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You Don’t Have To Gather 30+ Years Of Coaching To Be An Effective Teacher

 

In the above video, I mentioned the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter C. Brown.  If you're serious about helping get young athletes better, then you'll read or listen to that book.  The information in it is supported by empirical research, NOT “because I said so ‘bro-science'”.

Here's what is discussed in the above video:

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

 

Original reader's question I summarized in the above video:

“Joey, First off thank you for gathering and sharing the knowledge you have. I have become intrigued by the science of the swing and delivering it in a message that my 14u softball team related to.

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

Too much thinking in the box right now. Good thing it's winter!  Thank you”

– Eric McConnell, Coach Linden Warriors 14u. Black

My email reply…

“Eric, Thank you for reaching out! I know what you're saying. Here's what I want you to try with those young ladies:

  1. Have them experiment with shifting their weight forward in different ways…
  2. Reference their belly button because this is the body's center of mass…
  3. Have them stride while keeping their belly button inside their back foot… (this will feel like they aren't moving forward at all, while front foot goes forward)
  4. Have them stride while keeping their belly button behind their front knee at landing… (this will be closer to where you want them in games)
  5. Have them stride while keeping their belly button behind their front foot at landing…
    And have them stride while keeping their belly button over their front foot at landing… (this will look like old Ty Cobb still shots of his swing finish).

Do you see what we're doing? Give them many reference points to pull from. The learning principle here is variance. I use this all the time when teaching hitters to show their numbers to the pitcher. Please keep me updated with this Coach. And thank you for your continued support of HPL…Joey”

I hope this helps coaches!

“It's not about how many swing you get in a day, it's quality deep practice swings that matter.”

I had the honor of being interviewed by Coach Daryl Weber who's the founder of the website:

Attack Style Wrestling

AttackStyleWrestling.com

Coaching principles transcend ALL sports. Yes, a wrestling coach and a hitting coach CAN speak the same language. Photo courtesy: AttackStyleWrestling.com

Yes I know, he's running a coaching blog about wrestling and this is a hitting blog,

BUT…

The principles of coaching transcend ALL sports.  

As always, I've tried to make this 46-minute audio easier to digest, so I've included time stamps you can fast forward or rewind to.  In this interview, we went over the following:

  • About 1:20 min. mark, where it all began for me when I started teaching hitters to “swing down”. Dark time for my hitters then, and they weren't getting consistent results.  My knowledge stagnated at the time. Where everything turned around for my hitters and my system.  Book resources included.
  • About 5:00 min. mark, how to debunk conventional teaching cues using today's technology to test and compare swing mechanics such as Zepp, SwingTracker, and Blast.
  • About 8:00 min. mark, what is a “sticky coach?” Taking a hiatus from hitting industry teachings, the challenge is translating information from coaches that are very technical to the end user. Can the information be taken from the expert to the coach to the player?  The more effective teaches are the ones who can do this.  If we can effect the coaches, we can exponentially effect more players.  Coach Daryl talks about how doing coaching clinics can be REALLY powerful when it comes to effecting more players.  The book we were talking about was: The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.
  • About 14:00 min. mark, this interview started when Coach Daryl asked me to answer the following question, which he included in the following blog post: Do you have ONE TIP to help coaches and parents motivate athletes to commit to training consistently and with intensity…WITHOUT “burning them out”?  Read that post because he polled other effective coaches and they gave their responses as well.
  • About 15:00 min. mark, how to apply the Minimum Effective Dosage model (MED) to young athletes. 4-5 days per week, and 5-mins per day of hitting homework practice.  This is outside of organized practice time.  Be happy with 5-mins per day.  It's not about how many swing you get in a day, it's quality deep practice swings that matter.  And when you're dealing with a demotivated hitter, set them up for success with the MED model.
  • About 19:00 min. mark, Coach Daryl likes to remind his athletes that it's okay to fall off the wagon, if you don't get the MED practice time in.  Life happens.  Set yourself up for success, by starting small and don't overwhelm yourself early on.
  •  About 21:15 min mark, I talk about Karen Pryor's book Don't Shoot The Dog, using positive reinforcers to inspire athletes to put the work in.  I shared the story of the Professor lecturing students 10-mins every day, who didn't turn their homework in…changed to positive reinforcement, and went from only 1/3 of students turning in homework, to three weeks later, 3/4 of students turning homework in.  Praising hitters for the days they DO get in, motivates better than lecturing on the days they didn't get in.
  • About 24:00 min. mark, Coach Daryl shares about his weigh-in struggles with his wrestlers.  Coach would tally up weigh-in numbers before practice, get frustrated, and proceed to negatively lecture his wrestlers at the start of practice.  This wasn't good, so Coach had his coaches report weigh-ins to him AFTER practice, which freed him up to give a positive motivating speech at the start of practice.
  • About 26:30 min. mark, how to keep youth athletes from leaving the sport after only a couple years. Coaches “bullying” players. Encouraging athletes to open up communication lines with coach about playing time at the High School level on up. 12u on down is in the parent's court. Dealing with coaches who teach hitting based on conventional wisdom. Using the “bobble-head” strategy.  Ask your players at the end of a session: are there any questions on what you're doing, how you're doing it, and why you're doing it?  If players understand what they're doing, then contrasting information at practice won't confuse them.  They'll be more prepared!
  • About 36:00 min. mark, talked about the approach a D1 softball player was going to use with her hitting coach, who has a professional baseball background and teaches conventional hitting wisdom.  She interned for me this past summer, sitting in and helping out on my hitting lessons, and we worked one-on-one about a half dozen times.
  • About 43:00 min. mark, coaches have to start asking more questions.  Question what they've always been taught.  Question what they're learning now. Question ME because I don't mind.  The quality of your coaching is directly connected to the quality of questions you ask.  Gain knowledge and test.

 

What is the Science of Sticky Coaching?

Dramatically Improve HOW Your Hitters Learn By Listening In On A Local Lesson of Mine

Here's what I have for you…

The above video is Part-1 of a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine.

The objective of this video series is to share with coaches – literally – an “over-the-shoulder” look at how I do a local lesson.  More on this in a moment…

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We've had about half a dozen session together in total.

Before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn't mic'd up, so the audio isn't like some of my other videos.
  • We're at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Now, what's in this Part-1 video?

Let me expand on the video's objective and how it can benefit coaches

I get questions every week on how I'd run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I'm asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter's swing, it's about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

With that being said, swing suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.  Also, coaching suggestions are welcomed…but again, be nice.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish (I've cut some parts out of this video for the sake of brevity):

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Talking about how to pick the right bat size (1-3:30 min mark),
  • Showing him Miguel Cabrera's landing position top hand and elbow positioning on my phone after video analysis of Zack's swing (about 7-min mark),
  • Working on Zack's top hand Finger Pressure (about 8-min mark),
  • Switching bats – over-loading with heavier end loaded bat with goofy PRX knob (about 13-min mark), and
  • Teasing the Part-2 video where we talk about lowering Zack's hands to not get above armpit line to landing – and the benefits of (about 15:30-min mark).

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don't make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

Where PRINCIPLED Coaching Is And How To Get It (Coaching Minds Podcast Interview with Justin Lewis)

Coaching Minds Podcast with Justin Lewis

Photo courtesy: CoachingMindsPodcast.com

You just have to have a Growth Mindset.

I wanted to share an interview I recently did on the Coaching Minds Podcast with Justin Lewis.  Somebody interviewed me for a change! 😀

There are a lot of things we covered in this interview, which lasted almost 2 hours!!  I know that's a bit long, but I feel it will be of great value to you as a sticky coach.

Also, I've taken the liberty to chart some of the milestone topics we covered in the interview with the time-stamps below, so you can jump around if you want and circle back.

ENJOY!

  • Why I don't have [and frankly don't want] my own brick and mortar hitting cage, and leveraging the internet (about 3-min mark)
  • What it takes to be a great hitting coach and get productive results with their hitters…the power is in affecting the coach and not so much the player. (about 5-min mark)
  • Where did the beginning of the Hitting Performance Lab come from? (About 8-min mark)
  • Talking about the importance or non-importance of switch hitting (about 13:00-min mark)
  • Olympic 70-foot throwing Shot Putter who said they can only throw as far as his weak side would allow him (about 14-min mark)
  • Justin asked me what qualifies you to come up with your own hitting system?  As a newbie coach, who do you go to for hitting information? How do you pick a hitting mentor?  How do you know if a hitting coach sticks close to human movement principles? (about 18:00-min mark)
  • How to sniff out Bad Science and the Placebo Effect (about the 20-min mark)
  • We discuss if Tony Gwynn could hit for more power? (about 21-min mark)
  • Real versus feel hitting mechanics…making bold adjustments…Mike Trout defending his swing against “chicken winging” by “getting on top of the ball” (about 24-min mark)
  • Talking about softball hitter who was hitting ball well before tweaking mechanics…can we make great hitters better? (about 28-min mark)
  • Breaking down and defining one of my favorite quotes the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote…principles are few, methods are many (about 30-min mark)
  • Question about whether the legs drive the torso, or NOT.  CLICK HERE for the HPL blog post I mentioned here about Dr. Serge Gracovetsky and The Spinal Engine. (about 33-min mark)
  • Talking about the importance of having a mentor…success leaves clues…breaking the One-Joint Rule…saying ‘yes' (McCutchen) or rolling the head (Harper/Fielder) is not good for impact, but saying ‘no' head movement is okay (about 41-min mark)
  • Talk about how UGLY Hunger Pence can look, but how effective his hitting mechanics are (about 46-min mark)
  • Talk about my early childhood and where everything started for me in my quest to find the hitting Holy Grail…transitioning from 46-foot to 60-foot mounds…paralysis by analysis for 4 years (about 47-min mark)
  • Discussed the Fixed versus Growth Mindset…“In order to change, we have to change.  In order for things to get better, we must get better” quote Justin gave. (about 54-min mark)
  • Justin asked me how my family life was growing up…fielding ground-balls palm facing the ground…the fear of having my son play tee ball…get the awful out of the way…we didn't have to teach our toddlers how to walk (about 55-min mark)
  • Justin asked me how I ended up at Fresno State…how to get great jumps in the outfield and what I learned at a Stanford baseball camp…”the hop” and soccer goalies defending a Penalty Kick… (about 1-hour mark)
  • Justin asked me what I studied in college…my answer will SHOCK you (about 1-hour, 4-min mark)
  • What was my path after college getting into training people?  Getting certified in Yoga and other corrective certifications…loving the challenge of tracing back injuries…cultivating my passionate curiosity for human movement (about 1-hour, 6-min mark)
  • Justin asked me where I recommend a newbie should start on my blog…and this is important because there are over 200 FREE blog posts about different aspects of the swing…what makes a good swing experiment (about 1-hour, 11-min mark)
  • Describing what my online video courses are about (about 1-hour, 15-min mark)
  • We talk about Tim Tebow and his Big Leagues prospects (about 1-hour, 17-min mark)
  • Justin asked me about why I decided to do the books and get on Amazon…why I used a Fixed v. Growth Mindset Intro for the Catapult Loading System book, and jam packed the book with testimonials from other coaches getting the same if not better results that I'm getting…the origins of The Science Of Sticky Coaching book…the origins of The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-balls book (about 1-hour, 19-min mark)
  • We discuss how other online hitting gurus have a hard time sharing their information…and why they're hurting the baseball/softball industry doing this (about 1-hour, 26-min mark)
  • Justin asked me what's next for me with the site business-wise (about 1-hour, 28-min mark)
  • Justin asked me if I want to take on a college or pro-ball coaching job at some point (about 1-hour, 31-min  mark)
  • Justin asked me a couple Rapid Fire questions: what other books would I recommend or gift to people? What advice would I give to my Freshman year in college self? Do I have a daily routine that I do everyday? Something that I suck at that some would be surprised with? (about 1-hour, 33-min mark)

I had fun on the show, and I'd highly recommend you check out the Coaching Minds Podcast with Justin Lewis.  Justin's a great guy, a fireman like he mentioned in this episode, and very much a Growth Mindset coach.  He's doing big things with his own hitters, so please go check his Podcast episodes out if you're a coach, drive a lot, and need something productive to listen to.  Here's where you can find Justin and the Podcast: