This article will go down as one of my favorites written so far. The reason being is that it proves to me every day that what we teach here will help hitters hit the ball harder and farther. This is something that not only power hitters should search for. Every hitter can benefit from our "Rebel's Rack Movement Progression". This is one of the many stories of how we improve hitters in such a short period of time.
The date was Friday, April 5th when Julius walked in for a hitting evaluation. First, he got warmed up off the tee, then I began to flip some underhand toss. I could tell he was going to be a great kid to teach just by the way he carries himself and his positive attitude. Kids who are able to communicate with us instructors goes a long way and makes the process of getting better so much easier. Kids, be more like Julius!
On April 12th Julius came back to learn our movements allowing him to turn his body more efficiently. The kid is very coachable and great to work with. Because of this, his energy was off the charts and I could tell he really wanted to get better. He took to our movement progression pretty fast getting through all the steps. He then left with his "homework" which was to practice his turn 5-10 minutes a day. Pretty simple right? most kids fail to do this and it truly hinders their chances to be able to hit in the cages the next session. But I had a feeling Julius would do his homework, only time would tell at this point.
I saw on my schedule that Julius was back on the schedule again. At the time, I was the newest instructor I didn't really have clients of my own yet. Julius is one of the first kids that I took through the evaluation and movement progression. I was excited to see if he worked on what we talked about in the last session.
He walks in and I said "alright Julius lets check your turn", BOOM first one right off the bat was on point. He kept his head and posture in the correct position and the speed was off the charts. I was surprised and knew he actually did his homework! Because of this, I then proceeded to take him in the cage and we began to work on timing with the Rebel's Rack. He proved to me he could time the pitch with his turn. Therefore, I told him to grab his bat and let's swing away.
Below is a comparison between Julius's initial evaluation and the first time he hit after the movement progression. The main focus when the first time a hitter hits after the progression is getting the hitter to turn fast. Building a hitter's engine is the first priority. The speed has to be there or else we will never be able to maximize our rotational power. The bottom spray chart is from the evaluation (lots of weak hits) and the top is from the first time he hit after our movements (lots of strong hits to the outfield).
Altogether, the results are quite intriguing. Julius managed to increase his numbers across the board but I think the most impressive statistic is him going from 77% groundballs to only 16% groundballs. This shows us that when you turn fast with good posture the ball will fly to the outfield!
With all great things take time. After the "Honeymoon phase" when hitters find their newfound speed and break their initial records is the time where the real work begins. Building your turn speed is crucial but after that what is next? For weeks on end, Julius and I worked hard on a lot of different things. Now everything is coming together as one.
His session a few weeks ago was his best one yet. He set his record for average exit velocity at 58mph (yellow box). This tops his MAX exit velocity from his initial evaluation (red box). Julius is now hitting the ball harder than ever before and becoming more consistent! His groundball percentage keeps dropping which only will increase his batting average in games. His average distance of balls hit is 24 feet farther than his MAX distance (blue box) in his evaluation! The kid keeps making gains!
The first thing he can learn from Julius has nothing to do with hitting but has everything to do with attitude. From the moment I met this kid, he has been attentive and truly listens and trusts what I have to say.
If you want to get better you have to surround yourself with those who can help you but most importantly you have to help yourself. Julius does this week after week and month after month. We work on one part of the swing at a time getting it right before we jump to the next. He practices a lot and does the homework I give him. He is consistent and deliberate with his practice. This is why he continues to improve in the cages and on the field. Julius understands that when learning something new it will take time but he trusts me and I believe that he truly wants to get his swing right!
Not only is he learning about becoming a better hitter but he is learning how to become a better human. Understanding that you only get out what you put in is something Julius gets and practices. These are tools that will help him in life long after he is done playing baseball. Until then he is going to keep working hard towards his goals and search for his best swing!