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How To Turn Hitting Process Into Predictably Productive Results

I got to finally meet Mr. Sean M. at 2019 ABCA in Dallas. I love seeing these hitters who love learning.

This is a video from the Detect & Correct Hitting Blueprint online video course.

For Back to School this week, we’re opening up the $100 OFF Flash Sale one more time.

And for those working with hitters this Fall, this is a great time as any to make up ground before the 2020 regular season kicks off.  Only 5 months away!!

What’s inside this particular video?

Learning Principles to Use in Training

  1. Writing name in half the letters
  2. Grading process at first, not performance
  3. One focus at a time (other things may “break”, but ignore for now)
  4. Process of trial and error
  5. Minimum effective dosage, 4-days per week, 5-mins per day
  6. When to “publish” swing changes into games

To discover how the Detect & Correct Hitting Blueprint online video course can benefit you and your hitters, you can…

Here’s A Quick Way To Demonstrate Reaction Time Versus Timing…

A special THANK YOU to Taylor Gardner for this reaction time versus timing demonstration.  Above is a quick 4-minute demo video coaches can use to teach their hitters the difference between reaction time and timing.

Can timing be taught?

Is the Pope Catholic?!

Of course it can…

How To Fix The Hitting “Guru” #57 Problem Once And For All – A New Year’s Resolution…

Consider the following Tweet from Matt Pierce, who I highly respect in hitting circles…

I love what Matt is saying here, and I agree with him 100%!  I’ve wanted to address this for some time, but couldn’t figure out how to frame it without coaches thinking I’m delusional.  However, I’m about to reveal this is a Mount Everest “ask” because:

  1. We can’t control what we can’t control (e.g. other people’s actions or reactions).
  2. We don’t know what we don’t know (knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking).
  3. People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe” (when we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary).
  4. Fixed Mindset is a REAL thing (nothing is more fragile than a 40-year-old male ego).

At the end of this post, I will share 11 things I think cuts to the heart of the debate (HINT: it has to do with a case of “mistaken identity”)

PLEASE NOTE: I’m no saint in this conversation, so let me get that out of the way.  I’ve been called “unprofessional” in some of my responses on the Socials.  I own that.  I’m not a robot devoid of emotion.  To my defense though, I do let people have their say, and seldom “hide” or delete Social media comments – no matter how ridiculous – because I feel coaches should see us with all bumps and bruises.

Now, let’s address Matt’s big asks:

  • Want for coaches to stop mocking other coaches.
  • Want for coaches to stop blasting guys bc of the level they coach.
  • Want for coaches to stop using the word guru in describing a coach that they disagree with.
  • Want for coaches to spread info without the need to attack others in their teach…

It starts with the fact…

 

We can’t control what we can’t control (e.g. other people’s actions or reactions)

Here is one of my personal rules for posting on Social media: DO NOT respond to another hitting person’s Social media post, Tweet, etc. that I don’t agree with.  And I see A LOT of garbage out there, believe me.  But I don’t feel the need to tell them so…I keep my hands to myself.  Imagine for a moment, you sell a hitting aid, book, or online course, and you get one the following dandy comments… (think about how you’d react)…

And here’s a YouTube comment on one of my videos…

If you can’t read the YouTube comment, then it’s because the image is too small…here you go (incorrect spelling and grammar intact)

“This video is silly to me.  First and most importantly, you do not teach any player especially a young player how to hit deep fly balls or “in the air with power.  Why and the hell would you do that? Don’t pollute the internet with this garbage any longer.  Btw, every hitter “gets shorter”. It is impossible to gain any ground and not drop. There is no strategic advantage in it nor should it be stressed in instruction.  It’s a natural part of any swing and has nothing to do with power or hitting fly balls.  Your messing up swings with shit.”

By the way, the above comments aren’t too bad, I have others 10X as bad.  Look, I don’t mind healthy debate, but it MUST be respectful, and no respectful conversation can start with any one of the above comments.  Sue me for coming off as “unprofessional” in responses.  Good times is Taylor Gardner (Backspin Tee), Matt Lisle, and I snapshotting them on our phones, and laughing over drinks…true story.

So NO, we cannot control how others react or respond.  Building the case of our “mistaken identity” solution is starting to take shape.  Now, let’s address the fact…

 

We don’t know what we don’t know (knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking)

As you were reading those dandy comments above, were you thinking, “I don’t think this person knows about the Hitting Performance Lab.”  Therein lies the frustration.

To their defense, they’ve only seen ONE post or ad from us on the Socials.  They…

  • Don’t know us from “Adam”.
  • Haven’t done their homework.
  • Have been burned by others in the industry (a clue to our “mistaken identity” solution…).

I don’t take the comments personal anymore.  They don’t understand how we’re:

  • Applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”.
  • Leading close to 40,000 coaches on this journey.
  • Sharing nearly 300 FREE blog posts that hold nothing back when it comes to breaking down the what, how, and why of our system.
  • Blessed to have an Amazon best selling book on hitting, over 11,500 books sold and downloaded, and has accumulated well over 100 Amazon books reviews with an average star rating of 4.3 out of 5 (includes both first and second edition of The Catapult Loading System).
  • Gifted frequent positive testimonials from our readers on a weekly basis via Social media and over email, which you can read on our About page.

So yes,

  • We’re dealing with people who don’t know what they don’t know.  And,
  • We can’t control what we can’t control.

…Coaches, we MUST understand this.  Building the case of our “mistaken identity” solution is picking up speed.  Now, let’s address the fact…

 

 

People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe” (when we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary)

I talked to Dr. Tom Hanson about this recently.  Consider the “Church of Baseball” or “Politics of Baseball”.  The idea is that based on our life experiences, we stick close to our current “tribe” for fear of missing out, being ostracized, and/or being abandoned when seeking another tribe.  Even if the “other” tribe provides a mountain of evidence to the contrary of our thinking.

I call it wearing hitting “beer goggles”.  Refusing to take off the distorted glasses to seek real facts and actual truth.  In 2013, I completely jumped out of the hitting industry, refused to read or watch anything hitting, and completely pivoted to researching Physics, Bio-mechanics, Engineering, Body Work, etc.  I didn’t understand it at first, but kept reading and re-reading – eventually it started to sink in.

We’re seeing this “beer goggle” theory play out in the Politics right now.  Most of you have seen ridiculous comments on your Facebook feed from others…past or current friends about Political issues. I’ve seen people on both sides “un-friend” each other because one believes one thing and the other believes the complete opposite.  People are retreating to their tribe’s boxing corner, and staying there.

Look familiar?  Because it’s happening to our hitting community.  People become attached to certain hitting “gurus”, a word I know Matt said not to use.  I had quite a few talks with a current professional hitter, who has had quite a few cups of coffee in the Big Leagues, saying many “gurus” are out there trying to reinvent the wheel.  And what he means by that is, they’re teaching the same thing as everyone else but calling it something different and claiming ownership.

The reality is originating something new occurs with far less frequency than innovating something new.  Give credit where credit is due coaches.  If people took the time to research where ideas originated, then the number of “tribes” people stick to would shrink to one or two.  And even with those, hitting agreement would probably reach 98%.

So yes,

  • We can’t control other people’s actions or reactions.
  • Knowledge – and/or common sense – isn’t always what people are seeking. And,
  • When we put many years into thinking one way, it’s hard to change, no matter the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

We’re almost done building the case for our “mistaken identity” solution.  Now, let’s look at the fact…

 

Fixed Mindset is a REAL thing (nothing is more fragile than the 40-year-old male ego)

I won’t get into this here because I got into it here AND here.  But I will say this, I’ve fallen into the Fixed Mindset trap.  It’s like a cozy warm blanket, and much easier to misplace blame when we don’t know the answer.  For example, how do you explain a kid by the name of Hudson White at 14-years-old blasting 11-dingers in a row at the National Power Showcase, averaging 395-feet in batted ball distance – when he’s only 5-foot, 7-inches, weighing 135-pounds?

“What bat did he use?” …a few may ask…metal minus-5…“See!!” they exclaim, “The bat is HOT!!”  But what if I were to tell you eye-witness accounts have said that Hudson consistently hit balls 395-feet with an old Hickory wood bat?  How do we explain something we may not understand?

  • “He’s just a special case”
  • “He’s using a HOT bat”
  • “He can’t do that in a game though”
  • “They’re lying or mistaken about the distance”

These are FIXED Mindset coaching responses (from real people by the way!).  Look, it’s okay to say you don’t know, and here’s an even better TIP…if one does not know something, then keep the “pie-hole” shut.  The above bullet point comments take away from the hard work these hitters have and are putting into their swings.  Shameful.

Instead acknowledge maybe your knowledge is limited and seek to understand, not to be understood.  Ask “WHY”, not “Why Not”.  Every day, ask: “Is there something I may be missing”.  This is what Growth Mindset coaches do.

So yes,

  • We can’t control what we can’t control.
  • We don’t know what we don’t know.
  • People don’t want to leave their chosen “tribe”. And,
  • Nothing is more fragile than the 40-year-old male ego.

 

Fixing the issue of “mistaken identity”

Before getting to fixing the issue of “mistaken identity”, let’s review Matt’s big asks:

  • Want for coaches to stop mocking other coaches.
  • Want for coaches to stop blasting guys bc of the level they coach.
  • Want for coaches to stop using the word guru in describing a coach that they disagree with.
  • Want for coaches to spread info without the need to attack others in their teach…

Before agreeing to his “asks”, I want to scribble in a few more…

  1. Parents and coaches start conversations with respectful first comments.
  2. Parents and coaches seek to understand first, then to be understood.
  3. Parents and coaches be willing to try a new-to-them concept first, before resorting to being a negative Nancy armchair quarterbacks.  And,
  4. I think if the previous three are checked off, then setting ego aside and looking at issue from a Growth Mindset perspective will be 10X easier.

Possible?  Maybe, but it’s a TALL order.  If those points cannot get checked off, then I claim my 1st Amendment right to call out Hitting “Guru” #57.  Do we have a deal Matt!?

Now, to solve the case of mistaken identity…

For those who know how we operate at the Hitting Performance Lab, remember reading through those Facebook and YouTube comments in the beginning of this rant, and thinking they’re falsely associating and projecting a bad experience they may have had with another hitting “guru”?  Here are my BIG “asks”:

  1. Quit basing your teachings on because-I-said-so “bro-science” (What is that? CLICK HERE). It doesn’t work predictably.  I know because I used to base my teachings on it, and can now compare our hitters’ performance to what we teach now – WOW! What a difference.  Apply human movement principles validated by REAL Science.  Success leaves clues, and principles work predictably.  Btw, failure leaves clues too!
  2. It’s not about how many years you’ve coached.  It’s not about what high level you played at.  It’s not about how many hours of video analysis you’ve masterbated with.  It’s not even about how many long hours you’ve put into the cages.  At the end of the day, it’s about getting your hitters predictably positive hitting results.  Think of human movement principles as a shortcut (a good one) to spotting common patterns amongst elite hitters – saving you many hours of spinning the tires.  Work smarter not harder.
  3. Data IS NOT Science.  Data is a component of the Scientific Method, not the end-all-be-all.  Basing your teachings ONLY on data or video analysis without human movement priorities is like randomly shooting an arrow and calling whatever you hit.
  4. Don’t strike fear into parents that if they don’t spend money with you, they’ll be doomed to hitting purgatory for eternity.  This is a bonehead move, and I’m tired of getting these projected comments thanks to bad business practices.
  5. Help people by actually helping them.  Over the years, we’ve written nearly 300 free blog posts that detail our system.  Don’t just try and sell people…help people…then selling becomes the next logical step.
  6. Ben Brewster Twitter quote: “In the process, a few percent of our followers are willing to invest big time to know that last 2%. But I hate the paranoid, protective mentality thinking that people might steal your one good idea or philosophy. They might. Keep innovating and learning, you’ll have many more.” Right on!  SHARE what’s working.  Keep learning.  Keep innovating.  Give credit where credit is due.  You will be greatly rewarded, believe me.
  7. Moderation is key.  Hitting IS NOT rotational OR linear.  It’s not Launch Angles OR ground-balls.  It’s not sacrificing swing quality for power.  It’s NOT swing down OR swing up.  We can build a hitter that embodies linear AND rotational elements…who hits more line drives…who can hit for power AND average without dramatically increasing strikeouts…who can use “swing down” cues to fix an uppercut AND use “swing up” cues to fix a down swinger.
  8. Understand we can eat tomato soup with a spoon, fork, or knife but only one tool is more effective.  Teaching hitters is the same.  There may be many ways to teach hitting but there’s one MORE effective way…by applying human movement principles validated by REAL Science to hitting a ball.  The principles remain constant and limited, but I do agree there are hundreds – if not thousands – of ways (methods) to teaching them.  Listen, I don’t “own” these principles, I just happened to look where most weren’t looking, and stumbled onto them.
  9. If someone posts a video of a swing online, DO NOT pick apart without the owner asking you.  Video analysis of a hitter is a snapshot in time of the swing.  It’s a work in progress.  So unless otherwise solicited to give your advice, don’t.  I see a few “gurus” out there “red-lining” through swings of 8yos, 12yos, and 16yos – unsolicited, to prove a point.  That’s a real kid, someone’s son or daughter…niece or nephew…or client.  STOP doing this, or you’re a bully.
  10. Don’t drunk dial Social media.  Don’t lie, you’ve done this (I know I have)Don’t drink the liquid courage and then comment.  Remember what I said about taking off your hitting “beer goggles”?
  11. Coaches, if you promote digital products, books, and/or membership programs, then STOP “tricking” people into signing up.  Be upfront and honest with people.  It gives the rest of us working to do it right a BAD name.

I think a combination of Matt Pierce’s “asks” and my additional “asks” will turn this ship around.  OR, we’ll get much of the same thing in 2019!  Coaches, go forth and make awesomeness…

 

 

Breathing Technique For Hitting A Baseball: Why Hitters Shouldn’t Breath Like “Normal”

 

Before we get to the breathing technique for hitting a baseball (same for softball), consider this…

Breathing is one of the most commonly dysfunctional movement patterns today.  In other words, nowadays “normal” breathing IS dysfunctional!

Breathing Technique For Hitting A Baseball

Photo courtesy: MobilityWOD.com YouTube video

Why?  Here are a few reasons off the top of my head – you could probably think of others:

  • High levels of stress hormone cortisol throughout the day because of constant bombardment of mind numbing hamster-constantly-on-the-wheel technology (phones, video games, etc.),
  • Overuse training – doubling training efforts without doubling recovery efforts (dangerously over scheduled youth athletes), and
  • Injuries to certain areas of the body, playing a one-sided dominant sport (i.e. baseball and softball), and imbalanced training (without proper flushing of waste by the lymphatic system), can build a shorter breathing pattern, which can cause a constant drip-drip-drip of the fight or flight response throughout the day.

One of my hitter’s dad asked me what physical training I recommend outside of a busy baseball and football schedule, and I said either Yoga or Pilates.  I HIGHLY disagree with most hitting coaches putting ORGASMIC emphasis on explosive, Olympic, Cross-fit, or whatever else type of performance training out there.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for physical training geared for performance, but corrective maintenance training SHOULD precede performance – if we want healthy moving athletes.  If you put fresh 80,000 mile tires on a Lamborghini with a misaligned front end, then you’ll be lucky to get half the miles out of the tires!  Also, the tires won’t be your only problem.

Let’s connect what an effective breathing technique for hitting a baseball means to hitters…

World renowned strength and conditioning coach Brett Jones says this about “anatomical” versus “biomechanical” breathing in a post titled, “How Your Breathing Relates to Your Movement”:

“Anatomical breathing match refers to the natural matching of the inhalation and exhalation with extension and flexion of the spine/body. Extension facilitates inhalation and flexion facilitates exhalation. As the body gets compressed (flexion) exhalation dissipates the pressure and extension assists in opening the thoracic area to assist in inhalation. In addition, anatomical breathing can be used in stretching where the exhale is used to enhance the relaxation into a stretch.

Whereas, in the biomechanical breathing match we flip those actions. Inhaling to increase the intra-abdominal pressure during flexion and exhaling to improve muscular action and stability during extension. Biomechanical breathing match is key to being able to handle loads through the body during performance. During a dead-lift, kettle-bell swing or a kettle-bell military press the biomechanical breathing match allows us to amp up our strength and stability.”

The video above demonstrates this biomechanical breathing technique for hitting a baseball.  I’ve had quite a few of you ask about this, so here you go!  The description says the above YouTube video is about…

“Identifying and correcting low back extension loading issues through the correct sequence of breathing. If we can get our athletes to breath better across all movements and under load, performance will improve.”

Dr. Mark Cheng, one of my many favorite strength and conditioning coaches, says:

“When you truly own a movement pattern, strain isn’t part of the picture.”

There are a couple other resources I’d be estupido not to mention that plays right into improving breathing technique for hitting a baseball:

The above video is only 3-min and 41-secs, so there won’t be any breathing technique for hitting a baseball notes.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the REPLY section below this post…

Move better, perform better.  Enjoy!

If You Don’t Switch To Small Private Group Hitting Sessions Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

 

Learn how to build more effective hitting groups, make more money, charge clients less, and have more time with your family.  In this post, I’ll be addressing the following reader question…

“How do you have hitting drills in a small time window?” (Good for teams or individual instructors)

Here’s what we’ll be talking about in this video:How To Teach Hitting Drills in a Small Window

  • Theory of Constraints (what’s most important?),
  • Small Private Group Structure, and
  • Pro’s and Con’s

 

Theory of Constraints (what’s most important?)

  • My story: a MUST change to small private group sessions (2-6 hitters)
  • Supply & Demand: I didn’t want to raise prices per hitter (the fitness “boot camp” model)
  • What’s important to you? Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Connection, Contribution, Growth

 

75-min Small Private Group Structure

  • Dynamic Warmup (10 to 15-mins)
  • Beginning Ball Exit Speeds, swing recording & analysis (10-15 mins) – I use a PocketRadar
  • Stations (40-mins):
    • 1) Mechanical work off tee, soft toss, LIVE (with me),
    • 2) Over-Under load training (switching stations is based off this one),
    • 3) LIVE whiffle ball – slow pitching, hunting zones, controlling verticals, controlling horizontals
  • Ending Ball Exit Speeds & Review Questions (5-mins)

 

Pros and Cons to Small Private Group Hitting

  • Pros:
    • Help more hitters in small amount of time
    • More money in pocket of instructor, customer pays less for overall time
    • Each hitter gets their specific mechanical things to work on
    • Breeds a naturally competitive environment
    • Older players mentor, younger become mentees (their standard gets raised)
    • Learn teamwork, leadership, taking and receiving feedback, etc.
  • Cons
    • Can be hard for hitters used to individual lessons
    • Lose one-on-one touch with instructor
    • Not as much time to chit-chat (some players love to do this!)

 

Here’s what we talked about in this video:

  • Theory of Constraints (what’s most important?),
  • Small Private Group Structure, and
  • Pro’s and Con’s

This model isn’t perfect, so I would love to hear your advice on what’s worked for those who are already doing this (and what doesn’t), and welcome any questions or comments below the “Reply” section… (thanks in advance!!!)

At Last, The Secret To Motivating Players Is Revealed

In this post, we’ll address the following popular reader question…

“How to coach lowly motivated players?”

What follows is an excerpt from my highly rated book on Amazon with 25 book reviews – average 4.8 star rating, The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary

Section 1, Chapter 12: KNOWLEDGE: Motivating The Elephant

FOUR Fool-Proof Ways to Unlock an Athlete’s Communication Style

From the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA), I wanted to share with you four categories of player ability and temperament.  These are keys to igniting player motivation:

  1. Low motivation-low skill,
  2. Low motivation-high skill,
  3. High motivation-low skill, and
  4. High motivation-high skill.

Learning these guidelines will allow you to understand and communicate more effectively with each of your players, or setting them up in similar learning groups.

Low motivation-low skill – DIRECT

This type of player probably never played the sport before, or not very long.  How do you appeal to this type of player?  By being direct with your instruction, and having a purposeful direction for them.  If you come across this type of athlete on your team at about the 10-12+ year old mark, then a good solution would be to refer them out to a trusted private instructor to “catch them up to speed”.

Low motivation-high skill – INSPIRE

These players may find themselves at the top of your lineup, but may be a part of the hyper-parenting trap.  They may be out there to please mom or dad.  These players need to be put on a pure praise-for-effort diet (“you put a lot of hard work into that”, “great work”).

Whereas before they may have been getting praise-for-effort’s evil twin: praise-for-intellect (“you’re so smart” or “you’re so talented”).

Praise for effort will make all the difference.  John Medina said one study showed how a scientist once got a chicken to turn the pages of a book – like he was reading it – by using continuous praise-for-effort.  True story!

Actively inspire and encourage them.

High motivation-low skill – GUIDE

This is the “Rudy” of the team.  You remember the movie Rudy right?  If not, then rent and watch it on Netflix.  There usually aren’t too many of these, but when you have one, consider yourself lucky because they can inspire YOU and a whole team.

Another movie you can watch to further drill the idea is Radio with Cuba Gooding Jr.

One year when we played Stanford they had an honorary-player resembling the character Warren from the movie Something About Mary.  He wore headphones everywhere he went during batting practice.  At times, we had to protect him from batted balls when he was on our side.  I thought this “player’s” inclusion said A LOT about Stanford’s program.

I’m not saying seek out kids with Developmentally Delayed Syndrome for your team, the preceding were just examples.  You know what I mean.

Use guidance and goal setting with your Rudys.  Get them to improve their skills through baby steps and tracking.

High motivation-high skill – DELEGATE

These are fun players to watch.  And you won’t have many of them, they’re kind of an anomaly.  They’re ones you don’t have to worry about on the field.  With these players you want to make them a part of the decision making process.  Practice drills, lineup creations, etc.  Assign them to be the bridge between players and coaches.  Seriously listen and consider their feedback.

They may be the Team Captains, the highest honor of any team.  Think of Derek Jeter from the Yankees and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox.  These players are held to a higher standard, and represent the team on and off the field.  But make sure they make good decisions both on and off the field.  They MUST be a role model.

Some are leaders-by-example, and some are more ‘rah-rah’ in nature.  I was a leader by example.  I didn’t like being a cheerleader in front of the whole team all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Every player will be wired differently.

I hope these four fool-proof ways help unlock your Athletes’ communication styles:

  1. Low motivation-low skill,
  2. Low motivation-high skill,
  3. High motivation-low skill, and
  4. High motivation-high skill.

 

Grab Your Copy of The Science Of Sticky Coaching Book on Amazon Now…

 

Take 30-minutes To Get Started With Becoming A “Sticky” Super Coach…You’ll Be Happy You Did!

 

This is Part-1 to the Facebook LIVE conversation I recently had with Bill Masullo, who is the Co-Owner and Senior Baseball Instructor at the Ultimate Edge @ Goodsports.  The subject of this interview is complimentary to a recent post I did titled, “Why Fortnite May Be Dangerous To Building Hitters Who Crush”HEADS UP: there’s some unwanted mic feedback to Bill’s audio when he speaks, should be fixed for the next go-round, our apologies.

Below are some highlighted notes I took for you…

  • At the 3:00 mark, address the question of delayed v. instant gratification, in Fortnite you “earn” levels – you can’t “buy” your way to the next level (this is a plus of the game), best athletes or any other successful people in the world are better at delayed gratification.
  • At the 6:20 mark, mentioned Bryan Eisenberg’s book, Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It, talked about the Stanford Marshmallow Study, talked about the University of Rochester twist to the Stanford Mashmallow Study adding in a credible v. not-credible source.
  • At the 11:15 mark, should we “ban” Fortnite, video game aggression studies in the book Pre-Suasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, aggression ONLY comes out on 1-on-1 video game play – not on team game play, “earning” success in Fortnite is great, but success can happen so fast in a video game whereas the physical part of learning a motor skill can take more time, above v. below v. average learn-ability, the difference between doing the right things (being effective) and doing those things right (being efficient), working 4-days per week for at least 5-mins per day.
  • At the 17:45 mark, understand the “reward” is that the movement is correct, difference in feedback we give to a younger hitter versus an older more seasoned hitter, mentioned Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, Goldilock’s Golden Rule to giving feedback to hitters, mentioned Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor, positive v. negative behavioral conditioning, when learning something new start with more feedback when they do the movement semi-correctly, and as they get cleaner with the movement, back off the feedback (still give it), but sprinkle in, move to rewarding the BEST movement executions.
  • At the 27:47 mark, Bill was teasing Part-2 of this interview about the effect playing video games and being on the mobile has on the young athlete’s posture and how that in turn effects their swing, “sitting” is the next “smoking”, and lastly WHY should we as coaches care about this.

Stay tuned for Part-2, and before I let you go…

ASK THE EXPERTS: Jeremy Frisch, Taylor Gardner, & Matt Nokes Cover The Shocking Mistakes Killing Your Swing 

Let’s start this party off with Mr.,

Jeremy Frisch – Owner of Achieve Performance

Jeremy Frisch is owner of Achieve Performance training in Clinton Massachusetts and former assistant strength and conditioning coach at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Massachusetts. Jeremy’s focus is on long-term athlete development where he works with children as young a 5 years of age up through college level athletes.

He’ll answer the following question I often get from my readers…

“What is an effective way to strengthen a swing, say mechanics are good but need more body strength for speed?”

Believe it or not, improving strength in the young athlete is easier than one might think. Young athletes need nothing more than their own body-weight or medicine ball to get stronger. When I train an young athlete’s I am looking at doing 4 exercises.

  1. Total body exercise
  2. Upper Body exercise
  3. Torso exercise
  4. Lower body exercise
Total body Exercise

In my opinion the bear crawl is one of the best all around total body exercises a young athlete can do. The bear crawl improves coordination, trains stability of the core and shoulder girdle and strengthens the lower body all at the same time. The bear crawl can be done in multiple directions, distances and speeds. Because of the difficulty of the exercise young athletes often fatigue quickly therefore very short distances should be used like 10-15 yards at a slow pace.

Upper body exercise

My go to exercise for training the upper body is so simple that many coaches don’t believe me. The exercise is simple: the bar hang. Hang from a chin-up bar or monkey bars with the arms straight for as long as possible. Develops unbelievable strength from the grip through the shoulder and core, not to mention develops mental toughness because the kids can always dig a little deeper and hold on for a few more seconds. Climbing and hanging is a long lost art in children’s lives. Maybe if kids were a bit stronger and more agile in the upper bodies these days we would see less elbow and shoulder injuries.

Torso Exercise

The medicine ball is a fantastic tool for developing rotation power needed to throw and swing a bat. A medicine ball and a brick wall makes a perfect combination to develop a powerful swing. The athlete stands sideways in a stance similar to their batting stance rotate the ball back and using a motion similar to a swing, throw the ball off the wall as hard as possible. Aim for both sides 3-5 sets of 6-8 repetitions

Lower Body Exercise

One of the best and most affordable ways to develop great leg strength and as a bonus speed , running form and all around conditioning are hill sprints. Look to find a steep hill 15-25 yards long and sprint up full speed. The key with hill sprints is to make sure the athlete has the appropriate rest between sets. Too many coaches use hill sprints as a torture device to punish their athletes. All that does is make them tired slow and miserable. Baseball is a game of speed and power and hill sprints can develop that speed and power in the lower body. Each sprint should be followed with a slow walk down the hill followed by at least a minute to 1:30 rest. Look to get 10-15 full speed reps with good rest per workout 2 x per week.

You can see more of what Jeremy is doing at the following places:

 

Taylor Gardner – Co-Founder of The Backspin Batting Tee

Taylor Gardner is an Edison Award Winning Inventor of the Back-Spin Tee, who currently has the biggest social media following of any batting product in the world. With the help of his brother, former professional player and coach, he was able to break into the Major League Hitting World by bringing simple physics to the minds of many players and coaches. Now working across the world, Taylor is expanding his product line and instruction to bust the game’s biggest myths.

He’ll answer the following question I often get from my readers…

“Of all the issues you cover on hitting mechanics, what 2 do you consider to be the most compelling for most hitters?”

Of all the hitting mechanics that I have had the privilege of learning and teaching, there are two that stand out the most.

  1. The element of the stride in relation to getting on time and its importance into the weight shift, and
  2. The mechanism of lining the shoulders on path with the incoming pitch.
The Stride

The stride portion of the swing has seen many variations and is a highly talked about subject. I see a lot of hitters performing their style of a stride, but few seem to understand how to simplify the stride mechanism without destroying other vital parts of the swing. The stride itself is a combination of a step, and a weight shift…That’s what makes it a stride. If you simply reach your front foot forward with no regard for weight shift, it is a step, and practically adding another movement to the swing making your swing take longer than necessary.

I see a lot of young hitters believe that they are late on a ball because they reach their foot out, then weight shift, then attempt to align to the ball, and then swing. Yes, after doing all those movements, they are late…BUT…it’s because they started too soon!

During the stride a hitter can weight shift, and align their bodies to the pitch (yes, even getting into an advantageous position of lag) all in sync. Once the hitter lands all they must do is swing from there. It cuts the timeline down tremendously. Hitters can track the ball deeper than they ever had before and still take a powerful swing without sacrificing their rhythm or connected movements.

Think of how a quarterback throws a pass, or for the matter- a pitcher throwing a ball. They do a lot of great movements during their stride phase, so that when they land, they can simply “throw”. We like to call it “Land-throw timing” or “Land-swing timing” for the hitters.

Lining the Shoulders

Lining the shoulders on the ball is the second mechanism I see that a lot of hitters could benefit from learning more about. Yes, you can begin to get your shoulders lined up to the pitch during your stride phase, but to be more in depth, even if your stride doesn’t put you on perfect timing with the pitch (and most hitters are slightly early even on their best hits), you still must get your shoulders lined up to the pitch to stay on path for contact.

The barrel of the bat will be parallel to the shoulder plane at contact when done correctly. HOWEVER, this is where I see players and coaches trying to get on plane TOO SOON! If you drop your barrel on what seems to be on path early in the swing (Sounds like a good thing right?), but are unable to complete your weight shift/stride, or even track the ball long enough to decide where to swing, you will leave a huge hole in your swing that pitchers can pitch around.

I take some blame for this whole “Launch Angle” Revolution. My product was the first to talk about the importance of launch angles, and since, we have seen many people take our Trademark – “On Path, Bottom Half” to the extremes. You want to be on path with the pitch coming in, hitting the bottom half of the ball ON TIME. On time isn’t just hitting ball to center field, it also stands for

  • Shifting your weight on time,
  • Lining your shoulders on time, and
  • Releasing the energy into the bat on time.

Not early, and certainly not late. I understand hitting a baseball or softball is the single hardest thing to do in sports, however if you do not continue to understand the simple timing elements that lead to an appropriate swing, we will accidentally continue to make hitting a ball even harder than it already is.

You can stay up to date on what Taylor and the Backspin Tee are doing at the following places:

 

Matt Nokes – Founder of One Hitting Solution

Matt Nokes coaching “Around The Zone” Soft Toss

Matt Nokes is a 10-year MLB Veteran, playing for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.  In that time he was a Silver Slugger Award Winner and All-Star Catcher.  Since then he’s been working hard helping hitters as the founder of his company ONE HITTING SOLUTION.  

For over 20 years as a hitting coach he’s been researching and finding out what transforms hitters 99 out of 100 times, he’s developed 12 simple natural hitting Rules, Action Steps, Do’s NOT Don’ts, that he calls the 12 Touchstones because they’re the rehearsals that bring to the surface only the relevant “In The Zone Feelings”.

No more random adjustments 50 times a day fiddling with your mechanics. This program is a 6-week transformational reset suppressing all the clutter, myths and half truths you’ve learned over the years from coaches, parents and now YouTube.

The bottom line is these 12 Touchstones solve 99 out of 100 problems before they ever come up.  You become intentional and take action in the form of rehearsals that weave a triple braided chord of:

  1. Brutally efficient.
  2. Laser focused hitting mindset with the true MLB Plan as the proper context and perspective.
  3. Timing – the 3rd and final chord wrapped tight around the other 2 skill sets.

The glue holding all 3 together to execute your only mandate: Never Miss Your Pitch.  Click Here:   But first watch this short powerful video to give you an idea for what’s in store for you and you’ll be given the opportunity to schedule a FREE Strategy Call with Matt Nokes.

In this post, Matt Nokes answers the following question I often get from my readers…

“Of all the issues you cover on hitting mechanics what 2 do you consider to be the most compelling for most hitters?”

On the most primitive level, if you’re going to express timing with one physical mechanical expression it would be transferring into the ball on time. You can’t separate your weight shift from your swing [that’s called quitting], so it’s critical if you want to develop properly you need to learn to coordinate your stride and transfer.

The 1st way I’d practice getting your weight into the ball is by learning the basic movement of the “step to swing”. You can use a tee without a ball for a point to aim at but it’s good to begin rehearsing the movement without the distraction of whether you hit the ball hard or not.  Hitting the ball at this point is irrelevant.

You want to learn the movement first and then begin adding variables.  If you decide to NOT use a tee, make sure you visualize where the ball would be and don’t let your eyes wander.  You body follows your head but your head follows your eyes and if your eyes are wandering then you’re in trouble, and will most likely wobble in your rotation.

The 2nd way is adding the performance variable using a tee with the “Tall and Fall” drill:

 

The 3rd way would be to add a measure of timing. Once you’ve coordinated your stride and transfer then any soft toss drill will add a some more variables for timing but it’ll be easy enough for your automatic mind to handle without much trouble:

  1. Swinging across your face. Crossing your face is a swing rehearsal cue that ensures you don’t pull your head.  The alternative is to chase your face, and if you do that you’ll be pulling off the ball without much success. Swinging across your face may be the most powerful way to stay on the ball, direct your energy into a fine point and keep the ball fair on the inside pitch.
  2. What are your favorite drills to hit off speed pitches?
My best advice on hitting the curve-ball…Don’t miss the fastball

That sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The best hitters are always ready for the fastball don’t miss it.  Frank Robinson [Hall of Fame] changed the course of my career by teaching me the MLB Plan and a big part of it was never missing the fastball. Frank went on to say “you show me a good curve-ball hitter and I’ll show you a guy with a slow bat.

Ok now that we have that mindset on the books, let’s talk about hitting the off speed pitch.  First you need to practice good timing but without going too deep into timing philosophy there’s a few good ideas and rules to follow along with some solid methods for practicing…

Slow pitch in the batting cages.

A great place to start for hitting off speed pitches is also one of the most convenient places to start and that’s in an automatic batting cage [in the slowest cage].

Most young hitters have trouble hitting in the slow cages because they’ve never been taught to deal with all the timing variables and they’re often discouraged when they have trouble, but they give up before they learn how to let the ball travel.  It’s a mindset and a good way to think of a slow pitch is how you’d hit in slow pitch soft ball.

Trust me…Timing is a skillset that is easily taught but it’s counterintuitive because it’s not a popular topic in the mainstream hitting community.  It’s more popular to say timing can NOT be taught…but that’s a myth.

Seeing the ball up is another cue for hitting the off speed and helps you visualize the trajectory of a potential off speed pitch, so you can still look fastball but won’t freeze on the strike curve-ball. One of the first obstacles to overcome is understanding what causes hitters to vapor lock or freeze on the curve ball.

The higher release point of a “strike curveball” often freezes hitters  because it appears to look like a fastball thrown so high that the hitter immediately quits on it right as it’s released from the pitcher.

Now when a hitter is looking for a normal fastball between the waste and knees and gets a curveball in the dirt, they don’t automatically freeze on a ball in the dirt because it initially looks like a fastball. By the time you recognize it’s a curveball its usually too late and you’re feeling “I can still hit this”.

If you see the ball up you’re able to look for your fastball [you can always adjust down on a fastball] but by looking up the only curveball that’ll look good is the hanging strike curve-ball that usually makes you freeze early in the count.

 

Finally, there’s the technique I call one of the “Touchstones” called “Buying time”

Buying time involves going out and getting the ball by getting deeper into your legs, which gives the ball more time to travel into your hitting bubble within your reach.

Every 7/1000th of a second the ball travels a foot, so if you’re off 21/1000th of a second the ball is traveling 3 feet.  So buying time by falling deeper into your legs before you hit, gives the ball a little time to get closer, and your lower center of gravity allows you to access your farthest reach without leaking if you execute the “Touchstone” correctly.

Either way, you often have to go out and get the ball farther out front without interrupting the flow of your land swing timing.

You can see more of what Matt Nokes is doing at the following places:

But before I let you go…

The Ugly Truth About Video Gaming, What It Means To The Youth Hitting Industry, & How To Fix…

 

Literally taken by surprise, I was SHOCKED to learn…

…how many of my hitters – mostly male – are obsessed with Fortnite.  No, “Fortnite” isn’t an old English term used to describe a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks).  That’s “fortnight”.  I’m talking about “Fortnite”, the video game that beautiful young ladies around the country are taking steps to do the following

For those who don’t know, what’s the “thing” with Fornite?  According to Wikipedia:

Photo courtesy: Fortnite Gameplay Trailor via GameSpot (YouTuber)

“Fortnite is a co-op sandbox survival game…Fortnite is set in contemporary Earth, where the sudden appearance of a worldwide storm causes 98% of the world’s population to disappear, and zombie-like creatures rise to attack the remainder.”

When I survey all my hitters about how long they play Fortnite in a day, I get answers all over the board, from zero to 6-8 hours in a day (on their day off).  Dang!  On average, it seems 1-2 hours is “normal” daily play time.  My sample size includes age 8 all the way up to Junior High and High School athletes (about a 50/50 age mix)!

Why should a coach care? 

Because of behavioral conditioning: delayed versus instant gratification.

As you may have noticed, video games have changed since we were younger.  They’re more sophisticated.  More sticky.  More addictive.  And studies show, have a similar effect on the brain as Methamphetamine.  During video game play, the brain is quickly and consistently being showered (rewarded) by the feel good chemical dopamine.

Don’t believe me?  Check out the book by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover titled, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.  Can you see where I’m going with this?

The challenge to coaches and parents is video gaming will eventually take over physical sports, if we aren’t proactive.  WHY?  Compared to what the video gaming experience can offer youth athletes, learning a new physical motor skill can take too dang long!!  Don’t worry, I’m not calling for a ban of Fortnite…my hitters would KILL ME!  Just a little strategic behavioral conditioning.  Delayed gratification is the answer, and rest assured, it can be learned and trained.  We’ll get into how to do that soon.  But first, let’s learn about marshmallows…

 

The Marshmallow Study

If you haven’t already, check out the above video reenactment of the 1960’s Stanford Marshmallow Study.  It’s cute to watch the internal struggle, alone in a room, of a 4 or 5 year old leaving a single soft squishy off-white sugar explosion in your mouth marshmallow, in anticipation of a second one, if they can wait 15-mins.

The interesting thing wasn’t so much the physical study, but the effect after the study.  Over the course of 40-years after the original study.  They tracked the kids from school to their work lives, and as it relates to delayed versus instant gratification, how things turned out for them was fascinating.

What brought the idea of delayed versus instant gratification to my attention was a fantastic book by my friend Bryan Eisenberg titled, Be Like Amazon: Even A Lemonade Stand Can Do It.  In the book, Bryan references the Marshmallow Study and connects the dots to great business people being experts in delayed gratification (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as an example).

Furthermore…

CLICK HERE for a great article by James Clear about the Marshmallow Study, and developing the fine art of delayed gratification.  You can read the article.  Links to many of the original studies are in his post.  I’ll just pick out the interesting points for our purposes.  First, here are the benefits found in kids with better delayed gratification skills:

“The children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures.”

This is pretty cool, but there was a slightly modified version of the Marshmallow Study at the University of Rochester.  And I think it provides more insight for us coaches…

Before offering the child the marshmallow, the researchers split the children into two groups.

The first group was exposed to a series of unreliable experiences. For example, the researcher gave the child a small box of crayons and promised to bring a bigger one, but never did. Then the researcher gave the child a small sticker and promised to bring a better selection of stickers, but never did.

Meanwhile, the second group had very reliable experiences. They were promised better crayons and got them. They were told about the better stickers and then they received them.”

…The children in the unreliable group had no reason to trust that the researchers would bring a second marshmallow and thus they didn’t wait very long to eat the first one.

Meanwhile, the children in the second group were training their brains to see delayed gratification as a positive. Every time the researcher made a promise and then delivered on it, the child’s brain registered two things: 1) waiting for gratification is worth it and 2) I have the capability to wait. As a result, the second group waited an average of four times longer than the first group.”

 

Are we Born with Delayed v. Instant Gratification?

I know what you may be thinking, “Can delayed gratification be taught?”  Here’s the whopper conclusion…

…the child’s ability to delay gratification and display self-control was not a predetermined trait, but rather was impacted by the experiences and environment that surrounded them. In fact, the effects of the environment were almost instantaneous. Just a few minutes of reliable or unreliable experiences were enough to push the actions of each child in one direction or another.”

Did you catch that? “…the child’s ability to delay gratification and display self-control WAS NOT A PREDETERMINED TRAIT…”.  Here’s the takeaway…

“…you can train yourself to become better simply by making a few small improvements. In the case of the children in the study, this meant being exposed to a reliable environment where the researcher promised something and then delivered it.

…We can train our ability to delay gratification…by promising something small and then delivering. Over and over again until your brain says, 1) yes, it’s worth it to wait and 2) yes, I have the capability to do this.”

James Clear offered these four steps:

  1. Start incredibly small. Make your new habit “so easy you can’t say no.”
  2. Improve one thing, by one percent. Do it again tomorrow.
  3. Use the “Seinfeld Strategy” to maintain consistency (focus on the process, not the performance).
  4. Find a way to get started in less than 2 minutes.

Instant gratification and Fortnite are the devil to youth sports participation!!!  Doesn’t mean we should ban video games.  But it does mean we coaches and parents MUST be more proactive with teaching solid delayed gratification principles.  Besides the 4-steps James Clear offered above, what does this look like with today’s young athletes?  Check out the following two posts titled,

The last thing I want to leave you with is this…

Whether you’re getting hitting information from me or someone else, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE teach human movement principles that are validated by REAL science, NOT because-I-said-so “bro-science”.  Opinions ARE NOT facts.  In this day and age of video gaming and the allure of instant gratification, there’s NO ROOM for hitting “opinion”.  One of my readers summed it up, short and sweet…

But before I let you go…

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…