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

Little Known Way To Optimize Bat & Ball Exit Speeds By Rotating “Under Load” (not what you think)

In today’s video, you’ll learn how to fix your flat feet

…(insert record scratch sound effect)…

“Wait a cotton pickin’ minute, so you’re showing me a video on how to correct ‘flat feet’?!  How is this suppose to help my hitters?”

…Someone somewhere might be saying 😉

The above video will be a game changer for the progress of your hitters.  It may even improve bat and ball exit speeds over time.  It may even fix some of the hitting faults you’re having a challenge correcting right now.  The content in the above video will improve both the rotational effectiveness and efficiency of your hitters.

Strength & Conditioning Coach Naudi Aguilar understands and applies Thomas Myers’s springy fascia principles in Anatomy Trains, and that’s WHY I follow him.  I highly recommend you CLICK HERE and “Subscribe” to his YouTube channel FunctionalPatterns and look into the courses on his website.  He already has  183,942 YouTube subscribers!

Oscar Pistorious Blade Runner

Oscar Pistorious (the Blade Runner) won 3 Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympics. Photo courtesy: DailyMail.co.uk

He’s a locomotion expert, and by the way – he talks really fast!  Here are a couple notes I took while watching the above video:

  1. Naudi talks about how the body doesn’t need lower leg to sprint at the highest level. Don’t believe me, CLICK HERE to watch this video of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious who won 3 Gold Medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (about 0:45 minute mark).
  2. Relationship between pecs, lats, and glutes – anterior and posterior oblique slings, highly neglected part of training and carries a bigger influence on efficient movement (about 1:45 minute mark).
  3. Leg and knee should land as close to neutral as possible when running or walking with effective rotation.  If deviation occurs, then most likely there’s a deficiency in either the anterior and/or posterior oblique slings (about 3:05 mark).
  4. The idea of rotating “under load”. Using feedback mechanism – the resistance band – to “feed the mistake”.  Click to get WODFitters Pull Up Assist Bands on Amazon. (about the 4:45 mark).
  5. Practice functional movement patterns, walking, running, or hitting while using the feedback bands (about 8:30 mark).

 

In Application…

About point #1 above, as most of you know, I’ve been promoting a spine driven swing for the past 4+ years.  If you read Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine and Thomas Myers’s Anatomy Trains, then you’ll discover that the legs aren’t necessary for locomotion, they’re an enhancement.  CLICK HERE for a post on this titled, “The Swing Does Not Start From The Ground And Move Up?”

About points #2 & #3 above, some experts call this the “Serape Effect”, “Power Slings”, or Thomas Myers labels these a combination of Spiral, Functional, and Lateral fascia lines.  Hitters, both young men and women, will have a deficiency here. Since a majority of hitters DO NOT take the same amount of swings and throws from the opposite side, there will be an imbalance created that MUST be addressed.  Diversifying in other sports does help, but most likely, there MUST be correction.

About point #4 above, Naudi Aguilar uses a band that’s much longer than the one I use at home, so you may not need to wind it around the mid-section as much as he does in the above video.  For me (I’m a right handed hitter/thrower), to correct dysfunction in rotational locomotion, I wrap my band over my left shoulder, then around my middle back, and then loop the end around my left leg.  You’d do the reverse to enhance rotation for a lefty.  I put this on at least 5 days per week, and wear it for about an hour while doing my morning routine.  I’ve found the tightness in my right foot, Achilles, and inside part of my right knee almost vanished within 3-4 weeks of doing this.

Also, CLICK HERE to learn where I talk a little more about “feeding the mistake” using Reactive Neuromuscular Training, or RNT to correct ‘stepping in the bucket’.

About point #5 above, Naudi mentions rotating “under load”.  Coaches, I’d advise having hitters experiment using the feedback bands while hitting, and recommend they wear it at home too, as a recovery tool.

These bands are a great way to counter-balance the imbalanced movements baseball and softball inherently promote.  If your hitters move better, they’re perform better.  Swinging smarter by moving better.

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

David Weck & the WeckMethod are Turning Rotational Power Training on its Head

 

David Weck: WeckMethod RMT Club

You asked for it!

I had quite a few of my readers ask me about the WeckMethod of training by David Weck.  Btw, David is the inventor of the Bosu Ball, for those that train athletes for a living.  And the readers who kept bringing up his training referred to his new product the RMT Club (CLICK HERE to get it on Amazon), which you’ll learn more about in the above interview.

If you’ve never heard about the WeckMethod of training, and want to know what sets it apart, please CLICK HERE to view the following 35-min video.

If you’re short on time, then here’s a brief introduction to the WeckMethod of training from David Weck:

“What I do is more fundamental foundational work than specific hitting instruction.  My focus is improving systemic strength and power concentrating on Tensional Balance and Rotational Power – as well as non-dominant side training to provide a stronger foundation for sport specific skill.”

I feel like he’s onto something that most trainers ARE NOT. And it’s because he understands the foundation of locomotion.  He has a fantastic understanding of the human movement “rules”.

In my research, I fell into the following David Weck Carpool Tunnel fix video that helped get rid of the pinching in my right wrist, at the bottom of a push-up position, in about a week (I haven’t been good lately with my gymnastics wrist stretches 🙁:

Another great article I ran into in my research – and posted to social media – was an interview that Chris Holder did at BreakingMuscle.com with David Weck titled, “The Key To Speed Is In Your Spine”  There are great nuggets in there along with a few training videos.  It’s definitely worth your time.

The main video above is a Skype interview I did with David Weck that’s about 45-minutes.  A lot of great information in there that translates to hitters and HOW TO train power.  What follows are some of those talking points…

The Show Notes

  • How would you explain to a complete stranger what it is that you do? (1-min, 22-seconds)
  • DW explains Tensional Balance – relationship between suspension and transmission throughout your body, requires perfect alignment of skeleton, muscles, and connective tissue (1-min, 48-secs)
  •  When tensional balance & rotational power are dialed in, you can express more speed, control, power, etc. with LESS wear and tear on the body (3-mins, 10-secs)
  • Where did DW’s passionate curiosity into this realm of training come from? (4-mins, 20-secs)
  • DW discovered slow motion analysis while playing D3 college football – you cannot understand human movement with that slow frame by frame motion analysis, the eye in the sky does not lie…clock doesn’t lie…measuring tape doesn’t lie (6-mins, 0-secs)
  • Unmatched degree of intensity to enhancing human locomotion because of Bosu Ball success…was able to devote entire focus to seeking and finding answers. (7-mins, 23-secs)
  • Deep appreciate that locomotion is the key, developing straight ahead speed, is the key to developing the greatest rotational power (9-mins, 0-secs)
  • Human movement industry is about to be flipped on its head because of this breakthrough understand of “core” strength…the “Bracing Core” (weight room and picking up heavy objects) versus the “Coiling Core” (engaging in lateral movement – side bending and head over foot) (9-mins, 40-secs)
  • Real versus Feel coaching, “My athletes are doing something that I’m not coaching them to do”, high level athletes have an innate sense of speed and power, but coaches are trying to coach it out of them, elite athletes (like Olympic Gold Medal winning sprinter Michael Johnson) saying to do the exact opposite of what they’re doing on film!  Experts are teaching on a faulty foundation (11-mins, 40-secs)
  • DW is meeting with Marlon Byrd on getting specific with the WeckMethod exercises (14-mins, 7-secs)
  • Quick movement experiment…stand up right now and going through a throwing motion WITHOUT any side bending…how did that feel? Without side bend you’ll destroy your spine. You can train side bend. Locomotion is your foundation. (17-mins, 50-secs)
  • DW responds to the reader comment, “Is it logical to say that average kids can perform at a tier-1 level?” In context, the reader comment was to the claim that my 100-lb hitters consistently driving the ball 300-feet are standouts athletically.  Also, what makes a kid athletic? (20-mins, 10-secs)
  • DW explains how to train ipsilaterally (right shoulder-right hip) to get the “Serape Effect” or I like to call the “Springy X Pattern” (right shoulder-left hip) optimized for performance. Tighten the coil, time the sequence, and keep center of gravity to be neutral. Take clunky and make them fluid. (22-mins, 20-secs)
  • DW discusses the curse of moving the center of gravity during rotation.  Learning the axis of rotation, front/back, and side. Central control. Create a late rotate, like a whip. (25-mins, 0-secs)
  • The evolution of the spine, side bending is crucial to an S-shaped spine curve. (27-mins, 30-secs)
  • DW responds to the question, “Does sprinting, throwing, hitting start from the ground up?  Why or why not”. CLICK HERE for the HPL link I referred to in the video (33-mins, 30-secs)
  • DW talks about harmonizing the muscles with the connective tissue.  Least muscular contraction compared to the connective tissue. Muscles that are bound up, cannot relax.  Transmission of force, power equals speed.  Muscle acts like a circuit breaker. (34-mins, 0-secs)
  • DW discusses having tensional integrity between the muscles on the inside, and fascia on the outside. How integrity and connected the fascia is to muscles.  Bonds never lost body-weight transmission when he bulked up.  Strong is great, but not at a sacrifice of speed.  (37-mins, 0-secs)
  • We discuss Thomas Myers, Anatomy Trains, “finger flick” test to demonstrate the power of connective tissue over muscle contraction (38-mins, 44-secs)
  • DW responds to the question, “If you were going to prescribe 2 of your top RMT Club exercises to a baseball or softball player, what would they be?” Coiling Head Over Foot movement. Pulse of power. (39-mins, 30-secs)
  • DW top gifted books: Thomas Myers book Anatomy Trains, Jim Piersall book Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story (44-mins, 0-secs)

Recommended Top RMT Club Exercise for Baseball or Softball Players

CLICK HERE for a link to his blog to supplement this video.

Where can you find more about David Weck and the WeckMethod?

Please let me know if you want me to do a Part-2 interview with David Weck, and what questions you have for him about this presentation by REPLYING in the comments below…
Swing Experiment using the RMT Club coming soon 😉
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Now Your Hitters Can Have Power Without Starting The Kinetic Chain At The Feet


I briefly viewed a hitting instructional video on YouTube the other day that one of my readers sent me (Thanks Joe),

…I won’t share who did the video, so as not to cause any embarrassment.

Like what was being illustrated in the video, I would say a majority of hitting instructors both online and off swear that the swing starts from the ground up.

This IS NOT what the current research shows as validated by human movement science.

Yes, Gravitational and Gravitational Reaction Forces do have their place (and we’ll get to that)…my point is, ALL human movement DOES NOT start from the ground, and work it’s way up the Kinetic Chain.

Consider this Tweet from one of my readers…

And I added the following comment…

What I have for you above, is a snippet of video about 5-minutes long, explaining where the swing starts as explained by Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, Physicist, Electrical Engineer, and founder of The Spinal Engine.

Here are some talking points that Dr. Gracovetsky mentions in the video (please WATCH video at the 2:00 minute mark to about the 7:00 minute mark):

  • There’s a lack of agreement in literature at what the function of the spine is.
  • Spine is generally believed to be a supporting column linking shoulders to pelvis…as we walk the trunk is thought to be carried passively by the legs.  Problem with this: WHY is shape of spine in form of an “S” instead of being straight? – straight column would support compressive loads better than a curved one right?
  • Consider 20-year-old male subject who has reduced arms and no legs…moves on his Ischium.
  • If it was true that legs are necessary for human locomotion, then a person with such an anatomy would not be able to walk.
  • With the bottom of the screen hidden [while the subject “walks” across the floor], it is impossible to tell that this man has no legs.
  • Locomotion was first achieved by movement of the spine, and the legs came after as an improvement, not a substitute.
  • When providing a lateral bend to a curved spine (lordosis), an axial torque is induced. The rotation of the pelvis and shoulders is driven by the spine.

And this is the basis for my The Catapult Loading System book on sale at Amazon.

So does the swing, or any human movement for that matter, start from the ground up?  In other words, are Gravitational Forces a necessity to move the Spinal Engine or merely an enhancement?

In an email conversation I had with Dr. Serge Gracovetsky a few years back, he said this about the relationship between gravity and spine engine mechanics:

The coupled motion has nothing to do with gravity. It works in space as well. It is a property of the spine or any flexible rod for that matter.  But the interaction with gravity makes interesting results which are exploited by every sport.”

Okay, since we’ve determined human movement DOES NOT start from the ground and go up the Kinetic Chain, I want to share a couple snippets from Dr. Gracovetsky about what role Gravitational Forces do play in dynamic movement…

Here’s a note about the importance of the heel strike in locomotion from Dr. Serge Gracovetsky in his book, The Spinal Engine (p. 168):

“…the compressive pulse generated at heel-strike is essential to the locomotion process.  The shape of this pulse must be very specific if maximum energy is to be transferred from the earth’s gravitational field to the rotating pelvis.”

According to Dr. Gracovetsky, while running, our heel hits the ground creating a compressive force that is equaled to NINE-times our body weight.  Gravity pulls our body down, and at heel strike, the ground pushes back in a compressive force.

This is why it has been demonstrated by Speed Coach Barry Ross that runners who dead-lift heavy weights with a low time under tension, get faster!  They’re able to push into the ground with more force, which in turn, the ground pushes back with equal and opposite force.

It’s also worth noting about the Spinal Engine while walking on sand versus solid ground…

Dr. Serge Gracovetsky offers this example in his book (pgs. 168-169),

“Running or walking on soft sand is not easy and is very tiring,  In this particular case, the energy leaks into the sand, the impact force is reduced, and the compressive pulse through the spine is attenuated [disabled] as the total energy recovered is reduced.”

The compressive force is softened by the sand, which doesn’t allow the pelvis to turn using efficient spine engine mechanics.  To maneuver, the brain has to recruit big muscles to do the work.  This is why you get a workout walking on sand…it’s powerless effort, rather than effortless power.

Does current research, that’s validated by science, say human movement starts from the ground, and travel up the Kinetic Chain?

No.

The trunk isn’t just a passive structure that is carried by the legs.  Legs are not a necessity to human movement – evidenced by the legless subject in the video – they’re an enhancement.  The Spinal Engine can work in space!  I say the legs and arms amplify the movement of the Spinal Engine.

Do Gravitational Forces play a role in human movement?

Yes!

Like Dr. Gracovetsky says, “…the interaction with gravity makes interesting results which are exploited by every sport.”

That my friends is a human movement principle that is validated by science.  Not philosophy or theory.  This is why my new book The Catapult Loading System is so powerful to hundreds of coaches and tens of thousands of hitters across the US… (just check the reviews 😉

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

Here is a Method That is Helping Nelson Cruz ADD Ridiculous Batted Ball Distance

 

Nelson Cruz: 'Showing Numbers'

Nelson Cruz ‘showing numbers’ hitting a 2-run monster shot traveling 463-feet with a launch angle of 23.7-degrees off 75-mph CB on 09/23/16. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

(‘Showing Numbers’ Experiment REVISITED) 

Question: Is Increased Bat & Ball Exit Speed ALL in the Hips?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether ‘Showing the Numbers’ to the pitcher is more effective than ‘NOT Showing’ them when it comes to measuring Bat and Ball Exit Speeds.

In this swing experiment, I had professional hitter of mine that I’ve been working with for a few months, Preston Scott, do the hitting.

 

Background Research

I’m revisiting an earlier experiment I did, looking into whether power was ALL in the hips.  You can CLICK HERE to read and watch the experiment findings.

Not to beat the springy fascia horse, but you can get more background information on why this swing experiment turned out like it did by reading through the following video blog posts.

  1. Miguel Cabrera and the timing of torque.
  2. Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista: how spine engine mechanics are amplified by Gravitational Forces, and
  3. Adrian Gonzalez: how-to naturally spring load the body.

 

Hypothesis

From the research into Anatomy Trains (Thomas Myers), The Spinal Engine (Dr. Serge Gracovetsky), and from my past swing experiment, I expect to see similar results…maybe even slightly lower numbers favoring ‘Showing Numbers’.

I say slightly lower numbers because in the first experiment I didn’t counter-balance the swings.  In other words, I took 100 consecutive swings ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ first, then took another 100 consecutive swings ‘Showing Numbers’.  This may have caused a “getting tired” or “not warmed up yet” effect, therefore biasing the experiment results.

The big UPDATES to the experiment will be:

  • Adding the measure of Ball Exit Speed,
  • Counter-balancing the swings, and
  • Professional Preston Scott taking the swings, not me.

I’m interested to see how this experiment turns out…

 

ADD Ball Exit Speed Swing Experiment

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app (to measure Bat Speed, Hand Speed, Time to Impact, & Attack Angle),
  • Bushnell Radar Gun (to measure Ball Exit Speed, or BES),
  • Backspin batting tee,
  • Two yellow dimple baseballs (feedback markers),
  • Android GS6 video camera and Tripod, and
  • 34 inch wood bat.

Setup:

Preston Scott: Showing versus NOT Showing Numbers

Preston Scott: ‘NOT Showing’ versus ‘Showing Numbers’

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers to keep starting footwork the same = bat length
  • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • Forward momentum was eliminated in this experiment, and Preston hit from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • We stayed as consistent as we could with keeping the ball height and depth the same for most swings.
  • I used two yellow dimple ball markers to make my stance setup consistent…one was placed inside my back foot, close to the plate.  The other was placed one bat’s length ahead of the back marker.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • On ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, Preston kept his shoulders in line with the blue band on the ground in front of him (towards the pitcher).  And on ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he kept his shoulders in line with the red band that was set at about a 30-degree angle from the blue band.
  • Preston Scott was sipping a protein shake throughout the length of the experiment to aid in recovery.
  • On both experiment days, Preston had finished “leg day” at the gym, so our warm-up was brief, followed by about 15-20 swings off the tee.
  • We had to break the 200 total swings (4 sets of 25 swing chunks each day) into two days, with the second day coming 1 week later because of time constraints.
  • It’s important to note, Preston and I were working on improving his mechanics slightly different both days (having nothing to do with ‘showing numbers’), but even though Day 1 (November 7, 2016), and a week later, Day 2 (November 14, 2016) swings may look a bit different, the slightly differing mechanics were used for BOTH ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ and ‘Showing Numbers’ tests, so as not to muddy the experiment results.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

‘NOT Showing Numbers’ Day 1 & 2 side by side comparison…

NOT Showing Numbers Day 1 & 2 (100 swings total)

‘NOT Showing Numbers’ Averages of averages: 71-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 27.5-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.165 Time To Impact, -25* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 4.5* Attack Angle

‘Showing Numbers’ Day 1 & 2 side by side comparison…

Showing Numbers Day 1 & 2

‘Showing Numbers’ Averages of Averages: 76-mph Bat Speed at Impact, 28-mph Hand Speed Max, 0.162 Time to Impact, 28* Bat Vertical Angle at Impact, & 6* Attack Angle

Also, CLICK HERE to access the Google Drive spreadsheet with all Ball Exit Speed (BES) readings from the experiment.

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Starting with Zepp data analysis comparing the averages of averages:

  • 5-mph INCREASE in Bat Speed at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • 0.5-mph INCREASE in Hand Speed Max with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • .003 second DECREASE in Time to Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • 3* INCREASE in Bat Vertical Angle at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’
  • 1.5* INCREASE in Attack Angle with ‘Showing Numbers

Now, let’s see how the Ball Exit Speed averages compare between the two mechanics:

  • 76.02-mph BES when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’
  • 77.32-mph BES  when ‘Showing Numbers’
  • That’s a 1.3-mph average INCREASE when ‘Showing Numbers’
  • Translates between 5.2-feet to 7.8-feet of EXTRA batted ball distance – depending on if you calculate using 1-mph BES = 4-feet of distance OR 1-mph BES = 6-feet of distance.

 

Notes

  • In this experiment, if you look at the ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, they were actually ‘Showing Numbers’.  In other words, Preston already shows his number to the pitcher well causing him a challenge to not show them.  Therefore on the ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he showed them more.  I think that’s why we didn’t see as much of a difference in Ball Exit Speeds.
  • One of the big objections from some is that ‘Showing Numbers’ causes an increase in Time To Impact.  These results show it doesn’t – it actually decreases Time To Impact.  WHY is this? It has to do with ‘taking slack out of the system’ as it relates to compression/tension forces acting within the body.
  • Preston Scott generally does a great job of ‘Showing Numbers’, even before I started working with him, so he felt like he really had to try and keep from pulling the ball too much when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’. And as you can see in the video, he was still ‘Showing Numbers’ somewhat, even when he wasn’t suppose to!
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Question: Does a Slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Before Landing Boost Baseball Swing Load & Bat Speed?

 

 

In this baseball swing load “shoulder” angle experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat & Hand Speed when we took 100 swings with a slight “Downhill” shoulder angle (about 8-10-degrees) versus another 100 swings with level shoulders.

The Feedback Lab parent testimonial about his 14 year old daughter Mia:

“Hey Coach,

It has been way too long but I wanted to share some information that happened yesterday. We are heading up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the largest showcase in the southeast today. Yesterday was our last day to hit before the showcase and Mia was struggling with her power. We hit about 60-70 balls and Mia was hitting about 10% over the fence (she is usually 40%+). I was looking to make sure she was showing her number, which she was, hiding her hands, which she was, landing with a bent knee, which she was and etc., etc. It was getting late and we had to go and I told Mia she had only 6 balls left. I told her to show me her stance and I noticed that her front shoulder was equal to her back shoulder. I then told her to lower her front shoulder and raise her back one. That was the only change we made to her swing, Mia then hit the next 6 balls over the fence and 2 of them were bombs. I cannot believe the difference this one small change made.

Thanks,
Primo”

 

Background Research

Baseball Swing Load: Miguel Cabrera WSJ Info-Graphic

Wall Street Journal Info-Graphic at: http://gohpl.com/1NFi8qi

The best resource for getting educated on spinal engine mechanics is to pick up Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine.  For a teased out version of this,

CLICK HERE for a post I did that compared the pitching delivery, hitting, and an overhead tennis serve using this “bending sideways” technique.

Another good book from multiple authors on the subject of spinal engine mechanics, locomotion biomechanics, and springy fascia, check out the book Dynamic Body by leading author Dr. Erik Dalton.

Also, here’s a great Wall Street Journal post about Miggy Cabrera titled, Miguel Cabrera: The Art of Hitting.  Check out what the illustration says in the middle of the red circle above…

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball swing load experiment research and one of the other countless online hitting testimonials I get about “bending sideways” benefits, I think using a slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle will boost Bat Speed at Impact by at least 3-mph, and Hand Speed Max by 2-mph.

 

Baseball Swing Load: “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Tyler Doerner, my intern for the summer and a hitter in HPL’s The Feedback Lab, is a redshirt college Freshman.  He did the baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment.
  • Tyler broke the swing into two steps: 1) get to landing position, pause for 1-2 seconds, 2) then swing, to better control the shoulder angle during the tests.
  • So, there was an absence of forward momentum in this experiment.
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  “Level Shoulders” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Downhill Shoulders” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Swing Load: Zepp Screenshot of Shoulder Angle Experiment

Look at the significant jumps in average Bat Speed at Impact & the Attack Angle…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • There’s a significant 4-mph JUMP in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Average Hand Speed Max only increased by 1-mph with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • There was a small change in Time To Impact, in favor of the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Not a big change in the Bat Vertical Angle at Impact.
  • And there was a significant 3-degree angle change in Attack Angle with “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.

Notes

  • We found a slightly bigger increase in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle compared to my Hypothesis (4-mph versus 3-mph).
  • I thought there was going to be a bigger difference in Hand Speed Max, than how it turned out.
  • What was surprising was the 3-degree angle change of the attack angle.  A 10-degree Attack Angle is a typical line drive.  Once you start to get into the 15-20 degree range, you’re looking at more of a home-run launch angle.
  • The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is actually something we’re working in Tyler’s swing.  He tends to let go of his angle a little too soon.
  • I find that before and after Ball Exit Speed readings with my local hitters who’re familiar with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle, can increase from 1-3-mph when this it the only mechanic we’re working on.

The Bottom Line?

In this baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment, we can clearly see with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle that there’s a significant 4-mph jump in Bat Speed at Impact, AND a surprising 3-degree boost in the Attack Angle.  The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is a piece of what I call the Catapult Loading System.  The BIG-3 are:

  1. Downhill shoulder angle,
  2. Hiding hands from the pitcher, and
  3. For #3…
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

2014 AL MVP Mike Trout down shoulders photo courtesy: TheSportsQuotient.com

Yes, hitters can build consistent explosive rotational power into their swings by learning from tennis players and baseball pitching athletes.  CLICK HERE to check out this “Pitching Instruction Secrets for Hitters” video post I did featuring 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

I received an email from a teacher in Portugal named Alexandra Franco.  She plays competitive tennis and is also a tennis instructor.  She recently purchased my Truth About Explosive Rotational Power online video course to help her teach and play tennis better.  She asked a lot of really good questions around how the spinal engine mechanics I’m teaching my hitters related to serving a tennis ball…

In this video, we’re going to explore Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s Spinal Engine Mechanics, as they relate to:

  • Moving the spine for performance,
  • Comparing Alexandra’s serve to Roger Federer’s, and
  • Apply key baseball pitching & tennis principles to hitting for repeatable power…

 

Moving the Spine for Performance

Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, in his book The Spinal Engine says,

“The spine cannot be rotated axially without flexing.  The spinal engine theory requires the lumbar spine to be flexed laterally if an axial torque is to be induced.”

Baseball Pitching (Clayton Kershaw) + Roger Federer = Repeatable Power (Hitting Video)

2014 NL CY Young & MVP award winner Clayton Kershaw angling his shoulders up photo courtesy: LATimes.com

According to Dr. Gracovetsky, there are three possible spinal movements:

  1. Extension (lordosis)/Flexion – standing tall, or arching the lower back.  And think of Flexion as rounding the back,
  2. Lateral Flexion or Side bending – standing tall, then flexing the upper body sideways at the waist, and
  3. Axial Rotation – this is the shoulders rotating opposite the pelvis.  Think of this as torque or how a gear box works.

He then adds that if two of the above are present, then almost always the end result is the third.  All explosive rotational athletes, have to abide by these rules to human movement.  Let’s see how Alexandra and Roger Federer use a combination of the above three spinal movements for performance…

 

Comparing Tennis Serve of Alexandra to Roger Federer

Roger Federer angling shoulders up at apex of the ball

World tennis champion Roger Federer angling his shoulders up photo courtesy: WorldTennisMagazine.com

Here are some key differences Alexandra can use to up her tennis serve…Roger Federer tends to:

  • Bend both knees as he throws the ball in the air, which helps with
  • Maintaining strict alignment with his head and spine as he globally extends (head & spine as one piece) over his heels,
  • As he’s doing this, he angles his shoulders up towards the apex of the ball causing an extreme side bend of the spine (in the video, look how low his back shoulder gets compared to his front), and
  • Going into axial rotation to hit the ball, watch how both elbows move counter-clockwise, at the same time, and on the same plane with the shot.

 

Apply Key Baseball Pitching & Tennis Principles to Hitting for Repeatable Power

A page out of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's book The Spinal Engine for baseball pitching...

A page out of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine…

The tennis serve and baseball pitching mechanics are very similar.  Dr. Serge Gracovetsky says,

“The large torque required to propel the baseball demands such a large amount of lateral bending that the pelvis must be rocked as well.  It is this requirement that precipitates the characteristic lift of the left leg before the throw.”

One of the key differences to hitting is the shoulder angle (lateral bend).  Hitters need to move the front shoulder slightly down to hit the ball up.  I get this with my hitters by cuing them to raise the back elbow at or above the top hand (see Trout photo above).

Whereas baseball pitching athletes, like 2014 NL Cy Young and MVP Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and Roger Federer need to angle the front shoulder up before throwing or hitting the ball down.

One last thought from Dr. Serge Gracovetsky about proper spinal engine mechanics for explosive rotational athletes:

“The axial rotation of the spine cannot happen unless the spine is flexed by the right amount on the correct side.  Coaching an athlete to throw without a proper spinal position is an invitation to severe torsional injuries.”

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

Buster Posey: ADD 6-mph To Bat Speed Using The Shoulders

 

Buster Posey VIDEO: Not ALL In The Hips [Experiment]

Buster Posey showing his numbers photo courtesy: MLB.com

Question: Is Increased Bat Speed ALL in the Hips?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze whether Buster Posey’s hips OR spinal mechanics is what increases bat speed.

Background Research

Most elite hitting instructors, pros, and Hall of Famers think it’s ALL in the hips.  The “it” is a mystery even to them.  It shouldn’t be this way.  When we look at proven human movement science, we find that just firing the hips isn’t good enough.  My question to those people is, what about the piece of hardware above the pelvis, attaching it to the shoulders – the spine?

Before getting into the experiment and analyzing Buster Posey’s swing, we need to lay ground work first.  Watch this THREE videos first:

  1. Miguel Cabrera and the timing of torque.
  2. Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista: how spine engine mechanics are amplified by Gravitational Forces, and
  3. Adrian Gonzalez: how-to naturally spring load the body.

Hypothesis

Albert Pujols showing numbers similar to Buster Posey

Albert Pujols NOT showing his numbers like he could. Definite hip hinge (tilt) towards the plate. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Based primarily on my research and study of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine, and Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, I believe a hitter like Buster Posey, that shows the pitcher their numbers – while keeping the hips in neutral – creates the separation (or spinal torque) needed before landing to produce natural friction-free repeatable power.

Rather than just focusing on the hips to go first, and the front shoulder to stay on the pitcher.  In the experiment, for the sake of brevity, I’ll differentiate between the two with “showing numbers” or “NOT showing numbers”.

Buster Posey: Not ALL in the Hips Experiment

Equipment Used:

Setup:

  • Yellow dimple ball feedback markers = my bat length, plus two baseballs
  • Distance from plate = end of the bat touching inside corner of plate, and knob of bat touching my mid-thigh
  • Tee was set one baseball’s length behind the front feedback marker, and tee height was about mid-thigh
  • Forward momentum was eliminated in this experiment, and I hit from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • First 100 baseballs hit was “NOT showing numbers”, focusing on hips first, and front shoulder pointing at the pitcher at landing
  • Second 100 baseballs hit was “showing numbers”, focusing on showing numbers, slight down shoulder angle, and hiding the hands
  • There was about 30-45 minute break between both Buster Posey Experiments

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Buster Posey Experiment: Zepp Baseball App comparison

Difference after 100 swings…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • Average bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 73-mph
  • Average bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 79-mph (+6-mph)
  • Highest bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 82-mph
  • Highest bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 88-mph (+6-mph)
  • Hand speed max for NOT showing numbers was: 27-mph
  • Hand speed max for showing numbers was: 29-mph (+2-mph)

As you can clearly see, “NOT showing numbers” puts a hitter at a clear repeatable power DISADVANTAGE.

 

Notes

Andrew McCutchen showing his numbers like Buster Posey

Andrew McCutchen: showing numbers, slight down shoulder angle, hiding hands, hip hinge (tilt) towards the plate. 2013 NL MVP. 3rd in MLB OPS in 2014. All 5’10”, 190 pounds of him! Photo courtesy of MLB.com.

  • I don’t go out and take 200 swings in a given day, so I was getting fatigued by the time I got to the last hundred swings (“showing numbers”) part of the experiment.  Goes to show this isn’t about muscles, but connective tissue.
  • Remember, I purposely eliminated forward momentum from the Buster Posey Experiment because I wanted to reveal how “showing the numbers” can effect a hitter’s bat speed.  CLICK HERE to see the results of a Forward Momentum Experiment I did using the Zepp Baseball App.
  • “Showing the numbers” IS NOT adding more rotational ground to make up during the Final Turn.  It’s a natural way of super-charging connective tissue over muscles.
  • A slight bend at the waist (hip hinge) towards the plate – before landing – improves efficiency, not detracts from it.  Just look at Posey, McCutchen, and Pujols pictured hitting home-runs in this post.  This is how an athlete takes the slack out of the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, butt, and back).  ALL shapes and sizes use it.
  • During NOT showing the numbers, I felt like I had to guide my hands more.  It took more effort to extend through the ball instead of rotating off (rolling over), than with showing the numbers.
  • Make sure when “showing the numbers”, the hitter isn’t losing sight of the incoming pitch with the back eye.
  • Also, make sure when using a slight down shoulder angle that the head stays in-line with the spine.  The angle is slight, about five to ten-degrees.

 

The Bottom Line?

When we analyze hitters like Buster Posey, we NEED to hold our analysis to a higher standard.  Proven human movement science.  We have to go away from mechanical fixes based on “feelings”.  The “Oh, I’ve been working on this and it seems to work”, isn’t good enough.  Neither is, “Ted Williams said so!”  Or, “I watch 25-hours of high level hitting footage in a day, so listen to me.”  That stuff DOES NOT matter.  Science does.  I want to see the data, NOT listen to feelings.  The heavy lifting has been done for us.  It’s up to us to apply it.