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

Discover Perry Husband baseball and softball drills – the Effective Velocity hitting formula.  Learn how to train and get the front foot down early on and on-time, improve and work on timing, and fix a late swing.

Effective Velocity: Perry Husband Talks About How To Get 100% On-Time & 100% Swing Efficient

Effective Velocity: Perry Husband on MLBNetwork with Carlos Pena

Perry Husband being featured on MLBNetwork with Carlos Pena explaining Effective Velocity. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

I’ve just put together a NEW online video course called Reaction Time Mastery, where we dig into the FOUR following topics:

  1. Forward Momentum (FoMo),
  2. Vision,
  3. Tracking, and
  4. Timing…

The Reaction Time Mastery online video course will help hitters track pitches crystal clear, accelerate decision-making reaction time, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness.

Because some of the above topics are slightly above my pay grade, I enlisted the help of specific proven experts…a couple Doctors, and a few “Mad Scientists” about their respective topics.  I asked these experts to contribute a 10-minute video or two to the Reaction Time Mastery online video course, and if they were up for it, an interview for the blog.

And here we are, expert interview #1!  For those who don’t know Perry Husband, he was featured on the MLB Network about the work he did with Carlos Pena using his Effective Velocity and Exit Velocity programs (EV).

CLICK HERE for an SBNation.com post about Perry Husband and his Effective Velocity system titled, “The Essence of Velocity: The pitching theory that could revolutionize baseball, if only the sport would embrace it”.

I believe Perry Husband has a truly revolutionary approach for hitters (baseball and softball).  And I wanted to share the following interview, where he answered a few pointed questions from my readers.

Just to warn you though, this post is a BEAST, and for some, may take up to 30-minutes to get through.  But let me encourage you…the information Perry distills about Effective Velocity, is golden.  

So kick up your feet, grab a brew of choice, and get to work.

Perry’s website can be found at EffectiveVelocity.com, and I’ll link to where you can find him on social media at the end of this post.

Enter Perry Husband, and his Effective Velocity system…

“What are some great drills to practice vision/tracking?”

Effective Velocity: Sandlot Slugger small ball training

MaxBP/Sandlot Slugger golf whiffle machine. Photo courtesy: TheStartingLineupStore.com

There are many drills that I would recommend to practice vision and tracking, but first I would say it is important to understand ‘how’ to see before you try to get better at ‘what’ to see.

Many of the vision drills that I have been introduced to, involve trying to get the eyes to focus on small details of a pitch, such as a tennis ball with a color or a number that the hitter is to identify.

I have been guilty of teaching players to focus in on small objects such as small beads with numbers and letters on them and many other detail oriented drill work.  Ask the hitter to identify and only swing at certain letters etc…..

However, what I found is that this did not lead to the student learning to identify actual pitches any better.  I am certainly not an expert in vision training, but I will try to explain my findings like this…

Imagine a ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand and the hitter using the eyes like a camera.  The center of the eye picks up infinite detail and the picture of the ball out of the hand is incredibly sharp and in focus.  The hitter sees the seams, the signature of the commissioner and yet……all that intense detail does absolutely nothing to help us know what pitch it is nor where or how fast it will arrive.

The still photo does not tell us the direction, spin, speed, pitch type or even whether it is a ball or a strike.

Now imagine the ball being recorded with an old video camera that is very unclear but shows an out of focus video of a pitch traveling 10-feet.  Which image would you rather have to hit the pitch, a clear photo OR a fuzzy video?

The eye has the ability to work as a camera and a video camera, but which way do you think the small detail training is heading towards?

Upon this discovery about 1990, I began teaching using a very different technique to help hitters learn to use their eyes like video cameras instead of still photography cameras.  Hitting a 95 MPH fastball is not about detail, but rather about:

  • ‘Where’ (initial direction or tunnel) it is going?
  • ‘How fast’ (radar speed) is it moving?
  • ‘Where’ will it move toward (pitch movement)?
  • ‘Where’ will it end up (location in the zone)?  And,
  • ‘When’ (Effective Velocity – or EV).

Now, of course there is spin to help hitters identify pitch types etc…. but the primary information hitters need is basic and quick and not all hitters can see spin well enough or soon enough to have it help them.

I began taking out the small details and began focusing on the bigger ticket items. Once we narrow the focus or rather broaden the focus to see the pitch in a different way, now we can practice the important factors.

Vertical Plane LHP

Effective Velocity: Vertical Plane LHP. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

I introduced a term called ‘Shape’ in my work with Carlos Pena in 2009.  Every pitch has a shape after it travels about 30-feet or so.  You can picture:

  • A curveball with the big loop,
  • A slider with a smaller hump or loop,
  • A sinker shape, or
  • A straight Kershaw four seamer.

Every pitch has a starting tunnel, movement laterally, or down and a final location.  The path the ball takes out of the hand to about 2/3 of the way to the plate is what creates ‘Shape’.

We can’t wait until it is completed all the movement before we have to swing because it takes about 1/3 the flight or about 18-20 feet to swing the bat.

Hitters have a 1/3 of the way to see direction and the beginning of spin and another 1/3 to see spin (pitch type/speed), estimate the final location and then begin the swing.

I named my initial hitting program Hitting Is A Guess, partially for this very reason……….it is most certainly a guess on many different levels and vision is just one of those levels.  I began training hitters to make better guesses………..and this worked very well.

Using smaller objects is one way to begin training the eyes to start ‘drinking’ in the pitch info in the right way.  Like speed reading,  hitters begin clumping sections of the pitch like a whole sentence at once, which helps you see the pitch in shapes.

The shape is key to knowing speed and final location in the shortest amount of time.

My favorite drill set is…

Effective Velocity: Golf Sized Foam Balls

Effective Velocity: Golf sized foam balls

To use small golf ball sized foam balls to train hitters to identify pitch traits sooner and more efficiently, which is part of my Time Training Level 2 hitting program.

This is done from a seated position to get the pitch trajectory as close to games as possible and at a distance of 16-20 feet from the hitter.  The balls are different densities so the same arm action can create multiple pitch speeds.

Pitch traits help hitters identify pitches, which in turn helps them time pitches better.  Reproducing these traits with a baseball is not easily done.  The small foam training balls are much easier to create game-like movements, trajectories, EV speeds and shapes.  They require some practice throws to get a feel for controlling them, but this is the very best way to get the closest to real live pitch traits without being in a game situation.

In my opinion, there is no comparison of  these foam balls to wiffle balls.  The wiffle balls do not fly the same, are harder to create movements, they hurt when you get hit with a ball off the bat at close distances and they break much faster.  I have used these [foam golf balls] for almost 10 years, and have destroyed less than 1% of them over all that time.

The Circle Drill Set is…

Another part of  my Time Training Level 2 hitting program that helps read the first 10 – 15 – 20 – 30 feet of flight.   There are speed awareness drills, early pitch recognition drills and all of them designed to maintain the most efficient swing possible at the same time.

The Time Training program was designed to introduce hitters to the most logical skill sets in the order that makes the most sense, based on my crazy amount of testing hitters, as well as the 3 decades of teaching hitting on all levels.

“How do you get your hitters enough practice at high pitch speeds?  Example … Is throwing 45 from 30 feet the same as throwing 90 from 60 feet?”

Effective Velocity: Pitch Angles

Effective Velocity: pitch angles. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

The previously described small ball training at 15-20 feet (golf ball sized foam balls), 7 inch baseballs at 30-36 feet and simulated BP from the closest to game mound as possible.  Most of the work becomes about game simulations and creating the perfect speed to match a pitcher type.

Simulating game speeds is easy enough, but that it is just the beginning of true simulation and training hitters to ‘hit’.  We learn to ‘swing’ and then we learn to ‘hit’.  Most physical swing designs include both swinging and hitting and this is a mistake, IMHO.

Separating the two things is the only way to truly get the most out of the swing and your approach, otherwise you will always be compromising one or the other.

The real work is in learning to control swing speed, mindset, anxiety control, pitch selection, taking pitches and staying focused on what we really want through a series of pitches we don’t want, dealing with failure and all kinds of other issues.

Hitting is complex, swing design is not.

If you really test all aspects, especially reactionary abilities of hitters, you will come to the same conclusions that I have, which is that learning to swing is very different than learning to hit.  Combining swinging and hitting is really the hardest element.  Effective Velocity efficient pitchers will eventually force hitters to ‘Act’ rather than ‘React’.

Short distance BP does have some drawbacks, especially if you use baseballs at all distances.  A baseball at 60 feet, looks about the same as a 7 inch baseball at 36 feet and a golf ball sized object at 18-20 feet.

I try to stick with these sized objects at these distances to keep the amount of visual info available to the hitter as close to game situations as possible.  It will never substitute completely the live at bats from 60-feet but it simply is not possible to get that type of training all the time for most amateur hitters.

To simulate 100 MPH fastball from 18 feet, the BP pitch needs to be 32.7 MPH………this gives the hitter the same amount of time from release to contact.

  • 90 MPH is 29.5 MPH,
  • 85 is 27.8, and
  • 80 is 26.2 etc……..

To simulate from 35 feet, 100 MPH would equal a 63.5 MPH BP pitch………

  • 95 MPH equals 60.5,
  • 90 MPH equals 57.3,
  • 85 MPH = 54.1, and
  • 80 = 50.9 etc…

You can never replicate all the factors but the time the ball is in the air is the most important element and that is not too difficult.

I recommend also trying to really pay attention to the pitch trajectory.  Standing up at closer distances will create a steeper angle than real game pitches.  Seated overhand BP best mimics the same line as a game speed fastball, at least at the higher levels.  High school and beyond, I would recommend throwing from a seated position.

 

“What are some drills or ways to help kids 8-10yo with their timing?  I have kids that look great at 20 ft front toss but not so good from 46ft?”

Matt Troupe Locked Pic

Effective Velocity photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

I love the small balls for youth players but I treat all hitters pretty much the same until we get into Level 3, game planning.

I fully explain every concept to youth hitters because they are much smarter than we give them credit for.  The more they understand why one movement is better than another, the more deeply they will try to make it happen.

I honestly treat the younger hitters the same when it comes to the Level 1 & Level 2 Time Training.  It is shocking how good very young hitters are at ‘Acting’ rather than ‘Reacting’ to pitches, once introduced to it.  They simply have not had all the years of bad swing training to get in their way of the more natural method of hunting pitches.

Fear and poor thinking (resulting in poor feelings, resulting in poor swings) are the primary reasons that hitters perform well at close distances and not at game distances.

This is another reason that I like the small ball training.  Hitters have no fear of being hit.  This is another major reason why I named my first hitting program ‘Hitting Is A Guess’.

When you get young hitters to think of it as a guess, they simply make a better guess.  After getting comfortable making an efficient guess (swing) for a period, you try to blend that really comfortable swing into drills closer to real at bats.

You have to practice their ‘Game Swing’ if you want that to get better.  It is easier to get better at their ‘Practice Swing’, but the game swing is a different animal.  Recreate as closely as possible the real speed, distance, visuals, perceived pressures etc…… until they are in control of their game swing as easily as they are for their practice swing.

I put together an instructional league years ago, including a 9 and under team.  And when I say they were beginners, I mean we had to use softy balls to play catch day one, for fear of them hurting each other.

By focusing on making good swings in games, not batting average or results, they made major progress very quickly.  When you take away the pressure of results, hitters get better at transferring their ‘practice swings’ to their ‘game swings’.  You have to practice your game swing if you want it to get better.

What is your opinion of FOMO’s impact on being able to hit the curveball? 

Effective Velocity: Overhead View Lateral Lanes

Effective Velocity: overhead view of lateral lanes. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

I assume that means “Fear Of Missing Out”, not sure on that, maybe forward momentum???

If fear of missing out, this is a major part of why Effective Velocity works and always will, to some degree at least.

Hitters want to cover all pitches, CB, SL, CH, FB, KN and all the rest, and they only have a small 6-MPH Effective Velocity speed range that they will be close to 100/100 (100% on time, 100% swing efficiency).

I believe this has caused most of the poor swing efficiency designs that have caused the severe dip in offense at the MLB level.

My 20+ years of testing proved that hitters have about 5 to 6-MPH Effective Velocity of reactionary ability while being close to 90-100% efficient.  When you test using exit velocity, hitters lose roughly 10% of their maximum exit speed with every pitch speed you show them because they are trying to cover all speeds.

If you test hitters with pitches right down central and get a top speed and an average speed, over 10 swings, most hitters will average about 85% or 90% of their top speed.  Now put them in a 2 strike mentality (they have to swing at all strikes) and locate the same speed pitch as the first round inside and outside randomly and they will lose about 10% of their average speed over 10 balls.

Now go up in and down away with the same speed pitches and the exit speed goes down another 10%.  Add in the off speed pitch that is in the same tunnel as the fastball and the top out tends to drop a bit and the average drops another level.

Most hitters get to 70% all the way down to 40% of their max over a 10 ball average.  This is all caused by FOMO…..or trying to cover all speed pitches.  It simply cannot be done at or near 100% on time with the 100% most efficient swing.

My goal is to get hitters to be 100/100 or 100% on time with 100% swing efficiency or make their ‘A’ swing exactly on time.  FOMO gets hitters closer to 70/70 or 85/85 but rarely, if ever, at or near 100/100.

If FOMO is forward momentum, this is a very different answer and not easily explained.  I have to admit that I am not a fan of the term FoMo all by itself.  I much prefer to look at the overall swing as either efficient or not.

Effective Velocity Zones

Effective Velocity zones. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

FoMo is just one element and does not take into account some of the key elements of exit velocity.  While increasing FoMo will add to the exit velocity in most cases, that is inherent in a great swing design.  The swing is either 100/100 (100% on time/100% efficient……all elements) or some level below that……….and all swing factors are typically affected by a timing change such as CB.

My philosophy requires you to change your paradigm away from sitting in the middle and reacting to all speed pitches, which starts with making the swing efficient as a whole and graduating from ‘Swing School’ to move into timing, pitch recognition and ‘Hunting’.

Effective Velocity works to control Exit Velocity (the other EV) due to the idea that hitters think they can cover all speeds with one approach.

In my teaching, the swing is the same regardless of the speed or type of pitch (at least that’s what we are trying to maintain), so the FoMo will be identical for either swing.  If hitters are sitting on a CB, they might load later or create a longer ‘Hang Time’ during the load, this will lead to the same FoMo exactly.

When hitters are sitting on FB and adjusting to CB, it depends on how early they recognized the CB and how in rhythm they were able to stay.

Bautista is going to load to FB at the fastest speed and adjust to CB if he recognizes it in time.  If he recognizes it late, he will try to hang longer to explode on CB, but this does not always work out.  When he sees it later, the stride may get longer to keep his foot in the air long enough to let the ball get there.  That will cause the FoMo to increase a bit.

This is really a touchy subject because there is a limit to over striding and having the FoMo increase.  There is a point of diminishing returns where the stride getting too long will cut down the turning ability or rotation of the hitter, as well as the ability to release the back side (or both).  A little extra stride length will help, a lot will hurt…….and even that depends on whether the hitter has his max stride length built in to his FB swing.

If that’s the case (which it would be if I helped with the design of the FB swing), then any change in stride length would likely hurt the hitter’s FoMo.

Traditional thinking has hitters getting the foot down early and trying to ‘keep the hands back’ to hit the off speed CB.  Forward Momentum is always affected when the hitter’s swing rhythm is interrupted.  Hitters that hit the CB with forward momentum in tact, adjust to the pitch ‘during the load’, not after the foot has touched down (depending on the method of their load).

When a hitter such as Jose Bautista loads, he is basically loading to FB at the top of the zone (Effective Velocity plus FB), so he is super early in getting his leg kick started.  His foot is in the air at release ——-non-committed to going forward in a hurry.  By the time he gets to the top of his load, he has recognized the pop of the CB over the FB.  If he sees this in time, he can create some ‘hang time’ with his foot in the air.

This allows him to stay in rhythm and hit the CB with the same forward momentum as the FB.  It is not a perfect science but when it works, it is the only way to sit FB and truly hit the CB close to 100/100.

 

Wide stance vs. Narrow Stance in relationship to FOMO. Does wider give more balance and ability to see the ball better, recognize curveball?   Wide stance vs Narrow Stance depends on quite a few factors.  How wide?  Does the wide stance include a stride or not?  Narrow Stance, does it include a tap load or a leg lift?

Effective Velocity: 25 Reachable Points Ball Illustration

Effective Velocity: 25 Reachable Points Ball Illustration. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

I think is about where the hitter is at launch.  I think any stance can work if the next movement includes a load that has leverage and sets up the most efficient movements.

CB is easily recognized no matter your stance, what you can do with it is really the issue.  I prefer a leg lift or a tap so the hitter can create hang time but any stance can work.

Recognizing the CB and being able to hit it at 100/100 are two different things.  The key is figuring out how to load and create hang time.  Every load has pros and cons and the only stance issue for me is whether it takes away from swing efficiency or hang time.  I want max hang time and max efficiency and the stance should enhance that.

No physical swing mechanic is going to allow hitters to hit all pitch speeds at 100/100.  Foot down early, wide stance or small stride to no stride, nothing works to allow you to be 100/100 to all pitches, it is physically impossible.

No hitter has ever done it day in and day out without learning to guess or sit on pitches, at least with elite pitchers at 95 MPH and commanding 2 to 3 off speed pitches.

Design the swing and then…………….and only then………learn to apply that swing at 100/100.

My programs begin at Level 1, swing design, move up to pitch recognition and timing Level 2 which blends the most efficient swing with timing and then game approaches in Level 3, which designs game plans based on the most efficient swing applied to today’s pitcher.

Learn to swing, then learn to hunt pitches, then learn to hunt pitchers.

It is possible for a hitter to get his ‘foot down early’ but not get his ‘mind down’ early.  In other words, if a hitter is prepared to hit a pitch at 100 Effective Velocity-MPH up and inside (Curtis Granderson is a great example of someone capable of this), even though the foot is down early, he can still ‘act’ on the fastest pitch he will see.

This is equivalent to saying that Granderson has an approach that is 90/85 or some semblance of that.  90-95% of his max efficiency of the physical swing and about 75-85% of timing, when he is reacting to all pitches.  At times, I know he is sitting on a pitch, which changes the dynamic and the ratio.  At times, he will be closer to 100% on time with about 90-95% of his swing efficiency.

I don’t believe that any foot down method can be 100% efficient because it takes away from rhythm and FoMo.

The hitting instructors that prescribe these get ready early-type approaches, are saying that this method allows hitters to hit all speeds and that is completely false.  The hitter shortens the stride, gets the foot down early or whatever, this gets the hitter ready to hit the fastest pitch, but then adjust to the slowest off speed.

I reject that idea almost completely, at least at 100/100.  The key element in all this is to learn to ‘ACT’ rather than ‘REACT’.  That is the last word…………..no hitter in the history of the game, including Bonds, Trout etc…. can hit all pitch speeds at 100/100.

There is always give and take, but these type methods will produce 85/85 at best but 85/65 is closer to the truth.

In other words, the swing efficiency is compromised as well as the timing taking its toll on the exit velocity.  This results in the top exit speed dropping as well as the average exit speed dropping significantly.

Neither Trout or Bonds use a foot down method, I am not implying that but I am stating that no method will allow a hitter to hit all pitches at or even near 100/100, while reacting after recognizing the pitch when pitchers are Effective Velocity efficient.

They both incorporate a stride and swing method, Bonds a tap load and Trout a load and hang method, but both stride to hit.  Both also require pitchers to cooperate and throw slower fastballs too.

With that said, there are ways to blend certain approaches so hitters can cover multiple pitch speeds.  I have not published this Level 3 Time Training info but many MLB pitchers create Effective Velocity crossovers  or ie…..FB 95 but located where the Effective Velocity is 90…………the slider at 86 is located close to Effective Velocity 90-MPH so the pitcher is throwing two pitches with the same EV with different radar speeds and in most cases, is not aware.

This gives the hitter (and the pitcher) the illusion that he is covering 95 and 86 but in reality, he is only covering 90-MPH Effective Velocity.

One hitting approach also allows hitters to sit on FB and adjust to obvious off speed pitches, even 20 MPH apart.  However, this requires a bit of help from the pitcher to throw the off speed with the hump that shows itself to the hitter early enough to react to.  When pitches are in a tunnel, hitting pitches hard with big speed differentials goes away to a large degree.

You can find more information from Perry Husband and his Effective Velocity system at the following locations:

Hitting Drills To STOP Pulling Head Off In Baseball Or Softball Swing

Learn hitting drills to STOP pulling your head off the baseball or softball.  Discover a more balanced swing position when batting.

Batting Practice Secrets To Fix Swinging Too Hard

 

 

Batting practice and training seems to be met with a caveman’s mentality…Me see ball.  Me swing bat hard.  Me crush ball far.  I can always tell when a young hitter is swinging too hard by the following:

  1. Pulling the head,
  2. A clenched jaw, and/or
  3. NO balance upon the follow through.

One great Big League example of caveman swinging is Yoenis Cespedes of the Boston Red Sox.  In this video, we’re going to talk about how to correct swinging harder:

  • Problem with Reciprocal Inhibition relating to improper batting practice,
  • Cadence is key, and
  • Proprioception and swinging blind…

Problem with Reciprocal Inhibition Relating to Improper Batting Practice

Watch this simple demonstration on Reciprocal Inhibition (RI) from a Physical Therapist (start at the 0:38 mark):

 

 

Consider this:

  1. Imagine bicep curling a 25-pound dumbbell…bicep contracts while brain tells muscle on opposite side (tricep) to contract less,
  2. Now think about holding the same 25-pound dumbbell in mid-curl, arm is at a 90-degree angle, and forearm is parallel to the ground…
Reciprocal Inhibition

The quad (green) contracting more, while the hamstring (red) contracts less in this stretch. Photo courtesy: BandhayYoga.com

What’s happening there on #2 above?

It’s called an isometric muscle contraction, and is when both the bicep and tricep are contracting equally on both sides.

Your brain is smart.  One of it’s many jobs is to manage tension around a joint (i.e. the elbow).  To protect it.  When you have bicep tendinitis, the length-tension relationship is upset.  What happens is, the brain tells a muscle to tighten protecting a particular joint, until length-tension balance is restored…

How do you fix this?

According to the Physical Therapist in the above video link, you strengthen the muscles opposite the tight area.  The brain can then contract the tight area less and restoring the length-tension relationship around the joint.  And this ADDS more efficiency to dynamic movement…

Otherwise, this would be like driving your car with the parking brake on!

During batting practice (or in games), when we swing too hard, we’re driving the car with the parking brake on.  It seems counter-intuitive to what we normally would think.  But bio-mechanically speaking, this would be like the #2 scenario of the bicep -mid-curl above.  We see the head pull out and jaw tighten because the brain is protecting the joints in the neck (C-Spine) and jaw from overload.  And this can cause the hitter NOT be balanced in the follow through.

Cadence is Key

Did you know there’s a specific cadence, or tempo, to repetitive human movement?  According to the book Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, by Danny and Katherine Dreyer, consider these two popular long distance movements:

  • Running – count how many times the right arm swings forward per minute.  It should be between 85-90 times.  Whether uphill or downhill.
  • Cycling – count each time the right knee floats up per minute while pedaling.  Should be 85-90 times.  Top cyclists change gears uphill or downhill to keep within these guidelines.

Faster than that, and tempo gets disrupted…parking brake gets applied.  Batting practice is no different when it comes to a specific tempo.  I once read someone say in a hitting forum that you have to swing as hard as you possibly can…wait for it…under COMPLETE control…

 

 Proprioception & Swinging Blind

Batting Practice Secrets To Fix Swinging Too Hard (a al Yoenis Cespedes)

Yoenis Cespedes swinging blind photo courtesy: MLB.com 😛

I know that’s a big scary word, but experiencing it is easy…stand on one foot, now shut your eyes.  You’ve just experienced Proprioception.

The best fix for swinging too hard is…drum roll please….

Swinging with your eyes closed.  Remember what I wrote about a hitter swings as hard as possible…under COMPLETE control?

This is how to practice taking the parking brake off during batting practice and games.

Also, remember the symptoms of swinging too hard I mentioned at the beginning of this video post…?  Here are the fixes:

  • Pulling the head – the chin should be somewhere slightly out front of impact,
  • A clenched jaw – get the hitter to keep a small gap between their molars as they’re swinging, AND
  • NO balance upon the follow through – have the hitter practice swinging as hard as they can with their eyes closed, while keeping balance.  If they fall over, then they’re swinging too hard.

The latter one, please DO NOT have them do this around any sharp or breakable objects that might hurt them :-/  You see, Yoenis Cespedes can win two All-Star home-run derbies in a row because he knows what pitch is coming, at what speed, and what location (for the most part).  He can get away from pulling his head.  In a game?  It’s a different

 

BONUS Material

Want to help put the batting practice parking brake on vacation?  Here are my two favorite corrective exercises that a majority of my new hitters have a problem with:

  1. Passive Leg Lower (hip mobility) – week one: 1 set X 12 reps each leg, week two: 1 set X 15 reps each leg, week three: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, and week four: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg…do once daily.  Will increase running stride length, which indirectly can help them run faster.
  2. Ankle Circles (ankle mobility) – do three circles clockwise AND counterclockwise at each ankle position…do at least 2-3 times per day everyday.  Can get rid of shin splints and plantar fasciitis.
Hitting Well In Cage Batting Practice, But Why Struggling At Plate? Baseball Or Softball Mental Block Slump? How To Simulate Game Like LIVE Pitching!

Is your son or daughter hitting well practicing in the batting cage, but wondering why they’re struggling at the plate?  Do they seem to suffer from a baseball or softball mental block slump?  Discover how to make adjustments and simulate game like LIVE pitching!

Baseball Batting Cages: How To Transition Practice Into Game Swings

 

 

CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 9: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs hits a solo home run in the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 9, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

In this baseball batting cages strategy video, we answer the following reader question…

“I Have Several Young Hitters That Are Great In Baseball Batting Cages But Have Trouble Transitioning Those Techniques Into Game Situations.  How Do I Teach That?”

We’ll go over:

  • Over-coaching OR giving instruction during games,
  • Promoting focused quality OR unfocused quantity swings at practices, and
  • Training timing, plate discipline, and pitch recognition.

PLEASE NOTE: this is a complex issue, and to do the subject any justice, a 30-minute video and 4,000+ word post would suffice.  However, I don’t have that time after adding a newly minted baby girl to our family.

So, I urge coaches to PLEASE contribute your comments at the end of this post, in the “Comments” section, of any other factors and/or fixes that I may have missed you think contribute to a successful transition from baseball batting cages (including softball coaches) to game at-bats.  Many THANKS in advance!

Without further adieu, I’m going to hit the BIG three I think are the primary causes to the above coach’s challenge…

Over-Coaching OR Giving Instruction During Games

CLICK HERE to read this HPL post on what every coach needs to know about giving feedback to hitters.

From the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) website…

Mike Brey, the head Notre Dame men’s basketball coach, says ‘don’t coach every dribble’ in the following video:

3 things Coach Brey brings up about how to give feedback:

  1. Talk about something they did good,
  2. Then bring up some of the mistakes they made, and end with…
  3. Highlighting something they did good, again.

I call this tactic the constructive feedback sandwich.

Coach Tony LaRussa mentions, in his book One Last Strike, the ‘Pat & Pop’ Method of giving feedback to his players. The ‘Pat’ is the pat on the back (what they’re doing right), and the ‘Pop’ is the pop in the mouth (calling attention to the mistakes they made).

Men’s Notre Dame basketball Coach Mike Brey also mentions the WORST thing you can do is have a player looking at the “bench” after every play…or the dugout…or down the third base line.

Legendary baseball coach at Fresno State, Bob Bennett, who was my coach for three years, would sit in his chair at the clubhouse end of the dugout during games, with one leg crossed over the other, taking notes the whole game.  He would rarely offer mechanical changes to players.

He just let us compete.  During games, Coach Bennett focused his time on making situational game decisions.

It was at practice the notes he took during games – of the mistakes we made – would come to life.  CLICK HERE for an audio interview I did with Coach Bennett over lunch.

So ask yourself the following question,

If you feel your players (or hitters) aren’t transitioning their swing from the baseball batting cages to game at-bats…

Are you over-coaching (‘coaching EVERY dribble), and/or giving instruction during games?

YES/NO?

Promoting Focused Quality OR Unfocused Quantity Swings at Practice

Baseball Batting Cages: Principle of Specificity (Milo of Croton)

Milo of Croton’s body had to adapt (get stronger) to the demands put on it by the growing bull. Photo courtesy: miloandthecalf.com

Training MUST fit the sport’s objective.

In weight training, this is called the Principle of Specificity.  Specificity according to FitStar.com:

“Specificity is the principle of training that states what you do in the gym should be relevant and appropriate to your desired outcome.”

During a baseball or softball game, a pitch is thrown once every 10-20 seconds.

A hitter may see THREE strikes in an at-bat, and may accumulate FOUR at-bats per game, so they may see TWELVE good pitches to swing at per game.

True, not all strikes are in the strike zone at the lower levels, but my point is, swing opportunities are lower in games.

So, am I saying to ration out swings to hitters at practice?

No, not at all.

I’m suggesting a change in coaching paradigm.

What I’m saying is, swings in baseball batting cages MUST be trained with focused quality, not with unfocused quantity.

Baseball batting cages training MUST prioritize the following:

  • Plate discipline FIRST (are we swinging at strikes, YES/NO?),
  • Timing SECOND (are we on time, YES/NO?), and
  • Mechanics THIRD (are we swinging effectively, YES/NO?)

After each five swing round, I ask my hitters these three questions…and it’s rare that I get a hitter regressing after 3-5 rounds of focused quality hacks.  Training MUST be more challenging (and frustrating), than game at-bats.

In games, hitters MUST NOT worry about mechanics, just make sure they’re swinging at strikes and getting on-time.  Competing.  Mechanics are for working on at practice or outside of game AB’s.

Free swinging batting practice, although fun as heck, does NOTHING for producing quality game at-bats.

What mechanics are considered effective versus ineffective?

CLICK HERE for a post I did answering that, in addition to how to get hitters buying into this system.

What’s an example of a baseball batting cages drill that is ineffective training for game at-bats?

Rapid fire soft toss.

WHY?

Because a hitter NEVER has to swing like this in a game!

Please go revisit the definition of the Principle of Specificity above.

The coaching rebuttal to the Rapid Fire Soft Toss Drill is, “But we’re working on quick hands”.

Okay, so if the objective of a pitcher was to throw three balls one after the other in quick succession, then rapid fire soft toss would work.

However, this isn’t how pitches are thrown in games work…

Pitchers throw one pitch every 10-20 seconds.  Not three pitches every 10-20 seconds.

Game swings are NOT about quick hands.  They’re about timing.  One of the pitcher’s objective is to disrupt this.  If a hitter is behind…they’re late…and THEIR TIMING IS OFF!!

In other words, it may not be a mechanical issue.

Please stay far away from this drill…

Sure, their hands or bat speed may be slow because of something like bat drag, but I’m here to tell you that the Rapid Fire Soft Toss Drill WILL NEVER help bat drag.  This coach would be throwing gasoline on a fire, mechanically.

This is why fixing ineffective hitting mechanics add more reaction time to a hitter, because when a hitter moves better, they perform better.

Effectiveness is doing the right things, and efficiency is doing those things right.

Look, coaches have to understand the principles before coming up with the methods for fixing.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said this about principles:

“The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Remember, our hitting objective priorities are:

  1. Plate discipline,
  2. Timing, and then
  3. Mechanics.

A hitter’s mechanics may be clean, but NOT swinging at strikes and NOT being on time WILL cause a mechanical breakdown…no matter how clean the mechanics.

So ask yourself the following question,

If you feel your players (or hitters) aren’t transitioning their swing from the baseball batting cages to game at-bats…

In baseball batting cages are you promoting focused quality OR unfocused quantity swings?

YES/NO?

Which leads me to the topics of…

 

Training Timing, Plate Discipline, and Pitch Recognition

Baseball Batting Cages: Joey Votto

Joey Votto is one of the best with plate discipline. Photo courtesy of Red-Hot-Mama.com

In this section, I have a lot of HPL resources for you, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel here…

TIMING

PLATE DISCIPLINE

The post above is more advanced and is what I learned from Fresno State head baseball coach Mike Batesole my senior year in 2003.  Btw, he was the head coach at Fresno State when the Bulldogs won the College World Series in 2008.

However, I recommend the strategy mentioned in the Matt Holliday link to the college level on up.  High School coaches can experiment with it, typically when facing higher functioning pitchers.  The challenge with it is that most pitchers at the lower levels aren’t as skilled at consistently placing pitches where they want them.

So, my recommendation for the lower levels is to focus on whether they swinging at strikes or not.  Make it simple.  Talk about the strike zone.  What’s a good pitch to hit and what is not.

PITCH RECOGNITION

So ask yourself the following question,

If you feel your players (or hitters) aren’t transitioning their swing from the baseball batting cages to game at-bats…

In baseball batting cages are you training timing, plate discipline, and pitch recognition?

YES/NO?

Coaches, PLEASE contribute anything I may have missed in regard to factors and/or fixes you feel contribute to a successful transition from baseball batting cages (including softball) to game at-bats.

Again, MANY thanks in advance!

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab
Perfect Swing Hacking With Forward Momentum: Mike Trout

Note the gentleman in the stands with the hat and Mariners shirt on (red arrow) as Mike Trout’s head moves forward to landing. Photo courtesy: YouTube user: PastTimeAthletics.com

Learn how to keep head position and eye on the ball with stride length for baseball and softball swings.  Discover MLB players load stride hitting versus no stride batting drillsPLEASE NOTE: it is our position at HPL that the stride mostly contributes to timing, NOT power.

Perfect Swing Hacking With Forward Momentum

The most common objection I hear from my hitters is their coaches are dumping on them for using forward momentum.  Because – they say – there’s too much head movement!  These coaches keep saying the perfect swing shouldn’t have head movement.

In a way, they’re right!  But there’s a bit of confusion as to when head movement is okay…and not okay.  You see, the perfect swing, has head movement.  ALL dynamic movement does.  Did you know our head bobs up and down when we walk and run?  Try watching television upside down and you’ll see it clear as day.

Click Here for a SABR.org study titled: “Baseball Swing Stride and Head Movement Relationships”, from SAMUEL J. HAAG, an assistant professor of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at Concordia University, St. Paul.  The study concluded:

“The present findings suggest stride height and stride length are not associated with displacement of the head during the baseball swing in experienced collegiate baseball players.”

But it’s the timing of head movement that matters.  In this post, we’re going over:

  • Balance without thinking,
  • Debunking a common objection & a study, AND
  • Perfect swing examples…

Balance Without Thinking

Proprioception.  I know it’s a big ugly word.  But it has A LOT to do with the perfect swing.  At least when we talk about head movement.  Experiencing proprioception is easier than saying the word itself!

Try this…

Stand up, lift one leg, and close your eyes… You feel your standing ankle and foot wobbling to balance your body?  This balance happens without you having to think about it.  It’s an unconscious process, like breathing.  Here’s how balance without thinking breaks down when looking at the perfect swing…

  • Scenario #1 The Sit Back Hitter – during stride, keep 60% of weight on BACK leg, being soft with the landing foot like you’re stepping on unbroken eggshells.
  • Scenario #2 The Forward Momentum Hitter – during stride, commit 60% of body weight to FRONT leg at landing, thereby breaking the “eggshells” in scenario #1.

Let’s apply proprioception to where the two scenarios left off above… In Scenario #1, to bring the body back to balance, the brain shifts the weight forward during the Final Turn.  In other words, the heads moves later.

In scenario #2, to restore balance, the brain shifts the weight back during the Final Turn.  Because of the transfer of linear into angular momentum, the head will become the center axis of rotation along with the spine.

We sacrifice head movement early, for little to no head movement later.

Do an experiment with the two scenarios above.  Record your swing using the Coaches Eye or Ubersense app.  Try and swing as hard as you can under complete control.  And note the change in head position between the two scenarios.  In a perfect swing, you’re going to have head movement.  But the question is, when do you want it?  BEFORE or DURING the Final Turn?

 

Debunking a Common Objection & a Study

CLICK HERE for a great FanGraphs study that Dan Farnsworth did on June 17, 2013 titled “Breaking Down the Swing: Best Hitters of 2012”.  Scroll down a ways and start reading under the section: “Keep Your Head Still”.

Farnsworth compiled a list of the top 50 hitters from the 2012 season according to Fangraphs’ Batting component of WAR.  He looked at side views of each of these hitters from highlights of the 2012 season in which each player hit a homerun.  You can read the details of how he compiled his measurements in his post.

As Farnsworth says, the main complaint coaches have with Forward Momentum, or early head movement, is that moving the head forward “speeds up the ball”.  This may be true…

But during the stride, the hitter hasn’t made a definitive decision to swing yet.  So again, if you know head movement is inevitable during dynamic movement, then when do you want it to happen?  BEFORE or DURING the Final Turn?

Does a quarterback “rolling out” to throw to a fast moving receiver have head movement?  Yes, until his plant leg hits the ground before throwing.  Does a soccer player have head movement quickly dribbling the ball down the field to get closer to the goal, weaving in and out of defenders?  Yes, until their plant foot hits the ground to kick.  I can go on and one with Olympic Throwers and Shot Putters!

Really think about the answer to that question.

 

Perfect Swing Examples…

When you watch the following videos, pick out someone or something in the stands behind the hitter to use as a frame of reference in watching for head movement. The following examples were the TOP-5 OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage) hitters in 2014:

 

1. Victor Martinez (toe tap)

 

2. Jose Abreu (toe tap)

 

3. Andrew McCutchen (slide step)

 

4. Giancarlo Stanton (toe tap)

 

5. Mike Trout (medium leg kick)

 

 

 

6. Paul Goldschmidt (little to no stride – technically a toe tap)

 

 

7. Albert Pujols (little to no stride)

 

 

Improve Baseball And Softball Batting Timing Rhythm Tips

Learn checklist tips on how to improve batting timing and rhythm for baseball and softball players.  Discover hitting drills to fix a late or early swing, swinging and missing, and getting the front foot down.

Softball Hitting Drills Fastpitch Video: How To Improve Timing Almost Instantly

 

 

Softball Hitting Drills Fastpitch: Brandon Moss Timing Adjustment

Brandon Moss 2014 synced swings. Look at when he picks his front foot up (in relation to what point in pitcher’s delivery) when homering on a 77-mph KB off R.A. Dickey versus hitting a dinger off a 93-mph FB from Felix Hernandez. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

A softball hitting drills fastpitch reader question came in recently that relates well to baseball…

Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?”

Here’s what we’ll cover in this softball hitting drills fastpitch for timing post:

  • Bad Hitting Outcome Evaluation Checklist,
  • The Art of Variance: Bean Bag Study, and
  • Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill…

Bad Hitting Outcome Evaluation Checklist

After each 3-5 swing round with one of my hitters, we go through a powerful 3-step Bad Hitting Outcome Eval Checklist (in order of priority):

  1. How many strikes did you swing at?
  2. How many swings felt on-time?
  3. How did we do with our mechanical focuses?

I should probably mention that we do this while working softball hitting drills fastpitch drills such as the Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill.

I use minimal to zero feedback between swings, until the round is over.  Why minimal to zero feedback? CLICK HERE to read this post on “What Every Coach Must Know About Giving Feedback To Hitters”.

Why 3-5 swing rounds and not 15-20?  CLICK HERE to read this testimonial on how to make practice swings game ready.

And within 3-5 rounds of 5 swings each round (so 15-25 total swings), there’s a marked difference in the hitter’s plate discipline, timing, and mechanics…for the good.

And it doesn’t matter the age.

If there IS NOT a progression in their ability to swing at more strikes, get on-time, and hone effective mechanics within that swing round, then either:

  • The coach is instructing too much between swings, OR
  • The player needs a little education on their strike zone, how timing must change at the different distances, or, to take pressure off swing outcomes, and put pressure on executing a specific swing movement instead.

It must be said, that in games, coach will only focus on points one and two of the Bad Hitting Outcomes Eval Checklist.  Players MUST be free to compete in games, not worry about mechanics.

 

Softball Hitting Drills Fast-pitch The Art of Variance: Bean Bag Study

So I don’t have to beat a dead horse, here are a couple resources to catch you up to speed on this:

Some of my hitting friends, whom I respect in their knowledge and experience, don’t believe we can teach timing.  I disagree however.  Not only can we teach timing, but we can SPEED UP the learning process!

Here’s one of my favorite drills for timing…

 

Varied Reaction LIVE Toss Timing Drill

Using the same principle as the Bean Bag Toss Study above, I regularly vary reaction times with our hitters.  The following video is how to setup one of my favorite softball hitting drills fast-pitch for timing (works well for baseball too):

Distances, whether we’re talking baseball or softball, are different, so use common sense on this.  Depending on the hitter’s official plate to mound distance, I will put 5-15 feet of distance between the two plates.

And remember, the L-screen stays where it’s at…the HITTER moves between the two plates.

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

Fun youth how to teach a no stride, toe tap, and leg kick hitting tips for beginner baseball and softball swing. Hit drills for 6 to 10 years old questions ANSWERED: Where does front foot land, when to stride, and what is the stride length?

Baseball Batting Techniques: Simple Way To Use Forward Momentum That Works For Elite Hitters

Baseball Batting Techniques: Dustin Pedroia and Forward Momentum

Dustin Pedroia, the King of FoMo. Photo courtesy: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In this baseball batting techniques post, we’ll talk about how elite MLB sluggers employ Forward Momentum (FoMo for short).

I’m going to answer the following questions from my readers:

  1. Does a hitter transfer all their weight to the front leg at some point in the swing?
  2. Does FoMo stride need to be big or small?
  3. Does the back foot “follow” the front with FoMo?
  4. Can a wide no-stride hitter utilize Forward Momentum?
  5. Are FoMo hitters more vulnerable to off speed and breaking stuff?

Keep in mind, forward momentum is the objective, and in this baseball batting techniques post, I’ll show different elite hitter examples of forward momentum.  The important thing isn’t what you use to get Forward Momentum, it’s the Forward Momentum itself.

Let’s get to it…

 

Does a hitter transfer all their weight to the front leg at some point in the swing?

Yes.  With elite sluggers, it’s rare you don’t find them shifting their weight from back to forward.  We typically see one of a few baseball batting techniques associated with FoMo: 1) a “Float”, or a slight weight shift back, then 2) a “Free Fall” forward.

And FYI during the Float, yes it’s okay for the back knee to drift over the foot, and NOT have to unnaturally be ‘shoved’ inside it.

You’ll see the following hitters, who try and start with the back knee inside the back foot (Jose Bautista), will accidently float the knee back out before falling forward.

The dead give away of elite hitters shifting their weight is to look at the weight distribution at impact.  You’ll see a weight-free back leg at the start of the turning pelvis…

Andrew “Cutch” McCutchen

Troy “Tulo” Tulowitzki

Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista

 

Does FoMo stride need to be big or small?

Whatever the hitter is comfortable with.  In other words, don’t be so specific in teaching certain Forward Momentum baseball hitting techniques.  Remember, the objective is that they’re employing Forward Momentum.  We don’t really care how they get there.

Feel free to recommend your hitters tinker with and test the following FOUR stride types:

Josh “The Bringer of Rain” Donaldson (BIG Leg Kick)

Dustin “Laser Show” Pedroia (MEDIUM Leg Kick)

Robinson “Mercedes” Cano (SMALL Leg Kick/Slide Step)

Victor Martinez (Toe Tap)

Does the back foot “follow” the front with FoMo?

It doesn’t have to, but I like it too.  If a hitter gets too wide with the stride, and the back foot isn’t allowed to follow, then the hitter will have a challenge getting a tight back knee angle, which is responsible for a better ball launch angle.  CLICK HERE for the back knee angle Zepp experiment.

Roberto “The Great One” Clemente (watch at the 0:33 mark and beyond)

Mike “Millville Meteor” Trout

Bryce “Bam Bam” Harper

CLICK HERE for one of my favorite baseball batting techniques, the Back Foot Variance Drill.

Can a wide no-stride hitter utilize Forward Momentum?

Here are my questions for a coach who would ask this about baseball batting techniques:

  • “Why are you hooked on being so wide with the feet at the start, and/or not allowing a stride?…”
  • “Is it about minimizing head movement?”
  • “Is it cutting down on moving parts?”
  • “Is it a timing thing?”

Coaches on Facebook have told me, the stride is too hard to teach, or for a young hitter to get.  Apparently this poison was shared during a speech at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) conference.

I’m not convinced, especially when 3-year-old Chinese females are learning some of the most complex human movements in Gymnastics.

Furthermore,

Look to other explosive athletes that almost NEVER start wide with their feet:

  • Pitchers,
  • Olympic Divers,
  • Olympic Throwers,
  • Soccer Players,
  • Quarterbacks, Linebackers, and Deep Backs…

Sometimes, it’s not about choosing particular baseball batting techniques.  It’s a mindset.  I always stress to my hitters, get athletic from the start, and be athletic when you land, so you can transfer the max amount of energy from your body, into the barrel, then to the ball.

About head movement, it’s going to happen. CLICK HERE for a compelling baseball batting techniques analysis by Dan Farnsworth at FanGraphs.com, that demystifies that elite hitters are keeping their head still (Read under “Keep Your Head Still” section).

If it’s about timing, then it’s the timing that must be adjusted.  There are only two timing elements:

  1. When the hitter starts their swing, and
  2. How long they ‘Float’.

A hitter can change one or the other, or both.  It’s up to them.

Those are the adjustments, it’s not a “stride issue”.  CLICK HERE for my favorite baseball batting techniques for timing.

Even big guys use Forward Momentum.  It just looks more subtle…coming in the form of a ‘sliding’ of the pelvis (Cruz and Pujols are great examples of this below)…

Miguel “Miggy” Cabrera

Nelson “Boomstick” Cruz

Albert “The Machine” Pujols

 

Are FoMo hitters more vulnerable to off speed and breaking stuff?

This is common issue #2 that coaches have with Forward Momentum, a hitter cannot adjust to breaking or off-speed stuff.

I invite you to look at the following sluggers who use FoMo, and their stats don’t reveal they had trouble adjusting to off speed and breaking stuff:

All these hitters had exceptional power, high averages, low strikeouts, and high walks compared to today’s hitters.

Last but certainly not least…

David “Big Papi” Ortiz

And how about Big Papi?  Why wouldn’t we mention him, right?! He just hit his 500th career homer!  He starts and finishes in the same spot, but there’s a whole lot of FoMo going on in-between:

 

In Conclusion

When it comes to baseball batting techniques, Forward Momentum is the objective.  How we get our hitters there doesn’t really matter.  Just give them examples of how to accomplish more FoMo, and allow them to tinker and test until they find something they’re comfortable with doing.

CLICK HERE to Enter for a chance to Win one free account access to The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power online video course (a $77 value).  You have until 12:00pm PST today to enter.  To better your chances of winning, you can spread the word on social media.  I’ll be picking the winner Monday, September 21st, and reaching out via email.  Good luck! 😀

Contest UPDATE: this contest is now closed, and Jon Ball was our winner!

Learn How To Hit Faster Pitching See Fastball Better Fix Late Swing For Baseball And Softball

Learn how to hit faster pitching, see the fastball better (pitch recognition), and fix late swing (2-plate drill) for baseball and softball players.  Discover practical drills to simulate hitting 80, 85, and 90-mph LIVE off pitching machine.

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Confidently Dominate Pitchers That Throw Heat

 

 

This is Part-1 of a 3-part fastpitch softball hitting tips (works well for baseball too) video series coming straight out of the Reaction Time Mastery online video course…

Hitting Training - Reaction Time Mastery

Sick of struggling to get your hitters on-time, balanced, and keeping high Ball Exit Speeds, especially while hitting off-speed and breaking pitches?  This online video course (7-modules total) reveals cutting edge science on the topics of: Vision, Tracking, Timing, and Forward Momentum.

Finally, you’ll be able to track pitches crystal clear, accelerate reaction time decision-making, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness with this “secret” online video course you can’t live without.

If you haven’t already, then CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Reaction Time Mastery Online Video Course

In this fastpitch softball hitting tips video, we answer the following reader question:

“How to handle fear of pitcher throwing heat?”

We’ll discuss the following fastpitch softball hitting tips:

  • Goal is to keep swing tempo the same,
  • Adjust timing, DO NOT speed up swing tempo, and
  • Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson.

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #1: Goal is to Keep Swing Tempo the Same

All human actions require tempo or cadence…

The magic for a long distance runner happens when they count their right hand swinging forward 85-90 times per minute. Whether running, up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Have you ever ran downhill sprints, gotten really fatigued, and took a spill?  This was because the body’s slower tired tempo couldn’t keep up with the speed required to stay on your feet.

Furthermore…

The magic for a cyclist happens when they count their right foot/pedal reaching its apex 85-90 times per minute, regardless of moving up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Do you know what they do to stay within that range when going uphill or downhill?

Correct,

They change gears.

And most of you know…

In swinging a bat, the hitter is LIMITED on the amount of time they have to decide and swing.  The hitter must process the following information, as quickly as possible, pitch:

  1. Type,
  2. Speed, and
  3. Location…

This can be real challenging for the brain.  If the hitter’s timing is behind, such as is the case with a pitcher that throws heat, the hitter’s brain will begin “cutting out” excessive movements to get the barrel to the ball.

Essential hitting mechanics I often see getting “cut out” when a hitter’s tempo is behind:

  • NOT landing short, resulting in poor use of Ground Reaction Forces,
  • Front shoulder flying open too early, resulting in NOT effectively pre-loading the springy fascia in the torso,
  • NOT striding, resulting in the absence of getting a ‘head start’ and swinging from a dead stop,
  • NOT staying short, resulting in a ‘taller’ swinger, positive launch angles (not good for driving the ball), and will consistently drive the ball into the ground (VERY unproductive to run production, evidenced in my ‘Ground-ball Rant’), and/or
  • Won’t allow for the natural NIKE-swoosh barrel path to unravel, resulting in using an ineffective hand path to the ball, shortening the time the barrel spends on the plane of the pitch.

And from there, compensations occur, and the hitter loses the ability to optimally transfer energy from body to barrel to ball.

So, even with pitchers that throw heat,

We have to keep a consistent swing tempo

So, in knowing that, what do we have to clean up?

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #2: Adjust Timing, DO NOT Speed Up Swing Tempo 

My biggest fastpitch softball hitting tips advice when it comes to dominating a faster pitcher is to:

Brandon Moss homers off R.A. Dickey knuckle-ball

Brandon Moss homers on R.A. Dickey 76-mph knuckleball. Do you think he had to change his timing to do that? Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Start the swing sooner,
  • ‘Float’ less, or
  • A little of both.

And in the case of a slower pitcher, you’d reverse these elements:

  • Start swing later,
  • ‘Float longer, or
  • A combination of both.

You see, we want our hitter’s natural swing tempo, regardless of whether they’re facing a fast or slow pitcher.

What do I mean by when the swing starts?

I tell my hitters, their swing starts, as soon as they make the decision to pick up their front foot.

What about the ‘Float’?  What is it?

CLICK HERE for this other RANT post I did on that.  Scroll down to the section I sub-titled, “Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #1: Using the ‘Float’”.

Also, CLICK HERE for this post showing a video of Jose Bautista, revealing what critical, but simple, change he made to his timing from the 2009 and 2010 seasons that has transformed him into the Joey Bats of today.

My favorite drill for speeding up the eyes on a machine, to help with hitting 80-90 mph (whatever is considered “fast”), is to set up the machine to throw about the fast velocity you want your hitters to adapt to.  Then have your hitters take a big step towards the machine after every swing.  After about 4-6 BIG steps forward, then have them return to the beginning.  What you’ll find is that they will be out front, whereas they were behind on the first swings.

If you want to condition hitters to hit 80 mph, then they MUST see 90.  If you want them hitting 90, then they MUST see 100.  100?  They MUST see 110.

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #3: Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Effective Velocity

Perry Husband diagram demonstrating Effective Velocity and the hitter’s differences in ‘perceived’ velocity. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

When it comes to plate approach, fastpitch softball hitting tips that hitters at all levels MUST put into practice comes from Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity program.

He’s one of the experts I called on to contribute a couple videos to the Reaction Time Mastery online video course.

CLICK HERE for the interview I did with him on the blog.

Basically, Effective Velocity is about a hitter’s perceived pitch velocity.  For example, the radar gun registers a pitcher’s fastball velocity at 90-mph, down the middle of the plate…

However, if the same pitch is located inside or high in the strike zone, the hitter actually sees that ball faster, between THREE to SIX-mph faster.

And the reverse is true of the pitch locating outside or down in the zone.

My friend Taylor Gardner shared a conversation with me that his hitting mentor Matt Nokes had with Hall Of Famer Frank Robinson on his plate approach when facing pitchers that throw heat…

Frank Robinson said he was looking for the pitcher’s fastest pitch up and in, and adjusting to everything else.  Not saying this plan will work for everyone, but if you don’t have a plan, it’s a great place to start.

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

Discover simple timing and rhythm hitting tips from Matt Nokes to quickly improve and fix a too early or late swing for baseball and softball batters.  Get the front foot down on time and in games.

Timing Drills For Hitting A Softball Video: Quickly & Easily Get Hitters On-Time w/ “Snap Drill”

 

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

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

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!

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

Discover the best online pitch recognition hitting drills website game app for baseball and softball players.  Tips to see the ball and pitch better, fix late swing timing, and help your batter that may be struggling to hit.

Get Rid of Pitch Recognition, Plate Discipline, & Timing Challenges Once and For All 

Photo courtesy: News.Missouri.Edu

In this post,

I answer the following three fan questions:

  • How do you practice picking up the pitch early?
  • Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched? And,
  • Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

The following is a compilation of resources I wish I had when I was still playing.

Coaches, if you aren’t taking full advantage of these, then you’ll be slowly losing ground in games over the next 5 years, that I can assure you.  Get out ahead!

Onward…

 

How do you practice picking up the pitch early?

Check out the feedback software you can use to work on getting GREAT at pitch recognition.  Dr. Peter Fadde calls this ‘video occlusion’, which allows a hitter to focus on pattern recognition for the first 10-20 feet of ball flight.  CLICK HERE for a blog interview I did with Dr. Fadde for more information on the benefits of his ‘video occlusion’ training.

The greatest thing about the GameSense software, is that coaches can keep track of their players’ use of the software with real numbers.  What’s measurable is manageable.

As a player, I would’ve eaten this up when I was younger.

And yes, it requires a subscription, and the pricing plans differ depending on usage.  On the homepage, GameSense is offering a free trial, so you can check it out and see if it’s right for you.

CLICK HERE to grab your FREE trial of the GameSense app that focuses on pitch recognition training…i.e. picking the ball up early out of the pitcher’s hand.

By the ways, gS Pitch-IQ was named one of the best products at the 2017 ABCA convention in Anaheim!

Do you have players swing at everything during batting practice or let them be selective? What drills are good for teaching a player to hit a ball where it is pitched?

I’m not sure I’d ever let hitters swing at everything during batting practice.  Everything we do at practice, as coaches, MUST have a purpose.  And that purpose MUST prepare our players for the game environment.

CLICK HERE to watch YouTuber Trevor Ragan compare the benefits of training “ugly” in a post I did showing how to EFFECTIVELY transition grooved batting practice swings into game ones.

Here’s why swinging at everything in the cages DOES NOT translate into games…motor skill learning in a competitive environment MUST follow these three steps:

  1. READ – i.e. pitch recognition and spin
  2. PLAN – i.e. timing
  3. DO – the swing

You see, when a hitter swings at everything in the cages, most of what they’re working on is in the “DO” portion.  There’s very little READ or PLAN present, which is required in a game environment.

“Massed Training”, as defined by SchoolOfThinking.org, is said to be a far less effective strategy for retaining knowledge or developing skills. In other words, practicing the same thing over and over again WITHOUT a break and evaluation period is inferior to spaced and/or ugly training.  CLICK HERE for my Hitting Outcomes Evaluation Checklist.

So what does being selective in the cages look like:

  • After every 5-swing round, the hitter is asked, “How many strikes did you swing at?”  (and they’re affirmed or corrected based on their answer)
  • You can also do what I call is a Reverse Strike-Zone round.  This is where they MUST swing at “balls” – within reason, you don’t want them throwing their bat in the cage – and taking “strikes”. WHY would you do this?  It helps define a hitters strike-zone/hitting zone, and offers a better variety of body movement which the body’s springy fascia LOVES!!  This will melt their brain by the way 😛 lol
  • CLICK HERE for this post I did on plate discipline – splitting the plate up into 2/3’s and 1/3 is another great way to teach your hitters to be more selective.
  • This answers the second part to the reader question above…you can also turn on READ, PLAN, DO by limiting what parts of the field you want the hitter to hit to, OR limit certain elevations you want the hitter to hit at, regardless of pitch type, location, and speed.  Addressing the former…you can setup targets out in the field preferably in spots where you don’t find any fielders (gaps/down the lines), and hitter has to hit the target as hard as they can.  Addressing the latter…I’ve seen some coaches place shagging screens about 30 to 50-feet from the batter’s box creating a barrier to hitting ground-balls, and the objective is to hit the ball hard over the screens.
  • Random pitch type rounds – an example of this is randomly throwing either a 2-seam fast-ball or a curve-ball, and having the hitter stick to seeking out one pitch over the other for one 5-swing round.
  • 2 or 3-plate drill rounds – where the hitter moves from different plate distances between or during 5 swing rounds.  The plates can be placed about 3 to 5 feet apart.  This is a GREAT timing drill.
  • Doing situational hitting rounds…hit-and-runs, move runner over, and bunts/drags/pushes.

I’m sure other coaches have cool deviations of the above, so please SHARE in the comments section below.

The point is, hitters should have a purpose when taking batting practice, NOT just swinging at everything, IF they want to match the game environment.

 

Why is Timing not taught throughout majority instructors? Great mechanics are good but without Timing principles, you just look good going back to the dugout. What are some of the different ways you would teach/describe Timing?

Totally.  I tell my hitters that the most effective mechanics in the world don’t mean a thing if they can’t get on-time.

Surprisingly, some hitting instructors don’t think timing can be taught?  I disagree.

Now, let me clear up a common misconception…do you know the difference between timing and reaction time?

I got the following demonstration from my good friend Taylor Gardner, co-inventor of the Backspin Tee.  Do this with your hitters…

Tell them to stand in front of you, and hold a baseball/softball an arm’s length away from you at about the height of their head.

Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball at a random time…try varying the times you drop the ball, and you’ll find it’ll be a challenge for them to catch it.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of reaction time.

Then tell them you’re going to drop the ball after counting to 3 (no tricks here coaches)…count to three, then drop the ball.  Repeat two more times.  This my friend is a demonstration of timing.  And as you may guess, this will be much easier to catch for your players.

Timing can be taught with the right methods.  Here are my top three:

  1. The TWO or THREE plate drill mentioned above,
  2. Switching bat sizes and weights between or in the middle of 5-swing rounds, and
  3. Switching ball types at random…using baseballs, softballs, whiffles, golf whiffles, racket balls, Smush balls, and tennis balls.

Thank you Mike Ryan from Fastball USA for the last two.  A hitter will have to re-calibrate their timing between swinging a longer heavier bat than a lighter shorter one.  The different balls mentioned will fly through the air at different speeds making for a perfect off speed practice environment.  This can be really challenging for the hitter, and a lot of fun.

But be careful coaches, slowly layer in the difficulty, don’t do ALL three above at the start.  Some hitters excel quickly, while others take more time.

Do you see how important training beneath the READ, PLAN, & DO umbrella is?

I hope this helps coaches!!

Please share any other effective methods you do with your hitters that improve what was talked about above.  THANKS in advance!

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

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

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Can fastpitch softball hitting mechanics be equal to baseball?

Why is the fastpitch softball swing different than baseball?  Or is it?  How about vs slowpitch softball?  Interesting discussion on swing plane, leg kick, launch and attack angle, ball exit velocity and bat speed.  Check out this 2022 age chart for exit velocity recommendations.  Quick bullets:

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

I received this email the other day:

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

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

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

But before we get there,

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

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

 

Translating Baseball into Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Who To Trust?

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

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

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

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

Did you know…

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

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

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

What does that mean?

Good news for coaches teaching fastpitch softball hitting mechanics…

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

And it WORKS a majority of the time!!

Beautifully.

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

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

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

Note to those who’ve coached the longest…

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

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

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

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

As a matter of fact,

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

Brother, I hate to tell you, but…

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

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

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

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

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

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols photo courtesy: MLB.com

First of all, who are you studying??!

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

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

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

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

Who you study is VERY important.

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

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

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

AND by the way, video analysis is important,

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Sierra Romero

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

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

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

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

They soften their system’s ineffectiveness by saying,

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

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

BULL.

They’re copping-out.

But it’s not their fault.

They just don’t know any better.

They’re not growing, they’re dying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s outcomes.

Does your system consistently work?

Do you have a:

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

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

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

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

Differences Between Two Swings?

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

It should be pointed out,

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

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

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

The bottom line is this,

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

THEY WORK FOR ALL HUMANS!!!

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

Now, on the differences between the two swings…

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

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

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

It’s about collecting data.

The main differences in the two swings are:

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

Reaction Time (or timing)

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

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

Look, the first issue is about reaction time.

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

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

Why inconsistent productive outcomes?

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

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

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

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

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

WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

Assuming you’re still on earth 😉

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

However,

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

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

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

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

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

With…

Knee Action

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Mechanics: Lauren Chamberlain

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

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

Fastpitch hitter:

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

Baseball hitter:

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

The BIG Ask…

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

Please share your triumphs and/or sticking points below…