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When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride?

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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When Should Hitters Start Their Stride_

When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride?

Timing. The most sought after attribute in hitting can often be the most difficult to obtain. With any timing, there has to be a beginning as well as an end. When it comes to hitting the ending is when the bat makes contact with the ball, so what is the beginning? When the hitters starts to lift their front heel and begin the process of striding is the start to timing. So when should that begin? Lets take a look.

How Far Should a Hitter Stride

How Far Should a Hitter Stride?

How Far Should a Hitter Stride? We get a lot of questions weekly on how far a hitter should stride.  It all depends! Mainly body size and starting stance width…

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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Hitting drills to warm-up properly

Warm-Up Hitting Drills for Hitters of All Ages

Front shoulders flying open, pulling off the ball are mainly due to posture being compromised in a hitters swing. The two drills in this article will help hitters understand the right posture and a hitting drill that I do everyday during in person lessons.

When Should Hitters Start Their Stride_

When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride?

Timing. The most sought after attribute in hitting can often be the most difficult to obtain. With any timing, there has to be a beginning as well as an end. When it comes to hitting the ending is when the bat makes contact with the ball, so what is the beginning? When the hitters starts to lift their front heel and begin the process of striding is the start to timing. So when should that begin? Lets take a look.

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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Hitting drills to warm-up properly

Warm-Up Hitting Drills for Hitters of All Ages

Front shoulders flying open, pulling off the ball are mainly due to posture being compromised in a hitters swing. The two drills in this article will help hitters understand the right posture and a hitting drill that I do everyday during in person lessons.

When Should Hitters Start Their Stride_

When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride?

Timing. The most sought after attribute in hitting can often be the most difficult to obtain. With any timing, there has to be a beginning as well as an end. When it comes to hitting the ending is when the bat makes contact with the ball, so what is the beginning? When the hitters starts to lift their front heel and begin the process of striding is the start to timing. So when should that begin? Lets take a look.

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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  • Sale! Rebels Rack with Bands

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    Select options
  • Sale! Rebels Rack With Bands

    Rebel’s Rack with Bands

    $104.98 $94.99
    Select options
Hitting drills to warm-up properly

Warm-Up Hitting Drills for Hitters of All Ages

Front shoulders flying open, pulling off the ball are mainly due to posture being compromised in a hitters swing. The two drills in this article will help hitters understand the right posture and a hitting drill that I do everyday during in person lessons.

When Should Hitters Start Their Stride_

When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride?

Timing. The most sought after attribute in hitting can often be the most difficult to obtain. With any timing, there has to be a beginning as well as an end. When it comes to hitting the ending is when the bat makes contact with the ball, so what is the beginning? When the hitters starts to lift their front heel and begin the process of striding is the start to timing. So when should that begin? Lets take a look.

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.

Did you like this content? Check out some of our Products or Other Articles!

Hitting drills to warm-up properly

Warm-Up Hitting Drills for Hitters of All Ages

Front shoulders flying open, pulling off the ball are mainly due to posture being compromised in a hitters swing. The two drills in this article will help hitters understand the right posture and a hitting drill that I do everyday during in person lessons.

When Should Hitters Start Their Stride_

When Should a Hitter Start Their Stride?

Timing. The most sought after attribute in hitting can often be the most difficult to obtain. With any timing, there has to be a beginning as well as an end. When it comes to hitting the ending is when the bat makes contact with the ball, so what is the beginning? When the hitters starts to lift their front heel and begin the process of striding is the start to timing. So when should that begin? Lets take a look.

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.

How to Improve Your Timing at the Plate

What is Timing?

Timing: The choice, judgment, or control of when something should be done. We can all agree that timing, being one of the major factors in productive hitters, is important. So how can we relate the above definition to hitting? Choice, judgment, and control are all seen in hitting, whether it be pitch recognition, swing decision, or chase rate.

But, how do we train hitters to improve this? Everyone knows how to improve a hitter’s posture or power output through movements. But, how can we take those movements and have success with another human throwing an object at us as hard as they can with the intent of getting us out?

Where Does Timing Come From?

To understand how we can improve timing we have to first understand where it comes from. Choice, judgment, and control are all factors that we can control. However, as a hitter, we are not in control of the object that we are timing. When something should be done. The second part of the definition is considered the most important. How do we as hitters know when something (the swing) needs to be done? What we see is what we can time. Our vision is the most important trait we have as a hitter. So, is there a way to improve a hitter’s vision at the plate? I think so.

What is Sway Back?

Swayback in the load can be the #1 killer of timing. That’s a very strong statement, I know. But if what we see determines so much of our timing, wouldn’t the path our eyes take be a major factor? We tell time in the space we see. So as we are tracking the pitch, the path our eyes take dictates the space between the ball and our eyes. For those who aren’t sure what sway back actually is, it occurs during the first move of the loading period of the hitter. Swayback in my eyes is when the hitter makes a move back away from the pitcher in order to load and begin moving forward.

How to Fix it

Swayback is easily seen on film as when the weight of the body shifts back to create a load. Another indicator of swayback is when the hitters back hip gets behind their back knee in the loading phase. This forces the hitter to either spin on their backside or pushes forward, in turn losing their posture.

Drills to fix it

Back Leg Stability

The stability of the back leg while moving forward allows the eyes to stay calm. As soon as the balance is lost, vision is compromised. The body doesn’t know it’s swinging, it just wants to be balanced to survive.

Chair Strides

With the relationship between the back hip and knee being so important we must know how to load the hip correctly. I like the chair drill to enforce the hitter to load their glute instead of their quad. Quad dominant strides lead to poor forward moves.

Slow Strides

Similar to the last, this drill creates control of the forward movement and allows hitters to create their own rhythm.

Stride Away

This constraint drill forces hitters to move forward while loading as opposed to swaying back. The barrier gives them a constant reminder of the direction of their load.

Keep it Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S)

Swayback and quad-dominant loads often stem from the hitter trying to create speed through aggression. Hitting shouldn’t feel like lifting. The best in the world make bat speed look effortless through efficient movements. Part of the efficient package is the forward motion. Learn to load forward to create maxim efficiency.

If you’ve ever written a lineup card for a baseball or softball team, this article is for you. This is designed to help you not only put your lineup together as...

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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

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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...

4687f91b1440b243cdc63f4163f3a7a2

...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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Baseball Rebellion shows you three drills to improve your footwork and arm strength to decrease your catcher pop time and throw more runners out.

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Rebel's Rack Timing Turns with a Visual

Why do the Rebel's Rack Timing Turns with a Visual

Hitting is anticipating and adjusting based on what we see. There is simply not enough time to react solely based on what you see. A hitter anticipates a certain speed and then adjust accordingly. Timing is often times the hardest thing to teach in hitting. This is a big reason why it is so important for a hitter to be on plane with the pitch, in turn giving themselves a chance to do damage when not perfectly on time. So as instructors, how do we train this? How can we prepare our hitters to be able to adjust their timing?

Often you will see a drill that tests hitters quickness and ability to swing on command. These drills are very common in the baseball world. But what senses are the hitter using to react in time? Often the drill is done with a coach or instructor using “go” as a cue for the hitter to react to. The hitter has to HEAR the cue. However, in a game environment, the hitter adjusts with their vision. Why train reacting to a sense that isn’t used when it matters. This is why when we train to time in hitters we strive to always use visual cues such as this drill.

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3 Things the Rack Timing Turns with a Visual Will Improve

1. Adjustability

A hitter’s ability to anticipate a fastball and adjust to off-speed gives them a unique advantage over its competitors. Training that ability is the same, if not more important than training the mechanics of the swing. Help your hitter be on-time more often.

2. Better Resistance of Rotation

Part of timing is the hitter’s ability to stride while resisting rotation. Often times hitters will rotate their upper half before needed causing timing issues and early rotation off the ball. The unknown of the constraint helps hitters understand their upper body rotation is their timing.

3. Controlled Tempo in the Stride

Many hitters struggle with their ability to control their stride. There is often a lunge of fall forward that leaves them off balance and unable to swing at certain points. If their stride doesn’t have control at any point, they will fail in this drill. 

The ONE Thing To Avoid When Doing this Drill!

Tricking the Hitter with Unrealistic Timings

Keep the visual cues realistic and don’t use this drill for the intent of tricking the hitter. Mix timings but don’t include a timing that they wouldn’t see in a game environment.