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Bat Tee Interview

Backspin Bat Tee Co-Founder Interview: If One Of The Best, Mike Trout, Is Giving Up An Average 20-mph Of Ball Exit Speed, How Much Do Mere Mortals Give Up Doing The Same Thing?

 

Here are the Backspin bat tee co-founder interview with Taylor Gardner topics that we discussed:

  • What do bat tee adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?Bat Tee Interview
  • True or False: Hitters MUST straighten their front leg to be effective…
  • What if hitters used a more precision approach like golfers when operating between 90-degrees?
  • Instead of writing off the arm bar as it doesn’t work, why not ask how can it work?
  • Is there ever a time when ‘swing down’ or ‘barrel above the hands’ bat tee cues can work?
  • If one of the best, Mike Trout, is giving up 20-mph of ball exit speed, how much do mere mortals give up doing the same thing?
  • Where can people find more about you Backspin bat tee guys?

The following is the bat tee transcription of the video above.  This is a sneak peak at the expert interviews we’ll be including in Volume-2 of the Swing Smarter book series.  Enjoy!

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Joey Myers  00:07

There he is.

Taylor Gardner  00:09

Oh,

Joey Myers  00:10

You hear me? Okay.

Taylor Gardner  00:12

Oh, yeah!

Joey Myers  00:13

Oh, there’s the baby. You got that mixed up? I don’t think that’s supposed to go in your mouth.

Taylor Gardner  00:21

Probably should.

Joey Myers  00:24

Look at you.

Taylor Gardner  00:26

Yeah.

Joey Myers  00:27

Causing your parents so much so many sleepless nights.

Taylor Gardner  00:30

Yeah, momma needed a shower time and dad had an interview here.

Joey Myers  00:38

Double interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:40

Yeah. Oh my

Joey Myers  00:45

Look at that, first time I think we’ve done a zoom interview.

Taylor Gardner  00:49

Oh it has been working out, better adjust my camera?

Joey Myers  00:55

No, I think you’re good. What do you need to adjust?

Taylor Gardner  00:57

All I was going to bring it down a little bit. I think I always fall down.

Joey Myers  01:01

Yeah, I think you’re good. Okay. Are you ready? Let me do the official bat tee start. Hello and welcome to Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter. This is your host Joey Myers from HittingPerformanceLab.com and probably for the half a dozenth interview. I have Taylor Gardner here from Backspin Bat Tee. Welcome to the show. Taylor looks like you brought a little friend.

Taylor Gardner  01:26

That’s right. Yes. Yeah. She has been influenced by any good or bad and…

Joey Myers  01:37

there. There we go. You froze for a little bit. Say it again? Say No. So, she’s been influenced by what?

Taylor Gardner  01:46

I said. No, we got we got a fresh template here. She hasn’t had any good or bad instruction to start working with this.

Joey Myers  01:54

Yeah, yeah. Tie the right arm behind your back and… is your brother? Is he lefty? Or is he righty?

Taylor Gardner  02:03

He’s a switch hitter. You can do both.

Joey Myers  02:05

He does both. But what about throwing? Is he a righty?

Taylor Gardner  02:07

He’s righty.

Joey Myers  02:09

Okay, cool. Well, hey, I wanted to get you on the on the other side of the screen here and wanted to talk about making bat tee adjustments. So that we could go into the hitting side we could go into the strategy side we can go into any different things. So, what do adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?

 

What do bat tee adjustments mean to you when it comes to talking to your hitters?

Taylor Gardner  02:30

The adjustment is, must be understood and adjustment is something if a hitter is already attempting to be on time, it’s really hard to make adjustments if you’re not in the time window to start with. If you’re going up there to hit and you’re just purely reacting your adjustments are also reacting maybe even twice as long or twice as late as they should be.

Taylor Gardner  02:56

Within the understanding that people were syncing up release point we have the timing window of the pitch coming in. Maybe we’re sitting on fastball and all sudden we a pitcher throws a changeup, and whether you recognize the spin or the speed or the trajectory angle, whether an off-speed pitch, what do you do?

Taylor Gardner  03:15

Well, if your plan was there to help you your approach is there to help you not hurt you, so within your plan or approach if you’re on time for fastball, and oh no it’s an off-speed pitch. What do you do? Well, easy answer is, you don’t stop your swing. I know we get told a lot of wait, let that curveball get a lot deeper. Now we’re talking about changing depths and it’s really hard to change depths of timing on the fly. So as instead of being reactive to making your adjustment proactive and making your adjustment one thing that my baby down actually brought a bat here to show you…

Joey Myers  03:55

Use the baby as a bat…how cute she is.

Taylor Gardner  04:02

One thing that we see a lot with hitters. He was left-handed here. I do apologize. Is they’re sideways, they’re pretty lined up with a pitcher in some fashion bat tee stance, and then we start to ride and stride as they start to witness that. Okay, this ball isn’t a perfect fastball down the middle. What do I do?  Well, we see them not only continue to take their head and posture to the ball, but you see a lot of hitters start turn in and sit with the ball.

Taylor Gardner  04:33

As opposed to going uh oh, I’m a little early, let me pull out and then have to release my arms and hands to hopefully start to see hitters actually sit with that ball. Then because, you sit, any movement takes time. And if the plane is correct, you’re on time for the pitchers fastest pitch and then if you’re making an adjustment is to bite. This is where a lot of young hitters especially they don’t do a good job of buying time.

Taylor Gardner  05:00

They end up staying on their backside and opening up too soon and all they have left is like it with their own risk. And yeah, you can hit a ball and do that, and you probably get on base and feel good about yourself. But the faster you know that speed starts to go up and level and the more drastic change of off speed, you get a 90 mile an hour fastball and 80-mph changeup. That’s a little different than facing a 75 mile an hour fastball and 70 mile change-up.

Taylor Gardner  05:27

As a pitcher supposed to extend those timelines, adjustments and variables, the hitters have to as well. The ability to be ready for the fastest pitch and also be able to buy time while staying in a good posture position on the ball is something that we see really good hitters do and you know, quite frankly, amateur hitters don’t do as well.  Oh, sure at some level. Yeah, won’t be a good fastball hitter.  Every great hitter is known to be a great fastball hitter.

Taylor Gardner  05:55

If you’re looking off speed looking for that, that slow curveball every fast ball is going to beat you. On the timeline you got to be prepared for the pitches, pitchers fastest pitch as the fastest timeline. Therefore, your plan is there to help. Yeah, he’s going to be perfect every time, well of course not, it’s baseball. It’s tough. But at least the plan was in place to help you be on time for fastball and buy time for off speed.

Taylor Gardner  06:23

For example, this last weekend, my nephew, faced his first knuckleballer. 13 years old didn’t know this pitcher had a knuckleball it wasn’t his main pitch, so you know first at bat I don’t know hit a fastball for double, second a bat gets a strike or two on him a ball or two and then all the sudden, whack!  He hits a single, steals second base eventually gets to third base and the coach at third goes, “good job Maverick you know you really sat well in your legs on that change up”, he goes “wasn’t a changeup coach, it was knuckleball”. He goes, “Oh, when did you realize it was a knuckleball?”  “After I hit it!”

Taylor Gardner  06:59

It reminded me that he took a good plan to the plate, ready for fastball he happened to adjust instinctively to this crazy knuckleball, but it was more about controlling this contact depth. I’m not quitting on my swing. Did he sit more in his legs, sure.  Did he have a locked out-front leg? No. But he found a way to keep his spinal engine and posture on the ball. By the time he pulled the trigger. Sure, the ball got a little deeper, he barreled it up, he got a good hit out of it. At the end of the day, it didn’t fool him, this random pitch that he really has never seen, didn’t make him react and freeze.

Taylor Gardner  07:36

It didn’t make him react it to slow down and touch it, his reaction was to stay on the ball and give it a chance. And it sounds easy to do until you start seeing a pitch come flying at your body. For us older coaches that aren’t playing anymore, I think sometimes we forget that. There’s a little fear involved. And so, a good plan leads to good adjustments. And sometimes knowing how to get over that fear or filter out your situation really helps that plan starts to stick together better.

Taylor Gardner  07:57

And therefore, those bat tee adjustments really become valuable. As far as other types of adjustments. And that was one type of sitting in your legs, other types of adjustments. We’ve seen Mike Trout sit in his legs; we’ve also seen him bend over a little more at his waist a little side tilt. That’s another way of buying time. Adjustments to me, in our world is a place to buy time, every movement takes time. But unless you’re ready to line your posture up for the ball on time to begin with, adjustments are just going to slow you down. You’ve got to make sure those adjustments are there to help you not hurt you.

Joey Myers  08:48

Well, you said a couple bat tee things that would blow a couple people’s minds they were listening to this… number one is sitting on your backside and swinging from that position number one, and number two, that you don’t have to straighten out your front leg that you can keep that bent. And I love that and that’s something that I’ve learned from you and your brother and Matty, Matty Nokes that the legs really set direction like the lower half basically sets directional force, it does contribute to some of the power.

Joey Myers  09:16

And we’ve learned discussions on that over the last couple of years saying you know, probably between 20 and 30%, it probably contributes to the power of the overall power thing. But the idea that you can use your knees bending your knees at front knee to adjust to pitch height like those are bat tee adjustments that we can make that if you’re from a train of thought that says you have to straighten it you have to brace that leg out, right, I mean that’s really not… We’re trying to like you said buy time.

 

True or False: Hitters MUST straighten their front leg to be effective

Taylor Gardner  09:46

Right. Speaking while the bracing the front leg, the front leg can obviously we can see it YouTube it, Google it. Now of course you can hit with a straight front leg and even sitting in your legs may still turn out to be a brace straightening front leg, you still bend your knee and still walk and brace into that front knee.

Taylor Gardner  10:06

But I think a lot of times as coaches and instructors that usually come to… an issue that I’ve seen come around is their teaching to push the leg straight, as opposed to letting the hip pull the leg straight.  Pitchers do a really good job of this, they don’t just land in their front leg and then push straight up.  Is their vertical ground force? Of course, there is.

Taylor Gardner  10:29

Now in hitting though, there may be little more of that vertical into horizontal ground force, it sounds funny to say, but you’re not just going to push up away from the ball every time. Sure, could you get away with it, of course, and there’s nothing wrong if you are on time and you get the barrel to it, great job. But like you like to say Joey, if it happens too much to ignore, I’ll just start paying attention.

Joey Myers  10:52

Yeah, and on that note, that was the one big bat tee thing that I pulled from you, we’ve been friends for probably over 6, 7, 8 years now, was that idea of staying sideways and keeping that back foot from completely turning over. Like a lot of coaches will say pivot that back foot, pivot that back foot, and meaning, that back heel will turn towards home plate. And it’ll continue to keep rotating. And so, I think we’ve developed almost a generation or two of hitters that are over rotating the lower half.

Joey Myers  11:23

And you say, using Matt Nokes’s lingo is stay sideways, stay sideways, I think is a great one.  And to your point, or to our point that it happens too much to ignore, and you can’t just write it off. Some of our buddies in the past have said well, that hitter can do that because he XYZ that hitter can do that because it’s… no it happens if you take the top 100 hitters, 50 hitters, you’ll see half of them stay sideways and maybe the other half, get to this neutral with it. So that happens a little bit too often to be ignored.

Taylor Gardner  11:57

For anyone that’s listening, if you’ve ever played golf and if you haven’t fine taken a baseball bat take it slow, practice golf swing, go YouTube, Rory McElroy, Tiger Woods, anyone you want. Golfers have figured out how to stay sideways with their back foot.  Now, their balls on the ground and it’s generally between them. Like ball being on a bat tee for hitters.  They’re more allowed to buy but positions of contact with golf. However, you’re going to see baseball players do it too. But since the contact point in baseball can be further out front. Sure, you’re going to see that that back foot rotates a little more before contact. I get that told a lot. “Well, look at this hitter.”

Taylor Gardner  12:33

Yes, but look what happened the first 80% of his swing before contact, he was still sideways, he was still… now was he turning his shoulders, was he loading his core, the spiral engine. Sure, but the back foot was still sideways to hit, the back foot ends up becoming a bit of a rudder.  I won’t even take that too literal. But you wouldn’t start with your back foot facing the catcher, you wouldn’t face with your back foot facing the pitcher. There’s a reason, it’s a natural position for the body.

Taylor Gardner  13:05

The ball is thrown in front of us and quite honestly, ball comes in and it is in front and to the side of us.  If you’ve ever swung an axe, it makes sense to shift your weight and leverage up. That’s why we want to have a little more shift, not only for taking your head to the ball and be able to judge depth before moving very good and feeling your depth and putting a nice sense to it.

Taylor Gardner  13:34

But at the same time spinning against my back foot. Step on my dog… [laughs] spinning too soon. Now the ball is essentially to the side and behind us. Not that you can’t hit from here we opened up too soon. My swing’s wanting to go this way, I crossed my face this way, we want to cross our face into contact with the ball. Again, golfers understand this and their balls in front of them. They want to cross the face you don’t want to spin out and then cross their face too late that ends up turning into a slice and anyone who has played golf, probably vouch for that, my goodness I’m spinning off the ball. balls on never fixed.

Joey Myers  14:19

Well, and what I love the golf analogy is because in golf, you have a ridiculously small margin for error, you have we’re talking in hundreds of yards, not hundreds of feet and your little ball that’s got to get hit by this clubface and then the square center center contact with the clubface in the ball the straighter the ball is going to go. You can take that clubface and slightly like a couple of millimeters you can slightly pull it in like you’re going to hook it or slightly away like you’re going to slice it and those little, teeny millimeters by the end of that 200-yard journey is going to be way pull or slice.

Joey Myers  14:55

What I always tell my hitters, I say when we’re teaching this concept of staying sideways and keeping that back foot from over rotating is, we have to play almost like a golfer, where a golfer’s looking at one shot to the pin, I call it one degree of fair territory. And outside of that 359 degrees of foul territory, because in golf, the objective is the least number of strokes to get it in the hole. In baseball, of course, we have 90 degrees to play with, but we want to act like we’re doing like golf, we want to act like there is a smaller margin, and we have to operate within that smaller bat tee margin, right?

What if hitters used a more precision bat tee approach like golfers when operating between 90-degrees?

Taylor Gardner  15:29

Along those lines, that it’s incredible you say that because the whole outside pitches, let it get deep, inside pitchers you’re magically allowed to pull for some reason, we’re talking about different depths there. Where in golf, obviously, the ball’s not moving, but to their benefit, they’re more precise, they have time to get their stance set up, time to adjust their face angle. So yes, maybe we don’t have that luxury in baseball, but we do have the luxury of knowing our contact depth.

Taylor Gardner  15:58

Do I like hitting the ball more? You know, some hitters like hitting the ball more off their front hip, some even further out front, some like hitting it a little deeper, more or middle of the other ball, whatever it is that you are super comfortable. That’s your decision. That’s what you’re going to battle with the best. And, again, based on your timeline. I have a lot of young hitters, and we constantly have to work on reminding them. Where is your preferred contact?

Taylor Gardner  16:29

And not to make them look like robots, but you’ll see them when uh, I don’t know, maybe like right there or up here. It’s like, Oh, you got to know, if you don’t know, you’re guessing, like your close, good job of being on time. We want to be on time with our contact point. This is a lot more precise. And as you know, aim small miss small, it’s may not always show up in baseball, maybe you had a day where you didn’t hit well. But you know what my plan was good. My adjustments were sound. And maybe I was just a little early or tad late, whatever that may be over under the ball.

Taylor Gardner  17:06

But you can sleep well at night knowing, man I had it at 99% today. And you don’t realize how much you haven’t figured out. You start thinking about more precision, besides movements. And then suddenly you go out three years ago, I was going to battle with a 50%. efficiency.  That shocks a lot of hitters and I really do think a lot of good college players get to pro ball and maybe it doesn’t pan out for whatever reason.

Taylor Gardner  17:32

I think a lot of them whether they can say it or not verbiage that happens to a lot of if they get exposed, we get told at every level of baseball, you better swing faster Jerry, you better figure out how to get that faster pitching, you better, have quicker hands, whatever. Of course, we must make those adjustments because we’re being exposed. What if we got ahead of that being exposed?

Taylor Gardner  17:56

I don’t know if you saw the video that I posted on the baseball Illuminati page. I was actually crow hopping of doing run and guns, a nine-year-old ballplayer shuffle stepping out 25 feet in front of them throwing the ball 60-mph our reaction time stupid fast. So never seen anything that fast in their lives. As far as timing wise. And you know what he did? It took him a bit. He filtered it out. He figured out when to go when to shift, how to track the ball.

Taylor Gardner  18:26

And yeah, that ball was getting to him quicker than any pitch he’s ever going to see in baseball. And he started barreling balls up.  Our brain’s a supercomputer y’all know that problem is if that supercomputer is putting in the wrong formula, it’s still going to, there’s still going to be a glitch. You still have to help it out.

Joey Myers  18:44

Shoot, I’d even go another step with the wrong formula and just saying that it’s becoming impossible, or you hear that from coaches? Well, that’s impossible, that’s not going to happen, or that’s not reality, or it’s not going to happen. And instead of saying that something’s not possible, why not ask why? or How can it be possible, right? We’ve talked about the front arm shape and trying to get that thing extended out. Whereas everybody in their mother seems to teach this bent front arm, right.

Joey Myers  19:13

The question that I always get when I put that post out there, people will go well, you know, I’ve tried to test it out and beer league softball and works there, but it doesn’t work in the big leagues and whatnot. And if you go way back, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, all those guys locked out. So instead of saying, oh, that doesn’t work, today’s pitchers throw too hard and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Why not ask how can we make that work? Yes. How does that work? Right?

 

Instead of writing off the arm bar as it doesn’t work, why not ask how can it work?

Taylor Gardner  19:42

What if we made 90 miles an hour feel slower? Nothing’s any easier to hit. But what if? What if it wasn’t impossible.  And clearly, it’s not, people do it every day. It’s not impossible.  I’d like to say maybe the way we’re rationalizing it and maybe even practicing. Maybe we’re not doing our own job as a baseball coach, making, maybe it’s 75 miles. Now, if you’re struggling, maybe that’s what it is, whatever it is get ahead of that curve, not that you’re going to just start jacking home runs. But don’t be late. There’s no excuse for being late. There’s no excuse for not filtering out and understanding your environment.

Taylor Gardner  20:19

Maybe you don’t get to face a live picture every day or practice, that’s fair. I’m sure you have your work cut out for ya. But there’s no reason to get your doors blown off, when you have all of the potential to be as early as you want. Once you’re late, once the ball gets behind your timeline, and it gets behind your back. Pitcher starts in front of us. We as hitters, let ourselves be late. Maybe because we’re trying to do some crazy swing, like, oh, let it get deep and snap it or something, I don’t know.

Taylor Gardner  20:50

But whatever it may be, again, kind of back to the approach and those adjustments. Got to clean that up. And maybe you got to study more time. Maybe you got to study more spinal engine springy fascia and figure out where to get your running position. To your arm bar point… I think a lot of… uh oh, we have a wandering baby…

Joey Myers  21:13

Wait till she starts walking…

Taylor Gardner  21:15

I know I can’t wait!  I understand folding your levers and engaging muscles, getting correct shapes. That makes sense. But when you see arm bar, and it starts to walk out, or to do slow motion. Yeah, looks funky in slow motion to arm bar. When you engage the body and it starts out, it starts to feel a little more natural golfers do the same thing. Luckily for us that in golf, you get to start with it extended and just connected to your body from there.

Taylor Gardner  21:55

But this bat is heavy, I completely understand why people want to hold it close to their body, it is rational. And it’s still close to the body. It’s not like we’re arm barring out here. If you’re still arm barring across our core, this bat is behind you, want lag and you want leverage, leverage, and just loose and lever sometimes, your hands are so close to your body. And even so close this way to the middle of your body. By the time you do a swing, yeah, you’re getting the barrel off your foot. And it may be a strong position depending upon position.

Taylor Gardner  22:34

But if I never got the benefit of the lag, and a clearing, and time to speed up the bat, it takes time to speed up the bat. This is not an instantaneous thing. I know this swing only takes like point two seconds; I get it.  That’s slow through the world of everything happening, there is plenty of time and so that hand, grips on the bat. For most people they’re bottom hand is the weaker hand.  Not doing anything left-handed if I have to. But you want your dominant arm to do his job.

Taylor Gardner  23:09

Not that you have to do it all with a dominant arm. But you certainly don’t want your weaker arm to be your dominant arm. Now, how do you get them in position? Well, as you get a swing, if it happens to lock out, you’re getting the benefit of lag and leverage. How is that wrong? If I understand timing, if I understand off your positions and swing plane. And armbar is nothing in the scheme of arguments. I’m linked into the lever.  If I do it correctly, then of course, I have more leverage and more bat speed.

Taylor Gardner  23:42

But bat speed takes time. And so, when I see a lot of kids, they start here and the lever pull even more on their hands get across the face really soon, elbows way behind their hand and not even close to be slotted. And next thing you know, you’re chopping down or they slice it, and more important, their swing radius and swing arc may only go so far. Versus if I clear, I can get a further reach. And it’d be right within my wheelhouse of comfortability.

Joey Myers  24:13

If we go back to your contact points, right, knowing what your contact points are. When we work with our hitters on what we call our horizontal approach, or our line-to-line approach. Being able to hit the ball the other way, pull it, and go up the middle things like that. We talked about that there are two main things to be aware of… one is what you’ve already said is your contact point. But number two is when that barrel enters the hitting zone.

Joey Myers  24:38

And it’s going to be different for we call middle in and middle away. It’s going to be different. So middle away and middle down. That snapping early getting the barrel in the zone early makes sense. It’s a great middle down of the strike zone middle away approach. But when it comes to middle in the middle up, it doesn’t make sense, and I use those bad cues that I thought were bad about four years ago. Swing down, barrel above the ball, we do use those but only for middle in, middle up.

 

Is there ever a time when ‘swing down’ or ‘barrel above the hands’ cues can work?

Taylor Gardner  25:05

But right. Speaking along those lines… Yes, have you ever had a kid trying out a new baseball bat and Oh man, he’s struggling with the weight or it was too long for him. But that’s some of the stuff you’ve been told, just remember that when this bat is laying horizontal, is heavier, as far as where the balance is. There’s a reason we stack the barrel. And there’s a reason we hold this bat up, you can hold it with one finger.

Taylor Gardner  25:34

That’s how life, if you will, work how to control the bat, Matt Nokes talks about this, why, the barrel above the hands, it’s taken me a while, the feel can be down, in fact there is a down move in the swing, hold your posture. It’s called your head. The balls is below you. Yes, we want to swing on plane. Of course. But how you get to that barrel entering the zone. And before it starts that actual upswing? That is paramount.

Taylor Gardner  26:07

That also was still wrong with the down early method. Yeah, you’ve got there. But did you give up timing, to get to position at contact.  Did you give up adjustments, because your only move is to get there. If you were able to just keep your hands and be ready for that high and inside pitch, as Perry husband would say we get to focus on EV tunnels.

Taylor Gardner  26:34

If I’m ready for that, then great. And then I can always adjust if I need to.  Wait adjustment patterns, that kind of dynamic plan. Not everyone would agree with me on this, but just from a third party perspective, if the high and inside pitch is the ball that we have to get the barrel out there quickest to, it makes sense to me to be on time with that and adjust down and away with that, because you have more time or space, ball is further away from me to do so, obviously, you get in the baseball stuffs like, well, if you’re looking middle middle, and then that gets tougher if you’re looking away if you’re looking wherever.

Taylor Gardner  27:19

I don’t want to get into the approach part of it. But it just makes sense to me that you can practice, play around practicing with looking high and in, get that pitch locked in, and then we’ll work it down to middle middle, get that adjustment pattern locked in. Maybe for some people, it’s not so much that they have to change their approach, maybe they just need to be comfortable getting to all these pitches vertically, you might not have to worry about what my timing is good, I’m swinging at the right pitches, just getting jammed a lot on high.

Taylor Gardner  27:51

Well, maybe it’s just because you’re dumping your barrel too soon.  It’s okay, you got to find where that issue is, and not fight it. But again, let your plan help you get there. The barrel above the hands is a great plan. It helps me already be ready for that movement pattern… sure, maybe you get to that pitch well maybe you’re facing speeds you can handle and you’re struggling with low and away. So maybe you do have to think about releasing that barrel sooner. Okay, nothing wrong with that.

Taylor Gardner  28:23

I would give everyone hesitation to just go out and put out a YouTube video saying this is the one and only way, of course it’s not. But we must understand all of it so that when you hear someone say something, to filter through what they’re saying, you’ll see why he’s doing it, that makes sense.  When you come out and some of these instructors say just one swing plane for every pitch. And if I just wait longer than I can see it longer. We know that’s not exactly be true.  Eyes don’t see the ball much longer just because we’re not swinging.

 

If one of the best, Mike Trout, is giving up 20-mph of ball exit speed, how much do mere mortals give up doing the same thing?

Joey Myers  28:56

Well and what’s also interesting is what the actual hitting operating system is when you can watch somebody, when you have been around the block and you’ve seen a lot of these different teachings, you can see what their main operating system is. And I know you and I were similar in this and we want to maintain high ball exit speeds.

Joey Myers  29:16

When you get a hitting guy that’s talking about a certain thing like hey, we need to get that at high and inside pitch with the bend in the front arm we need to get there, well we know that Perry Husband said Mike Trout, one of the best in the world will go down is one of the best top five probably, ever top five top 10 and down and away average ball exit speed is 101 miles an hour, not his top out but his average. And that’s where he’s locked out with that elbow at contact.

Joey Myers  29:45

And then at up and in, he’s reduced to a high school baseball player at 80 to 83 miles an hour. So he’s losing almost around 20 miles an hour ball exit speed that’s 80 feet. That’s 80 feet of batted ball distance that he’s giving up by looking away and adjusting in. Well, some people go well, that’s fine. But here’s the deal. And this is what I tell my players I say, Mike Trout is a once in a lifetime player. He’s just one of those people that we will look back on when he’s done with his career. And we will say he’s one of the best. One of the best ever is giving up 20 miles an hour ball exit speed.

Joey Myers  29:50

20 miles an hour.

Joey Myers  30:24

You know what the amateurs are probably giving up. 30-35 miles an hour ball exit speed?  He’s one of the best he can get away with it. You’re going to be given up a lot more.

Taylor Gardner  30:34

Yeah. I can’t remember if it was you or someone else had brought to my attention. It was before COVID happened. I think it was the baseball season before. And they asked, who hit their highest exit speed most often? Try and word that correctly. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know. And there’s Jose Altuve. And Aaron Judge. I was like, oh, okay, wow, two different types of hitter’s sizes body length. They said, Oh, you know how often they hit their hardest exit speeds?

Taylor Gardner  31:06

And at first, I’m like, Oh, these big leaguers? Oh, man, I bet 20% of their hits or they’re popping out near their top exit speeds. It was less than 2%. Wow, less than 2% of all of their hits, on miss hits in the realm of hitting is as hard as you can. What does that mean, though? Does that mean maybe they’re slowing their swing down and touching the ball? No, I don’t think so. And in my opinion, obviously get fooled on some pitches. Okay, fine.

Taylor Gardner  31:33

But I think most of their base hits that they reported, I think their miss hits are that powerful. And once you start to realize that homeruns are the best result, okay, but maybe your best result is a hard line shot, single or double, whatever. However hard you get whatever type of hit is your hardest hit, which for most people is a low launch angle, I dunno, maybe 0-5, maybe 10 degrees. And then that makes sense. Balls coming down about 5, 7, 8 degrees.

Taylor Gardner  32:03

And you can imagine that plane, you’re going to give up exit speed when you raise or lower your launch angle. And I see a lot of people don’t understand that. Oh, no. My hardest hits home runs.  Not exactly. I want to say the highest ball ever recorded was a ground ball. Double play.  It’s okay. It’s okay that if your exit speed fluctuates, based on how well you struck that ball for a single, double, triple based on how high or low you hit it, that’s fine. And you want to start tightening those windows up.

Taylor Gardner  32:33

But Backspin tee, you know Taylor, Joey, you can’t control your launch angles, not saying you can control your launch angles. It’s just like I’m not saying you can even hit why I’m saying though, is you can work on the precision of contact and work on your precision posture and swing plane. And when it lines up, you smoke a ball at the pitcher’s head, you did your job. And when the next at-bat, it probably feels the same and you hit a homerun, guess what you did your job. You hit the ball far. But more importantly, your plan gave you the ability to fall as hard as potentially could that swing.

Taylor Gardner  33:08

And that’s Oh man, how many young kids have you seen? You throw them one change-up… They’re crushing balls… you throw them one change up. And then the next 10 swings are crap. They just can’t find it… it just ruins their world. It’s like, oh, man, you got to filter that out. Trust the plan and get to the next pitch. It’s okay.

Joey Myers  33:29

Yeah, exactly. That’s crazy. Yeah, that’s a good one to end on. And that’s another call for another day. I want to be respectful of your time because you’ve got a little one that’s down there. And she’s been great. By the way.

Taylor Gardner  33:40

She’s sleeping now.

Joey Myers  33:41

She’s asleep. Yeah, she’s asleep. I’m talking too loudly. I’m talking to you loudly. But hey, I want to let you get back to the baby and get back to the family. hopefully get some sleep. Maybe she’ll take take a nap with her. But hey, where can people find you? socials, website, any kind of deals that you got going on right now? Go ahead. And…

 

Where can people find more about you guys?

Taylor Gardner  34:04

Yes, so find us on Google backspin bat tee to find backspintee.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, we have a 20% off code at the moment. If you use the code BATBROS. For those of you that follow the baseball bat pros, I’m very good friends with them. They are great people Bill Taylor and them and they’re amazing people. But you’re also going to find our bat tee in Dick’s Sporting Goods here soon. So be on the lookout.

Taylor Gardner  34:28

Hopefully, Academy is a follow that as well for those that maybe that’s closer to here. And we’re trying hard to get Mark word shields and some other big retail stores. But the Dick’s Sporting Goods we’re shipping that out here in a couple days. Extremely excited to make that next jump to the big retail because we’ve done so well on the individual bat tee sale and it’s time to make that move.

Joey Myers  34:50

Yeah, congratulations, buddy. I’ve been with you for a lot of this bat tee journey. I think we jumped on probably we start building our relationship maybe your second year I think you guys are. So, so I’m just excited for you guys. And I know you guys have been just like all of us been through our ups and downs and stuff and it sounds like you guys are starting to starting to rise again. So yeah,

Taylor Gardner  35:12

Yeah, it all started with Joey Myers experiment video, my bat tee versus the other tee, and we didn’t know each other so you have to watch that video.

Joey Myers  35:20

Again. See how they turned out? Yeah, it was in a very bias thing, I was probably, we had run into each other a couple times. We talked on the phone maybe once or twice and I was like, you know what, let’s try this out. Let’s do a bat tee experiment on it. I think it turned out well for you guys.

Taylor Gardner  35:34

Yeah, I think well back to the precision of contact, just changing that visual. You had a more funnel effect with the Backspin Bat Tee, and with the traditional tee, it was a little more scattered and it just makes you wonder, not promoting my bat tee over another tee… Tee just are you working on your precision and in your vision obviously has a lot to do with that so, pick up a Backspin Bat Tee, give it a shot, if you don’t like don’t like it, then I’ll give you your money back. Yeah, definitely.

Joey Myers  36:01

Right. Then percent off and you get 20% BATBROS. B-A-T-B-R-O-S, and that’s all caps, correct? Cool. All right, brother. Well, thanks. Keep up the good bat tee work. Congrats on everything and congrats on the little girl. My first time seeing her.

Taylor Gardner  36:13

Thank you bud.

Joey Myers  36:14

Alright brother. Take care of yourself.

Taylor Gardner  36:16

Have a good one.

Joey Myers  36:17

Have a good Easter.

Taylor Gardner  36:18

Thank you.

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

What Does a Cornerback, 2 Wide Receivers, & Hitter’s Timing Have in Common? (No. This isn’t a joke, I promise) 😉

 

 

I have a treat for you.  In this post we’ll discuss:Effective Velocity: Get On-Time Without Messing With Mechanics

  • 10,000 foot view of Perry Husband’s concept of Effective Velocity,
  • Analyze a real at-bat of one of my new High School senior hitters, and
  • What a cornerback covering 2 wide receivers can teach hitters about timing…

 

 

 

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

Top-10 Most Popular Hitting Performance Lab Blog Posts Of 2019 (both Facebook & Twitter)…23 Of Our Most Popular Hitting & Sticky Coaching Social Media Links In 2019

  • #10: Teach: How To STOP Hitting Excess Of Ground-balls & Fly-balls – Perry Husband long form video interview discusses: “How do I get my son to stop hitting an excess of ground-balls (or fly-balls)?”, How swing intention is great, but its benefits can be suppressed by physical limitations, The key ‘tinker & test’ learning principle helping hitters learn faster, Why a hitting coach’s job is to eliminate their job, And much more!
  • #9: How To Turn A Beach Towel Into A Hitting Demonstration – short video is great way to help coaches and players understand taking slack out of the system, demonstrating the power of the spinal engine.
  • #8: Why You SHOULD NOT Teach Hitters To Hit Homers? – Perry Husband long form video interview discusses: Formal Introductions, Perry Husband & Joey Myers FB Jam Session #1 Carlos Pena and Boston Red Sox hitting coach phone conversation for segment on MLB Now Show, Bro-Science v. REAL Science, How to know who/what to follow, Demystifying Launch Angles, and Q&A…
  • #7: How To Use “3-Dimensional Hitting” To Optimize Timing, Using All Fields, & Launch Angles – The target rich environment of pitchers throwing into barrels results in ANY hitting approach being effective.  But what happens when the target rich environment disappears?  Read more…
  • #6: Discover Where An Elite Hitter’s Secret Weapon Is Found – short video discusses how most coaches understand the function of bones and muscles in the body, but don’t understand springy fascia. Simple demo you can use with hitters to help them understand the role of springy fascia…
  • #5: How To Make Teaching Proper Weight Shift In Swing More Understandable To Hitter – Perry Husband long form video interview answering: “Making teaching of proper weight shift in your swing and more understandable to the hitter?”Perry Husband & Joey Myers Hitting Jam Session #3, 1000’s of swing experiments confirm benefits of releasing backside: higher Ball Exit velocity, better ball flight, and swing consistency, How to fix hitters that over stride, Why ‘force plate’ studies DO NOT mean a darn thing, unless they correlate these two critical metrics, And much more!
  • #4: 5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Out Lead Arm Is Superior To Bent – Perry Husband long form video interview discussing: Instructors confusing what “casting” is and is not, What if only fastball Mike Trout gets is what produces the 80.8-mph avg. BES, would that change his offensive stats? Hitter using bent lead arm comes at a cost, “Deep barrel dump” – great barrel path for down/away pitches, but TERRIBLE for up/inside pitches, And much more!
  • #3: Reaction Time Versus Timing (What’s The Difference)? – Quick 4-minute demo video coaches can use to teach their hitters the difference between reaction time and timing. Can timing be taught?
  • #2: Belly Buttons, Center Of Gravity, & Quick Way To Solve A Flat Bat – One of my favorite 3.5 minute hitting demonstrations helping hitters understand the need to stack the bat’s “belly button” above theirs. A flat bat at landing can cause 3 negative swing flaws, and how to fix…
  • #1: Is “Swinging Down” Okay Since Alex Rodriguez Said So? – Perry Husband and I do a hitting analysis of Alex Rodriguez’s hitting hitting analysis, and did he come off disconnected from describing the elite swing?

 

Top-13 Most Popular Non-Hitting Performance Lab Sticky Coaching Links From Our Facebook Fan Page…

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

And before I let you go, please take 1-minute to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of our Amazon Bestselling hitting book…

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

See How Easily You Can Build 3-Dimensional Hitters & WHY Bother…

Effective Velocity's Effect on Hitters

From Perry Husband video analysis: Cody Bellinger swinging under a pitch up in the zone. Effective Velocity’s effect on “uppercut” hitters. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Back in November 2018, I warned hitting coaches of the “new way” pitchers are getting hitters out that may be hiding under their snozzes, in a post titled, “At Last, The Secret To Decreasing Strikeouts Is Revealed”

The MLB Tonight interview in a nutshell, Brian Kenny interviewed Trevor Bauer about the Evolution of Analytics, and Bauer talked about the concept of 3-dimensional pitching, which consists of:

  1. Moving the ball up and down,
  2. Moving the ball in and out, and
  3. Changing velocity of pitch…

The target rich environment of pitchers throwing into barrels results in ANY hitting approach being effective.  But what happens when the target rich environment disappears?  What happens when pitchers stop locating the fastball down in the zone?  Jacob DeGrom (aka Thor), changed one thing in his pitching approach that cut his ERA in HALF…what did he do?  Simple.  He mixed in more fastballs up in the zone.  What percentage of fastballs located up in the zone can cut an ERA in half? 61%!!!  Verlander is at about 51%, and post-season teams are at about the 44% mark – to put things in perspective.

What does that one case study mean for a majority of hitting coaches out there teaching the deep barrel dump on all pitches?  EVERYTHING!!  At ALL levels…baseball AND softball.  The “deep barrel dump” hitting disciples will run into trouble…Bigly.

In this post, I want to share my favorite MOST essential resources of training hitters to counter 3-dimensional pitching with my version of 3-dimensional hitting, which include:

  • Optimizing verticals (launch angles),
  • Optimizing horizontals (using ALL fields), and
  • Optimizing timing (managing different pitching velocities).

Let’s first start with…

 

Optimizing Verticals (Launch Angles)

Look, I was the guy teaching my hitters to maximize “launch angles”…doubles and dingers…20 to 30 degree launch angles…hit top part of the cage!!!

Boy was I wrong…why?  Because I found my hitters were popping up too much, sometimes flying out 4 times in a game.  That sucks.  Here’s the deal…

The BEST hitters in the world – hit the ball on the screws roughly 20% of the time.  According to FanGraphs.com, league average Line Drive% = 21%, Fly-ball% = 35%, and Ground-ball% = 44%.  The best hitters IN THE WORLD miss 80% of the time!

So what’s the answer?

CLICK HERE to watch and listen to an interview I did with the father of Effective Velocity Tunnels, Perry Husband, titled, “Teach: How To STOP Hitting Excess Of Ground-balls & Fly-balls”. This will teach you everything you need to know about optimizing verticals.  I’ve time stamped moments of the long form interview, so you can fast forward to the juicy parts.  The conversation can be boiled down to this:

  • Default launch angle operating system: 10-15 degree launch angles (we call it hitting ball back through “tube” from where it came),
  • IF hitter pops ball up, then we tell them to hit a ground-ball (we use “bad” cues like “swing down”, “get on top”, or “keep barrel above hands”), or
  • IF hitter hits ground-ball, THEN we tell them to pop it up…

…like PFM (Pure Friggin’ Magic), the hitter begins hitting more line drives!!  The problem is when coaches blanket teach their hitters an approach, such as hit EVERYTHING on the ground OR hit EVERYTHING in the air.

Let’s look at a thought experiment…and say your 9 hitter lineup is split up into result-oriented thirds:

  • 1/3 of the lineup consistently hits fly-balls,
  • 1/3 of the lineup consistently hits line drives, and
  • 1/3 of the lineup consistently hits ground-balls…

So if you blanket teach the WHOLE lineup to swing down and hit more ground-balls, here’s what will most likely happen

  • The “fly-ball” hitters will hit more line drives,
  • The “line drive” hitters will hit more grounders, and
  • The “ground-ball” hitters will hit EVEN MORE grounders.

In this case, you didn’t move the needle at all.  You actually made your “line drive” hitters look DUMBER.  Look, hard grounders are good, but teaching hitters to hit ground-balls for ground-ball’s sake is STUPID, IDIOTIC, and only occurs on MORON Island.  CLICK HERE for my ground-ball rant.

Thought experiment #2…

Now, what would happen if instead of telling EVERYONE the same dang thing, you do the following:

  • Instructed “fly-ball” hitters to swing down and hit the ball on the ground,
  • Instructed “line-drive” hitters to keep doing same dang thing they’ve been doing, and
  • Instructed “ground-ball” hitters to swing up and hit the ball in the air…?

I’ll tell you what will happen…ALL 9 HITTERS IN YOUR LINEUP WILL BE HITTING MORE LINE DRIVES!!!!!  Don’t believe it?  Try it and report back.

 

Optimizing Horizontals (using ALL fields)

Effective Velocity Tunnel Effects on "Deep Barrel Dump" Hitters

Multi-pitch Layover: what happens when pitchers smarten up and build pitch sequences coming out of same pitch “tunnel”? Hitters using “deep barrel dump” on all pitches will be in BIG trouble. And coaches teaching “deep barrel dump” will become extinct, unless they adapt. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

This dawned on me one day when I was running one of my small private group lessons.  One of the hitters I’ve been working with since he was a 7-year-old, he’s 15-years-old now, was explaining how difficult it was to get to the inside pitch.  Asking me whether he was ‘showing his numbers’ too much.

So it got me thinking…what do the best hitters do, who ‘show numbers’ to pitcher, when seeing 95-mph+ on the inner half of the plate?  I did some research and put together the following post titled, “Best Swing In Baseball: ‘Showing Numbers’ Objections Answered”

Okay, so effectively getting to the inner half of the plate IS NOT about ‘showing numbers’, OR about a longer front arm shape, see another interview post I did with Perry titled, “5,000 Swing Experiments Validate Locked Out Lead Arm To Bent”

Do you want to know what the best hitters do when hitting to all fields, and what I ultimately teach my hitters now?  See this controversial post I did titled, “Best Hitters Baseball Barrel Path – Do We Have It All Wrong?”

Optimizing verticals and horizontals are actually the easier parts.  The challenge to 3-dimensional hitting has to do with…

 

Optimizing Timing (managing different pitching velocities)

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, these are two of my favorite blog post resources that do the best job at explaining how to hack a hitter’s timing:

  1. “How To Adopt These 12 Timing Gems & Get Hitters On-Time More Often In Games”, and
  2. Batting Timing Drills: 2 Little Known Ways To Get “On-Time”

That mis amigos is 3-dimensional hitting.  Hitting is going to get harder from here on out, so make sure your hitters are prepared. Don’t fall prey to Hitting Guru #57.

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

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…

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

The NEW Way Pitchers Are Getting Hitters Out That May Be Hiding Under Your Nose…

Know WHY, according to Baseball-Reference.com, strikeouts (41,207) edged out hits (41,018) in the Big Leagues in 2018?  In my opinion, the above MLB Tonight Brian Kenny interview of Trevor Bauer has the answers.

Carlos Pena Effective Velocity

Carlos Pena fouling a ball off in 2009. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Could it be…

  • The Launch Angle craze? Maybe…
  • Hitters just don’t care about strikeouts anymore? Maybe…
  • The front office putting higher value recruiting players based on key Sabermetrics?  Maybe.

However, in my opinion, these are all symptoms to the direct cause.  Yes, hitters are being taught that ground-balls are gross.  And since the book and movie Moneyball came out, Math revealed key metrics measuring how often:

  • A hitter gets on base, and
  • They hit for extra bases…

…are better predictors to scoring runs.  Here’s a shot across the bow for the hitting coaches…

Back to the Trevor Bauer Evolution of Metrics conversation above,

Perry Husband, of HittingIsAGuess.com, has been sharing Effective Velocity principles for almost 2 decades, and it’s finally getting people’s attention.  WHY?  Because more and more pitchers are starting to apply the timing disruption principles.  Unlike golf, timing is a MAJOR factor in how consistently hard a hitter hits the ball.  And it’s THIS factor of a hitter’s success that’s under MAJOR attack.

Do you think I’m exaggerating?  Read on, because Perry, myself, and many others see the writing on the wall…remember when Wayne Gretzky so famously said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

I speak to MANY MANY coaches, and a majority of them, are disgusted with the sheer number of offensive strikeouts over the last few years, so their solution is to teach a defensive “just get on base” swing.  Are you kidding?!  More pitchers are throwing 96-mph+ at the higher levels nowadays, they LOVE facing hitters being taught a defensive “just get on base” swing.  And it’s not just at the highest levels, overall average velocities are going up across the board because of better training programs.

And by the way, it’s not about the higher pitching velocities per se, because we can train hitters to see faster speeds in the “lab”, making the increased game velocities “seem” slower.  That’s only one-dimension to pitching, as Trevor Bauer puts it in the interview.

It’s what pitchers are being taught to do with added velocity, manipulating hitters’ reaction times.  Don’t you see, the game is speeding up for hitters, and coaches are ill equipped to deal with the adjustment right now.  They’re running east, chasing a sunset!

Rest assured, we’re going to make a better decision and train differently.  Coaches, you’ve been WARNED.  In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • The NEW way pitchers are getting hitters out, and
  • How to counter this strategy…

 

The NEW Way Pitchers are Getting Hitters Out

Trevor Bauer & Effective Velocity

Trevor Bauer interview with Brian Kenny of MLB Network. Photo courtesy: MLB Network

Here are my notes on Trevor Bauer’s scouting report on hitters…

  • At the 40-second mark, Trevor talks about having a specific “pitch mix”.  And he adds that the delivery of that mix is different for every pitcher – how does he utilize it the best. He looks at hitter’s heat map and compares strengths and weaknesses to his “pitch mix” heat map strengths and weaknesses.  What gives a pitcher the best chance of being successful?
  • At the 2-min, 20-second mark, Brian asks Trevor about pitch sequencing – which pitch should follow the next? Taking away as many “tip-off” cues hitters use.  #1: Changing your body (i.e. tilting off while throwing a CB – mechanics have to be consistent). #2: How does the ball come out of the hand – tunneling, hitters can see “up and down” well, but not “side to side”, so he’s trying to minimize the “hump” in his pitches.  The more he can hide pitching cues, the later the hitter sees the ball, and the more likely the pitcher wins.  Neutral and clean mechanics.
  • At the 3-minute, 45-seconds mark, Trevor Bauer talks about starting off his pitches in the middle and let the movement get to the spot he’s trying to hit.  He worked on a new pitch to fill a hole in his pitching repertoire – he needed a pitch that could slide to his glove side that didn’t drop like his curveball.
  • At the 6-minute, 45-second mark, Brian asks when Trevor is getting hit, what’s the checklist he goes through to get back on track? He feels his speed differentials are off, either he’s throwing too hard or too soft, for example in early 2017 the data said he was throwing too high a percentage of hard stuff – 4/2-seam FB and cutters, and not enough slow with the CB, SL, and Change.  Once organized, hitters had a tough time. 3-Dimensional pitching approach: dealing with front to back (differing velos 95 to 85 to 78-mph), left to right (2-seam, 4-seam, cutter, slider), and up to down (4-seam, SL, and CB).

Did you catch that last bullet point?  There’s the Holy Grail of pitchers’ scouting reports right there.  Other than that, a lot of REALLY good intel in almost 9-mins, so how do hitting coaches counter this gameplan?  Take it from a hitter’s point of view, Carlos Pena, who studied under Perry Husband back in 2009, and in the following video, makes a good case to a promising counter-move…

 

How to Counter this Strategy…

Here are my notes on Carlos Pena’s scouting report on pitchers who use Effective Velocity…

  • At the 15-second mark, talks about hunting pitches, addresses the hitting myth of “looking for the ball away and react in”…pick a spot, a speed, and a rhythm to dance to, react within those parameters,
  • At the 1-minute mark, looking for ball away and reacting in would work for one maybe two-dimensional pitchers, objective is to make good contact more often, having an EV plan against a pitcher makes hitting “easier”, setting “coordinates” like latitude and longitude, and work within those parameters, having a “blast radius” and only working within those parameters, match the timing to what you’re looking for, helps hitters to lay off stuff, eliminates half to 3/4 of the strike zone when pitchers get pretty good.
  • At the 2-minute, 40-second mark, Carlos talks about his struggles at the beginning of 2009, he met Perry Husband, and he ended up leading the league in homers by the end of the season.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

PART-2: Drastically Improve Pitch Recognition Skills For ANY Hitter With Best In Training Aids, Online Courses, & Drills…

 

This is Part-2 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.  In case you missed Part-1, where we talked about the effect Fortnite has on our hitter’s mental health, then CLICK HERE.

The subject of this interview is complimentary to a post I did titled, “Why Fortnite May Be Dangerous To Building Hitters Who Crush”HEADS UP: us two knuckle-dragging hitting coaches were having technical difficulties (I know SHOCKER!) before the start of this video.  This is probably the fourth and final take 😛 jajajajajaPart-2 Interview About Fortnite's Effect on Hitter's Vision, Tracking, and Timing

Below are some highlighted notes I took for you…

  • At the 0:50 minute mark, how does posture effect the swing, studies show young athletes sit 80% of their day, certain groups of muscles get tight and others turn off, Gymnastics, Dance, Martial Arts, Swimming are great counter disciplines to friction free movement, rock climbing is also a great “counter” to chronic sitting positions.
  • At the 4:00 minute mark, how working on screens (mobile, tv, computer) for extended periods of time effect ball players, for every 20 minutes of screen time, the eyes need 5-minutes off the screen, Dr. Peter Fadde and “video occlusion” training using his Game Sense Sports app, pitch recognition training, The 6th Tool: Training Baseball Pitch Recognition book by Dr. Peter Fadde.
  • At the 9:30 minute mark, Major League hitters track better than amateurs (but ALL hitters can improve), below average, average, and above average “learn-ability”, Aaron Miles High School story about coach, in mid-90’s, putting particle board in way of hitter during pitcher bullpens (similar to Dr. Peter Fadde’s Game Sense Sports app), Jaime Cevallos pitch recognition hitting aid interview post.
  • At the 13:00 minute mark, Bill asks what parents should know about vision training, Perry Husband foremost expert on timing, vision, and training research, simulating pitch plane, don’t throw to 7yo from standing position 20-30 feet away – like hitting up a mountain, throw seated on a bucket, size of ball short distance makes a difference – baseball players hitting golf sized whiffle balls from 30-40 feet, perceived ball size from 60-feet, 6-inches, or 45-feet.
  • At the 16:45 minute mark, pitch recognition cues, “fat” wrist versus “skinny” wrist, shape of the arm coming through, curve-balls sometimes look like a “bicep” curl, gets challenging when pitchers slot their arm in the same arm slot, Effective Velocity (EV) Tunnels, more strikeouts than hits in the MLB now, Perry Husband coined this concept, perceived velocity to the hitter, easier for corner-back to cover wide receivers running similar routes (deep & post), versus more difficult for one corner-back to cover two wide receivers when one runs deep and another does a 5-yard 90-degree cut, a pitch farther away from the hitter (low-away), perceived velocity is slower, a pitch closer to the eyes (up-in), perceived velocity is faster.
  • At the 22:00 minute mark, I asked Perry Husband how do you counter pitchers exploiting EV tunnels in hitters?  Learning to “hunt” pitches, hunting specific pitches in specific locations, “belly button”, back foot, and real catcher’s glove barrel entering the zone positions (CLICK HERE for more on this), random pitch rounds, my son “hunting” Ford Mustang cars when driving on the road, hunting pitches is less relevant with younger pitchers, and college and professional ball – hunting pitches becomes more relevant, data collection.
  • At the 30:00 minute mark, find Perry Husband’s vision, tracking, and timing products: https://www.hittingisaguess.com/product-category/online-academy/, my courses relating to vision, tracking, timing, and foot work are: On-Time Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alpha (the essentials), and Reaction Time Mastery (full course which includes On-Time Hitter 2.0 videos).
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

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…

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

How Your Central Hitting “Operating System” May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Scoring More Runs

How To Maximize A Hitter's Contribution To Run Scoring Process  

Photo courtesy: MopUpDuty.com

Recently, I had a conversation with a coach on Facebook who thought the following quote from Josh Donaldson was “horrible advice”:

“If you’re 10-years-old and your coach tells you to get on top of the ball…tell him NO.”

I’m not getting into the positive or negative of Donaldson’s statement, but the coach’s responses that followed his “horrible advice” comment got me thinking.  Come to find out, the loud and clear message was this coach despises when hitters strikeout. Often referring to this offensive outcome as “disgusting”.  What was interesting was this one principle was central to how and what he teaches his hitters.

So I wanted to do a hitting “operating system” thought experiment.  In reading what follows, please keep in mind what the main objective to offense is, according to FanGraphs.com

“In baseball [or softball], we care about run scoring (and prevention) and so when looking at offensive statistics, we want to find statistics that tell you something about how much a player contributes to the run scoring process…again, we care about a player’s contribution to run scoring and if you treat everything equally you’re not getting a very accurate measure of those contributions.” 

In this thought experiment, we’ll discuss…as a hitting instructor, what would happen if:

  • The Time To Impact Metric was Central to the “Operating System”?
  • Minimizing a Hitter’s Strikeouts were Central to the “Operating System”?
  • Maximizing Batting Average were Central to the “Operating System”? And,
  • Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

Now, that being said…as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

The Time To Impact Metric was Central to the “Operating System”? 

If you’re new to this term, here’s the definition of Time To Impact according to Zepp:

“TIME TO IMPACT is the amount of time (in seconds) from the start of the downswing until impact of the bat with the ball. The closer to ZERO your swing is, the quicker your bat is to the ball. The faster the time to impact, the longer the hitter can wait to start the swing. Time to Impact also measures how short a player’s swing is. Time to Impact measures their coordination of both their hand and the bat barrel to maximize swing efficiency to the ball.”

CLICK HERE for amateur, High School, and Pro ranges for both baseball and softball.  What would be the top 2-3 priority hitting concepts guided by this principle?

  1. Point-A to B barrel path (shortest distance between two points). Default hitting strategy would be “Knob to the ball”.  “Swing down”. “Barrel above the hands”.
  2. Most likely using more linear elements in the swing for both upper and lower half (i.e. ‘showing numbers’ will be a no-no).  Maybe similar to a Charlie Lau style of hitting.
  3. Minimalist view of the swing…wide feet, no stride, minimal hand and head movement, etc.  May not believe a hitter can train timing, so the view is that it’s all about bettering the hitter’s reaction time.

Look, there’s a healthy range for Time To Impact, not taking too long, and not being so quick the barrel is not in the impact zone long enough.  You can see that range in the previous Zepp link.  Remember, we want to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process 

Moving on,

As a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

Minimizing a Hitter’s Strikeouts were Central to the “Operating System”? 

What if you despised hitters striking out so much, you often referred to this outcome as “disgusting”, like our coaching friend above.  What would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • Protecting hitters from swing and misses at all cost.  Very defensive just make contact swings, especially with 2-strikes.  May subscribe to barrel on plane of pitch early and stay on plane longer.  Less margin for error.
  • Believes in hitting ball hard and on a line.  However, low liners and ground-balls are preferred, especially with 2-strikes.  Don’t care as much about extra base hits, doubles maybe, but not homers.  They aren’t worth the risk.  Swings taught at the advent of astro turf fit this type of hitting perfectly.  Hard and on the ground.
  • Mechanics may look like: wide no-stride feet, bug squishing, minimal head movement from start of swing to finish, choking up (especially with two strikes).  Very defensive type of swing.  On board with boosting Ball Exit Speeds, but will not agree with optimizing Launch Angles.  Besides hitter strikeouts, this coach absolutely hates getting the ball in the air (too much of an out risk for them), unless it’s a low level line drive.  High batting average and low strikeouts are very important to this coach.

Listen, if this is you, I’d highly advise checking out this VERY popular post titled, “The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground Balls”.  I’m not going into every argument here, but the math and geometry don’t lie in demonstrating ground-balls are gross.  The main reasons are:

  1. Ask any pitcher, and most (if not all) will tell you they’re taught to keep the ball down in the zone, to get the ground-ball.  So, if the default strategy – or safety net to the line-drive – is to hit ground-balls, then you’re teaching hitters to do what pitchers want them to do.
  2. Because of reason #1, there are 5 fielders on the infield (yes, the pitcher is considered a fielder) with less space to cover.  There are only 3 outfielders with A LOT of space to cover.  And lastly,
  3. Most double plays are turned on the infield (probably THE WORST hitting outcome in the sport), and if you’re pinning hopes and dreams on an infielder making an error or ball taking a weird bounce, then you’re focusing on things you can’t control.  High level coaches and players don’t think that way.  WHY? Because it’s silly.

Again, we want to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process.  A defensive swing doesn’t do this. 

Next, as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

 

Maximizing Batting Average were Central to the “Operating System”?

In Golf, precision is key.  The least strokes possible.  Being able to control the club head has a lot of value because one small deviation at impact is exponentially compounded hundreds of yards from the tee box.  The last hitter to hit .400 was Ted Williams in 1941.  Tony Gwynn came close in the strike shortened year of 1994, hitting .394, and hitting around .370 in three separate full seasons.  And Gwynn had a mere fraction of the power Williams did.

Before I get to what a hitting coach would focus on here, I wanted to address the elephant in the room.  In the day and age of Sabermetrics, Batting Average isn’t a useful statistic in deciding a player’s value.  In a FanGraphs post titled, “Stats to Avoid: Batting Average”, they put forth two reasons to avoid looking at BA as a useful metric:

  1. “Batting average ignores a segment of offensive actions just because they aren’t “hits,” and 100 years ago, someone decided a hit and a walk were fundamentally different.”  And,
  2. “The second major flaw is that batting average treats every hit equally even though certain hits are more valuable than others. Batting average treats a single and a double like the same thing, even though a hitter who only hit doubles would help his team score a lot more runs than a hitter who only hit singles.” 

That being said, maybe a better stat would be Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). Not the best, but better than BA.  FanGraphs.com defines BABIP as:

“Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. A ball is “in play” when the plate appearance ends in something other than a strikeout, walk, hit batter, catcher’s interference, sacrifice bunt, or home run.”

Okay, so what would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • Getting on the plane of the pitch early with the barrel, and maximizing that time.
  • Place a high emphasis on barrel control, both horizontally (across the field) and vertically (optimizing Launch Angles).  The best hitters in the world can put the ball where they want, when they want, during batting practice.
  • This Joey Votto interview post describes this approach, it’s titled, “Joey Votto: Why Coaches SHOULD NOT Be Obsessed With Launch Angles”

I LOVE this approach, and I feel coaches have done a poor job of training their hitters in it in the past (including me).  Teaching hitters to hit the ball where they want, when they want.  Why can’t we have hitters in High School batting .600 to .800?  Or Little Leaguers hitting .880?  I know it can be done because I did it when I was 12yo, in addition to hitting 30+ homers.  Using Batting Average (BA), or better yet Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), is a great start to encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process.

The challenge I have with it though, neither of the BA or BABIP metrics take walks and/or homers into account.  Remember “contribute to run scoring process”.  Which leads me to, as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…  

 

Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

Have you read the book MoneyBall by Michael Lewis, or watched the movie with Brad Pitt?  If you haven’t…THEN WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!!!  lol, kidding.  OPS stands for On-Base Percentage PLUS Slugging Percentage.  There are better metrics, but this is a good one to start with if this is new to you.  FanGraphs.com defines it as:

“On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) is exactly what it sounds like: the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. Many sabermetricians don’t like OPS because it treats OBP as equal in value with SLG, while OBP is roughly twice as important as SLG in terms of its effect on run scoring (x1.8 to be exact). However, OPS has value as a metric because it is accepted and used more widely than other, more accurate statistics while also being a relatively accurate representations of offense.”

It’s one of the best metrics to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player’s contribution to the run scoring process.  On-Base Percentage (OBP) measures how often a player gets on base.  And Slugging Percentage (Slug%) measures how many extra base hits a hitter hits.  ISO, or Isolated Slugging (aka “raw power”, takes singles out of the equation), is better than Slug%, but I don’t want to complicate matters. Remember, the object of this game is to get runners on, and knock’em in.

 Okay, so what would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • High frequency of hitting the ball hard.  Increase Ball Exit Speed, or how fast the ball comes off the bat.  However high Ball Exit Speeds with low Launch Angles are no good.  A few years ago Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball 123.8-mph…on the ground, one-hopper to the second baseman…double play. Ouch.
  • Optimize launch angle range between 15 to 25 degrees.  This is the ideal line drive range, and optimizes batted ball distance.  Some hate talking about Launch Angles, but every batted ball has a launch angle, even bunts.
  • Mechanics that optimize both of these are key.  How do we optimize Ball Exit Speeds?  (Hint: that’s what Power Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alpha does).  What mechanics optimize Launch Angles and hitting more line drives?  (Hint: that’s what The Pitch-Plane Dominator does).  And importantly, my hitters don’t sacrifice swing quality for power.  We get both!  My hitters lower their strikeouts, mis-hits, fly-balls, and gross ground-balls with these online video courses.

I think there’s success on whatever part of the spectrum coaches find themselves on.  However, what if you lived on a planet that used forks and knives to eat soup?  What would happen if an alien came down and surprised them with a spoon?  Teaching hitting is the same.  There may be thousands of ways to teach hitters, but one way is most effective.  What is that way?  Applying human movement principles validated by REAL science, NOT “because-I-said-so ‘bro-science'”, to hitting a ball.   Have a higher standard for your hitters.

We as coaches have to reverse engineer the our swing strategy based on what the game values, which are runs!  The more runs your team can score (and prevent), the more WINS you get.  Don’t lose sight of that coaches.

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

Matt Nokes Reveals Timing Drills for Hitting a Softball to “Lean In and Compress Ball” & Quickly and Easily Get On-Time

 

I don’t give much of my time to others’ timing drills for hitting a softball…

And it’s not because I think I’m God’s green gift to baseball and softball.  Actually,

Since January of 2013, I took a needed break learning hitting mechanics from others in the field, no matter how popular.  I wanted to shed the hitting “BEER GOGGLES” that have stubbornly held this industry back for decades.

People ask me if I know anything about Tewks, Epstein, “Teacher Man”, etc.  I don’t.  And that’s the honest truth.  I see their posts on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t give them anymore thought.

Timing Drills for Hitting a Softball: Matt Nokes Snap Drill

Matt Nokes talking about “leaning in and compressing the ball”. Photo courtesy: Matt Nokes’s YouTube channel

The main reason?  I’m still learning my own system!!

Besides, everyone has a different approach, view, and style.  As you probably know, the timing drills for hitting a softball language can get quite confusing.

Back in 2013, I decided to stick to resources on Bio-mechanics, Physics, Psychology, etc.   Because THIS is where the answers are.  It’s not opinion, or someone’s theory or philosophy based on playing or coaching experience.

My #1 rule is to digest information that is validated by science.  Don’t seek the footsteps of others, but seek the resources the “others” sought.  In other words, don’t just take my timing drills for hitting a softball word for it.

That being said, there are a couple hitting coaches I do listen to, and one is Matt Nokes.  I think he has an unmatched passionate curiosity for hitting, authentically wants to help hitters, is open to new ideas (can’t say that for many online gurus), and gets dramatic results with his hitters in a reasonably short amount of time.

As always, I’ve taken video notes for you, so you can skip around to what interests you most.  Some of the things you’ll learn in the video are:

  • Swing intention: what Matt Nokes means when he tells his hitters to “lean on it and compress it” (this will upset the ‘bug squisher’ coaches out there),
  • Why hitters MUST swing in the same direction as their “swing motor” (and it’s not what you think),
  • The “Snap Drill” that will easily and quickly get your hitters on-time (an Ah-ha moment for me!), and
  • Much more…

Enjoy!

  • About 1:00 minute mark, Matt didn’t think about Bat Speed when he was playing, he was trying to “lean on it and compress it”.  He calls this “directional force”, in which he says it takes 8,000 pounds per square inch in one direction, to hit a ball 400-feetCLICK HERE to see our Directional Force drill video.
  • About 2:15 minute mark, Matt talks about how hips, knees and feet are the base, core is the motor, and arms are swing levers.  What happens when swinging off the plane of the core motor.  Swing in same direction as swing motor.
  • About 3:30 minute mark, Matt distinguishes between keeping the barrel above hands as a cue versus what really happens.  Don’t miss this.  He uses this oftentimes blanket-used-coaching-cue to get the hitter flattening his/her barrel to the pitch plane.  Barrel MUST match shoulder plane.
  • About 5:30 minute mark, Matt defines a timing drills for hitting a softball approach as summing up what you’re trying to do mechanically into a one or two word cue.  Ever changing because getting new info, new feelings, new observations.  Talks about 2-3 minute “priming” movements before heading into battle.
  • About 10:15 minute mark, great hitters don’t “keep their hands inside the ball” in a way that creates what Matt calls slack.  He refers to the Fence Swing Drill that exaggerate swinging down.
  • About 12:00 minute mark, Matt talks about transferring force with a bent landing knee, comparing to a Pole Vaulter’s pole when it sticks into the ground before propelling the athlete up.  Landing bent allows for adjustment.  “The front knee isn’t straightened, it gets straightened.  The back leg doesn’t turn, it gets turned.  The core moves the legs.”
  • About 14:45 minute mark, Matt breaks down how to “flatten” the swing.  Tells hitter minimal movement from lower half swings, just focus on moving shoulders, hands, and bat.  Matt gives limited parameters, and let’s hitter learn the lesson…in other words, he doesn’t map out step by step how to move the way he wants the hitter to move.  Gives hitter an outcome and allows them to fill in the blanks.
  • About 16:30 minute mark, Matt talks about swing approach like what you’d do to chop down a tree.  You wouldn’t think about how did I swing the ax yesterday.  You’d just start swinging it!  Finishing low with the hands and following the line of impact. I call this driving the big nail (Matt’s bat in the video) flush into the wall.  At about 20:00 minute mark, Matt adds to this and tells hitter to “lean on this” and “compress it” (referring to his bat).  He says that he just gave hitter permission to hit the crap out of the ball.
  • About 18:30 minute mark, compares big picture timing drills for hitting a softball cues to Fence Swing Drills.  The latter being ineffective as a default way to hit.  You have to hit with big picture in mind of what you want to do to the ball.  Swing intention.
  • About 21:00 minute mark, Matt begins to talk about timing.  Timing is a distance, and to make it simple by synchronizing timing from release to contact.  Matt talked about how he took a guy hitting the ball 360-380 feet to hitting it 480-feet in 2.5 months…over the fence, 400-feet off a tee.  “Feel” contact…stay sideways and feel contact by leaning and compressing the ball.  Matt talks about the “Snap Drill”. This is golden!  He also talks about the “Ride” part of “Ride & Stride” that Matt promotes within his system.

If you remember one timing drills for hitting a softball thing from this video, it’s from the 21st minute on… 🙂  Golden.

Unlike most MLB players and coaches, Matt Nokes has an intuitive sense of the swing.  He can explain it from a “real” point of view, and transition that into “feel”.  His system seems to fill in the blanks that I’ve always had about the swing.  The good news about his principles is they’re very simple and easy to implement.  Matt has a very common sense approach to hitting.

Thanks Matt!