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Launch Angle Training To Reach Your Full Potential

Launch Angle Training

As with most hitting methodologies these days, there can be a lot of controversy surrounding new ideas. Even though launch angle isn’t anything new, training it is still looked down upon in certain realms of hitting.

Any aspect of hitting can be taken too far and using launch angle is no different. There certainly can be too much scrutiny placed on it to when the player or coach takes it too far.  However, if done correctly, a player can realize their full potential.  To do this the coach and player need to take in multiple factors.  These factors include:

  • Average Exit Velocity (how hard the hitter hits the ball)
  • Field Size
  • Swing Quality and Repeatability
  • Hitters Athletic Ability
  • Bat Rules

Launch Angle Hitter example

Let’s take a look at a softball player that started training with us back in July.  When she came in, she had some technical issues but had a really good engine already.  Her top end and average exit velocity were already really good. 

Even though I know she will eventually be able to hit the ball harder as she tweaked her mechanics, the issue that jumped out at me was her inability to hit the ball further on average.  She was hitting the ball way too hard at her age and on 200-foot fences to not be hitting more extra-base hits. So because she had never been taught how to properly elevate the ball, she certainly was never going to reach her full potential.  

Let’s take a look at her HitTrax comparison from her first day in our facility and her latest lesson.

Launch Angle Hit Trax

Now, there are a lot of numbers here but let's take a look at a few things. On this particular day, her max velocity was a little better, her actual new highest velocity is 75 which was hit on another day. 

Increase In Launch Angle

The important thing here is that her average launch angle went from 13 to 30 degrees.  The only mechanical changes we made in her swing were posture and swing plane changes in order to create a slightly more positive attack angle to the ball.  By doing this you can see how much it made a difference in almost all of her numbers. 

There was absolutely no loss in average velocity but so much more gained in AVG distance, MAX distance, batting average, slugging percentage, etc. On a side note, even her ability to work the ball hard to all fields went through the roof. 

Launch Angle Zones

As I stated above you must take in multiple factors when trying to get players to understand their “launch angle zone”.  This just means what degrees in the air do I have the largest margin for error. 

For instance, if her average velocity was only 60mph I would have never asked her to attempt raising her average LA.  Those would have just resulted in flyouts. It’s vital to remember the factors that I listed above when implementing LA in your training. Remember that it can change over time as the player gets bigger and more technically skilled but needs to be monitored closely in training. 

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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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How To Get More Out Of Your Batting Practice

How To Get More Out Of Batting Practice

Want to learn how to get the most out of batting practice? Check out these drills you can do to help your hitters get more out of BP.

How Far Should a Hitter Stride

How Far Should a Hitter Stride?

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

In the world of hitting certain words can invoke certain movements, good and bad. It’s not really the words that matter as much but how the individual athlete interprets those words and how they manifest those words into a particular movement.

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JK Whited’s Mental Marker Series- Separation

If you don’t know already, a players ability to separate correctly is vital to their success as a rotational athlete. In today’s Mental Marker video, I go over a few quick and easy things you can do anywhere to make sure you or your player is creating maximum and high-level separation.  Thanks for watching!

Inside This Mental Marker Video:

-How to create maximum separation from the front hip to the back elbow
-Increase power and bat speed
-One drill to create separation that can be done at home or on the field

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- Chest & Shoulder Rotation

Have you ever wondered how much or how little your shoulders and chest should be rotated at contact?  Well, I’m here today to show you exactly that.  In this Mental Marker Video, I will discuss how the amount of shoulder rotation differs depending on the pitch and side of the field you are working. This video was inspired by another great question from one of you so please keep asking and thanks for watching!

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- 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:

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

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......

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Want to learn how to repeat a powerful swing? It all starts on how you practice in the cage and how that transition to BP and live game at-bats.

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