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Your Typical Hitting Coach Doesn’t Want You To Watch This Sierra Romero & Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

 

Sierra Romero v. Aaron Judge Hitting Analysis Swing Comparison

Comparative Fight Positions of both Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge. Dang, they look good! Photo courtesy: YouTuber: Sports Gaming & MLB.com

Let me be up front with you in this post…

Some hitting coaches still think the baseball and softball swing are drastically different.

I disagree…Big League.

Human movement is human movement.  Sure there are undeniable anatomical differences in body type between males and females, and differences in reaction time from sport to sport…

But there’s virtually zero difference in explosive human movement when the swing objective is hit the ball as hard as you can, as far as you can…consistently.

In this video analysis, I wanted to compare the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge.  Don’t worry if you don’t know one or the other…you will by the end of this post.

Actually, you know what, if you don’t know either of these hitters, then SHAME ON YOU!!! 😛 lol

Kidding aside, and in my opinion, more baseball players can learn A LOT by watching Sierra Romero swing the bat than any Big Leaguer.  It’s a bold thing to say, but it’s true.

In comparing Sierra Romero to Aaron Judge, we’ll compare the following components of an effective swing:

 

Who is Sierra Romero?

Besides being my favorite swing model for Fast-Pitch Softball hitters, and according to the USSSA Pride website:

  • 5-foot, 5-inches in height.
  • Sierra finished her rookie professional Fast-Pitch Softball season batting .339 in 109 at-bats with 18 runs scored, 37 hits, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI and a .397 OBP.
  • First player in NCAA softball history (at Uni of Michigan) to record 300 runs, 300 hits and 300 RBI in her career.
  • Owns NCAA record in career runs (300) and grand slams (11). Ranks fourth all-time in career RBI (305) and slugging percentage (.882) and eighth in home runs (82) and walks (225).
  • Joined the USA Junior Women’s National Team (2012), ISF Junior Women’s World Championship Silver Medalist (2012).

 

Who is Aaron Judge?

Besides this guy being a friggin’ BEAST of a human being!?  Here are some major talking points, according to Wikipedia.org and FanGraphs.com:

  • 6-foot, 7-inches tall, and 282-pounds (imagine the parents that had to feed this guy!!) lol
  • Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball).
  • Played at my Alma-mater, Fresno State, from 2010 and got drafted by the Yankees 32nd overall by the Yankees in 2013.
  • As of April 2017 Exit Velocity metrics, Judge clocked game batted balls of at least 115-mph SIX TIMES!!  Joey Gallo was second with two.
  • Did I mention this guy is a BEAST?!

This video from MLB.com titled, “Aaron Judge: Burden of Proof” says it all:

 

The Bottom Line…?

In comparing the swings of Sierra Romero and Aaron Judge, there are many BIG WIN mechanical similarities.  They both hit for power and precision.  The softball swing isn’t any different than its baseball counterpart.  Power and precision don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Size doesn’t matter, however if you’re a beast like Aaron Judge the capability of hitting the ball farther with consistently higher Ball Exit Speeds is greater.  What is clear however, is if you move better, then you perform better.

In the day and age of advanced technology and access to specific experts on human movement and Physics, there’s no room for coaches who resist getting educated.  If you aren’t growing, then you’re dying.

 

Look,

I’m not going to get into the specifics of head movement with the written part of this video post…

You can go to the following links for that:

But I WILL get into an outstanding drill that helps my hitters get rid of late head movement…

I get asked quite a bit on the ‘Socials’ about posting the “Snapping Towel Drill”.

I learned this drill from Chas Pippitt of BaseballRebellion.com, which he calls the Lean Drill.

Well, here you go!

This is one of my favorite go-to drills with most of my hitters.

It helps with lunging, which I define as when a hitter continues moving forward during the turn…NOT at stride landing.

It also helps a hitter cover more of the pitch plane with the barrel, which is why I promote it in the Pitch-Plane Dominator online video mini-course.

In the above video, we’ll discuss:

  • How the swing is a snapping towel,
  • And define Reactive Neuromuscular Training (or RNT),
  • How to BEWARE of the “C” Shape, and
  • How to setup the Snapping Towel Drill…

The following video I did awhile back, which analyzes Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz’s swings to show the ‘snapping towel’ effect…

CLICK HERE for a post I did on how to fix stepping in the bucket using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).

The following image is Chase B., one of my hitters, that is working on fixing his Reverse ‘C’ shape (by the way, the same fault with a lefty will resemble a normal ‘C’)
chaseb-reversec-shape

It’s not too bad, but I’ve seen worse.  Some of the things to look out for at and post impact:

  • Head floating out over “no man’s land”,
  • Over arching of the low back, and
  • The hitter complaining of low back ‘pinching’ or pain in the Up Dog Yoga Pose

The latter can be because of tight hamstrings and hip flexors, in addition to glutes and low abdominals (psoas) not firing off.  However, please consult a Physical Therapist if there’s discomfort in the Up-Dog Pose.

What is this hitting position suppose to look like?

Check out Sierra Romero (one of my fav. fastpitch hitter’s to model)…

Sierra Romero Post Impact

Sierra Romero in a nice ‘stacked’ position, NO reverse ‘C’ here. Photo courtesy: MichiganDaily.com

Notice the stacking of her head over rib cage, and rib cage over pelvis.  In a perfect world, we’d like to see a slight slant back over the catcher with these three pieces of the body.

Think about three bricks stacked on top of each other, but being stacked slightly off center towards the left hand side (for a righty), and reverse for a lefty.

How To Turn Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics Into A High Level Baseball Swing…Can It Be Done?

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Can fastpitch softball hitting mechanics be equal to baseball?

(WARNING: this fastpitch softball hitting mechanics post is a mini-RANT, about 2,000+ words, so please set aside about a 10-min reading time)…

I received this email the other day:

“I cringe when see hitting programs that are designed by baseball players and say they teach softball hitting as a 17 year fastpitch softball coach and 26 year slow pitch player the fundamental difference in the swing many programs ignore especially when teaching fastpitch the swing has to take the most direct path to the pitched generally released at 3 to 4 feet verse a baseball is released at roughly 7 such as right view pro I’ve seen many teams and worse players swings destroyed by coaches teaching baseball to softball players please take this in account, thanks”

Before addressing this reader’s email, I wanted to mention something for those who teach fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

Later in the post, I want to make a BIG ASK to coaches and instructors currently working with fastpitch softball hitters that are using HPL hitting principles, to please share your triumphs and/or sticking points with us.

But before we get there,

I wanted to address a couple fastpitch softball hitting mechanics points from the email above:

  • Translating baseball into fastpitch softball hitting mechanics,
  • Differences between the two swings?
  • The BIG ASK…

 

Translating Baseball into Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Who To Trust?

Who can we trust to give effective information when searching “fastpitch softball hitting mechanics” on YouTube?

The BIGGEST problem with most self-proclaimed “baseball hitting experts” online is…

They promote a hitting ‘philosophy’ or ‘theory’.

Their theories are a mish-mash of popular hitting programs, books, websites, YouTube channels, etc.

Did you know…

There’s a more certain standard – or measuring stick – that most hitting experts ignore, or just plain don’t understand?

Hitting MUST be based off human movement principles, or rules, that are validated by science…NOT philosophy or theory.

We’ve reverse engineered the hitting system promoted at the Hitting Performance Lab.

What does that mean?

Good news for coaches teaching fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

You can bring a certain and more effective hitting standard to teaching your athletes how to hit.

And it WORKS a majority of the time!!

Beautifully.

Do you remember the first time you stumbled into an online hitting forum, discovering how much of a pissing contest it was?

The people who “seemed” to have authority on the subject of fastpitch softball hitting mechanics were coaches who:

  • Had coached the longest,
  • Had played the longest OR had the biggest collection of trophies at the highest level, or
  • Had watched a million hours of slow motion video of ONLY ‘the best’ hitters.

Note to those who’ve coached the longest…

Someone belligerently throwing 30+ years of coaching experience in your face, most likely has the same one year of coaching experience repeated each year for 30+ years.  If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  And if you have to talk about how many years you’ve been coaching to desperately seek significance, then most likely your teaching has been obsolete for some time now.

You don’t hear Coaches Augie Garrido, Gordie Gillespie, or Bob Bennett lurching around online forums shoving their weight around demanding that people listen and respect them.

Note to those who’ve played the longest or have the biggest collection of trophies at the highest level…

The same lurching ego behavior can be seen, and is being used by you too.

As a matter of fact,

I just ran into an ex-pro guy last night on Facebook (I assume he was because he said he has a helluva playing resume, lol).

Brother, I hate to tell you, but…

Playing and teaching are totally different skills sets.  I don’t care what your playing resume is, because you’re starting over as a coach.

Furthermore, you MUST teach the RIGHT things.  The right fastpitch softball hitting mechanics.

Just because you ‘swung down on the ball’ to create backspin, DOES NOT mean that’s what actually happened if we looked at your swing using slow motion video.

I’m sorry, but what’s ‘feel’ and what’s ‘real’ are two totally different things.

Note to those coaches who accumulated a million hours watching slow motion video of ONLY ‘the best’ hitters…

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols photo courtesy: MLB.com

First of all, who are you studying??!

Pujols? McGwire? Griffey Jr.? Bryce Harper? Derek Jeter?

Although these hitters are and were effective in their swings, they also have, and had, ineffective human movement.  I’m sorry, but what’s ‘feel’ and what’s ‘real’ are two totally different things. that MUST not be repeated by younger and/or smaller hitters.

Not just because younger hitters don’t have the capability of doing them, but because THEY SHOULD NOT be doing them, PERIOD.

In other words, they succeed, and succeeded, DESPITE elements of ineffective mechanics, NOT because of them.

Who you study is VERY important.

Big sluggers can get away with murder because of their body mass.  Think of some of the BIGGER hitters you’ve come across, swimming in the fishbowl that is a Little League baseball field.

You’ll learn more of what effective fastpitch softball hitting mechanics look like from smaller sluggers like (6-feet on down):

  • Sierra Romero
  • Lauren Chamberlain
  • Sadaharu Oh (if you don’t know who this is, you need to study up!!),
  • Hank Aaron,
  • Pete Rose,
  • Ty Cobb,
  • Josh Donaldson,
  • Dustin Pedroia,
  • Jose Bautista,
  • Andrew McCutchen, and
  • Robinson Cano.

AND by the way, video analysis is important,

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Sierra Romero

Sierra Romero is a great model for the Catapult Loading System. Photo courtesy: fastpitchnews.org

But MUST come SECOND ONLY to the human movement “rules”.

Now listen close, because this is IMPORTANT to translating fastpitch softball hitting mechanics into baseball…

Once we strip away a coach/player’s elevated credentials and/or experience, then look at their analysis through the lens of human movements “rules”, that are validated by science, and it’s revealed how inconsistently ineffective their teachings really are.

They soften their system’s ineffectiveness by saying,

“Well, every hitter is different and what works for one hitter may not work for another”…OR,

“You can’t teach young hitters to do what MLB hitters are doing.”

BULL.

They’re copping-out.

But it’s not their fault.

They just don’t know any better.

They’re not growing, they’re dying.

And if you believe that what works for one hitter may not work for another, then CLICK HERE to read about the HPL One-Swing-Fits-All system.

The HPL hitting system works…consistently, no matter if we’re talking fastpitch softball hitting mechanics or baseball…7yo or 24yo…black or white…big or small.

We have literally thousands of coaches and parents across the nation putting into practice the HPL hitting principles, and get this…THEY ACTUALLY WORK!!

I get a steady stream of weekly emails, from coaches, sharing their success stories with the system from both the baseball and softball worlds.

(If you go to the HPL homepage, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and you’ll find over 45 rotating testimonials from these coaches and players under “Customer Testimonials”.  It rotates through 5 of them at a time, then if you refresh the screen, then it’ll rotate through another 5).

The good news for the fastpitch softball hitting mechanics coach, is that credentials don’t mean a thing.

It’s outcomes.

Does your system consistently work?

Do you have a:

  1. 98-lb 11yo hitting the ball 300-feet, multiple times?
  2. 95-pounder hitting their first dinger over 270-feet? (this is actually the brother of the above hitter but 2 years younger)
  3. 115-lb 11yo not only hitting the ball 300-feet multiple times, but hitting over 40 homers in one season…to ALL fields?
  4. 66-lb 11yo hitting the ball over 180-feet? OR,
  5. a 115-lb 13yo hitting the ball 330-feet?

The video below is of my hitter #1 above hitting his 300-foot monster shot.  Please note, he was playing on a field in Manteca, CA that had 315-foot fences, so the ‘shot’ was a long double, not a homerun.  Dad played baseball at Division-1 Chico State in the late-90’s, and shared the batted ball’s estimated distance, in the following text message to me:

“This is Orin hitting the farthest ball he’s ever hit.  It landed a couple feet short of the warning track in Manteca, which is right around 300-feet away”.

If you aren’t achieving these types of outcomes with your hitters, then I fear that you should rethink the effectiveness of YOUR hitting system.

Differences Between Two Swings?

Now, before getting into the differences between fastpitch softball hitting mechanics and baseball…

It should be pointed out,

That I’ve spent 10+ years in the corrective fitness industry with too many certifications to count.  I’m self taught and have a passionate curiosity for the science of human movement, by people such as:

  • Dr. Kelly Starrett,
  • Thomas Myers,
  • Ida Rolf,
  • Dr. Erik Dalton,
  • Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, and
  • Many others…

And it’s interesting to note, that I learned more about the swing from the aforementioned people, than in all 17 years of my baseball playing career, the last four of those playing at Division-1 Fresno State!!

The bottom line is this,

There are certain ‘rules’ to human movement that are validated by science.  These “rules” don’t care if you’re male or female…black or white…7 yo or 24 yo…big or small.

THEY WORK FOR ALL HUMANS!!!

The ‘rules’ are like bumpers at a bowling alley.  They’re guidelines to an effective swing.  What happens inside the bumpers doesn’t matter, just as long as you work within them.

Now, on the differences between the two swings…

A friend of mine since High School, made this comment on a Facebook Post of mine:

“As a former baseball player and current fastpitch softball coach. I think hitting a softball at 43ft is harder than hitting a baseball from 60ft. I’m talking about straight fastballs too, special pitches would be difficult for anyone.  My first year coaching softball I had a hard time hitting a pitch. Had to adjust everything I learned from my baseball swing and vision.”

I told him, if he grew up playing fastpitch softball and hitting from the closer distances, he’d be a much better fastpitch softball hitter today!

It’s about collecting data.

The main differences in the two swings are:

  1. Reaction Time (or timing), and
  2. Knee Action.

Reaction Time (or timing)

Getting back to the original reader email, two differences they mentioned:

  1. “…the swing has to take the most direct path to the pitch”,
  2. “…the pitch is generally released at 3 to 4 feet verse a baseball is released at roughly 7″…

Look, the first issue is about reaction time.

Fast-pitch softball hitting mechanics DO NOT call for ‘shorter swings’ than a baseball player.  They have to start their swings sooner!

If we start teaching hitters to ‘swing down on the ball’, be ‘short to it’, or an A to B barrel path, then we set the hitter up for inconsistent productive outcomes.

Why inconsistent productive outcomes?

Because an A to B barrel path is ineffective when looking at it through the lens of validated science:

  • Centripetal v. Centrifugal Forces,
  • Transferring Linear into Angular Momentum, and
  • Inertial Forces changing directions.

Two priority hitting objectives, for ALL hitters, MUST be to:

  1. Get the barrel on the plane of the pitch as early as possible, and
  2. Keep the barrel on plane for as long as possible.

We coaches have to build a large margin for error into the swing, not shorten it.

WHY?

Because of a major dose of uncertainty, hitters don’t know what type of pitch is coming, its speed, or its location beforehand.

By the way, swings can still be compact without an A –> B barrel path.  We MUST be teaching both hitters, more of an A –> B –> C path.  My readers call the latter, the Nike Swoosh barrel path.nike-swoosh-logo

The second reader issue above has to do with the angle of the downward traveling pitch.

And YES, even a softball is traveling down by the time it reaches the hitter, thanks to Gravitational Forces and air density.

As soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand (both fastpitch and baseball), the ball begins slowing down, rotating less, and ultimately falls towards the earth.

Assuming you’re still on earth 😉

Even the “Jenny Finch rise-ball begins to fall 4/5 of way, approx 8 feet away”.

However,

What is clear though, is the down angle of a fastpitch fastball isn’t quite as drastic as a baseball fastball.  A fastpitch fastball just isn’t exposed to Gravitational Forces long enough.

Which is also to say, evidenced in the Sports Science video above, since there’s less distance for the softball to travel, it loses less energy than a baseball will.  So that’s why we see Jennie Finch put a hurtin’ on that force plate!!

If you had the baseball pitcher throw from a distance of 43-foot, I think he’d crush the force plate as well.  Just my thoughts…

So reaction time and the hitter’s barrel attack angle being different,

How does a fastpitch softball hitter manage her barrel attack angle differently than a baseball hitter?

With…

Knee Action

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Lauren Chamberlain

Lauren Chamberlain wide stance, but uses shifting foot pressure and HER KNEES to hit. Photo courtesy: YouTube user Paul Arebalo

In order to compensate for the slight difference in the downward angle of the pitched ball, a hitter should adjust the bending of their knees as follows…

Fastpitch hitter:

  • Front knee at landing should be bent between 160 and 170-degrees (at 180-degrees, the leg is straight) to optimize Ground Reaction Forces, build in margin for error on off-speed and breaking balls, while also not giving up too much on Time To Impact.
  • Back knee at impact should be bent between 105 and 115-degrees to get on path to the bottom half of the ball.

Baseball hitter:

  • Front knee at landing should be bent between 150 and 165-degrees for the same reasons above, but with more access to a longer Time To Impact,
  • Back knee at impact should be bent between 90 and 105-degrees to get on-path to the bottom half of the ball.

The BIG Ask…

I want to make a BIG ASK to those coaches or instructors that are currently working with fastpitch softball hitters using HPL hitting principles.

Please share your triumphs and/or sticking points below…