Posted on

The Movements that Made The Rebellion – The Rebel’s Rack Revisited

As Baseball Rebellion/Softball Rebellion has grown, we have decided to be more open with the “HOW” of our process instead of just the results.  This, for years, was not the case at BR/SR, as we wouldn’t even let clients film the movement progressions we do with hitters.  We are all excited about how showing these movements can help players of all ages turn faster and hit with more power.  Releasing our movement progression has been something I’ve considered for a long time.  We haven’t done it, until now, and will be including an even more detailed breakdown inside of the Rebel’s Rack Drills for those who have and are going to purchase the Rebel’s Rack.  All in all, the movement progressions we are about to show you have built what we do here at BR/SR.  Without them, the Hittrax data we produce, the scholarships, draft picks/bonus money, and the opportunities for our position player athletes would be greatly diminished.  We at Baseball Rebellion are extremely excited to show our process and continue to push ourselves to be more transparent and give more back to the game that have given us so much.  Enjoy!

On May 29th, 2012, I launched the Rebel’s Rack, a rotational power trainer and ‘hitting aid’ that helps baseball and softball players hit the ball harder and farther.  At the time, Baseball Rebellion had no Hittrax machines, so all we had was a stalker gun we held up at the hitter to test their exit velocities.  Softball and baseball players of all ages and ability levels were radically increasing their ball exit speed in matters of minutes using our movement progressions and the Rebel’s Rack.  

Over 55 Rebel’s Racks being shipped!

Over the years, the Rebel’s Rack has changed some.  No longer yellow in color, the Rebel’s Rack now has 4 sizes that fit kids as small as 50 lbs up to 250lbs.  The ‘wings’ on the Rebel’s Rack are longer now, limiting any pinching that the first iteration of the Rebel’s Rack could cause.  More importantly, how we USE the rack has changed, as we’ve learned the nuances of training rotation and preparing to rotate and timing that rotation to a moving ball.  At the time, I had no idea how much I’d grow to love training movement and improving rotational range, speed, and power.  The first lessons with the Rebel’s Rack, the ‘non-hitting’ lessons, are my most favorite to teach.  The foundation of movement quality and speed built there translates into game acceleration, adjustability, speed and power almost immediately for most players.  Watching a player find out what ‘FASTEST’ really is inside of their bodies and inside of their turn/swing for the first time and their eye’s light up and the green numbers flash on the Hittrax is what I love most about my job.  The Green Bell has been a great culture builder, pushing players to want to come out of their comfort zones to get the applause of those in the building when they ring the bell after a new personal record.

BUT HOW do we as instructors help players, even pros, generate so much more distance and exit velocity so fast?  Over the past 5 years, through trial and error, painstaking video analysis, and constant exit velocity and distance monitoring, the team of instructors at Baseball Rebellion have created the Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression. Below, you will see the three (3) main moves we use, and make hitters MASTER before they are allowed to hit (in the cage) again in our program.  These foundational moves are practiced over and over, deliberately, with internal cues that the hitter must make on their own before he or she re-earns the right to hit.  

 

Movement One: The Stride (Tempo Based, Slowing the Game Down)

Once any hitter returns for their first ‘lesson’ after the evaluation they don’t even need their bat.  We head over to a mirror and the hitter is instructed to stride ‘at the mirror’ as if the mirror were the pitcher.  I want the hitter to see themselves move and hear our cues.  “The mirror is the best teacher in the building” is often said at BR/SR.  Another favorite is, “your eyes are for the mirror, your ears are for me”.  The hitter, strides and strides and strides.  Over and over.  All while watching themselves stride in the mirror and reacting and evolving their movements based on the cues and instructions of the BR Instructor.

Keys to the Stride:

  • Extremely Slow in the landing
  • Open front foot/kneecap towards the mirror (pitcher)
  • Heel to Heel Landing position
  • No opening or ‘flinching’ of the chest at landing
  • Head BACK over Back Hip (this is a change from what we taught years ago, as hitting is more than just generating rotational power…you have to be able to hit and lift a moving ball)
  • Once these keys are achieved, we move on to the Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression to Movement Two. 

Movement Two: The Show (Preparing to Turn, Storing Energy)

Now, the hitter has mastered the slow stride (this can be a leg kick, small lift, toe tap, pretty much anything the hitter wants) with an open front leg/kneecap towards the mirror.  The hitter’s head is back and he or she is not ‘flinching’ or opening their shoulders at any point in the movement or at landing on the front foot.  The hitter has earned the right to progress into the “Show” phase of the Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression.  Still in the mirror, facing the mirror as if it were the pitcher, the hitter is instructed to stride exactly as they did before with a few simple, and extremely important changes.  As the hitter lands, they are instructed to open their pelvis towards the mirror as they keep their front shoulder closed.  Cues we use range from “show your belly button towards the pitcher” to “open your stomach as far as you can while you show the back ‘wing’ of the Rebel’s Rack in the mirror”.  Essentially, we are twisting up the body in opposite ways.  The lower half is opening, and the upper half, specifically the upper back and back arm, are resisting that opening as hard as they can.  This stores energy and prepares the body to TURN as quickly as possible.  EVERY SINGLE THING done in “the Show” phase is preparing the body to turn quickly and instantly.  Store as much energy as possible and completely wind yourself up as far as you can without losing sight of the pitcher with your back eye.

Keys to the Show:

  • Open the pelvis from ABOVE the pelvis, using your lower back and stomach muscles.
  • Soft and slow landing with the front side, no ‘bouncing’ into the ground or ‘stomping’.
  • Keep your front shoulder totally still or ‘slightly close’ your front side shoulder by pulling back with your upper back and resist the opening/turn/swing with your back arm/upper back.

Movement Three:  The Turn

Now the hitter has mastered the MOVEMENTS of slowly striding and slowly storing up as much energy for the turn as possible.  It’s time to put that energy to good use!  The hitter goes into the “Show” phase of the turn move and lands and stops.  From here, we teach the hitter the turn, from a dead standstill.  Basically, the turn is three basic movements that happen all at once.

The hitter must SIMULTANEOUSLY pull their back hip forward from above the pelvis (this moves the back foot as well), forcefully straighten their front leg into the ground through the front heel of the front foot, and turn their belly button past the pitcher and back shoulder all the way to centerfield.  Usually, there are many different mistakes that happen, and almost ALL of them are caused by the hitter turning too slowly.  Remember, the turn must be LEARNED FAST while the preparation to turn must be learned and executed slowly.    The faster you turn…the faster you learn!  Slowness in the turn causes the hitter’s head to drift forward, the front leg to fail to straighten out, the back foot/hip not moving forward far enough or too far (both can happen) and the shoulders not to turn all the way.  Many balance issues arise when the turn is slow…and the hitter MUST be totally committed to the idea of achieving maximum speed in the turn from the beginning to the finish.  There is no slowing down…no easing into it…the turn must GO and be done.  

Keys to the Turn:

  • The hitter must turn as fast and completely as possible, there is no ‘almost’ or ‘kinda fast’
  • The hitter must lock out his front knee completely and hold the finish
  • The hitter must pull the back foot forward with no dragging of the toe
  • The hitter must land on the ball of their back foot and not let the heel drop
  • The hitter’s back knee must be in front of the hitter’s face at the finish of the turn (swingman finish)
  • The back shoulder must completely replace the front shoulder and be higher than the front shoulder at the finish

 

If a hitter is willing to spend the time mastering this movement progression with these executable internal cues, then the ‘chaos’ of hitting gets much much easier to deal with.  Problems like a change of velocity or break are more easily solved by ‘sinking into’ the front side.  Remember, we learned the turn from a dead stop position (Show Position), so now the hitter knows he or she can go fast from there.  If a hitter gets fooled, they have a better plan…and it’s built in.  Mr. Miyagi did this to Daniel Son by having him Wax on, Wax off and Paint the Fence.  These repeatable actions became ingrained in him so when Miyagi attacked Daniel, he knew how to defend the different punches.    Likewise, hitter’s posture and turn aggression become what we call ‘unbreakable’.  The “unbreakable” posture and turn speed can be practiced daily and once these movements are mastered, they become subconscious and are instantly recalled by the body when needed in games.  In minutes, a hitter can do hundreds of turns with the rack without any failure at all!  Imagine how efficient your training could be if you took away the stress of hitting?  No more frustrated faces from a rollover or a pop up…No more hitting until your hands bleed…no more confusion about WHY you went 0 – 4…you’ll know why you failed…your posture and speed of the turn broke.  The less a hitter ‘breaks’ within the game turn, the better he or she will hit.  Period.  

Training movements away from the cage and then taking them into the cage is common in instruction nowadays.  But much of that training and ‘feel work’ doesn’t translate and is just feels for feels sake.  We want everything a hitter does to increase their ability to accelerate their turn, time their turn, and find their top speed as fast as they can with their BODY, not with their arms and hands.  We even take the Rebel’s Rack into the cages at first, before they hit, so they can time a moving ball with their turn after they time their load with the pitcher’s arm swing or windup.  This sequence leads to the fastest improvements we have ever seen on Hittrax, the fastest ‘ah ha’ moments for our clients, the most confidence in our shared process, and the fastest carry over into games.  

Writing this article and posting these videos was scary for me.  I’ve had many, many people tell me ‘they just don’t understand what you guys do’ when people come at us on social media.  Players we’ve helped say, ‘Chas, if they knew how fast you and the guys did it, and how you guys did it, then they’d understand’.  For years we have hidden this information from ‘outsiders’.  Now, we at Baseball Rebellion and Softball Rebellion are going to bring you behind the curtain and you can try to duplicate our results for yourself.  Get some Racks, and learn how to turn.  Enjoy the success this will bring you, your team, and or your players.  The Rebel’s Rack Movement Progression is a secret no more, now let’s unlock whats inside your body already…the fastest turns you’ve ever experienced!  

 

The Rebel’s Rack

$74.99

The Rebel’s Rack is the best hitting trainer for rotational hitting. The Rebel’s Rack helps to increase your player’s power, bat speed, and line drive hitting consistency.

Clear

SKU: rebels-rack Categories: ,

Description

The Rebel’s Rack is the most efficient way to develop rotational power within the baseball and softball swing.  Made of metal and powder coated, the Rebel’s Rack is almost indestructible.  Custom drills for the rebel’s rack that include range of motion, power and speed work, and isometrics are included at purchase and instantly accessible through your mobile phone, tablet or computer.  The Rebel’s Rack is used by dozens of professional players, NCAA teams, and high schools all over the country.  Easily fits inside a bat bag a perfect way to time pitchers in the on deck circle or practice timing and pitch tracking in bullpen sessions.  Perfect for injured players who cannot old a bat, now that player can ‘learn to turn’ as they come back to playing.

Team Orders

 

For team orders please call Baseball Rebellion to receive a product quote: 919-309-0040

 

Features

  • Promotes proper swing path & rotational hitting for baseball and softball
  • Increases power & line drive hitting consistency
  • Creates more power, harder hits, & more bat speed
  • Use the Rebel’s Rack by itself or with resistance from bands or cable machines
  • Comes with Step-by-Step How-To Guide and Drill Videos
  • 6-month guarantee against manufacturing defects
  • Hand-made in the United States and tested before shipping

Size Chart

Player T-Shirt Size Rebel’s Rack Size
YS-YL Extra Small
YXL – Small Small
Medium – Large Medium
XL-XXL Large

Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball and Softball Rebellion

Posted on

BR Client Adam Parzych Wins the 2017 National Power Showcase!

Hey everyone!  In this article I’m going to recap an amazing weekend I had in Dallas, TX watching the 2017 National Power Showcase at Globe Life Park in Arlington which ended in a win for one of my very first Baseball Rebellion clients here in Tallahassee, Florida. The whole weekend was awesome! Brian Domenico, the president of the Power Showcase, does an amazing job of running this event year in and year out. The Power Showcase and International Power Showcases are two home run derbies run yearly (one in Texas and one in Florida) that feature some of the countries best young Power hitting talents. I’ll be honest, I was absolutely impressed by how much power some of these young kids had. I witnessed 14-year-old go 504 feet over the Hyundai sign in left-center field and numerous other 14U and 13U kids hit balls 400+. Truly fun to watch!

With all that being said, I want the aim of this article to be focused on the 14U winner Adam Parzych. 2 months ago, I moved to Tallahassee to run a remote site for Baseball Rebellion. One of the very first clients I had was Adam Parzych. His dad, Jeff, told me they were interested in training for the two Power Showcases at the end of this year. I thought, “How cool!” Adam and I sat down and talked about his goals during Adams swing evaluation. Adam wanted to train to win these events. With that in mind, we went to work.

Two times a week for the past two months Adam and I worked on constructing a plan for this event. According to our HitTrax, Adam struggled early consistently getting the ball high in the air. His average launch angle was 16, his max distance was 313 feet, and his max exit velocity 87.4.

For some context, for Adam’s age group at the Power Showcase, contestants get 15 outs to hit as many home runs as they can. Any ball hit over 300 feet down the lines and 325 to Center would be considered a home run. We trained with one goal in mind: hit the ball high. Adam would need to get his launch angle to at least the upper 20s to get the distance he would need to have a chance winning the event. 

In the beginning of Adams training, hitting the ball hard and high was a very difficult task for him. It took a lot of time in the mirror working on different movements to make these swing changes occur. We did a lot of work with the dowel stick. Trying to get his upper body to work more like a Ferris wheel as opposed to a merry go round. After a few weeks, Adam started to drive the ball higher more often. Around the 5th week, Adam shot up to 361 feet on his max distance and 93 mph on his max exit velocity. At the time he did this, he was 13 years old. Funny thing is he was only behind one other 13-year-old in the country at this time for max distance. The 13-year-old who was ahead of Adam is current Baseball Rebellion client CJ Powell out of Lincolnton, NC.

“This kid is going to smash everyone at this event” was my thought at that time. We then hit a 2-week stretch where Adam didn’t hit 1 ball over 330. “Hmm”, I thought, “What happened?” The problem was, which is common in hitters of all ages after seeing some power success, Adam was trying to falsely generate power in his swing. Adam was trying to recruit force in smaller joints in the body out of sequence. Adam was overriding his lower body and his arms were taking over his swing way too early. I see this all too often when hitters try and go for more in their swings. As a result of all of this, his exit velocity and distance numbers plummeted.

One lesson he came in and he had just had a basketball practice. Adam told me he was tired. Completely fine and I believed him because Adam is a great kid and works extremely hard. I told him, “Ok, let’s just go about 75% today.” I did not know this at the time, but that was the single most important swing cue I gave Adam (after going through our movement progression) in his preparation for this event. He almost immediately started consistently hitting balls 320+ with ease. I was like, “Dude, how are you doing this?” He told me, “Thinking 75% keeps me loose and makes me load longer. If I try and swing as hard as I can, I don’t really get the most of my load.” Talk about an extremely advanced swing thought for a 14-year-old. I told him, “I could not agree anymore. 75% it is.” Adam had made the swing change he needed to be successful in this event. He didn’t need to “go for more”, Adam needed to relax his mind and his body to stay loose throughout his swing.

It was quite the moment for me as a hitting instructor. 95% of the time I can’t get younger hitters, and even some older hitters, to swing hard enough. Here I found myself actually telling a kid to not go as fast as he could and it led to a successful outcome in his swing. I could go off on a huge tangent about where to go fast in the swing but I’ll save that for another article. 75% was Adams sweet spot for consistency. So the plan for the event was to miss high in the air and work at about a 75% effort capacity. Here is a look at Adams last lesson Hittrax report before leaving for the Power Showcase.

So, last weekend, it was off to Dallas I went. The setting for the Power Showcase was very cool. As I stated earlier in the article, Brian Domenico does an outstanding job of getting some exceptionally talented young players to come to this event. Getting the opportunity to compete in a national home run derby on a big league field looks like quite the experience. Globe Life Park is a beautiful venue for this event.

I worked with Adam off-site right before the event. We went over the plan again. Adam looked ready. Pretty much every ball he hit in our session was high off the top of the cage. Just as I said numerous times before in the two months prior, I told him again, “If you hit like that, you will win.”

Adam’s 1st round at the event was spectacular. He hit 12 home runs in the 1st round which put him in a two-way tie for 1st place. He also hit 6 in a row that round. We talked after and he told me that all he was trying to do was miss high in the air. This is a great thought for an event like this because it all but eliminates the chance of hitting groundballs. I was extremely proud of how Adam stuck to the plan and executed it.

Adams 2nd round was interesting. He only had 1 home run with 8 outs. He appeared to be a little high on the ball during this time. Meaning he was hitting a lot of low line drives and groundballs. One of the things we worked on during training was a plan if this were to happen. One of the easiest adjustments a hitter can make to hit the ball higher is to just aim lower on the ball. We practiced that because I was certain it would happen at some point in the event and Adam ended up hitting 9 home runs total in his championship round. I would have been proud of Adam regardless of the outcome of the event but I was most proud of how he didn’t get frustrated, he stuck to the plan, and he ended up with a pretty solid final round home run total. I shook his hand said I was proud of him and we eagerly awaited the last participant to hit. Before the last kid hit, I could tell Adam was a little upset. I told him he had nothing to be upset about and 9 might be enough to win it. The last participant came to bat and ended up with just 1 home run in his round. Adam had won the event! I gave him a handshake and a hug and told him I was so proud of him for all his hard work the past two months. Here is a video of Adams home runs in his final round.

I was very excited to write this article because winning this event is exactly what we had set out for 2 months ago when I moved here and started working with Adam. I told him to enjoy this moment and that it was his ability to execute the plan which won him the event. I’m extremely happy for Adam and happy to share this story through Baseball Rebellion. Look out for Adam at the International Power Showcase in Miami, Florida at the end of this year!

Posted on

End Late Swings and Foul Balls – Bat Drag & the Bat Drag Buster!

As mentioned in the video above, bat drag is when a batter will pull their back elbow past the knob of the bat, delaying the barrel’s turn around the knob.  Therefore the barrel is being “dragged” behind the knob for a majority of the hitters swing, only to be turned or whipped out from behind at the last second.  Often times, this last second barrel turn will result in extremely inconsistent contact.  However, if the timing is perfect, hard contact can be had but is not sustainable as a player rises to competition level.

Once bat drag is identified as the main problem, the player must first learn how to use their lower half properly.  When a player has bat drag, their upper half is being used as the main driver for bat speed.  Learning the proper lower half techniques will help the player feel where power really starts from.

After or during a player’s lower half “renovation”, they can start to progress up the swing and really dive into fixing their bat drag.  Some players that are older or coordinated enough can begin to work on it sooner if they can handle it.  The Bat Drag Buster can really help a player feel the space between the elbows needed through their rotation.  With the bat drag buster on and a series of drill provided by the Baseball/Softball Rebellion, players can learn to also turn their barrels deeper and faster into the hitting zone and therefore eliminate their “drag”.

Thanks for reading!

JK Whited – Senior Hitting Instructor

 

 

 

Posted on

Baseball Rebellion Product Review: Momentus Speed Hitter

Momentus Speed Hitter, Does it Work

Baseball Rebellion Product Review:
Momentus Speed Hitter

You’ve seen it before in your training facility, maybe you have seen the commercial, or perhaps you own it. The Momentus Speed Hitter is a relatively well known hitting product now and can be seen time and time again in baseball and softball training facilities. The question about any product has to be, is it any good?

Here is the commercial for the Speed Hitter if you have not seen it.  From this you can formulate your opinions.

After watching this instructional video for the Speed Hitter, the answer would be an easy NO. Everything about how the players and coach use this product is backwards from what really makes great hitters great. The movements and the ideas that are being taught here are a sure way to limit any baseball or softball player, keeping them from their full potential.

The Speed Hitter itself however, is actually a really great hitting product if used the right way.  In the following videos, I will first demonstrate how the information backing this hitting product is incorrect and why it can hurt most players ability to hit the ball harder and more consistently. Then I will then discuss how the product itself can be used to help a player feel where acceleration should actually come from, and how the barrel gets into the hitting zone.

 

Speed Hitter: The Bad

Speed Hitter: The Good

 

Speed Hitter: How To Use It

 

I hope that you enjoyed watching my hitting product review of The Momentus Speed Hitter.  I think that this hitting product can really help teach both baseball and softball hitters how to start proper barrel acceleration, if used the right way.  If you have any questions about these videos or would like to me to review another product, please comment below!

 

– JK Whited, Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

Posted on

3 Pre-Game Hitting Routines for 3 Field Scenarios

3 Pre Game Hitting Routines

3 Pre-Game Hitting Routines for 3 Field / Game Scenarios

Recently I had a Baseball Rebellion client come in as he does every week for his hitting lesson. His dad asked me a great question that I am sure many of you parents or coaches have had before. “how should my baseball/softball player get ready to hit right before a game?” Normally this is a very easy question to answer, but with the scheduling of travel ball tournaments, the 8 a.m. game start times, and usually sub-par facilities at baseball / softball fields,  you can see where it might get difficult, to do an easy thing. So I started thinking about a few different scenarios that parents/coaches might come across where they may not know what to do before games. I’m sure there are many more so I will be happy to answer your questions in the comment section below.

 

Scenario 1 – Early morning game

We’ve all been there before. The 8 a.m. game at a field an hour away. Up at 6:30 and at the field at 7:40 leaving most coaches and players with nothing to due but wait for the rest of the team and then play.  With the 20 minutes that you do have, let’s break down Baseball Rebellion’s ideal hitting routine to the minute.

Dynamic Warm Up : Minutes 1-5

This can be a number of exercises / drills, but anybody who has been a part of the Baseball Rebellion knows how to activate the “hitting muscles”. Whether using the Rebel’s Rack and/or Drive Developer Bands, or some Core/Trunk activation. This should also include some light running to stimulate the blood flow to the lower half.

glute bridge

Swing “Footwork” : Minutes 6-10

This particular part of the preparation should be focused on getting your body and mind synced up and in rhythm with the swing.  Focus on moving forward well and executing a full rotation of the body. You won’t have time to get into many particulars of the swing, but you should have a more macro focus on what’s going on. For instance making sure stride distance is maximized.

Hitting / Swings : Minutes 11-20

Now a lot will depend on the facilities at this point. In almost every scenario hitting a little bit would be best, but we know sometimes that it is not possible.

If there is a cage then the next 10 minutes should be used hitting moving balls if possible. The hitter should focus on fully moving the body forward and getting the foot down late. If there is any chance you know the pitcher at this point, you can try to create the most accurate timing that you can (especially when to start your swing). If the pitcher that day throws harder than average then coach can put a little more on the BP pitch in order to recreate a game like experience.  Rounds should be short and high intensity, especially towards the end.

If there is not a place for hitting to be done and you don’t have time to set up a net of some sort, then there are other options as well.  KC Judge wrote a great article about how baseball and softball hitters can use medicine ball throwing as a substitute for hitting. This can really get the blood flowing and ensure that the hitter is staying with their technique. Also, dry swings (done the right way) can be a good substitute. Outside taking batting practice, nothing is quite as good, but these other options will make the the best of what you can do in such a short amount of time with limited facilities.

 

Medicine Ball Throws

 

Scenario 2 – No facilities, Lots of time “Double Header”

This situation will be familiar when you have those double headers that are 2 hours apart. No time to go back home and rest, so you have to stay at the field and wait for your next game. Unfortunately at this park, there are zero places to hit and nothing but time to burn. After a quick bite to eat and rehydrating, go work on your swing and/or make any necessary hitting adjustments from game 1.

Dowel Rod: Stride to front

One great piece of training equipment that we use at the Baseball Rebellion is a dowel rod. Dowel rods are super handy when you can’t hit and don’t have a medicine ball. You can see me using one in the GIF above.  They are very easy to put into a players bag and can be used in a variety of ways to improve the baseball / softball swing. If there are identifiable issues in the swing such as, stride length too short, incomplete hip/shoulder rotation, or the swing path was flat or down, then you can make some minor adjustments to be better for the next game. I know no one can fix everything in one hour of dry work, but certain things can be improved enough to make a difference, especially with the right mindset.

Mindset and swing intentions can be one of the easiest things to improve, even with limited time between games. If it is clear that you or your player was not aggressive in the first game, just assure them that being aggressive is the best way to hit, and there is no reason to fear failure (striking out). With some good movement work and a change in attitude, any baseball or softball player can really turn a tournament around quickly. Try to refrain from things that might put added pressure or more fear into players, as that will not solve anything, especially long term. Once an adjustment has been identified, run through some simple footwork, drills, or dry swings that will improve / make the adjustment i.e. full turns with a dowel rod or Rebel’s Rack.

If your player is having trouble with off speed pitches, work on adjustability with audible cues. This would require the coach/dad to get the player to either go through their movements as if the pitch were a well-timed fastball, then have to adjust their timing with an audible cue. This is not as good as the visual cue from a ball, but can still train the reaction you want out of the body.

 

Scenario 3 – Lots of time, quality facilities

For those of us lucky enough to play baseball or softball past high school, we know that as you get older, the preparation time before games only gets longer. In college we would show up to the field about 3 hours before the game and in professional ball I know sometimes those guys are there even earlier. Nice facilities make swing preparation so much easier. So if you find yourself at a tournament having the 4 p.m. game, don’t be afraid to show up an hour or so early to get your body and mind prepared to have a good game.

  1.  The dynamic hitter’s warm-up at the start is crucial. Prepare the hitter’s muscles, like core, legs, and shoulders, to be explosive, (especially the core muscles). If done right, this process should only take around 10 minutes, which is not long but you’re just trying to get the blood flowing. Performance improvement will happen in workout situations well before games, not the day of.
  2. Once the body is loose, the hitter should begin to move like an athlete. This part will be very similar to scenario 1 but can be extended to the hitter’s desire. It’s important to remember that big swing flaws will not be fixed here either, but subtle corrections could pay off in games to follow. Start with making sure the stride tempo is the same as well as the distance. Whether you have a wide or narrow stance, consistency with tempo and distance is crucial for all hitters.
  3. After working on your stride, move to full swings with either a dowel rod, Rebel’s Rack, or medicine ball throws. In this phase the hitter can focus more on the fullness of the rotation, the back foot movement, body posture, etc. Again no big fixes can be expected but repeating a quality swing pattern before jumping in the cage will only help most players.
  4. Once in the cage every player is a little different than the next, so this time should be spent focusing on individual needs. In my opinion, a high focus on accuracy at first would be the best approach, as they can make sure both eyes are completely behind the ball followed by a nice swing path upward to the top of the net. Perhaps work some swings to all fields.
  5. After a round or two of accuracy focus, I would get into power moves. Having a few “home run” rounds, especially with younger players, can get the fun level up and the violent swings ready right before the game. Your players will go into the game with an aggressive mindset and have the explosive swing ready to follow. Younger hitters, can pretend to be their favorite hitters in MLB and you might be surprised by what happens.

swing intent

In the end, every baseball / softball player is different and needs to figure out what gets them both physically and mentally ready before games. For some hitters, it could just be as easy as a 10 minute tee session and they are good for the day, while other hitters may need a more structured plan. I know that preparation before games can be tough for most coaches and parents at the youth level. I hope that this might help organize your thoughts on how to get your player’s  A+ swing ready and perhaps make some quick adjustments between games. If you have a specific issue like these, please leave a question below and I will be happy to help you out.  Thanks for reading!

–JK Whited, Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

Posted on

The Most Swing Applicable Exercise You AREN’T Doing

Baseball & Softball Hitting Med Ball Exercise

Hey Guys! KC Judge here writing my first non speed training related article. In today’s article, I’m going to go over one of, if not the best, exercise you can do to increase rotational power in the baseball / softball swing. It is an exercise that is often done but the specifics of the exercise are often overlooked. I’m going to tell you why throwing medicine balls is important and technically, how you should be doing them. There are plenty of videos on the internet that go over how to perform a medicine ball throw but a lot of them lack attention to detail. For example, NONE of them go over footwork in their demonstrations or the importance of finishing your turn. I know there is a degree of separation from what you do in the weightroom and on field movements but when doing something so close to that of a baseball / softball swing in a weightroom setting, there should be a lot more attention to detail on HOW you do it.

Strength training for baseball, from a popularity standpoint, is at an all time high. Off season after off season, guys are training rigorously preparing their bodies for their upcoming seasons. You can find videos on practically any social media platform showing what the best of the best do to train in the off season. For a sport as unique as baseball, your training must be equally as unique. I’ve worked in a handful of strength and conditioning facilities and trained at one the past 3 off seasons. I don’t believe it requires a very significant level of intelligence to make an athlete stronger. Pretty much any strength and conditioning program you do is going to make you stronger than you were. From a neural drive standpoint and increased mind body connection for exercises, you will get stronger. I do however believe to get the best turnover when it comes to on field performance, you have to be very knowledgable of how mechanically a baseball/ softball hitter  MOVES to generate force. At Baseball Rebellion, our instructors study video religiously to see what the best in the game ACTUALLY do. Baseball Rebellion has a very good understanding of the positions of the best in the world and why these positions are optimal for transferring force.

Why are med ball throws important for baseball and softball hitters? They’re important because there are a lot of similarities between a high level medicine ball throw and a high level baseball / softball swing. Moving forward, getting to a bent front knee with an open front foot, limiting head movement forward after you start your turn, are all similarities between a high level medicine ball throw and a high level swing. Like I said earlier, medicine balls throws are widely used in many strength and conditioning programs today but aren’t taught nearly as specific to a baseball / softball swing as they could be. The medicine ball throw when executed properly encompasses so many things that DIRECTLY translate to the swing. First and foremost, medicine ball throws are great because they can get you to turn faster. Depending on the weight of the ball, you can work on the muscles that accelerate your turn or decelerate it. The ability to rotate faster and decelerate faster is extremely important to a hitter. The more time you have to make a decision in the swing, the better decision you’re going to make. Through medicine ball throws, you can truly understand what it feels like to get your stomach and pelvis open exactly how you would in an actual swing. Another great part of medicine ball throws is the simple fact you can practice your footwork exactly how you should when swinging.  Many swing problems hitters experience are directly related to the way they move. You can hit and hit and hit but the bottom line is if your movement quality is poor, you’re trying to correct the effects of bad movement, not the movements themselves. In the lessons done here at ITS baseball/ Baseball Rebellion, each hitter spends at least a portion of their lesson in the mirror and throwing med balls.  I’m not just talking about the younger athletes we train either.  We’ve recently had a handful of major league hitters in our facility not to just hit.  But to learn better, more high quality MOVEMENTS in their swing. Throwing med balls was an integral part of the time they spent here in an effort to gain a technical advantage in their swing.  For me personally, I can tell you I didn’t know proper sequencing until I started throwing medicine balls.  Feeling my stomach open and moving forward all while maximizing that stretch in my torso between my shoulders and hips was first felt for me while performing a medicine ball throw. I switch hit and picked up switch hitting very late in my career. Right handed I had always moved much better because it was natural for me. Throwing medicine balls right handed came much easier for me. Left handed was a different story. I had a lot of trouble moving forward and I was very upper body dominant in my left handed swing which translated to less than optimal medicine ball throws from that side. My body also had a lot of trouble accepting the moves we teach here at baseball rebellion. Through lots of medicine ball work, my movement quality became so much better and allowed my body to work a lot better in my swing. Like I said, I had some major sequencing issues until I started using this exercise (coached the way our instructors coach it) and it helped me tremendously. More than any other exercise I’ve ever performed in a gym setting, a well taught medicine ball throw can help a hitter understand how the body needs to move to optimally generate force.

CHARACTERISTICS OF MY MED BALL THOW:KC Judge throws a medicine ball

STARTING POSITION:

Notice how I start in a nice, tall upright position. Now as I pick my leg up and move forward notice how the ball goes back. I wouldn’t say I’m actively pushing the ball backwards or placing it back. My arms and upper body are so loose, as I move forward the ball goes back. Next, watch as I move forward into the throw. Notice the outside of my back knee never gets further than the outside of my foot. Granted, it isn’t on the inside of my foot the whole time, but still it’s in a good position. I start very upright in my throw so it’s pretty hard to maintain a perfect double knee inside load but as I move forward, you can see I have weighted my back hip by how my knee automatically goes forward.

FOOTWORK:

Upon lifting my leg and moving forward, notice how I’m using the line to make sure I land in heel to heel direction. Landing in a straight line with your heels is optimal for hip rotation. A lot of hitters get blocked off by their front hip because their stride direction is off. At Baseball Rebellion, footwork is one of the first things our hitters work on and is a very important component in our med ball throws. Your first mistake is your worst mistake, and hitters of all ages can benefit from having better direction with their stride. For more on why proper footwork is important in the swing, check out an older article by Chas on natural width of the pelvis Click Here. You can also check out from an injury standpoint why, as a hitter, it is less stressful on the body to land with an open front foot in an article written by one of our hitting instructors, Gabe Dimock, click here.

BENT FRONT KNEE:

Now notice how when I land, my front knee is bent. The bent front knee allows us to make decisions later in the swing and forces us to turn faster. Then, watch how my front knee straightens pushing my front hip back allowing my back hip to come forward. Your hips work like a steering wheel. To optimize hip rotation, both sides have to work together.

COMPLETING ROTATION:

Notice how after releasing the ball, I CONTINUE to turn. A lot of medicine ball demonstrations I see have the athlete stop their turn upon release. I really don’t see a benefit to that At All, especially from a health standpoint and a mechanical standpoint. Stopping faster, sooner is a lot of unnecessary stress and from a movement standpoint, it just isn’t optimal. I would never advocate for a baseball or softball hitter to stop their rotation in a swing, so telling them to do so in a medicine ball throw would be contradictory. Watch how I finish my turn completely showing my back towards home plate. Going back to footwork, a high back heel ALLOWS my turn to be complete. Many hitters have tendencies to fall inwards towards home plate or onto their back pinky toe. That isn’t a stable position to support yourself and it puts a ton of stress on the lateral ligaments of your ankle.

SIMILARITIES IN BASEBALL SWING AND MED BALL THROW:

kc judge baseball swing

Notice the similarities between my med ball throw and swing. I get into very similar positions as I lift my leg and move forward. Also, I land with a bent front knee in both the med ball throw and swing itself, and my front leg drives back, pushing my front hip back very well. Now I’m not saying my swing or throw is perfect, as I could’ve caught myself a little bit better with a higher back heel, but I caught myself well enough to support myself as I finish my rotation. Lastly, notice how in both videos my back knee finishes in front of my back shoulder, representing a full turn. You’d be surprised how few hitters do this.  When your swing is more hands driven (not good) showing the letters on your back to home plate is almost impossible. Now am I saying my swing perfectly represents my med ball throw? No. I could have had slightly better direction with my feet in my swing and landed with a little bit higher of a back heel, but the general sequence of moves are indeed similar.

In conclusion, the number one asset of every athlete is availability. If you are hurt, you’re pretty much no good to anyone (sad but true). On top of being a great exercise for injury prevention, this exercise can make you stronger in multiple positions of rotation throughout the swing. Doing these style med ball throws, you can work on many areas of the swing without actually swinging a bat, all while learning how to support your body in a safer more efficient manner. Try it out. I’ll be honest, they look very simple to do but I can assure you they are not when you take all of the details of a high level med ball throw into account. It’s something our hitters, and myself when I was a hitter in the Baseball Rebellion hitting program, spent hours working on. Give them a try next time you are at a gym or somewhere you are able to throw med balls and see how they feel for you.

Thank you all for reading. As always, please let me know if there are any questions.

KC Judge – Head of Sport Performance and Speed / Strength Coach

Posted on

The Second WORST Hitting Drill for Baseball or Softball EXPOSED!

Almost three years ago, Chas Pippitt exposed the WORST Hitting Drill in all of baseball and softball.  After scouring the internet and thinking back on all the crazy drills that I had to do as a player, I have finally found what I would call the second worst hitting drill that you or your player can do.

In the search for terrible drills to avoid, I wanted to make sure that the drill chosen for this article really had nothing to offer hitters.  Even in some bad drills there can be a silver lining that could help the occasional hitter with very specific needs.  In this drill though, I honestly could not find one benefit for any hitter in any situation.  This drill is a pure “eyewash” drill to take up time and it can significantly make you worse with every repetition.  If your instructor is trying new drills on your player, make sure this is not one of them.

To be honest, I don’t really know what to even call this drill.  Most videos will call it simply, “Soft toss from behind”.  Here are two examples of this drill that I have found.

 

If you thought that was bad.  It gets evan worse.

 

I think the second video did a lot of talking for me here but lets weigh the cons from this drill.

 

1.  Vision

Where to start with all the bad things this drill forces you to do to just hit the ball.  For me, though the worst thing about this drill is that it’s simply just the wrong direction.  In the first video the player will turn their head back to to the coach and then track the ball to contact.  Seems good right?  Wrong.  The player is training their heads to turn the wrong way.  Vision is one of the most important traits of all great hitters and all great hitters turn the heads back toward the catcher in order to track the ball deeper into the zone.

 

Cano at contact
Cano showing the head turned down to the barrel at contact.

This drill if done enough can really do damage regardless of the way you choose to swing.  No matter the “style” of swing you adopt as your own, vision has to be a huge part of what you train and this drill literally makes you turn your head the wrong way.

 

2. Forward Momentum/Load

When the ball is  tossed from the back, the hitter is forced to wait on the ball to pass them before contact can be made.  Hitters using the “stay back and drive” method are once again encouraged to not move their bodies forward, thus leaving a lot of power on the table.   It would be increasingly more difficult for the hitter to try to gain ground forward the right way, while letting the ball pass them.  In the attempt to create momentum the hitter must be able to move forward.  Here is Mark Canha demonstrating a good move forward.

Mark Canha move forward in Baseball Swing

As you can see from the second video the hitter can’t even get ready in time to attempt a good swing.  They are forced to pick the ball up and swing from the wrists.  From a power generation standpoint, the last thing a hitter should be thinking about is having only quick wrists to generate barrel speed. Once again this drill especially in video two, can really hinder this portion of a high quality swing.

3.  Barrel Turn and Acceleration

No matter how you train your body to generate power,  the hitter is simply trying to get the barrel of the bat up to maximum speed in the shortest amount of time possible.  Maximum speed is different for all hitters because they all vary in size, talent level,  and athletic ability but the idea of immediate barrel acceleration is something that should always be a goal for the hitter.  Unfortunately  though, this drill once again proves to keep barrel acceleration from happening more than any other drill. The only thing worse would be a drill where the hitter is forced to hit the ball with the knob of the bat.  Wait…is that drill really out there too?

 

 

Yep it’s out there but let’s just stay on one drill for this article.  In this drill the hitter is forced to ease the barrel into a flat position and then pull the knob across their body without any shoulder rotation.  This is the typical knob to the ball approach.  Once again this will put way to much emphasis on the wrists to create barrel speed late in the swing.  All great hitting instructors know that the wrists play a much smaller role further down the kinetic chain.  Here is a great example of barrel turn with shoulder turn.

 

Matt Carpenter barrel turn in Baseball Swing

As you can see a high level barrel turn must incorporate shoulder rotation.  Along with the rotation of the shoulders, the shoulder angle is also lost in this drill.  Part of creating direct force and striking the ball well, the barrel must get in the path of the ball.  With the ball coming from behind the hitter, there is no path of the ball.  Teaching a player to get on plane early in their swing is borderline impossible here.

 

4. Mentality

For most kids just trying to hit the ball harder is a big deal.   They have been taught for so long that missing the ball and striking out is the worst thing they can do, that they just hope to make contact.  This drill is a “hope to make contact” drill.  Because of everything listed above this drill in no way encourages kids to create a more aggressive swing and therefore inherit an aggressive mentality.  Coaches talk about having a “good approach” at the plate.  Approach can only mirror the player’s power output.  If a player knows that he or she can drive the ball past the outfielders, then their approach will be drastically different than if they know that the best they can do is a single barely over the infield.

I realize that drills are usually created to focus on one particular flaw in the swing and not the train the swing as a whole.  I just don’t see this drill helping in any phase of training the elite swing.  This drill promotes a weak-minded, wristy, back sided swing.  STAY AWAY!

 

JK Whited

Posted on

The Imitation Game

As hitting instructors, we strive to help every hitter reach their highest potential and swing in the most optimal way possible. One way in which we do this is through example. We often find examples of professional swings that illustrate the portion of the swing we are working on. We do our best to use hitter’s who resemble our client in some way, whether it is a similar body type or swing style. It is important though to realize that no one hitter is actually perfect! For example, Mike Trout has great upper half mechanics but could improve somewhat with his lower half. Bryce Harper gives us the opposite example. His lower half is arguably the most explosive in baseball but his upper body mechanics leave room for improvement. I want to encourage hitters to take the best parts of the pros swings and train not just what the best do, but what is biomechanically optimal. 

With it being the beginning the 2015 MLB season, I want to give some examples of current MLB hitters who illustrate great movements at various portions of the swing. I hope this allows readers to watch and follow multiple hitters when patterning their swing instead of limiting their swing to becoming like one single hitter. 

Stance

A hitter’s stance is one of the most variable portions of the swing. Stances may be narrow or wide but should always allow hitter’s to move with rhythm and fluidity out of them.

Andrew McCutchen

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.11.38 PM

Carlos Gomez

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.12.27 PM

Ryan Braun

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.12.44 PM

Yasiel Puig

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.12.57 PM

The Leg Lift

This portion of the swing is also extremely variable as players with different body types and ability levels should utilize different styles. Below you will see a range of options. JK wrote an article detailing leg kicks that you can read here.

Joc Pederson

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.27.04 PM

Russell Martin

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.36.09 PM

Adrian Beltre

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.44.46 PM

Edwin Encarnacion

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.30.13 PM

Forward Load

The forward load gains momentum and energy through the separation of the hips and the shoulders. This allows hitters to be powerful in their turn. This position should be fairly uniform for high level hitters.

Jose Bautista

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.07.54 PM

Josh Donaldson

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.11.57 PM

Anthony Rizzo

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.45.51 PM

Chris Davis

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.48.50 PM

Back Foot

Ideally the back foot should be pulled up and forward by the back hip. While many hitters are successful without the back foot coming off the ground their it is not optimal for force production. For more on this click here.

Bryce Harper

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.50.49 PM

Hanley Ramirez

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.53.04 PM

Starlin Castro

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.56.14 PM

Mark Canha

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.54.30 PM

Turn To Contact

The turn to contact may look somewhat different depending on the timing of the hitter and the location of the pitch. In general, the hitter will produce the most force when rotating both the lower and upper body and making contact with the elbows apart and bent.

Giancarlo Stanton

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.05.30 PM

Matt Carpenter

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.04.25 PM

Mike Trout

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.10.11 PM

David Ortiz

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.06.40 PM

Extension

Extension is one of the least important components of the swing when a hitter is on time with the pitch. However it becomes increasingly important if the hitter is early. Extension or release of the barrel allows the hitter to make solid contact even when their timing is slightly off.  For more on this click here.

Dustin Pedroia

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.10.23 PM

Manny Machado

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.12.37 PM

Victor Martinez

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.14.19 PM

Matt Adams

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.15.56 PM

Finish

The finish should be a result of the parts leading up to it. That being said, hitters often can make swing improvements by attempting to finish well. The body will often reject negative components of the swing if the finish doesn’t support them. It can also help hitters turn faster and have a more aggressive mindset.

Jorge Soler

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.17.35 PM

Khris Davis

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.18.30 PM

Jon Singleton

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.20.11 PM

Carlos Santana

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.23.35 PM

Now that you have seen what elite hitters look like at various points in the swing, nothing should hold you back! One way to launch yourself into finding the rhythm and style that best suits you is to play the imitation game. In this game, you will simply pick a player who performs a certain part of the swing extremely well and imitate him in batting practice or when you’re just having fun in the backyard. With time you might find yourself turning into a hitting monster with a Bautista leg kick, a Harper turn, a Trout upper half, and a Gomez finish. Here is a GIF that shows a mix of elite hitters performing great movements within the swing:

Hitting Mix

 

Thanks for reading!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

Posted on

Rock Into The New Season with This Power Starter

One  of the more difficult things we ask our clients to do here at The Baseball Rebellion, is to develop their own sense of rhythm and fluidity in their movements. Some players will naturally have a feel for their own rhythm and therefore have good tempo and timing in their load no matter what type of pitcher they are facing or what windup that pitcher uses. Unfortunately, not all hitters have a natural feel for tempo, so we’ve got to teach them how to feel themselves move in concert with the pitcher.

Here is a great guide for anyone interested in starting their swing off with a really nice “sway”  move that I call the “Rock and Lock”. Not everybody will feel accustomed to this move initially, but teaching this calm, repeatable, and easily practiced move is a good way to get the ball rolling.  The “Rock and Lock” may end up being what works for you or you may modify it to meet your own personal comfort level and athletic gifts.

 

With time and practice this simple start can really help the hitter generate more power.  It is so important the the player truly knows his or her own rhythm and tempo so that they also have great timing with each pitcher they face.  Without an understanding of one’s own athletic movements tempo, good timing with the pitch will be next to impossible and the added power of this ‘falling’ forward move will rarely show up.  Thanks for watching!

JK Whited, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion

PS: The best part about the “Rock and Lock” is that you can practice it ANYWHERE…as you don’t have to swing or hit in order to perfect it.  Any move before the TURN is about trust and discipline and the willingness to put time into the move in a mirror or with a Rebel’s Rack to train your body and mind to relax and allow the calmness needed to perfect your “Rock and Lock” load.

Posted on

The Truth About Bat Grip

One constant message we send to our players regarding hitting is “your first mistake is your worst mistake.” A hitter’s first mistake causes the subsequent pieces of the swing to deteriorate. This idea makes a hitter’s setup and grip extremely important! This particular article is going to focus on the grip portion of the setup.

Over the past year I have noticed an interesting trend when new evaluations come to our facility. Young kids and kids that have had little training tend to grip the bat in a very similar fashion to most major leaguers. While other parts of their swing may need a bit of work, their grip tends to be very good. In contrast, kids who have had prolonged instruction tend to be a little more polished in terms of mechanics but usually use a grip that aligns the door knocking knuckles. This observation leads me to believe that the knocking knuckles alignment commonly taught by coaches at all levels is not innately comfortable or powerful, but is a pattern that overrides the natural intuition of a young hitter. The following video will explain the difference between the grips and the advantages given to a hitter when using the axe grip.

 

 

As I mentioned in the video, the vast majority of Major League hitters utilize a grip much closer to the axe grip than the door knocking knuckles configuration. Here are just a few examples of high level hitters using the axe grip:

 

Babe Ruth Bat Grip
Babe Ruth
Andrew McCutchen Bat Grip
Andrew McCutchen
David Ortiz Bat Grip
David Ortiz
Mike Trout
Mike Trout
Bryce Harper Bat Grip
Bryce Harper
Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano
Josh Donaldson Bat Grip
Josh Donaldson
Don Mattingly
Don Mattingly

 

I made sure to use Don Mattingly as an example because he is one of the main advocates for the door knocking knuckles grip. Mattingly is also a proponent of the faulty down and through swing methodology. It is clear in the photograph above that Mattingly holds the bat with an axe-like grip. As a current teacher of hitting, Mattingly fails to properly identify and teach the mechanics that he and fellow Hall of Famers successfully used. He has even designed the v-grip handle to help players line up the knocking knuckles. Here is Mattingly in a video teaching grip:

 

 

Changing your grip may be the easiest hitting adjustment you will ever make but it can have a major impact on your swing. Thanks for reading!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Certified Instructor