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Switch Hitting…Is it worth it?

In honor of the greatest switch hitter of all time, Chipper Jones, being inducted into the Hall of Fame this past month, I wanted to give my take on switch hitting. Every so often, a parent asks me if I think their son or daughter should switch hit. More often than not, my answer is simple…No! Now before you stop reading this article, because this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, I encourage you to continue on and find out why.

My opinion on this matter may hold a little more value due to the fact it’s coming from someone who did switch hit. I’m also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a fair amount of knowledge of joint complexity, structure, and functional body movements. The funny thing is, a majority of my personal success I owe to switch hitting. My first full season as a switch hitter ever, I set the current Single Season all-time record for highest batting average in a season at Cal Lutheran University. I then bounced around the independent league ranks for 4 seasons with a lot of opportunities stemming from the mere fact I could switch hit.

In junior college, I did not switch hit. I always wanted to but for fear of regressing, I stuck to the right side. When I transferred to my 4-year school, I dedicated a majority of my time to switch hitting. I picked up switch-hitting immediately after my sophomore season in 2008 so I had that summer and fall to work on it. I struggled immensely in the beginning and was asked often, “Why do you want to switch hit? You’re way better from the right side.” The answer was simple. I thought it was the only chance I had at playing professionally. In 2009, I had a season-ending shoulder injury and was forced to take a medical redshirt. At the time I was devastated but looking back, it gave me more time to work on switch hitting. Obviously, I couldn’t swing, but I could study the swing more. I spent hours studying the swing. The swing I looked at the most was that of Bryce Harper, while he was still in High School/Junior College. His positions and his movements, I couldn’t describe at the time but I knew he was doing things in his swing that were insanely good.

Above is one of my favorite pictures of Harpers swings. This comes from way back in 2010 when Harper played his only year of collegiate baseball at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. The positions his body gets into throughout his swing are truly unique and require a high degree of range of motion all throughout the body.

So, I tried to emulate Bryce Harper. The more I studied the positions and movements of his swing, the more I realized how different they were from what I was doing. I would think to myself, “How does he even get into these positions?” It was so uncomfortable for my body to even attempt these positions in the mirror let alone go through a live swing to replicate the movements I was observing. I will say, identifying swing positions of elite level player definitely helped me as a player. However, positional identification, in regards to the swing, has its limitations. I had a clear understanding of what I had to do in order to mimic that of an elite hitter, I just wasn’t aware of how to adequately achieve what I was looking at.  Now, with a few years of being a CSCS, working with athletes, working in 4 different strength and conditioning/physical therapy clinics and an ever-increasing amount of knowledge in regards to human movement, the answer became clear: To get the most out of positional swing identification you must physically have the joint awareness and capacity to achieve the positions you’re observing. As a switch-hitter, you have to be able to get into these positions from two sides of the body which, in my opinion, is extremely difficult for most hitters and for a lot of hitters, it is virtually impossible.

I struggled to emulate an elite level swing pattern left-handed, in part, because I didn’t have the room to move in the areas of my body that were needed. Upper back mobility, hip and leg mobility, the room to move just wasn’t there. I tweeted out a while back about how identifying positions in the swing is only as important as the knowledge needed to improve the range of motion required to achieve the identified positions. You can do all of the mirror work in the world but if your body doesn’t allow for these desired positions to occur free of conscious thought, you’re ultimately fighting an uphill battle you’re going to lose. I was fighting an uphill battle my whole career as a switch hitter, I just didn’t know it.

For a majority of hitters at any level, you are never going to move as well on your non-dominant side as your dominant side. There are too many limitations from a physical standpoint. A lot of the switch hitters I have worked with have inherent differences in regards to the shape of their swings. This is from the range of motion limitations. I always test range of motion with the hitters I work with and when it comes to switch-hitters, I’ve noticed whatever side they score better on in their assessment, that’s the side of the plate they are better on from a metrics standpoint (how hard they can hit the ball, how far they can hit the ball, etc.)

Another thing I wanted to touch on is what is generally lost in the throwing arms of baseball and softball players over time. Ask any strength coach who has experience with throwers, what are the 2 movements that, more often than not, become deficient in the shoulder joint. Throwers lose internal rotation due to an increase in the glenohumeral external rotation and upper trapezius function begins to degrade thus inhibiting the shoulder to elevate properly. Front arm elevation and internal rotation is a common movement shared amongst the best hitters in the world.

The physical limitations a hitter faces when switch-hitting are scientifically backed, but if this does not convince you, take a look at the statistical side of the argument.  First, according to Baseball Reference, not one hitter in the history of MLB is in the top 50 career-wise for batting average. You would have to go outside of the top 50 to find a hitter in this category who is a switch hitter (Roger Connor who played before 1900 tied for 64th). In terms of home runs, only 4 hitters in the top 50 were switch hitters and none in the top 15. There is a reason for this folks, hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in professional sports. The only thing harder is having to hit from both sides of the plate.

Now, despite all the evidence, there are some outlying circumstances where I do think switch hitting is good. If the hitter demonstrates similar exit velocities and consistency from both sides of the plate at a young age, then as a parent I would let my child see it out. All too often though, I see switch hitters much better from one side of the plate. With Hittrax hitting, you can actually see how you measure up from both sides of the plate numbers wise (exit velocity, distance, etc.). I’ll see a hitter attempting to switch hit and the exit velocity splits from right to left or left to right are 10MPH. That is a significant difference!  Any hitter currently switches hitting who has that big of a difference between sides should seriously consider investing their training time into the more dominant side.

In closing, if you are going to switch hit, get assessed. Go see a trainer, strength coach, or a physical therapist to make sure you have the active range of motion to move through the positions of the swinging from both sides of the plate. Never having to hit from the same side of the plate as the pitcher is throwing is a luxury but any type of physical limitations are going to make hitting from both sides of the plate even more difficult than it already is. Any questions, comment below. Thank you for reading!

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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.

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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

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RAISE THE ROOF! – How to Help Raise a Hitter’s Ceiling

Last month, I got the opportunity to speak at the North Carolina High School Baseball Coaches Clinic in Greensboro, NC. It is an awesome event held each December for high school coaches across the state to hear from guest speakers on a wide range of topics from hitting to pitching to defense, and even turf management. It is also a great way to get all the great coaches from across the state of North Carolina together to talk baseball, trade stories and pick up a few tips from their peers along the way.

The purpose of this article is to share my presentation for all who could not be in attendance and to share some of my thoughts about the weekend as a whole as well. The article of my presentation was, “How to Help Raise a Hitter’s Ceiling” and the whole idea for this topic came about a few months ago when JK and I were talking about our clients and all the kids who come through Baseball/Softball Rebellion. As we were sitting there discussing hitters he said something that really stuck with me, the conversation approached the topic of what exactly it is we do and that’s when JK said that our goal is to raise the ceiling of each person we work with. Baseball Rebellion isn’t selling some quick fix guarantee to help your son or daughter get to the next level, what we are doing is working to raise the height (or ceiling) of their talent to a level that might not have been possible before.

My opening slide explained our thought process behind what raising ceilings actually means. Creating a higher ceiling gives kids more room to explore and experience new levels of success, it allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment that they might never have had before. Clients who come to us have goals and dreams of making it to the big leagues all the way to just wanting to make their local little league team for the first time. For the most part, we tailor our instruction to each of them the exact same movement/swing patterns with the goal of helping raise their chance of getting them to a higher level than before.

One of my least favorite phrases, when people talk about hitting, is the “cookie cutter” mentality, and it is probably for a different reason than you think. If talking with another coach or instructor about what their hitting philosophy or approach is and the only thing they tell me is that they don’t believe in a cookie cutter swing then I immediately believe that they really have no idea what they want or are looking for. I understand that no two hitters are the same, but all great hitters eventually get into the same general positions in their swing. As you can see in the pictures above, they are all in the same positions at those points in the swing and one of the beautiful things about hitting is that they all got there differently. When working with your hitters or your son or daughter, understand that no matter what kind of stance or stride they have, that they must all eventually get into these positions! They are not “checkpoints” necessarily but simply desired destinations along the journey to a high-level swing.

WHY DO I WANT MY 120-POUND SECOND BASEMEN HITTING THE BALL IN THE AIR?

 

Don’t assume a hitter can’t obtain success with a certain philosophy just because of size or ability level! Every day we interact with kids of ALL ability levels. Instead of putting a “ceiling” on what they can do we push them to move in ways they didn’t think they could. PUSH PLAYERS TO FIND THEIR LIMIT, THEN KEEP GOING!

 

So many times, coaches will limit the development of a player simply by just not believing they can achieve something. The biggest argument I hear from coaches is that my smaller or less talented players can’t have a swing that produces balls in the air because they are not strong enough. That argument simply isn’t supported by anything other than their opinion. Daily I see kids much smaller than any high school-aged player hit the ball high and far. The goal for players who are not able to hit the ball over the fence is just to hit it OVER the infielders’ head and BEFORE the ball gets to the outfielders. This will give them the best chance at success, not trying to hit the ball through the infield. Check out this stat from Alan Nathan, who is a Physics professor at the University of Illinois and one of my favorite guys to follow on Twitter. (If you want to see more of his presentation, you can click here)

 

The argument against “weaker” hitters not trying to elevate the ball shouldn’t even be a discussion. This study states that 68% of all baseballs hit with a launch angle between 10 and 25 degrees and an exit velocity between 60 and 80 mph are hits. Even at lower exit velocities, launch angle still matters.

Check out this video of one of our clients at Baseball Rebellion, Nick, who is 10 years old and weighs 70 pounds. From the video, you can see Nick has a decently high leg kick and attacks the ball on an upward swing plane. Nick’s coaches told him that his movements wouldn’t work for someone his size until he then hit a ball over the RF head for a triple in their first game. Nick is now allowed to swing the way he wants to while regularly hitting the ball 180 feet…

FOUNDATION OF PHILOSOPHY

Anyone who is familiar with Baseball Rebellion knows our general swing philosophy. We want to help give the hitter the greatest chance at making hard contact. One of the biggest misconceptions Baseball Rebellion gets about the style of swing we teach is to just get our hitters to hit fly balls, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The swing path we help hitters create gets their barrel in the zone EARLIER and keeps it there LONGER, thus helping the hitter’s chances at hard contact. Look at the two pictures below and you’ll see which swing path carries the greater chance to do damage.

Red Arrow represents a down or level swing with small contact window (Yellow Square)

Red arrow represents slightly up swing with larger contact window (Blue Square)

This slide I showed during my presentation was the one that I was asked the most questions about. For the ones who were interested, they finally saw that an uppercut swing isn’t just for trying to hit fly balls. They could see that it really is the MOST beneficial bat path for consistent success. The best reactions I got were when I showed them this picture right after:

 

The drawings I made in the two pictures of Spencer’s swing were simply the same drawings that Ted Williams had in his book “The Science of Hitting”. I hear all the time coaches talk about this “new age swing” or the “Josh Donaldson swing” (who in my opinion still has a much flatter swing plane than most, but that’s a topic for another day) and in reality, this concept of hitting has been around for much longer than many coaches or instructors who now teach it have been alive.

 

One of the most important things in developing hitters is tracking their progress. As many of you know, at Baseball Rebellion we use HitTrax machines in order to do that. However, I know that for 99 percent of the coaches/instructors out there, the ability to have one isn’t possible. One of the best ways you can track progress is by video. We use Hudl Technique every day during in-person and online lessons and it’s a great way to help show your hitters exactly what they are doing. You can compare them to other hitter’s side by side and you can voice-record over the video to explain what they’re doing as well. Like I stated in the slide when I was coaching at Providence High School in Charlotte, NC we used Hudl to video games, practices and scrimmages and it really helped us fine tune exactly what we needed to be working on with each hitter. Video is a great way for coaches and instructors who lack the financial capability to own a Hit Trax machine really track the progress of their hitters.

THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW CAN THIS WORK IN A TEAM SETTING?

One of the biggest questions we get asked all the time at Baseball Rebellion is how can the movement patterns that we teach translate to a team setting since we are only private instructors. Well, the answer is YES. Just ask Tom Eller, Head Coach at Harford Community College, in Bel Air, MD. Coach Eller brings his hitters down every winter to train with us and my last slide of my presentation shows just how amazing their team offense production is:

Pretty impressive, right? Coach Eller, his staff, and players deserve ALL the praise and recognition for their outstanding offensive production and we at Baseball Rebellion are extremely grateful that we get to play a small part in their success.

TAKEAWAYS

I wanted to close out this article by talking about something that occurred while I was at the NCBCA convention that has been stuck with me ever since. There was another hitting talk that took place by a coach a few speakers after me. The concepts and approach to hitting that he talked about couldn’t have been more opposite to what I presented on. During his talk, a few coaches I knew leaned over to me and asked how could I listen to this and why I haven’t gotten up to leave yet? My response was simple if we expect other people who have a different opinion than ours really listen and try to understand what we have to say then we should be doing the exact same thing. Does that mean that I agreed with what he was saying? No, I certainly did not. But does that make what he teaches any less important to the people he is working with and respect him? We ALL have the same goal in mind, which is to use what we know to help hitters reach their full potential.

I hope all you readers enjoyed my presentation and this article explaining the thoughts and theories behind it. I knew going into my presentation that there may not be many open minds and that I couldn’t make this sound like what we teach is the only way to do it. I believe my explanations have shown that we simply teach what we think is the most efficient way to help hitters raise their ceilings and have a higher level of success than they ever thought was possible.

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Online Little League Case Study: 1 Month, 1 Drill, Big Results

One of my favorite aspects of online lessons is getting to see players from all over the country make improvements by simply following the Baseball Rebellion training progressions and drills that we prescribe. One such case involves Justin J. from Indiana. I trained Justin’s older brother Aidan. In those videos, Justin was usually the camera man but I have no doubt that he was learning as he watched his brother work to improve his swing. So in that sense he had a bit of a head start as he entered our program. Due to Justin’s prior knowledge and his athleticism, it did not take long for his lower half to work well. The most obvious flaw in Justin’s swing was his downward swing path relative to the ball. In the picture below from Ted Williams’ book “The Science of Hitting”, Justin’s swing resembled the bottom much more of the top image. This resulted in Justin mis-hitting more balls than he would like. One simple drill fixed this for Justin in less than a month!

Ted Williams Swing Plane

 

Here is a video of Justin before we began using the noodle/tee swing path drill:

As you can see, his barrel continues downward after contact resulting in a glancing blow towards the bottom of the baseball. This type of swing often leads to shallow pop-ups and lazy foul balls.

While Justin understood what he was supposed to be doing and could do perform quality movements consistently in drills, he struggled to swing up when actually facing a moving pitch. In these cases, it can be really helpful to place obstacles in the way of a hitter so that they are forced to translate the movement or get immediate feedback if they don’t. For Justin the noodle/tee drill worked great!  In this drill,  the object is placed just above belly button height, slightly out in front of the hitter’s stride length. If the hitter hits the ball but also hits the object, they are likely swinging flat or down. It is important to make sure that the hitter is not cheating the drill by swinging inside the noodle instead of over it. Here is a video of Justin after working on the tee/noodle drill for about a month.

Once Justin got the hang of the tee/noodle drill, he is now able to swing upward on a consistent basis which is dramatically increasing the percentage of balls he is able to square up and drive to the outfield!

If you are interested in improving your swing like Justin, check out our online hitting lesson page here!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

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Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown: Dylan S.

Dylan S.

Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown: Dylan S.

Dylan S. has been a long time online Baseball Rebellion client who has had ONLY online training with us. Dylan has done an amazing job of learning the biomechanics of his swing and taking the initiative to work incredibly hard in order to make positive swing changes. While there are many parts of his swing that have improved over the years, his body language at the plate has been the largest improvement. When Dylan 1st began in our program, it was clear during each at bat whether Dylan thought he was going to be successful or not. This depended heavily on the quality of pitcher he was facing. Dylan’s confidence and body language has improved immensely in the last year or so. He now looks confident and ready to smash the baseball against any pitcher regardless of their ability. Dylan is a great example of how the Baseball Rebellion Online Program can produce great results! If you are interested in signing up for online lessons click here.

Thank you for reading and watching!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

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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

 

 

 

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2017 Home Run Derby Swing Breakdowns

Aaron Judge

2017 Home Run Derby Swing Breakdowns

The 2017 Home Run Derby was one for the ages as some of the game’s best young hitters participated and few disappointed. Unfortunately the BR staff did not get together to draft and watch it this year due to travel conflicts but I’m almost certain I would have won. Below are breakdowns of each hitter from the Derby. Enjoy!

Giancarlo Stanton

Justin Bour

Aaron Judge

Miguel Sano

Gary Sanchez

Charlie Blackmon

Mike Moustakas

Cody Bellinger


Thanks for watching!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

 

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No Stride Small Stride: Is Your Lower Half Efficient?

In this week’s article I am going to go over somewhat of a swing self assessment to see if your lower half is working efficiently. In my last couple of breakdowns, (Andrew Mccutchen and Marcell Ozuna) I talk about them being very efficient with their loads and unloads in their swings. I specifically analyzed these 2 guys because they don’t utilize giant leg kicks or barrel tips. In my eyes, I see that of a rolling load. One that never stops. Mccutchen is more of a sway into a coil guy while Ozuna is a guy who gets his toe down early. Both adequately load their rear leg and rear hip the whole time up until they unload their  swings. Another guy I like to watch is Jim Edmonds. Jim Edmonds was not a huge guy. He hit out of an unusually wide stance with no stride. Pay specific attention to how once he starts loading his rear hip, he lengthens out his load until he’s ready to unload (turn).

It’s apparent to me that a high level swing doesn’t HAVE to have a leg kick. A leg kick is a great move IF you lengthen out a loaded back leg. All too often I see hitters take outrageous leg kicks that don’t do anything for them because the angle of their back leg never changes.

Another hitter I like to pay attention to is Pujols. Pujols starts in somewhat of a crouch with visible bend in his knees. Just ike Edmonds, Pujols goes from a wide stance as well. As the pitch comes in, his spine angle changes due to the loading of his rear hip and the rowing of his back shoulder. His front heel goes up then he moves his center of mass forward through his back hip. He continues his load up until the point he’s ready to unload (swing) or take.

I’ve seen Miguel Cabrera use this type of load as well. The only video I could find of Cabrera using this type of load is a front view from 2013. It’s still a really good example to clearly see that a high level pattern doesn’t require a big leg move. Watch how Cabrera’s torso angle changes as his front heel goes up. I know Cabrera is a giant human being, but his lower half no matter which timing mechanism he uses (Double tap, Leg kick, Wide stance) is always very good. The best hitters can vary their timing mechanisms in their lower body due to proper lower half loading.

 

One of the high level softball swings that comes to mind when I think of a small stride or no stride is from Megan Langenfeld. Megan was extremely successful during her time at UCLA. Watch as she uses virtually no forward move yet still does a tremendous job of loading her lower half through a no stride load.

Next time you’re in the cage, assess yourself. SEE if your lower body mechanics will allow you to hit from a wide stance or a small stride in which your toe gets down early. A lot of the hitters we work with at Baseball Rebellion can transition from their normal leg kick to that of a rolling wide stance because they use their lower halves correctly. If you’re within 10% of your max exit velocity or distance from a no stride or a small stride, you’re more than likely using your lower half in the correct manner. Success in this style of hitting can only be attributed to the proper sequencing of the lower body in the baseball and softball swing. If you want to learn how to use your lower half efficiently through our online training click here. Thank you for reading!

K.C. Judge

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Baseball Rebellion Free Coaching Clinic Demos

Baseball Rebellion Free Coaching Clinic Demos

The mission and vision of Baseball Rebellion has been simple and consistent since the the beginning of the company. That mission is to change the way baseball and softball are played and coached everywhere through finding, teaching, and producing the best possible information and content in all areas of baseball training. We have made great progress through individual lessons, both in person and online. The vast majority of our clients, ranging from 6 year olds to MLB clients, have experienced dramatic improvements through Baseball Rebellion’s one-on-one training. Over the past few years we have realized that coaches of teams can play a large role in the acceleration of our mission. Baseball Rebellion has produced four coaching clinics that cover hitting, pitching/throwing, catching, and The Basics of Baseball. We are extremely excited about the value we believe these clinics can bring to your team, league, or organization. Below is a quote from one of the coaches who purchased our coaching clinics.

We at Pleasanton American Little League have purchased this Online Coaches Clinic to bolster our League training. I’ve watched all the pitching videos numerous times in the last two months. I watched your 2014 hitting videos several times, and now that you’ve released the 2015 hitting videos, I’ve made my way through them. This product can be described in many superlatives, but the one that sticks in my head the most is: PHENOMENAL.

Every baseball organization interested in improving their knowledge and culture should look no further than this Coaches’ Clinic. The information is thorough, well-presented, understandable, and correct. The platform is applicable for Leagues, Travel Ball, High School…and at $500 total for both the hitting and the pitching clinics, I’d buy it for just me and my two sons.

$500?! The value of this product is easily 10X that. It’s exactly the elite quality that people have come to expect from Baseball Rebellion.

-Tony C., Pleasanton California

In order to give you a taste of the great content in the clinics, we are releasing free demos for you to view! Below the demo videos, there is an outline of all the content included in the full version. Click the links below to take you to the demo pages for each clinic. Enjoy!

 

Basics of Baseball

Basics of Baseball Coaches Clinic
Hitting Clinic Demo

Hitting Clinic


Hitting Clinic Demo

Pitching Clinic


Hitting Clinic Demo

Catcher Clinic

Baseball Rebellion Catcher Coaches Clinic
Hitting Clinic Demo
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The Forgotten Key to Swing Path: The Front Arm

The Forgotten Key to Swing Path: The Front Arm

The Forgotten Key to Swing Path: 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 left out component that is essential to the back shoulder and hands working well, the front arm.

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. Here is an image depicting this idea.

Ted Williams Swing Plane

While many “old school” coaches still make the argument that  swinging down straight to the perceived point of contact is shorter and therefore better, new technology (high speed cameras, swing sensors, etc…) has settled the debate in overwhelming favor of the upswing crowd. The truth is that a slightly upward swing path is shorter to the path of the pitch even though it may be longer to the actual point of contact. Just in case you think this is just theory here are a few gifs of some of the top hitters in the world clearly swinging up in the way of the incoming pitch.

Jose Bautista Swing Plane

Matt Carpenter Swing Plane

Pablo Sandoval Swing Plane

Mike Trout Swing Plane

You can clearly see that the best hitters in the world drop their back shoulder and keep their hands (and therefore the knob) at chest height through contact. Many hitters with swing path issues can identify that their back shoulder remains too high and that their hands drop too low but miss the link necessary to fix the issue. 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 which can cause an excessively long barrel path that does not create deep and sustained acceleration through the path of the pitch. Below I will show the progression of one of my young hitters, David W. as he illustrates a ineffective front arm progressing to one of the best swings in our entire program. He began lessons here as a nine year old in 2013 and is now about to turn twelve.

David W. Eval 2013

In the video below, you will see David’s evaluation video. While David’s back arm drops to begin his swing, the angle of his front arm remains mostly unchanged. This leads to a long delay between the initiation of David’s upper body and the start of his barrel acceleration. David’s biggest change in his front arm occurs right before and through contact as his front forearm works downward causing his hands to drop excessively.

David W. Initial Swing

David W. 2014

In this video, David has improved to allow his front arm to rotate upward much sooner than in his evaluation. Because of this, we see less of a delay between the start of his upper body and the acceleration of his barrel. At this point David still had a tendency to drop his front arm at the last moment causing his hands and barrel to drop which caused inconsistencies in David’s accuracy.

David W. Hitting

David W. 2016

Here is a newer video of David as he has grown bigger, stronger, and worked hard to improve his swing. He does a great job of rotating his front arm upward and maintaining this angle through contact. Since David’s upper body improvement, he has experienced more power and accuracy. David now hits the ball 70 mph and over 200 feet which is a huge jump from his 43 mph evaluation.

David W. Swing Plane

Common Teaching on the Front Arm

Whenever I do hear coaches instructing about the front arm, it is usually in the context that Don Mattingly refers to in the video below where hitters try to take their front arm straight to the ball (1:15 mark). When compared to the MLB hitters I showed above as well as the vast majority of hitters we have analyzed on our weekly swing breakdowns, Mattingly’s teaching is in direct contrast to what the best hitters in the world actually do… Even Mattingly himself.

Mattingly Teaching

Mattingly Swinging Front

Mattingly Front hitting view

Mattingly Swing Side

Mattingly Side hitting view

Perhaps Mattingly’s teaching has influenced one of his former players, Yasiel Puig. Below is a video of Puig who has the tendency to upwardly rotate his front arm less than he should which leads to him cutting under too many balls.

Yasiel Puig swing

A Tool To Fix Front Arm/Upper Body Flaws: The Bat Drag Buster

If you are looking for some extra help in fixing the movement of your front arm or any other upper body flaw, I highly recommend the Bat Drag Buster (which you can get here). We invented it and use it every day in our lessons. In my opinion the Bat Drag Buster is our best product in that it provides a felling that is easily transferrable to live action. This is helped by the fact that it is our only product that you can actually hit in. Watch the video below as Chas explains how the Bat Drag Buster works!

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to turn your front arm up!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor