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11 TBall Drills & Tips, So You Can Be Confident You’re Preparing Players For The Next LevelTBall Drills

In researching this coaching tball drills post, I did a Google search for “coach tee ball”, and one of the Google pre-populated search terms that came up was coach tee ball without going insane.  Apparently, there’s a book being sold on Amazon with the same title by a Robert Doss…who knew. 

I had to laugh because the dad of one of my online hitters, Lawrence Sutton Jr. (link is to his Perfect Game profile), shared over the phone he was pulling his hair out trying to coach his two twin 7yo daughters how to hit.  Let me give you a little context about [son] Lawrence…

You may remember [son] Lawrence in this post titled, How 175-LB 15yo Is Consistently Hitting The Ball 400-FT With…BBCOR & Wood.  Well now Lawrence is hitting those ugly yellow dimple balls out during batting practice.  He’s hitting baseballs over 360-feet…off a tee!  He’s registering over 94 to 96-mph off a regular tee using a PocketRadar.  He’s also hit balls in games over 425-feet. By the way, he’s about 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pounds…and gets mistaken for a college Freshmen during unofficial visits, but he’s a Sophomore in High School!!

Let me repeat…so now [dad] Lawrence is trying to coach his TWO TWIN 7YO DAUGHTERS…yes, A LOT of patience needed.

Look, I can’t say my situation is exactly like [dad] Lawrence, but I do work with a lot of hitters from 6yo to pro guys and D1 college gals.  Half the hitters I work with are 12yo and younger, and the other half are 13yo and older.  In addition, my son Noah turned 5yo this past December…and this is his first year of tee ball…AND wait for it…I’m now helping coach his tee ball team.  BAM!  A lot of my parents said this day was coming.  Those who can’t see me right now, I’m tipping my cap 😛

In this post, I wanted to share with you advice I offered [dad] Lawrence over the phone about “how to coach tee ball without going insane”.  I know some of you coaches out there can offer some advice as well, so please share below in the comments.

Here are my 11 tball drills and tips (in no particular order):

  1. Patience through guided meditation apps
  2. Don’t have high expectations
  3. Have a long wick to frustration
  4. Failure is going to happen…A LOT
  5. Build fun into practices and games (joke with the players)
  6. Positive reinforcement training
  7. Minimal to NO mechanical teaching
  8. More emphasis on external cues
  9. Extreme adjustments
  10. Focus on throwing and catching
  11. Getting them ready for the next level

 

#1: Patience through guided meditation apps

First of all, if you’re not going to have the patience for coaching tball drills, then you’re not going to enjoy coaching.  Period.  There are two great guided meditation apps out there:

  • Headspace, and
  • Calm.

I prefer Headspace, which I’ve been using over the past couple years.  Minimal investment of money, and between 2 to 20-mins investment of your time each day.  Helps me focus better, think clearer, expose my creativity, and especially for coaching tee ball – become more aware when you’re losing it, so you can relax in a shorter period of time.  It’s totally transformed my interaction with my wife, kids, and hitters.

 

#2: Don’t have high expectations

David Epstein, in his book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, talks about “learn-ability”.  It’s the ability of an athlete to adapt and learn something new over time.  To help put coaching tball drills into perspective, the bell curve of young athletes looks like this:

  • Left hand side long tail = below average “learn-ability” athletes, take longer to learn something new (these are few),
  • Majority middle bell curve = average “learn-ability” athletes, take a reasonable amount of time to learn something new, and
  • Right hand side long tail = above average “learn-ability” athletes, take a very short time to learn something new (these are few).

Most of your tball drills and expectations should be setup for the majority middle bell curve.  You’ll then want to have a regression-progression plan for your below and above average learners, which we’ll discuss later in this post.  The point is, set reasonable expectations, and understand what you’re up against.

 

#3: Have a long wick to frustration

If you haven’t noticed, kids pick up on frustration pretty quickly.  And oftentimes you can’t fool them.  Believe it or not, kids just want their adult counter-parts to be happy.  Studies show that when hot tempered anger or animated frustration enters the mix, learning stops.  The focus falls onto survival.

They’re modeling you when learning how to react to “speed bumps”.  And if coach (or mom/dad), is extremely animated when frustrated or angry, then they’ll learn that’s how you deal with it.  Guided meditation helps hide the mental meltdown button.  Here’s another powerful word I use often with my kids…and hitters…

The following YouTube video is Dr. Carol Dweck doing a speech on the power of “yet”…

I highly recommend her book Growth Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success.  The power of “yet” will help mold your tball drills to be growth mindset oriented.

 

#4: Failure is going to happen…A LOT

Think back to when your kids were learning to walk.  Did you teach them a thing or two on how to do it?  What cues did you use?  Internal ones? External?  “Walk as hard as you can, as far as you can” cues?  NO!  Figure It Out (or FIO) and Gravity were their best teachers.  The best tball drills are designed with failure in mind.  A LOT of it.  Swing and miss.  Swing and miss.  Swing and miss.  And multiple that by 100 at this age!

I’m here to tell you, it’s okay.  They’re 4, 5, or 6 years old.  Even one of the best hitters to ever play the game said hitting a ball is one of the hardest things to do in any sport – Ted William.  You can’t get 7 wrong on a school test and climb the education ladder.  Hall of Famers get it right 3 out of 10 times in baseball.  Keep on a poker face (hold the judgement), give positive reinforcement during tball drills when they get a productive outcome, and encourage the heck out of them.

 

#5: Build fun into practices and games (joke with the players)

Play games at the end of practice like Total Bases, Last Man (or Woman) Standing, Russian Baseball (kind of like cricket), or any other fun game.  Use it as a reward if they get their work done.  Speaking of which, tball drills MUST not go any longer than 60-mins (preferably 45-mins).  Adults forget 4-6 year olds have the equivalent attention span of a gnat.  Keep practices short and sweet.

I like to “flirt” with my players and hitters…not in a romantic way, you weirdo!  In a playful way.  I tease my Middle School and High School hitters about the video game Fortnight, and how all the pretty girls are looking to get 100,000 signatures on a petition to ban the video game because it’s robbing them of their “guy time”.

When we’re talking about running to different bases with the tee ballers, they learn about 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and FOURTH base…wait minute, is that right?!  I ask them if they have the key to the batter’s box.  Or if they could fetch me the box of curve-balls.  I tease the heck out of them on down times.  Keep them loose and on their toes.

 

#6: Positive reinforcement training

The best resource for this is the book by Karen Pryor titled, Don’t Shoot The Dog:  The New Art Of Teaching And TrainingKaren has trained dolphins, horses, dogs, and humans.  This form of training has taught chickens to turn the page of a book.  True story!  And trained two pigeons to play ping-pong.  Another true story!  Studies show we’re driven more by positive than negative reinforcement.  That’s not to say negative reinforcement training isn’t effective, because it is…give one chimpanzee an apple, then take it away, and they’re peeved!  Give another chimpanzee two apples, then take only one away, and they’re just as peeved!  However, if you want to build lasting habits, positive reinforcement training is the way to go.

Let me give you some examples of this:

  • My 5yo boy Noah gets any $1-2 candy at 7-Eleven immediately after school.  He also gets an ice cream scoop immediately after going to his gymnastics training.  He earns stickers for doing productive things, and after earning 10 stickers, he gets a toy of his choice within financial reason.
  • For the boring redundant parts of my business I play my favorite music in the background (right now it’s Eric Church, songs: “Talladega”, “Springsteen” & “Record Year”), and most times have a sweet green tea within reach.
  • Karen Pryor told a story in her book Don’t Shoot The Dog, of when her daughter took a night class for working professionals.  The Professor would always start the class off with the “Who finished last night’s homework?” question.  Only 25% of the class would raise their hands.  She’d then lectured the class on the importance of doing their homework.  After one of the classes in private, Karen’s daughter talked the Professor into praising those who did do their homework instead of belittling those who didn’t.  After about of week of using positive reinforcement training, 75% of the class were raising their hands after the “who turned in their homework” question.

You MUST read Karen Pryor’s book.  Your coaching will never be the same.

 

#7: Minimal to NO mechanical teaching

(Get more information on the Backspin Tee, or the RopeBat at TheStartingLineupStore.com)

Above is my 5yo boy Noah hitting a Smushball laser in a Backspin Tee with a Ropebat.  Look at him ‘show those numbers’!

Remember, they’re 4, 5, and 6 years old.  I have local and online lesson requests from parents with kids in this age range I turn down.  And by the way, it’s possible to teach a 2yo how to hit a moving ball.  I did with my son Noah.  Not forced.  He loved the movie Sandlot at the time and got a little tee ball set for his birthday.  CLICK HERE for a post on how I progressed him to hitting an under-hand thrown baseball sized whiffle ball using a long slim yellow whiffle ball bat.

I give the following advice to parents seeking swing help for their 4-6 year old hitters

  • Being athletic in their stance.  Bend at waist, chest over toes.  Bend in the knees.  Start that way and maintain that position to stride landing.  It’s easier to teach if they’re playing other sports like soccer, basketball, gymnastics, dance, and/or martial arts.
  • Grip on the bat.  Handle of the bat lines up in the middle of the hand – base of the finger tips, top meat of the hand.  I’m not even concerned if their hands are together at this stage.
  • Balance when swinging.  They should not be falling toward or away from the plate.  However, we may use these cues to correct one side of the extreme.  In other words, if they’re falling away from the plate, then I would tell them to fall towards the plate, to get them to balance.
  • Fungo toss is great as a progression.  Hitter tosses ball up to him or herself and tries to hit it before it hits the ground.

That’s just about how technical I get with tball drills for hitting.

 

#8: More emphasis on external cues and variance

We do a lot of external cuing.  Hit the ball over there.  Hit the ball up or down there.  Hit the top half of the ball.  Hit the bottom half of the ball.  Hit the ball in on your hands.  Hit the ball off the end of the bat.  Hit the ball in the middle (sweet spot).  Try hitting this ball with this heavy bat.  Try hitting the ball with this Easton Pro Stix whiffle ball bat.  We hit from different distances providing we’re progressing to LIVE toss.  Reverse strike zone drill where they’re swinging at “balls” and taking “strikes”…they like it when I bounce it and they have to hit it!

What’s important is for them to try different ways.

 

#9: Extreme Adjustments

This works like magic.  Check out for following video that’s great for tball drills…

 

#10: Focus on throwing and catching

CLICK HERE for an audio interview I did with NCAA Division-1 Hall of Fame college baseball Coach Bob Bennett.  One of the questions I asked him was if my team was getting ready to win the Little League World Series, but only had 4-weeks to train, what would you work on.  And do you know how he responded?  Playing catch and pitchers throwing strikes (obviously, the latter is irrelevant to coaching tball drills)Fielding ground-balls and playing catch are VERY important because 95% of coaches at the lower levels are teaching their hitters to hit ground-balls.  Why?  Because they know kids can’t play catch at that age!  If you want to win a lot of games, then obsessively teach your players to play catch.  Take advantage, this is low hanging fruit coaches 😉

 

And FINALLY #11: Getting them ready for the next level

Coaches MUST maintain a Growth Mindset at all time, and should never just coach for the current level.  Like Wayne Gretzky said:

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Coaches MUST be looking forward when developing players…always.  My son’s Pre-K teachers are doing everything they can to prepare him and his classmates for Kindergarten this next year.  So why can’t Little League coaches prepare their troops for the big field?  So in the context of coaching tball drills, start using the progression I used with Noah in the aforementioned linked article on how to teach a 2yo how to hit a moving ball…

  • Hitting off tee is essential at first, but slowly shrink the diameter of the bat, moving the tee up or down after every swing, and use different size and colored balls.  Variance if your coaching tball drills friend.
  • Once they’re consistent hitting the ball off the tee, grab the fat plastic bat and beach balls!  Start underhand tossing, and as they start hitting the ball more often, then slowly shrink the ball down to baseball sized whiffles.  Once they’re hitting those whiffles with the fat barrel plastic bat, then start slowly shrinking the barrel diameter down.

This is a progressive winning strategy that worked for my son.  It may or may not take longer, but that’s the art of learning.  Embrace it.  Have A LOT of patience.  And coaches, go forth and make awesomeness…

How To Shorten A Swing Like Kris Bryant…

Ask any “self-proclaimed” hitting coach what a “short swing” is, and you’ll get many differing interpretations.

I think the problem is found in the debate of feel versus real.

If you ask professional and MLB hitters what they’re trying to do, and they’ll use phrases like:

  • “I’m trying to stay short to the ball”, or
  • “I’m trying to be compact”...

The challenge is these examples are so vague, they’re widely open to interpretation.  And give coaches that kind of slack, and they tend to “hang” their hitters.

For instance, take the following swing example of Kris Bryant:

 

Some coaches will say his swing is too long, and that ONLY Big Leaguers can have swings like this.  This is an EXCUSE.

Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark McGwire have been quoted as saying they swing/swung down on the ball.

You see, what elite hitters are feeling, and what we’re actually seeing on slow motion video (what’s real) can be two totally different things.

So how do we get our hitters to “swing shorter”, like Kris Bryant…?

…without using hitting aids,

And using effective external coaching cues, which science says are far superior than internal ones (CLICK HERE to read this post about that).

Without further adieu, here’s the…

 

Shorten Swing Path Drill

In the above video we discuss:

  • Drill Objective: to help fix “casting”, “long”, or “bat drag” type swings.
  • Define “Long” versus “Short” swing
  • Finger Pressure for “connection”
  • Hitting the “catcher’s glove”:
    – “Ferris Wheel” versus “Merry-Go-Round”
    – Throwing barrel “sideways”
    – Using Variations
  • Ropebat as a supplemental hitting aid.

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

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

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

Kidding! 😀

I’m not that much of a savage,

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

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

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

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

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

Now, back to The UGLY Truth book…

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

 

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

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

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

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

—–

Conclusion

I have a treat for you…

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

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

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

Front Knee Action

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

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

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

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

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

Baseball Hitting Mechanics for Youth: Planes of Motion

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

There are three main human planes of motion:

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

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

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

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

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

Back Knee Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back Foot Action

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

What was the results of the 200 swing experiment?

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

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

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

Barrel Early on Plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barrel Late on Plane

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Getting A “Nike Swoosh” Barrel Path

 

Liam Case Study: Ropebat

There are 10-days between these two videos.

Here’s what I have for you…

I was recently working on smoothing out the barrel path of one of my 15 year old local hitters Liam…

He had what I’ve heard called a Verizon check mark barrel path BEFORE.  We worked on smoothing out the check mark into more of a curved Nike Swoosh barrel path.

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

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

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

In the above video, we’ll go over:

  • Question a High School coach had for me at 2017 ABCA conference about changing barrel path,
  • The Verizon check mark versus Nike Swoosh barrel path, and
  • The RopeBat cues I use in conjunction with the “feel” of the Ropebat.

CLICK HERE for the original full Ropebat post I did awhile back that shows the swing drill we used.

I use the Ropebat quite often for my hitters that need to fix the same issue Liam had.  It works.  You can order the RopeBat at my store TheStartingLineupStore.com by CLICKING HERE, or on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

How To Get Pitch Plane Domination Out Of Minimal Back Foot Rotation

 

Roberto Perez 1st Homer 2016 WS Game 1 to LF

This is Roberto Perez’s 1st dinger in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. It was to LF, and look at the back foot. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

I wanted to do a follow up on the Matt Nokes post from a few weeks ago.

I received quite a few emails, like the following, from coaches who were a little confused as to what Nokes’s referred to as ‘back foot sideways’…

So I decided to do a short video (I know, a rarity these days :-P), seeing if I could bring some clarity to the issue.

Brian Clahane from Canada had emailed a comment about the Nokes post:

“Hey Joey, It’s Brian again…So you really have me thinking about this back foot sideways thing. I have been watching video and looking at still flip screens I have of hitters and I have to tell you I only see evidence of it on outside pitches or pitches hitters were late on.(Mccutchen and Miggie quite often when going other way)

I sent you this video of Cano to look at 1-because I know you use him as an example a lot and 2-because I found it under your name even though Chas Pippitt doing breakdown. Video shows what I keep seeing in that back foot rotated forward and normally as in this case off ground completely (not sideways).  If I am misinterpreting what keeping back foot sideways at contact means, please explain because it’s driving me crazy thinking I’m missing something! I just keep seeing back foot forward at contact.  Thanks, Brian”
The following video Brian had linked in the email from Chas:

 

The bottom line…

Roberto Perez 2nd Homer Game 1 2016 WS to LCF

Here’s Roberto Perez’s 2nd dinger in Game 1 of 2016 WS. It was to LCF. Look at his back foot. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  1. When looking at video, the chest view IS NOT helpful.  Look for pitcher’s, catcher’s side, or over head views.
  2. The principle is to get the pelvis (or hips) perpendicular to impact, NOT to the pitcher.
  3. The back foot skips in some cases, and not so much in others. I’ve seen it skip away from home plate, toward the front foot, and toward the plate (not as often). In other words, you don’t have to have one without the other.
  4. What may also help are these two shifting foot pressure videos (Mickey Mantle AND RopeBat).
  5. One of the cues I liked came from Mark Meger from the Matt Nokes post, “With our 13U kids we do emphasize the rear hip drive but we shun turning that back foot. That should happen after contact as shown here.”
  6. The sideways back foot will deviate slightly depending on an inside v. outside pitch.
  7. This falls in line with this post on the 90-degree to the spine rule.
  8. In YouTube, search “[favorite player’s name] 2016 highlights”, and watch the behavior of the back foot at impact, and make note of batted ball direction.
  9. Also, it doesn’t seem ONLY .300 hitters do this because Roberto Perez, in the images above, is a career .220 hitter.
  10. My observation is the back foot acts like a “governor” to the rotation of the hips.  It’s like it helps anchor down the back hip from over rotating the impact zone.
  11. Doing this helps to align the body on the plane of the pitch better, and may cut down on rolling over versus a full rotation of the hips, on every pitch.
  12. Zepp experiment coming soon from HPL on this 😉

Please post any concerns, counter-arguments, and/or observations below…

“What Baseball Batting Drills Work For Stopping Dipping Of The Back Shoulder?”

 

Baseball Batting Drills: Fascia

Fascia is like a cotton candy or spider webby like material that our bones and muscles float in. Photo courtesy: Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains

PLEASE NOTE: this baseball batting drills post presupposes the hitter is getting an extreme barrel vertical angle at impact.  In other words, they’re dissecting the pitch plane from down to up.  There are natural elements to dipping the back shoulder…this article goes into fixing the extreme.

In this baseball batting drills video, we answer the reader question above.  We go over:

  • Springy fascia & tracking the front shoulder,
  • Mechanical dominos that cause upper cutting, and
  • A couple fixes…

 

Springy Fascia & Tracking the Front Shoulder

Here are past HPL baseball batting drills posts on springy fascia – and the tracking of the front shoulder – in relation to the swing:

 

Mechanical Dominos that Cause Upper Cutting

Baseball Batting Drills: Josh Donaldson

Watch Josh Donaldson drop hands, then bring back up. Also, notice downhill shoulder angle, and him leading with back armpit in the last frame. Photo courtesy: YouTube users PicPlayHost & PastimeAthletics

Here is a baseball batting drills list of faults I find that CAN contribute to upper cutting:

  1. Poor barrel launch angle,
  2. Early arm barring,
  3. Hand drop,
  4. Upward shoulder angle at landing,
  5. Racing back elbow,
  6. Steep front upper arm at landing, and
  7. Too much downhill shoulder angle…

#1 would be a hitter having a flat bat, or close to flat, at stride landing. This shifts the bat’s center of mass behind the hitter (instead of above), which typically brings in #2, to lever the bat into the impact zone.

#3 can be caused by both #1 & #2, but if the hands don’t come back up before landing (a la Josh Donaldson above), to a “knockout punch” position, then this hitter will most likely have to uppercut anything in the zone above the hands.

An upward shoulder angle at landing, #4, will most likely result in uppercutting and/or a collapsing of the backside.

#4 can be observed along with numbers 1 and 2, but not always.  Racing back elbow causes the barrel to get really steep early in the hitting zone, which leads to a lot of weak fly balls to the opposite field.  AND, because of the steep vertical angle of the barrel, a roll over correction will happen later in the barrel’s path resulting in grounders to the hitter’s pull side.

About #5, if the front elbow gets caught ‘tucked in’ at landing (elbow pointing down at the ground), then an uppercut will most likely happen.  And this ‘tucking’ will happen most likely because of #6, too steep of a shoulder angle.

 

A Couple Fixes…

  1. Setting the tee higher in the zone,
  2. Fixing the barrel launch angle from 45 to 55-degrees, shoulder angle about 8-degrees down, and/or front arm angle to about 90-degrees to the spine at landing,
  3. Finger pressure (bottom three fingers of the top hand only),
  4. Have hitter explode into impact with the ‘back arm pit’ (see Josh Donaldson last frame above),
  5. Keeping slight bend in front elbow at start of the turn, or
  6. Using the RopeBat.