Thursday, January 30, 2014

Only hit a good ball

I've ended up reading and watching a good amount of Ted Williams over the years, including his book The Science of Hitting, a biography titled Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero, and also viewed a couple hours of old videos where he is talking hitting with minor league players.

This clip reminded me of those videos:


Interesting to me that there were many references to the hands and wrists being quick, but no reference made to use of the hips for rotation, which Williams wrote about in his book.

Something that Williams was known for was getting a good pitch to hit, and my favorite line in the clip above is "only hit a good ball".  How simple.



Monday, January 7, 2013

Action of the Hips in the Baseball Swing

Eric Cressey posted an article over the weekend that I wrote for his blog covering the topic of hip extension and rotation in the baseball swing.  I wanted to hit on this issue because hip extension is a very powerful movement of the posterior chain, but it isn't often thought of or taught as part of rotation, especially in the baseball swing.

Here's a couple videos from the post that give a close up look at hip rotation from the side and front views:

Hip Rotation Side View

Hip Rotation Front View


The article itself describes what's going on in the videos based on EMG research from both golf and baseball, and has some thoughts on how you can work on your hip action in the weight room as well as the batting cage.

One line from the article warrants repeating here:
Here’s the key point: good hip rotation has an element of hip extension!

Give the article a read and spend some time at Eric's website or follow him on twitter.  He's doing a lot of good things in the world of baseball training.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Developing a Plate Discipline Mindset

Plate discipline, pitch recognition, strike zone awareness are each different building blocks of a successful hitting approach.  Mechanics and strength training might get more attention, but baseball skills that center around controlling the strike zone are becoming more and more valuable.  How important is plate discipline?  I'll reference Chicago Cubs president, Theo Epstein, here:


I believe 90 percent of the game revolves around controlling the strike zone



Theo unfiltered on Cubs' on-base woes
Theo says: Know thy zone

____________________________________________________

If you don't want to take Mr. Epstein's word for it, here are a pair of interviews from minor league prospects who are getting recognized for their approaches at the plate:

418 AB's - 78 BB/26 K in 2012




David Laurila just did an interview with O'Neill over at FanGraphs (full interview) :
DL: Does a hitter need to take a lot of strikes to have a high on-base percentage?

MO: Not necessarily. I’m not up there looking to walk. I’m looking for a specific pitch and if the pitcher doesn’t give it to me, I’m taking until I get it. I’m not going to swing if it’s out of the zone I’m looking for. That’s kind of what generates walks for me. I’m patient, and once I get my pitch, I’m swinging. I’m attacking the baseball. I’ve just been fortunate to get a lot of walks, especially this year.



And Jay Kolster recently gave a in-depth look at Andreoli's hitting approach and off-season training (full interview):

John Andreoli interview with Jay Kolster
412 AB's - 75 BB/89 K in 2012

Hitters need to take their walks. When they don’t hitters end up miss hitting a lot of pitches and get themselves out. The key here is to know what pitch you want to hit, to put a good swing on it when you get it, and not be afraid to take a pitch.

_____________________________________________________

With all the training out there addressing baseball's 5 traditional tools, it's important that we don't overlook one of hitting's most fundamental skills - knowing the strike zone.  Learn to identify your strengths and weaknesses within the strike zone, pay attention to what the pitcher can and can't do in the strike zone...now you're on your way to having a plan at the plate!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sports Vision Training comes to the Warehouse

Special thank you to sports vision specialist Dr. Larry Lampert who recently stopped by the Swingtraining.net Warehouse to do vision testing on several of our hitters. With all the work these players have done training for bat speed, swing quickness, reaction time, mechanics, and plate discipline, it was only natural that we address the often overlooked aspect of vision training.

Very interesting that despite 20/15 vision in a couple of the hitters, Dr. Lampert was quickly able to find areas for potential improvement - vergence, convergence, peripheral vision, focusing, tracking, and teaming of the eyes are all examples of how the eyes work to provide information to the brain.

Fortunately, these areas can be improved and the muscles controlling the eyes can be strengthened like other muscles in the body.  After Dr. Lampert's evaluation, he set the players up with his internet based vision training program with directions specific to their areas of need.

[caption id="attachment_3058" align="aligncenter" width="572" caption="vision training in the warehouse"][/caption]

Dr. Lampert is local to the Palm Beach area with an office in Boca Raton.  He's worked with top level athletes of several sports, not just baseball.  Here are some links where you can find more information:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training Faciltity of Champions

In this specific case, it's Wimbledon (tennis) champions, but take a few minutes to watch this video about Russia's most well known tennis academy - Spartak:



I first heard of Spartak when I read Daniel Coyle's book, The Talent Code, and this video gives a glimpse inside the facility and training approach.



What's the difference between the Spartak approach?  Here is a key piece:
In Russia, it’s about the coaches – not the schools, Volkov believes.

“A coach in this country is a graduate, with a specific degree. All our coaches are Spartak alumni. And it’s a known fact that European and especially American methods refer to the physical rather than the technical side of things – which is different here in this country,” he said.

At Spartak, it starts with the goals of the kids (which you can hear in the video) and grows with the focus on the quality of deliberate practice and expert instruction.

These are the same principles that create the foundation for the Swingtraining.net hitting & training facility - The Warehouse:

[caption id="attachment_2939" align="aligncenter" width="349" caption="The Swing Training Warehouse in Palm Beach, Florida"][/caption]

 

Monday, October 31, 2011

How to use a Bratt Bat to Shorten Your Swing

2 years ago, I made a post describing how I used a weighted Bratt Bat to help some professional players improve their swing mechanics during their off-season workouts.  I am still using the Bratt Bat as part of my training program to help players improve their hitting, and here is another example of how it works.

From the previous post (linked above), here were the "rules":
What to do:

  • Use a weight appropriate for the strength-age-level of your player (65-75 oz. for high school, up to 100 oz. for stronger college players and pros)

  • Avoid a high volume of swings.  5-10 is enough to get the right feel, then switch back to a regular weight bat

  • Avoid trying to swing too hard.  Save that for your overload-underload swings.  Just get the feeling of the drill.

  • Focus on hitting line drives up the middle and towards the oppo gap

  • Remember this is just a drill and stick to the main principles of swing training for larger numbers of swings



 

Looking back, I still stick pretty closely to these rules.  But in the upcoming example, we're actually hitting a baseball off of a tee with a full swing (note: the Bratt Bat is not designed to hit baseballs.  It's better to use tennis or wiffle balls for higher volume or intensity of swings, as shown in our previous drill).

Now here is a comparison of a high school junior hitting off the tee with his regular bat (left side) and using a 75 ounce Bratt Bat (right side).  After he took several tee swings with his regular bat, all I did was give him the Bratt Bat and tell him to try and hit it up the middle (tee is placed right down the middle, a bit forward of where the stride foot lands).

[caption id="attachment_3011" align="aligncenter" width="573" caption="regular tee swing vs 75 oz bratt bat tee swing"][/caption]

 

Here's what happened:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Timing Issues in the Swing

"Hitting is timing"......"Get ready sooner"......"Get your foot down early"

You've heard these, right?

Timing is a critical component to good hitting, so this edition of Mailbag gives a pair of reference points to help gauge your timing.

Here is the question I received:
 

I have a quick baseball question if you don't mind helping me. I just got back to school off of summer baseball and I am way in front of all the pitching, I was thinking if I should move up to a 34 inch bat to try and slow my hands down a bit. I have been trying to wait back and go the other way but that leads me to trying to inside out everything and getting jammed on pitches that I should be hitting into the gaps.

 

Slow the hands down?  No way!  Most guys wish that their hands are too fast or that they have too much bat speed.  Having the ability to unload the swing with power is a great asset to have.

Inside-outing the ball to go the other way?  Now that's just another way of changing the way you unload or swing the bat (in a bad way).

If the issue is consistently being out in front on all types of pitching, that suggests a timing issue that is related to the PRE-swing move (or the load) rather than the actual swing (the unload).

[caption id="attachment_2944" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="Loaded and Ready on time at Release"][/caption]

Here was my response: