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2020 Guide To Offseason Goal Setting

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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Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

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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Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

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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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

Stop The Front Shoulder From Pulling Out

Oftentimes with youth hitters, a lack of aggression is prevalent. Whether be it from a fear of the ball, fear of mis-hitting and the sting and vibration of the bat hurting their hands, or just a passive personality, aggression is needed in hitting. On the opposite end of that, a hitter’s aggression can be used in the wrong areas and lead to swing flaws. 

Pulling off the ball can be associated with a hitter’s aggression. However, we have to be careful as parents and coaches not to coach the aggression out of them. Instead, focus on where that aggression and speed should be used. The front side isolation drill does just that. 

How to Create Power to All Fields

What is Pulling Off the Ball? 

“Stop Pulling Off!”. Sit at a baseball field long enough and you’ll run out of fingers and toes trying to count how often this is shouted towards a hitter. This cue comes from a good place as every coach or parent wants their players to produce at their highest capacity. What the parents and coaches are seeing and trying to fix is the hitter starting their swing with their front shoulder rotating out. This first move creates a pulling towards the hitters pull-side and forces the backside to drag through and around, in an attempt to catch up to the front side. 

Top-spinning hits to the hitters pull-side can be a common result of this swing flaw. The front side dominant move can cause a hitter to pull their bat above and across the incoming pitch creating end over end spin on the ball as opposed to backspin. 

How to Create the Swing From The Back Side 

The opposite of the front side dominant swing flaw is the hitter creating rotation from their backside. You will often see this as a hitter’s back arm/elbow beginning a move downward before their front shoulder begins rotating out. This squeeze of the back arm allows the shoulders to stay “on-line” or in line with the pitch, while the core is beginning to rotate. This move allows the bat to stay through the hitting zone for the longest amount of time. Because barrel direction is improved, the ability for a hitter to impact the correct part of the ball increases.

What Does This Drill Improve?

Swing Direction

  • As explained above, this drill forces the hitter to create rotation from the backside of their body. This move allows the shoulders to stay directed to the ball and allow the barrel to stay on plane and back through the line of the pitch for longer. Make sure that while doing the drill the hitter forces their front arm to stay against the wall and their front shoulder doesn’t move. 

Posture

  • Because the front side isn’t creating rotation the spine is able to hold its positioning better. Posture has a large impact on how the bat moves and the direction in which it does. While doing the drill have someone look from behind and make sure the hitter’s head isn’t moving up or down during the turn. 

Ball Flight

  • Efficient body movements make it easier to impact the ball correctly and not have to compensate for poor mechanics. Because the hitter is moving more efficiently, they will be able to create the proper backspin and avoid hooking or topspinning the ball. 

Create the Feel, Crush the Ball 

This drill is for creating the feel of starting rotation from the backside. This drill should be done during a hitters prep work or outside of hitting. Create the feel of this move to create a better feel for the barrel.

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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

Hit More Line Drives Without Changing Your Swing

Contact point. Where the bat meets the ball. It can be argued that this position is the most vital to any baseball swing. Hitters may get there differently but the majority of the greats share the same positioning at contact. But just as important as how our body is aligned at this point is where the ball is in conjunction with our body at contact. How deep or far in front of us the ball is, can dictate the quality of contact. 

One sport where contact point is emphasized is golf. With a stationary ball, they are able to force a contact point by where they address the ball. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from the golf swing when pertaining to contact points. 

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 hitter's 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

Change Doesn't Always Need to be Mechanical

Hit Trax Point of Impact

-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.

-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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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

How to Use Resistance Bands In Your Swing

What is a Resistance Band?

Every time a hitter makes contact with a moving ball they are dealing with absorbing force. The ball itself creates a certain amount of force that a hitter must deal with at contact. This is dealt with through strength, bat speed, and efficient swing mechanics. When training or working on something new in the swing quality of contact is sometimes overlooked, and rightly so. However, with the struggle being evident when attempting to learn a new skill, how can we as coaches make the struggle as painless as possible? 

Why Do Resistance Bands Help Hitters?

By simply adding a resistance band to the training you simulate the same force needed to attack a pitch, without the fear of mis-hitting and the negative mental thoughts attached to a mis-hit. The added load of resistance can make the rep more gamelike and help improve a hitter's movement quality. 

3 Drills To Help Your Hitter

  1. Stability Turns

Keys to the Drill- 

  1. Slow tempo
  2. Initiate rotation at the core
  3. Maintain balance throughout the rotation

Things to Avoid-

  1. Allowing flawed movement- This is meant to be a tough drill. Be strict about initiating the turn from the core and maintaining a slow tempo.

2. Top Hand Moves

Keys to the Drill- 

  1. Turn top hand palm up towards the sky
  2. Fight against the front shoulder pulling out
  3. Hold posture throughout

The thing to Avoid-

  1. Letting the front shoulder start the rotation

3. Hands High Swing

Keys to the Drill- 

  1. Rotate normally as you would without the band
  2. Rotate quickly with good balance
  3. Fight against the pull of the band

 

The thing to Avoid-

  1. Do not let the band pull your hands down. You may hit more ground balls than usual during this drill. That is ok as you are working on keeping your hands higher through the rotation. 

Find What Works for You 

You may work with a hitter that doesn’t need resistance bands, and that’s great. However, there are hitters out there who need more than just hitting 1,000 balls off the tee every day. Should they do something they don’t enjoy and more importantly, don’t think makes them better? NO. Not every drill on the internet is meant for you.

So if these drills aren’t for you or you think they are stupid and don’t work, sweet, keep it moving. Just because you see the drill on your timeline doesn't mean anyone gives a shit what you think.

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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride

What is a Stride?

Rhythm and timing are crucial components of a good swing. The two go hand and hand and can turn a sub-optimal mechanical swing and allow for positive results. The stride phase of the swing is where timing and rhythm are most evident.

So what is the stride? The stride is the first move a hitter makes to begin the swing process. The beginning of the stride is the raising of the hitter's front heel. Some hitters will begin by shifting their weight onto their back leg while turning or coiling their core in towards the catcher.

This puts them in a “loaded” position and allows them to begin the rotation process. As the hitter picks up their front foot and moves it towards the pitcher, this is known as the stride. 

What is Your Stride Tempo?

Every hitter has a different tempo and length of stride. When a hitter should start their stride depends on that individual hitter's stride tempo and the amount of time it takes for them to get their front foot back into the ground. Let's take a look at a couple of different stride tempos and when that hitter starts their stride. 

Types of Stride Tempo’s

Slow Stride Tempo- Cincinnati Reds, Eugenio Suarez

The Red’s Eugenio Suarez is a hitter that can be considered a slow strider. To me, this tempo allows for the easiest timing adjustments. The earlier a hitter begins moving the slower they are able to move, in turn staying “quieter” through the forward move. However, this stride tempo also forces the hitter to have the best balance and control being that their front foot will be in the air the longest.

When looking closer you will notice that Suarez begins moving and loading both the body and the barrel around the point that the pitcher breaks their hands and begins their move down the mound. 

Average Stride Tempo- Cincinnati Reds, Mike Moustakas

I would consider Mike Moustakas to have an average tempo stride. Not too fast, not too slow which allows for the proper adjustments needed without being quite as difficult to control. Moustakas starts moving sooner than Suarez, but because the stride is a little quicker doesn’t raise the entire front foot until after the ball is released.

Fast Stride Tempo- Seattle Mariners, Evan White

With White being the quickest stride of the three (also, please note how slow and controlled a “quick” MLB stride is) he begins moving the latest. With White starting later his tempo is a little quicker making it easier to get back to the ground consistently but could make it difficult to track the ball optimally. 

Consistency Starting Point

  • You may have noticed just how close the starting point was for all 3 hitters, despite the different length and tempo strides.
  • The best hitters in the world begin moving at some point around hand break, however, when their front foot gets off the ground and they begin their forward move are all different.
  • Each hitter gives themself plenty of time to begin the loading process before there is even a ball in flight to track.
  • Having a consistent starting point to begin moving before the ball is in the air is crucial to slow the pitch down and seeing it well. 

Know Who You Are 

  • Just as we split the hitters into 3 different stride types, you yourself as a hitter have a certain tempo in your stride.
  • Knowing which type of strider you are can help you discover your own starting point. Each pitch is going to be a different speed, spin, and angle.
  • The pitch can be considered a variable.
  • For us to be on time more, we need to make our starting point a constant. Find your starting point and improve your timing.

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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

How To Get More Out Of Batting Practice

We all know the 5 o’clock hitter. The guy that looks like Barry Bonds in batting practice but Chas Pippitt in a game (sorry Chas). Hitting a baseball is one of the most complex functions in sports. A hitter can do everything right and miss the ball by a quarter of an inch and ruin everything that was good about the swing. So how can we train hitters to perform in games and not just have a pretty swing? 

There is a difference in swinging and hitting and this is one drill to make batting practice more game-like to become a better hitter. 

One Drill to Make Batting Practice More Game-Like 

Swinging vs. Hitting

Tee work, front toss, over-hand batting practice, and maybe a little machine work. I would say that is the core of batting practice with even machine work making a surge as of late. These are all great ways to get more swings in and get better at swinging a bat. Which, to be clear is a very important skill to have as a hitter. 

But, isn’t there more to hitting that being good at swinging? Timing, adjustability, control of the barrel all play a major role in hitting at a high level when the lights come on. Having a good swing allows for the possibility of good results but doesn’t guarantee them. So how we organize batting practice can dictate how prepared hitters are for game at-bats. 

Mixed Toss Batting Practice

By mixing how the coach tosses the ball into the hitter, what they are doing is changing the angle at which the ball gets into the hitting zone. This angle is crucial when it comes to barrel path and making sure a hitter can cover the entire zone.

The adjustments in angle can represent the differences in the angle of a fastball entering the zone compared to an off-speed pitch. Different pitches require different swings. The better a hitter gets at recognizing the angle of the pitch and matching it with the proper swing path, the more adjustable that hitter becomes. 

Adjustability in Batting Practice

A hitter having the ability to adjust their swing to what the pitch is doing is crucial for them when it comes to hitting in a game. No two pitches they face will be the same. Whether different velocity, spin rate, angle, movement, or location, the pitch will always present something different. As a hitter, it is your job to recognize that and adjust accordingly. 

Improved Barrel Control and Vision 

  • This drill forces hitters to adjust in a timely manner, and do to so they must understand where their barrel is and how to move it through space.
  • Not only that but they must understand where the pitch actually is.
  • Too many times do I ask a hitter where they thought the pitch was and they guess nowhere near where it actually was.
  • Puts an emphasis on understanding where the pitch is and how they need to attack it.
  • So instead of focusing solely on their swing and how they’re moving (again there is a time and place for that), their focus shifts to where the pitch is and how they can be successful against that pitch. 

Other Drills That Help Improve Barrel Accuracy 

How Good Can You Be?

There is always a time and place for swing practice. A bad swing with a great approach may create game success. However, it will never be as productive as that hitter can possibly be. It takes both. For a hitter to reach their true ability and maximize their talent they have to put in the time for both a good swing and good approach. This is a great drill to test both and make sure your hitter is ready for game action. 

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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

How to Transition from Off-Season to Pre-Season

The season is quickly approaching and our schedule is packed with hitters who are trying to get ready for their upcoming tryout. We are always working on ways to help our hitters get better, and the question for us is how do we, as private instructors, make sure the hitter is fully prepared for everything they may face during the season?

The Transition

We at Baseball Rebellion are beginning to transition SOME lessons to more of a pre-season preparation phase. Notice I said only “some” lessons are transitioning. The transition to more of a season preparation approach should always be dependent on age and skill level.

 

Off Season Transition 1

The average 10-year old will benefit more from continuing to develop rotational speed within a movement pattern rather than chasing in-game success at their local 10U tournament.

However, it is vital for hitters who have worked hard to improve their approach and movement patterns to test that pattern and ensure they’re ready to perform at the level they desire. Sure a swing may work on a 20-mph front toss, but that is not what they are judged on by their peers. They must be able to hit while in a game environment.

Whether working with professional athletes or an average sixth-grader, they all want the same thing. They want the confidence to take what they have worked on in the cage all offseason, and successfully implement that in the game. Check out one change Mookie Betts has made in his swing over the course of his career:

What Needs To Change?

I want to be clear about one thing during this article. Teaching and instructing the proper movements will always be the primary responsibility of a hitting instructor to the client.

Just because the season is approaching and the lessons are shifting to a season prep phase, doesn’t mean the hitter can ignore movement quality. For example: if a hitter's posture is forward in their turn, their results will be flawed no matter how many constraints thrown at them.

Mookie Betts Swing 1

Notice the forward posture of Mookie Bett's Chest during the 2015 season in which he hit .291 with 18 HR's in 597 AB's

Mookie Betts Swing 2

The posture change in 2018 led to a .346 BA with 32 HR's in 520 AB's and an AL MVP.

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Make the Training Environment Challenging!

The ability to challenge a hitter in training is key to recognizing flaws in movements or even mentality. It's easy for hitters to feel comfortable and take their best swing against tee work, front toss or even BP. Successful training shouldn't feel comfortable.

As instructors, we must make sure the hitter maintains confidence and aggression while facing velocity whether via pitching machine or live at-bats.

How Do We Adjust to Pre-Season Training

Not only does the way we challenge hitters change during this phase but also the goal of the lesson changes depending on the hitter's needs. This requires a level of openness and honesty between the instructor and the hitter.

For a middle school kid, this may be their first taste of playing on a bigger field. The days of the 220ft bombs are now over and those hits are directly to an outfielder. They must learn to adjust their turn to hit the ball lower and harder to give themselves the best chance for success.

Middle School Off-Season Transition

Hit Trax 1

This is an example of a sixth-grader training on a smaller field that he will play travel ball on. His ability to hit drive the ball in the gap is being trained.

Hit Trax 2

On a bigger field the focus shifts from driving the ball to and over the wall, to hitting it lower and in front of the outfielders.

High School Off-Season Transition

A high schooler on the fringe of making the team with a coach that wants players to hit the ball on the ground has to be aware of that and we as instructors have to be aware of that.

While instructing and researching hitting is our full-time job, at the end of the day, we don’t write the lineup card. This doesn’t mean we abandon a movement progression and mentality to do damage, we simply teach hitters the proper way to hit the ball lower while maintaining their aggression.

This typically involves changing the hitter's vision on the ball as well as the depth of their turn. The turn will be slightly flatter than normal with the intent of hitting higher on the ball.

The video below shows a drill we use with our hitters to achieve swing accuracy and a better understanding of how to successfully hit the ball higher or lower.

Prepare Them and Watch Them Rake

Just because private instructors aren’t on the field, doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for those results. Developing and understanding a plan for each hitter to be successful is what makes the season fun for us.

The teaching doesn’t stop because games are being played. Our job is to teach them, then prepare them.

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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

How an Ex-Major leaguer Changed His Hitting Philosophies for the Better

Always Learning

Just because you played at the highest level, doesn’t mean you know how to teach it. 4-year Major Leaguer Bob Zupcic sits down to discuss his changes in hitting philosophies and how his time in the MLB helps his current ability to instruct. Bob is one of the most passionate men I’ve ever got a chance to sit down with. His energy and love for the game are contagious. 

Bob goes into detail about swing mechanics and explains how one conversation changed it all for him.

Takeaways: 

Passion 

First off I want to thank Bob for sitting down with me to discuss baseball, his faith, and everything in between. The first take away I have from interviewing Bob is the passion he has for what he does. It is refreshing in the world of Baseball where everyone seems mad and grumpy to discuss the sport with someone who has loved it from every angle. Player, parent, and coach, Bob has been in each seat.

You can hear his love for the sport through the screen. It is a great reminder for whoever watching that at the end of the day it is a sport, but it can be so much more for so many. There is no need for motivation if you’re passionate about something. 

Humility 

Aside from how passionate Bob was, his humility was present throughout. Not many former major league hitters have the humility to say “I’m wrong”. Bob’s story about the conversation with his son continues to be my favorite.

The ability of someone who played at the highest level to admit he was wrong and be willing to change and adapt is very rare. And don’t get me wrong, someone who plays at the highest level has every right to ride or die with the way they made it. But, there was something refreshing about Bob being able to understand a better way to do things. 

Life-long Learner 

Along with admitting you’re wrong must come continuing to learn. Bob mentions several times throughout the video not only what he is teaching and instructing now but also how he is constantly striving for the newest information to give to his players.

There is a constant search for knowledge that allows Bob to stay up-to-date in his instruction and allows him to blend his new learning with his prior knowledge. To be frank, this is the best way to go about instruction.

Blending new learnings with prior knowledge only attainable through playing the game at the highest level. This allows for knowledge of the game to be passed down while including new, usable information to help improve the accuracy of training. 

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    Select options
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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

5 Ways to Maximize Practice Time

Do you feel like you’re getting the most out of your practice time? Sure you may be hitting for an hour every day but are you positioning yourself to transfer that time into real game success? This article covers 5 ways to maximize practice time.

The ugly fact of baseball training is if your work in training doesn’t translate into game results, adjustments must be made. For players with a real desire to play the game at a high level, the amount of training they put in is almost never the issue in their development. However, how efficient their work is typically the suspect. 

So what do you need to know as the player, coach, or parent to ensure the most efficient and transferable training that can maximize practice time?

What to Know About Maximizing Practice Time

In a sport such as baseball, an athlete will train and practice more than they play. At least they should (we’re looking at you 10u travel ball team that plays 120 games a year). However, the practice to game ratio isn’t that of say football who practices all year for 12-16 games. This makes our practice time that much more important.

Not only do we want to make sure we get enough reps in to create good habits, but we also want to make sure those reps are quality enough to get something out of it. As a parent, you don’t want to watch your son or daughter bust their butt for 7 months by hitting off the tee Every. Single. Day. for those results not to show up at game time.

So what do you need to know to make sure your athlete is getting the most out of their training? The athlete having a clear awareness of their swing and who they are as a player can play a major role in their development. Here are 5 things both the parent and player should know about themselves before training.

5 Ways To Maximize Practice Time

Click each box to expand the tiles.

What Type of Player Do You Want to Be?
What Type of Player Do You Want to Be?
  • Growing up in an era where I was able to watch Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGuire try to knock down the moon every night was quite awesome.
  • It also made me want to be that. I emulated that in the back yard everyday just as I’m sure everyone reading this article did for their favorite players. 
  • However, as a 5’7 185lb high school sophomore I had to quickly realize my and Barry probably would have the same game.
  • Don’t get me wrong I still tried to hit for power but there was an understanding of who I was. (*closes yearbook) What type of player you WANT to be is very different than who you are now.
  • There is a difference in having awareness for who you are and crushing the dreams of an 8-year-old. If you’re telling a player under 12 that they have to change their game because of their size, get a life.
  • Train for who you want to be in the future not who you are now. With that being said, as the player gets older the type of player they are may change. 
What Makes You the Most Valuable to Your Team?
  • If we want our training to translate to games at the highest level, we have to understand our desired results in a game.
  • In other words, what makes you the most productive and valuable to your team. Is it your job to get on base? Is it your job to drive in runs? Is it your job to be prepared to do both? What game result makes you the most valuable?
  • Once there is an understanding of what that is, there becomes a clear goal for training.
  • Now, instead of mindless swings into a net, the thought becomes how many doubles can I hit in the oppo gap today.
  • The more specific the training, the more it translates. Whatever your role may be, allow that to shape your training.
What Are Your Strengths?

What Are Your Strengths?

  • I am constantly amazed by how few hitters can answer this question. What makes you a good hitter?
  • They usually stumble around 3 or 4 different things before coming to the conclusion that they usually make contact.
  • Contact. Literally the only nice thing they can say about themselves is that they make contact.
  • On the flip side, when we get to weaknesses the hitter and parent tag team to quote a list as long as a Walgreens receipt.
  • Knowing what makes you good or you do well as a hitter is important to how you train.
  • Confidence is key and without knowing what you’re good at, you don’t have anything to go back to when training gets hard and you feel like crap.
  • At the same time, we’re not going to spend 90% of studying for a test on material we know already.
  • So if you’re spending 90% of your practice time on what you’re good at already, are you really getting better or just building up that ego to get let down when the games come?
What Do You Suck At?
  • Simple enough. Understanding what you need to get better at is one thing, knowing how to improve it is another.
  • This requires care, resources, and time. Do you care enough to find the resources needed and put in the time to improve your weaknesses?
How Well Do You Know Your Swing?
How Well Do You Know Your Swing
  • Can you explain to me your swing? I mean really explain it past see the ball and hit it.
  • Do you know what your swing feels like when it’s off? Better yet, do you know how to fix it?
  • Every hitter is going to make mistakes, the best hitters correct the quickest. Part of correcting mistakes whether in movements or approach is understanding yourself as a hitter. What cues or thoughts make you do what.
  • A perfect example is a swing-up vs. swing-down argument. Both parties are trying to create line drives in the gaps. But, some people need to think down and some need to think up.
  • Do you know what you have to think to produce the desired result? Not what you want to think or what’s cool to think or what Billy the best hitter on your team thinks.
  • But what you think to achieve the desired results. Knowing yourself and what makes you tick makes training so much more efficient.

Stop Wasting Time

Players don’t mind putting in work that they know is going to make them better. Players mind putting in the time to something they know doesn’t matter. Maximize practice time!

This is in the practice set up not the actual amount of people at practice. Small group training can be unbelievably valuable for a player. As long as their program and what they are working on is designed for them specifically.

Understand who you are as a player and who you want to become to get the most out of your practice.

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My Post

Get A Better Launch Position With This Drill

The hip hinge is a vital part of having a powerful and consistent swing. Most young kids have a tough time figuring this out because they have yet to step in the weight room. Therefore, as an Instructor I have to get a little creative with how I can get hitters in the positions they need. Every hitter responds differently and this drill below may just help your hitter to get that swing they desire.

My Post (5)

How To Correct An Open Or Closed Landing

The position we land in can set us up for success or failure right from the start. If we begin our swing from an open or closed stance, this will dictate the direction of our swing no matter how good the movement is. Just like when throwing a ball, you want to stride towards the target so you can be more accurate.

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.