The One Article Every Coach and Parent Needs to Read

Learn How to Throw to Your Hitters

It is the start of the season and you need your practices to be smooth and efficient. And you know that is not possible if you don't have a good batting practice thrower. We know that throwing BP isn't easy. It has taken us a lot of practice to become a professional BP thrower. Today we are going to take you inside the training we make our employees go through to become better batting practice, front toss, and side toss throwers.

If you watch these videos and practice using our tips, you're going to see a dramatic change in how you throw to your hitters. And trust us, your hitters will appreciate it!

Tips for Throwing Batting Practice

  1. Set Up a Target
  2. Four-Seam Grip Always
  3. Loose Arm Action- Don't be Stiff
  4. Firm Throws on a Downward Angle- NO Lollipop Throws (THIS IS TERRIBLE FOR HITTERS!)
  5. Stay Behind the Screen!

Tips for Throwing Front Toss

  1. Stiff Wrist on the Toss
  2. Sit Down for Better Accuracy
  3. Downward Angle at the Hitter
  4. Get Farther Back from the Net Than You Already Sit/Stand
  5. Aim at a Target

Tips for Throwing Side Toss

  1. Four-Seam Grip
  2. No Wrist Action- Keep it Firm
  3. Throw to Middle of the Hitter
  4. Straight and Strong Throws
  5. Sit on a Bucket or on a Knee

Your Hitters Will Thank You

If you can learn as a coach or parent how to throw effective batting practice to your team or kid then you are helping them out more than anything you can buy them. That $400 bat won't do your kid any good if he doesn't have any strikes to hit with it. Learn how to throw BP and your hitters will thank you and want to hit more.

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The best way for players to communicate with their coaches what they have been working on in their off-season training program.

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Hitting assessments should not be thought of as a quick solution to a long term problem. Learn what hitting assessments mean and how they can help.

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Should your son or daughter be a switch hitter? Today we'll talk about the 5 best switch hitters of all time and the reasons why switch hitting isn't ideal.

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Are you having trouble with your hitters being too early or too late and you don't know how to fix it? Check out our tips and drills to help with timing.

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Top Hitting Articles of 2019

To end the calendar year we wanted to highlight our top hitting articles of 2019. We have been putting out hitting content since 2011 and this year was our best year yet. And we have you to thank! So sit back, relax, and catch up on our most-read hitting articles of 2019.

1. The Truth About Extension in the Swing

Extension is a very common hitting cue. You hear it at all levels in both baseball and softball. But is that phrase even the best to use? In a previous article, I wrote about how the hitter creates top barrel speed and where the acceleration happens.  In this article, I'm going to discuss what happens next, EXTENSION. Or to use an even better term, 'barrel release'.

Barrel extension in a swing has been cued the same way for a long time.  Like many of you reading this, I had dozens, if not hundreds, of hitting lessons growing up, and apparently did not know the information I know now. Having said that, one cue I remember hearing a lot was "get to extension" or "get extended."  Anybody who studies a high-level swing knows that the arms become extended.

Click here to read the full article.

The Truth About Extension

2. The Best Way to Train for Increased Power

I am going to take you through HitTrax data of ALL ages. The data will show you sessions from hitters from 8u to college for baseball AND softball. Showing the success they have hitting the ball in the air (between 22* and 36* Launch Angle).

One of the biggest things you'll see is that most hitters, especially younger, are unable to hit the ball over the fence in this window.  What these charts do show is that these hitters must CONTINUE to train to hit the ball high. If they learn to hit in these windows as much as possible now, they will eventually give themselves a better chance for homers as they advance. Read through the article to see Baseball Rebellion certified drills to help you hit the ball farther!

Click here to read the full article. 

The Best Way to Train For Increased Power

3. Hitting Terms Every Coach Must Know

Do you know today's most commonly used hitting terms? If not, this article will be extremely helpful for you. It's important for moms, dads, coaches, and players to understand these terms. Knowledge is power, and knowing these terms and what they mean will help everyone learn faster and share hitting information better.

Exit Velocity

The speed the ball comes off the bat, this has nothing to do with the bat itself, just the ball once it’s hit. Another term that means the same thing as Exit Velocity is Ball Exit Speed

Launch Angle

The angle at which the ball leaves the bat once it is hit...
Hitting Terms

4. Stop Striking Out with One Simple Move

Strikeouts!  The bane of every coach and player's existence.  Since the beginning of baseball and softball, players have and coaches have hated striking out. It may be surprising to read, but this article is not about how strikeouts are okay.  Also, it is not about how strikeouts can be good outs, or how they're just part of the game.  This article is about limiting strikeouts with one movement change and one approach change.

Approach: See Fewer Pitches

Interestingly, the more pitches hitters see in an at-bat, the less likely a hitter is to be successful.  Most of the 'quality at-bat culture' is just incorrect.  Seeing more pitches does have a place in the game, but in individual at-bats, it decreases success rate.  Period

Click here to read the full article.

Stop Striking Out

5. Increase Power with Side Bend & The Rack Bat

Are you seeing a lot of strikeouts or popups from your son or daughter? Are they rolling over or getting jammed more than you'd like? One of the most likely problems is their posture and the answer is side bend. Side bend occurs as the hitter is turning their bat behind them and (hopefully!) working back up to the ball.

Side Bend is bending towards home plate at the contact position.  The body has now rotated to the ball so the hip hinge in the stance has transitioned to side bend. You cannot achieve proper side bend however without first getting into the proper hip hinge position. Check out our article and drills to get into a perfect hip hinge position. 

Click here to read the full article. 

Increase power

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Baseball Rebellion's CEO Chas Pippitt talks about the difference and benefits of blocked vs random training. See how both types of training affect the development of your players.

 

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Strike Zone Secrets: 2 Realities about Umpires You May Not Know

How to Understand the Strike Zone as a Parent and Player

Recently, a few parents and players have talked to me about the ‘strike zone’ issues. Usually, they describe a bad call or two that the ump called on their son or daughter which resulted in a strikeout. I also had a parent submit a video recently in a 10u elite travel ball game where the pitcher appeared to be lobbing the ball in.

This article is important because it’s going to help you reframe your expectations of the umpire and give you a strategy based on your hitting style and size that will help you control the zone as a hitter.

What is the Strike Zone?

Before I get into the “Strike Zone Secrets”, we must define the strike zone. MLB.com defines the strike zone as follows: 

The official strike zone is the area over the home plate from the midpoint between a batter's shoulders and the top of the uniform pants -- when the batter is in his stance and prepared to swing at a pitched ball -- and a point just below the kneecap. In order to get a strike call, part of the ball must cross over part of the home plate while in the aforementioned area.”

Picture From MLB Desbribing the Strike Zone
Picture From MLB Desbribing the Strike Zone

Two Secrets to Better Teach Your Kids the Strike Zone

Now that we’ve defined the strike zone, here are 2 facts about umpires and a strategy that will help you get more pitches you want to hit versus take based on your size and hitting strengths.

Secret 1: Most Umpires Call Strikes Based on Where the Catcher Catches the Ball

The strike zone at most youth tournaments MUST be larger than the MLB definition. Players are LEARNING...and honestly, so are the umpires, coaches, and parents. In the video below, Garret stands in different parts of the batter’s box and we freeze-frame the ball at different ‘strike zone possibility calls’.

As you can see, those pitches crossed Garrett at different places based on where he stood in the box. For the record, those pitches were intended to simulate a coach pitch or 9u game pitch from an average pitcher.

Umpires, parents, and players all would perceive those pitches differently depending on where they stand and how tall they are as a player. Check out the video below to see a 9u game and an example of game pitches looking like the one we demonstrated previously.

Players, coaches, and parents must be able to understand the umpire’s perspective on balls and strikes. And while they won’t always call balls and strikes to the letter of the law, their word is the law. And their perception and decision are all that matters.

Secret 2: The Umpires are NOT out to Get You

Umpires at the triple crown elite winter world series in Rocky Mount, NC are not highly paid individuals. They aren’t highly trained either. They are usually parents of players who no longer play ball that just love to be around the game. Sometimes, they’re younger kids looking to make an extra buck on the weekends or even volunteers helping out for community service hours.

None of these umpires are malicious or hate you or your player. All of these umpires are doing the best they can and have no intention of screwing up the game or making incorrect calls.

Strategy Based on These Videos

If you’re a shorter player, stand in the back of the box.

This will give the pitch more time to ‘fall’ into your hitting zone. If you’re a taller player, and low pitches get you out, stand more towards the front to increase the chances of getting a higher pitch. In both of those pitches in Garrett’s video, the catcher would have caught the pitch at perfect ‘target’ height. Because of this, it is extremely important for shorter players to stand in the back of the box to give them and umpires the most realistic view of THEIR strike zone. 

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If you don't have a live arm to throw to your hitters every day, check out how BR uses Spinball Sports to help recreate the game environment in training

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Learn to Crush The Low and Inside Pitch

Hitting a low and inside pitch is really really hard.  Many hitters struggle with this pitch most because of body positions. Here are a few 'absolutes' from a body position standpoint to hit the low and inside pitch:

  1. Create proper spacing with the upper body
  2. Maintain hip hinge from the stride to the swing
  3. Get into a side bend position
  4. Swing with proper direction

Check out Alex Bregman (Houston Astros) and Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) and their recent World Series homers. Both of these came on low and inside pitches. Check the body positions they get into to be able to elevate this pitch over the fence.

Bregman Low and Inside Pitch
Bregman Low and Inside Pitch
Rendon Low and Inside Pitch
Rendon Low and Inside Pitch

Practicing Correct Body Movements for the Low and Inside Pitch

One of the things we do for this is the Launch Angle Tee noodle drill.

First, we use the Rebel’s Rack to feel a flat turn (which is how you hit a high pitch and how we start our learning to turn process).  Then, you add the Launch Angle Tee with the pool noodle as a barrier to go ‘under’ with your back shoulder and the Rebel’s Rack.

Sometimes, hitters need a longer instrument to ‘see’ their hip hinge and side bend working so we use the Rack Bat. Using the Launch Angle Tee’s angle as a guide, turn your body so the dowel rod works under the noodle and complete the turn as normal.

Lastly, we take full swings, with no ball at first to feel the hip hinge and side bend that the best players in the world use to crush low and inside pitches.  You can use another tee to hit balls under the noodle, or, if you have a great tossed (like the guys here at Baseball Rebellion) you can hit a moving ball either in front toss or batting practice with the noodle still in place.

Applying the Drill

The Launch Angle Tee Noodle Drill will dramatically help your range of motion inside your turn and make it effortless to get your body in position to smash low and inside pitches and ruin pitcher’s days.

Rack Bat Angled Noodle

RackBatGIF

Full Swings with Angled Noodle

FullSwingGIF

Dowel Rod Angled Noodle

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Every Hitter in the Lineup Benefits from Increased Rotation Skills

Rotational Power with Rebel's Rack Bands

Why Teaching Rotational Skill Helps Every Hitter in the Lineup

Coaches, instructors, and players all over the country have asked me about the Rebel's Rack Movement Certification Course. I've fielded lots of questions about the course.

The main one that stuck out to me was the common yet incorrect assumption about the course.  Many people are assuming that only power-hitting players would benefit from the training. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Check out how each spot in the lineup WILL benefit from learning how to rotate faster and more efficiently.

Top of the Lineup (1-2)

The leadoff and two-hole hitters are generally fast and put the ball in play a lot. These players usually do not strike out much and make a solid bat to ball contact frequently. Also, these players usually see lots of pitches. This allows the middle of the lineup can be prepared for the pitcher's arsenal.

These players are fast, so every ball they hit has a chance to be a double. So why not have them hit more doubles? Rotational Power doesn't mean you have to swing and miss more or pop out more. In fact, the better you accelerate the bat head the better you can see pitches. Because of this, the hitter can decide to swing later in the pitch flight.

Leading off the game with a double or a triple is a great way to put the other team on their heels. Top of the lineup hitters with power are extremely valuable to each team they are on. They set the tone and give the opposing team lots to think about defensively. Skipping first base early in the game allows your offense more options as well.

Power Hitters (3-6)

Obviously, power players hitting the ball harder and farther is a good thing. Taking someone who has hit lots of home runs and making them hit the ball far more frequently is clearly a good idea. Usually, these players do not possess the speed needed to beat out grounders or run the bases aggressively.

For that reason, it makes no sense to have your slowest and largest players hit the ball low or in the infield. These players must produce runs by hitting extra-base hits at the plate. Because of this, increasing their rotational skill and power output will help them do that.

Bottom of the Lineup (7-9)

Usually, these hitters are not as strong contact wise as the top of the lineup hitters. Likewise, they never have the power of the middle of the lineup. These hitters, however, are the biggest chance for improvement on the team. Turning the number eight hitter into a three-hole hitter is possible with proper rotational movement skill work. It is very likely that some of these hitters have poor rotational skill and speed.

Because of this, allowing time at practice to teach these players to turn can impact bottom-of-the-lineup hitters the most! Most of the time, these players have been 'hitting' extra for years and years. It is unlikely that a few extra bad reps will magically change them into a more influential hitter in your lineup.

But, improving these players' rotational skill and speed can create more good hitters in your lineup. More good hitters will help generate more runs either by driving them in from the plate or being driven in from the bases.

Better Rotational Skill, Higher Exit Speeds, and More Runs

Scoring runs clearly is the key to winning games from an offensive perspective. Having more players who can hit the ball harder more often will lead to more runs overtime. Training rotational skills to each and every player in your lineup can uncover hidden hitting gems.

These newly trained rotation experts can now implement this new turn speed into every single hitting drill you design and use. This makes every drill used at practice more impactful and more likely to translate to harder hits in the game.

The Rebel's Rack Movement Certification Helps All Hitters

As a coach, learning to teach the turn efficiently and properly will make each player you coach better. No matter their current skill set or a swing style, introducing and stressing correct rotational mechanics will improve your hitters. Almost always their exit speeds will increase almost instantly and how far they hit the ball will go up as well.

Don't be afraid to show your nine-hole hitter how to turn, who knows, maybe your nine-hole hitter becomes your new leadoff. Having more good hitters is never a problem! I will say that writing the lineup can get tricky with six three-hole quality hitters on the team. But then again, those are the types of decisions every coach wants!

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Skill Training and How You Can Get Your Team Better At It

What are the five main physical skills in baseball? Hitting for average, hitting for power, speed (baserunning), fielding, throwing. Every single coach and player works on some of these skills each and every practice they attend.

Ask yourself what your practice is missing that’s hurting you as a player or your team as a coach? If everyone practices the same way then how do you know you're getting ahead of your competition? We know what you are missing and we are here to help. 

Option 1: Train the Skills More!

Training more is generally the option most teams and players take in order to gain an advantage over their competition. Because of this, players have to work harder and smarter to earn more playing time. “More” can be defined as spending more time on specific skills or dedicating more repetitions to a specific skill. Sometimes, the player or team chooses both more time and more repetitions to gain an advantage. Because of this, many players end up hurt or tired.

Fatigue Factor

Often, practices can become lazy or lack focus due to the sheer amount of time players are required to practice for. In hitting specifically, when hitters get tired often times their mechanics break down and sub-optimal compensations occur to "survive" the practice instead of "thrive" during practice.

Is there a clear, defined goal to your practices?
Is there a clear, defined goal to your practices?

Option 2: Train the Skills Differently

The Basics of Skill Training
The Basics of Skill Training

There are many ways you can train skills differently than other teams and players. Traditional training of hitting off tees, front toss/cage work, and then batting practice on the field just isn't enough.  This won’t allow you to gain ground on those who are ahead of you as a player or team. Everyone on every team in America is doing these same activities in hitting. Because of this, coaches now are doing different variations to help maximize the training effects of the time spent on hitting in practice. Coaches are using short and long bats to force hitters to ‘figure it out’ on how to get the barrel to the ball. The issue here is simple: the players are STILL JUST HITTING! Trying to improve hitting flaws by hitting more makes little to no sense and in all reality can lead to hitting worse than before.

Skill Training in School: Reading and Math

Reading Skill Training:

My son, Bryant, is 6-years-old. Each night, he reads a book to either his mother or myself and sometimes, even to his little brother, Tyson. Typically, his books rely on similar letter combinations to help ingrain certain word patterns and sounds. A common sentence would be: “A dog and a frog are on a log.”

Clearly, the book is trying to get Bryant to practice reading, understanding, and making the sound ‘og’ makes. As time goes on, the books get harder and pair sounds together. “Ben has a hen and a dog and a frog”. In that sentence, the ‘en’ sounds were paired with ‘og’ sounds to help Bryant see and hear the difference.

This is simple deliberate practice of a simple skill set over and over. He's yet to bring home War and Peace (a 1,225-page novel published in 1869) to be read with strobe glasses on and weights on his hands to make turning the pages harder...but hey, it is just the first week.

Math Skill Training

Math is taught in a similar way. Currently, Bryant is working on adding and subtracting numbers. The class goes over how adding and subtracting works with M&M’s because the students understand physical differences as opposed to abstract numerical differences faster. Seeing 5 M&M’s become 3 M&M’s because you ate 2 is a simple way to work on subtraction.

Understanding the number 5 minus 3 equals 2 on a paper can be hard for some kids in the class at this age. Another way they are working on math is counting by 1’s, 2’s and 3’s. Counting to 9 by threes is 3,6, 9. Counting backward by 2’s to 0 from 10 is 10,8.6.4.2.0.  These are strategies the school is using to teach abstract math as opposed to physical math.

Both are practiced deliberately, both are repeated over and over. Again, he hasn’t been required to use a short pencil, then a long pencil, and then pencils with different lead hardnesses for writing proprioception. I think that’s in week 2!

Differences in Baseball Coaching Skill from School Training Skill Training

In baseball coaching, many times it is assumed the hitter has a general idea of how to hit. Meaning they have a basic mechanical understanding of HOW to actually hit a ball correctly and with some level of power.

What does this assumption of competence lead to? Mass repetition style practices. “More time or more reps on a skill will make a player better” is the thought.

While this can work sometimes for some players, mostly it just creates a bigger competence gap between the good players and bad ones. The good players practice good movements, the bad players, practice bad movements.

While both sets of players 'can' get better from reps, the ceiling on the bad players' development is very low. Even the good players could be elevated by proper pre-hitting mechanical coaching, but are usually left alone as they are already good.

School

In school, however, there is no assumption that any student can do anything when they enter school. Kids are assessed for their ability in classroom activities and motor skills. Students are then grouped with kids who they can help or who can help them.

Building Foundations

  • Lessons in early education are to build basic skills in all students, and then, as certain students succeed or struggle, their needs are addressed differently by the teaching staff
  • Students who can add and subtract still benefit and are never hurt by reviewing the information
  • Likewise, students who cannot add or subtract are greatly benefitted from this foundational training

This early education foundational review or teaching of basic skills closes the competence gap and eliminates many problems that would arise without this basic teaching time.

Baseball

If baseball coaches did the same thing and taught the basics of rotation BEFORE hitting, every player on the team would benefit. This simple time would allow each player to have the foundation to become a more effective hitter at practice.

Building Foundations

  • This fundamental rotational movement training closes the competence gap and can unlock a player’s ability much faster than just hoping that good hitters are created with more hitting.
  • Also, it would allow coaches to work on rotation with everyone and then ‘release’ players who were good rotators into hitting groups.
  • This grouping would put players in situations where they can learn the best, just like the school teachers are doing for my young son.

Train Rotation. Bridge the Competence Gap.

How are you properly teaching rotation as a skill in your practice setting?
How are you properly teaching rotation as a skill in your practice setting?

Hitting is rotating the body and speeding up the bat around the body and directing the bat into a ball. By assessing players' untrained ability to rotate, and then teaching better mechanical patterns for rotation, you are insuring each hitting drill is maximally effective.

Teaching the proper mechanics of rotation would take minutes of practice time, but allow for hyper-effective and efficient hitting practice afterward. Hitting can be something players enjoy and understand as their process of preparing to hit makes rotational sense and works with how the body generates rotational power.

Instead of countless constraints, or drills from twitter, take the time to teach proper rotational technique. It’ll change your career or the career of those you teach in a massive way.

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