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Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics: Hit Top Part Of Cage? Or Back Part?

 

 

In this Albert Pujols hitting mechanics talk, some questions Pujols and Harold Reynolds answer:

Albert Pujols Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols & Harold Reynolds Interview, MLB Network 30 Clubs in 30 Days. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Hitting ball off same spot off tee or vary?
  • Dangers of a purely opposite field approach…
  • When is using ‘hands inside the ball' okay?
  • Hit top part of the cage of the back?
  • How many swings until you should take a break to reflect?
  • Inside pitch barrel path: is it different than away?
  • Should hitter get “taller” to hit a high pitch?

Make sure you watch the 8-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Albert Pujols interview on grooving his swing, before diving into my notes.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:10 second mark,  tsk, tsk…notice Harold Reynolds isn't following the 4-foot social distancing rule!! (for those watching this well after the craziness of the Coronavirus has passed – lol).  
  • At the 0:30 second mark, interesting Pujols talks about building a consistent swing, hitting off the tee in one spot.  He references variance training with some hitting coaches moving the ball up and down, in and out.  I do agree with him, but it depends on the end result.  If you're just introducing a new hitting mechanic, then keep the tee in one spot.  If you're looking to deeply embed a well worn hitting mechanic, then variance or chaos training is key.
  • At the 0:45 second mark, Albert Pujols talks about setting tee up slightly off center of the plate towards outer part.  He likes to work gap to gap and not force or push the ball to right field.  He mentions if he focuses too much on right field, then he gets under the ball too much.
  • At the 1:30 minute mark, Pujols dispels the myth of “staying inside the ball”.  He says of course you're inside the ball…you don't see hitters EVER getting their hands outside the ball.  ‘Hands inside the ball' can be a great cue for those hitters doing the opposite – casting barrel early.  It's not a perfect cue, but may work in some cases.  Then to throw gas on the fire, he mentions ‘knob to the ball'.  Real v. Feel.  There's a reason you keep hearing this kind of stuff from guys like Pujols, A-Rod, and Bonds.  It has to do with top hand dominance and pronation.  We call it the “wrist snap”.
  • At the 2:00 minute mark, Albert Pujols talks about working on the liner, not trying to hit the top part of the cage. He picks a spot in the cage he wants the ball to travel.  External cue.  He wants the ball to come off the bat as high as the tee is set.  Harold brings up that some people are teaching to hit the top of the cage (I used to be one of them!!).  But Albert plays the politician and comments that he doesn't want to say what those coaches are doing is wrong, but that he wouldn't teach that.  And right now, I'd agree with him.
  • At the 3:00 minute mark, Harold asked Pujols if there's a rhythm to working on gapping the ball, and Pujols says he tries to hit 3 or 4 in a row, then take a break to reflect on the feeling.  He tries not to rush when working out.  He tries to take his time.  Process what he just did.  Great advice!
  • At 4:00 minute mark, Harold asks Albert about his inside approach.  How to hit the inside pitch.  Watch how Pujols demos his barrel path to get to it … barrel above hands?  This Adam Eaton video reveals the same thing.  Interesting huh?  We call this knocking the “belly button” catcher's glove off.  He says he's just reacting to the inside pitch.  Typically, he's looking out over the plate.  He doesn't try to focus on one area of the plate.  He looks middle, then adjusts in or out from there.  Definitely works for Albert.  And Mike Schmidt also talked about it in his book the “Mike Schmidt Study”. Only downside is when pitchers start using EV tunnels Perry Husband talks about.  It's easier to cover middle in/out/up/down (50% of the plate), based on pitcher's pattern.  Obviously, this is more effective the better the pitcher is.
  • At 5:00 minute mark, in the above Albert Pujols hitting mechanics video, Pujols talks about keeping his shoulders “square” or keep front shoulder pointing at “400-foot” mark in straight center.  Not to close shoulders off.  Albert never really did ‘show numbers' much, but he does a lot of other things right.
  • At 6:00 minute mark, Pujols talks about not getting “taller” to get to the pitch up in the zone, but to stay sink down and use hands to get to it.  Again demonstrates keeping barrel above hands.  We talk about getting shorter and staying shorter.  And middle in, middle up pitches are addressed by knocking off belly button catcher's glove or telling hitter to keep barrel above hands.  Real v. Feel.  Now, this isn't actually what's going to happen.  The result of this hitting cue is a tighter, shorter, more compact barrel path.  Much needed closer the ball is to the hitter or the eyes.  He talks about using his legs to get to pitches down in the zone.

Francisco Lindor Swing Breakdown: Metrics, Big-3 Power, & Wrist Snap

 

 

Francisco Lindor Swing Breakdown

Francisco Lindor swing breakdown photo courtesy: MLB.com

Hey, what's going on? It's Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab.  In this Francisco Lindor swing breakdown video, we're going to go over three different things…

  • The first thing we're going to do is are going to look at his metrics according to fan graphs,
  • The next thing is the big three in the Catapult Loading System, and
  • And then the last thing we're going to look at is when the wrist snap happens…

 

Francisco Lindor Swing Breakdown: the Metrics

Now, let's take a look at some of the stats and give a little context to this Francisco Lindor swing breakdown. You can see he is a smaller hitter, smaller slugger, 5-foot, 11-inches, 190-pounds. He switch hits.

You can see down here in 2019, putting his power in perspective… He's hit 32 homers in the last years prior, 38, 33. That was 2017. And the video analysis swings we'll look at in this video are from 2017.  He's hit about 40 doubles or so in those last three years or the last four years. 30 doubles in 2016, and hits about .284.

And if we look at his batted ball totals as in line drive percentage, ground ball percentage and fly ball percentage…line drive percentage in 2019 was just about average – 20 percent is league average – ground-ball rate is average, league average is 43%. Fly ball percentage is just slightly below average at 36.6%. Average is about 37%, but pretty close to league averages there.

The one thing that is above well above league average is his homerun to fly ball percentage, which is 17.4%. And you can see the prior year 17.3, then 14.0, then 9.9, and 13.0 are all well above average on the 9 or 9.5% of homerun to fly ball ratios as the major league average.

So let's start with the big three in the Catapult Loading System in this Francisco Lindor swing breakdown. You have the lefty at bat over here and the righty at bat over here. Let's give a little context to these pitches in the at bats. This is the second one over here.

We're going to look at the pitch speed, 88-mph. Some kind of breaking ball, maybe a slider, and this one he hit for home run into the right field bleachers or right center field bleachers, over here on the right his righty at bat.

He's a little bit out in front. We have a 79-mph, probably a slider here. That he pulls in the five and a half hole.

 

The Big-3: Catapult Loading System

OK, so what I referred to as the big three and the Catapult Loading System is the build more consistent power in a swing. There are three buckets. Two, our systems, the different systems we teach, that's one of them.

The second one is the pitch plane domination system. And that's all about how to hit more line drives and the reaction time mastery system, which is all about footwork, vision, tracking and timing.

This Francisco Lindor swing breakdown video, we're going to be going over the first system, the power systems, the Catapult Loading System. I refer to the big three as “showing numbers”, “downward shoulder angle”, and “hiding the hands”.

What you're going to see here, I have both of these swings synced up, on the left, the homer, on the right, the ball that he was a little bit out in front he pulled into the five and a half hole for a ground ball base hit.

“Showing Numbers”

You can see that if we rewind to the beginning. And just so you know, the camera angle in center field is slightly off center towards the left or left center. It's in center, but slightly towards left. And that is going to show any kind of right-handed batter as showing their numbers more than the left. So just understand that this isn't a complete apple to apples comparison, but you'll still see the difference in their starting positions and their landing positions.

You can see here, you can't see Francisco Lindor's number really on the left, and you can start to make it out a little bit here on the right. Again, probably because of off centered camera in center field.

As the pitcher starts to get into the windup, gets ready to release the ball, you can start to see over here on the right … again, with our camera angle, you can see that #12, pretty clear as day at this point.

And what I want you to do is, again, with that skew with the camera, watch the pinstripe. If we put a dot in these spots, as you'll see Lindor pull in more with the pelvis almost similar to the Javier Baez swing analysis that I did a few weeks ago, you saw Baez extremely turn that pelvis in. And my argument is that we don't have to do that…

See here that that pinstripe you can't see any more on the right side, but on the left side you can still see it. Again, we get a skewed camera angle, but it didn't move quite as much on the left as it did on the right. So, this is something that Lindor actually doesn't have to do and might be closing himself off just slightly. But nonetheless, you can see you can pretty much make out almost the full one in the two.

I used to teach showing numbers as showing both numbers are showing at least a number and a half, evolved it more to where we want to create neck pressure. If we create neck pressure, then the hitter should be showing their numbers. It's more of an objective measure of showing numbers because every hitter is different. Their mobility in their neck is different.

In this Francisco Lindor swing breakdown, you can see his head really anchoring down for it in a tracking position and he's moving his shoulder underneath his chin as far as he can, creating a wringing towel effect between his head and his shoulders. And he's creating this neck pressure at the T1/C7 vertebrae in the spine, just like wringing a towel out. And he's creating that neck pressure, which as a result will show his numbers.

And also, could be on the right side since he possibly is inward turning his pelvis a little bit more. It could be why he's shown his numbers a little bit more besides the camera angle. So that is the first of the big three, showing numbers or creating neck pressure.

“Downhill Shoulders”

The second of the big three is the downhill or downward shoulder angle. It's the hitter dipping their front shoulder down, creating this downhill shoulder angle that you can see with this back elbow in this Francisco Lindor swing breakdown. You can see his back elbow, if you create this line, not quite as much over here on the right, he doesn't raise that elbow quite as much as on the left.

And granted, too… If you look at his at bats in fan graphs, he has a lot more at bats, probably 60 plus percent more on the left than he does on the right because he's seeing probably more righties than he is lefty pitchers. So, you can see he's probably little bit more grooved on the left anyway. And his power numbers show it. He's got plenty of more homers on the left than he does on the right. But again, that reflects the amount of plate appearances as well.

He has this downward shoulder angle on the right. He's not using his back elbow as much. We do use back elbow with the hitters to steer the shoulders down, but not all hitters will click with that. We'll just tell those hitters that they seem to for telling him to raise the back shoulder at landing. Then what tends to happen is their hands start to balloon up and rise up. We don't want the hands to get up past a certain height. We want to make sure that their hands are in it in a decent, more comfortable position around the shoulder height – back shoulder height to be able to launch from.

So, if the hitter is having a hard time by bringing that back elbow up, like you see Francisco Lindor over here on the left, then what we'll tell the hitter to do is just lower the front shoulder.

He's creating neck pressure, which is showing the number, this is a protraction of the front scapula for you movement nerds out there, you kinesiology nerds out there, and he is creating this downward shoulder angle so that his shoulders can actually flip.

You'll see the front shoulder pop up in the back shoulder that's up will go down as he gets to the swing here. You see a complete reversal of that. And we should see in the follow through, we should see a complete reversal again back to almost where his right shoulder on the left over here.

So this front one ends up, starts down, pops up, and then should end up back down again over the other shoulder. And the reverse is true. Over here on the right, we see the left shoulder start down, pops up, and then it should end up back down again, which you see here. That is a proper deceleration of the spinal engine.

“Hiding Hands”

The last piece of the big three is hiding the hands from the pitcher. So you can see the hands here from the left. You can see slightly the bottom hand on the right. And then you're going to see those hands disappear. You'll see them reappear back behind his head, on the right, on the left, not quite so much. You see them disappear behind his head. But again, we're talking about a different camera angle here.

And some call this the scapula row or a rear scalp retraction for the kinesiology nerds back there.  We should see both a protraction of the front scapula, which is showing the numbers/neck pressure.

And we should also see a retraction of the rear scapula. We see both. We do not, especially in hitters like Lindor, who are 5'11”, 190 pounds. We do not see the ones that hit for power anyway. We do not see them only retracting the rear scapula and not showing their numbers, or not using neck pressure. We see both.

It is very hard for a hitter the size of Francisco Lindor to hit 30 homers a year for the last three or four years, without showing numbers and just doing the rear scapula retraction.

Not going to happen.

So those are the big three as it is to the Catapult Loading System, showing numbers, downhill shoulder angle, and hiding the hands. Now let's check out the wrist snap…

 

Wrist Snap

A lot of young hitters, what they tend to do and there's quite a few hitting instructors out there that are teaching this deep barrel dump and to “chicken wing” with the front elbow, 90-degree bend as it comes through impact.

The problem is, and this is what I'm seeing with both the hitting instructors and the hitters of the hitting instructors, and even in some of my hitters, as we train this out of their swing is, they create a lot of space between their front arm and their chest as they're coming through.

You can see this was the pitch that was middle in that Francisco Lindor hit a homerun on to right. You can see how tight he keeps this barrel, and we talk about the belly button catcher's glove

Imagine a catcher's glove in line with the hitter’s belly button and a catcher's glove in line with the hitters back foot. This is important when it comes to pitches middle in and middle up because we want to be knocking off those catcher's gloves and not knocking off the real catcher's glove was back here.

But you can see in this Francisco swing breakdown. You can see him, his barrel entering the attack zone at the back-foot catcher's glove, he's actually a little bit late here, he ends up speeding it up with his wrist snap.

But what you're going to see is almost like there is a wall happening here… And he's going to get to this wall… And his hands are going to stop moving forward.

What we see with young hitters is we'll see these hands continue forward and they end up way out over here, chicken winging with the elbow and their arm, front arm drifting far away from their chest, which we don't want to do if we want a proper transfer of body to barrel to ball force.

We're going to see the best hitters will stop, their hands will stop moving forward at a certain point, which you see is right here. It's like the hands hit a wall and we have a wall drill for this, a wall turn or a phone booth drill that we use to help the hitter out with this, plus a wrist snap position.

You see, as he releases into the back foot catcher's glove, you're going to see him pivot. Imagine a red laser coming out of the knob and you get a green laser coming out of the barrel of the bat. And we see at a point where he'll flip it, he'll flip the red laser for the green. But you see this wrist snapping. Some may call pronation.

As he gets through this ball and you're going to see post impact … both arms get extended, full extension. Both arms. Power V. This isn't the power V that was taught about a couple of decades ago to happen at impact, that's not what we're trying to do.

This is the power V that happens after impact, and with a proper transfer from body to barrel to ball we should see this passed impact.  But it uses a combination of the big three of the Catapult Loading System and the wrist snap. At one point, the knob has to stop moving forward linearly and has to let the wrist snap and pronate with the top hand.

Make sure that we're swinging smarter by moving better … Like this video … Subscribe to our YouTube channel … and before I let you go…

Where A Higher Batting Average Can Be Cultivated AND How To Get It (An Over-The-Shoulder Look)…

Here's Part-3 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…Over Shoulder Look: Hank Aaron Wrist Snap

I get questions every week on how I'd run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

In case you missed the background information of Part-1,

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We've had about half a dozen session together in total.  And what I like about Zack is he asks a lot of really good questions during our sessions.

And before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn't mic'd up, so the audio isn't like some of my other videos.
  • We're at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I'm asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter's swing, it's about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

Swing and coaching suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD…again!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish:

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

Part-3 lands you towards the end of #4 above.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Training something new should feel goofy, that's normal…if they feel no change in movement at the beginning stages of motor skill development, then they're repeating the same old thing (about 0:45 mark)
  • The arch and hollow (hunched) positions in Gymnastics.  “Hunch” can have a negative connotation, but reality says it's a VERY SAFE position for a twisting spine to start in. CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment that looked at the benefits of a “Hunched” spine. (about 1:55 mark)
  • Playing around with wrist snap variance using the target ankle resistance bands.  It's NOT a roll over, it's like a “waggle” that golfers use pre-swing.  Great defender against off speed and breaking pitches, AND increase BA by controlling the barrel.  Keep main objective in mind: hit ball as hard and far as you can.  (about 3:45 mark)
  • Working the Wrist Snap Variance Drill on the open field hitting targets. Hank Aaron was really good at this.  Watch Hank Aaron video below and watch his wrist action at impact… (about 6:15 mark)
  • The Frog Tape bat…barrel awareness.  Focusing on hitting a certain part of the barrel AND hitting it in a specific direction or target. (about 11:20 mark)
  • Discussing how switching bats between rounds forces a hitter to focus on adjusting their timing. Heavier/top heavy bats have to start sooner…lighter/balanced bats can start later.  (about 15:30 mark)
  • Zack made the observation that Finger Pressure makes the Wrist Snap Variance Drill easier to feel.  (about 17:30 mark)

 

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don't make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Chunking certain movement together, so they don't seem like separate pieces,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.

How To Decrease Time To Impact By Lowering Hitter's Hands (an Over-The-Shoulder Look at a Local Lesson)

Here's Part-2 – a continuation of – a three part series showcasing a local lesson of mine…

I get questions every week on how I'd run a practice or one-on-one session.  This is an over-the-shoulder look.  The main objective of this video series is to demonstrate how I use some of the “sticky” coaching principles covered in this post, and in my new book The Science Of Sticky Coaching: How To Turn Ordinary Athletes Into Extraordinary.

In case you missed the background information of Part-1,

Zack is a 14-year-old hitter from Visalia, California, which is approximately an hour drive from me, one way.  And this is the first time I worked with him since about a year ago.  We've had about half a dozen session together in total.  And what I like about Zack is he asks a lot of really good questions during our sessions.

And before we started this session, Zack was having a challenge with hitting line drives.  He was either hitting the ball on the ground or non-productive balls in the air.

DISCLAIMER about the video:

  • Fortunately the video quality is great because Dad used his GoPro, but unfortunately I wasn't mic'd up, so the audio isn't like some of my other videos.
  • We're at a public High School on a Saturday afternoon, so there are other team noises, bird sounds, emergency vehicles, etc. going on in the background that can be distracting.

Sadly, a few coaches on the socials will be overly critical of this hitter, and I'm asking you to suspend judgement.  The purpose of this video IS NOT about being overly critical of the hitter's swing, it's about the demonstration and use of sticky coaching principles.

Swing and coaching suggestions are welcome, but be nice coaches.

Now, for those coaches looking to learn and help their hitters get better…ONWARD…again!

A typically lesson I do, is organized like the following, from start to finish:

  1. Dynamic warm-up,
  2. Beginning Ball Exit Speed readings,
  3. Record and analyze current swing,
  4. Lesson, and
  5. Ending Ball Exit Speeds readings.

Part-2 lands you at #4 above.

What you can look out for in above video

  • Talking about lowering Zack's hands to not get above armpit line to landing – benefits of (about 1-min mark),
  • Why a “flat bat” at stride landing can feel heavier than a more vertical bat. Center mass of bat in relation to center mass of hitter (about 4-min mark),
  • Getting into a more Hunched or Hollowed Position at the start of the swing. CLICK HERE to see tips and benefits of the Hollow Hold from BreakingMuscle.com, and CLICK HERE for the Hollow Hold exercise Zack did during warm-ups (about 9:30 mark), and
  • Intro to the first time working out new hitting material, varying the “Wrist Snap” using the red ankle resistance band – THANK YOU LEE. Objective with Wrist Snap is to snap over the red band and to hit the ball as hard and as far as you can. (about 16:00 mark)

Also, when it comes to sticky coaching principles, notice how I:

  • Move the tee positioning around after every swing (both high/low and inside/outside),
  • Vary soft toss heights and depths,
  • Vary mechanics on certain swings in a 5-swing round (I call these Varied Rounds), or practice one thing the whole round (I call these Block Rounds),
  • Ask quite a few feel, visual, and/or audio feedback questions AFTER round is over (think of it like a hitting quiz),
  • Keep my mouth shut during the 5-swing round (little to no feedback from me),
  • Don't make Zack take a lot of swings during our time together,
  • Chunking certain movement together, so they don't seem like separate pieces,
  • Have him change his bat size during rounds, and
  • Work with him on simplifying the juggling of a couple different mechanical cues.