Well okay, as long as I’m not running anything, so then people would say hey, when’s the next practice? I don’t know. I’m waiting for the email.

Mark Gonzalez  34:06

I was able to do that for several years which made it really fun where I just got to go to the field and coach the kids up. I had a lot of fun with that and I think I told you this story years and years ago, I had this young team I was coaching with my younger son and so we just had fun with it and we had this rule if anyone ever had a walk off because you know we live close to Oakland, we would do the Oakland A’s pie in the face right.

Mark Gonzalez  34:39

It was a close game, and we were scratching and crawling, but like we weren’t nervous everyone was just cheering pie because they wanted to get it, we ended up winning.

Joey Myers  34:50

Oh, that’s awesome.

Mark Gonzalez  34:53

Be creative. Don’t focus so much on the winning and losing, focus on the experience. My youngest son just the other day, he mentioned, He’s like, remember when we’re putting the pie in the face? He remembers the pie in the face, he got no idea probably what happened in the game.

Joey Myers  35:14

That’s such a great how to hit a baseball point. Hopefully some people can take some nuggets out of what you have to say, Mark, because I think you have a lot to say and in our relationship that we’ve built over the years.

Joey Myers  35:26

Thank you, again for following me and supporting me and all that. So where can people find you if they wanted to reach out? Say if they had a how to hit a baseball question or something like that about anything?

 

Where can people find you Coach Mark and powerful BONUS tips???

Mark Gonzalez  35:36

My Twitter handle is just East Bay Mark, that would be the easiest, I’m on Twitter, pretty much every day and night, just kind of seeing what’s out there. DM me, I’ll pass along whatever how to hit a baseball information I can, but there’s a lot of wise baseball people out there on Twitter and Instagram and I’m not one of them.

Joey Myers  36:05

I beg to differ.

Mark Gonzalez  36:07

I can point you to who they are, and I think that’s the most important thing. I would say to the dads out there, just be willing to see the long game. What I mean by that is like Atticus, he wasn’t in every travel ball team.

Mark Gonzalez  36:25

There were teams out there who wanted to play every weekend. That just wasn’t the path that we were going to go, I have two other kids, our whole life doesn’t revolve around baseball.

Mark Gonzalez  36:44

There’s a draw that out there where you almost feel like, wow, if your son’s not on every team playing every weekend that he’s getting behind. Guess what, it’s just not true. That playing baseball every single weekend, as much as some teams do, that you’re not getting behind, I’d rather have kids play other sports, especially when they’re younger.

Mark Gonzalez  37:08

I’d rather not play a tournament and hit in the cage, because I think one of the things with all these games is somewhere the development is getting lost, because it’s hard to get better in games, it’s very counterintuitive.

Mark Gonzalez  37:27

I really believe that how to hit a baseball improvement comes when you’re not playing the game for two or three months. You can really sort of break things down, and suddenly, the results don’t matter. Because you’re working towards something but if you’re always playing games, you can never break something down, you can never change an arm path or hey, this swing just isn’t working.

Mark Gonzalez  37:56

There was a period of time where Atticus had a leg kick for a while, and it just wasn’t consistent. When he had it, it was great, but it just wasn’t consistent. During a period of two or three months, we kind of change it to a toe tap.

Mark Gonzalez  38:13

It took a while, that’s not something you can do on a weekend. If you’re playing games all the time, then that’s something that’s not going to work.

Mark Gonzalez  38:24

I would also say, kids develop at different sort of times, so don’t get caught up in sort of what’s happening out on the field if you feel like your son’s making the progress that he needs to be making and don’t focus on the result so much.

Mark Gonzalez  38:43

I remember, this might have been when Atticus was like 11 or something or 12 and he played off on some team and maybe he probably shouldn’t have but that’s just how it happened.

Mark Gonzalez  38:54

I don’t think he got to hit the whole season, that was like a long season, and we went right back from tournament and sometimes your son just needs to hear that he believes in you.

Mark Gonzalez  39:08

I remember saying, this close, you were so close. You can’t imagine how close you are, and I know you don’t see it out there. I know you’re frustrated right there. But you are so close.

Mark Gonzalez  39:21

Next summer he just broke out. He went from not getting a hit during the entire season to like hitting .500 the next season. You need to take the step back and, as the dad see the long game, see how he’s improving.

Mark Gonzalez  39:40

I guess one final how to hit a baseball point is, don’t forget the strength and conditioning, that’s so important. So many families get caught up into having to play baseball every weekend and then they get into high school, and they don’t have the body they need to compete on a varsity level baseball field and having that body is really important.

Mark Gonzalez  40:10

I was telling Atticus the other day that there’s something called body discrimination, if you’re really put together, guess what? Everyone’s going to assume you can play, you get a little more latitude in terms of whether you’re going to produce a lot because you just look like a baseball player versus if you’re underweight or whatever you know they’re going to assume you can’t play.

Mark Gonzalez  40:37

That’s just a how to hit a baseball reality, that people have their biases of what a baseball player looks like so as a young kid you don’t have to go hard lifting weights, especially when you’re in middle school but push-ups and pull ups and sprints and all those things, they make you athletic.

Mark Gonzalez  40:56

When you’re old enough to start lifting weights it’s an easy transition and there’s a lot of great programs out there that can really help dads guide their kids in terms of weight training that’s really focused on baseball development and speed development.

Mark Gonzalez  41:20

Atticus was never a fast runner. That just wasn’t his skill and he’s worked at it through strength and conditioning, and he went to a camp a few weeks ago and he had a seven flat 60 [yard dash].

Mark Gonzalez  41:30

For him that’s flying, that’s flying for him, he’s probably getting near his max, just sort of maximizing who you are, some kids can wake up out of bed and go run six-seven, that’s just who they are.

Joey Myers  41:38

Yep.

Mark Gonzalez  41:40

All you can do is try to make yourself the best person you can with the how to hit a baseball abilities that God gave you.

Joey Myers  41:56

I love that, all great points, Mark.

Joey Myers  41:58

All right, so for those out there who want to contact Mark, go Twitter @EastBayMark, you can just go there and like he said DM him if you’ve got any questions and things like that, but hey man, I appreciate you making the time during your busy lunch hour over there in the East Bay

Joey Myers  42:14

Thanks, and we’ll have to do maybe a part two at some point. Definitely want to keep up, keep abreast of Atticus and how he’s doing, and he’s got a year and he got another year and then the big things happen.

Joey Myers  42:25

Thanks again, coach Mark for jumping on today in this how to hit a baseball interview.

Mark Gonzalez  42:28

Okay, take care.

Mini wiffle Ball Pitching Machine MaxBP Reviews

Mini Wiffle Ball Pitching Machine MaxBP Reviews: What Does It Mean To ‘Build The Database’ When It Comes To Hitting?

 

 

Mini wiffle Ball Pitching Machine MaxBP Reviews

Wiffle Ball Pitching Machine MaxBP Reviews

In this mini wiffle ball pitching machine MaxBP reviews interview with owner and founder of MaxBP Neil McConnel, we’ll go over:

  • You’re doing a lot of really big things over the last year or two? Go ahead and let them know what you guys are up to?
  • What are some of those tools? I know you have a bunch of them, but say like top two or so outside of the actual pitching machines?
  • It’s not just about a whiffle ball pitching machine to hit on?
  • What does it mean to ‘build the database’ when it comes to hitting?
  • You guys have done a lot of cool stuff with using max BP with catchers, how do you guys use that?
  • “Where you’re making them make a decision and ignoring one color versus being locked into another color…”
  • “You can honestly get work in and probably 10-15 feet. 20 feet is a good space….”
  • Do you guys test them before they go out?
  • Where can people find you, the website, the social media, all that good stuff?

CLICK HERE for the mini wiffle ball pitching machine MaxBP reviews video transcription in PDF form, or jump around the video using the following full transcript… (29-minutes reading time)

ENJOY!


Mini Wiffle Ball Pitching Machine MaxBP Reviews Video Transcription…

Joey Myers  00:09

Hello and welcome to the Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter or the swing smarter hitting training podcast, it’s your host Joey Myers from hittingperformancelab.com. With me, it’s always an honor to have Neil McConnell on representing mini wiffle ball pitching machine MaxBP reviews.

Joey Myers  00:21

We’re going to talk a lot about what…there he is right there, about MaxBP reviews. It’s not what it was about five years ago. It’s bigger. But first, I want to welcome into the show, Neil.

Neil McConnell  00:32

Thanks, Joe. I appreciate you having me on.

Joey Myers  00:36

We’ve had webinars together; we’ve done all kinds of MaxBP reviews stuff. We’ve talked endless amounts on the phone. I think the wife is wondering if I’m cheating on her.

Neil McConnell  00:48

Tell her to meet up at ABCA.

Joey Myers  00:51

Exactly. Tell the audience about mini wiffle ball pitching machine MaxBP reviews, for those that know about MaxBP reviews, maybe they bought something from you, a machine or whiffle ball pitching machine back in the day, but that’s not all you guys sell.

Joey Myers  01:06

You’re doing a lot of really big things over the last year or two? Go ahead and let them know what you guys are up to?

 

You’re doing a lot of really big things outside of mini wiffle ball pitching machine products over the last year or two? Go ahead and let them know what you guys are up to?

Neil McConnell  01:13

I’m just to give you a quick snapshot that will fold into that. We’re going on our 12th year in business. When we started this, really it was about having a machine that allowed us to get more batting practice.

Neil McConnell  01:26

Fairly quickly, I cooked up with several vision guys, Ryan Harrison is one of them, his father, his late father, Dr. Bill Harrison, pioneer vision in Major League Baseball from the 70s, quickly helped me understand just how much more this product was.

Neil McConnell  01:43

It’s not about the reps, it’s about the eyes, the vision and the reaction training. That’s where we really pivoted early on and really focused on those reps that you get to work on your eyes that’s often an overlooked aspect.

Neil McConnell  01:57

People are working out they’re eating right, they’re taking BP, they’re fielding ground balls and so forth. Now sleep is a big one, the eyes, and what are people doing on a daily or weekly basis to really improve that sports vision.

Neil McConnell  02:16

Then take that a step further, what we’ve done over the last three years, is really focus on the reps. While we have this machine that throws a high velocity ball to allow you to have max reps.

Neil McConnell  02:29

In fact, I’d love to rebrand the company, Max Reps, but we spent 12 years doing Max BP. We’ve been slowly adding products that are the best of the best, that allow you to have more reps.

Neil McConnell  02:44

That’s whether you’re on your own, you’re with your parents, you’re with your friends, you’re with your team. We have from the MLB level on down, we sent machines to Japan for both baseball and softball just a month ago.

Neil McConnell  03:00

We have over 500 colleges, you look at a top 25 and majority those elite teams are using our stuff. All of our products, again, compared to a wholesaler that’s selling everything, we’re really focused on those key tools to throw in your kit and allow you to get reps whether you have people to help you or you’re on your own.

Joey Myers  03:25

Now, what are some of those mini wiffle ball pitching machine MaxBP reviews and other tools? I know you have a bunch of them, but say like top two or so outside of the actual pitching machines?

 

What are some of those tools? I know you have a bunch of them, but say like top two or so outside of the mini wiffle ball pitching machine?

Neil McConnell  03:32

Outside of the machine MaxBP reviews, probably the one we’re most excited about is the heavy swing bats that we added earlier this year. So heavy swing similar clientele to ours, they’ve been around about 10 years, pretty amazing start for them, they had David Freese World Series MVP, that World Series, he had their bat in the on-deck circle.

Neil McConnell  03:54

This is a tool that allows that light heavy game bat sequence, working it off the tee and then working off a machine. They have hand weighted bats that are going to help you build strength which translates to bat speed.

Neil McConnell  04:11

For younger folks that haven’t refined their swing path, it’s going to help them reinforce that correct swing path hands inside. That’s the one we’re probably the most excited about.

Neil McConnell  04:25

We’ve got another one that we recently picked up as the web glove. I don’t have one around here.

Joey Myers  04:35

Like real pancake ones, but it’s a web?

Neil McConnell  04:37

Yeah, and this one it just attaches to these two fingers, they’re very small it’s for catching small whiffle balls, it showed up on LSU’s pre-season video this year for their softball team.

Neil McConnell  04:51

Again, to me, it’s about the reps and I feel like these days whether it’s the travel ball or parents thinking their kids going pro, they’re just kind of grinding on him right and so there’s some of that fun taken away.

Neil McConnell  05:04

To me, this is a great tool that kids can have a catch and a pair, and you’re really refining, because you’re catching something smaller, right? It just changes it up.

Neil McConnell  05:15

When you and I were kids, to me, it was about, go find that shovel that was broken, I saw off the shovel and hide the broken shovel or whatever.

Joey Myers  05:25

Throw rocks at each other.

Neil McConnell  05:26

Yes, we work on a new grip, throw rocks or whatever, throw the bottle caps, anything. We’re kind of inventing our own games. I feel like, in a bunch of ways, we must help the kids find these things, they’re going to get out and, and they’re going to get their reps on their own.

Neil McConnell  05:45

Parents and coaches can grind on the kids all they want, there’s great support, right? You don’t want the kids to quit, you want to stick with it. But they also need to find that extra time on their own to explore.

Neil McConnell  05:57

Again, just about every product we have, it allows the athlete to get working on their own. A lot of times, that’s where some great development happens, they’re experimenting with different grips.

Neil McConnell  06:13

They can see the results, right, and they can make the adjustments. To us at the end of the day, it’s all about reps and finding ways to put that time in.

Joey Myers  06:25

I love that, and probably five years ago, the reps thing was, to me was just like, but they got to be quality reps. I didn’t really learn the lesson on that, what you’re saying, until I started coaching my own son’s team.

Joey Myers  06:39

We started at the tee ball, and then we did the last year was the first year of player pitch. We’re teaching them all that stuff. But if for anybody who has coached a team, a young team like that, where you’re talking 6-7-8-9-10 year olds, reps are huge.

Joey Myers  06:55

There’s a little bit of, make sure you get your butt down, if you’re feeling ground balls and things like that. Or if we’re catching things, you don’t want to catch a ball like this, because where you have the glove up, if the balls up above the waist, you want to do that, because we always tell them what happens if the ball goes in the glove, and then out of the glove, we want to make sure we turn it over.

Joey Myers  07:15

There’s big things like that, obviously. But what I love about mini wiffle ball pitching machine MaxBP reviews and the glove you’re talking about is one of the things that we did, we didn’t have the glove because it was just first time I heard about the glove that you guys have.

Joey Myers  07:27

What we did was, right before we start playing catch, we have a little drill, it’s just a catching drill. The no hands like no gloves, they just use their hands and we have them do 10, they partner up like their catch partner.

Joey Myers  07:41

They just under hand the ball they’re not throwing it from about 10 feet is the first the first one. They’re just under handing the ball to each other. And the first round, they’re catching it with both hands, catching the ball both hands 10 times, and then we back them up. We go length.

Joey Myers  07:58

Now, same thing, they throw it to each other. But now they’re at 15 feet, or 20 feet, they’re lobbing the ball to each other, catching in both hands. They learn how to release the ball the right way to put it in a way where the person can catch it, because at first you know the ball is going over their head, and it’s going way over here, because they don’t know how to underhand the ball that’s controlled.

Joey Myers  08:15

We do four total phases, we do two hand catch the first one, close, two hand catch far. And then we do single hand catch. Whatever their glove hand is, so for me being righty, my left hand, so they can only catch it with their glove hand.

Joey Myers  08:30

They do the 10 feet again, 10 throws each and then they back up to 15 feet, 10 throws each and they’re catching it with this hand and tossed him with this hand. We did that every single practice but like you’re saying repetition, it’s not so much that you have to get super technical and specific about things, but that’s something that they can do.

Joey Myers  08:53

It’s a mini wiffle ball pitching machine that you can hit on max BP, but it’s also a machine you can catch it you can catch things, throw you grounders, you can have it throw you fly balls with the attachment that puts a fly ball and nothing’s better than repetitions of fly balls trying to catch a whiffle ball that’s not going to hurt them.  What are the MaxBP reviews?

Joey Myers  09:09

It’s not going to give them a bloody nose or black eye or anything if they miss it and it hits him in the face. It’s such a versatile machine like you said it’s not about back in the day.

Joey Myers  09:20

Can you remember what the first one was? I learned about you guys through Sandlot Slugger. I came in and you acquire them and then you took their machines in and stuff and that’s how I came to you, but it’s not just about a mini wiffle ball pitching machine with great MaxBP reviews.

 

It’s not just about a mini wiffle ball pitching machine to hit on?

Neil McConnell  09:34

Yes, absolutely. In fact, my favorite pop-up drill. Again, I learned this when I had my kids run it through their progression. How come my kid can’t catch or every time he moves to the side.

Joey Myers  09:48

Ole, ole, ole

Neil McConnell  09:51

I saw this guy online. He’s doing the drill, and just tossing the ball and having the kids take it off their forehead and he’s using the golf balls. Just throwing it off the forehead and that gets you in that position and lines up the eyes, right?

Neil McConnell  10:06

The ball is going to hit you in the forehead, it’s in the right line to be in front of it and catch it, and you’re maintaining that line of vision, same thing I’ve been.

Neil McConnell  10:15

It’s interesting. I always wonder, as I’m explaining these things, just lately, I’ve been working anywhere from the pros all the way down to five, six-year-olds just getting started, but like the fielding, in that butt down and aligning the eyes so that the more that that balls coming, coming, right, and it’s in line with your eyes, same with like bunting and explain them, hey, hands way out.

Neil McConnell  10:38

As opposed to kids want to keep that bat back, right? Or they move it back but having it way out. So you’ve got that line of sight that’s coming, and the line is not diverting from this to this, it’s more of a straight line.

Neil McConnell  10:53

Just building up the reps becomes a reaction. At the end of the day, the kid level, a lot of times, it’s going slow enough that they can think about all of the pitch. But somewhere along the way, the game speeds up to where it must be a reaction.

Joey Myers  11:10

Then it’s the reps like you said, that’s a rep set builds that right? It’s that constant pattern of okay, the balls in this line here, and then oh, the balls in this line here. I’ve seen it over and over and over. Oh, and now the balls down here, it’s in this line, or it’s coming this way, right?

Joey Myers  11:26

They see this, that tunnel, or that bridge over and over at different areas, and that’s what’s going to give them at the higher speed level as they go up, that when it starts moving faster, well, now it’s not so much that we can see the ball all the way like you’re saying it’s going 35 miles an hour, and we can track it all the way.

Joey Myers  11:44

Well, now when it starts to get to 45, 55, 65, 70, 85, then it becomes a blur, becomes a line it becomes like we call them tunnels, right? Then you’ve built up enough of the repetition, where when it was slow enough where you can track the whole thing?

Joey Myers  11:58

Then it just does this and then all you’re looking at is you’re looking at that tunnel, is it up here? Is it here? Is it here? Right? I love that great MaxBP reviews, go ahead.

 

What does it mean to ‘build the database’ when it comes to hitting on the mini wiffle ball pitching machine?

Neil McConnell  12:08

I was just going to add on to that. ABCA I would guess maybe 15 years ago in San Diego saw Don Slaught speak. He’s got his Right View Pro. I just loved how he talked about building the database.

Neil McConnell  12:21

Your brain and all these reps, as I’ve always taught, again, I evolved with my kids and listening a lot more over the last 10-15 years. I always ask people, hey, where do you set up the tee and they set it up in that one perfect spot.

Neil McConnell  12:39

Every kid wants to set up and that one perfect spot, great, you’re going to be good at hitting that one pitch? It’s one out of about 50 or so locations.

Neil McConnell  12:50

So we talked about battleship. In fact, we have a couple blogs on our website, we relate it back to the game of battleship because you’ve got this grid, right of all these potential pitch locations, where there’s that famous to cover the Ted Williams book, all the zones.

Neil McConnell  13:04

Those are the ones we want to work. So anyhow, that translates over incredibly to the max BP, because like they did a study, this might have been Slaught’s one as well. It might have been Mike Epstein at ABCA, but they talked about hitting off the Iron Mike.

Neil McConnell  13:25

They had pros hit five, six balls off the Iron Mike, and then they covered one of their eyes, depth perception, and they were still just crushing. The point was there wasn’t enough variation location.

Neil McConnell  13:38

It’s the same as like, pitchers are taught you never throw the same pitch to two pitches in a row. Almost no matter how bad the guy is. Same pitch, second time around. The guy’s going to boom.

Neil McConnell  13:52

Anyway, so the max BP got this beautiful variation that’s working around the zone, that reinforces that whole battleship concept and really building that database.

Joey Myers  14:04

Also whiffle balls in the wind, if you’re in a windy area, you’re going to have that variation anyway, and so we teach in extremes. When we use our MaxBP mini wiffle ball pitching machine, that’s one of our stations, we do our small private groups, between two and four to six hitters in a group.  My hitters have favorable MaxBP reviews.

Joey Myers  14:19

The max BPs one of the stations and usually I’ll use it as like a righty slider for my juniors, High School guys and gals, gals not so much the slider, but we use that righty slider because they’re going to see more righty sliders and they are lefties, but you get all that movement.

Joey Myers  14:37

What I’m trying to get them to do is I’m trying to get them to see this, this, this, this over and over, like you’re saying that pattern, right?

Joey Myers  14:45

The other one we like to use is just the high fastball, so we crank it up the turbo, we get it to where it’s coming across their letters, and so they’re getting used to getting on top of the ball and what we say is hitting it through the tube.

Joey Myers  14:56

Imagining the ball coming through a tube, from the MaxBP machine, and it’s coming to the hitter at a certain height that tube is, and we’re trying to hit it right back through that too.

Joey Myers  15:06

Those are the two biggest ones that we use with the MaxBP mini wiffle ball pitching machine. But what I wanted to ask is there’s a lot of catchers out there, a lot of parents with catchers, coaches with catchers, and you guys have done a lot of cool stuff with using max BP with catchers, how do you guys use that and what kind of MaxBP reviews have you received from catchers?

 

You guys have done a lot of cool stuff with using max BP mini wiffle ball pitching machine with catchers, how do you guys use that?

Neil McConnell  15:24

Everything from just starting learning how to receive the ball to if you look on the website, we’ve got one of the all-time great college catchers Chelsea Goodacre, who played at U of A and played professionally, was in Japan this last year, but she has this great drill that she did that was basically trying to get on, with the glove hand, she would tap the ball as it came in and have it hit home plate.

Neil McConnell  15:48

By doing that she was getting on the outside of the ball. Again, reps, reps, reps, reps, reps. So, learning to receive, learning to block, there’s kind of just countless catchers from the big-league level on down that are just trying to get the work in and learning positioning, the new where they’re starting with the glove down low and coming up.

Neil McConnell  16:14

That’s something you subscribe to, again, how are you going to get your guy hundreds of reps a day, without getting beat up, because a lot of the benefit out of the max BP is the reps without the fatigue you would get catching the balls.

Joey Myers  16:30

When you guys also have colored balls. It’s not just like the whole balls yellow, or the whole balls red, which you do have, but you have split colored balls. One of the other things we like to do is we’ll do our drills, but we’ll have a mix, like complete mix, like you gave me a mix, but I even made a mix of the mix.

Joey Myers  16:47

Sometimes what we’ll do is they’ll have to say the color before they hit it. If it’s a two-tone colored ball, so it could be yellow and white, or it could be blue and green or whatever, they have to say the first color that they see before they swing.

Joey Myers  17:02

That also with the catching can really help because again, like the Harrison stuff, right? The eye stuff, you’re trying to get them to identify and then make it. It could be to where maybe they don’t catch the greens. Maybe you have a mix of red and greens. Or they catch the greens, and they don’t catch the reds, like red light, green light, right?

Joey Myers  17:21

Where you’re making them make a decision and ignoring one color versus being locked into another color.  Something else you may not pick up from online MaxBP reviews.

“Where you’re making them make a decision and ignoring one color versus being locked into another color…”

Neil McConnell  17:29

I would say to me the most transformational drill with this one. Again, I believe that more every single day. It’s incredible, because as we get testimonies coming in, and there’s one after another kid, my kids swung in and miss pitches all the time, and now he barely swings and misses.

Neil McConnell  17:45

We get those every day. It’s incredible.

Neil McConnell  17:48

But the tracking catch drill if you’re doing that. Take the bat out of the hands, you’re in the hitting position, load, and then you’re catching left hand, catching right hand, you’re trying to catch the ball as deep as possible.

Neil McConnell  18:03

Kids initially will want to come out front and slap the ball. Right. It’s getting them to track it deep getting them to, and then the second phase pass out, one is the track and decide.

Neil McConnell  18:14

That’s what the multi colors you’re just talking about. What’s happening in your brain there is it’s differentiating between a difference in color. The same thing that’s helping you make that rapid decision, because then that’s translating to a left hand or right hand or letting it go.

Neil McConnell  18:32

That’s the same thing that you’re picking up from a pitcher’s hand, a different release, different release point that might indicate fastball versus curveball, or slider. So those micro differences that your brain is recognizing quick.

Neil McConnell  18:46

This is colors versus a grip or a small spin, but that same thing, and that rapid decision making is training your brain,

Joey Myers  18:57

That’s cool. There’s a lot of difference if you bring up the subject of pitch recognition. Those are different phases. We teach my hitters that that might be like four different phases.

Joey Myers  19:07

Number one, the signals that you’re looking for, could be the pitcher hasn’t even started his wind up or her wind up yet, and they’re giving away what they’re doing. I tell my hitters, when I was in college, we had a lefty, who threw about 94, had about an 88 mile an hour slider.

Joey Myers  19:24

I loved hitting lefties, but he was devastating to a lot of different hitters. What he would do is that when he would go fastball, he would just get his sign, and then he would do his thing.

Joey Myers  19:35

If he got curveball, he would take his glove and he would go here and then up and then go, so he gave it away right away. Then in their wind up, even before the wind up, there’s the pattern recognition of okay, what are they throwing, what do they tend to go to a hidden account? What do they go to behind in the count? What do they tend to lean on more?

Joey Myers  20:00

That’s a big part of our homework, I tell my hitters you got to be critical thinking hitters. Before that pitcher even throws a ball, before he even gets a sign, you need to have a bulk of information that you’re dealing from then wind up, he gives something up or maybe his release point, he gives something up, he does this with the curveball throws it to 12 to six, and a fastball throws out here more three quarter, he’s given it up based on his arm angle.

Joey Myers  20:25

We’re not necessarily looking for detail in his hand but we can see this versus this, fastball versus here.

Joey Myers  20:32

There’s spin, so once I get here, there’s given stuff away, and then there’s spin, right you were looking at. A lot of this we can work on with Max BP, a lot of this with the coloring you’re talking about is ignoring one color but hitting another color or saying the color out when you’re hitting it or putting it in a zone and just getting the reps in that area so that you’re getting used to that movement. I love being able to have that as an option for kids, like you said with the repetitions of it.  This can be helpful for someone looking for MaxBP reviews.

Neil McConnell  21:04

Absolutely and again, they can set it up on their own. That’s one of the beauties, so it’s small space. Incredible.

 

“You can honestly get work in and probably 10-15 feet. 20 feet is a good space….”

Neil McConnell  21:12

I caught up with an old college friend who was with the nationals and asked him hey, what’s max BP given the whole thing? He was, oh, that’s your company. He’s like I got, who’s Daniel Espinosa. He grabs me and we go down on the road games in the hotel and find like a room that’s open and he’s firing balls at them and clean up and all that.

Neil McConnell  21:36

If you got a…

Joey Myers  21:38

Cellar, basement.

Neil McConnell  21:39

Yes, anywhere. You can honestly get work in and probably 10-15 feet. 20 feet is a good space.

Joey Myers  21:47

Yes, I mean how many settings? There’s like what five settings for speed. There’s regular speed. There’s turbo, you even have fast to where the dial where you can set it to righty curveball, lefty curveball, and then yes soft toss. You have like a couple other speed things there too. There are so many different options that you can use.

Neil McConnell  22:07

Absolutely.

Joey Myers  22:09

I got a question for you that I usually get. I’ve asked you this in the past, is people will say, well, I got another whiffle ball pitching machine and it’s a lot cheaper. What are the differences between MaxBP reviews and others? What’s the answer you usually give to that?

Neil McConnell  22:24

Well, the most obvious is the velocity. Our exit velocity is much higher than anything out there. If you’re wanting to set it up further away, or get the ultra-high velocities, like we had, I’m going back maybe 8,9,10 years ago.

Neil McConnell  22:42

Raúl Ibañez, when he was still playing, I believe he was with Seattle at the time, and he was about to buy one of those tennis ball machines that are 10 – $14,000 or something, and they throw the balls, I want to say 140 miles an hour.

Neil McConnell  23:00

They require an operator, they jam, they have a handful of issues, but they’re great for training. In fact, if you watch some Edgar Martinez retirement videos, he talked about his eye issues he had through his whole career. That was one of the things he did to really put in all that extra work to be the Hall of Fame player he was.

Neil McConnell  23:19

Anyway, Raúl, quickly got exposed to our machine and realized, this is going to do the same thing. That ball is fast, it’s portable. If you go down the list, so it’s fast as the most obvious, it’s more durable.

Neil McConnell  23:37

If you feel it, obviously there’s a difference, holds more balls, so it allows more reps. The number of speed and the curve changes. On the pro model, there’s three different righty curves, there’s three different lefty curves. Maybe we call like slaughter slider cutter curve.

Neil McConnell  23:58

The pitch interval, on the pro there’s a rapid-fire option that allows a ball to fire every second. Instead of the fastest being three seconds, you got a ball coming every second so whether it’s a bunting station, there’s other drills you can do bunt, take, swing.

Neil McConnell  24:14

The rapid hand catch drills, whether you’re a catcher or even in the hitting position, in fact that one Sean Casey on MLB network demonstrated that one about four years ago with the rapid fire.

Joey Myers  24:31

Do you guys test them before they go out because that can be helpful for someone looking for MaxBP reviews?

 

Do you guys test them before they go out?

Neil McConnell  24:33

A lot of testing. We’re built here in the US so we do have good parts you can’t get anywhere in the world but China still, but the build is done in the US, we hand pour our wheels, we test, there’s multiple test spots at every single step.

Joey Myers  24:54

I know that was one of the big things with the cheaper model was that people would get them, they’re all over the place, they’re not tested basically before they go out.

Neil McConnell  25:04

Yes, and one of the other keys, we’ve stuck with whiffle brand balls so those guys are out of Connecticut, 63 year old company, three generation, our customers were amazing and stuck with us, they ran out of the plastic and they had empty warehouses for the first time in their 63 years of history this summer.

Neil McConnell  25:25

We were rationing balls like saltines in a bomb shelter or something. That’s one of the keys though, so they maintain the weight, the size and all that. People, too, they say, hey, these balls are expensive.

Neil McConnell  25:44

Again, it’s high quality, we say you must lose them for them to become useless. They don’t ding, they don’t have the little burrs that create imperfections. Very high-quality product that’s made here in the US, in Connecticut. There was one other difference, what the heck was it?

Neil McConnell  26:10

I’ll think of it.

Joey Myers  26:10

There’s a lot to take in regarding MaxBP reviews.

Neil McConnell  26:12

Yes, there’s a bunch. It’s high-quality product and the thing we stand by is our customer service. We’ll work with the customers, we’ll help them through drills, we’ll help them through set up and all that kind of stuff.

Neil McConnell  26:29

We’ve got some great new setup videos that are out on the website. We pulled away the paper instructions a few years back and went to an FAQ text and got a few complaints like hey, we’re expecting a step by step, but we’ve created some really great videos, everything from setting up the tripod attaching the pop up to just a general unboxing and here’s what you get.

Neil McConnell  26:52

The drills we’re about to shoot another drill run. The first that we did was probably four and a half years ago with the guy Tyler Hyneman, catcher out of UCLA, most of his time at Triple A he was with the Astros at the time.

Neil McConnell  27:05

Last year thanks to Buster Posey taking a year off, half the summer caught opening day for the giants.

Joey Myers  27:12

So cool.

Neil McConnell  27:13

Just one of the more awesome dudes in baseball, just as nice as they come, and I just fall in love with these guys that put in the work. It’s almost like when I met Scott Hatteberg, about 10 years ago, I was more interested in talking about Michael Lewis and spending a week with Moneyball, getting ready for Moneyball.

Neil McConnell  27:36

One of the guys that was with me asked Hatteberg a question was like, hey, so how do you foul off a pitch and managing an at-bat and just foul off and wait for good pitches.

Neil McConnell  27:47

He’s like, I was never able to do that, he’s like, I felt lucky just to make contact and the amount of work I put in, and when you talk to guys like that, that just grind and they put in the work, if I had that time machine, I would give myself one of these machines in the 80s.

Neil McConnell  28:06

I love putting in the work but having the tools, I say, kids these days, and athletes in general, the tools at their disposal are just off the charts. The science on eating and sleeping.

Neil McConnell  28:22

Harrison did a series of webinars when COVID started and it seemed like every webinar we did, sleeping was coming up. It was incredible. But those are things that we just had no clue of back in the 80s.

Joey Myers  28:37

We were doing what the outfielders’ combined sleep was like three hours. We had a game like that in college. We used to do a brunch on Sunday at Fresno State, beautiful brunch and especially my freshman year, towards the end of the season, I played the first half of the season and then pretty much sat the last half of the season.

Joey Myers  28:59

Sunday, it was always the rule if you were playing you can pretty much eat what you wanted as much as you wanted. If you weren’t playing you had to be careful if you ate too much that you were going to fall asleep on the bench, but we had one of those Sundays to brunches, we had our complete outfield.

Joey Myers  29:17

I wasn’t one of them, but our complete outfield had like accumulative sleep the night before because they’d all gone out like four hours, four hours of sleep. Don’t do that.

Neil McConnell  29:32

Memories.

Joey Myers  29:34

Well, hey, I want to be respectful your time, Neil. So where can people find you, the website, the social media, all that good MaxBP reviews stuff?

 

Where can people find you, the website, the social media, all that good stuff?

Neil McConnell  29:41

So MaxBP.com, that’s probably the quickest way to jump all our social links. We just rolled out a new website about a week and a half ago, the fifth website in 12 years. A lot of great content up there.

Neil McConnell  29:54

We’re here to help you get more reps. We’ve got another cool announcement here in the next couple of weeks, another product that we’re bringing on board, we’re teaming up.

Neil McConnell  30:06

The one thing I quickly realized as we were doing ABCA and NFCA and all these shows is there a few big companies out there like the Wilson who picked up ATEC and Louisville Slugger and Marucci has since gotten purchased.

Neil McConnell  30:13

There were just several 100 amazing small companies that had really cool products and sell them and had a tough time getting visibility to the masses.

Neil McConnell  30:39

It’s funny I have a handful friends always call me the gizmo guy like I’ve got one Gizmo after another but I’m always testing things, but I have a very small kit of tools that I use when I coach.

Neil McConnell  30:53

That’s reflected on our website I refuse to take on hundreds and hundreds and just sell everything in anything because I really believe you work on hitting, you work on the mechanics on a tee, getting some reps there and now you’ve got to hit a moving ball and then how are you going to get lots of reps doing that and we strongly believe MaxBP’s the best way to do that.

Neil McConnell  31:16

Thanks a ton for having me and visit www.maxBP.com and reach out to us, any questions you have, we got a ton of great blog articles. We’re grateful for the partnership with Joey going back long ways and hopefully see him in person.

Neil McConnell  31:34

Are you going on NFCA, I think that’s our first show out the gates this December?

Joey Myers  31:40

We’ll see. I think I kind of want to see how all this political stuff pans out on the traveling side of things. If it’s closer I can drive probably better deals, but we’ll kind of see on those I will eventually get back out there again.

Joey Myers  31:56

I can’t wait to get together in person, not saying that we’d have one of those nights where it would be four hours of sleep between us but maybe that might happen.

Neil McConnell  32:10

Thanks. Yeah, you also improve my golf driving yardage. I think I had a good 30-40 yards consistently. Thanks for the bellybutton squeeze.

Joey Myers  32:21

Well, the reason I recommended that to you because you were saying you got that back pain.

Neil McConnell  32:25

Exactly. The back pain is gone. I love how these things they translate over to other sports because, when I was golfing last summer through COVID I hadn’t played in seven years.

Neil McConnell  32:39

I love how these pieces come together, and then that reminds me, too and when I’m working with my hitters. What are they doing biomechanical and you’ve got that stuff nailed.

Joey Myers  32:50

Exactly. Cool, dude. Well, hey, any scratch my back. I scratch your back type of thing. Alright, Neil. Well, hey, have a good rest of your week and we’ll do this again some other time, MaxBP reviews.

Neil McConnell  33:02

Thanks.

Joey Myers  33:03

Alright brother.

Softball Practice Drills

Softball Practice Drills: “What Are You Looking for When Recruiting Hitters?”

 

 

In this softball practice drills interview with Justin Lewis, Softball Hitting Coach for the Fresno State Bulldog softball team, we’ll be looking at…Softball Practice Drills

  • How did you get to being the hitting coach for Fresno State softball?
  • What do you do when you come into a new program?
  • What are you looking for when recruiting hitters?
  • Do you guys do game planning?
  • Do you have your girls hunt the rise ball?
  • Softball practice drills: do you do pitch recognition stuff with the girls?
  • You’re getting ready in a short amount of time? What’s high priority right now?
  • Anything else that you’re working on?

Coach Justin and I ran into each other a few years back when he was doing his Coaching Minds podcast.  Justin is a good friend of mine, so I think you’ll enjoy learning about softball practice drills and many other things a coach has to deal with coming into a program during COVID…

Below is the audio transcription of the interview.  CLICK HERE to download the transcription PDF. This is one of 24 expert interviews included in my new Swing Smarter book.

Enjoy!

 


Justin Lewis  00:00

I think she hit two home runs off those, she was like four for four with two jacks. Yeah, she was incredible.

Joey Myers  00:09

Wow. Well, there’s a bunch that opted out last MLB season two. I don’t know who really, but I know there were a few. Are you ready to get started?

Justin Lewis  00:20

Yes, whatever you need, brother.

Joey Myers  00:22

All right, let me do an official role here.

Joey Myers  00:25

Welcome to Swing Smarter monthly newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from hittingperformancelab.com, and I have the pleasure today of returning the favor, Mr. Coach Justin Lewis.

Joey Myers  00:34

He had me on his softball practice drills podcast a few years back, and he has just moved here to California actually, specifically Fresno, he just got the hitting instructor job for Fresno State softball.

Joey Myers  00:48

I want to first welcome you to the softball practice drills show, and welcome you to California, Justin.

Justin Lewis  00:51

Yes, brother. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it, and yes, the tables have turned here.

Joey Myers  00:58

Well, in those days, you were still doing the firefighter gig and you were looking to start to get your foot in the door for coaching and things like that. Now, you’re the hitting coach for Fresno State softball.

Justin Lewis  01:10

Yeah, it’s kind of been a whirlwind last three and a half years. I was driving a fire truck three and a half years ago when we last chatted. What’s funny about that podcast, I loved doing that podcast, and I actually miss it a lot.

Justin Lewis  01:23

I miss having great conversations, with people like you, but I started it because I wasn’t having any luck getting back into the game. It was like, well, let’s start this little journey and then I got the opportunity to kind of get back in. This is my third school and three and a half season goal, and my fourth season now.

Joey Myers  01:46

So, Tracy’s back there, you started the softball practice drills podcast to try and get your foot back in the door in the game. How did you get to where you are now? How did that domino help you to get to where you’re at?

 

How did you get to being the hitting coach for Fresno State softball?

Justin Lewis  01:58

Yeah, I don’t know that the podcast really helped me that much. Basically, Mike Kandrey at University of Arizona is one that really helped me out the most.

Justin Lewis  02:07

I was living in Tucson, driving a fire truck, but I was working on Mike’s camps. That’s really what helped me get in. Then, Craig Nicholson was out of coaching and was looking to get back in and he took a Division Two head job at Texas A&M Kingsville.

Justin Lewis  02:27

I had known him from we were both at Central Arizona College together. He was the head softball coach, and I was coaching baseball there. We had a relationship and that’s kind of how it worked out.

Justin Lewis  02:39

I went to Kingsville, took a team that hadn’t been to the conference tournament in 10 years. We went to the conference tournament the first year, and then the second year, went all the way to the DII World Series and finished second.

Justin Lewis  02:51

We got double dipped on the last day to lose it. It was kind of a rough one. But D2 right, they’re going to make you do a doubleheader in the championship game.

Joey Myers  03:03

Yeah. Right. Like little league?

Justin Lewis  03:07

Yes, and so then a friend of mine got the head job at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, which is a D1 school down there. I was already living in Corpus Christi, so it was an easy transition, I got to sneak into division one ball and didn’t even have to move.

Justin Lewis  03:23

Then this opportunity came along, and it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up, being able to join a program that’s firing on all cylinders. They had a great run before COVID hit last year. I can join them, and hopefully, coming here will not screw things up.

Joey Myers  03:44

Was it just one of the few openings that came up, Fresno State? How did you land here?

Justin Lewis  03:58

It came open. They kind of went through the hiring freeze with COVID, after the Coach Lisle left. It was just kind of a timing thing, and I had some people reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in it.

Justin Lewis  04:16

I hadn’t even really thought about it, I wasn’t planning on leaving where I was at, we were building, we took over a team that had only won eight games the year before we got there. We were kind of in our complete rebuild.

Justin Lewis  04:29

I was really looking forward to going through that journey because we brought 13 new kids into Corpus this year, and then had an amazing recruiting class coming in 2021. I was super excited because that team is going to be nasty.

Justin Lewis  04:45

I was looking forward to being part of that. I wasn’t planning on leaving until I could get a head coaching job, it was kind of my goal.

Justin Lewis  04:54

I wasn’t really looking to leave for another assistance role, but again, just the opportunity to come join a top 25 program, with the facilities that we have here.

Justin Lewis  05:05

As a hitting guy, they got everything in the world you could want here. I haven’t been to a school yet that had any more technology than my cell phone. Having an indoor hitting facility with hit tracks, K motion, blast, and everything we got, it was just kind of an ideal situation for us.

Joey Myers  05:27

What do you do – softball practice drills – when you come into a program? Like the last couple ones you talked about, they only won eight games. As a hitting guy, where do you start? That’s a big challenge. Where do you start with that?

 

What do you do – Softball practice drills – when you come into a new program?

Justin Lewis  05:42

Just start with the basics, if you don’t even know where to sometimes, it’s so overwhelming, because you didn’t recruit any of those kids, right? When I recruit, I try to recruit swings that I already love, because they limit us in time so much that we don’t have time to do complete rebuilds of swings, it’s just unrealistic.

Justin Lewis  06:04

That’s even if the kids want to. It’s a lot of just band aids and try to make them as good as they can possibly be with what they’re already working with.

Justin Lewis  06:17

At the end of the day, one of the reasons I recruit swings that I already love, besides the timing factor, is I don’t want to take something away from a kid, even if you make a change, you still kind of took something from them, right?

Justin Lewis  06:29

To me, mentally that does something to them. Luckily, we’re in situations where those kids were hungry for any kind of knowledge and work ethic. It was just kind of lucky that when I was at Kingsville, there were some really talented pieces that were in place, and we kind of fell into a great situation. That was nice.

Justin Lewis  06:55

The last year was a little rough just because there wasn’t a whole lot of talent there, but just great kids that wanted to work. We were better, we were 6 and 16 when COVID hit and kids were gelling and starting to really buy in.

Justin Lewis  07:14

We probably would have won about 20 games is my guess, which doesn’t sound great but compared to eight the year before. I was kind of sad for those kids to not get to finish off showing that we were better.

Justin Lewis  07:30

The teams that we played could tell that we were better. We were competing in games that they had no business competing in the year before and snuck a couple of sneaky wins in over some teams that we had no business beating.

Justin Lewis  07:45

You miss it for those seniors that didn’t get to finish it. As far as just the hitting goes, it’s just tough, it is just putting in the reps with the kids that want to work and just trying to put it all together.

Joey Myers  08:00

It makes it nice when they actually want to learn and want to get better at softball practice drills. I always tell my dads or my buddies “hey, do you want to get into college coaching or high school coaching? I’m doing a little league thing by default because my son’s eight now”. We’ve been doing that, you know?

Joey Myers  08:19

I always tell him, well, it’s nice with the private small group stuff we do because all those kids want to be there. They all want to get better and the parents want that as well.

Joey Myers  08:29

When you say that it makes it easier when you walk into a facility or softball practice drills program even if you didn’t recruit those hitters. You mentioned the kind of swings that you’re looking for, what are the top, maybe one or two things, say like Fresno State moving forward, when you get to start recruiting bid? Or maybe you guys are still doing that now? What are you looking for?

 

What are you looking for when recruiting hitters?

Justin Lewis  08:54

A couple things, the biggest thing I look for is, I look for kids that are already naturally keeping their barrel in the middle of a field. It’s like the recruiting velocity for pitchers. It’s just more room for air.

Justin Lewis  09:10

Kids that already naturally do that, that’s like number one for me. Are we swinging the bat hard? Are we trying to do damage? It may look pretty but there’s no juice behind it. Kids that are real spinning, I try to avoid even if they look the part.

Justin Lewis  09:33

A lot of times in travel ball you get these kids that are 5’9″. Big strong kid, they’re on the right travel ball team, and they get enough bad pitching in high school and travel ball that they can make that swing work.

Justin Lewis  09:47

You better understand that swinging will translate to this level where kids are upper 60s and painting corners like crazy and 80% of our pitching is probably on the outside part of the plate and it’s there for a reason, it’s all these kids come in.

Justin Lewis  10:03

As they’re growing and getting older, they are getting stronger, they realize that if I get going this way in a hurry, spin it in one direction, I got a little bit of juice. That just doesn’t translate when you get to this level. Naturally, I just look for those kids that naturally just keep their barrel in the middle of the field.

Joey Myers  10:23

The other thing in softball, you have the high fastball and baseball but on the big field, 60 feet six inches to see that ball come and travel. But in softball, it’s 43 feet, right? You have less time, so the rise ball comes in, and when you have that spinny swing, typically what follows is that barrel gets in the zone way too early and drops because the minute that barrel leaves the shoulder, gravity starts taking over and rotational forces start taking over and drag the barrel down.

Joey Myers  10:51

That rise ball becomes a challenge. The past school, was that baseball or was that softball?

Justin Lewis  10:58

I’ve been in softball ever since I got back. I played men’s fastpitch for 15 years. That’s kind of where I fell in love with the game. You look at it as like a business move if you looked at just that way.

Justin Lewis  11:17

Softball, to me, is the way to go. I talked to baseball guys all the time, like you got to get into softball. There’s so much room for growth, and there’s so much dominant coaching, just excellent coaching, and all levels of college baseball.

Justin Lewis  11:32

I was getting in as a 40-year-old assistant, starting from the bottom. I wasn’t 23 or 24 right. I had to make a business decision as well. It wasn’t just that, I love softball, after playing it, and you see how fast the game is compared to baseball.

Justin Lewis  11:52

I have a hard time watching baseball anymore, it’s just so slow and dry. It doesn’t even hold my attention. I grew up with four older sisters, I got a wife and a daughter, like I should have known, it should have been foreshadowing years ago that I was going to end up coaching females, but I absolutely love it. I wouldn’t trade it for baseball in a heartbeat right now. There’s no way, I absolutely love it.

Joey Myers  12:22

I love my boys. I love working with my boys, but the girls are a little bit more fun. Boys are sponges, they want to soak it in, they want to learn, they want to get better, and some more than others. But it just seems like every girl that I’ve worked with doing softball practice drills, they just want it a little bit more sometimes.

Justin Lewis  12:42

I was nervous about it. I’ll tell you a funny story. My first road trip and Kingsville were kind of letting me know that there’s not a whole lot of difference between them either. We’re driving, we’re not 30 minutes down the road and I hear this man who farted, and I was like, they’re the same.

Joey Myers  13:05

They’re humans.

Justin Lewis  13:09

There’s some obviously particulars where we got to be careful touching and hand placements.

Joey Myers  13:18

Yes, no more butt slaps.

Justin Lewis  13:21

Yes, none of that. No grab ass at all. You must be particular where you stand, especially once the relationship gets built, they understand that you’re just there to help them but I’m very particular and make sure I keep my distance.

Justin Lewis  13:36

I stand in front of them, “Hey, is it okay if I touch your shoulders?”, if I want to try to manipulate them a certain way, the same with their hands. I got about a three-foot-long PVC pipe for one, stand that back hip, it’s like that right there.

Joey Myers  13:55

Instead of using your finger, you’re poking them with it.

Justin Lewis  13:59

I grab them if their hips are going a certain way, I grab their hips and manipulate them the way you wanted to, but that’s just not an option.

Joey Myers  14:06

Exactly. Yes, that’s a good point. I think you coming from a female background family wise, you understand that, and that’s good for others to hear, too. Especially those that have daughters that are getting into softball practice drills, like the little league version of softball and stuff. It’s good to know.

Joey Myers  14:24

On game planning, do you guys do game planning? Do you have a strategy that you help the girls with? Like you hunt? Do you have them hunt in certain softball practice drills? How does that go?

 

Do you guys do game planning?

Justin Lewis  14:36

I try to look at what the other pitchers are trying to do to us. Most of them are trying to throw strike one, let’s find out, can she throw a strike one? If she can, is that our best pitch to hit?

Justin Lewis  14:54

If it is, to me we got to go bang strike one. If they have proven through scouting whatever, they’re not great at throwing strike one, we can be a little bit more patient.

Justin Lewis  15:05

I battle with these kids a lot because no one wants to hit down and away curveball running away from you at 68 miles an hour. That might be legitimately your best shot. If you’re 0-1 now because you didn’t want to go attack that pitch, now most of them are just going to try to throw rise balls above your hands. Good luck with that.

Justin Lewis  15:33

Let’s find out if strike one is an option for us, and if it is, we got to drop our egos and we got to go attack it. I’m also real big about the 1-1 count, it makes a big difference in that -pitch, are we going 2-1? Or are we going 1-2, and that’s just vastly different scenarios there.

Justin Lewis  15:54

Pitchers tend to get into rhythm and pitch callers get into rhythms, those are two counts that I track, the 0-0 count and the 1-1 count, and just having an idea of what that rhythm and routine is, if there’s any pattern there.

Justin Lewis  16:13

At this level, the higher up you go into Division One, the lower levels and DII, a lot of times you’re just facing two pitchers. There will be curveball rise ball, the special ones got that third one that change up, if they got that trouble.

Justin Lewis  16:29

The higher up we go, you’re facing kids that almost every kids got that change up, and maybe they got a fourth pitch. We start looking at what pitches can we eliminate. To me when I played and face guys that were throwing absolute gas and had four devastating pitches, I’ll start eliminating some of these pitches.

Justin Lewis  16:47

How do I do that? To me it was, if I go hunt something down at my knees, the rise balls a lot easier to take when I’ve got to be focused down in the zone. I do a drill with our girls where I’ll tell them in front toss, every pitch is going to be at your kneecap, to your shin and I want you get down there and drive it.

Justin Lewis  17:08

We’re not just going to pound ground balls running that pitch, and they focus and it’s always their best round, and they’re super focused on it. About three quarters of the way through that round, I’ll throw a one up at their chest level, and they take it effortlessly.

Justin Lewis  17:24

I’ll talk about it afterwards. “Hey, that was a great round. Why do you think you did so good?” “I was focused”. Oh, that’s a mind-blowing stuff here. Then, I’ll ask them, “Hey, I threw that ball up kind of simulated rise ball, how easy was that to take?” “Well, it’s really easy”. “How come?” “I was focused down in the zone.”

Justin Lewis  17:45

Shocking. From me having to do that over and over again and chasing my fair share of rise balls through the years. That’s what I try to get through to them. We face so many rise ball pitchers, that seems to be the key for us.

Joey Myers  18:06

Do you guys ever switch your plan or softball practice drills, and go and hunt the rise ball at all, like rise ball, obviously up to a certain limit? You’re not swinging at one that’s up here.

Do you have your girls hunt the rise ball?

Justin Lewis  18:15

Flat rise balls go a long way. What’s interesting is this summer, or during quarantine, a bunch of us hitting coaches got together on a weekly zoom call. It was awesome.

Justin Lewis  18:30

There’s probably as many as 28-29 of us every week from all the top programs and just JuCo programs, all different levels, and everyone’s sharing their information and one of the coaches, his approach sometimes is like, “whatever their strength is, let’s go hunt that”, it was kind something I hadn’t really thought.

Justin Lewis  18:55

Why would I go look for their worst nastiest pitch, and when we start looking at a lot of the statistics, some of these guys really get into the weave with the tracking of some of this stuff, they have the technology to do it.

Justin Lewis  19:10

They still miss, and we got to be ready for where we act. A lot of times pitchers never miss, and they do at all levels, even the greatest ones, miss right in the middle of the plate a lot. It certainly made me question and made me think a little bit more about it.

Joey Myers  19:27

Have you ever dug into Perry Husband stuff? Effective Velocity?

Justin Lewis  19:32

Absolutely.

Joey Myers  19:32

He’s gotten really big into the fastpitch softball world and he’s worked with I think some of the top five programs, when it comes to both the hitters and the pitchers.

Joey Myers  19:44

Hitters, it’s the hunting, if it’s the pitchers, they’re moving their pitches around in the zone to take advantage of the discrepancy between how close the ball is versus how far it is away.

Joey Myers  19:55

That was a big one for me, from a hitting perspective because now I have to counter that. How do we counter that? He says, it’s like a wide receiver trying to cover two cornerbacks, one cornerback trying to cover two wide receivers.

Joey Myers  20:11

Both wide receivers run a similar route, one’s a deep route and the other one’s like a deep post, he can just kind of hang out in the middle, read the quarterback and then just peel off whenever the quarterback goes and releases the ball.

Joey Myers  20:22

The problem happens when you have one wide receiver that goes deep, and you have another one that does like a 10 yard cut in the middle. Now that cornerback has to decide, do I need to defend the deep ball because I don’t have a safety behind me to help or can I peel off and go inside?

Joey Myers  20:39

With the pitching, it’s the same idea. If you guys are facing a lot of rise ballers, like this coach is saying why not? Why not hunt their best stuff and teach the girls during softball practice drills how you get to that rise ball and crank on it?

Justin Lewis  20:51

Yes, absolutely. One of the things with softball, you’re not like baseball, you have different arm slots, everything like that. That’s not a thing in softball, and so everything’s coming out of one spot.

Justin Lewis  21:03

The ability for these pitchers to have everything busting out of one plane different directions, it’s nasty. Some of these kids are just filthy with what they do, and I think the EV stuff in softballs is barely scratching the surface right now.

Joey Myers  21:23

Now, pitch recognition, like you mentioned is a little tougher softball, because it’s coming out it seems like the same slot. Do you do pitch recognition stuff with the girls? And if you do, how do you do that?

 

Softball practice drills: do you do pitch recognition stuff with the girls?

Justin Lewis  21:36

I don’t dabble with it much. Again, worse. Especially right now, where Fresno State didn’t even have a fall. It’s like fire ready aim right now.

Joey Myers  21:47

Yes, it’s a little advanced.

Justin Lewis  21:51

It’s just trying to get reps right now and some of these kids have been off for 10 months, relying on what kind of work they put in. Luckily, at this level, most of these kids have still been putting in work, they haven’t seen a live pitching in 10 months.

Joey Myers  22:09

Talk to that, because there’s a lot of coaches out there dealing with the same thing, both baseball and softball, where their hitters may or may not have been working over the term, but they obviously haven’t been getting a lot of LIVE. When is the first game of the season?

Justin Lewis  22:24

It’s like the 20 or 12th, I think February 12, we got like 23 days.

Joey Myers  22:30

You got less than a month. How do you guys attack that? You’re getting ready in a short amount of time? What’s high priority right now?

 

You’re getting ready in a short amount of time? What’s high priority right now?

Justin Lewis  22:39

There’s no manual for this, this is something we’ve never really had to do. We started the first week, we didn’t know what our athletes were going to come in. We didn’t know what shape they were going to be like.

Justin Lewis  22:53

You must move as your slowest runner. We just brought them in, and then kind of did like an individual the first week and come down, let’s just hit for an hour and see where everybody’s at.

Justin Lewis  23:06

I’m coming in with I don’t know any of these kids. I try to build that relationship quickly, and I just wanted to see what they’re trying to accomplish with their swings. We’re still just kind of tracking them along slowly.

Justin Lewis  23:21

We’re kind of hitting the ground running now, just started team practice and revving up those the number of swings and the amount of work we’re trying to do.

Justin Lewis  23:30

Fortunately, we have two GAs and a pitching coach that all throw full arm. There’s nothing that is better than that. Our first year at Kingsville, it was just me and the head coach, and neither one of us threw.

Justin Lewis  23:47

Our kids’ timing issues were evident, our first quarter of the season was we’re late on everything. The next year, we played one of our… running a GA basically that threw non-stop for us, and it made the world of difference.

Justin Lewis  24:04

In my school last year, the Corpus Christi, both the head coach and the pitching coach both threw a lot. Now having three here, we’re kind of spoiled. It makes a huge difference.

Justin Lewis  24:19

We haven’t even started with the pitchers as far as seeing live pitching, but I think it’s coming pretty soon because we don’t have a choice. We got to get them as many looks as we can.

Justin Lewis  24:33

There’s just no playbook for it, and I’m interested talking to buddies across the sport, seeing what everyone’s doing to get ready, but also keep in mind that a lot of them had falls.

Justin Lewis  24:45

They’re kind of building off of what they did in the fall to where we’re just kind of getting started. I’m really interested as far as a coaching perspective to see if it even matters. That’s what I’m really interested in.

Joey Myers  24:59

Yes, the ultimate experiment.

Justin Lewis  25:03

In Corpus Christi, we had our fall cut short because of COVID. We lost the last two and a half weeks of the fall, and just getting into bunt defenses, and first and thirds, and all that kind of stuff, and it was taken away.

Justin Lewis  25:20

We’re feeling very unprepared. As I was interviewing for this job, they were “we’ve had no fall”. I was like, I don’t feel so bad anymore.

Justin Lewis  25:28

I’m just wondering, as coaches, we always feel like we’re not prepared enough. We’ve got to do that bunt slap defense for the 9 millionth time and our kids are like, “got it”. I’m interested to see how much it matters that we didn’t have a fall.

Justin Lewis  25:46

I’m sure it’s going to matter a little bit here and there, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it may not matter as much as we think it is.

Joey Myers  25:55

I agree. It will be interesting on the hitting, and the timing, and all that kind of stuff, too, with minimal prep time to see. I think the experiment really is, is it the amount of work you’re putting in? Or is it the software? That’s the hardware, the software and the brain, how long does that take to really actually get it?

Joey Myers  26:16

You’re talking about higher level cream of the crop hitters. You’re talking about better software at that point. It would be interesting to see how that goes.

Justin Lewis  26:24

The NFL just kind of showed us, they had their training camp, but they didn’t play any pre-season games. It was completely different. I watched a lot of games that kind of look like the NFL to me.

Justin Lewis  26:38

I’m sure the coaches would disagree with that, and point to numerous areas where they fell short, because they didn’t feel like they were prepared. I’m sure we’re going to miss; we’re going to screw up a cuts and relays.

Justin Lewis  26:53

Maybe we miss a couple bunt defenses, but at the end of the day, I’m interested. Look at the recovery side for the student athletes. Baseball and softball players can traditionally claim to be some of the most overworked athletes around just because there’s no stopping, especially those college baseball players, and they go off in the summer, and they’re just that grind.

Justin Lewis  27:18

Softball doesn’t really do that, they start a summer league here and there, getting to be a little bit more popular, but we may have the freshest athletes we’ve had in a long time. I’m interested to see how that plays.

Joey Myers  27:31

If you get out of the gate screaming, like you said, they’re fresh, and they kind of hit their stride, that kind of subsides a little bit. That would be interesting, we will be staying in touch because for me too, I’m learning.

Joey Myers  27:43

I’ve had my hitters coming and seeing me and I just felt bad for them when we shut down. I just felt like they had about two or three weeks into the high school season, when it when it shut down here.

Joey Myers  27:57

My hitters were poised to do well, do really big things, and it just got shut down. We do our share of little games of random pitch and whatnot, but it’s just not enough of the reps. Like you said, it’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Justin Lewis  28:18

The fall can be a grind, you’re looking at the mental grind of the whole season. That includes the fall and the spring. Our kids are just chomping at the bit to be back and be around their teammates.

Justin Lewis  28:32

From a mental health standpoint as well, I’m curious about a lot of things. I think it may change; the world has changed clearly. I’m always fascinated about things that change the world. After 9/11, we haven’t worn shoes through airports, and it’s just normal. Now, I’m interested to see what other ways the world has changed because of all this.

Joey Myers  29:01

Exactly. Well, I want to be respectful of your time. Anything that besides the congratulatory on getting a new job and being closer to me and all this stuff, anything you’re working on outside of trying to get this band of elite athletes to where they need to be during softball practice drills?

 

Anything else that you’re working on?

Justin Lewis  29:20

I just try to learn all the time. Take everything I can, I read way more than I probably should right now. My family is not out here, they’re still in Texas. It’s softball and just trying to get better at everything.

Justin Lewis  29:36

There’s a couple of books that I read recently. I always put out a reading list every year, I keep track all the books that I read, and my two bests are Unlearn by Humble the Poet and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. Those are my two best read.

Justin Lewis  29:56

Those were amazing books. I just investigate ways to apply it, and always the ultimate hunt for becoming a better coach, and a better leader, and a better husband, and father, and it’s amazing how much I think I fall short on that from time to time.

Justin Lewis  30:15

That’s really been it, just trying to adapt to this area and these kids, just trying to serve them in the best ways I possibly can. It’s all about them, and as long as we keep that attitude, good things are going to happen here.

Joey Myers  30:33

That’s what I like about you, you got that softball practice drills growth mindset. You always want to be around those kinds of coaches, because they’re willing to say when they’re wrong, they’re willing to keep learning and that kind of thing.

Joey Myers  30:42

I think if you’re not falling short, you’re not doing some right. You got to be setting those goals out there far enough that sometimes you do reach them, but sometimes you don’t, and that keeps you going.

Joey Myers  30:52

I think that you have all the softball practice drills formula of a great growth mindset coach, I appreciate everything you guys are doing and take care of my girls. I won’t mention their names but take care of them out there.

Justin Lewis  31:04

You got a couple good ones. They’re some of my favorites.

Joey Myers  31:07

Talking about growth mindset. Those two and the older one, I won’t mention her name. She is a sweetheart and she’s one that you’ll definitely want to lean on with recruiting because she is just likeable, network-y, bubbly personality. She’s awesome.

Justin Lewis  31:25

She’s a rock star. She broke my PVC wall yesterday.

Justin Lewis  31:31

I’ve never had one explode like this, how hard does this kid swing the bat? She’s a little ball of terror. Like the rest of the kids that came through the station, they’re like, “of course it was her that broke it”

Joey Myers  31:48

You know when you mentioned her name? I think I told you this, it was all her, I always say I’m a compass and the flashlight in the dark, you have to put the work in.

Joey Myers  31:59

That summer, she worked so hard, she went from like a 65 mile an hour ball exit speed with the softball to 75 plus, in three months or two and a half months, however long that we were working together. She’s just a hard worker.

Justin Lewis  32:15

Yes, it comes off her bat in a hurry. When she keeps that barrel in the middle of the field, it’s nasty.

Joey Myers  32:22

When she came, she used to think that she was taught her whole life before she got into college to slap the ball, slap. Then, I think the coaching change after her freshman year that she recruited her to slap and the new coach that comes in says, “You know what, we’re not slapping, we’re driving”.

Joey Myers  32:39

She didn’t know how to do that. because she’d been taught her whole life to slap. Now to think how far she’s come. It’s great to see that, so proud of her and you’re going to be taking care of them.

Justin Lewis  32:51

She’s amazing, she’s been a big help in my transition here. Both have actually, I got to go, we had a day off. They’re both local kids, getting all the spots where I got to go hiking and everything else. They’ve been taking care of me, they’re good people.

Joey Myers  33:12

They’re both great. I haven’t met the other girls but I’m sure they’re great, too.

Justin Lewis  33:18

It’s a diverse group of kids here. I love it. They’re all different walks of life and just getting to hear their stories and what their whereabouts.

Justin Lewis  33:31

I come back to coaching, I say it all the time, I love hitting and I spend way too much time thinking about it and studying it and swing, trying to fix swings in the middle of night when I’m sleeping, but really, it’s the kids.

Justin Lewis  33:45

I’m trying to help them, use my experience to help them become the people they were meant to become is really why I came back to it and I need that interaction more than they need me. They will never find that out, though.

Joey Myers  33:59

They don’t realize it now, they’ll realize it later, but it’s not about softball, it’s about life. You’re teaching them life through softball, and I agree with you. That’s why I do it and continue to do it, it’s you’re mentoring.

Joey Myers  34:12

Like you said, you’re getting more out of it probably more than they realize, although when they get older, and they start you know, getting dealt families and stuff, they’ll say “Ah, Coach Justin, he was really pouring into me and I learned actually a lot from him”. But at the time they didn’t realize it.

Justin Lewis  34:26

Hopefully.

Joey Myers  34:28

All right, brother. Hey, keep up the good work out there. Good luck with all the COVID happenings, I know we talked before we started recording about your stuff out there. Stay safe and healthy.

Justin Lewis  34:40

Let’s get together. Let’s get you over to the facility soon and let’s whack it around a little bit.

Joey Myers  34:43

I would love it.

Justin Lewis  34:45

Awesome, brother.

Joey Myers  34:46

All right, Coach Justin. See you, bud.

Justin Lewis  34:47

You got it, take care.

Joey Myers  34:48

Take care.

Strike Zone Baseball: Pitch Detection & Pitch Tracking Baseball

How To Master Strike Zone Baseball with V-Flex Pitch Detection System

I have a strike zone baseball mastery, pitch detection, pitch tracking baseball, pitch recognition (whatever you want to call it) gem for you coaches…

(This post has a 6-min reading time)

And FYI … many coaches who know about this, DO NOT want you to know about it.  Why?  Because they want to keep their competitive advantage.  I don’t play that game.  I’d rather share the knowledge, tool, or strategy, so it makes baseball and softball of all levels better.  All ships rise with the tides.

Training pitch tracking baseball and softball developing a sense of the strike zone, to have a pitch detection or recognition system if you will, can be a challenge. You may not know how to teach it, cue it, or drill it.Strike Zone Baseball: Pitch Detection & Pitch Tracking Baseball

What if I were to tell you that you could use a pitch tracking baseball tool like the V-Flex, which promotes implicit learning, that will teach hitters pitch detection and how to master strike zone baseball. What is implicit learning? Simply put, it’s teaching without teaching.

Here are some pain points associated with strike zone mastery, pitch detection, pitch tracking baseball, pitch recognition – whatever you want to call it:

  • Don’t know how to teach swing at more strikes, and not at balls,
  • I do know how, but it’s difficult to teach and we’re not seeing immediate results, or
  • Want to cut down on my hitter striking out and swinging and missing, but don’t know where to start…

Well, you’re in the right place.  Here are the pitch tracking baseball and softball models to choose from, and you can get any one of these at The Starting Lineup Store

 

VX-3 Strike Zone Baseball Benefits (Baseball & Softball)

  •  The VX-3.0 is the smallest trainer in the VX-Series of products.
  • It plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.  
  • It can be used independently or in combination with the VX-5 and or VX-7 during training or live bp on the field. 
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training.
  • Watch the VX-3 assembly video to gain tips on how to assemble…

VX-3 Pitch Detection Features (Baseball & Softball)

  • Frame is made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.
  • This model also comes with galvanized/poly-coated cables and a new shock absorbing ring.
  • Finally, it comes with a 5 pound sand bag for stability.  The VX-3.0 comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.
  • It comes with a 5-year manufacturers warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.

 

VX-4 Pitch Tracking Baseball Benefits (Baseball Only)

  • The VX-4 plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.  
  • It can be used for live bp on the field.
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training. 

Here’s the VX-4 in action…

VX-4 Strike Zone Baseball System Features (Baseball Only)

  • Circular frame and tripod with extendable legs made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.
  • It comes standard with 12 polypropylene prompters for making different strike zone spaces.
  • It comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.

VX-5 Pitch Detection Benefits (Baseball & Softball)

  • The VX-5 is the mid-sized trainer in the VX-Series of products.
  • It plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.  
  • It can be used independently or in combination with the VX-3 and/or VX-7 during training or live bp on the field.
  • (Added Value) This trainer can be used as a SBP-5/BBP-5 (Pitching trainer) by simply removing the cable and ring system.  This is a tremendous benefit for customers on a tight budget.
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training.
  • Watch the VX-5 assembly video to gain tips on how to assemble the VX-5… (The only difference between the VX-5 and VX-7 assembly is size.  The assembly is identical for each)

VX-5 Pitch Tracking Baseball System Features (Baseball & Softball)

  • Frame is made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.  
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.  
  • This model also comes with galvanized/poly-coated cables and a new shock absorbing ring.
  • Finally, it comes with a 5 pound sand bag for stability. 
  • The VX-5 comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.  

 

VX-7 Strike Zone Baseball Benefits (Baseball & Softball)

  • The VX-7 is the largest trainer in the VX-Series of products.
  • It plays a vital role in creating tangible space for enhancing strike recognition for hitters.
  • This implicit trainer engages the hitters brain directly and provides necessary non-verbal spatial information relative to mastering strike recognition on game day.
  • It can be used independently or in combination with the VX-3 and or VX-5 during training or live bp on the field.
  • (Added Value) This trainer can be used as a SBP-7/BBP-7 (Pitching trainer) by simply removing the cable and ring system.  This is a tremendous benefit for customers on a tight budget.
  • This piece comes with a User’s Manual and a visual aid for demonstrating the areas of focus during training.
  • Watch the VX-7 assembly video to gain tips on how to assemble the VX-7 (The only difference between the VX-5 and VX-7 assembly is size.  The assembly is identical for each).

VX-7 Pitch Detection System Features (Baseball & Softball)

  • Frame is made of 3/8″ X 1″ 6061 aircraft grade anodized aluminum.
  • In 2017 we upgraded our shadow netting to #64 coated nylon.  The new netting is much more durable than previous years.
  • We also added bungee cord for the inner circle drawstring which allows the inner circle to be more uniform during use.
  • This model also comes with galvanized/poly-coated cables and a new shock absorbing ring.
  • Finally, it comes with a 5 pound sand bag for stability.
  • The VX-7 comes with a 5 year manufactures warranty on all aluminum and steel parts.
  • Here are some other blog resources when it comes to pitch recognition:

Here a few more blog resources when it comes to helping hitters with pitch recognition…

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting Mentioning 1 Shocking Swing Mistake He Didn’t Make…

 

 

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Check out the iconic Gary Sheffield barrel tilt-waggle – almost parallel to the ground! Photo courtesy: MLB Network

In this Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting video, 500 Home Run Club member Gary Sheffield talks about his hitting style, plate approach and adjustments to different ballparks with Mark DeRosa, Bill Ripken and Robert Flores on MLB Central.  Some of what you’ll find in the video:

  • 1 shocking swing mistake Sheffield didn’t make,
  • Pitch recognition that Gary Sheffield is talking about,
  • Change your stance depending on the field?
  • What does focus on staying to the right of your left side mean? And,
  • Making swing adjustments because of injury to compete…

For your convenience below, I’ve time stamped my notes, so you can jump to wherever the conversation interests you…

  • At about the 3-minute, 20-second mark, Sheffield talks about how after hitting 40+ homers between his AA and AAA season, he was brought up to MLB club and the powers at be tried to “flatten his bat” (for him a mistake he didn’t make).  Because they wanted a leadoff speed guy who hits the ball to right field.  When he got to San Diego, they wanted him to pick up the ball at 3rd base, they didn’t expect him to hit.  This was disrespectful to Sheffield.  He went from a guy not just trying to get on base, but to do damage.
  • At about the 4-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about his famous bat tilt-waggle, and how it’s all in the fingers. To get a nice relaxed crisp move with the fingers.  Like dancing.
  • At about the 5-minute mark, Sheffield talks about picking pitcher up at release to differentiate what he’s throwing.  Pitch recognition.  He doesn’t care what the pitcher does before that moment.  He said he looked for the heater and nothing changed on that approach throughout his career.  He wants the pitcher to fool him.  He doesn’t want to miss on the fastball.  All he wants to know is what is the pitcher’s out pitch – the one he goes to the most when he needs it. Doesn’t swing at fork balls.  He groups the fastball and slider together – as one pitch.
  • At about the 7-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about how he adjusts his stance depending on the park he’s playing in.  Examples…in San Diego the dimensions are fair, so he uses all fields.  At “fair” parks he didn’t feel like hitting the ball oppo made him lose something.   In Florida with the Marlins, he got closer to the plate and became strictly a pull hitter because of short fence in left field. Homers came by way of left and left center, rarely to center.  Goal of double digit homers to opposite field, so he was almost guaranteed 30 to 40 homers per year.  Billy Ripken made the comment that he’s never heard of anyone else who did this, except maybe when hitting at Fenway.  Dodger stadium was “fair” to him.  Mentioned at night it got dewey there, ball didn’t fly as far.  His strength was center field in LA.
  • At about 9-minute mark, Sheffield talks about his right elbow position to be ready to “punch”.  Athletic position.  Legs up under him.  When hitting he just thinks about his left side.  Tells his kids to cut the left side out.  Focus on being to the right of your left side.  Walking in the batter’s box sideways, so he knows he’s in the same spot every time.  He wants to work sideways, so he can stay behind his left side.
  • At about 11-minute mark, Sheffield his swing is dominant front arm.  Front arm goes straight to the ball.  Billy Ripken talks about “squashing a bug“.  They all comment on Gary Sheffield’s bat waggle and how parallel the barrel got to the ground at one point in the swing.  Sheffield talked about an injury he had to his right foot, plantar fasciitis, that required him to skip/hop his back foot.  Had to unlearn later.  Interesting confession on making an adjustment to compete.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

The NEW Way Pitchers Are Getting Hitters Out That May Be Hiding Under Your Nose…

Know WHY, according to Baseball-Reference.com, strikeouts (41,207) edged out hits (41,018) in the Big Leagues in 2018?  In my opinion, the above MLB Tonight Brian Kenny interview of Trevor Bauer has the answers.

Carlos Pena Effective Velocity

Carlos Pena fouling a ball off in 2009. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Could it be…

  • The Launch Angle craze? Maybe…
  • Hitters just don’t care about strikeouts anymore? Maybe…
  • The front office putting higher value recruiting players based on key Sabermetrics?  Maybe.

However, in my opinion, these are all symptoms to the direct cause.  Yes, hitters are being taught that ground-balls are gross.  And since the book and movie Moneyball came out, Math revealed key metrics measuring how often:

  • A hitter gets on base, and
  • They hit for extra bases…

…are better predictors to scoring runs.  Here’s a shot across the bow for the hitting coaches…

Back to the Trevor Bauer Evolution of Metrics conversation above,

Perry Husband, of HittingIsAGuess.com, has been sharing Effective Velocity principles for almost 2 decades, and it’s finally getting people’s attention.  WHY?  Because more and more pitchers are starting to apply the timing disruption principles.  Unlike golf, timing is a MAJOR factor in how consistently hard a hitter hits the ball.  And it’s THIS factor of a hitter’s success that’s under MAJOR attack.

Do you think I’m exaggerating?  Read on, because Perry, myself, and many others see the writing on the wall…remember when Wayne Gretzky so famously said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

I speak to MANY MANY coaches, and a majority of them, are disgusted with the sheer number of offensive strikeouts over the last few years, so their solution is to teach a defensive “just get on base” swing.  Are you kidding?!  More pitchers are throwing 96-mph+ at the higher levels nowadays, they LOVE facing hitters being taught a defensive “just get on base” swing.  And it’s not just at the highest levels, overall average velocities are going up across the board because of better training programs.

And by the way, it’s not about the higher pitching velocities per se, because we can train hitters to see faster speeds in the “lab”, making the increased game velocities “seem” slower.  That’s only one-dimension to pitching, as Trevor Bauer puts it in the interview.

It’s what pitchers are being taught to do with added velocity, manipulating hitters’ reaction times.  Don’t you see, the game is speeding up for hitters, and coaches are ill equipped to deal with the adjustment right now.  They’re running east, chasing a sunset!

Rest assured, we’re going to make a better decision and train differently.  Coaches, you’ve been WARNED.  In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • The NEW way pitchers are getting hitters out, and
  • How to counter this strategy…

 

The NEW Way Pitchers are Getting Hitters Out

Trevor Bauer & Effective Velocity

Trevor Bauer interview with Brian Kenny of MLB Network. Photo courtesy: MLB Network

Here are my notes on Trevor Bauer’s scouting report on hitters…

  • At the 40-second mark, Trevor talks about having a specific “pitch mix”.  And he adds that the delivery of that mix is different for every pitcher – how does he utilize it the best. He looks at hitter’s heat map and compares strengths and weaknesses to his “pitch mix” heat map strengths and weaknesses.  What gives a pitcher the best chance of being successful?
  • At the 2-min, 20-second mark, Brian asks Trevor about pitch sequencing – which pitch should follow the next? Taking away as many “tip-off” cues hitters use.  #1: Changing your body (i.e. tilting off while throwing a CB – mechanics have to be consistent). #2: How does the ball come out of the hand – tunneling, hitters can see “up and down” well, but not “side to side”, so he’s trying to minimize the “hump” in his pitches.  The more he can hide pitching cues, the later the hitter sees the ball, and the more likely the pitcher wins.  Neutral and clean mechanics.
  • At the 3-minute, 45-seconds mark, Trevor Bauer talks about starting off his pitches in the middle and let the movement get to the spot he’s trying to hit.  He worked on a new pitch to fill a hole in his pitching repertoire – he needed a pitch that could slide to his glove side that didn’t drop like his curveball.
  • At the 6-minute, 45-second mark, Brian asks when Trevor is getting hit, what’s the checklist he goes through to get back on track? He feels his speed differentials are off, either he’s throwing too hard or too soft, for example in early 2017 the data said he was throwing too high a percentage of hard stuff – 4/2-seam FB and cutters, and not enough slow with the CB, SL, and Change.  Once organized, hitters had a tough time. 3-Dimensional pitching approach: dealing with front to back (differing velos 95 to 85 to 78-mph), left to right (2-seam, 4-seam, cutter, slider), and up to down (4-seam, SL, and CB).

Did you catch that last bullet point?  There’s the Holy Grail of pitchers’ scouting reports right there.  Other than that, a lot of REALLY good intel in almost 9-mins, so how do hitting coaches counter this gameplan?  Take it from a hitter’s point of view, Carlos Pena, who studied under Perry Husband back in 2009, and in the following video, makes a good case to a promising counter-move…

 

How to Counter this Strategy…

Here are my notes on Carlos Pena’s scouting report on pitchers who use Effective Velocity…

  • At the 15-second mark, talks about hunting pitches, addresses the hitting myth of “looking for the ball away and react in”…pick a spot, a speed, and a rhythm to dance to, react within those parameters,
  • At the 1-minute mark, looking for ball away and reacting in would work for one maybe two-dimensional pitchers, objective is to make good contact more often, having an EV plan against a pitcher makes hitting “easier”, setting “coordinates” like latitude and longitude, and work within those parameters, having a “blast radius” and only working within those parameters, match the timing to what you’re looking for, helps hitters to lay off stuff, eliminates half to 3/4 of the strike zone when pitchers get pretty good.
  • At the 2-minute, 40-second mark, Carlos talks about his struggles at the beginning of 2009, he met Perry Husband, and he ended up leading the league in homers by the end of the season.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Leg Kicks May Be Dangerous To Pitchers (And Hitters That Don’t Perfect Them)

Before I get into the Rhys Hoskins swing breakdown video featuring Mark DeRosa & Cliff Floyd above…

I wanted to give you a heads up of what’s in this post:

  • Lesson learned from my school of hard knocks,
  • How to fix striking out every at-bat in tournament, and
  • Rhys Hoskins swing breakdown.

 

Lessons Learned from School of Hard Knocks

Rhys Hoskins: MLBNetwork Swing Breakdown

Rhys Hoskins says his thought is “down to the ball”, then adds, “obviously you’re not swinging down like you’re chopping wood.” He’s hoping that thought process will keep him on a level plane in the strike-zone as long as he can. Photo courtesy: Sports Bay Area

I recently worked with a newer 12/13u hitter of mine, where he shared he had a terrible tournament, where he struck out virtually every at-bat the weekend before.

This immediately raised a red flag for me.

The easy thing to do for a player – and a dad or mom – is to point to a breakdown in hitting mechanics.

As a hitting coach, if this isn’t your first rodeo, then you know this is not the case a majority of the time.

Quick back story,

My last year of Little League was insane:

  • Hit .880 regular season, .770 in All-Stars,
  • 30+ dingers,
  • 40+ doubles, and
  • Struck out a grand total of 3 times in the span of 6 months.

By the way, looking at old VHS video of that swing, I was doing what I teach now.  All those strikeouts were early in the regular season, and once I settled down, they vanished entirely.

I was ignorance on fire!

Brace yourself for the “fall”…

The next year I made the move to the big field, with no pitching distance transition like there are nowadays.  I found myself swinging and missing A LOT.

I got so frustrated with myself,  and what do you think my dumb brain thought was the problem?

Right-O!! Mechanics.

Do you know the REAL cause?

Let me give you a clue…the word starts with a “T” and ends with “-iming” 😛 lol

I was being driven by my fear of getting “caught up” to by other players.  And yes, the whispers started in Middle School when I struggled to recover my old swing.

Do you know how much of a nightmare that is for a hitter who’s super driven to succeed like I was?

This fear drove me into the bookstore to read every book on hitting I could get my hungry teenager hands on.  Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, Charlie Lau, Mike Schmidt, and on and on.  Nothing seemed to help.  I obsessively watched film of that swing trying to figure out what I was missing or leaving out.

Hey, at least I wasn’t out stealing cars!

It was a 4-year mind-fudge that ended in recovering my batting average – somewhat – but not my power the last two years in High School.  Thinking back now, it’s a miracle I ended up with a scholarship at Fresno State.

The point of this story is, negative tournament outcomes don’t necessarily mean a breakdown in hitting mechanics.

Back to my young hitter…

 

How To Fix Striking Out Every At-Bat in Tournament

So I had three questions I planned asking my hitter, in diagnosing the challenges he had with his last tournament:

  • The first one is, were you focusing on the new stuff we worked on last lesson (which was a week before), during game at-bats?
  • If the answer is NO to that question, then I would ask, how many strikes did you swing at, OR not swing at?
  • If they’re swinging at good pitches, then on the swings you took, how many were “on-time”?

If they pass the first three questions, then we look at seeking and fixing the ineffective swing mechanic.

However, this particular hitter failed question one.  I hadn’t warned him about bringing new swing techniques into game at-bats.  I told him that in games, your focus MUST be on swinging at good pitches and getting on-time.  It’s to compete.

I teach hitters my painful lesson.

The good news is, this hitter will be on the up and up again, and won’t have to go through the frustration, struggle, and anger I went through attempting to fix something I knew nothing about at the time.  And frankly, the only one who had a clue was Ted Williams, but his message was drowned out in the other white noise I was hearing, reading, and watching.  Paralysis by over analysis.

Now, let’s tie in the Rhys Hoskins video above…

Rhys Hoskins Swing Breakdown

Below you’ll find video notes I took.  Afterward, I’ll only focus on about a couple of these, I think others will make for good conversation in the Comments section below…

  1. About 1:20 min mark, DeRosa: “Hands go along for the ride…not a lot of hand load”
  2. About 1:40 min mark, DeRosa brings up examples of “violent hand loads” featuring: Cecil Fielder, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Sheffield…and Manny Ramirez, Buster Posey, Justin Turner, and Daniel Murphy used as examples of “not a lot of hand load”
  3. About 2:20 min mark, DeRosa: asks Rhys is he’s conscious about his pre-swing hand movement. Rhys says all he’s worrying about is having some separation between his body and where his hands are during load
  4. About 2:50 min mark, Rhys: “The only thing I’m thinking about is getting my leg up”. Cliff Floyd talks about having a leg kick is a perfection type of approach. Pitchers are trying to disrupt a leg kicker: tempo, changing speeds, etc.
  5. About 3:20 min mark, Floyd says Rhys has something you can’t teach: “He hits the fast-ball, he hits the curve-ball, he hits the change-up”…Floyd says it’s going to be tough to get him out when he covers the plate well and doesn’t like to strikeout.
  6. About 4:00 min mark, Cliff Floyd goes into more detail about a hitter focusing on perfecting the timing of a leg kick, and not worry about anything else, or else you’re screwed.  Rhys talks about getting “inside the pitcher’s rhythm in the on-deck circle”.  Cliff Floyd comments: “Did I pay attention to what that pitcher really does consistently” with his timing and rhythm in the on-deck circle.
  7. About 5:10 min mark, Mark DeRosa is wanting Rhys to explain the use of his hands and back elbow.  Cliff Floyd says if you want the kid to go into a slump keep talking about hands and elbows.  Rhys says his thought is “down to the ball”, then adds, “obviously you’re not swinging down like you’re chopping wood.” He’s hoping that thought process will keep him on a level plane in the strike-zone as long as he can.
  8. About 6:10 min mark, talks about “knee to knee” “hover” leg kick.  More balance, don’t get over backside.

A lot more good than bad in this video.  I wanted to focus on the timing aspect though…

Just to be upfront with you, I’m not one of those instructors that teaches a leg kick to ALL my hitters.  I think this is a BIG mistake.  If my hitter doesn’t have what I call a “Float” (aka stride type) built into their swing already, then I ask them to experiment a little.  Or if what they’re using isn’t effective at getting them on time and dynamically balanced, then we get resourceful.

We experiment with:

  • A leg kick (medium or high),
  • Slide step, and
  • Toe-tap.

By the end, they find that one of these techniques allows them to time the ball better, and it may not be what they started with.  We’re looking for what they’re comfortable with, and can execute the swing dynamically balanced.

You heard Rhys Hoskins say,

“The only thing I’m thinking about is getting my leg up”

This was after DeRo prodded him to explain what his hands and back elbow are doing.  Cliff Floyd got on DeRo that he’s going to force Rhys into a slump with all this hands talk! lol

Floyd also said that a lot of time and energy needs to be spent on perfecting the timing of the leg kick.  He added, “Did I pay attention to what that pitcher really does consistently” with his timing and rhythm in the on-deck circle.  This is very important.

Some of my good hitting friends online, who I highly respect in their knowledge, don’t believe timing can be taught or calibrated. I respectfully disagree.

If you can teach a pair of chickens to play ping-pong, then yes, timing can be taught.  True story by the way – with the chicken (read Don’t Shoot The Dog: The New Art Of Teaching And Training).

I’ve also heard pitching coaches on the Socials say they lick their lips when seeing a hitter with a leg kick.  And you heard Cliff Floyd address a pitcher’s job is to disrupt a leg kicker by changing their delivery tempo, changing speeds, etc.

But then Floyd turns around and compliments Hoskins saying, “He hits the fast-ball, he hits the curve-ball, he hits the change-up”…and adds, it’s going to be tough to get him out when he covers the plate well and doesn’t like to strikeout.

Calibrating a hitter’s timing and pitch recognition training are a deadly combination for pitchers who salivate over seeing a leg kicking hitter.  I asked this coach whether he’d salivate over facing Josh Donaldson, Justin Turner, or Mike Trout.  He didn’t answer.

Coaches, if you don’t give hitters tools for their toolbox, then they’re up there hitting blind.  Don’t make them hit the pinata blind folded!

 

Here are some resources to take back to your hitters on timing and pitch recognition:

You can teach timing.  You can teach pitch recognition.  Woe to the pitcher that pitches to hitters who train both.  The winds of change are a blowin’ for hitters over pitchers.  When troubleshooting with your hitters, remember:

  • The lesson from my school of hard knocks,
  • How to fix striking out every at-bat in a tournament, and
  • Timing lessons from Rhys Hoskins.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Get Rid of Pitch Recognition, Plate Discipline, & Timing Challenges Once and For All 

Photo courtesy: News.Missouri.Edu

In this post,

I answer the following three fan questions:

  • How do you practice picking up the pitch early?
  • Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched? And,
  • Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

The following is a compilation of resources I wish I had when I was still playing.

Coaches, if you aren’t taking full advantage of these, then you’ll be slowly losing ground in games over the next 5 years, that I can assure you.  Get out ahead!

Onward…

 

How do you practice picking up the pitch early?

Check out the feedback software you can use to work on getting GREAT at pitch recognition.  Dr. Peter Fadde calls this ‘video occlusion’, which allows a hitter to focus on pattern recognition for the first 10-20 feet of ball flight.  CLICK HERE for a blog interview I did with Dr. Fadde for more information on the benefits of his ‘video occlusion’ training.

As Jaime Cevallos said in this interview, “pitch recognition” is an untapped area for players these days.

The greatest thing about the GameSense software, is that coaches can keep track of their players’ use of the software with real numbers.  What’s measurable is manageable.

As a player, I would’ve eaten this up when I was younger.

And yes, it requires a subscription, and the pricing plans differ depending on usage.  On the homepage, GameSense is offering a free trial, so you can check it out and see if it’s right for you.

CLICK HERE to grab your FREE trial of the GameSense app that focuses on pitch recognition training…i.e. picking the ball up early out of the pitcher’s hand.

By the ways, gS Pitch-IQ was named one of the best products at the 2017 ABCA convention in Anaheim!

 

Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched?

I’m not sure I’d ever let hitters swing at everything during batting practice.  Everything we do at practice, as coaches, MUST have a purpose.  And that purpose MUST prepare our players for the game environment.

CLICK HERE to watch YouTuber Trevor Ragan compare the benefits of training “ugly” in a post I did showing how to EFFECTIVELY transition grooved batting practice swings into game ones.

Here’s why swinging at everything in the cages DOES NOT translate into games…motor skill learning in a competitive environment MUST follow these three steps:

  1. READ – i.e. pitch recognition and spin
  2. PLAN – i.e. timing
  3. DO – the swing

You see, when a hitter swings at everything in the cages, most of what they’re working on is in the “DO” portion.  There’s very little READ or PLAN present, which is required in a game environment.

“Massed Training”, as defined by SchoolOfThinking.org, is said to be a far less effective strategy for retaining knowledge or developing skills. In other words, practicing the same thing over and over again WITHOUT a break and evaluation period is inferior to spaced and/or ugly training.  CLICK HERE for my Hitting Outcomes Evaluation Checklist.

So what does being selective in the cages look like:

  • After every 5-swing round, the hitter is asked, “How many strikes did you swing at?”  (and they’re affirmed or corrected based on their answer)
  • You can also do what I call is a Reverse Strike-Zone round.  This is where they MUST swing at “balls” – within reason, you don’t want them throwing their bat in the cage – and taking “strikes”. WHY would you do this?  It helps define a hitters strike-zone/hitting zone, and offers a better variety of body movement which the body’s springy fascia LOVES!!  This will melt their brain by the way 😛 lol
  • CLICK HERE for this post I did on plate discipline – splitting the plate up into 2/3’s and 1/3 is another great way to teach your hitters to be more selective.
  • This answers the second part to the reader question above…you can also turn on READ, PLAN, DO by limiting what parts of the field you want the hitter to hit to, OR limit certain elevations you want the hitter to hit at, regardless of pitch type, location, and speed.  Addressing the former…you can setup targets out in the field preferably in spots where you don’t find any fielders (gaps/down the lines), and hitter has to hit the target as hard as they can.  Addressing the latter…I’ve seen some coaches place shagging screens about 30 to 50-feet from the batter’s box creating a barrier to hitting ground-balls, and the objective is to hit the ball hard over the screens.
  • Random pitch type rounds – an example of this is randomly throwing either a 2-seam fast-ball or a curve-ball, and having the hitter stick to seeking out one pitch over the other for one 5-swing round.
  • 2 or 3-plate drill rounds – where the hitter moves from different plate distances between or during 5 swing rounds.  The plates can be placed about 3 to 5 feet apart.  This is a GREAT timing drill.
  • Doing situational hitting rounds…hit-and-runs, move runner over, and bunts/drags/pushes.

I’m sure other coaches have cool deviations of the above, so please SHARE in the comments section below.

The point is, hitters should have a purpose when taking batting practice, NOT just swinging at everything, IF they want to match the game environment.

 

Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

Totally.  I tell my hitters that the most effective mechanics in the world don’t mean a thing if they can’t get on-time.

Surprisingly, some hitting instructors don’t think timing can be taught?  I disagree.

Now, let me clear up a common misconception…do you know the difference between timing and reaction time?

I got the following demonstration from my good friend Taylor Gardner, co-inventor of the Backspin Tee.  Do this with your hitters…

Tell them to stand in front of you, and hold a baseball/softball an arm’s length away from you at about the height of their head.

Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball at a random time…try varying the times you drop the ball, and you’ll find it’ll be a challenge for them to catch it.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of reaction time.

Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball after counting to 3 (no tricks here coaches)…count to three, then drop the ball.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of timing.  And as you may guess, this will be much easier to catch for your players.

Timing can be taught with the right methods.  Here are my top three:

  1. The TWO or THREE plate drill mentioned above,
  2. Switching bat sizes and weights between or in the middle of 5-swing rounds, and
  3. Switching ball types at random…using baseballs, softballs, whiffles, golf whiffles, racket balls, Smush balls, and tennis balls.

Thank you Mike Ryan from Fastball USA for the last two.  A hitter will have to re-calibrate their timing between swinging a longer heavier bat than a lighter shorter one.  The different balls mentioned will fly through the air at different speeds making for a perfect off speed practice environment.  This can be really challenging for the hitter, and a lot of fun.

But be careful coaches, slowly layer in the difficulty, don’t do ALL three above at the start.  Some hitters excel quickly, while others take more time.

Do you see how important training beneath the READ, PLAN, & DO umbrella is?

I hope this helps coaches!!

Please share any other effective methods you do with your hitters that improve what was talked about above.  THANKS in advance!

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

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.

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

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!