Front Leg – JK’s Winter Series

The front leg serves as the break so the back hip can quickly pull forward to the spine. Without it, a sudden acceleration of the barrel is nearly impossible.

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Check out this simple drill that can be done indoors to help improve hitters' head position during their stride which allows them to swing the bat faster.

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Need a drill to do indoors? Check out the lastest BR Winter Series for a drill on how to work on keeping a bent front arm throughout the swing.
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Stride to Separation- Baseball Rebellion's Indoor Training Winter Series

This week's installment of my Winter Series is brought to you by a good question that I received on my last post. Last week I did a video about isolating the coil and then feeling the separation created out from the coil.  Here is the question that I got from Mike about that video about the stride and separation.

article question

Separation

This was a good question and a good opportunity to show you how it works with a stride and separation. I choose to film this from the behind the plate view so that you can see the coil followed by the separation that occurs when the hitter "goes".  I think it's important to understand that max separation should only occur if the hitter decides to swing.

The coil and the stride however, should always occur. I will say that there might be some separation on a taken pitch because the hitter should always assume they will swing but max separation will only happen for a full commitment to the pitch.

I hope this answers the questions that came up and I would love to answer any other questions that you guys might have.

Remote Training for Hitters

No Place to Train this Off-Season? Check Out How Remote Training Lessons Can Work For You!

At Baseball Rebellion we have been doing remote training hitting lessons (as well as pitching lessons) for over six years and have worked with over 500 online clients from all around the country and the world!

We wanted to give Baseball Rebellion readers inside access to what our remote training is all about. In the video below, I highlight the improvements that can be made to hitters over time using the Baseball Rebellion methodology and how we utilize Hudl Technique to make it happen.

This video highlights one of my online client's improvements over a six-month period. He has been one of my hardest working clients online and continues to improve! Enjoy!

Highlights of the 6 Month Swing Improvement from Remote Training

Front Foot, Leg, and Hip

Before
Closed Front Side
Closed Front Side
After
Open Front Side
Open Front Side

Head Position

Before
Head Forward
Head Forward
After
Head Back
Head Back

Back & Balanced on Finish

Before
Upright Finish
Upright Finish
After
Back and Balanced Finish
Back and Balanced Finish
Stuck indoors hitting for the Winter? JK's Winter Series will give you drills you can do almost anywhere in your home. Check out this week's new drill!

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Can't get outside this winter to train? JK Whited's Winter Series will give you drills you can do almost anywhere in your home. Drill #1- The Doorway Stride

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Learn 3 ways that your hitters can learn to swing at better pitches and a few drills to help them lock in on how to read pitches vs just see pitches.

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Confidence: A feeling or consciousness of one's powers or reliance on one's circumstances.

Have you ever met a professional athlete at the highest level?  If you have, you've probably noticed their presence, their swagger, their aura.  There is a way about them that sometimes is hard to quantify. It's a trait they all seem to carry with them in and out of the arena. That trait is simply confidence.

I want to share with you today a concept that we want all our athletes to obtain.  That is the concept of baseline confidence.  An ability to always believe their potential to do damage at the plate, no matter what their stat line might be.  Baseball is a hard game.

As we all know, a good hitter will usually have a batting average near or over .300.  Which also means their "failing" 70% of the time.  There isn't another endeavor in the world that can say a success rate of 30% is high level. Because of this, it can be very easy to perceive "failure" as not batting .300 on the year, month, or weekend.  Believe me, there is a way to go hitless for the weekend and still feel great about what you're doing. Let's look at where achieving high baseline confidence starts.

Your Work

High School Sophomore Working on His Stride at BRHQ
High School Sophomore Working on His Stride at BRHQ

It goes without saying, the time that you put into your craft will directly relate to the height of your success.  Now, that also depends heavily on working smart during that time.  Having a good understanding of your swing is crucial to having high baseline confidence.

One of the best things for me as a professional instructor is when I see a student of any age, self-correct.  They just know.  They can feel the flaw and immediately change something in their swing to get the desired result.  It is important here to make sure the information you are receiving and paying for is correct.

If it's not, you can work really hard at something that is completely incorrect.  I myself am a great example of this.  Be sure to ask questions and make sure you know exactly what you are doing every single time you swing the bat.

Having Goals

Sounds simple right? You would be amazed how many new clients come it with absolutely no idea what they want to do at the plate.

Chas Going Over HitTrax Numbers with New Clients
Chas Going Over HitTrax Numbers with New Clients
Eric Discussing Swing Mechanics to New Client
Eric Discussing Swing Mechanics to New Client

Usually, the answers we get are some sort of regurgitated version of cultural baseball nonsense.  These things include things like "hit the ball", "put it in play", "get a hit", and so on and so forth.  I mean what are those?  Does Javy Baez, Christian Yelich, or Mookie Betts look like that's all they're trying to do at the plate?

Let's get one thing clear, those guys are up there looking to do damage.  Train accordingly.  I've found that the more a player trains to do damage the better the results are in games, the more fun they have, the higher their confidence gets.  Even if they are 0-4 one game, they are fully aware of their abilities.  One at-bat, one game, one weekend doesn't define who they are.  Their baseline confidence doesn't allow them to think any less than what they are fully capable of.

Short Term Memory

Like I have said already, baseball is hard.  There are days where everything is feeling great and balls are jumping off the bat.  Other days, not so much.  The key here is to learn and move on.  Too many players take one at-bat, swing, or game into their next one.  Once this happens, the issues seem to get worse.  If you've put in the work and can correctly identify the issue the only thing left is a slight adjustment.  Could be just timing but if it's a swing adjustment, time in front of the mirror or cage work could be the only thing you need.  Don't let small sample sizes freak you out and think your swing needs a major overhaul.

By creating a high baseline confidence level a player can quickly overcome poor performance and feel excited about the next opportunity to play.  There is nothing worse than fearing your next at-bat due to feelings of uncertainty about what you can do.

Re-define Failure

The word "fail" always carries a negative undertone when it doesn't have to.  Change that today.  A great example of this is my daughter.  She just celebrated her first birthday last month and has begun trying to walk more.  In her attempts to walk from point A to point B she ultimately falls down.  Would you look at an infant and say she is failing?  No, you would say she's learning.  The same goes with your swing.  No matter how much progress you have made so far, there will always be a new period of "failing".  If you look at is a learning opportunity or simply the fact your actually doing something different, the tone is positive and much easier for growth.  Too many kids feel as if they let their team, coaches, and family down in a major way if they "mess up".  This could be anything from striking out in a game or mis-hitting a ball in practice.  The negativity just oozes from their body and growth cannot happen.

Learn to use these learning opportunities to get better and your confidence will not waiver because of the simple positive view you are taking.  You know that you'll figure out whatever your working on, you just know it takes time.  Trust your process and good things can happen.

Understanding Mishits

I thought I'd leave you with a very applicable baseball idea.  We have written many times about good vs bad mishits.  Understanding this can help you develop and raise your baseline confidence to a new level.

As we've discussed already 0-4 never looks good in the stat books right?  While statistically, that is correct, the confidence lies in the details.  Below we will discuss low baseline confidence remarks from both the player and the parent perspective:

Player Response

Example 1: Hitless Game

Low baseline confidence response:

"I really struggled today, man I hope I do better tomorrow."

High baseline confidence response:

"Man, I was all over the pitcher today, just have to get my timing a little better.  I'll get'em tomorrow"

Example 2:  Fly ball caught by the left fielder.

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"I just can't seem to buy a hit!"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"Wow, that pitcher was lucky I just got under it.  That swing felt great!"

Example 3.  Strikeout

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"Striking out is so bad, I can't believe I did it again"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"I struck out, but I took my hacks early and just missed my fastball opportunity.  He better not throw that again"

Parent Response

Example 1: Hitless Game

Low baseline confidence response:

"You really didn't play well today. We're going home to practice until we get it right"

High baseline confidence response:

"You really played hard today. I know that you didn't do as well as you wanted but I'm proud of your effort"

Example 2:  Fly ball caught by the left fielder.

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"He/She hasn't gotten a hit in forever I'm done watching these games"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"Oh what a hit! You were so close to getting that over the fence. Keep swing hard!"

Example 3.  Strikeout

Low baseline confidence reaction:

"I can't believe they just struck out for the fourth time this weekend. What a waste of money"

High baseline confidence reaction:

"Even though you struck out you really looked like you were swinging hard today, the hits will come if you keep swinging like that."

A Visual Understanding of Baseline Confidence
A Visual Understanding of Baseline Confidence

This concept might be new to you or maybe you already practice these types of things to make sure you or your player is always feeling on top of their game. Either way, as baseball gets harder, it becomes even more important to believe in yourself.

Baseline confidence can be a sliding scale.  Hopefully, the better you get at using these techniques, your lowest point of confidence will still be higher than it was a month before.  Therefore not stunting your growth for too long.  When used correctly, these techniques will become a habit, and you won't even know your using them.  Do this, and you've mastered the concept.

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Coaches and Parents: Learn What You Need To Be Looking For In Your Hitter's Swing

Evaluating Hitters

When evaluating hitters what are you looking for? Do you even know what is important or vital for hitters to be doing? We want to help make it easier for you to breakdown your hitter's swings. There are certain mechanics that are a MUST when it comes to being an elite hitter. We're here to show you what those are.

By now you guys know me and have a pretty good handle on how I explain ideas and concepts at Baseball Rebellion Headquarters or here in my articles.

I'm a huge analogy guy.  The reason for this is because I really enjoy simplifying movements to their core and getting rid of the grey area.  For players of all ages but especially younger players, analogies do a great job of cleaning things up inside their heads.

The Important vs. Vital Analogy For Hitters

The important vs. vital concept is no different than anything else.  Like the human body, there are parts of us that are vital to our health and therefore living.  These things are measured as "vitals" in the medical world.

The four main ones are body temperature, heart rate or pulse, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.  Anything other than those four vitals would be listed as important.

In hitting, vitals are concepts or movements that can not be compensated for. Without them, players can "stay alive" in baseball but will ultimately not last.

Important aspects of the swing are things that are nice to have and can really help, but are necessities to be great long term.

I'm sure at this point you're wondering how this relates to hitting.  Well, here it goes.

NOTE: All GIF's are courtesy of and credited to Craig Hyatt (@HyattCraig)

Important Mechanics To Look For When Evaluating Hitters

1. Proper Footwork

Now don't' get me wrong here.  We teach footwork until it's really good but you can find tons of examples in the big leagues of guys doing all sorts of things with their feet in games.

Strong Positioning

It's important to have a solid base of footwork but at the end of the day, if the bat is fast and going up pitch plane, you'll do damage.  Proper footwork will, however, allow hitters to get the most out of what their hips are trying to do. Proper footwork can help you maintain a strong balance throughout your stride and your swing.

2. Back Foot Movement

As stated above, if you look at a few of your favorite big league players you'll notice a variety of back foot movement.  Generally, they all rotate to some degree but the distance forward can really vary, and for some, it may even go behind them.  For the hips to fully clear it is important that the back foot is allowed to move not forced improperly.  The bigger you are the less it may need to move.  For little guys, letting the back foot move can really open up your hip turn and speed.

3. Variation of Leg Kick/Stride

I'm listing this because people often combine the aggressive look of a high leg kick (Donaldson) with a player's power production.  It's important that a hitter find what variation of a leg kick works for them but not everybody has to have their knee in their face.

Prepare

Leg kicks give hitter time to prepare more and therefore give them more power at contact.  Plenty of players have hit the ball really well their whole careers with subtle front leg moves.

4. Perfect Upper Body Mechanics

While perfect upper body mechanics can really be beneficial, we know it can vary.  Ken Griffey Jr. played his whole career with an armbar.  Every game you can see guys adjusting their arms and hands to get to certain pitch locations.  Again, if the bat is fast and on plane, that's all that matters and sometimes a hitter must do something at the moment to just stay alive.

5. The Perfect Stance

I don't believe there is such a thing.  Watch a game and you'll see a variety of stance players use.  Sometimes a player might have multiple stances throughout a season or career.  It is important however to have a stance that fits your own personal tempo and ability.  Don't be afraid to try different things and mimic your favorite hitters.  Just be athletic and you might stumble across who you were meant to be.

Which One Are You?

Big leaguers have had thousands of different batting stances, check out this cool article here on "The Batting Stance Guy."

Vital Mechanics To Look For When Evaluating Hitters

1. Intent

Nothing new here.  If the player does not want to do damage mentally and emotionally at the plate, no mechanical fixes will matter.  They MUST shed any fear or doubt before mechanical adjustments can really help them in games.  Intent starts at practice and reveals itself in games.

2. Vision

The idea of seeing the ball well is a simple one but is widely not worked on.  Hitters must be aware that good vision is a move.  The head must turn inward as the body rotates out. 

Using Vision

Most hitters lose the ball as it approaches them and therefore power and consistency are negatively affected.

3. General Body Awareness

Body Awareness

Hitters will spend the majority of their time away from their instructors.  They have to be able to self adjust quickly at practice and games.  It is the instructor's job to help their hitter's get to a point where they can get themselves out of slumps or stay out of them altogether.

4. Load/Gather/Coil/Separation

Pick whichever one of these words you like, they all mean the same thing.  The body must prepare to fire in some way(there are better ways than others).  If this never happens, hitting the ball hard can't happen.  Be sure you understand to prepare properly and that you know what body parts really swing the bat.

 

5. Angles

Getting the body and specifically the upper body into the proper angle during the load is crucial.  This determines the quality of the previously stated vitals. 

The Angles Game

If a hitter can create the proper angle and spacing they will see vision increase, barrel depth, barrel acceleration, barrel path, and time all go up. 

So yes, get good at this.  I will write a more detailed article on this very soon. For now, check out my Hitters and Angles article to learn more!

Learn how striding with your front hip sets up the body to be in better positions.

Key Takeaways When Evaluating Hitters

The key thing to take away from this is that "vitals" should not be compensated for what might be only "important".  For example, if your back foot is moving so far that it changes your angles/posture than eliminate your back foot move or lessen it.  If you like your stance but cannot load your body properly, change your stance and make it easier to prepare. If trying to have "perfect footwork" keeps you from being explosive then stop worrying about being perfect and smash the ball!

Understand what is vital and what is important and it can really clarify your thoughts when you might be struggling to find answers.

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Pro Concepts- Extension and Release For the week’s Pro Concept, I wanted to highlight a home run hit in the World Series.  Adam Eaton displays a good swing but more......

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How Staying Athletic in Your Swing Can Help You Make Adjustments So far, this postseason has been awesome.  Big names showing up in big moments is what it’s all about. ......

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