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Tryout Practice Plan for Youth Baseball

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The Best Drills to Hit for More Power, NOW!

Medicine Ball Throws

The Med Ball Throws are great to help develop a hitter’s rotational power. Hitters of all ages perform med ball throws daily here at Baseball Rebellion. Here are the recommended med ball sizes (in pounds) for each age group: -8U: 4-6 Pounds -10U: 6 Pounds -12U: 6-8 Pounds -Middle School: 8-10 Pounds -High School: 10-12 Pounds -College: 14-20 Pounds

The Wheel Drill

If you are training to hit the ball higher and farther, you must first learn how we have to use the body in order to hit for power like this. Use the Wheel drill in your baseball training when you are trying to fix your downward swing path. This is a great drill to help a hitter feel the early tilt in their swing and then feel the upward swing path through contact!

The Turn Behind The Turn

This drill is an oldie but a goodie. Perhaps the best description I’ve ever heard of what the barrel is supposed to be doing comes from our CEO, Chas Pippitt. The “turn behind the turn” is the key to stop pushing your bat and develop deep barrel speed. It’s important to keep your hands up and back so the barrel can attack!

The Angled Noodle Drill

Use this drill to help you start hitting bombs low in the zone! The Angled Noodle Drill is designed to help baseball and softball hitters with their shoulder bend and hip hinge. This drill will help prepare hitters to hit for power on pitches lower in the strike zone! The Angled Noodle Drill will also help stay more connected and supported with the barrel.

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Baseball Rebellion talks about how training to hit the ball a certain way can instantly increase your hard contact and extra base hits

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The Arm Bar & The Bent Front Elbow

There is a lot of talk about across hitting platforms about the front arm position and if it should be bent or straight throughout the swing. While you will certainly see both across Major League Baseball, I want to talk about both and show you what we believe to be the most efficient. But first, let's talk about the bat path and the correlation to the front arm.

When I hear most hitting coaches and players talk about swing path, they often talk about the back shoulder and the hands. While these are important aspects to consider when working on the proper swing path. There is another often forgotten component that is essential to the back shoulder and hands working well, the front arm.

Front Arm and Swing Path

Before we get into how the front arm helps hitters obtain an efficient swing path. Let's take a second to identify what an ideal swing path looks like. Ted Williams was one of the earliest proponents of the upward swing path that we teach.

He reasoned that since the ball travels towards the catcher at a downward angle. The hitter can put themselves in the best position possible by starting the bat down towards the catcher behind them followed by a slight upswing in the direct path of the pitch. This should all be common knowledge at this point. However, we are STILL arguing about what swing path is more efficient. Here is an image depicting this idea.

Ted Williams Description of the Proper Swing Path
Ted Williams Description of the Proper Swing Path

The Front Arm Positions in Major League Baseball

Arm Bar Hitters

In the two videos below you have two unbelievable power hitters in Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ronald Acuna, Jr. They both demonstrate a lengthening of the front arm very early in their turn. While this has been written about as being a very powerful swing move, which it is. It is very hard for MOST hitters to adjust to different pitch speeds and pitch locations by barring their front arm early.

Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Ronald Acuna, Jr.

Early Front Arm Length

The early lengthening of the arm in younger hitters is very prevalent. It mostly comes from a lack of upper body and core strength. Because of this, the hitter will try to activate their swing by engaging their chest and arms, resulting in an arm bar swing.

This becomes a one plane swing very quickly, especially for the inexperienced hitter. Guys like Griffey and Acuna have been able to overcome this and be in the Hall of Fame (Griffey) or a potential 2019 MVP (Acuna). This isn't to say that if you or your hitter's arm bar early in their swing they are hurting themselves. There is just a more efficient way for lesser (and by lesser I mean anyone who isn't a professional) experienced hitters to have a solid swing path that is both fast and adjustable.

Bent Front Arm Hitters

The best swing path is the result of the back shoulder dropping. The back elbow working down into the slot near the rib cage, and the hands staying high and working the knob up.

This is where the use of the front arm becomes vital. Every hitter that I have ever seen at any level naturally drops their back arm as they swing. This means that in order for the knob and hands to remain at chest height, the front arm has to work upward during the turn and maintain this upward path through contact.

When it does not, the bat path tends to flatten out or even work downward causing the chances of a mis-hit to increase. The dropping of the front arm or failure to turn the front arm upward can also lead to bat drag. This can cause an excessively long barrel path that does not create deep and sustained acceleration through the path of the pitch. Check out some other MLB hitter's who keep their front arm bent longer in their swing.

Christian Yelich
Christian Yelich
Mike Trout
Mike Trout

Youth Hitter vs. Big League Hitter's Front Arm and Swing Path

We talked about the importance of getting the barrel going backward and back up towards the ball. Check out how Anthony Rendon and one of our in-person hitter's uses their front arm to help achieve that.

Front Arm Position at Heel Plant
Front Arm Position at Heel Plant

You can see both hitters' still have a good angle in their front arm. This will allow them to get the knob working back up and keeping the hands high in their turn. Because of this, the barrel will 'fall' back towards the catcher which gives us time and space for the bat to work back up to the ball.

Front Arm Angle at Barrel Turn
Front Arm Angle at Barrel Turn

Now both hitter's bat is turning behind them and towards the catcher. This is setting them up to have their fastest bat speed BEFORE and AT contact. Not after. Hitter's who bar their front arm too early have a tendency to swing flatter at the ball, making their bat speed up it's fastest AFTER contact. Which doesn't help any hitter.

Front Arm Angle Difference at Contact
Front Arm Angle Difference at Contact

Front Arm Difference

This is the first time you see a distinct difference in the angle of the front arm. Rendon (on the left) still has maintained a sharp bent angle with his front arm, while the youth hitter (on the right) has added some length. There could be two reasons for this from the youth hitter:

  1. The hitter has recognized that his turn is early and this lengthening of the arm is a timing adjustment he is making to ensure that he is hitting the ball. This is why keeping the front arm bent as long as possible is so important. It allows us an extra timing mechanism (along with our front leg) in our swing when our timing is not perfect.
  2. The hitter lacks the upper body strength to keep the bend in the front arm as he is swinging the bat around. This is a very common flaw with younger hitters and for the most part, it isn't their fault. Whether it be puberty or genetics most young hitters just don't have the strength (yet) to support a full bend of the front arm all the way to contact.

Front Arm Thoughts

Regardless of your opinion on the front arm, you can see that there are different ways that hitter's swing the bat to be successful. One thing that remains constant however in all good hitters is their ability to use their whole body in the swing. Any time the arms are dominant in the swing we are not setting ourselves up for success. We will see slow, long swings that aren't conducive to hard contact in games.

Drills to Help Focus on the Front Arm and Bat Path

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Four Indoor Hitting Drills

We put together four of our favorite indoor hitting drills that you can do in your garage, back yard, and even your living room. Don't let your training fall behind by trying these four indoor hitting drills today.

1. Front Arm Constraint Drill

This drill specifically forces hitters to turn the right way due to their front arm being held still.  This will make hitters feel how they have to initially work behind the ball. This promotes more power and a quality bat path.

Click here for the full article.

2. Directional Jump Drill for Front Leg Force

As a hitter, you must have a strong base. Part of that base is your legs. Not only the strength of your legs but also how you produce force with them, specifically the front leg. Depth jumps are a popular drill on social media right now and rightly so.

Click here for the full article.

3. JK Drill 2.0

Learn how the barrel is supposed to turn in the swing and have you can create a more consistent bat path.

4. Rack Bat Drills

Get Consistent Hard Contact with Side Bend

Remember, proper side bend cannot happen without first getting into a hip hinge. The posture change from hip hinge into side bend is best practice with the Rack Bat. If you want to start driving balls farther and over the fence, get to practicing your side bend today.

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Barrel Turn and Swinging Up

A negative or downward swing path. Even talking about 'level' swing paths makes me want to cringe. It's 2019 and we have autonomous cars yet the baseball world still wants to teach a swing path that has been PROVEN to be suboptimal. It's time we talk more about barrel turn and what it actually means.

The barrel turn is simply the action of the hitter turning the bat behind them towards the catcher, and then back up through the plane of the pitch. Just like this hitter is below.

Why is it important to turn the barrel and swing up? Check out the green line in the video above. That is the 'plane' of the pitch. The ball is traveling on that line and as hitters, we want our bat traveling on that long as long as possible. So if the ball is traveling down, we must match the plane by swinging up. This ensures a maximum window for contact depending on our timing.

Can't Get Your Hitters to Barrel Turn Correctly?

Thank you to the coaches, parents, and instructors out there who are teaching kids to NOT swing down. You are the real heroes in the baseball world. However, if you are one of the people I just mentioned but can't quite get your hitters to be consistent with barrel turn and swinging up. There could be one MAJOR reason why.

Spine Angle and Barrel Turn

If you are regular readers, you have heard us write a lot about spine angle. But how does that correlate to swinging the bat up? Most hitters land too far forward in their stride, like this:

Head and Torso Too Far Forward Relative to the Lower Body
Head and Torso Too Far Forward Relative to the Lower Body

When hitter's land like this they must either move their head and spine as they turn to create space or push down and forward to create space. Neither of these solutions is ideal for power or swing path.

We want hitters to move forward but to land with your head closer to the back hip. This creates the space for the barrel to turn deep and to enter an upward motion earlier in the swing. This helps players achieve ideal launch angles. Check out the comparison of two hitters below.

Hitter on the left has his rear ear inline with his rear hip. This allows for a deeper barrel turn and a more pronounced upward swing path.
Hitter on the left has his rear ear inline with his rear hip. This allows for a deeper barrel turn and a more pronounced upward swing path.

How to Get The Head Back To Turn The Barrel Up

"Stride with the Hips"

If the hitter is working getting their hips out from underneath their shoulders during their stride they will set their spine angle and head position back into a strong, loaded position. It is a cue that should be taught and practiced OUTSIDE of the cage first. Then once the hitter has established a strong, controlled stride forward with their hips outside the cage, they can then move to practice it while hitting a moving ball. If done correctly it will look like this:

This hitter leads their stride with their hips, not their foot, allowing their head/chest to stay back over the back hip.

The Wall Drill and Striding With The Hips

This drill is super effective for teaching hitters how to properly stride forward. They must use their hips to stride in this drill and not just their front foot. The goal is to get the hitters lead hip up against the wall before anything else (Quad, Foot, Knee, Ankle) touches the wall. Check out Eric demonstrating this drill and how you can apply it to your hitters today.

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Tryout Plan for Youth Softball

With the spring season quickly approaching, you are going to need a tryout plan. Because of this, we wanted to make it easier for our readers to run an effective tryout without having to plan too much for it. This practice plan will cover:

-Hitting

-Defense

-Pitching

-Baserunning

-Arm Strength 

-Softball IQ

This tryout plan covers a two-hour window. You do not need to go over that time frame, practices or tryouts that go over that time at the youth level are merely wasting time. For planning purposes, we started this tryout at 5:00 pm. Below, each clickable tab explains exactly what you need to do and what you should be looking for. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a printable PDF version to take straight to your tryout.

Tryout/ Practice Plan

Be Organized!

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts in this short window. Because of this, the tryout plan will require you to be organized and efficient. Make sure that players know ahead of time where they are supposed to be and have someone in charge of directing the practice.

This tryout/ practice plan truly showcases each player's overall skill base, which is the exact reason you host tryouts.

Click the red icon below to download your printable practice plan today.

College Recruiting Emails- What Do They Really Mean?

With college fall seasons cooling down, the final push for camp numbers is heating up. For instance, when you receive an email from a college coach do you even know if it's 'legit' or not? I want to breakdown all the different types of emails that are sent from college coaches. Above all, their actual recruiting interest in you.

"My Son Johnny Just Received a Recruiting Email"

All too often, I get an email or a phone call from a parent or client telling me that their son/daughter or themselves received an email from a coach or a camp invite from a coach and ask me what they should do. However, not all emails are created the same. Because of this, there are many different interpretations that are made when the athlete and parent are not informed on what they all really mean.

I wanted to give our clients and our readers information on how to decipher emails they are being sent from college coaches. For instance, here are three different kinds of emails that are typically sent:

  1. Generic Camp Email
  2. Moderate Interest Email
  3. VIP Recruit Email

Using information from previous Baseball Rebellion recruiting articles/podcasts, as well as the help of former Division-1 Volunteer Assistant (and camp email sender) Eric Tyler, we will breakdown the three most common types of emails that high school athletes will receive from coaches. In addition to the proper response to each.

Generic Camp Recruiting Email

This email is without a doubt the most common. Because of this, it is usually sent from an automatic mailing service. The email list is compiled by coaches, operation directors, or interns. Just because you are sent this email does not mean this school is interested in you. But if you do receive it it doesn't mean you're not a prospect to these coaches.

Unfortunately, the NCAA refused to pass the bill to pay three assistant coaches on a baseball staff. Therefore, the volunteers will continue to send these emails to make money.

Here is an example of a generic camp email as well as things to look for:

Ways to Respond to Generic Camp Emails

If this is a school that you are interested in, or a school that you are interested in is attending the camp, then you need to get registered right away to assure you have a spot. After that, reach back out to the coach. Let that coach know that you have registered and are very excited to be attending. Because of this, it could help the coach remember you and maybe pay a little extra attention to you on the day of the camp. Don't bombard them with emails. One follow-up email after you register works.

If it is a school that you are not interested in, make sure you let them know that. That way they can get you off their database and move on to others. However, any time you receive an email from a coach you need to respond.

Moderate Interest Recruiting Email

The next most common email is one where more information is given about the school and the program to the prospective student-athlete. Therefore, there's a good chance that they have seen you play and something you did spark their interest.

What separates this email from others is the fact that some student-athletes can misinterpret this as the school having a high-level interest. However, an informative email is a sign that you could be trending towards being actively recruited by that school. Here is an example of the moderate interest email:

Ways to Respond to the Moderate Interest Recruiting Email

Again, if this is a school you are interested in, you need to respond right away. Let the coach know that you have been researching the school and the baseball/softball program. Next, get the questionnaire filled out immediately. After that, make sure they have all the information they need on you (phone number, high school coach's number, etc.) to contact you further.

Another great thing you can do is set a time where you and your family can go visit that school and watch a game (if the coach does not invite you directly). Above all, make sure you reach out to the coach and let them know that you will be on campus and would like to say "hello". IF they have time.

VIP Recruiting Email- ACTUAL INTEREST

The last email we will cover is one that is rarely sent and is only sent to the highest level of recruits for that university. Because of this, most of the time this email may never even be sent. More times than not this conversation will happen over the phone. However, if you are sent an email like this, we want you to be prepared for what the next steps are and what you should be expecting:

Ways to Respond to VIP Recruiting Email

Typically, when you have received an email like this, the coaching staff has all the information they need on you and might be ready to make an offer. Because of this, you need to get back to the Head Coach (or Recruiting Coordinator) right away. After that, set up a time to visit the city, campus, and baseball/softball facilities.

The quickest way to get yourself crossed off numerous school's lists is to not respond to emails of this magnitude. Above all, if you are receiving this kind of email you are closer to having your dream of playing in college come true.

Tips From College Coaches About Recruiting Email Communication

Here are some email tips that I have heard coaches talk about before that could help you stand out among the masses of prospective student-athletes who they contact:

  • Have an email that has your name and graduation year in it.
    • (ex: tylerzupcic2009@baseball.com)
    • The last thing a coach wants to do is figure out who slickfieldingss2132@baseball.com is.
  • ALWAYS put your contact information at the end of your email. Make sure your full name, phone number, address and high school coaches information is included.
  • Send your high school and travel team schedule when initial contact is made. This will help save the coach many hours trying to scour the internet trying to look for when you're playing.
  • Don't use text abbreviations in your email. Get a dictionary and type out a grammar free, well thought out response.

Have More Recruiting Questions?

In conclusion, if there are other topics that you would like Baseball Rebellion Recruiting to cover please reach out to us! Send your questions or topics to tyler@baseballrebellion.com.

**Disclaimer- I have talked about this in every article and on the podcast and I want to preface this list by talking about it again. We cannot stress enough the importance of BEING REALISTIC with your ability level and schools that line up with your talent**

Interested in More Recruiting Articles? Check Out Our Content Below!

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My Route to the NPF My journey to the NPF was unusual, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a young girl, I knew I loved softball and…

Check out what Mike Trout does that makes him arguably the best hitter of all time? See how his practice helps HIM and what it could do to your swing.

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Learn How Rotation and Direction Can Help You Dominate the Outside Pitch

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 4.30.49 PM

The Issue

One of the most popular things I hear coaches and players say is that the upward swing with high intent is going to make hitters struggle hitting the outside pitch (see picture of comment above). If you watch any high level hitter, they do all the things that we teach here at Baseball Rebellion. Because of this, they are still able to DRIVE pitches to the opposite field!

Videos of our hitters we post get negative, uninformed opinions that our hitters can't hit an outside pitch. As you can see in the picture above.

The idea that most hitters who are able to truly drive the ball pull side can't hit the outside pitch is uneducated. As well as being just plain moronic.

I want to use this article to show you players, parents, and coaches out there that you CAN help teach hitters to drive the ball both pull side AND oppo side. We're going to break down what actually happens on swings to both sides of the plate. I will show and detail a few drills that we do at Baseball Rebellion daily to help our hitters drive the ball the other way.

**DISCLAIMER** I am still 100% advocate of being able to pull pitches with intent, sometimes even outside pitches. But my job as a hitting instructor is to make hitters HIT**

Contact Point

As you can see from this overhead view, you have Alex Rodriguez on the left and Evan Longoria on the right. A-Rod is crushing a homer the other way while Longoria is pulling a homer. Take a look at the two swings and ask yourself what they are doing different:

OverheadGIF

The first thing I saw when watching these two clips was that the pitch locations were not far off. Stopping them at contact the pitch to A-Rod slightly more towards the outside corner with Longoria's being middle-away. Second, you can clearly see A-Rod hitting the ball a little "deeper" or closer towards the plate. Compared to Longoria making contact more out-in-front.

A common misconception I see/hear from other hitting coaches is that you make contact on outside pitches behind home plate. This is from an article I found from "Be a Better Hitter" shows what the most 'traditional' contact point is taught:

As you can see, this is telling the hitter to hit the outside pitch (3) around 6 inches behind home plate. Thank goodness for technology and pitch tracking in baseball these days. Because of the advances we actually KNOW where the most successful places to make contact are instead of just where we THINK.

HitTrax ball tracking system came out with a chart that TELLS us where the best contact zones are:

Yes, this chart does show us that hitting the ball behind the front of home plate CAN produce line drives. And of course, in no way am I saying that line drives are bad. But hitting the ball 6 inches behind the plate (as the picture above shows us to do) then AT BEST we get a low line drive. Even though this is closer to ground ball territory.

For the best results, practice hitting the outside pitch still IN FRONT of home plate! This includes how you set up your tee work outside tee work.

Bat/Body Direction

One of the first things I look for when assessing a hitter who is struggling to hit the outside pitch is their body and bat direction. Many hitters are over rotating or coming around and hitting too much on the outside part of the ball (the roll over). Because of this, they are probably not thinking about exactly what their body and bat, should be doing.

I will use a still photo from the GIF of A-Rod and Longoria to show you their direction:

If you still need further proof of this, go back and watch the video above. You can SEE that there are different directions that their bat and body are going. Yes, this is slightly affected by where they are making contact with the ball in relationship to home plate. Which is why I stressed the importance of point of impact above.

Another thing I want to note about the picture is the direction of their stride. You can clearly see that both of them are in the heel-to-heel stride position. We DON'T need to change our stride based on pitch locations. This is one of the worst taught things I see from coaches.

Back Shoulder Rotation

As many of you know, upper body rotation is a specialty of Baseball Rebellion instruction. The Rebel's Rack has helped thousands of hitters learn to achieve their body's maximum rotational distance and power. If you stepped into a lesson at BR you probably will hear the cues, "turn your shoulder's more," or "back shoulder to CF."

These are all correct terms for hitters trying to learn how to properly pull the ball in the air, which is the hardest thing to do in hitting. These terms/cues might not always (if ever) be correct for trying to drive the outside pitch to the opposite field.

Here are two different swing clips from Betts this season. One of them is an outside pitch he crushed to the opposite field, the other is an inside pitch he pulled for a homer. Again, I want you to watch the clips and tell me what you see:

The biggest difference, aside from the direction of his body approaching each pitch, is the total rotation of his shoulders. You can see on the left (outside pitch) his shoulders do not rotate all the way compared to the right (inside pitch).

If you or your hitters are constantly doing any of the following:
  • Swinging and Missing Outside Pitches
  • Roll-Over Ground Balls
  • Hooking Balls Over Pull side Dugout

there's a good chance you or your hitters are over rotating. A common cue I use daily for this is I tell the hitter to "flip the field" with their shoulder rotation. When pulling the ball we need our back shoulder to get to CF, on the outside pitch I want to shift the field to the right (if I am a right-handed hitter). This allows a finish with the back shoulder pointed toward Right-Center or Right field. You'll want to flip flop for left-handed hitters.

This will help ensure the over-rotation of the shoulders does not occur and the outside pitch can be DRIVEN to the opposite field.

Vision

If the hitter seems to be doing all of the above things correctly, the final issue could be their vision on the ball. What I mean by that is where they are aiming to make contact on the baseball.

With the outside pitch requiring the hitter to hold off contact for a split-second longer the barrel of the bat has slightly more time to get 'deeper' behind them. Because of this, it can cause hitters to sometimes "miss under" the ball and produce a pop-up.

If the hitter is constantly missing under the simple cue for this is to aim higher on the ball. 

Drills

Help your hitters achieve their maximum potential and learn how to drive the outside pitch. Here are a couple of my favorite drills to help put their body in the right positions to do so:

Opposite Field Tee

If you do not have a launch angle tee, first off get one here. In the mean time, set up the tee about 6 inches in front of home plate and put a bat at the angle of the yellow line. This angle helps give the hitter a visual of their bat/body direction. Placing the bat at this angle for batting practice is a great visual cue as well!

Rack Bat Dry Turns in Mirror

One of the biggest things you can see here is that his stride direction DOES NOT CHANGE. Too many of my hitters tell me that their coach wants them to step in on the outside pitch. All that does is cut off their hip rotation and can force a push swing.

You can also see the hitter's direction of the body and the rack bat working towards the opposite field gap. This is a great way to get the hitter to not only feel but more importantly, see what their body is doing.

Rack Bat Oppo Turns

Again, you can see the deliberate effort from the hitter on working their back shoulder and the rack bat towards that opposite field gap.

Also, had to leave the audio in there. Too good not to.

Thanks for reading along. Hopefully, the information in this article will help you join me on the journey to help to make the next great group of hitters!

-Tyler

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One of the biggest things we hear from coaches at all levels is HOW they implement Baseball Rebellion’s movement progression and movement drills into their daily practice routine. With BR Premium, coaches will now have access to our newly created practice plan database that includes movement/hitting plans to simply plug into your already created full...
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The FollowThru Bat - The Baseball Rebellion Way

As professional hitting instructors we are always looking for different things to use to help make our hitters better, more efficient, and have a deeper understanding of their swing. One of the products we use on a daily basis here at Baseball Rebellion is the FollowThru Training Bat, which is a weighted training bat this is designed to something very different from what we use it for (to see more about the FollowThru bat and how its designed click here).

The purpose of the product is to have the hitter feel and hear the ‘click’ of the metal rod that is placed inside the bat at the point of contact, forcing the hitter to have a direct, down or level path to the ball. Here is a video showing the way the product is intended to be used:

If you have been following our company you know that is not the bat path we want our hitters to have at Baseball Rebellion. With that said, all hitting instructors have one common goal and that is to get their hitters to develop and generate bat speed. The training bat is a great tool to help the hitter feel the barrel working backward towards the catcher first to help achieve the fast, upward swing plane that we desire. To get the hitter to feel what efficient barrel path is they must feel the ‘click’ of the metal rod back behind them instead of out in front of them. It helps the hitter feel the initial move of the barrel as well as helps teach them the proper hand pivot to turn the barrel around the knob with extreme speed. The weight of the bat is also a great feature because it forces the hitter to keep the weight of the bat up by turning with their hands high.

You can take full swings and hit with the FollowThru bat but we rarely do that. We use it most when only practicing the movement patterns through half turns. Even though we use it differently than its intended use, it is an excellent product to help hitters generate early bat speed and turn the bat with extreme efficiency.

Here is an in-lesson look at myself explaining and demonstrating the way Baseball Rebellion uses the FollowThru bat:

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  • Rack Bat 1

    The Rack Bat

    $74.99
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  • Bat Drag Buster

    Bat Drag Buster

    $39.99
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