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Training Your Swing With Intent

Written By: JK Whited

After watching the video above, I think you would be able to say that every single swing was taken with authority, purpose, and  the plan of ruining a pitcher’s day.  If your player is not training with these same qualities, they are, without a doubt, wasting their time.

As researchers and instructors, we are always looking for the technical advantage for our players.  We study how the human body is supposed to work and how it can be used in the most efficient way to strike a baseball with accuracy and force in the shortest amount of time possible.  We want our players to understanding of the key components and principles of a great swing pattern.  The principles include vision, hip and shoulder separation, stride direction, etc.  All of these things have a very important place on the “hitter’s totem pole” so to speak.  Without these components working together as a system,  the player can not reach their potential.  This is not to say they can’t still be good players, they simply just won’t be working at maximum potential.

Important as all of those principles are, there is one underlying concept that seems obvious but is rarely seen.  Intent.  There are many variations of the word “intent,” but put simply it means “what you are planning to do.”  If your dream is to be a great hitter, then there is only one kind of intention that works and that is the intent to crush the baseball – all of the time.

intent to swing hard picture

When a new client comes in for an evaluation, one of my favorite questions to ask them is,  “So when you come up to hit, what are you trying to do?”  Nine times out of ten, the response I get is, “To hit the ball.”  My second question is,  “Hit the ball how?”  The answer to that question will always be “To get a hit.”  Now, these answers seem to be reasonable in theory, but are they the right ones?  I suppose the answer is yes and no.  If the determinant of success is a player’s statistics, then “trying to get a hit” is a good answer.  I would argue that success lies in taking a great swing with great intentions, whether they get on base or not.  If they have the swing pattern and more importantly the intent, I don’t worry about the results – they will come.

Baseball Swing Intent

This diagram illustrates the fundamental idea that intent should always be visible when working on any aspect of the swing.

As a staff, we tell our players that mistakes at less than top-speed don’t matter.  We want top-speed and aggressive mistakes.  It does the instructor and the player no good to make mistakes while going slow to ensure contact.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a phase of a player’s training where they must learn to walk before they can run. However, they need to top-speed as soon as possible. The hitter must be willing to take aggressive swings and fail in practice in order to become more successful in games.  I will fully admit that one of my biggest challenges as an instructor is to not be over technical.  Quality instructors spend a lot of time analyzing every single movement from a technical view, which they need to do.  They also must be careful not to fall too deep into the technical hole which will produce good technique in a robot fashion.

The young lefty you see above is a example of a great kid who has changed his swing for the better.  He has worked extremely hard and kept a phenomenal attitude through the good and bad times of his training.  However,  he never fully came into his own until he understood and believed that he could take the hacks you see him take now.  If you notice in the series of pictures below, he was able to have almost identical swing patterns with intent to crush the ball on all pitch locations.  This entire series of eight swings took place during two rounds of five where he crushed every ball at every location.  It was a very inspiring round for him and myself, hence the video and this article.

The educated instructor could go through each of these eight swings and pick out the subtle flaws, in stride direction, hand position,and vision.  However it is interesting enough to know that like pure body size and mass, intent can also mask some technical mistakes.  When Mike Trout lands with a closed front foot, most high level instructors know that this is wrong and for multiple reasons.  If Mike Trout wanted to perhaps rotate further and eliminate some stress inside his knee, he would have the ability to hit the ball a little harder. The only thing is, he hits the ball plenty hard enough and often enough to be one of the best players in baseball.  Does he really need to hit the ball further than he already does?  Like our player in the video, Trout’s highly efficient (but not perfect) swing pattern is powered by intent.  Without the intent, the rest doesn’t matter.  Our young player now knows that no matter where a pitcher might want to throw him, he can handle anything and handle it with force.  As a player, does it get any better?

Baseball swing contact positions

Young lefty shows both technical skills and serious intent to crush the ball at all locations.

The moral of this story is that no matter which swing pattern you choose to follow, make sure that you and your player understands what their true job really is.  Most players can be capable of so much more if they just have the right intentions. As parents, coaches, and instructors, we need to help and allow those intentions to be realized.  The right intentions paired with a proper swing pattern will allow a player to find out just how high their ceiling can be.

 

JK Whited

19 thoughts on "Training Your Swing With Intent"

  1. JP says:

    I’ve been training my son with the Rebels Rack and Drive developer over the last two years, he’s 11 now. This past June he was selected for the 10/11 yr old All Star team. His first at bat on a 2-2 count, he crushed a home run to deep center, over the score board.

    I want to say, we’re firm believers in training to build form and the exercises we received from BR has no doubt increased my sons success at the plate.

    Thanks BR.

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      JP,

      Thank you guys for following and being a part of the Rebellion! Please share and continue to read!

      JK-

  2. sean says:

    JK

    Can u elaborate or refer me to any previous articles on barrel turn

    thanks

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Sean,

      Sure thing. Barrel turn simply means the way the hitter’s barrel moves around the their back shoulder and into the hitting zone. A lot of traditional ways the swing is taught like “knob to the ball” and swing down approaches, prevents the hitter from having a good barrel turn. The article I wrote on “The Rule of the Flail” demonstrates where in the swing the barrel should accelerate in that turn.

      1. jkhittingrebel says:

        This is also a good one as well.

  3. luis says:

    hello what i have noticed with mlb hitters and here on BR that in order to kill the ball the front should goes up am i correct in that? i have been doing the drills of the rebellion but i dont see how in real speed the front knee moving back to turn my hips is correct. what can u tell me about that? also i feel if i only move my front hip the back hip will follow causing my front knee to lock in. when im turing my back hip my hands stay in the same position but it turns when my back hip turns. am i right on that? just help me out with that if you can thanx

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Luis,

      Very hard to identify exactly what you need having never seen your swing before.

      When you say “kill the ball”, a lot of things are involved. I will address your questions in order.

      1. I am assuming you meant front shoulder goes up. Yes, the front shoulder will go up once the hitter begins to rotate the hips open to swing.
      2. The front knee MUST drive the front hip/glute back toward the catcher to create the opposing force from the front side. This is a must happen move. Watch a ton of video on Bautista, Harper, and Trout. All have great front leg action.
      3. The back shoulder/hands will delay back behind the hips for just a moments until the hips pull them around. It is a little difficult understanding exactly what you were asking there but I hope that this helps a little. Thanks for reading!

      JK-

  4. luis says:

    thanx for the message.. i notice alot of the hitters on your program do a leg lift and it also looks like a weight shift back and then forward.. do you recommend a leg lift or just a str8 stride forward? do both produce the same amount of power and batspeed? AJ that kid who swings over 100mph has a leg lift. one more thing my bat path is a problem for me? is it safe to say that the bottom rotations with the hips and the hands goes forward knob to the ball effect? thanx JK

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Luis,

      We encourage leg lifts for both power and timing reasons. A higher leg lift generally allows the player to move forward more/better to gain more momentum. At the same time the player has more adjust-ability when it comes to putting the front foot down to react to a fastball or off speed pitch.

      In the rotation of the hips, the back hip will work around and forward toward the pitcher while the front hip works back to the catcher. The hands will follow in the rotation with the back shoulder and will then release out and away from the hitters body when necessary. Knob to the ball is a dangerous way to look at the swing. The longer the knob face the ball, the longer the barrel isn’t coming around in the ball’s path to the catchers mitt. I would stay away from trying to do that. Think about accelerating the barrel from behind the ball by turning the knob NOT taking it to the ball. Hope this helps!

      JK-

  5. luis says:

    thanx man hopefully i will become a better hitter. one more question the back knee when you stide forward and about to rotate the front hip does the knee go str8 down in a linear or does it rotate together or seperate from the back hip?

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Luis,

      The front knee should rotate open as you begin to put the foot down during the swing. The front hip rotate opens and therefore opens the front knee, shin, and foot.

      JK-

  6. luis says:

    im sorry i meant the BACK knee not the front knee. if it goes str8 down or rotate with the back hip together or seperate

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Luis,

      The back knee with follow the back hip in the rotation toward the pitcher and the back foot will follow the back knee in that order. I’m not sure what you mean by straight down.

      JK-

  7. luis says:

    what i meant if the back knee goes str8 down while the back hip is turning. the back knee creates the back hip to rotate. but i believe from what your telling me is that the back knee turns together with the back hip

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Luis,

      The core will turn and rotate the hips/pelvis and then the knee. Remember the knee is a joint and can’t move on it’s own. The core must rotate first to create the most powerful swing a person can have. The knee itself can’t create anything.

      Jk-

  8. randy says:

    The one thing I have trouble with is getting my player to have “intent” to smash the ball. From the looks in the video there wasn’t much intent either and then something clicked along the way, of course with the improved swing. What was it?

    Other than “intent” to replace the shoulders in rotation and many other improvements in the swing it just looks like the boy turned on the “beast mode” switch from the old, sad, drabby days lol. Well, if the article is still being attended would like to hear what made the boys intent click.

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Randy,

      Thanks for reading and just so you know we monitor all messages on all articles new and old.

      This is a great question is something that we deal with everyday. It starts with the coach, instructor, and most importantly the parent letting their players know that it’s okay to make aggressive mistakes. Striking out is not something we want to do obviously but the player must know that if they do so trying to drive the ball then there will be ZERO negative feedback but perhaps a conversation on what they can do better the next at bat. So many players swing out of fear of striking out that they never try to hit the ball hard. The mental side of this issue is WAY too important to overlook or minimize. Make them understand that their job is not just “put the ball in play” or get the guy over. This is better done early in the player’s baseball career.

      Second, the player must practice with aggressiveness being the goal. Weather they have the best swing or not, they must practice with the purpose of hitting the ball as hard as they can. We constantly do drills where being aggressive is the ONLY goal, caring very little or not at all about where the ball goes or if the ball is missed. Too many weak minded drills out there focusing on hitting the ball with one hand, backside, etc. We often have rounds of nothing but the player trying to hit the ball over the outfielders head. We understand that this may not always happen but regardless, a hard ball in play anywhere will have a better chance then a slower one. I can maybe think of one or two drills that we do as a staff where full speed and aggression are not a big part of it.

      Also, you have to be patient. Some kids are simply not born with that “extra gear”. Sometimes it has to be learned over time with many bumps in the road a long the way. With enough time and the right mindset, a player can raise their ceiling just by thinking about hitting the right way(aggressive) but everybody has a ceiling. Mix in a swing pattern that allows the player to use their aggressiveness and body to their full potential then that ceiling can go even higher.

      This is a very short response in the big picture of making a player more aggressive. This is why I believe we are the best in the world because we raise ceilings every day and our program has shown to do that in person and online. I hope this helps you and please continue to follow us. Thanks again!

      JK-

  9. Ethan says:

    Can you explain the back shoulder row.

    1. jkhittingrebel says:

      Ethan,

      For starters we have a great article that explains the back shoulder row. Here is the LINK.

      The back shoulder row is the upper half portion of the “loading phase”. As the hitter begins their stride they will pull their back elbow and shoulder through the scap/shoulder blade. This will prepare the upper half to fire after the hips have started their rotation outward. Once the “row” is at it’s peak, the back hip will pull it from behind the hitter and accelerate the upper half followed by the bat. Hope this helps!

      JK

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