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The Turn Behind The Turn is designed to help the hitter eliminate all pushing or driving of the knob in the baseball (or softball) swing. Turning the bat behind the back hip allows for the deepest barrel acceleration and the longest area the barrel can be on plane with the pitch. When the bat accelerates early, and in the way of the ball deep in the swing path, the hitter has the most room for error with timing and can easily drive the ball to all fields with accuracy and power.
-Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
Use the Assisted Turn Drill to help a hitter learn to use his or her front leg to straighten fast through the heel and drive the front hip back instead of upward. Also used to help a hitter complete rotation as well as stop his or her face from moving forward inside of the turn. The final reason the Assisted Turn is so important is the band pulling the hitter forward forces the hitter to resist that pull by counterbalancing his body weight back to slow his stride down as much as he can.
Years ago, I wrote an article about hand pivot or a ‘see-saw’ action of the elbows that turns the bat. Last night (April 30th, 2019), there was a demo of someone improperly using a Balance Bat, a great product, and I commented on it. Video of comment and tweet here:
In the tweet above, the person says “...Is getting the hands to snap, this way, ok? Notice how my elbow is still up…” That is the entirety of the audio in the tweet. Since commenting, my phone still hasn’t stopped buzzing and it’s 9:15 pm the next day. Because of this, I thought it would make sense to revisit that old article and clarify how we turn the barrel. Also, I wanted to list and demo the products we use to create the deep barrel turn in our hitters.
First, before you do ANYTHING with the upper body, the lower body and torso must rotate properly. That means the stride needs to be correct and the focus is preparing to turn the body and time the ball with the turn. Once those things are completely correct, we turn the focus to the upper body and hand path that creates deep barrel turn.
The main idea we use when teaching players to turn the bat is that the hands don’t move in the swing. We explain this with the “Turn Behind the Turn” drill.
This drill clearly eliminates knob drive and teaches the hitter to deliver the barrel with his body. If the hitter can successfully get the bat head to the net without hitting his elbow or knob they have done the drill properly. Also, the hitter can learn about keeping their spacing and maintaining his or her posture through the turn.
To help with the ‘feel’ of the elbows staying apart and being the ends of the see-saw, we use the white band of the Bat Drag Buster. The Bat Drag Buster was originally created to eliminate a racing back elbow of pre-pubescent hitters. What has happened, however, is it has become one of our favorite training tools of our college and professional hitters. They can feel the weakness when they break their wrist angle and let their elbows get closer together. Because of this, the Bat Drag Buster allows the elbows to get stay apart and work in harmony inside the swing for the first time ever.
Clearly, after watching the video above, you can see how weak and unsupported the bat would be with a pure wrist barrel dump. Real hitters feel this weakness if they attempt to turn the barrel with their wrists. The Bat Drag Buster helps hitters maintain their spacing and deliver the barrel in a more forceful way. Because of this, the bat is also more supported as the hands stay closer to the body.
The last way we talk about the depth of the turn is by using a FollowThru Bat for the sound it makes. When swung properly, the bat head can be ‘directed’ or ‘released’ directionally.
DId you hear ‘where’ the clicks were? I spoke about this a long time ago as well in a past article. What’s interesting about the Follow Thru Bat is that it teaches proper barrel zone entrance and where the bat should be fast. Too fast and too early on an inside pitch will cause rollovers. Conversely, if you’re too slow too long in the swing, you’ll be late and slice balls backside.
These are the tools we use and how we use them to create a correct upper body pattern in hitters. We do NOT do random ‘feels’ and ‘ideas’ on our hitters. We teach them to feel the correct move, slowly at first, and then fast in the game. This is very different than others on twitter who use made up and unsupported junk that doesn’t exist in a swing. Before you blindly trust a coach because of who they were/are or who they work with, please look at the body of work online. Do they have a facility? Do they have a long term track record of training players of all ages and ability levels? Do they have a real basis of knowledge or did they attend a weekend clinic? Do they create original thoughts (and/or products) that are proven to work? If the answers to these questions are ‘no’, perhaps its time to evaluate if they’re the right hitting person to follow. It’s not just your swing that matters, it’s your team’s, players’ or kids’ swings that suffer if you’re wrong. Avoid the snake oil sold by a ‘feel teacher', man. Instead, look for movements that make sense, taught by real teachers, man.
As professional hitting instructors we are always looking for different things to use to help make our hitters better, more efficient, and have a deeper understanding of their swing. One of the products we use on a daily basis here at Baseball Rebellion is the FollowThru Training Bat, which is a weighted training bat this is designed to something very different from what we use it for (to see more about the FollowThru bat and how its designed click here).
The purpose of the product is to have the hitter feel and hear the ‘click’ of the metal rod that is placed inside the bat at the point of contact, forcing the hitter to have a direct, down or level path to the ball. Here is a video showing the way the product is intended to be used:
If you have been following our company you know that is not the bat path we want our hitters to have at Baseball Rebellion. With that said, all hitting instructors have one common goal and that is to get their hitters to develop and generate bat speed. The training bat is a great tool to help the hitter feel the barrel working backward towards the catcher first to help achieve the fast, upward swing plane that we desire. To get the hitter to feel what efficient barrel path is they must feel the ‘click’ of the metal rod back behind them instead of out in front of them. It helps the hitter feel the initial move of the barrel as well as helps teach them the proper hand pivot to turn the barrel around the knob with extreme speed. The weight of the bat is also a great feature because it forces the hitter to keep the weight of the bat up by turning with their hands high.
You can take full swings and hit with the FollowThru bat but we rarely do that. We use it most when only practicing the movement patterns through half turns. Even though we use it differently than its intended use, it is an excellent product to help hitters generate early bat speed and turn the bat with extreme efficiency.
Here is an in-lesson look at myself explaining and demonstrating the way Baseball Rebellion uses the FollowThru bat:
It's early in the season in Major League Baseball and even earlier in the minors. Some guys have as many as 50 at-bats, others far less. 50 at-bats in high school in North Carolina, is about half your season though! So what are some things you can do if you're starting off the season a little behind where you want to be? What can you do to make sure you continue on the successful tear you're on if you're having a great season? Here are some quick ideas you can try to make sure you're staying ahead of the pitchers and get your season back on track if needed.
courtesy of @derekhassel4 on www.twitter.com
Nothing frustrates players and parents more than 'bad calls' from the umpire. That being said, that bad call almost never is the reason a hitter strikes out or struggles with weak contact. Most often, those players afflicted with 'bad-call-itus' are the same ones who are TAKING STRIKES early in the count or fouling balls off that are crushable pitches. Pitchers want to work AHEAD in the count, so make sure you're ready for that first or second pitch fastball strike and punish it! Nothing makes a pitcher work like backing up bases and watching the scoreboard for the hitting team light up...a few extra pitches thrown won't chase a pitcher as fast as a few doubles or homers in an inning.
Often times, after a bad game, a hitter will head to the cages. 2 hours later, bloody hands and sweated through gloves in tow, the hitter heads back to his or her car no closer to solving whatever 'problem' caused the bad day at the ball field. These type of marathon hitting sessions can, in some cases, have a good purpose. However, the lion's share of these types of sessions just erode the body and the mind and bring more negative thoughts and negative swing movements. Ditch the 300 swings post-game after an 0-4 game and get in some low-intensity mirror work on your stride. Get your tempo right and your mind relaxed so the next game you're working towards success instead of still recovering from the blisters and frustration of the long session postgame.
Want to be a great infielder? Put down your iPhone & grab a tennis ball! The Wall Ball Drill is a simple drill that can be done to help cover multiple hop variations. It also allows young infielders to get themselves into a good fielding position while trusting their glove hand pic.twitter.com/LNDDA8MDFt
— Baseball Rebellion (@BRrebellion) March 6, 2018
Many players are relying on their coaches to give them the practice they need in a team setting. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough time to get all the individual work you need in with a team setting, where there are often 15 players who need to hit. From a defensive perspective, a tennis ball and a wall are all you really need to get pretty handy with the glove. Hitting wise, grab a tee, make sure you're giving your swing the time it deserves and needs to stay primed and ready. Team practice has tons of value, but from an individual development perspective, you've must be willing to work while no one else is so you can gain ground on those who are more naturally gifted than you and keeping the distance between you and those who are coming for your spot from behind.
Up all night playing Fortnite after a bad game? Eating fast-food every day? How you recover and fuel your body is everything to an athlete. Make sure you're getting the vitamins, minerals, protein and water intake needed to keep you in prime physical condition come practice and game time. High school kids have tons of activities to do: homework, practice, and having a social life. Sleeping well (and enough) and eating well (and enough) are hard for many driven kids who have good grades and high expectations on the field as well. Make sure you've gotten a good night sleep (7-8 hours) before games and that you have your protein bars and water bottle during the day and on the bus to the game so you aren't running on empty by the 2nd inning.
Nobody likes a Negative Nancy or a Debbie Downer. Be positive not only with yourself but also with your teammates. Look for ways you can help the team that doesn't just involve going 3 for 5 with a few doubles or making 3 diving catches in the outfield. Are you picking up the other team's signs? Are you figuring out patterns in how the other team is pitching your top players or you? How about how long the pitcher holds the ball with runners on first base or 2nd base? After a K or an error, are you taking that back out to your position or into your next at-bat? If you're positive with your self-talk and trust your preparation, you can take an 0-2 and turn it around! Get your mind on a positive wavelength and prepare for your next chance for success!
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion
After being named an MilB.com organizational All-Star for the first time in his career and setting full-season career highs in Slugging, OPS, Doubles, Home Runs…and Strikeouts…Josh Horton came back to I.T.S. Baseball to train, hit, and get ready for the season. The main focus of his training last year was getting his barrel on plane with the baseball earlier so he could hit the ball deeper in the zone. Also, we wanted to make sure we got the back foot off the ground so we could get a more complete body rotation in his swing and greatly increase his power generating capabilities. We were successful in our quest to add power to his swing, but as you can clearly see from his statistics, (Stats Here) …we added lots of swings and misses, leading to strikeouts as well.
K’s are never an intended consequence of changing a hitter’s swing mechanics, but as with any change, there will be a few bumps in the road. I was quite surprised that his K’s increased by that much due to how much longer his bat was in the zone and behind the baseball, but he frequently commented on how he felt ‘early’ and had not completely adjusted to the timing of being much later in his decision to swing. Another factor in his most recent season was his position in the batting order. In previous years Josh hit 7th, 8th or 2nd. This past year, he quickly moved up in the order, batting over half of his season in the 3, 4, 5 spots. Middle of the order hitters clearly are pitched differently than guys lower in the lineup. Even with his ‘batting order promotion’, Josh raised his Batting Average for Balls In Play (BABIP) from .330 in 2010 his best year to date to .354 in 2011. Basically, what that means on the balls he hit fair, other than homeruns, he was more likely to get a hit and with his slugging percentage he was clearly hitting the ball harder.
This year, Josh came in on December 17th, 2012 and I wanted to check out his swing on video and compare it to his swing when he left. I was happy to see he looked pretty good up top with his arms and vision and was getting the bat in the zone well. The videos from 2010 and 2011 were shot with different cameras, so they do not sync up. You can see Josh’s intake video below.
Before we got started making new changes to his swing, Josh and I had a meeting about his season. He said he was happy with his progression to a middle of the order hitter and increased power numbers but was disappointed at his first half strikeout ratios and batting average. It was clear that our focus this offseason should almost exclusively be increasing his barrel ACCURACY, meaning less swings and misses, less mis-hit balls he should have crushed, and adding more hard barrel contact. I told him that I wanted to work very hard on a forward movement early in his swing process to get his weight off of his back foot so that he could turn faster and more completely than last year. I explained, that not only would this move relax his body and make his initial ‘turning’ action smoother and less jolting, but it would allow him to ‘sit into the front leg’ in order to adjust and react to change-ups, curveballs, and other off speed pitches. (You can read more about the front leg HERE.)
Josh was initially extremely hesitant on working to get more ‘forward’ in his swing as we’ve all been told to ‘stay back’ so we can ‘wait on off speed pitches’. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure after Josh’s initial reaction to my wanting him to glide out to his front side, that he would even try it and give it a real effort. I am happy to report that Josh gave the new techniques a great effort, despite his reservations, and now has the ability to adjust to pitches with much more accuracy and much less ‘fear’ of being fooled. The forward momentum and ‘sitting into’ his bent front knee allows him to make a much better ‘fooled’ adjustment than most players are capable of.
Normally when fooled, hitters lean their chests forward, and slap their hands out and forward sweeping the bat towards the ball. Clearly this is not an athletic movement and it’s a ‘survival’ swing. We, as hitters, must re-define failure in hitting from ‘missing the ball’ to ‘hitting the ball weakly’. Remember: You get 1 fair ball per at bat…you get 3 strikes. This technique does not efficiently and powerfully ‘use’ a hitter’s only fair ball.
The best hitters can shift into their front leg and hesitate slightly so they can wait just a second longer, delay the barrel, and then explode into the zone with much more power. Hitters that ‘sit into their front side’ can slightly hesitate (not stop) and glide forward onto their bent front knee. Again, you can see Ken Griffey Junior do this in a game swing on a curveball HERE.
Many times, Josh and I did this drill to teach him to be unafraid of the initial move forward and to show him how much power he really could generate from this position.
We knew we were on the right track when he took this pitch randomly during a session a few weeks before he left. He was so excited when I showed him how easily he came out of his pattern and had no ‘flinch’ towards the ball and into his swing. That’s the mark of a great hitter, the ability to take pitches without a huge hand move or violent posture changes.
So, after all Josh’s hard work with myself, Will Fox, and JK Whited…here’s the final product. Enjoy.
Josh headed out to Spring training on February 17th. For all the reasons listed in the video I think he’s going to have a great year. His work with Will Fox, our Muscle Activation Techniques and CSCS, PES guy on staff was phenomenal as well. Will’s training and work allowed Josh to grasp these movements much quicker than last year and really accelerated our process together. From the I.T.S. Baseball and Baseball Rebellion Family, good luck Josh, you’re gonna have a great year.
Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Hitting Rebellion
As private instructors, we have an obligation to each one of our clients to provide the resources to be a better hitter, pitcher or fielder. Parents are putting their trust in us to give their children the best possible chance to succeed. We explain to the families immediately in the evaluation process that we expect a lot out of our hitters outside of the facility.
Simply coming for one lesson a week and doing nothing in between won't cut it. We will provide the resources for improvement, but development is truly on the player. For the past year, I have worked with a local hitter named Jack. His family trusted us with his development and the results reviewed in this article are a testament to Jack's hard work and his parents choice to bring him in often.
Jack was a very athletic 12-year-old at the time of his evaluation. He was advanced in his understanding of how he wanted to hit. He understood that he wanted to hit the ball hard and in the air. But didn't always understand how to do it. You can see that Jack gets a lot of early armbar in his swing. He also has too much of a lean back in his turn, which can cause hitters to pop a lot of balls up.
So why do in-person lessons? What are we trying to accomplish? Tyler Zupcic wrote an article on this topic explaining that we strive to "Raise Ceilings". Meaning, we want to take however good a hitter can possibly be and make that just a little better. As explained before, Jack was very talented when we first met. My goal was to take that natural athleticism and turn it into skill. Jack understood he wanted to hit the ball in the air but didn't know how to correctly.
Part of Jack's development was his understanding that to be a great hitter, his barrel accuracy had to improve. As his accuracy improved so would his ability to hit the ball harder (Max Exit Velocity, Blue Squares). By stressing his average exit velocity (Green Squares) in lessons, Jack would, in turn, begin to make better contact, more often.
The images above represent the comparison between Jack's initial evaluation (2018) to a recent lesson on October 3, 2019. Jack has been able to take his initial Max Exit Velocity and turn that into his Average Exit Velocity through an entire year. You can tell by the second picture that represents the distribution of Jack's hits during the session (groundball, fly ball, and line-drive percentages), Jack already hit the ball in the air well. The work we have done has allowed him to continue hitting the ball in the air, yet much harder and more effectively than ever before.
We have written article after article about how we train rotation as a skill. After taking Jack through the movement progression on the Rebel's Rack we attacked his upper body flaws. As you could see in the above GIF, Jack had a tendency to drop his hands in order to get the bat on plane with the pitch. The goal was to show Jack a way to move the bat that allowed for more adjustability as well as a better bat path. Two major drills we used to attack this flaw were the Turn Behind the Turn, as well as Half Turns with a Ball in the Back Elbow.
Both of these drills are great for upper body efficiency. They place constraints on the hitter and force them to keep their hands high during their swing to allow for a better bat path and fewer pop-ups. The ball in the back elbow of the half-turn drill forces the hitter to stay connected to their body's rotation and doesn't allow them to extend their arms too early. If they do decide to reach out and extend their arms, the ball will fall.
To allow for the quickest and most effective results, proper cueing is a must. The drills alone are not going to create the desired result. It is the job of an instructor to properly cue the drills right to maximize improvement. The parents are entrusting their child's development with us, we don't have the opportunity to throw stuff against the wall and hope the hitter "figures it out".
Here are some of the cues we used with Jack:
"Front Elbow Up" - "Turn the Knob to the Ceiling" - "Keep Hands Above Chest/Ball"
While all of these are upper body cues (Jack had good footwork, to begin with) this is what he needed. These cues might not work for every hitter but they are a great place to start with upper body mistakes.
As you can see from the above GIF, Jack's hand path has improved dramatically. Training something as detailed as the hand path in a swing can be tough to track and test. Obviously we used video as well as Hittrax, but there are so many more resources to use to help your hitters understand their own swing.
Jack is a visual learner and the use of Blast Motion's 3D Swing Tracker helped Jack understand how low his hands were getting in the swing. We also were able to track it using the Attack Angle measurement. Jack initially evaluated with a lower Attack Angle because of the loopy hand path. The ability for Jack to improve the consistency of his Attack Angle, allowed Jack to have better barrel awareness. Another measurement we tracked was his Connection Score. The Connection at Impact put a number and score on just how well he kept his hands up in the swing.
“Jack came to BR with wide eyes and a desire to learn and get better. Eric and the entire staff at BR are pro’s pros. Eric combines technical expertise about the baseball swing with a positive approach and personality that truly connects with his students. Not only has Jack made great progress in his swing mechanics and performance, but BR is also one of the highlights of his week”
This article is not a testament to how a couple of drills can make a hitter that much better. This is an article explaining that with trust in the right people and the willingness to work on your craft daily, you can take what was your best result, and make it the norm. Jack has worked incredibly hard this past year and will continue to do so. And while doing so, continue to see his results improve. So whatever your desire is to do with the game of Baseball, are you actively working towards those goals daily? Is what you're training the right thing for you or just some random drill you found on twitter? Hitting until your hands bleed doesn't always mean you're improving. Find the right way to train with the technology to prove it.