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This article will go down as one of my favorites written so far. The reason being is that it proves to me every day that what we teach here will help hitters hit the ball harder and farther. This is something that not only power hitters should search for. Every hitter can benefit from our "Rebel's Rack Movement Progression". This is one of the many stories of how we improve hitters in such a short period of time.
The date was Friday, April 5th when Julius walked in for a hitting evaluation. First, he got warmed up off the tee, then I began to flip some underhand toss. I could tell he was going to be a great kid to teach just by the way he carries himself and his positive attitude. Kids who are able to communicate with us instructors goes a long way and makes the process of getting better so much easier. Kids, be more like Julius!
On April 12th Julius came back to learn our movements allowing him to turn his body more efficiently. The kid is very coachable and great to work with. Because of this, his energy was off the charts and I could tell he really wanted to get better. He took to our movement progression pretty fast getting through all the steps. He then left with his "homework" which was to practice his turn 5-10 minutes a day. Pretty simple right? most kids fail to do this and it truly hinders their chances to be able to hit in the cages the next session. But I had a feeling Julius would do his homework, only time would tell at this point.
I saw on my schedule that Julius was back on the schedule again. At the time, I was the newest instructor I didn't really have clients of my own yet. Julius is one of the first kids that I took through the evaluation and movement progression. I was excited to see if he worked on what we talked about in the last session.
He walks in and I said "alright Julius lets check your turn", BOOM first one right off the bat was on point. He kept his head and posture in the correct position and the speed was off the charts. I was surprised and knew he actually did his homework! Because of this, I then proceeded to take him in the cage and we began to work on timing with the Rebel's Rack. He proved to me he could time the pitch with his turn. Therefore, I told him to grab his bat and let's swing away.
Below is a comparison between Julius's initial evaluation and the first time he hit after the movement progression. The main focus when the first time a hitter hits after the progression is getting the hitter to turn fast. Building a hitter's engine is the first priority. The speed has to be there or else we will never be able to maximize our rotational power. The bottom spray chart is from the evaluation (lots of weak hits) and the top is from the first time he hit after our movements (lots of strong hits to the outfield).
Altogether, the results are quite intriguing. Julius managed to increase his numbers across the board but I think the most impressive statistic is him going from 77% groundballs to only 16% groundballs. This shows us that when you turn fast with good posture the ball will fly to the outfield!
With all great things take time. After the "Honeymoon phase" when hitters find their newfound speed and break their initial records is the time where the real work begins. Building your turn speed is crucial but after that what is next? For weeks on end, Julius and I worked hard on a lot of different things. Now everything is coming together as one.
His session a few weeks ago was his best one yet. He set his record for average exit velocity at 58mph (yellow box). This tops his MAX exit velocity from his initial evaluation (red box). Julius is now hitting the ball harder than ever before and becoming more consistent! His groundball percentage keeps dropping which only will increase his batting average in games. His average distance of balls hit is 24 feet farther than his MAX distance (blue box) in his evaluation! The kid keeps making gains!
The first thing he can learn from Julius has nothing to do with hitting but has everything to do with attitude. From the moment I met this kid, he has been attentive and truly listens and trusts what I have to say.
If you want to get better you have to surround yourself with those who can help you but most importantly you have to help yourself. Julius does this week after week and month after month. We work on one part of the swing at a time getting it right before we jump to the next. He practices a lot and does the homework I give him. He is consistent and deliberate with his practice. This is why he continues to improve in the cages and on the field. Julius understands that when learning something new it will take time but he trusts me and I believe that he truly wants to get his swing right!
Not only is he learning about becoming a better hitter but he is learning how to become a better human. Understanding that you only get out what you put in is something Julius gets and practices. These are tools that will help him in life long after he is done playing baseball. Until then he is going to keep working hard towards his goals and search for his best swing!
When it comes to maximizing your rotational power there are a lot of things that will come to mind. Here at Baseball Rebellion, we know for a fact that your body has to work a certain way to do so. In this article, I will be explaining how creating torque with your back foot in your hitting stance can lead to better and more efficient swings.
The scientific definition of torque is simply applying rotational for to and object. Meaning that it is twisting motion. This concept is mainly applied when moving weight during a bench press, squat, and deadlift.
When you create torque you create tension allowing your body to work in a more efficient and safe way. The gif below is a good visual of what torque is. As you can see when to externally rotate my hands and arms I can bend the PVC pipe. This is torque and what I have created is more tension.
Creating torque with your back foot is something that every hitter can accomplish. The swing starts from the ground and works up through your body. As a hitter who is trying to create more force, it all starts with you preparing your body to do so.
Creating torque with your back foot creates tension through the inside of your foot, leg and all the way up into your back hip. This allows hitters to truly feel what it is like to turn into their back hip. As a result, the hitter will start there swing from where they feel the tension. This is stored energy allowing you to use it when you rotate into the ball.
Lastly, another benefit on why you need to create torque from the ground up is that you gain hip stability. Meaning that you will have better body control allowing you to have a better swing direction.
I know I am performing the drill barefoot. But you do not have to, just make sure you are activating your foot properly within your shoe or cleats. Do not try to externally rotate too much. If you try and screw yourself in the ground too much you will become too stiff and slow. Therefore do not try and create 100% torque it should feel like you're in the ground but not exaggerating it.
If you want to maximize your rotational force, power and consistency understanding how to use torque is something that you need to consider. As I have said before there are a lot of things that go into having a good swing. Meaning as a hitter there is always something that can be tweaked or slightly changed to improve.
The goal is to hit the ball hard, far and consistently and that all starts with how you prepare your body to do so. My favorite quote ever from my former head coach Sam Riggleman goes like this "The accumulation of little things, in fact, is not little". This is something that I try and apply to my life every day and now hitters need to apply this same mindset as well.
Therefore, taking the time to not hit a million balls off the tee or front and truly break your swing down to work on the little things will be key to your success. Athletes who make it far take ownership of their mistakes and what they need to work on. If you want to be the best you have to practice and spend time fine-tuning your skills.
Most hitters are trying to time their load and stride just by pushing their hands back. This is detrimental to many young hitters as it teaches them "False Separation". Just because hitters 'keep their hands' back as they load does not mean they are preparing correctly to turn as fast as possible.
Below are examples as what I would describe as “False Separation”. As a kid growing up the phrase “you gotta get you hands back” is something that rings in my ears to this day. A lot of coaches and instructors use this phrase but yet never truly explain why this move is important.
I use this phrase as well but in all reality, it has very little to do with your hands, but everything to do with your shoulder and back arm. The gif’s below will give you insight and understanding of why you’re not consistent with timing and your overall body control.
This move is very common for hitters of all ages. This is what I was talking about earlier about getting your hands back. Sure, in this gif I get my hands back and farther away from my body. But as a result, I have created the armbar with my front arm which will only create more problems in your swing.
When the hands are not loaded back by pulling the back elbow and shoulder back your hands and bat never stay back. Therefore makes hitters have a steep path to the ball, resulting in inconsistent results.
I like to call this move the chicken wing because of the drastic movements with the elbows. As you can see my elbows flare up without my hands getting pulled back by my shoulder and back elbow. This also will result in mis-hit balls and steep barrel path. Two things you don't want as a hitter
This is similar to the hands going straight back but now the move of the hands is going straight towards home plate. This does not create a strong and prepared upper body when we go to swing. This move disconnects the bat from the whole body and results in a slow turn.
I know I look like I'm really exaggerating this move but this is what a lot of hitters look like even hitting off of front toss. In regards to timing and rythm, they lack both therefore abruptly shoving their hands back and striding out a way to fast. The pullback of the back elbow, shoulder and stride should be slow and early versus late and fast.
Good hitters have to have some flow when they load and stride out. As you can see here I'm striding out then pulling my hands back. This isn't what you want because the whole body has to flow together to become prepared properly. The drill I'm going to show you later in this article will give you more insight on what you need to do
When getting the body prepared to hit an incoming pitch there are many ways hitters prepare to do that. But the best hitters do a lot of things similar. They have the ability to re-create the same move when they load. The upper body, pelvic load, and stride all move in a smooth rhythmic pattern.
This is what allows good hitters get the most out of there body and in result the most out of their swing. Being able to time your upper body move with your pelvic load and stride is key to creating consistent results in batting practices and games.
If you pay attention closely to the hitters I have showcased above they all pull their elbow back as they load. This is called the "Scap Load" and is crucial when hitters prepare to hit!
On top, we have a 7-year-old, in the middle, we have a 12-year-old, and on the bottom, we have a 16-year-old. Each hitter has great success at the age level they play at. This is a move that can be practiced and learned. If taking the time to do so.
My goal as a hitting instructor is to help hitters get better, plain and simple. But at the end of the day if you are truly trying to take your game to the next level you have to put the work in on your own. Hitters that take time to break down their swing themselves or get help from an instructor will truly start to understand how good they can be. For more insight on upper body mechanics and much more check out the articles I've tagged below
The upper body in the swing is very crucial. It is part of what's holding and ultimately delivering the bat to contact. Unfortunately, the upper body is where most hitters make the biggest mistakes.
Here at Baseball Rebellion, we have our Rebel’s Rack progression of movements that hitters can learn. As a result, this allows hitters to turn better with better posture. Once a hitter has mastered there footwork, posture and turn it’s time to dive into the positions and movements of what your arms should do when you hit.
A lot of elite hitters get their arms in a position that resembles somewhat of a house. As you can see there are five points of contact which makes a pentagon shape. The main point is to help you all understand the certain angles the arms can make.
Take a look at the pictures below of Yelich, Trout, Betts, and Bonds that their "house" is shaped a little bit differently. Just like how the architecture and shapes of the homes many people live in are also different.
Now does this something that happens every single swing? No, but I bet you that every ball these guys hit from this position at contact was crushed. A matter of fact this is something you can practice that will help you generate more bat speed and more hard contact with the ball.
First off if you're not squaring the ball up and hitting the ball hard but your footwork, posture, and turn are on point then you’re going to want to keep reading. A lot of hitters that I have trained in the past and even now are missing the “turn behind the turn”.
This is crucial for hitters if they want to hit well. I know it looks like I'm exaggerating the movement but at high speeds, this can become a reality for many hitters. Here are some examples of what not to do.
You can see in the video above I am pulling the knob of the bat across my chest. When hitters do this they are oftentimes late on the pitch.
If they do happen to make contact it is not solid. As a result, the ball will slice or flair to right field for right-handed hitters and left the field for left-handed hitters. All in all, this is a move that needs to be avoided. In short, this is a big no-no.
The woodchopper move right here is the worst you can do. Hitters that swing straight down at the ball have no chance of being consistent. They also will not make solid contact, this limits their ability to drive the ball.
Please for the sake of your batting average and slugging % DO NOT swing straight down! No matter what professional athletes may say. This is a contradiction of what they actually did. Only here you can learn what they actually did.
The bat drag is most common with younger athletes who have a tough time holding the correct arm position during the swing. Look at my back elbow during this video, what my elbow is doing is not right and is a weak-hitting position.
Also, athletes who lack upper body strength will suffer from the bat drag tremendously. So please for your own sake do some push-ups and pull-ups to help yourself out! Our Bat Drag Buster is also a great tool to fix this problem. Along with the drills, I am showing you in this article.
Pushing the barrel to contact is a tough habit to break. Hitters will feel the turn and then at the last moment, they throw their hands at the ball. As a result, this will make hitters miss-hit balls and they will get frustrated.
In my own personal experience getting in front of a mirror has always been something I liked. For this reason, give it some time you might like the feel of mastering your arm angles. Getting to see and feel where your body has to be when you hit is crucial for your development. Working on the angles I have talked about in this article is simple and not time-consuming. Taking
10-15 minutes before bed or in the morning to work on your best stride, best turn and now even your best barrel turn. Those who take the time to become a master at their craft will find themselves whopping baseballs in the gap!
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Summer Ball is done and perhaps you're wondering if you should play fall ball. Maybe you just had an awesome summer season and you’re ready for a bit of a break.
On the other hand, maybe you did not have the best summer and didn’t get much playing time. Either way, you need to develop a plan so that you come back better than the year before. It all starts by being proactive by setting goals, being real with yourself on what your weaknesses are, and finding a way to train.
This is a time for reflection and preparation for the off-season to come. This article will explain and give you insight on what you should do whether you played little league or on an elite travel ball team.
The mental side of the game is so much more important than what most people think. This is something that needs to be reflected on especially after your summer season. Baseball is already hard enough, without having the right mindset it can make failure even more prevalent. Therefore look back and truly ask yourself how you reacted in certain situations. How you reacted to these below could determine if you are ready to move on to the next level and play this fall.
If you want to perform better you need to get stronger. Now not all positions have the same needs in regards to body composition. But one thing that will not hurt you at all is trying to improve the way your body moves, looks and feels.
If your goal is to hit the ball harder than you need to generate more force. Force equals Mass times Acceleration, therefore if you're small and weak aka lacking mass then you need to lift and train for that. On the other hand, maybe you have to much mass and need to lose some pounds to accelerate faster.
No matter what age you are you have to get your body in shape, so you perform like a well-oiled machine. If you get stronger, lose some weight, gain some speed this will only increase your performance making the game more fun! The time is now for you to go out and find a way to train as all great athletes have done!
When it comes to hitting, throwing, fielding and catching our mechanics have to be on point. Maybe your footwork is sloppy when fielding a ground ball or your swing is not the best.
The good thing is now you have time to work on it. Maybe your mechanics are already pretty good but if you don’t explore and try new things then you’ll never know what you have been missing. If your goal is to absolutely go dominate the other team on the field then it starts with off-season preparation! Check out below the most important mechanical articles that you need to read to improve your game for fall ball and beyond.
If you need an expert opinion come to get lessons here in Durham or register online!
After you have evaluated and gained an understanding of what you want to improve on it’s time to set some goals so you can crush them. We all have lives outside of playing sports, therefore dedicating a plan on days you can train and can’t is going to be key for development.
Go over your daily, weekly and monthly schedule. Dedicate certain days and times for certain activities. If your goal is to get in better shape then you’re going to have to dedicate 3-4 days of hard training to get better.
The main point here is to decide what YOU want and decide how much YOU want to get better. This will dictate how much time you’re willing to spend. If you are not consistent with trying to pursue your goals then do not be mad when you don’t perform next season. Therefore go get to work become obsessed and become relentless.
As a young athlete growing up I was always given the option to play fall baseball. Some years I did and some years I didn’t. I don't think its that big of a deal if you don’t play, I played football all through high school and I still played in college and in the minor leagues. I feel like kids will play in the fall just because, without really having a rhyme or reason why. Here are a few factors that I think need to be taken into consideration on whether or not YOU should play baseball this fall.
I have heard some crazy high numbers in the number of games a youth athlete has played in one summer. I know personally from my experience that when I played travel ball from ages 10-14 we played almost 80 to 100 games in the summer. Between league play and tournaments that is a lot. For me and for others who find themselves playing this much, the fall should be a time to get some rest. Take some time off to give your arm a break. Go be a kid. Maybe even play another sport to keep things fun.
I really hope this article gives you insight into what you should do transitioning from summer to fall. The goal is to be proactive and not reactive. Baseball requires skills in a combination of strength and speed. If you don’t train how do you expect yourself to perform well on the field? If you have any questions, please drop a comment below!
As a player, ask yourself why you play the game. As a parent ask yourself why your kid plays the game, do they play because you make them? Is their goal to someday play in the big leagues one day? Or just wants to play once or twice a week because their friends do? The bottom line is taking ownership.
Find what motivates you and then plan your goals accordingly. If you don’t want to put in the extra time then you’re not allowed to be upset about your poor performance. If your goal is to have fun, I can assure you that if you practice and get better you will have more fun.
When hitters get introduced to the Rebel's Rack for the first time, there usually is slight hesitation. "How can a red bar teach me how to hit?" I'm sure is the first thought that crosses their mind. But once they buy-in and learn the movement progression, something awesome happens.
Immediately you start hitting the ball better, this makes you happy. Being the newest hitting instructor here I have seen this time and time again over the past 5 months. I have seen the drastic jumps in exit velocity and distance. This is really cool to see and gives me AND the hitter reassurance that what we teach is beneficial.
The "honeymoon phase" always eventually wears off. Hitters think that because they have improved once by working on the movements, they will improve every time. Even if they don't work as hard as they did in between the next few lessons as they did between the first two.
Usually, the first thing we ask as instructors is “have you been doing your turns?” roughly 75% may be more of the time the answer is “no” or the kid says “yes” and then the parent in the background is shaking their head “no”.
This is very frustrating and makes us all here at Baseball/Softball Rebellion disappointed and annoyed. No, we don’t get mad nor take it personally but we do know that if you don’t practice your movements you will never be as good as you can be. You must take ownership of your practice.
The checklist goes like this: do you have a rebel’s rack? Yes. Do you get lessons either in person or online” Yes. Do you play on a team? Yes. Ok, so you commit to all those things and then still don’t take the time to do your turns? Your parents have invested money in you so that you can get better. Quite frankly it is disrespectful to them when you don’t practice on your own. What you lack is dedication, and that’s not ok. But guess what now you can fix it. As a player at any age, you have to be real with how much time you dedicate to getting better.
Now this section has nothing to do with school but it has everything to do with the process of getting better. Getting lessons, going to clinics or camps is the equivalent to a classroom. This is the time where you gain knowledge that needs to be remembered.
If you’re in a one on one lesson you have to be fully present and be in that exact moment. 100% focus throughout the whole time you’re getting instruction is key for your development. You have to be willing to change and learn. If you’re not willing to do that then guess what your performance will suffer.
When it comes to finding your best stride there are movements your body has to do to create a solid turn. The length of your stride is something that needs to be considered. Often times hitters shorten their stride without ever really noticing that they are doing them. Therefore you need to pay attention to what you are doing. The width of your stride is also something that can’t be neglected. If you feel off-balance when you stride and then turn it could be because the width of your stride is too narrow. Check out the video below for more information.
After making sure your stride is locked in, your head and chest position are good. Now it’s time to find your best turn. Your best turn should feel fast and effortless. You should be able to maintain balance throughout the whole turn. I understand not every turn will be perfect but over time you can get it pretty close. The more you repeat your best turn the more often it will come out in games. Watch the video below on why you need to find your best turn.
After reading this article I hope you don’t feel like I am personally attacking anyone. As an instructor, I want the best for any athlete I get to work with. I know from my own experience that if you put in the hard work and develop your skills, you can get pretty close to what you want.
Figure out what you want when it comes to playing baseball or softball. If your goal is to play in college and get a scholarship, then you better be working your tail off to get that. Take ownership of your career and how far it can go.
You never want to look back and think “I could have done more” I have had that same feeling and let me tell you what, it does not feel good. But I didn't know the things back then that I do know now! So here I am urging to get better, try a lot bit more, focus on what you need to fix and this will make you better!
When I ask hitters that I am instructing where they would want to play in college 99% of the time it’s a top tier Division 1 school. Sometimes players will say they just want to bypass school and go straight to the Pros! I really like to keep that dream alive with younger athletes. I think it’s great to have that mindset so young to help propel them to become better. For kids that are older, who are entering or already in high school should still keep those goals as well.
When the time comes where you trying to decide which schools to go to you’re going to base that off of how good you actually are. Maybe you have some tools and have some decent stats but the schools you want to go to aren't interested in. Chances are you need to get better and the only way you can is if you are playing on a team.
To give you all an idea on why I think Junior College is a solid route for high school athletes I'm going to share my story. My senior year of high school back in 2010, I signed a letter of intent to go play baseball at a small NAIA school in Michigan called Spring Arbor University.
I only had one other offer to play in college which was another small NAIA school. I had some division 3 offers but did not want to pay $40,000+ a year for school. Therefore I found myself on scholarship at Spring Arbor. I did really well in the fall earning my spot in centerfield. Then ended up having a good season in the spring as well. I felt that I had gotten so much better in just that one year alone. But I wanted more.
I ended up leaving Spring Arbor University after my freshman year because, in my opinion, I did not think I would be able to get drafted out of a small school in Michigan. Becuase of this, I transferred to Wabash Valley Community College in Southern Illinois. I knew some guys already on the team which made for an easy transition. When fall practice started I noticed a couple of different things.
First thing was that the amount of time we practiced was much longer, this helped me develop my skills even more. Secondly, we played games whether it was intrasquad scrimmages or versus other colleges at least five times a week. Lastly, we had showcase games and professional workouts in front of scouts almost every single weekend. Long story short I performed well enough in games and the workouts that I gained some attention from professional scouts and colleges.
I then was offered a scholarship to play at the University of Arkansas. After finishing the season with some decent numbers I was really hoping that I caught some attention from some professional teams. Well, my dream came true and I was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 23rd.
Without making the transfer to Wabash Valley the chances of doing what I did may have been slim to none. For this reason, you may think I’m a little bias towards wanting players to play at a Junior College. I was not the only player to get drafted and many other players from that team went on to top division one schools. Therefore, if you’re in high school and are wanting to play in college do not rule out Junior Colleges they may just be the right sport for you. Still, need more convincing? Well, keep reading!
When choosing a college that's right for you the cost for many will play a huge role in where you go. If you are not getting a scholarship either from athletics or academics things can start to get pricey real quick. For tuition and fees, the average price for a Junior College is around $3,500 compared to a four-year school at $9,410. Out of state tuition for four-year schools and private school can triple those costs putting student-athletes further in debt. The goal should be to play some ball, get educated, and strive to move onto a good four-year school, all without trying to break the bank. I can promise you that if you start your career without student debt, you are way ahead of every who is.
Usually your first two years of college you’re trying to figure out your major while taking your general education classes. Most of the stuff you’re doing in class is stuff you already covered in high school, maybe just a little more in-depth. As I have mentioned before the difference in cost between junior colleges and four-year schools is huge. Whether you take your general education classes at a two-year school and a four-year school the only real difference is the price. The material itself is still the same if not better. Another good thing about junior colleges is that the class size is smaller. This is good because you'll be able to talk with your professor and they will probably know who you are. At four year schools especially big ones, class sizes can get huge and you could be lost in the shuffle. Also for athletes who do not have the best grades maybe are ineligible to play at top division one schools. Junior colleges only require that you have a high school degree. This allows you to get your feet wet and work on building your GPA before transferring to bigger schools.
Since junior colleges are only two-year schools usually the players on the team are younger and less experienced. Since a lot of players are only there for that amount of time, junior college coaches are looking for players that can play right away. In my opinion, this gives incoming freshman a better chance to earn a spot. The only way you truly get better is being in the line-up playing every day. At four year schools sitting the bench behind juniors and seniors is more likely to happen because they are more experienced and older.
Let’s say coming out of high school you didn’t get the exposure you wanted or maybe needed more time to develop. You wanted to go to some top 10 division one schools but didn't get any offers. You’ve decided you still want to play so are going to play some ball at a junior college. You may have not been good enough out of high school but now you have two more years to develop into the player you want to become. All while going to school and playing ball. This is your second chance to get the attention of teams that didn’t know who you were when you graduated. Often times, when division one schools get players from junior colleges they need them to fill some spots there team, is lacking. Most of the time they go in there and play right. The point I'm trying to make is you may not be where you are right now but in two years you could be playing at your dream school. Therefore the two years a Junior college cannot be wasted and you must get to work and develop your skills.
Now this reason might not apply to most based on how good you are. But, for those who have tools that professional scouts look for taking the junior college route may be best for you. I knew once I signed my senior year of high school, my goal was to get drafted. You have to pay attention to the junior colleges that have the most guys drafted. This year alone there were 103 drafted players out of junior colleges! This is important because those schools already have that reputation. Four-year schools you’re only eligible for the draft is after your junior year. If you attend a junior college you’re eligible starting right after your freshman year. Getting into professional baseball as early as possible is good because they will give you more time to develop. You will also be able to negotiate more money since you have your remain schools years as leverage.
I truly believe that there is a school out there for anyone. From NAIA all the way up to top division one schools. It comes down to how good you are and finding what school is right for you. I know I am somewhat biased towards junior college baseball because it worked out for me. The main point is that if you don't go division 1 right out of high school that's not the end of the road! Find a good junior college where you can develop your tools, your body and mind is something that will provide many opportunities.