Mental Marker Series- The Backfoot Movement

JK Whited’s Mental Marker Series- The Backfoot Movement

Allowing the back foot to move forward has been a staple in the Baseball Rebellion methodology for a long time.  It can really help hitters become the best rotational athlete they can be.  Sometimes, however, too much back foot movement can really hurt a hitter’s posture, among other things.  Here is a quick Mental Marker to help you or your hitter know exactly how far is too far. Thanks for watching!

In This Video You Will Learn:

-The Importance of the Backfoot Movement
-The Right and Wrong Way to Move Your Backfoot
-How it Can Help Increase Consistency and Power

If you like this video, check out JK’s other Mental Marker Drill Videos only available to BR Premium subscribers!

Did you like JK’s Drills? Take an online lesson with him today!

JK Whited’s Mental Marker Series- Head Back Positioning

This new Mental Markers tip came in the form of a question from a premium member. He was wondering how to help younger players get their head in the correct positioning during the stride without leaning over their front leg.

Here is a quick Mental Marker to help your son or daughter immediately.

Thanks for watching!

If you like this video, check out JK’s other Mental Marker Drill Videos only available to BR Premium subscribers!

Mental Marker Series- Timing

Mental Marker Series- Swing Plane

Mental Marker Series- The Stride

Mental Marker Series- Keep the Hands High in the Swing

Did you like JK’s Video? Take an online lesson with him today!

 

Baseball Rebellion Senior Instructor, JK Whited, talks about timing and how to practice it in part 1 of his Mental Marker Drill Series

Today’s drill will be the first of many in my “Mental Markers Series”.  The goal here is to give you quick and easy drills that you can implement immediately into your practice routine.  Using mental markers, or visual learning, is something that has always helped and I know can help you in your improvement process.

Part 1- Timing and the JK Timing Drill

We all know how difficult timing is in all sports and especially in hitting.  Players can have elite level mechanics and still struggle with the art of timing.  As most of us know, a pitcher’s main job is to throw our timing off in hopes of disrupting our ability to take our best swing or not swing at all.

At The Baseball Rebellion, we do many things through the course of a players progression to improve their timing.  Here is a quick drill that I know can really help all hitters make a quick timing adjustment in practice.  If done properly this drill can yield better decisions and harder hit balls.

Enjoy!

Stay tuned for part 2 of JK’s Mental Marker Series on How to Create a Positive Attack Angle.

Did you like JK’s Drills? Take an online lesson with him today!

 

A Simple Drill to Help Hitters Hit With Consistency and With More Power

If you or your hitter are struggling with the following outcomes and struggling to hit with consistency:

  • Strikeouts Swinging
  • Infield/Shallow Outfield Popups
  • Flared Backside Popups
  • Sliced Backside Groundballs
  • Roll-Over Groundballs

This drill can DRAMATICALLY help eliminate those negative results and get you hitting the ball harder more consistently. Making significant adjustments quickly can be extremely difficult but this is one thing you can do to help.  Like I state in the video, this swing plane adjustment is only for those with very flat or downward swings. It is not for everybody.

Do you like JK’s Drills? Take an online lesson with him today!

Start Hitting Better In-Season

Online Client Breakdown with JK Whited

Online client Casey, has been working extremely hard on making adjustments with his swing. He’s always been aggressive but was lacking some technical movements that were really making him waste time and energy. In the video, you’ll see two big adjustments.

One, much bigger, and well-timed scap loading. Two, creating more space with his upper body positioning. While not perfect, he’s made great use of his time and made big improvements. Check out the video below and make sure you head to the bottom of the page to get your one-time swing eval for only $10!

UPDATE:

Creating Max Hip and Shoulder Separation

"Hip and Shoulder Separation" is a "buzz" phrase used in the baseball world commonly and is extremely important.

I wanted to get into something that could help you or your players achieve maximum separation.  We are of course talking about the stretch between the upper body and lower body.  This action is the source of a hitter's power.  Having said that, there are more components to power the just bast speed such as barrel accuracy.  This move, however, is something that can only be seen in the more nimble players.  This is why I choose Bo Bichette.  In this video you will see:

  1.  How a smaller athlete can maximize their size.
  2. How to practice shoulder/pelvis control in your house.
  3. Understand exactly where real bat speed originates in the body.

 

Repeating a Powerful Swing

Practice Like a Game

Today I wanted to help players understand that your practice habits should reflect your intentions.  One of the biggest issues that I see when I get to watch players live vs. when they are in the cage is lack of practice habits transferring to games.  At that point I will get the message, "JK I just don't feel like I swing as fast in a game", or "I just don't hit the ball as hard in a game".

Sure enough, when I get their video I usually see the same things:

  • Weak body language in the box
  • Serious drop off in loading phase
  • Lack of intent
  • "Just trying to make good contact" or "trying NOT to get out"

All of these are common factors as to why your practice swings are not transferring to games. Here are common reasons why this is happening.

  • Fear of anything.  Getting out, striking out, letting someone down, etc.
  • Getting TOO big in games.  Doing more than they need to.

Emotions are powerful.  In practice, generally, the environment is controlled and the fear factors are super low so the hitter is comfortable and confident.  This is why it is crucial to make days for hard practice.  This can be in the form of live BP vs a pitcher or turning up the speed on machines you might work with.  Either way, don't avoid difficult situations.

For our example let's examine Javy Baez from the cage to BP, and finally, to a game.

Cage Practice

Takeaways:

  • Game mirrored loading process.
  • Not full intent yet staying fluid and quick.
  • Staying through the middle, possibly just getting good barrel to ball connection.

Check out Javy Baez as we go through his cage swings all the way to his in-game at-bats.

On-Field Batting Practice

Takeaways:

  • Exactly the same loading process and trigger from the cage.
  • Slightly more intent.
  • Not always perfect contact but consistently moving the same way.

On-Field Live At-Bat

Takeaways:

  • Same loading process with slightly bigger movements (due to live pitcher).
  • Full intent.
  • Not afraid to miss and take his swing.

Live Game At-Bat

Takeaways:

  • Same loading process and tempo as cage, yet slightly bigger but under control.
  • Full intent.
  • Absolutely no slowing down to make "good contact".
  • Javy SMASH

What everybody needs to learn from this video progression is:

MLB Prospect Series- Royce Lewis

For today’s 2020 prospect breakdown we will be looking at former first-rounder, Royce Lewis.  Royce is a plus speed shortstop with a good average. 

I believe there are some things about his swing that limit his decision-making ability and it will be interesting to see how he continues to handle professional pitching. 

As we know, Royce was drafted out of high school and certain things that work at that level don’t always translate to the professional level. 

MLB Prospect Series- Adley Rutschman

For today’s 2020 prospect breakdown we will be looking at the switch-hitting catcher of the Baltimore Orioles, Adley Rutschman. 

Following an outstanding career at Oregon State, Adley was drafted number one by the Orioles in 2019. 

He is obviously a very young player and is just getting started but there might be something in his swing that could hinder his movement upward in the organization. Watch to find out if this might apply to you as well.

MLB Prospect Series- Louis Robert

Today we will look at Louis Robert of the Chicago White Sox.  Louis stands at 6’3 185 pounds.  Louis is a big guy whose power potential is off the charts.  While he does hit the ball extremely hard, I did find a slight issue when I watched a good number of his swings. 

I saw a good number of pop-ups and foul ball tips.  There is a chance that his slightly forward head position could cause some issues as he moves up the ranks. 

MLB Prospect Series- Gavin Lux

Number two on our 2020 Prospect List is Gavin Lux of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Gavin is a middle infielder standing at about 6’2 and 190 pounds.  Gavin has been great for most of his young career with some actual MLB appearances.

Though Lux went 20th overall in the 2016 Draft, that made him only the second-highest pick in his family behind uncle Augie Schmidt, the No. 2 overall pick and Golden Spikes Award winner in 1982. After signing for $2,314,500, Lux struggled for most of his first full pro season but has dominated since. He batted .347/.421/.607 in 2019, becoming the first middle infielder age 21 or younger to post a 1.000 OPS in the upper Minors since Gregg Jefferies in 1987 and coming within .001 in OBP of topping all Minor League shortstops in all three slash stats for the second straight year (Via MLB.com)

We will be looking at one of his post-season home runs as we break down what makes him a top prospect. 

What Makes Gavin Lux's Swing Great

For any of you taller hitters, really pay attention to his ability to set certain angles from which to rotate on.  This will be key as you get older and pitchers begin to locate down and away more often. 

Gavin does a phenomenal job of setting his hinge and turning up behind a well-located pitch in this video.  Yes, he pulls and outside pitch.  It can be done!

MLB Prospect Series- Wander Franco

Today is the first day of my 2020 prospect series.  In this series, I will dissect baseball’s best up and comers.  I will review their swings and highlight the things that I like and if needed, comment on what I think might hold them back. 

My goal for this series is to show how some of the best young players in the game use their bodies.  I want everyone who watches to pick up on something and perhaps be able to apply that to their own swings.

Boy Wander

We will start with Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Wander is a switch-hitting shortstop who has had an incredible start to his career. Just recently, he was tabbed as Baseball America's #1 Prospect to start the 2020 season. 

As one of the hottest names coming up through the baseball ranks in a while, I thought it would be cool to look back at all of the #1 Prospects from the past decade:

2019 Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 3B Blue Jays
2018 Ronald Acuna, OF Braves
2017 Andrew Benintendi, OF Red Sox
2016 Corey Seager, SS Dodgers
2015 Kris Bryant, 3B Cubs
2014 Byron Buxton, OF Twins
2013 Jurickson Profar, SS Rangers
2012 Bryce Harper, OF Nationals
2011 Bryce Harper, OF Nationals
2010 Jason Heyward, OF Braves

As you can see, he's put himself into some ELITE company. Does Wander have the swing right now to make in an All-Star? Our answer to that question might surprise you. Check out JK's breakdown below:

Wander Franco Swing Breakdown

Create Resistance with a Dynamic Lower Half

Today's drill video was inspired by the super talented rookie Bo Bichette.  At 6'0 and roughly 190 pounds, Bo is not the biggest guy.  Having said that, he has one of the more dynamic lower half movements you'll ever see.  This drill is designed to capture that.  Keys are:

  1. Athletic base and proper head position.
  2. Create a pullback with the upper body.
  3. Keep back elbow pull back the entire time to feel the resistance.
  4. Practice, practice, practice.

Here is Bo Bichette performing the movement in-game.

The Bo-GO Drill

Now that we've seen how it looks in realtime, let's put it into drill form.  This isn't easy and needs to be done many times before perfecting.

Creating the Engine to Your Swing

There are two key factors that determine the exit velocity of every ball that you hit.

  1. Bat Speed
  2. Square Contact

Both of these are vital to your swing's longevity and should be trained equally.  Today we will take a look at bat speed and how to understand and feel where your swing engine truly is.

The Load/Stretch for Creating Bat Speed

All great swings start with great loading phases.  If your training doesn't start with this phase, you have no chance to create great bat speed. The keys here are:

  1. Coil
  2. Move the coil
  3. Stretch with back elbow

Watch as Javy Baez sequences these movements flawlessly.

Javy Baez Loading The Back Elbow

Javy is always a great template for this movement because it's so easy to see. All great hitters some form or version of this or else they wouldn't last at that level.

This pattern should be slow and controlled as you move especially if you have a leg kick or more vertical stance.  If you start wider and lower, it might be less pronounced but it still has to happen. All these things are used for creating the engine to your swing

The Trigger

This is GO TIME!  The start of the swing must be quick and immediate (early bat speed).  Any flaw or delay here will seriously cost you.  Pulling the "trigger" of a swing is very similar to a gun.  It comes from a very specific place that should always be the rear hip/knee.  Yes, both hips rotate but the rear hip/knee is the driver.  The front hip will clear in a passive move out of the way and then be driven back by the front leg.

Watch as Javy shows us exactly how this should be done.

Javy Baez Trigger Move

I can't stress the importance for your hitters to connect these specific parts of their bodies. If the trigger doesn't start here, the body will compensate and the swing will suffer.

The Brakes

The last action of the engine is the "slamming of the brakes".  The front leg must counter the back leg-pulling forward with an equally aggressive and quick push back. Keys are:

  1. Use the heel
  2. Drive the quad/front hip back
  3. DO IT HARD

Notice here how Javy's front knee and back knee close the gap.

Javy Baez Front Leg Drive

The role of the front leg is huge.  Don't deny it or the back leg will override the entire swing.

Like a car engine, each of these parts is essential to the performance and health of your swing as a whole.  On our site, you can find lots of ways to isolate each of these movements if one of them is lacking in your swing.  Connect with your engine, and watch how much your bat speed skyrocket!

BR Unscripted

JK Whited and Eric Tyler sit down to talk about baseball's most common topics of the day. Topics on today's video are Barry Bonds, The Coronavirus, and Internal vs External Cueing. Have a topic that you want to see talked about? Email JK@baseballrebellion or eric@baseballrebellion to get your questions answered!

Is Barry Bonds being blacklisted due to past allegations and behavior?

2 Minutes 17 Seconds

Will the Coronavirus change how the 2020 MLB season is played?

1 Minute 57 Seconds

Make sure you understand when the right time is for internal or external thoughts. There is a time and a place for both!

2 Minutes 50 Seconds

Have a topic that you want to see talked about? Email JK@baseballrebellion or eric@baseballrebellion to get your questions answered!

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Backfoot Movement in the Swing

Mental Marker Series- The Backfoot Movement

JK Whited’s Mental Marker Series- The Backfoot Movement Allowing the back foot to move forward has been a staple in the Baseball Rebellion methodology for a long time.  It can…

Head and Hip Separation in Stride

Mental Marker Series – Head Back Positioning

JK Whited’s Mental Marker Series- Head Back Positioning This new Mental Markers tip came in the form of a question from a premium member. He was wondering how to help…

Top 5 Ways Player's Get Worse From Team Practice

With the season about to kick off here in the southern states. We wanted to highlight a few things about team practice.

The way team hitting / batting practice is organized, and the culture that is created during practice can be either very helpful or damaging to your baseball/softball player's ability to take quality swings and not feel afraid to take them.

How Do They Get Worse in Practice?

Here are just a handful of situations or batting routines that might be happening to your player at practice. If you are a coach, let's take some time to perhaps rethink how your baseball/softball team's hitting time is being used.

1. Too Much Defensive Work

Yes, this does happen! Before I get too critical on coaches and their practice plans here, it should be said that I love defense. I was a catcher my whole career and loved making defensive plays and stopping runs from scoring.

It's crucial for the outfield and infield to be able to communicate and work well together, but do we really need to skip hitting so that there can be 3 hours of bunt coverage? Especially on a play that gets ran once a year! Every baseball and softball player in the lineup will get at least two at-bats in a game. The one secret play, that never works, is not worth the time. Do the math, get some swings in.

Practice Solution
Practice solution

If you have to have entire practices dedicated to defense, just be sure to do the same for hitting. Even if a player has what might be considered a "bad swing," at least they can develop timing with their bad swing and have more of a chance for success.

2. Throwing Bad BP or Front Toss

One of the more frustrating things for us to see is a player that has a good swing but gets worse because his coach can't throw front toss or batting practice. It is even more frustrating when the coach who just bounced five balls in a row gets mad at the hitter for not swinging. Most young players are afraid of their coaches already and don't want to"talk back."

What Happens Next?

The player will undoubtedly start taking awful swings at awful pitches just to appease the coach. Which ruins his own practice time. Every time the coach throws a bad pitch, the player should take it. Which can even be used to the hitter and coaches benefit. If the coach continues to throw poorly, the player should then be allowed to go work off the tee. Or they can go through dry swings where they can practice good movements.

Practice Solution
Practice Solution

Coaches should practice throwing strikes overhand and front toss. Before any us at Baseball Rebellion became a full-time instructor, we had to become great at front toss and BP. Not to say we don't make mistakes. But hitters, especially ones learning new movements, have to have a certain level of consistency with each pitch. That way they can focus more on their swing.

If one of your responsibilities as a coach is to front toss or throw batting practice, you need to be somewhat good at it. Or you will only make your team worse.

3. Batting / Pitching Machines

If you are not currently an in-person or online client of the Baseball Rebellion, it's challenging to visualize practicing a baseball/softball swing without hitting a ball. All of our clients know how to train at home with no bat, and no-ball. While having huge gains in their swing. Taking your team or player to a batting cage or even bringing in a "portable" batting machine to practice seems like a good idea in theory.

The Machine Problem

The problem with certain machines and creating a good swing occurs in the timing of the pitch. Especially if your swing has a good loading phase.  For the hitter to properly execute the start of this move, they must use the load phase of the pitcher as a visual to know when to start. Since most pitching machines have zero to very little pre-release action, the hitter can struggle at getting started. Therefore throwing off their entire swing pattern. This is especially difficult for baseball and softball hitters who have just started to learn this type of movement.

Bad Baseball / Softball batting or pitching machine

We have talked about pitching machines that we like and the best ways to use them in training. Any machine that shoots the ball out without any warning is one to watch out for. These can be extremely frustrating to a hitter with movement. The ball will suddenly appear which gives it the perception as fast. However, the speed of the ball is normal to slow, causing the hitter to suddenly jump forward but then realize they are super early getting their front foot down. Unless you are very in-tuned with your body and timing, there is very little hope for consistent or powerful contact.

Keep it Simple

No baseball or softball player out there wants to look bad in front of his teammates and coaches. So they will begin to strip away movement from their swing. Ultimately the once good swing is now sliced down to a panic-induced wrist snap. Months of training and money has been wasted.

Practice Solution
Practice Solution

This is a tough one because I do understand the need to take swings with a moving ball. And as mentioned earlier good throwers can be hard to come by. For players, if you can't work on good timing with a negative to positive move forward, then my advice would be to start with your front foot already down.

If your mechanics are already good, you can still work on lots of other parts of the swing like hip rotation, front and back leg action, and barrel path, just to name a few. However, if the hitter's mechanics are already bad, I am afraid these types of machines can only cause more frustration and negativity.

4. Situational Batting Practice ONLY

A lot like bunt coverage practice, there is a definite time and place for situation hitting practice. But often baseball and softball teams spend countless hours of hitting/batting practice time on nothing but hit-and-runs, slashes, bunting, two-strike approaches, etc. Again these are times that may only happen one or two times a game, hence the name situational.

STOP slash bunting in Baseball or Softball

Now if you are dedicating the opening round of batting practice to a few bunts and one or two hit-and-runs. That is one thing, but making entire rounds dedicated to hitting the ball backside on the ground can be detrimental to a good swing.

The 'Backside' Approach

In rounds like those, the hitter is forced by the demands of the coach to hit every pitch, even inside pitches, to the backside of the field. Again, the hitter, being afraid to disappoint the coach, will adopt a weak backside mentality. This is creating a slower delayed turn of the barrel to flick the ball that way. Then when the game comes around, the coach wonders why his team can't drive the ball.

The "backside approach" round can work for very specific cases of timing issues but usually not for the whole team.

If you want a solid batting practice plan, click here. 

Practice Solution
Practice Solution

Immediately after a brief situational round, allow your hitters to "let it fly." Get them ready to do what they will most likely have to do in the game, Hit! I think a lot of coaches out there would be surprised in the performance of their hitters if they introduced more power rounds in their practice or even dedicated one to a home run round.

Not only would the players have ready their aggressive mindsets, but they would also have a lot more fun knowing they have the freedom to go for it. Less fear and more aggressive hitters should be what any baseball or softball coach should strive for. Don't be afraid to see how a player can develop over time with this kind of practice.

The baseball and softball players that we work with everyday start to learn how to hit doubles on purpose and their mishits become hard singles.  As a hitter, it feels great knowing you can make mistakes and still get on base.

5.  Quick Pitching the Hitter

I chose this topic to close because it seems to be what all of my clients have in common. We spend months before the season getting their swings to be powerful and consistent. During this process, they are allowed to move freely through the entire swing then reset before the next pitch.

In this resetting time, they have they can regain their composure, think about and make adjustments, and then take another good swing. 

Coaches have to remember that practice time is the hitter's time to get better. Not their time to see how many swings they can take in two minutes.

Too many of our hitters will see us during the season, after months of training, and all of a sudden they have a shorter yet weaker swings with no finish. Before they even finish their swing, they are slowing down and hopping back into their stances.

They cut out their rhythm, their forward motion, and their finish to get ready for the next pitch. Time and time again they fall victim to the "practice culture" in baseball and softball.

When they finally do take a full and aggressive swing at practice, the coach will already be throwing the next pitch before the player has a chance to reset. So when the player decides not to swing because they are not ready, they get yelled at. Now fear has been installed in the young player, and they cut down their swing to make the coach happy.

Practice Solution
Practice Solution

Take less, but better swings. The old saying goes "quality over quantity," and nothing could be more true for baseball and softball swings and practice. With every quick restart with zero time to think, your hitters are getting worse.

If you have a limited time for hitting at practice, then use the time wisely. Cut each round down by three or four swings and let the hitters focus on their swing and training, whatever it might be. If you're a player with this issue, don't be afraid to let a pitch go by from time to time or ask the coach to slow down.

All players should be able to speak to their coaches and ask for time. It is the player's practice after all.

It's the Players Career, Not the Coaches

To sum it all up, I understand how difficult it is to be a coach at any level. Every level of baseball and softball has its obstacles to hurdle when it comes to practice.

Things like field time, coaching assistance, even balls can be hard to come by. I don't want this article to bash on all coaches, everywhere, who try hard to do it right. But trying hard and not knowing, are two different things. We have tons of FREE articles on here that can help you become a better coach. If more coaches took the time to improve upon some of this issue, everybody and the sports of baseball and softball would benefit.

Lastly, if one of your parents is taking a player on your team to see a professional instructor, please respect their choice to outsource their information and invest their money. Let their players focus on his or her specific goals and work on their swing regardless if you think it's right.

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3 Tee Drill

Get Consistent Hard Contact with the 3 Tee Drill

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