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I Need Your HELP!

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane. Photo courtesy: JTA.org

I often get caught up in my own ways of doing things that I sometimes lose sight of better hitting tips others are using for the same outcomes.  I’m not perfect.  And I’ll readily admit that I don’t know all the answers.  This my wife will surely echo 😉

But I do take pride in submitting and standing on the shoulders of giants.  This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson changed my life:

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Think of methods as “the drills.”  This post is for you hitting instructors or coaches who’re applying human movement principles, and successfully selecting your own methods.  I want to pick your brain, and hear your thoughts below.

But first, here’s the gist of the hitting tips assignment…

 

Hitting Tips from the Collective Few…

Ryan Braun Hitting Tips: staying long on the plane of the pitch

Ryan Braun staying long on the plane of the pitch. Photo courtesy: SportsWorldNews.com

I want to focus on efficiently increasing barrel time on the plane of the pitch using the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  By the way, it doesn’t matter if you come from baseball or softball.  So drawing from your teaching experience, what are your thoughts on the following (PLEASE leave your pearls of wisdom in the hitting tips comment section below):

  • Your go-to hitting drill for boosting barrel time on the pitch plane (pics or vids are welcome),
  • The best sticky coaching cue (or cues) that you use with young hitters, and/or
  • Any kind of underground (i.e. DIY) hitting aids that help with boosting barrel time on the pitch plane.

Keep in mind, inefficiencies such as arm barring, bat drag (racing back elbow), rolling over, and staying “attached” through the finish are issues you can address.   After a week, I’m going to have my readers vote on the best approach, and we’ll announce a winner.  Please share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

Aluminum Bats: Easton Maco Torq

Easton Mako Torq Aluminum Bats: WORST Mistake You Can Make Right Now

 

Aluminum Bats: Easton Mako Torq

Photo courtesy: Easton.com

Let me be clear about the objective of this article.  There are bats, and there are hitting aids.  Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats have attempted to fuse both together.  This is fine, but the price point is high ($280-550) when compared to a simplified alternative.

We HAVE to scrutinize hitting aids with science, like we do efficient hitting movements.  If you haven’t heard of Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats yet, then here you go…

Key product marketing differentiation says they use “360-degree Torq Rotating Handle Technology”.  Easton’s claim is to stop a hitter from rolling their hands over at contact.  Their launch video says these aluminum bats help to be “short to the ball”, “square up more pitches”, “get to the zone faster”, and “stay in the zone longer”.

Let’s answer these THREE questions:

  • Is rolling over a big problem?
  • What do cues like being “short to the ball” really mean? And,
  • What is a better more affordable hitting aid than the Easton Mako Torq?

 

Is Rolling Over a Big Problem?

HUGE!  Three reasons why:

  1. Youth level coaches instruct players to hit the ball on the ground because fielders can’t play catch,
  2. Misinformed coaches have “hands” dominant swing approaches, and
  3. Coaches use rapid fire “quick hands” toss drills.

Point #1 doesn’t transfer to the bigger field, where 95+% of ground-balls are outs.  The hands DO NOT create bat speed on their own.  They merely amplify energy transfer originating in the torso.

Point #3 isn’t practicing like we’re going to play. A hitter has around 20-30 seconds between each pitch, so the goal is NOT how many balls we can hit in five seconds.

What Do Cues like Being “Short to the Ball” Really Mean?

Mako Torq Aluminum Bats: Short to the ball? (Ryan Braun)

Ryan Braun photo courtesy: MLB.com

The marketing for Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats promise – that by using their bat – a hitter will:

  • “Be short to the ball”,
  • “Square up more pitches”,
  • “Get to the zone faster”, and
  • “Stay in the zone longer”.

Let’s briefly break these claims down…

“Be short to the ball”

It’s not how short a hitter can be to the ball, but how quickly they can get the barrel on the plane of the pitch.  Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats DO NOT help with this.

“Square up more pitches”

If rolling handle technology can counteract a hitter from rolling their wrist over at contact, then this may be true, sometimes.  Squaring up more pitches has MORE to do with a hitter’s timing.  Also, where a hitter makes contact in the impact zone can be the difference between hitting the sweet spot consistently or not.  Unfortunately, the Easton Maco Torq DOES NOT help with timing or a hitter’s contact point.

“Get to the zone faster”

Getting to the zone (impact zone I assume) is all about the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  Since a hitter doesn’t know which type of pitch, speed, and location beforehand, it’s a race – after a decision to swing has been made – to get the barrel on the pitch plane as soon as possible.  In order to spin faster, the hitter MUST stay tight in the turn until the barrel is on plane.

“Stay in the Zone longer”

Here’s where I think Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats hit the mark.  IF – and it is a BIG “if” – these bats can stop rolling over, then a hitter’s “stay through” will get better.  But at a price ($280-550).  And once the hitter has to swing a normal “one-piece” bat, then I’m not sure if the anti-roll over mechanics would transfer.  I don’t see higher levels adopting Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats.

 

What is a Better More Affordable Hitting Aid than the Easton Mako Torq?

Aluminum Bats: Prohammer Bat

ProHammer Bat photo courtesy: PHBat.com

Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats are an expensive fusion of bat and hitting aid.  If you’re looking for a hitting aid that:

  • Provides great feedback for rolling OR not rolling the wrist at contact
  • Hitters can use for dry swings, tee, soft toss, and LIVE batting practice…
  • Improves eye-hand coordination with a slim hit-able surface…AND…

Post UPDATE: By the way, about a couple months after publishing this YouTube and article (when it began to gain serious traction – and as of this ‘update’ the video has been viewed almost 80K times on YouTube), one of Easton’s engineers contacted me VERY unprofessionally.  Clearly he had a bone to pick.  Saying I had zero ground to stand on, and how could I ‘bad mouth’ their precious Mako Torq technology…that I didn’t know what I was talking about.  What’s laughable is that this “engineer” couldn’t supply me with credible studies that supported their claims…he said they had them, but he wouldn’t share.  Hmmmm…

Let me be clear, I LOVE Easton bats, and preferred them well over Louisville Slugger’s. However, I don’t agree with their opinion on Torq technology benefits.

From what I’ve heard, Easton purchased the patent from a High School player who made the technology, in wood shop class, to alleviate pain in his wrist when swinging.  IT WORKED!!  If Easton would have marketed it based on that, there would be no discussion.  But I feel they stretched the technology truth a bit too much.  You be the judge.