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The concept of “Feeding the mistake” is not a new one in physical therapy or weight lifting. Most of the time, when an athlete repeats a movement mistake over and over they usually cannot feel the problem. If an athete cannot feel the issue, they cannot fix the issue. In order to force them to correct the issue, the coach purposfully makes the mistake worse. Now, after 'feeding the mistake', athletes can feel and then correct the problem. A great example is a squat movement where the knees of the athlete push inward towards each other as the athlete pushes the weight upward.
In order to correct this issue,many novice coaches would 'fix' this issue by putting a yoga block or cut off foam roller between the knees. The foam roller would prevent the knees from coming in towards each other as you see above. However, this 'fix' doesn't really fix the issue. The athlete can now push his knees in as hard as they want against the foam roller and the knees are blocked. A more common ‘fix’ among strength and conditioning professionals would be putting the athlete’s knees inside a band which pulls the knees closer together. This force allows the athlete to feel the problem and then correct it by resisting the force of the band as you will see below. That's the real difference between 'fixing a problem' and 'feeding the mistake' so the athlete can fix the problem themselves.
Now, how does this apply to the baseball/softball swing? Feeding the mistakes applies in exactly the same way in baseball and softball! Lets take a look at the Rebel’s Rack and Bat Drag Buster. Both products force the hitter to exert specific force with specific intention and create the feel that coaches need hitters to understand in order to build an efficient turn or eliminate bat drag.
The Rebel’s Rack activates the lat muscle and the back of the shoulder/scap muscle structure to help the athlete ‘pull back on the rack’ and resist their rotation.
A common, and inferior, alternative to the Rebel’s Rack is a dowel rod held across the chest. As you can see, the Rack activates the upper back and the retraction of the shoulder blades while the dowel rod does the exact opposite and rounds the shoulders making a delay of rotation impossible.
The Bat Drag Buster pulls the elbows together with the white band and makes the athlete keep their elbows apart allowing the barrel to turn back behind them and eliminating bat drag. When not using the white band of the BDB, you can see the hitter is likely to collapse the back elbow as they cannot feel that happen inside of the turn.
When the elbow outraces the hands, you can see how the space is lost between the elbows. The back elbow gets stuck between the stomach of the hitter and home plate which creates a long path and a hole up and in on the hitter's swing. The Bat Drag Buster eliminates this problem by trying to cause the back elbow to race forward. Hitters naturally resist that force, so they maintain space and turn much more efficiently and powerfully.
The ideas behind Fixing the Mistake are not revolutionary. And even better, the concept of feeding the mistake is simple and easily usable for coaches of all levels. Don’t FIX the mistake for the player, allow the player to FEEL the mistake and fix it himself. Consider a Complete Rotational Power Package or a Bat Drag Buster and make your job as a coach so much easier! Eliminate the frustration of plateaus in power and exit velocity and start creating that super deep barrel turn today!
On January 5th, Baseball Rebellion's Chas Pippitt and Tyler Zupcic spoke at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention in Dallas, TX. In the presentation, Baseball Rebellion highlights how we prove improvement of our hitters with the ball tracking system HitTrax.
Using HitTrax we are able to track, store, and export data instantly. Because of this, we are able to share this information with hitters, coaches, and parents and show them their improvement and help them Raise their Ceilings as hitters!
Here is the full presentation:
We would love to connect and answer questions about our presentation with ANYONE! We want to help share our knowledge of HitTrax with you.
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Anyone who has ever met me knows that I talk more about human rotation than hitting. I routinely defer to JK, Tyler, Eric and on some occasions, even Dave about hitting ideas because I’m the least experienced player on my entire staff.
We look at movement differently here at Baseball Rebellion than most places that do hitting and pitching lessons. Now, I am not a strength coach or physical therapist. I was FMS (Functional Movement Screen) certified (I let that lapse) and I continue to consider many different physical training certifications while reading books about them. That being said, I continue to lean heavily on my colleagues like the professionals at DiamondFit Performance, our in-house Strength & Conditioning partner, to help Baseball Rebellion gain more insight on teaching rotation and movement.
Eric Cressey, one of the leading baseball and specifically throwing related strength & conditioning coaches in the world wrote this article in April of 2018, talking about a study of different, movement related training methodologies.
Now the article is not specifically on External Cues or Constraint Learning Approach (CLA) but it IS about the value of coaching and how that directly influences how athletes move.
As DiamondFit Performance has come into our building, I’ve watched many athletes come into their program, almost all of our athletes are novice lifters, as we did not offer strength & conditioning at Baseball Rebellion previously. I’ve seen them evaluate 10-year-olds to professional athletes and everything in between. Once general patterns are tested/assessed, and the athlete perfects patterns to the point they can handle additional stress, then these patterns are loaded, slightly, with intense supervision and coaching cues.
I asked Justin Meng, the Head of Performance at our shared DiamondFit/Baseball Rebellion location this exact question:
Justin goes on to talk about how constraint led training in strength and conditioning can lead to injury, something he also stresses is the most important component of creating a program for his athletes:
His idea of avoiding injury by technique was interesting as ‘avoiding injury’ is (mostly) the reason to throw weighted balls. To me, a non-strength coach and someone who studies rotation by both hitters and throwers obsessively, this was quite the dichotomy.
I asked Gabe Dimock, one of my former employees who is now at Physical Therapy school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and still does online lessons and helps out in the building when he can the same question I asked Justin Meng, of DiamondFit.
So if it’s entirely possible for the body to ‘find a way to complete the task’ using a ‘maladaptive compensatory pattern’, how do coaches decide if they should build an optimal movement first (the strength & conditioning model) or let the athlete “Figure it out themselves and self organize” (the baseball/softball model)?
At Baseball Rebellion we teach each athlete to turn with the Rebel’s Rack. Once the Turn/Movement Pattern, that we teach all athletes, is good in the mirror with the Rebel's Rack, then we add variables to the turn, like a moving ball and a bat (check out the videos below to see how we teach our movement progression):
Once the turn holds up while hitting front toss, we load the turn (Overspeed/Underspeed using Rebel Rack with bands) in a few different ways to get the athlete to feel speed and directional power (see more over speed/under speed drills using the Rebel's Rack in Part-Two of the External Cues and Constraint Learning Approach series).
Then hitting happens again. Sometimes, we use external cues or overload and underload bats, but mostly, we turn really fast with the Rack, we work on our footwork in the mirror, and the hit. Overhand BP and Front Toss followed by the Spinball machine for velocity.
We believe that the turn, in healthy humans, generally works pretty simply. We allow the front leg to be in better position for knee extension and hip internal rotation and this allows the back foot and back hip to ‘pull through’ and gain ground. This falls in line with most rotational athletes from Hammer Throwers to javelin throwers. Also, we have studied Olympic divers and skaters to examine how they rotate fastest when in the air. The rack keeps the arms flexed, backloaded and allows the hitter to ‘feel’ the movement of retraction of the back arm which resists the rotation of the pelvis.