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One Drill for Better Bat Path

One Drill to Improve Your Bat Path

What is the Most Important Part of the Bat?

The barrel.

The most sought-after object to find in hitting. Some days it may feel like yours went missing while others it may feel as if the entire bat is made up of it.

Hitters display different styles and characteristics within their swing. But, the best hitters in the world have one thing in common. They all field the barrel more than most. Sure you can catch a ball slightly off the handle or the end and still do damage. But, the most damage will always come from the barrel. 

So how can we train ourselves to be a master of the barrel and be able to move that object wherever needed, whenever? Is there any drill we can practice to help control that barrel more?

Every hitter feels and reacts differently to different drills or swings. This article is about one drill that I’ve implemented lately and have seen great improvement in both hitters direction and bat path. 

Split Grip Drill 

By splitting the hitter's hands you allow the hitter's top hand to move closer to the barrel and control that part of the bat better. The improved control of the barrel allows the hitter to feel which direction it is moving.

This is where it can get interesting. However, the hitter needs to work on moving the barrel, they can accomplish that during this drill. Yes, a hitter can swing too far up just like they can too much down. The more control the hitter has, the quicker they are able to make adjustments to the path. 

Improved Swing Direction 

Not only can a hitter’s bat path be more controlled with the split grip, also their swing direction. By splitting the grip, the hitter is forced to hit with a slightly shorter bat in turn making their swing direction that much more important.

If they have a shoulder dominant swing, they will pull off and hit the ball off the end. The limited length of the bat forces the hitter to use the correct posture and create the proper tilt necessary to square the ball up. 

Other Drills That Help Improve Swing Direction 

Move Better To Hit Better 

The purpose of drills should be to help the hitter feel a certain move that they can relate to their game swing. So while they will never split their hands to hit in a game, if they are able to feel the way their body should move to produce the desired result, the drill is a success. And as always, there is no one drill for every hitter. But, if this drill can help one hitter, it’s worth it to know it.

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UNLOCK POWER WITH BETTER SEPARATION

Create Better Separation with the Rebel’s Rack

The ability for an athlete to rotate in proper kinematic sequence allows for maximum speed gain throughout rotation. The first step in this sequence is proper hip shoulder separation. Oftentimes in rotation, the first mistake is the worst mistake. Learning to properly disassociate pelvic rotation from shoulder rotation is key in creating bat speed.

Stop Spinning Off the Ball

What No One Tells You About Hitter’s Spinning Off the Ball

Every coach, instructor or parent that has ever worked in baseball has dealt with a hitter ”spinning off”. If it’s so common and has been dealt with so often, why is it still around? Here is what no one is saying about “spinning off”.

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Front Arm Constraint Drill

Front Arm Constraint Drill For Hitters

It is hard for hitters to feel their backside working to the ball. With the front arm constraint drill the hitter only has one way to turn, behind the ball

How The Load Can Improve Your Timing

What Goes Into Good Timing?

Being on time for a pitch is a very difficult task. Every bit of help a hitter can get to be on time more is extremely valuable. Whether it is a visual cue, mechanical cue, or approach-based cue, every little bit helps. When thinking of timing and being “on time” with a pitch, the first thought is vision, and rightly so.

Vision is the number one contributor to timing. If a hitter goes to the plate blindfolded they have zero chance to be on time. However, as stated above vision isn’t the only contributing factor to timing. Hitter’s approach at the plate plays a major role in their ability to be “on time” to a pitch. Whether it’s hunting pitches or sitting on a location, being smart about what to look for and anticipate at the plate can help improve timing. But, despite the major role these two components have on timing, they aren’t the only factors. 

Often overlooked in regards to timing is a hitter's movements/mechanics. Great vision and approach can only make up for so much when it comes to poor movements. And when it comes to movements such as early torso rotation, the best vision in the world can’t overcome that. If a hitter is unable to load and unload correctly, timing suffers. 

What is Scap Loading and How Does it Affect Timing?

When talking about loading/unloading many’s first thoughts include the hips or pelvis. However, the load includes the entire backside of a hitters body. While the glute, hamstring, and hip flexor help load or coil the hitter's pelvis, the scapula helps with the upper body loading process. Our body wants to rotate towards the pitch. Throughout the duration of the stride phase, the hitter is resisting rotation. So what can a hitter use to fight against that rotation and instead rotate on time? 

Scapula Photo

By a hitter engaging and pulling their scapula back behind them during the stride, they are loading their upper body and creating connection between their upper body and the bat. This allows the hitter to fight against early torso rotation while still maintaining posture and connection. This increased acceleration ability and connection allow the hitter to support the barrel better throughout contact. All of this can be attributed to the engagement of the scapula. 

How can I use this knowledge to help my hitter?

To understand this and know this is very different than being able to do it. So how can we make this easy to understand and simple to implement for hitters? This simple 4 step progression allows the hitter to not only engage their scapula and have an increased awareness of what the scapula is vs. their trap or shoulder, but also implement it.

It also doesn’t require anything other than a bat and resistance band. Scap loading isn’t a new thought or something that is revolutionary. This is something that can be seen in elite hitters from any era. Check out the hitters below and see just how long their scap’s are pulling back as the pitch approaches.

Mike Trout
Mike Trout
Fransisco Lindor
Fransisco Lindor
Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez
Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa

4 Drills to Help with Your Load & Timing

Phase 1- Band No Stride Drill

Why: This phase of the progression allows the hitter to develop an understanding of where and what their scapula is and how to use it. It is important to force the hitter to simplify this phase and solely pull back with their scap. They will want to turn their shoulders in or stride forward. Don’t let them.

Most youth hitters have no idea what their scap is and if the hitter is younger than 10 that’s more than ok. However, for older hitters, it is crucial that they become aware of where their scap is and how to engage it. Force them to stay simple during this phase and simply learn how to pull back with their scap.

Phase 2- Band + Stride Drill

Why: Now that the hitter is more comfortable with where their scap is and how to engage it, try adding timing and rhythm to it by including their stride. The pull back of the scap should be synchronized with their forward move. The scap pull should create a stretch against the forward momentum of the stride helping to create separation.

Phase 3- Bat No Stride Drill

Why: By adding a bat during this phase the hitter begins to associate this move with hitting. The feel of pulling back with the bat can start to help hitters feel the correlation that they will need when they return to hitting. Again stress to the hitter that this phase does not include the stride but simply learning how to load the scap with a bat in hand instead of a band.

Phasee 4- Bat Full Stride Drill

Why: With a sound understanding of how and when to load the scap, the hitter will now simulate a full stride once again stretching the scap pull against the forward movement of the stride. Reinforce that the hitter should land in a tense and fully loaded position.

Be On-Time More by Loading Properly

Being “On Time” with a pitch is difficult. This we know. Allow your hitter the best chance to be “on time” more often by equipping them with the proper knowledge and swing capable of doing damage.

Great vision and approach can only make up for so much. I promise you the hitter isn’t trying to be early or “do too much”, they simply don’t have the correct understanding or skill set to have great timing. Give them the resources they need and watch them take off.

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3 Tee Drill

Get Consistent Hard Contact with the 3 Tee Drill

If your hitter struggled to make contact to all fields last season check out our version of the 3 tee drill series & how it can help them develop a consistent bat path

What is Hip/Shoulder Separation 

The ability for an athlete to rotate in proper sequence allows for maximum speed gain throughout rotation. The first step in this sequence is proper hip/shoulder separation. Oftentimes in rotation, the first mistake is the worst mistake. Learning to properly disassociate pelvic rotation from shoulder rotation is key in creating bat speed.

What Is Most Important to Hitters? 

There are so many different functions including vision, timing, power production, adjustability, etc. Sometimes one of these functions has to be sacrificed to allow another to bloom. 

While that last sentence is true, it’s also very disingenuous to believe that all of these functions provide equal value. For example, if a hitter has elite-level power production (bat speed, max acceleration, smash factor), but isn’t able to recognize different pitches, their production will suffer.

But, that player is granted more opportunities than the guy with elite bat to ball skills but no juice. Power production doesn’t just rely on home runs. If you don’t have the ability to attack the gaps and create extra-base hits, there is becoming less and less value. Whether right or wrong this is evident in today’s game. 

How To Create More Power Production

Power production gets you in the door, the ability to hit keeps you inside. With that being said, hitters have to create a swing that is able to produce some sort of power. Through efficient and explosive movement patterns a hitter has the ability to create more bat speed.

A hitter's ability to utilize the kinematic sequence through rotation to create proper speed gains allows them to create “effortless” bat speed. This can be accomplished through dedicated movement work completed outside of hitting. Examples of this type of practice can be seen throughout the sports world and can often get overlooked and ignored in baseball training. Check out the examples from Karate, Football, and Basketball below:

karate hip/shoulder separation
qb hip shoulder separtation
basketball

The Sequence 

The sequence in which the body begins rotating allows energy to transfer up the kinematic chain and create proper speed gains. This is where hip/shoulder separation comes into play.

The ability for an athlete to begin rotating their core/pelvis outwardly towards the opposite side infielder (RH hitter: second basemen, LH hitter: Shortstop), while simultaneously resisting that rotation with their upper body, creates tension that allows for faster rotation.

This is often difficult to feel and train during the act of hitting. However, when trained and cued in the right environment, proper movement patterns can be obtained.

K Vest Hip/Shoulder Seaparation

The technology system K-Vest, allows this to be tested by applying sensors to different parts of the body (Pelvis, torso, upper arm, and hand). These sensors relay not only when a segment of the body begins rotating but also how fast it is accelerated. 

Not every hitter needs to be in a perfect (Pelvis-Torso-Arm-Hand/Bat) sequence to be a good hitter. However, if a hitter is struggling to produce the speed and power needed to perform at their level or give themself an opportunity to continue their career at whatever the next level is, this is a great place to look. 

How to Identify It 

While K-vest is a great resource to have, I also understand not everyone will have access to that technology. K-vest is great because it catches what the naked eye doesn’t. However, here are a few cues to look for on video to see whether or not your hitter is creating proper hip/shoulder separation. 

Back Knee

Christian Yelich Back Knee
Christian Yelich Back Knee
Carlos Correa Back Knee
Carlos Correa Back Knee

What you’ll notice in these screenshots is both hitters are beginning to rotate their back knee down to initiate hip rotation. While this is occurring the shoulders are remaining parallel to the path of the pitch allowing them to maintain their vision and their direction. 

Belt Buckle 

Manny Ramirez Pelvis Turn
Manny Ramirez Pelvis Turn
Cody Bellinger Pelvis Turn
Cody Bellinger Pelvis Turn

From a front-facing camera, the key point switches from the back knee to the belt buckle. Both hitters are beginning to turn their pelvis to which their belt buckles are now pointing at the off-side infielder.

The range of motion in the hips and pelvis will differentiate from hitter to hitter and will show up in how far open the pelvis can rotate. 

Create Better Hip/Shoulder Separation 

By utilizing the rack, you give your hitters the ability to work on improving and developing their movement patterns without overloading them while hitting. The rack is useful while teaching separation because of the construction of the wings.

This allows the player to engage their scap and other upper back muscles to help the shoulders resist the rotation of the pelvis. This is what makes the rack so unique. 

Create Learners

Take the frustration of learning something new away. Create awareness for your hitters of what exactly is trying to be accomplished so they can practice on their own and create their own thoughts and feelings for what is happening.

Knowledge is power. Don’t be scared of creating smart hitters. Anyone can get someone to listen to them for 30 minutes, but to get the most out of athletes they have to be learners, not just listeners.

 

Did You Like This Content? Check Out Some Of Our Other Hitting Drill Articles!

Stop Spinning Off the Ball

What No One Tells You About Hitter’s Spinning Off the Ball

Every coach, instructor or parent that has ever worked in baseball has dealt with a hitter ”spinning off”. If it’s so common and has been dealt with so often, why is it still around? Here is what no one is saying about “spinning off”.

Front Arm Constraint Drill

Front Arm Constraint Drill For Hitters

It is hard for hitters to feel their backside working to the ball. With the front arm constraint drill the hitter only has one way to turn, behind the ball

How to Train to Hit Offspeed Pitches

How to Train to Hit Offspeed Pitches

Many hitters seem to hit well in the cage but not in games. It comes down to how the hitter trains their pitch selection and most importantly their adjustability. By simply doing front toss with a twist you can change how a hitter adjusts from pitch to pitch.

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Hit More Line Drives- Without Changing Your Swing

Every hitter wants to hit more line drives. Every coach wants to see their hitter hit more line drives and every parent wants to see their kid hit more line drives. But how can hitters achieve this without changing their swing? The answer is in a hitter's contact point.

How Far Out in Front Should a Hitter Make Contact? 

What is a Contact Point?

Thousandths of a second. That is how long the ball stays on the bat at contact. Everything we do as a hitter is to set up for those thousandths of a second. How we get to that point is extremely important to the result of contact, just as when we get there. Without the proper sequencing and path, limitations to the swing will always occur. Timing is considered vital to the swing. If you’re not “on time” for the pitch, very little damage can be done. But when we look closer what does timing control? 

What Does Timing Control? 

Being “on time” with the pitch to me means creating the proper contact point in relation to the hitter's body. The contact point being too far out in front of their front foot can lead to early timing, with vice versa contact being made too close to the hitters back foot leads the hitter to be late. A hitter's ability to control where in relation to their body they make contact with the ball is crucial to their timing and ability to consistently hit line drives

How Does this Relate to Golf? 

Golf is a sport with similar movements in the swing as baseball. The only difference is a different plane caused by the ball being on the ground and the fact that the ball is stationary. The ball being stationary allows them to create the optimal contact point and positioning for each shot. Here’s where it gets interesting.

In golf, much like baseball, different ball flights are required on different swings. With the ball being stationary, the golfer is able to align themselves to the ball differently depending on how they want to shape their ball flight. The image below shows that the more they want to hit upwards on the ball, the farther the ball is moved in front.

Golf Positioning Line Drives

With an understanding of a rotational swing that makes sense. The ball being farther in front allows the clubhead more time to rotate upwards in the swing. Unlike golf, in the baseball swing, we always want the club head (barrel) to be attacking the ball upwards or also known as “on plane”.

Change Doesn't Always Need To Be Mechanical

Oftentimes when referencing ball flight and a hitter struggling to hit line drives, mechanics is the first thing looked at. In actuality, they might have a good swing and don’t need mechanical adjustments; they just make contact too deep in the zone. Hittrax gives you the ability to check the point of contact on each swing

Point of Impact Linedrives

However, this gives feedback on the ball relative to home plate, not the hitter. So, the next time you have a hitter struggling to hit consistent line drives, first check where they make contact and how that can affect ball flight.

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3 Tee Drill

Get Consistent Hard Contact with the 3 Tee Drill

If your hitter struggled to make contact to all fields last season check out our version of the 3 tee drill series & how it can help them develop a consistent bat path

Every coach, instructor or parent that has ever worked in baseball has dealt with a hitter ”spinning off”. If it’s so common and has been dealt with so often, why is it still around? Here is what no one is saying about “spinning off”.

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How Far Out Front Should You Hit The Ball?

Where Does the Swing Plane Come From? 

Point of Impact 

Hit Trax Photo

Every hitter swings up, and every hitter swings down. However, when the downturn ends and the barrel begins to turn up or “on-plane” can dictate the impact a hitter has on the ball. The best hitters in the world hit the ball the hardest when contact is made out in front of the plate. With that being said, are you training to do so yourself? 

Adjustability and bat speed are dramatically improved when an emphasis is placed on hitting the ball out in front of the plate with the barrel path carrying length through the zone. However, this skill isn’t easily attained. It must be practiced and perfected. The fear for most players, coaches, and instructors is that the player will then try to reach and lunge forward creating top spun rollovers. This is why, in my opinion, it’s even more important for hitters to practice and replicate where they will hit the ball in a game that will almost always be even or in front of their stride foot. Putting the tee out in front of the stride foot forces the hitter to move forward with balance. Because of this, creating the proper swing arch to create proper spin on a pitch out in front. 

The Danger in Putting The Tee Too Deep 

Weak Contact 

Putting the tee too deep can create a couple of different issues in the swing pattern. I’ll say this first, I’m not a huge fan of tee work but I also understand that it’s the easiest form of practice and doesn’t require anyone else being there or a ton of room. So I get it, but without the stress of velocity or a moving ball, bad habits can be created. So one thing to keep an eye out for when putting the tee too deep in the hitter striding and creating the contact point of the ball inside of their front foot. 

Bad Tee Positioning

bad tee positioning

Vs.

Good Tee Positioning

good tee positioning

This can create an inside-out pushy swing that forces balls to the opposite field. The hitter doesn’t give themself enough space to create proper bat speed and path to the pitch, in turn, side spinning a ball the other way. Whether cued to let the ball get deep (for fear of rolling over) or to make sure they hit the ball the other way, the hitter can even see this result as a success. I firmly believe a hitter should be able to drive the ball to all fields. The key in that sentence was to drive the ball. For different hitters driving the ball can mean different things. What it never means is a side spun, weakly hit flair into the opposite field. A hitter hitting the ball well inside of their front foot in a game, will likely result in a foul ball. So why practice ever hitting it that deep?

Poor Posture 

Another common flaw when the tee is set up too deep is the hitter swaying back. They do this to give themself enough space to create the proper swing arch for that location. 

Sway Back

This move away from the pitch can be detrimental to timing of a moving pitch. Not only will timing and vision be affected but also proper weight shift into the front side. The ability for a hitter to track the pitch while remaining balanced and controlled in their forward move. Which allows for the most optimal adjustability as well as power output

Forward Move

How to Improve Your Point of Contact In Practice 

Alignment 

By putting the tee farther in front of the plate it forces the hitter to create a balanced forward move and keep their shoulders on line. Putting the tee too deep allows the hitter to turn their shoulders and eyes in. Because of this, it can lead to them pulling their front shoulder out to begin rotation. 

Good Alignment

good alignment

Vs.

Bad Alignment

bad alignment

Forward Move

As mentioned above putting the tee farther in front forces the hitter to make a forward move into a balanced position into the ground. Avoiding a swayback in the stride can lead to better vision and adjustability through rotation. 

Tight Barrel

Putting the emphasis on creating more length with the barrel through the zone can help tighten up the launch of the barrel. The hitter knows the tighter the barrel turns off their shoulder the quicker they can be to contact. With the tee too deep often hitters will lose connection with their barrel in order to get it into the zone deeper. 

Practice the Result You Want 

The ability to hit the ball to all fields is extremely important to a hitter. However, the hardest thing to do in hitting is to hit the ball to the pull side with true spin. Many hitters are forced to roll over or topspin the inside pitch because of how they move and rotate. Practice doing the damage you want to do in games and get used to hitting it where you will to do so. Don’t just hope your flair singles off the tee will translate to game success.

Do you think you run the perfect practice? Think again. How do we as coaches maximize our practice time effectively? The answer is preciseness and efficiency. Lay out what you want to accomplish and spend only the amount of time needed to work on that specific skill. I promise you it’s always less than you think. Spending 20 minutes on rundowns at an 8u practice isn’t efficient. No matter how many times you practice it, they’re going to mess it up. Just look at how often it happens at the big league level.

One article we wrote was JK’s “5 Ways Players Get Worse From Team Practice”. This article explained all the ways a practice can be failed and actually make players worse. Topics included things such as bad front toss, quick pitching the hitter, and even not hitting at all (yes it does happen). Team practice can be extremely beneficial for the development of a player. Even more so for youth players whose development relies upon what they do in a team practice or lesson environment. Today, we flip the script with 5 Ways to Improve From Team Practice.

1) Movement Work

movement wall

At Baseball Rebellion we pride ourselves on teaching each hitter the optimal movements from both a rotational power and adjustability stand point. Notice I didn’t say anything about hitting. This is a quite different approach than most player development facilities. We believe in training similar to how you would in a weight room. Teach the movements, then load the movements appropriately. You would never have an athlete load up a squat and hope they “figure it out” and self organizes to get the weight up. We believe in teaching proven movement patterns then loading that pattern once considered appropriate.

How to Implement

So why in team practice format would you never work and train these movement patterns? I realize that time is a major constraint in team practice, however, I think it’s safe to say we can sacrifice the 1,000th tee swing of the week for a five-minute movement station. It also doesn’t have to be over-the-top fancy. No baseballs are required for a detailed movement station. We have the luxury at BR of a movement wall which includes: taped lines on the floor, mirrors, Rebels Racks, dowel rods, resistance bands, and so on (see picture above). Adjust your station for whatever works for your team practice setting. This station is guaranteed to break up the monotony of hitting off a tee or front toss and is vital in your hitter’s development.

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Pre game Rack City ??? @baseballrebellion A post shared by WVU TECH SOFTBALL (@goldenbearsoftball) on

2) Intentional Batting Practice

In the article mentioned above, JK pointed out not only do some team practices not include Batting Practice at all but often are filled with majority situational hitting. Now I completely understand the need for situational hitting. I even include it in my individual hitting lessons as needed. There comes a time in the game where certain things are needed, whether it’s hitting behind the runner, elevating the ball over a drawn-in infield, or even just putting the ball in pay. As a coach, you want to feel confident in your team’s ability to hit in any situation needed. However, if we look at the sheer percentage of your team’s at-bats, it’s obvious that the majority of at-bats are in more of an open situation setting. The ability to drive the ball needs to be taught and taught more than the ability to hit behind the runner which might happen once a game.

Fear of Failure

How your team takes batting practice impacts the confidence and aggression they hit with. If they are kicked out of their round for not getting the bunt down, how can you expect them to maintain their aggression to get it down when they know if they don’t, they don’t get to hit. If they aren’t allowed to hit with aggression in BP and are forced to push the ball opposite field for fear of rolling over, how can a coach expect them to hit that RBI Double they are ecstatic for in the game? Imagine going to a Golden State Warriors game and Steph Curry doesn’t attempt a single three-pointer in warmups. If you want your players to drive the ball in the game, they have to work on that daily in batting practice.

Great Wall of Ground Ball Prevention

Article Courtesty of fivethirtyeight.com

One great way to motivate your players to drive the ball is to do something similar to what the Tampa Bay Rays did in spring training. The great wall of ground ball prevention, with screens set up across the infield, players were instructed to drive the ball over the screen and into the outfield. This simple tactic can motivate your players to be aggressive and train to drive the ball. This isn’t about home runs or pop-ups, it’s about emploring your hitters to be aggressive and swing with the intent to drive the ball.

3) Short Rounds

Short Rounds from film "Indiana Jones"
Short Rounds from film “Indiana Jones”

One thing I find interesting about hitting and how we train it is there are multiple sides of development. Training can be either training a movement pattern, challenging and loading that pattern, or just preparing for competition. I think all three are vital for development. However, the outcome that we all want is results in a game.

In that game you get on average four at-bats worth of results and in those at-bats you are allowed one fair ball per at-bat. So on average, our results stem from roughly four batted fair balls. However, in training, you often see rounds of ten, fifteen, even twenty. I understand the need for long rounds when training or changing a movement pattern, however, that usually occurs in an off-season. So why in a team practice setting would a player get a round of ten swings to try to groove their swing for results?

Adjustable

A hitter must be able to make adjustments from pitch to pitch not just rely on nine bad swings to finally feel good about the tenth. That tenth may never come in a game. Any decent hitter can hit when they are in a groove or in rhythm. How do we train them to be successful when they don’t have that rhythm of a ten pitch round? Rounds should be no longer than five pitches. Instead of the generic four rounds of eight, make it eight rounds of four. Give the hitter time to take their swings, make immediate adjustments and then have to do it again and again.

The aggression and intent of the swing will go up as well as their ability to make adjustments on the fly. This could be frustrating for hitters who struggle to make adjustments. However, those are the exact hitters who don’t understand why they struggle to make adjustments in a game. Shorten the rounds and take the rhythm out of batting practice. It’s not available in a game.

4] Test Against Velocity

We all know the 5 o’clock hitter and the front toss All-American who can light it up during BP. Yet those hitters tend to struggle when the lights come on and competition stiffens up. How do we as coaches provide a practice environment that trains that? The first step is to challenge your hitters during practice. A practice environment should be full of failure. The goal should be to make at least one station at practice, harder than a game setting. The difficulty level should change with the age group as well as how often a hitter is challenged.

A youth player benefits much more from movement work and aggressive rounds of batting practice than being challenged off a machine. However, it is important for them to feel the anxiety that comes with a challenge. The feeling should be similar to the one they feel when in the batter’s box come game time.

As the age group gets older the challenge should become more frequent and difficult.  A high school hitter has to learn how to be successful against higher velocities or sharper breaking stuff. This is where a pitching machine can come into play.

spinball

We use the Spinball Pitching machine daily. This should provide that feeling of anxiety that overhand BP can’t simulate as it does for younger ages. And the challenge doesn’t have to be provided by a machine. Live at-bats from pitchers who need to get work in, or even simulated batting practice with the pitcher mixing pitches from a shorter distance can provide the same challenge. As long as the movement basics are remaining intact, it is vital to challenge your hitters and have them learn how to deal with the anxiety associated with difficult tasks.

5) Competition

Want to rev up the energy and get the most out of your hitters? Put them in a competition. Head to head or split them up in teams. Any time you can hold a competition you can grab the hitters attention and focus. Break up the normal day of batting practice and push the hitters for the results you want.

Whether it is the least amount of ground balls wins or most balls hit over an outfielder, whatever it is, give the hitters a goal and make them compete to win. This increases the focus of the hitters and can make hitting enjoyable for everyone.

You can even make the competition weekly or monthly. The more focus and intent the hitter swings with, the more they get out of their BP. Live at-bats are my favorite way to get the most out of both hitters, and pitchers during lessons.

Cage Battles

We utilize competition in lessons by having “cage battles” at the end of lessons. This places one-hitter against the other with the goal often being distance battles. Using HitTrax to see who hits it the farthest one swing at a time.

The goal can change as it did with two sixth graders last week. Their goal was a line drive into right field (both right-handed hitters). These hitters struggle pulling off with their front shoulder and needed to learn how to drive the ball the other way. It is surprising how many times a hitter sets a personal distance or exit velocity record in these “battles”. The parents and awaiting hitters often get involved as well as instructors.

The goal of this exercise is to challenge the hitter and put them in a situation that they may not be comfortable in. Hitters have to learn how to hit when they’re not comfortable.

Team practice is vital for both player development as well as team success. How it is structured can either enhance or destroy your team. Use these five simple tips to improve your team’s practice and get the most out of your players.

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What Exactly is the Rebel's Rack?

One of my favorite movies of all time is an old golf movie, “Tin Cup”. In the movie, golf instructor Roy McAvoy is struggling to find his swing days before the biggest tournament of his life. He resorts to a contraption of a golf device to find his once sweet swing. If you have been around Baseball/Softball long enough, you’ve seen many devices very similar to this that guarantee results...

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...And to be honest, that is exactly what I thought of the Rebels Rack before I started working at Baseball Rebellion. But then I learned how valuable it really is...

First Impression

I played with a Baseball Rebellion trained hitter on a collegiate wood bat summer league team. I noticed that every day before batting practice he had this crazy looking red bar that he would spin around on. That’s how I saw it. I thought it was just some gimmick device that didn't help. Yet every night the lineup was posted, who do you think was hitting 3rd?  That limited engagement and youthful ignorance is how I saw the Rebels Rack, until I got the opportunity to see it in action every single day.

The Need For Speed

In my 3 years at BR, I have seen this once crazy red bar, improve the turn speed of every single hitter in our building. And every single hitter is not an exaggeration. Since working here, every first-time client has shown improvement by using the rack. I remember asking, “What else is there to this?” and the answer is nothing.

The rack gives the hitter no choice but to learn to turn their body faster. The faster the hitter is able to rotate their body, the faster the bat moves. The faster the bat moves, the more opportunities they give themselves as a hitter. Rotational speed is a skill that must be learned and continuously trained. We do that using the rack. One question we always get is, “well I can just use a dowel rod or PVC pipe, right?”. These two devices can bring some of the same benefits as far as rotation. However, what they don't offer is the posture training involved with the rack. Because of the shape of the rack and the requirement of the player to pull back on the rack to hold it, they are training to maintain good posture without knowing it.

Move To Duplicate

We all know there's more to hitting than just speed. So how does the Rack help in other aspects of hitting? By using the rack you are able to move and rotate your body into optimal positions without the constraint and worry of hitting well. Whether it is a stride, posture, side-bend, or balance issue, it can be addressed by using the rack.

final stride (rack)
mid turn (Rack)
Finish (rack)

We are able to teach our hitters to get into the same elite positions that the best hitters in the world do through our Rebel's Rack work. The difference is we can do it at a full rotational speed, which translates quicker, and more efficient than walking through the process.  

Can I Hit With It?

Every hitter wants their training to involve hitting. They want to see that what they're doing is improving actually hitting the ball. So how do we adopt the Rack to be more inclusive to this? We have created the Rack Bat. The Rack Bat allows the hitter to feel the speed of their turn while matching their posture and side bend according to pitch location. This creation gives hitters the ability to improve the speed and accuracy of their turn, while performing the task of hitting an object.

Gimmick Tool, Or Key To Unlocking Rotational Speed?

Some of you may read this article and still see the Rebels Rack as a gimmick, and that’s fine. I thought so at first as well. And then I saw it take a college team from 14 home runs in an entire season to 368 the last 3 combined. I’ve seen it work with youth, middle school, high school, college, professional, softball, slow pitch, senior league, golfers, and even cricket players. Rotational speed is a trained skill. Train it or get left behind.

To see more drills with the Rebel's Rack, click here.

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One Simple Drill That Will Improve Your Swing Quality

What Should the Back Foot Do in the Swing?

Watch any given Major League Baseball game and you are likely to find very different looking swings. The same goes if you watch a game with only the back foot of the hitter in mind. What should the back foot do in the swing?

Many hitters move in very different ways, yet some things about those moves are constant. How the back foot moves in hitters swings is extremely important to the result of that swing.

One thing to keep an eye on with your hitter is how their back foot is moving. Is it moving at all or dragging forward? Is it sliding backward? Today we look at a drill that focuses' on a player moving their back foot correctly, in order to provide better direction in the swing.

The Back Foot Box Drill forces hitter to realize when they overrotate their back foot. When a hitter turns their foot too much during the rotation of their swing and allows the heel of their back foot to rotate past their toes before contact. If a hitters heel is closer to home plate than their toes, they have overrotated. This can cause poor direction and lead to hooked groundballs and cut pop-ups.

The direction in hitters swings is their ability to organize their rotation in the direction needed to hit each pitch (depending on location). By overrotating their back foot they are forcing their direction to be towards the pull side leaving them vulnerable to outside or offspeed pitches.

3 Ways The Back Foot Box Drill Improves Swing Quality

1) Provides Immediate Feedback Regarding Overrotation

Overrotation is tough to correct because it is tough for the hitter to feel. This drill provides immediate feedback to the hitter if they moved correctly. If the hitter's heel hits the boards or box, it moved too far and they overrotated.

2) Increased Understanding of Direction in the Swing

By not overrotating the back foot the hitter is able to extend and accelerate the bat towards the pitch path instead of just pull side. The heel getting around the toes causes the bat to accelerate too late and directionally to the pull side.

3) Activates Deceleration

A hitter is only able to rotate as fast as they can stop rotation. For a kinematic sequence to work properly, the hitter must be able to stop or decelerate their rotation to allow the bat to speed up around them. By not rolling over on their back foot, it forces the stopping or deceleration of the hips to allow for proper sequencing.

Still Not Convinced on the Back Foot?

Check out these MLB swings and watch their back foot.

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3 Tee Drill

Get Consistent Hard Contact with the 3 Tee Drill

If your hitter struggled to make contact to all fields last season check out our version of the 3 tee drill series & how it can help them develop a consistent bat path

2020 Guide To Offseason Goal Setting

How to Organize The Offseason

As we make our way into November, the offseason is officially upon us. The work we put in from November-March will determine our results from March-October. There is no time in-season for individual skill training. So when is there time? Now. Time is the most precious resource we have and when it comes to a baseball “offseason” there isn’t much of it. We as athletes have to maximize our offseason time in order to improve ourselves and become who we want to be as a player. There needs to be clear goals and intentions set for this time period. These goals should be a combination of improving your struggles from last season and developing into who you want to be in the future.

Schedule

In order to get the most out of your offseason, I suggest creating a plan/schedule for how you will spend your time. The amount of time you spend on certain things should reflect what it is you value the most. Desperately need to get stronger? More time needs to be dedicated to the weight room and eating. 200lbs of muscle but can’t hit? Carve out specific time dedicated to improving as a hitter. Understand who you are and who you want to be and assign the correct amount of time to each discipline that you deem important.

Goal Setting For The Offseason

Apart from setting up an efficient offseason is creating goals to strive for. Getting yourself to do what you need to do 3 months from a season can be tough to do. But, if you give yourself goals both short term and long, you’re more likely to challenge yourself and hold yourself accountable. I suggest creating 3 goals for each offseason (1 skill work such as hitting, fielding, or throwing; 1 speed goal; and 1 strength goal). This allows you to diversify your training and simplify your entire game into 3 goals.

Measurable

Each goal must be measurable. If you want to get faster your goal can’t be “get faster”. How can you prove that? You must be able to assign a number to each goal and measure it at the beginning, middle, and end of your training. The more specific the goal, the easier it will be to design your training around it.

Transferable

Pick a goal that is transferable to your game. Your goal should be something that you want to improve on but also something that helps you be a better player on the field. If you’re a 220lb corner infielder your goal shouldn’t be to be a better bunter. Make sure your goal will directly correlate to you being a better baseball player.

Realistic

Your goals must be realistic. If you weigh 120lbs and want to get stronger, good. But, your goal shouldn’t be to get to 200lbs by the spring. That’s unrealistic and will more than likely lead to you getting pissed for not reaching your goal and giving up one month in. Push yourself, but be true to yourself and what exactly you can accomplish during that time period.

Example Goals

What?- I want to improve my bat speed. 

Why?- As an undersized athlete I have to do more with less to hit the ball as hard as I need to succeed. 

How?- I will keep track of my bat speed through a diamond kinetics bat sensor. 

Current Bat Speed Average- 62mph

Desired Bat Speed Average- 70mph

Making Adjustments to the Program

Evaluate, Plan, Reassess, Adjust

Now that we have a clear goal and have gone through an original assessment and created a plan for accomplishing our goal, we have to evaluate if our program is working. Time is too critical to go through an entire 12-week bat speed program to look up in 12 weeks and find out that we’re actually swinging slower. We must evaluate and reassess during the program to see if we need to alter or adjust anything. 

The Big 4

The offseason can be a time to transform who you are into who you want to be. But, the time has to be put in. For a position player, I would consider making goals and training towards improving 4 different things. Size, speed, arm strength, and one hitting improvement should all have goals. Those 4 things can transform you into the player you want to be. Be smart with your goals and disciplined in following them. Make this the best offseason yet.

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One Drill for Better Bat Path

One Drill for Better Bat Path

Eric Tyler describes how Baseball Rebellion uses the split grip drill to help improve both barrel direction and bat path.

Improve Your Timing

Using Your Load to Improve Your Timing

With the season approaching, timing is often a major concern at this time of year. This article explains how a simple 4-part drill progression can help make the adjustment from cage to game a seamless one.

How To Create An Approach At The Plate

What Is An Approach?

An approach is essentially a gameplan for how you as a hitter are going to be successful during the at-bat. There are many different factors that go into an approach or gameplan at the plate. What the pitcher throws, the velocity they throw with, what you’re good at as a hitter, what you struggle with, and the situation in the game are all factors of an approach. The fact of the matter is, hitting is hard, and the better your approach is at the plate, the simpler it gets. 

I don’t want to go any further with this article without saying that a hitter’s approach is extremely individualized to themselves. What works for one hitter may be detrimental to the next. This article will go into what I believe is the easiest and most effective approach at the amateur level. However, know that this may not work for you. Sorry. I don’t write to individuals, I write to the masses so get over it and keep it moving. An approach is something that combines all of the factors I mentioned above and morphs it into one simple gameplan with the goal of being successful. This takes work. Time. Studying. It’s not easy and it’s not bulletproof. But in an event like hitting, all we’re trying to do is improve our odds. If going to the plate with a good approach helps turn that 2, 7 off suit hand into two face cards the same suit then you’ve done your job. 

Why Is An Approach Important?

An approach is a way to simplify a hitter’s thoughts and make it easier for them to be ON TIME. There is a very simple reason why those two words are capitalized. It’s because those two words are what a hitter's goal should be 99.99% of the time at the plate. So by creating an approach of what pitch to look for and what we as a hitter are trying to do to that pitch (Hard in the air, backside ground ball, move the runner, etc.) we begin hunting a pitch. Every amateur hitter should be able to hit a pitch they know is coming. So, if they sell out to their approach and what pitch they are looking for, it makes that pitch easier to hit when it comes.

How To Create An Approach

What Are You Good At?

Creating your own approach takes time and effort. It starts with understanding yourself as a hitter. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? If you can’t answer those two questions then I suggest getting in the cage and swinging with more awareness instead of taking 200 mindless swings a day. You have to know your capabilities as a hitter. How do you handle inside pitches? Can you adjust to off-speed? Knowing yourself and what you can and can’t do is the first step in creating an approach.

What Is The Pitcher Good At?

After knowing yourself and what you’re good at as a hitter, we then look towards our opponent. What are the pitcher’s capabilities? Is he a hard thrower? Soft tossing lefty? What is his out pitch? Does he pitch backward?  Knowing what the pitcher can and can’t do allows you to eliminate possibilities in your approach. If it’s the 6th inning and the pitcher hasn’t got a breaking ball over for a strike yet, you probably won’t get one early in the count. Again, this takes effort and willingness to pay attention to your teammate’s at-bats and what is going on in the game.

What Is Happening In The Game

What situation are you in? If you’re up with the tying run on third with the infield in, your approach is going to be drastically different than no one on with 2 outs in the 3rd. Are we in a situation with a runner on second with less than 2 outs? What is the pitcher trying to prevent? How will they pitch us to prevent that? Same with 1st and 3rd with one out. That pitcher will do anything in their power to get a ground ball out of you. Our approach and what we’re looking for/trying to do has to change. Understanding the game and how to score runs can help mold your approach.

An Approach That Leads To More On-Time Swings

The video above explains what I believe to be the easiest and simplest approach given a normal situation; such as any at-bat that doesn’t require you to “move the runner” or get a run in. This approach allows you to be on time for more pitches and eliminate the need to adjust every single pitch. By being on time for the pitcher’s best fastball, you eliminate the need to hurry up. If ever late on a fastball, the hitter isn’t as sold out to the approach as needed. But, if they are always on time for the pitcher’s best fastball, they are able to only have to make one adjustment; slow down.

Improving Your Odds

Again, creating a perfect approach doesn’t guarantee success. Even executing your gameplan doesn’t guarantee success. Hitting is hard and defenses are good. But, by establishing a good approach and sticking to it, you as a hitter give yourself the best chance of being successful. Create a plan that works for you and dive into it with full conviction!

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One Drill for Better Bat Path

One Drill for Better Bat Path

Eric Tyler describes how Baseball Rebellion uses the split grip drill to help improve both barrel direction and bat path.

Improve Your Timing

Using Your Load to Improve Your Timing

With the season approaching, timing is often a major concern at this time of year. This article explains how a simple 4-part drill progression can help make the adjustment from cage to game a seamless one.

3 Tips To See The Ball Better When Hitting

How Can Your Stance Affect Your Vision

A great swing with poor vision is essentially useless. Don’t get me wrong, poor swing mechanics with good vision doesn't create a ton of damage. However, vision will always be king. Our eyes tell us what, when, and where to swing. Pitch recognition, barrel accuracy, and timing all come from what we see. All of these can be helped and made easier through swing mechanics, but training your eyes and how you track the pitch is a sure-fire way to become a better hitter. 

So how can we adjust how we see the ball? To begin that conversation we have to know that when we talk about vision in hitting, we are talking about something completely different than the vision you test at the eye doctor. A hitter’s ability to track an object clearly with BOTH eyes is crucial to swing vision. This starts in a hitter's set up or stance. As a hitter, are you setting up to hit or setting up to see the ball? Most pitch recognition is occurring during the batters set up and initial movement into the stride. So let's take a look at how we can improve this phase to see the ball better when hitting.

See The Ball Better: Turn Your Face

How we are aligned at our initial setup determines how well we see the ball at our initial first move. By turning our face to the pitcher we allow both eyes to be squarely on the pitcher, just as we would if catching a ball thrown to us. Often a hitter's eyes will be turned in and the hitter looking out of the corner of their eyes. This creates a need to compensate for that at the beginning of the swing. Eliminate compensations and track the ball better by creating a better alignment and face positioning during your stance.

Good 1
Bad 1

See The Ball Better: Load From The Middle

A hitter will begin to load around the time the pitcher's hands separate and begin moving towards home plate. This typically requires the hitter to counter-rotate their body away from the pitcher in order to load and coil for a rotational motion. However, what body part counter rotates can play a big role in that hitter's vision. By allowing the shoulders to counter-rotate past the hitter's pelvis, the hitter's face is forced to turn in towards the plate and doesn’t allow for their back eye to stay on the pitcher. However, a hitter that loads their pelvis and core inward while keeping their shoulders in line to the pitcher, allows for the optimal load while still tracking the ball well.

Good 2
Bad 2

See The Ball Better: Eliminate Sway Back

Sway back in a hitters load can create a false sense of space between a hitter's eyes and the ball. This can be detrimental to a hitter's alignment and timing awareness during the swing. Create a better sense of timing by loading forward as opposed to swaying or rocking back in the load.

Good 3
Bad 3

See Better To Hit Better

Good vision will always beat good swing mechanics. But who says you can’t have both? Why not train for both. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Hitters that have both are rare. Make sure to prioritize both in your training and give yourself the best chance to be the hitter you want to be.

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One Drill for Better Bat Path

One Drill for Better Bat Path

Eric Tyler describes how Baseball Rebellion uses the split grip drill to help improve both barrel direction and bat path.

Improve Your Timing

Using Your Load to Improve Your Timing

With the season approaching, timing is often a major concern at this time of year. This article explains how a simple 4-part drill progression can help make the adjustment from cage to game a seamless one.